January 31, 2016

House improvements

I’ve mentioned in some previous posts that the time has now come for me to get stuck into the improvements that are needed to my house. I could continue living here as it is and just finish off the kitchen, re-do the bathroom and decorate right through but there’s only one problem with that. I’ve got an extended family and, yes, even a few friends, and with only one spare bedroom, it makes it hard for them to come and visit me. It also became clear over Christmas and New Year that as my sister has to spend most of her time in a wheelchair, it would be really nice to have a bedroom on the ground floor where she and my brother-in-law could sleep while they’re here.

I worked up several different ideas to use the space up in my ‘grenier’ and add a ground-floor extension to give me what I want and eventually came to a final concept that works and is also economically feasible. I wanted to get cracking as soon as possible but then found on looking further into the French planning system that it’s unlikely, even if everything runs smoothly, that I’ll be able to start moving before the autumn. And also at pain of a heavy fine if I do anything in advance of receiving planning consent.

This was a bit disappointing as I have a very large, very old and very dirty lime tree right outside my backdoor that will interfere with my extension plans and will have to go – hooray, as it really is filthy to live under! My plan was to get rid of it as soon as possible, before the spring when it will start growing again. I’d already received a quote from a local firm to do the job and also the groundwork for the proposed extension, but now that they can’t move on the latter, I had them back in again on Friday to give me a revised quote for taking out the lime and a few other smaller trees at the northern end of my house and clearing away what could be laughingly described as a ‘flower bed’ at the other end.

In the meantime, as my proposed extension will add less than 170 sq metres of space, I don’t need an architect to draw up the plans and drawings that I will need to submit for planning (and in any case, an architect isn’t needed for any work on a single house on a single plot of land), so rather than do them myself by hand, which I could do, I’ve been teaching myself Architect’s CAD.

I looked at several systems that are available on the internet and after trying a few out, ended up installing a system called Edificius. This is aimed at professional users and is a very interesting concept. Instead of purchasing a licence to use it on a machine (or machines in a company), you get the whole bang-shoot for free along with lots of video tutorials, free technical backup and access to a free forum. You then start using it to create your projects and only pay when you want to print anything. This is great for me, because I have the full system to laboriously work my way through in order to create the plans and drawings that I will need and not some kind of time-limited trial or cut-down version that may or may not do what I want. And at the end, I’ll only have a fairly limited number of drawings etc to print off and assuming that I will be successful, it won’t have cost me anything except for my time and effort to get to that point.

I’ll maybe go into the system in a bit more detail at some other time, but for now all I’ll say is that modern so-called BIM systems are incredibly clever. As well as allowing people more experienced than me to create new designs or modifications to existing ones in double-quick time, they also let you put the end result onto terrain in its surroundings and also give you a full list of the products and materials that you’ll need for the job together with a cost breakdown. Fantastic!

My house was created almost 50 years ago when I’m pretty sure that nobody cared very much what anyone was building in rural France. I think that it was put together from two farm outbuildings that I’m pretty sure must have existed for years, if not generations previously, and I highly doubt that if any formal plans ever existed that they now exist any more. So my idea was that if I could create a model of my existing house the benefits would be twofold. Firstly, I could then go on to extend it and add the improvements that I’m seeking and in the process produce the drawings and plans that I’ll need to do so and secondly, the model would give me what will probably be the only plans of my house that will exist.

I’m nowhere near it yet, but I’m slowly but surely getting up to speed with the software and grinding out the model bit by bit. I’m not saying it’s easy, because it isn’t as Edificius is very complex and capable software that I’ll probably never become fully conversant with. Here are some shots from various angles of the stage I’ve reached with the 3-D model with accurate light and shadows at various times of day.

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I’ve managed to overcome lots of little challenges along the way with several things needing to be done over and over again to get them right. The software has also delivered up a few quirky surprises that have slowed me down, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll get to where I want to before too long 😉

January 29, 2016

Forward planning

I’ve been thinking how I will need to go about picking up the Savannah. First I need to get a weather window, not just for the flight down from la Ferté to Galinat but also for some familiarisation with the Savannah beforehand. When I looked a few days ago to see what the Jetsteam was doing, as that will have the main influence over the weather, it appeared that there would be a 3-day good weather window from Thursday 4th February through to Saturday 6th, giving me a day to get up there, a day for familiarisation and a day to fly back.

However, based on current forecasts, if I stick to the same schedule, that seems to have narrowed to a 2-day window from Thursday 4th to Friday 5th. This would allow me a day for travelling and then just one day to get some familiarisation in before leaving that same day for the Dordogne. Now I don’t want to appear over-confident or to underestimate the scale of what’s involved, but that doesn’t concern me too much. The familiarisation part doesn’t worry me after getting my hands on the Savannah in Bretagne a few days ago as it was a stable, easy machine to fly. I’ve also got experience of flying flapped aircraft from my time in Group ‘A’ aircraft – Cessna 150, Cessna 172 and, of course, the Cherokee 180 that I was a part-owner of in years gone by. What would concern me more would be being able to get away from la Ferté in good time for the flight down, which would really need to be before mid-day based on the timings I have at present.

The other possibility would be to bring all of my plans forward by 24 hours, travel up to la Ferté on Wednesday 3rd February and fly back south on the Friday. This would really be my preferred option if it can be fitted in by the persons involved at la Ferté.

Here are the flight plan details are far as they can go for now. First, I’d like to break the flight down into two legs – the first from la Ferté to Dave and Amanda Lord’s Wanafly ULM school based to the north of Limoges and then on from there to Galinat.

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Wanafly would be a good place and time to stop off for a break and would also give me a chance to see Dave and Amanda again after dropping into them initially when I flew down from the UK to the Dordogne in MYRO back in 2012. Just how convenient a break-point in the flight it would be can be seen from the following timings, which are incomplete of course, as at this stage I can’t enter any wind details.

Laferte to Galinat

I’m having to keep my powder dry for the time being until I can hear what Robert at la Ferté can organise in terms of availability of his 3-axis instructor colleague and until I know all I can do is wait for now. However, I don’t want to hang on for more than a day or so before hearing from him.

The logistics of the flight have been just one of the problems that I’m having to deal with. Just getting up to la Ferté is another, and here’s what I’ll have to do to travel there from PLazac.

1. To Brive la Gaillarde in my car with a friend. Friend to drive my car back.
2. From Brive la Gaillarde to Paris Austerlitz by inter-city train.
3. Cross from Paris Austerlitz to Paris Est by Metro.
4. From Paris Est to Coulommiers by local train.
5. From Coulommiers to la Ferté Gaucher by local bus (laid on by train company who have cut the local train service).
6. From la Ferté Gaucher centre to the aerodrome by taxi.

Such are the problems of getting across France by public transport!

As I write this, I’ve had it confirmed that Friday 5th is OK so long as I take charge of the Savannah the day before, which suits me fine. In the meantime, I’m waiting to hear if the ‘multi-axes’ instructor will be available on the Thursday. If not, after flying the other Savannah last week, I’d have no qualms about just doing a few circuits alone and then flying off the next day. So waiting now for confirmation of the final details and then I’ll just be in the hands of the weather 😐

Final edit just before going off to bed – it appears that the weather window is beginning to close. As of now it looks as though next Thursday 4 February will be the only day that will be flyable next week. And not only that, but it appears that we will then be in for quite a long period, a week or more, of unsettled wet weather. So it looks as though it could be some time before I get my hands on my Savannah 🙁

January 28, 2016

First flight of the year

The weather’s been pretty mediocre since my sister and brother-in-law left for home and I’ve been waiting a while for an opportunity to get some air under 56NE’s wings. So when Sunday turned out to be a lovely bright day with light winds I was sorely tempted, but as I hadn’t got any fuel ready and was doing something else anyway, I gave it a miss, knowing that the forecast for Monday was just as good.

And so it turned out – better if anything – and I loaded the flight I had planned into my Asus tablet and set off for Galinat after lunch. Here’s a shot showing the route I’d planned on taking – north-east to Terrasson, turning north-west overhead the ULM airfield there, then on a westerly dog-leg (into the sun, unfortunately) turning eventually to head back to Galinat overhead Milhac, the airfield with the tiny runway that Wim and I dropped into last year.

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It was the first time that I’d got 56NE’s covers off since the winter and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it’d fared. One seat, the passenger’s luckily, was still a bit damp after the storm of a week or so ago, but overall it was still in very good shape, clean and free of rust marks. I refuelled (as best I could as I found that I’d forgotten my funnel), gave the screen a bit of a clean and after a good all-round check, was ready to go with the temperature around 17 degrees Celsius.

The flight went well and as I’d wrapped up well, I actually felt quite warm. It got a bit cooler towards the end, though, when the sun disappeared below a curtain of high cloud, so I was glad that I’d put on my gloves and my little woolly hat! I used my new sports cam for the first time, having decided to at the last minute, grabbing it as I walked out of the door. As I hadn’t charged the battery fully since the last time that I’d used it, it only lasted for 45 minutes and so didn’t record the whole flight, which was just on an hour. Even so, the resulting video didn’t turn out too badly after editing it down, and it can be viewed by clicking on the following image.

Flight 25 Jan 2106

January 25, 2016

Read all about it!

So here I am, the new year just begun and me with the best start to a new year ever. And the reason is that I’ve just bought myself a fabulous new aircraft, a brilliant STOL ICP Savannah ULM.

As I mentioned in my last post, I went off on a two-day road trip on 20th and 21st January to view two Savannahs that I’d found for sale on Le Bon Coin. The first one, the more expensive of the two, was based at l’aerodrome la Ferté Gaucher near Coulommiers to the east of Paris and the second at l’aerodrome Ploermel to the west of Rennes in Bretagne. It meant that I drove over a 1000 miles in the two days and ended up sleeping in the car overnight, but it was well worth it.

The first one was a factory built Classic model whereas the second had been built from a kit. It also turned out that although the latter was advertised as a VG (Vortex Generator) model, it had started out life as a Classic and been subsequently modified. As a factory-supplied kit is used in the conversion, this is not a problem in itself so long as the aircraft is immaculate and the work has been done well. But to my mind it made the former intrinsically more valuable than the latter, and the latter was also not immaculate and nor had the work been done that well.

Here are the details about the Classic model that I viewed first (information for the second Savannah, the VG, shown in brackets for comparison). It was built at the Savannah factory in Italy in 2001 (VG, 2002 kit built) and has a 100 HP Rotax 912 ULS engine (VG, 80 HP 912 UL). It has a Duc 3-blade ground adjustable prop (VG, 2-blade) and will cruise at around 90 kts (100 mph, 160 kmh, VG 85 kts, 95 mph, 150 kmh).

The difference in cruising speed is not that important to me as it will only be significant when I fly back to England in it, which I’ll be able to do in only around 6 hours. It has been impossible to contemplate such a flight in my X-Air, 56NE, although the tour of the west coast that I did last year with Wim demonstrated that long distances are possible in first generation ULMs just so long as you are patient and have the time.

It has only 355 airframe and engine hours on it (VG, 1650) with under 20 of those since 2013, and whereas the differences in the airframe conditions of the two aircraft were quite strikingly obvious, as I’ll go on to explain, it also showed in the relative conditions of the engines. The Classic’s engine appeared well looked after, clean and relatively shiny with more or less everything that could be, wire locked.

The VG, on the other hand, was and looked well used. Its seller said that it had been mechanically overhauled at 1600 hours, but this only included the gearbox and some peripherals and didn’t include any engine internals, which meant that its engine was at the end of its official Rotax life. The Classic has some 1200 hours to go before reaching that limit and should continue to at least double that, so will have plenty more than enough life in it for the rest of the time I’ll be flying, I’d think.

In fact, it’s well know that 912 engines run happily to 3000 hours and beyond, but that depends on how they’ve been used and maintained and the condition of the VG’s engine didn’t promote confidence in that department. What was also nice to find was that the Classic’s engine had water-heated carburettor manifolds, which are extras, to prevent carb icing, whereas the VG’s did not.

So what about the interiors? It’s a fact of life that renovating a tatty or well-used aircraft interior can work out to be pretty expensive, and the Classic scored here again. Both aircraft had the standard Savannah panel, but the Classic’s was the bright, clean, original white whereas the VG’s was a scruffy, hand painted matt black with areas worn away from heavy use. A no-brainer, then. The Classic’s also had all holes filled, whereas the VG’s had a vacant one covered up by a stick-on digital timer, which I couldn’t have lived with.

Again, this in itself wasn’t important as to get the full use out of the aircraft, I’ll need to fit a transponder that will need a hole somewhere on the panel. The obvious place is where the VG’s hole is, which is filled by the usual French Alphatec intercom in the Classic. To my mind this is an anachronism because nowadays an intercom is built into the radio interface or, as in the case of my own, into the headsets themselves if no radio is being used. I took the intercom that was in 56NE when I bought it out and threw it away!

As an added bonus, the Classic was also being sold with a Garmin GPS (that looks as though it needs a new battery), a legal (which my Vertex is not) Icom A3E radio and two brand new-looking headsets.

And finally, for the interiors, we come to the seats and belts, and yet again the Classic scored very heavily over the VG. It has gorgeous black leather upholstery that’s in used but perfect condition and matching black full-harness belts. The VG, on the other hand, had cloth trimmed seats that were not only dirty and stained in places but also somewhat tatty, and to top it all, only had lap belts, which would be illegal in the UK.

Now moving on to the exteriors. There’s not much to say about the Classic other than it appeared to be in almost perfect condition, with no dings or dents, not even any hangar rash that you generally find on aircraft of its age. This was probably because it’s spent most of its life parked in a corner as a hangar queen and hasn’t had to be moved much, either to be flown or to allow access to other aircraft. There may have been some slight hailstone damage on the upper surfaces of the wings, but I couldn’t see clearly as I’m a bit of a short-house, and if there was, I don’t think that it amounted to much.

But the same couldn’t be said of the VG. What was immediately noticeable (to me anyhow) was a large vertical crease near the port wingtip. Although the owner flew the aircraft with some vigour during our test flight, my own judgement is that the damage really needed to be repaired. There was also a dent in the leading edge of the starboard stabiliser and no paintwork under the plastic vortex generator elements where it been ground away for them to be stuck on, so these things coupled with several areas where paintwork had been worn off, ripples in the inner top surface of the port wing and several noticeable cracks in the screen that had, admittedly, been drilled to prevent them running further, meant that the overall impression of the VG was somewhat underwhelming to say the least.

So that’s about it, I think. It explains why I decided to go for the Classic rather than the VG, even though the difference in the asking prices amounted to 5,500€. This is not an insignificant amount and could be greater still as the VG owner was fairly realistic and knew that he’d have to drop his price somewhat. But in my mind, there were too many question marks over his aircraft that represented too high a level of risk (not to mention work) for my stomach, so in the event I still decided to go for the former.

I’ve made a short video about it that can be viewed by clicking on the following image.

My fabulous new Savannah

There are still some things to be sorted out, not the least of which will be getting up to la Ferté Gaucher by public transport, spending some time with an instructor that will be laid on for me by the seller, and ultimately flying the aircraft home to Galinat. I’ll also have to find some temporary cover for it at this end as it’s condition is too good for it to be left out in the open. But those things are not for now and I’ll write about them in due course.

January 24, 2016

Really, really big update!

In early December, I was idly scanning the listings of ULMs for sale on Le Bon Coin when I came across a beautiful ICP Savannah. It was all white with snazzy coloured graphics and guaranteed to catch the eye of any aircraft lover. But the big thing about it was that its price was a snip, and not only that but the seller also said that it could be negotiable further at the time of sale.

I did nothing about it at the time except keep a copy of the small ad, which I showed to my sister and brother-in-law over the Christmas holiday. I told them that with one flyable aircraft already and a second under repair under covers in my back garden, to acquire yet another could be seen as an extravagance to say the least. But I did say that the one on sale was totally different to the other two, being not just capable of flying low and slow over the Dordogne countryside but also of zipping at high speed back to England in only around 6 hours.

Instead of agreeing with me, they did the reverse and encouraged me in my foolishness, saying that you only get one life and that I should pull the stops out and go for it. So I did. I contacted the seller, who told me that the aircraft had been sold, but that he would keep my contact details just in case the buyer pulled out. So this gave me some relief, as at least I could say that I’d given it a go but had been thwarted by events.

But my relief was not to last long, as I somehow suspected that it wouldn’t, because in less than a couple of weeks, the advertisement came up again on Le Bon Coin. It appeared that the prospective buyer couldn’t raise the necessary finance so the Savannah was up for sale once more. This time I had no excuse and phoned the seller, suggesting that I’d like to view the aircraft the following Wednesday, January 20th.

But then blow me down if on checking Le Bon Coin out again on the Monday, another Savannah had appeared for sale, this time a VG (Vortex Generator) model up in Bretagne. The first Savannah was located at la Ferté Gaucher near Coulommiers out to the east of Paris, so I phoned the second seller and said that I’d like to see his aircraft on Thursday 21st, the day after the first one. This would enable me to do a 3-legged, triangular round trip of something over a thousand miles over the two days with a night-stop in a hotel somewhere in between the two aircraft’s locations. It was all agreed, so I set off from home for la Ferté Gaucher last Wednesday morning with 6 1/2 hours driving ahead of me – in thick fog.

Nevertheless, despite the fog and freezing temperatures in northern France, I arrived at the airfield at la Ferté Gaucher just before 3.00 pm, the time that I said that I would, and was warmly greeted by Robert, the owner of the ULM school there who was handling the sale of the Savannah. After the usual cup of coffee and initial chat, we went into the hangar to view the aircraft. It was everything that I expected it to be but there was only one snag. Robert apologised profusely and said that due to its having stood for a very long period and the cold weather, he’d been unable to start the engine as the battery was flat and wouldn’t charge despite having been connected to a charger for several hours.

There was nothing that could be done, therefore, apart from my giving the aircraft a close inspection. If the engine wouldn’t start, there was no possibility of my having a test flight, and in any case, although the sun had broken through by that time, there was still a very low cloud base due to the earlier fog. By this time it was becoming pressing for me to get going and head off for Bretagne, so Robert said that he’d wait until Friday morning to hear what my intentions were before offering the aircraft to two other potential buyers who were waiting in the wings.

I agreed with that proposal and after we’d bade each other farewell, jumped into the Kia and headed off west. Having driven for over 6 1/2 hours already and with a 5 1/2 hour drive ahead of me to where the second Savannah was, I thought that I’d drive for about 3 hours or so and then find a hotel for the night. This would make it easy to meet the seller of the second aircraft the next day at 1.00 pm, the time I’d suggested for the second viewing.

But my plans were to be thwarted. Night fell as I drove and I began to look out for a hotel either on or close to the road that I was driving on at around about the 3 hour limit. But no luck! There just wasn’t one to be found without making a large detour into one of the large towns, like Rennes, which I wasn’t really keen on doing. I’d come prepared for such an eventuality by bringing with me a sleeping bag and pillow off my bed at home, so in the end I decided that I was so tired that to continue driving would be dangerous and pulled into a rest area where I’d spend the night in the car.

And despite freezing overnight temperatures and having chosen not the best area to stop at, as I was a bit too close to the main road that remained pretty busy all night, I managed to get 4 or 5 hours sleep. The worst bit was washing and cleaning my teeth with cold water in the freezing cold the next morning and I was glad to jump back into the car afterwards and switch on the heated driving seat!

And to cap it all, within less than 20 kms after starting to drive again, I came across the perfect little low-cost hotel right at the side of the road. Wouldn’t you just know it 😐

I met Michel, the second seller at the appointed time at the airfield where his Savannah was hangared and once more after the almost-compulsory cup of coffee, we went outside to view it. This aircraft was a year younger than the first but with many more hours on it, and it showed. It was also up at a considerably lower price, but the closer I looked at it, the more it became clear that it would cost much more than the price difference to get it up to anything like the condition of the former.

Michel suggested a test flight as the cloud base had lifted since earlier in the morning, so off we went. This Savannah had the Rotax 912 UL 80 hp engine but it lifted off very smartly. Michel demonstrated it very effectively with some often quite extreme manoeuvres before giving me the chance to fly it. He also asked if I’d like to do a landing but I said that I was still very tired and that I’d give it a miss on this occasion. Better safe than sorry.

As the Savannah is the Number 1 STOL ULM, I asked Michel if he would demonstrate its short field performance. He did so by doing a touch-and-go, taking off again in less than 50 metres, turning sharp left in the climb to no more than 50 metres to one side of the runway and side-slipping back on again to land also in about 50 metres. It flew like a motor-bike and I was totally gob-smacked 😯

After taking a look at the aircraft’s papers, it was time to leave and start heading back south again. Michel knew that I’d seen another Savannah the day before and I told him that I’d think about things and let him know what my decision was about his aircraft. Actually I already knew that I wouldn’t be going for it. Here’s a short video that I’ve made that I think gives some indications as to why, which you can see by clicking on the following pic.

Not the one

As I left, I stopped and phoned Robert, the first seller, to tell him that I would be going ahead with the purchase of his Savannah and on Friday I gave Michel the news that I wouldn’t be proceeding with his. I’m not going to say any more about the new one just yet as I’ll be going into full details with pics etc in my next post. But suffice to say that this is a really big moment for me and that I’m very, very excited about my intended new aircraft 😀

January 22, 2016

Big update

I haven’t posted anything on My Trike since my family left for home on 6th January because quite honestly, I’ve been too busy with lots of things. It’s amazing how, when you’re retired, the days are just not long enough for all of the things that you have to do!

First off, something slightly trivial but which needed to be sorted. I have a little Chinese-made sports cam (a Go-Pro copy) that I used very successfully during the tour up the west coast that Wim and I did back in June of last year. Soon after we got home I went to use it again and found that it wouldn’t work and the problem seemed to be to do with the battery. So I bought some more from China together with a separate charger and was very disappointed when the cam wouldn’t work with these either.

I thought that somehow it had got damaged during charging, as I’d used a mains USB charger that came with something else, or that maybe I or the charger had knackered the batteries. In the end I decided to bite the bullet and buy a replacement, and this time I went for the full HD version with wi-fi that can be remotely controlled from a smartphone, thinking that it would be handy to be able to turn it off and on from inside the aircraft.

The new model turned up before Christmas but I was unable to do anything with it because of my visitors so it was only after they’d left that I was able to turn my attention to it. First, here’s a shot of both models together.

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To my delight, when I fired the new one up and did a few recordings with it I found that the results were of significantly higher quality than I’d got with the old model. However, there was a downside. When I came to edit the clips into a full movie, I found that although my editing software (Corel VideoStudio Pro X8) recognised them, it refused to render the completed movie and just kept stopping after looking as though it had done around 30% or so.

So it was up to me to find a solution, which I was fortunately able to do, by searching for and finding some suitable video conversion software. It took a few days because although there’s lots out there, some of it gives really shocking levels of quality that I just couldn’t tolerate. After all my efforts, I’m now getting superb results as can be viewed by linking to the move that comes up later in this post.

One of the things that this episode brought home to me is how much I miss all of the stuff that was on the crappy Seagate hard drive that let me down before Christmas. I didn’t just lose all of my original images and videos but also all of my editing and processing tools that I’d built up over the years, many of which I can’t find now and have to find replacements for.

The footnote to the sports cam story is that I eventually found what the problem is with the old model, which is that one of the battery contacts has come loose. I’ve found that if I press it in hard with the blade of a small screwdriver back towards the cam’s motherboard, everything works fine. That’s until it somehow works a bit loose again. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to carefully take the cam apart and resolder the contact and if I’m successful I’ll then have two cams that I’ll be able to set up on the aircraft to take different views. That’ll be great editing fun, so watch this space 😉

The next main task has been my house project, not just planning what form it should take but also researching the French building and planning rules and regulations. I’ll come back to the project concept in a moment, but first a few key comments on the latter. I’ve had a debate with friends about whether I’ll be officially required to hire an architect, which I don’t want to do, not just for financial reasons but because I believe that I’m quite capable of producing the necessary working drawings that’ll be needed for the contractors. After much time and effort, I’ve now managed to have confirmed that (a) a single house on a building plot is the exception to the new planning rules which in part stipulated that an architect must be used and (b) any development that involves less than 170 sq metres is exempt anyway.

This is good news and I’ve been pressing forward with my ideas, and here’s a picture of my final idea for my scheme.

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Having thought more deeply about the whole thing, I now recognise (without being told 😉 ) that my earlier ideas were merely expensive vanity projects. This now gives me everything that I’m looking for, as I’ll explain in another post, and is likely to come out quite a lot less expensive. However, there is a downside to my researches. Not employing an architect doesn’t mean that I won’t have to submit a highly detailed dossier with my plans that I’ll also go into in a later post. And I’ve also found that due to the timescales and delays that are inbuilt in the ‘new’ French planning system that amount to months actually, there’s little doubt that I’ll be able to put a shovel into the ground much before the autumn of this year.

But this doesn’t mean that I won’t be able to get rid of the huge, lovely, old but incredibly messy lime tree that stands in front of my house, because there’s no planning consent needed for that in France. So I’m about to contact the contractor who has already submitted a ‘devis’ for doing so plus the ground work for my extension to get him to submit another for removing the tree and doing a little bit more work that I have in mind.

I’ve also been applying myself to creating the plans for my building job. I’ve identified some suitable Architect’s CAD software and have been teaching myself how to use it. As I’ve got to submit detailed current plans (that I think no-one has ever done before) I thought that I’d start with that because once I’ve mastered that, I can go on to add my proposed extension and the changes I have in my mind upstairs for my ‘grenier’. Here’s the stage that I’ve got to so far.

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It’s taken a few days just to get this far because as well as learning how to use the software, I’ve also had to create all of the windows and doors used so they match the real ones by editing the default objects included in the software. But anyway, I’m quite happy with the process thus far.

To end this post, we had a huge storm back on 11th January with very strong winds from the north, so strong that on this occasion I was quite worried about 56NE because that’s the direction from which it has no shelter or protection. I went across to Galinat on 13th January to check how things were and to my relief found that although the winds had lifted the aircraft slightly (the concrete blocks under the wings had moved slightly inwards) and the covers had moved a little bit, there was no real damage. The seats were wet, the pitot cover had been blown off (but was still hanging suspended on its tether) and the two wing cover end flaps, that I never finished properly but should have, had been blown loose. But fortunately that was all, despite the wind having been ‘like a tornado’ as a local resident, who dropped by while I was getting everything back into shape, told me.

Click on the picture below to see the movie that I made of my visit.

After the storm

I also have some additional, much more important, developments to write about. However, I’ll cover those in my next post.

January 2, 2016

A short local tour

We went for a drive yesterday without expecting too much because as is typical on most French holidays in the winter months, the majority of small local cafés and restaurants would be sure to be closed. And indeed they were.

We drove via St Cyprien to the small medieval hilltop town of Belvès where there was hardly a soul to be seen outdoors. It was the first time I’d been there (although I snapped it from the air a while ago) and I found it rather disappointing.

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We then decided to head back via Sarlat and on the way passed by the Château de Beynac perched high up on its clifftop overlooking a wide bend in the River Dordogne.

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As things were so quiet, we then headed back home for a cup of coffee and a last slice of Christmas cake, which we consumed in front of my wood burner. A perfect end to the afternoon 😉

January 1, 2016

Back to Brantôme

My guests enjoyed their visit to Brantôme on Christmas Eve, so much so that we decided to go back there again. I didn’t mind as it gave me the opportunity to take some photographs of what is an incredibly photogenic place with a proper camera, and once again we were lucky to enjoy yet more lovely weather.

Here are the best of the shots that I took.

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There were a good few more visitors around compared to when we went last time but even though most of the restaurants were closed, we still managed to get a table pretty quickly at Chez Domi for an omelette and frites. It seemed as though every other person was British, which is not to my liking as I enjoy the total French experience, but my guests didn’t mind and had a most enjoyable day out.

As this is my first post of 2016, I’d like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone a Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.