January 24, 2018

Sunshine here I come!

I had the idea of taking a brief holiday somewhere warm once my chemo treatment was over and I’ve been humming and hahing for the past few days wondering whether to book up or not – whether I’ll be well enough to go, whether it’ll be safe for me to travel by air so soon after the end of my treatment – you know, all that kind of stuff.

Everyone has told me to JUST DO IT! like they always do (good advice too…) so today I took the plunge and booked a ‘last minute’ deal to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada for 4 to 11 February. OK, the booking is now made but it just shows what messing about can cost you.

I think, but can’t now confirm, that the flight out when I first checked was direct from Toulouse arriving at Hurghada in the early evening and the flight back was also direct, arriving at Blagnac in the later afternoon.

But not so now. The price has increased by nearly 20€ (serves me right) and although it still departs Blagnac at the same time, it now stops over at Istanbul and the connection arrives at Hurghada in the early hours. Similarly, the return flight leaves Hurghada in the early hours of the last day instead of the more civilised time that was originally quoted, again stops over at Istanbul and arrives back at Toulouse mid-afternoon.

But what the heck, at least now the break is booked and parking as well (for the princely sum of 40€ for the eight days) so as rainfall is unheard of at this time of year and the temperature should be around 24 degrees Celsius, I should at last be able to see some sun after missing out on it entirely last year due to my being indisposed.

The resort hotel I’ve chosen is some way away from the airport, the town of Hurghada itself and all commerce, but as my break will be ‘all inclusive’ that’ll suit me fine, as all I want to do is eat, drink (a little), lie in the sun and sleep. And I’ll be able to do most, if not all, of those things either next to one of the pools or on the hotel’s private beach, which just suits me fine.

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And when I get back, it’ll be just about the right time to think about flying again 😉

January 11, 2018

Big day

I had my last chemo today. I feel a but rotten while I’m typing this and will continue doing so for the next few days. But who cares. From now on the only way is up.

January 10, 2018

Sainte Foy la Grande

Back in the Spring of last year, Victor and I dropped into Aérodrome Sainte Foy La Grande Fougueyrolles and we were both struck by what a nice little airfield it is. It’s a bit dog-eared and slightly down-at-heel much like many other small French airfields, but this was more than made up for by the amount of activity going on there. This was probably because the airfield supports both a GA flying club and a gliding club, both of which were very much in evidence on the day that we landed.

A few days ago I noticed that there was an update available for my copy of X-Plane installed on my PC and after installing it, as the only flying I’m going to be doing for the next few weeks will continue to be ‘virtual’ flying, I thought that I’d check to see what kind of a job X-Plane had made of Sainte Foy la Grande.

Well, to be honest I was rather disappointed as the scenery in the sim bore no relationship whatsoever to what’s actually present there on the ground. And not only that, but there were also programming errors with buildings not standing on the ground and floating in the air and so on.

I couldn’t remember seeing these problems when I first looked at the scenery some time ago so I ended up contacting X-Plane, making my feelings known and suggesting that they reverted to the ‘old’ scenery version that in my view was better.

You can probably guess what happened. They replied saying that yes they would correct the errors, but that actually the scenery present hadn’t changed at all and the version in the updated software was exactly the same as before and that if I wanted to make any ‘improvements’ I could use their updated update as a starting point!

This, of course, placed me in a tricky position and to cut a long story short I said that not only wouldn’t I do that, as the scenery was so amateurish, but that I’d make a new one myself that would be better. So that served me right!

I didn’t think that it would take too long though, and still don’t, as the airfield is quite small with not too many buildings and other ‘objects’ to model. Plus, although I don’t have many original photographs to go from, I have all of the textures that I created for my Figeac-Livernon scenery that I can use directly or adapt. So I got going on Saturday and here’s where I’ve got to so far.

First, a few shots that I took when we landed there.

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Now some screen shots of my new Sainte Foy la Grande X-Plane scenery.

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There’s still a little way to go but I’ve already broken the back of it. I’ve created all of the textures that I’ve used from scratch by hand and two or three of the ones visible in the screen shots are just temporary (I won’t say which ones) so as to work out the correct sizes and fits. It won’t take long, however, to finalise these and install proper ones and then it’ll be on to installing the miscellaneous bits and pieces and accessories that bring a scenery to life, including human figures that are totally absent in the existing scenery.

And finally I’ll have to spend a few hours planting trees just as I’ve done with the other sceneries that I’ve created. Fortunately although time-consuming (but worth it) the physical effort involved is significantly less than doing it for real 😉

January 3, 2018

Looking ahead

Sadly as many readers know already, I haven’t flown since April 2017 due to the health issues that overtook me but as it looks as though they will be over and I’ll be making what I hope will be a full recovery over the coming weeks and months, I’m now allowing myself to start making plans again.

I had a whole bunch of flights planned for last year in the Savannah along with Victor whenever he could join me, around much of SW France and I can’t wait to dig them all out again, blow the dust off, plug ’em into my satnav and get going. They should be a lot of fun as I took care to select airfields and itineraries for each one such that we could stop for a good lunch along the way before continuing and eventually making the round trip back home again.

It’ll be a real treat to start working our way through them as they include inland rural, hilly and coastal areas. And not only that but we’ll also be planning to take in a few notable sights like the Millau Viaduct from the air.

Another aim that I set for myself during, let’s just say, the darkest moments of my illness was to make another trip back to the UK in 2018 and this now looks as though it should come to fruition some time between late April and early July. Last time in 2016 I took a two-day stop-over with a friend in Saumur before being cleared through Headcorn and ending up at Bowerswaine Farm in Dorset because that was close to where my sister and brother-in-law lived.

It won’t be necessary to go that far this time because they’ve moved back up to Kent, so my plan is to make my final destination a private field next to his house owned by a good friend of mine in Kent where my son also lives. I’ll then be in close proximity to my close family and friends, making it much easier to arrange evenings out, get-togethers and so on. It’ll be enormous fun and I can hardly wait.

It’ll also make for an interesting landing as the field in question is shortish and sloping, but nothing like what we are used to over here so not too daunting. Whether I’ll then be planning other local flights from there in SE England and beyond during my stay I don’t know yet, but I probably will just for old time’s sake.

So what with other things I have planned for 2018, like some fairly major work that I had to put on hold to my house and garden, not to mention my first flight in the Weedhopper after having to wait for over a year with it all ready to go, 2018 should be quite a year to remember. And this time for good reasons, not the opposite 😀