September 28, 2018

My X-Air

I decided a while ago that I should sell 56NE, my X-Air. Having three ULMs is a non-starter. You can’t fly that many and maintaining them all is a time-consuming nightmare. As the Savannah is my main preference and I’ve been spending some time flying the Weedhopper following the work I put in to rebuild it, I haven’t flown 56NE for many months. It does no aircraft any good to be just parked in the back of a hangar – they need the air under their wings.

So a few weeks ago I began getting 56NE ready for sale. The main job was to improve its appearance by renewing the special varnish that the previous owners had applied to its wings and fuselage. This has done a good job of protecting it from the harmful effects of UV but over the six years that I’ve owned the aircraft it has been worn off and degraded in many places. So I applied a new coat and since then 56NE has been left under covers in the barn to protect the new finish from dust and grime.

Since then, what with my car and other problems I’ve not had much time to get back onto preparing the aircraft for sale but this was given new emphasis when a soon-to-qualify student pilot at Ste Foy expressed a strong interest in acquiring it a couple of weeks ago. So yesterday I swapped it and the Weedhopper around in the barn at Malbec, removed the X-Air’s covers and started the engine.

It started and ran fine but I couldn’t get its tickover to drop below 2000 rpm, which isn’t good. I suspect that one or both carb rubbers might be slightly perished allowing air to enter the engine but I can’t be sure until I remove the carburettors. And while I’m doing that, I might as well replace the cables, which look a bit tatty, plus a couple of the cable rubber boots that have split.

Not much work, just general maintenance really, but it’ll take a few days because of the time to order in the parts that I’ll need. I’ve told the prospective purchaser and also sent him a few of the pictures that I shot yesterday, which I’ve posted below. He’s impatient to see and fly in the aircraft, but I’ve told him that it will be to his advantage in the long run and he’s had to accept the situation for the moment as when I do sell 56NE I want everything to be just as it should be.

Anyway, here are yesterday’s shots.

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The old girl has scrubbed up very well and despite the fast tickover, it’s engine started easily and ran sweetly. Even so, I won’t be sorry to see it go when the time eventually arrives 😉

September 27, 2018

Rassemblement ULM Ste Foy La Grande

Doesn’t time fly! At the time of writing, it was ten days ago on 16 September that Wim and I flew into Ste Foy la Grande in our Weedhoppers, and Victor drove there, for an ULM fly-in and barbecue. And a great afternoon it was too, well supported by visitors by road and air, especially as it was the first time that ULM Evasion who are based on the airfield had put together such an event.

Although our main destination was Ste Foy la Grande, Wim suggested that we could also drop into LF2469 Campsegret along the way, a new private ULM airfield at about half distance that was opened just over a year ago. So that was our plan, as shown on our route for the day, below.

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As Wim only had 35 litres of fuel on board the Red Baron (compared to my just over 50 in 28AAD, my Weedhopper), we decided that it would be best for him not to waste fuel by landing and taking off again at Malbec but that I’d make sure that I was all ready to go with engine warmed up and I’d take off when I heard him approaching. The idea worked well, and here’s a shot that I took of 28AAD while I was waiting for him to come overhead.

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Helped by my GPS system, I’d found Campsegret the day before on my way back from Ste Foy la Grande in the Savannah and as I was using the same system, I had no problem locating the airfield again and landing there in 28AAD. Not so Wim unfortunately. For once his normally impeccable dead-reckoning navigation let him down and while I was on final to land at Camsegret I spotted him off to my right trying to locate its runway, but in the adjacent valley.

I shot a video during the flight, as I also did the day before in the Savannah, which I hope to produce shortly, and in it while I’m taxying back up Campsegret’s runway to park 28AAD, Wim can be seen passing by to the south still searching. Here’s a shot that I took of 28AAD after I’d parked while waiting for Wim to land, which he eventually did, fortunately without wasting too much fuel!

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Campsegret’s runway has a declared length of 300 metres but we both got the impression that it is actually quite a bit less. It is also not helped by there being a slight down-slope from the threshold and like most runways here, you always land in one direction (01) and take off in the other (19). Although flying conditions were perfect that morning, there was actually a slight tailwind when I landed, although it didn’t affect me by much. Here’s a shot of both Weedhoppers parked there near the threshold end.

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There’s a white Skyranger based at Campsegret and while we were approaching, we’d seen it take off and head towards the east. There was nobody at the airfield, therefore, so after a brief walk around we took off to head for Ste Foy with me in the lead in 28AAD. When we arrived, there were a couple of ‘pendulaires’ (flexwings) ahead of us, so we slotted in and landed behind them. This was the first time that I’d landed on runway 10 at Ste Foy so it was a new expereince that gave me a different perspective of the airfield.

The taxy up to the parking area was also much longer than when landing from the opposite direction and here’s a shot of Wim talking with an interested onlooker, of which there were several as our two Weedhoppers stimulated quite a bit of interest, after parking in the ranks next to 28AAD.

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Now some general shots of the assemblage of aircraft, which included ULMs of many types, ‘avions’ (Group A aircraft) and even a couple of helicopters. In some shots the parked ranks look a bit thin but they were taken while aircraft were still arriving. And what a coincidence! Note the registration of the elderly Quicksilver in the foreground of the next shot – 33AAD ie ‘AAD’ in the Gironde département. And what’s the registration of my little Weedhopper? Yup, 28AAD ie ‘AAD’ in the Eure-et-Loire.

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There can only be one ‘AAD’ in each of France’s 96 départements, excluding the overseas territories, so it’s quite amazing that both of them from the two adjacent départements were there on the day, the more so as ‘AAD’ is quite an old reg and some ULMs carrying it must surely by now have fallen by the wayside.

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Whenever you walk around a group of parked ULMs in France, you come across many (very many!) more types than you do in the UK where the convoluted type approval rules crush all marques excluding those with fat wallets from entering the market (with the result that the market is now effectively moribund, although that’s another story). Here’s one that I’ve never seen before. I don’t know its name but I suspect that it is a very pretty little home-built.

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And here’s a tandem two-seat Quicksilver.

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It brought smiles to our faces because it’s probably a school aircraft that has been subjected to more than its fair share of hard landings and as a result its main axles had been bent and its main wheels splayed out. No problem. All they had then done was lash a steel cable between them to stop them splaying any more. Imagine the fits that inspectors in the UK would have with such an arrangement! However, apart from making the aircraft sit much lower to the ground than normal, it appeared to work pretty well. Not well enough for me I must say, but OK apparently for this aircraft’s pilot 🙂

Here’s a very pretty little vintage Jodel. I’m not sure if it was an ULM or an ‘avion’ but I think probably the latter.

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And here’s an ULM of a type that you see for sale every now and again on Le Bon Coin. I think it’s called a C5 but I’m not sure. It’s quite pretty but I’m not a big fan of the wing strut arrangement as I prefer to see struts in a ‘V’ shape with a single attachment at the fuselage end. I don’t much fancy the idea of getting between the struts to enter the aircraft, but that’s maybe just me.

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And here’s another shot of the same aircraft with a ‘pendulaire’ pilot next door doing what all ULM pilots are good at – lying in the shade under their aircraft’s wing before getting themselves ready for the flight home.

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Another general shot.

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A Skyleader 200 – never to be seen in the UK as far as I know as not UK ‘type approved’. How stupid is that.

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A very pretty Zenair 601.

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Another general shot of the Zenair flanked by a couple of Skyrangers with a Robin ‘avion’ in the background.

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The Robin. Not a new design but still beautiful in my eyes with its classic curves.

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Then we came to the Classic Quicksilver, all cables and tubes with its pilot readying himself for takeoff in the middle of his ‘birdcage’.

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After he’d taxied out and taken off, the reason became clear when he set off two red smoke flares on the Quicksilver’s wingtips and commenced a number of very low passes over the airfield.

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And not just the airfield – also the hangars, parked aircraft and the crowd, although nobody seemed to mind too much. Imagine the screams of outrage from all bodies of authority from the CAA downwards if such a display had taken place in the UK. Here it was regarded as just a fun end to an enjoyable day, but I have to say that given a few of the pilot’s low and slow turns and manoeuvres, I did breath a small sigh of relief when he made it back down safely.

And then it was time for the flight home. Wim left just before me as I was involved in a conversation with a prospective purchaser of my X-Air, but we both agreed afterwards when we met up again for drinks at Wim’s that it was a thermic nightmare compared to our flight to Ste Foy in the morning. But never mind, my landing back at Malbec was a peach compared to that the day before in the Savannah. So it just shows, you never can tell what to expect 😉

September 26, 2018

My continuing car saga

I mentioned in a post nearly two weeks ago that I’d been waiting for the new fuel injectors to arrive that I hoped would finally solve my Kia’s engine problem but that they had been stuck in the delivery company’s depot in Brive for about ten days, basically because they couldn’t be bothered to deliver them. Well, after chasing both the supplier and the delivery company they did eventually find their way to me and I then took them post-haste over to my mechanic’s garage.

He couldn’t fit them immediately because of being in the middle of another job but a day or so later he called to say that he was ready and could I come over to be present when the engine was started. Sure enough, the engine started but with clouds of thick white smoke, which was not surprising as the whole system was still saturated with unburnt diesel fuel. Nevertheless, the engine sounded fine, which was a great relief to me.

After allowing it to run for a few minutes it was time to give it a test, and while I watched he ran the vehicle up and down the slope next to his workshop a few times. There was still smoke but the car drove and sounded OK. After a few attempts, while stationary at the bottom of the slope, he revved the engine a few times to see if the smoke might clear a bit. Then all of a sudden there was the awful sound of a big-end or crankshaft main bearing running, and that was that.

So as of now, the Kia’s engine is effectively destroyed rendering the vehicle of little or no value despite the fact that it has relatively few kilometres on the clock (for a 2 litre diesel anyway, which is what it is) and the rest of the vehicle is in excellent condition, and I don’t just mean for its age.

But that’s something that needs to be addressed later. What mattered immediately was that as I was still relying on the generosity of my friend Victor to continue loaning me his fully restored 2CV as a daily runner, which I was less keen on than he was, I had to sort out a replacement vehicle more or less immediately.

I’ll make it quite clear at the outset that I’m definitely not a ‘car’ person per-se and have no interest in owning a car as a status symbol to be parked outside my house or to impress people when I drive up. More the opposite actually – I just don’t really care. However, I know from experience, including my most recent with the Kia, that it’s essential to have a reliable vehicle down here because there’s no public transport to speak of and getting around is more or less impossible without your own transport.

I’d had to think about a Plan B while the Kia was tied up ie what to do if it couldn’t be returned to the road within a reasonable timeframe, and had concluded, of course, that I’d have to find a suitable replacement. I’d decided that I don’t really need 4-wheel drive but that I need enough boot space to carry all the stuff that I need to work on and service my ULMs, the power to tow a twin-wheel trailer without over-taxing the engine and enough comfort and refinement to eliminate, or at least ease, the hardship of long journeys, which you tend to do a lot of in France.

And despite all of the current discussions about the relative merits of diesel (gazole) versus petrol (essence), as the former is so entrenched here in France I’d decided that I’d go again for diesel. So with all of the above in mind, I scanned what was both suitable and available and came up with a preference for a Ford C-Max.

I get the impression that Ford cars are like Marmite – people either like them or hate them. My own experience has been very good, not that I’ve ever owned a Ford personally, but family members have. They are ‘vanilla’ cars, which is why they are so favoured as company vehicles in the UK, and recognised as being pretty ‘bullet-proof’, economic to own and operate.

I set my target on a Mark II, low mileage example with at least a 1.8 litre engine, either manual or automatic. My Kia was automatic as was my Astra ‘Elegance’ estate before that, that I brought with me from the UK, but having run with the 2CV for a few months I’ve got used to changing gears manually again, and I also wanted a top-of-range Titanium model if possible, or if not, at least a Ghia.

I’d found suitable vehicles advertised for sale but up to last week-end, they were all in far-flung locations – Paris, Calvados, Marseilles etc. Then lo and behold, as if by magic, exactly what I was looking for – a 1.8 litre silver Mk II Titanium – appeared on Le Bon Coin and only 80 or so miles away just south of Agen.

Victor took me down to see it on Sunday and to cut a long story short, I made an offer which the seller accepted. I hoped to go back the next day, Monday, with cash to pick it up. However, banks here in France close on Mondays and my abortive attempts to set up a cash withdrawal and a bank transfer would be story in themselves, so I won’t waste time going into them.

Suffice to say that as presenting a cheque that is not covered by adequate funds is a criminal offence here in France, the seller proposed that I paid by cheque with proof of ID, which solved the problem, so I was indeed able to return and pick the car up on Monday as I’d hoped, and here it is.

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It’s far from new but the seller owned it for half of its life and has looked after and maintained it incredibly well. I’m extremely pleased with it and if it keeps running and driving as it currently is, it will meet my needs more or less perfectly. From a personal point of view, it’s an enormous relief to be self-reliant for mobility once again as it allows me my total independence.

I’ve still got to decide what to do with the Kia as there’s still a fair bit of cash tied up in it, but that’s not something that’s immediately pressing. What is, though, is to now turn my attention to the sale of my X-Air.

September 17, 2018

Back to…

Condat, Galinat, Sarlat-Domme, Belvès and Ste Foy la Grande. In the Savannah. Having completed the work on its slat and wingtip, I couldn’t wait to get the Savannah back into the air again. So as I hadn’t flown it for four months or so, I’d thought that a trip around the area taking in a good few take offs and landings to get myself back into the groove again would be a good idea and had therefore prepared a suitable flight plan.

Here’s the route that I flew on Saturday, which achieved everything that I wanted.

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Saturday was another fine, warm day and with temperatures still in the high 20s degrees C, we’re still getting lots of thermals bubbling up in the mid-late afternoon making for very bumpy flying conditions. So I wanted to get away early enough to avoid those as well as returning to land at Malbec with conditions on approach as unstable as we know that they can be. I made it away just before 11.00 am, which was a bit later than I’d wanted after spending longer than I’d expected cleaning the aircraft after it had stood for so long in the hangar.

Here are a couple of shots that I took for the shear fun of it after taking off and turning onto heading for Condat.

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And here are a couple of shots of 77ASY back on the ground again at Condat.

Savannah MXP 740 at Condat sur Vézère

Savannah MXP 740 at Condat sur Vézère

After filling in the movements sheet, it was time to take off and head back to the south-west for a landing at Galinat.

Savannah MXP 740 at Galinat-Tamniès les Eyzies

Savannah MXP 740 at Galinat-Tamniès les Eyzies

It’s always good to go back to Galinat with its 450 metre gently upward sloping runway. Mind you, Wim told me a story yesterday about a LSA owner who decided to bring in his aircraft from Périgueux Bassillac, landed too short, hit the upslope and took off his nose wheel assembly. Very expensive, but luckily nobody was hurt.

The plan then was to fly almost due south from Galinat to Sarlat-Domme. Here are a couple of shots that I took as I flew past Sarlat on my left side.

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Apart from seeing a single parachutist land, there wasn’t much going on at Sarlat-Domme, so I went into Control, filled in and signed the movements sheet and took a few shots of 77ASY on the ramp.

Savannah MXP 740 at Sarlat-Domme

Savannah MXP 740 at Sarlat-Domme

Savannah MXP 740 at Sarlat-Domme

Savannah MXP 740 at Sarlat-Domme

Just before I fired up the Savannah to take off and head for Belvès, I stood on the ramp and watched another ULM pilot come overhead and decide which runway to land on. I’d landed on 10 but as the wind had by now changed direction, he joined nicely and landed on 28. Unfortunately he then went and spoiled things by taxying in and parking his aircraft slap bang in the middle of the parachute landing circle! I allowed myself a smile as I imagined the conversation that he’d be having with the parachute captain 😀

Shortly after taking off from Sarlat I passed the Château de Beynac off to my right. The château is perched 150 metres up on the top of a cliff overlooking the river Dordogne and is an amazing and spectacular landmark.

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Then, as I approached the Aérodrome de Belvès, I flew past the town of Belvès which also sits high on a raised promontory overlooking the surrounding countryside. There is also an underground ‘city’ at Belvès dating back to the Middle Ages and beyond containing dwellings and other structures which unfortunately I’ve not had the chance to visit but which I’m told is well worth seeing.

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There is no formal control tower at Belvès but the aeroclub building, which is probably the most charming in the whole area, houses the closest thing to one. Unlike the last time that I was there, there was nobody around and the door was locked but in the early afternoon sunshine, it must certainly be one of the prettiest that you’ll ever come across.

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Time to take a few shots on the parking area before firing up again, taking off and heading for Ste Foy la Grande.

Savannah MXP 740 at Belvès

Savannah MXP 740 at Belvès

Flying westwards south of the Bergerac Class ‘D’ control zone, you begin to head into wine country and field upon field of vines are soon to be seen below.

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Ste Foy la Grande is situated on the south bank of the river Dordogne but is located in the Gironde département. The following shot shows the river but Ste Foy itself was behind me to the right of the Savannah when it was taken and as a result is not shown.

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Finally, shots of 77ASY taken at aérodrome de Ste Foy la Grande. Unfortunately, despite its being a beautiful afternoon, there wasn’t a soul around and I took off again later without seeing anyone. The reason may have been the fly-in planned for the following day (Sunday 16 September) by club ULM Evasion, which Wim, Victor and I went to, of which more in my next post.

Savannah MXP 740 at Ste Foy la Grande

Savannah MXP 740 at Ste Foy la Grande

Savannah MXP 740 at Ste Foy la Grande

Savannah MXP 740 at Ste Foy la Grande

My return leg from Ste Foy to Malbec continued my circuit clockwise around the Bergerac control zone. After 35 minutes, I arrived to the most bumpy approach at Malbec that I can recall for a long time and a bit of a thump of a landing (worse than the following day in the Weedhopper), but no harm down and you just have to put it down to experience.

So at the end of the afternoon, 6 legs and a total flying time of nearly 2½ hours. Great fun, very enjoyable and more to look forward to the following day.

September 14, 2018

Victor’s Citröen 2CV

It’s been over a week since the replacement fuel injectors that I ordered from Germany for my Kia were despatched via DHL. I waited in all day again today thinking that they’d surely show up but they didn’t.

One of the problems that we have in our area is that all the delivery companies have depots in Brive and if they don’t have many deliveries for an area outside of their usual locality, they just don’t bother doing them. So if there are no deliveries besides mine in the Plazac area, they either don’t load mine in the first place or end up returning it to the depot at the end of the day wthout coming to Plazac saying that they can’t find the address or with some other pathetic excuse.

It’s appalling and they nearly all do it, even the big companies, as they make wide use of subcontractors who are paid a set fee per package and a single package to Plazac is therefore uneconomic for them. I’ve had several packages that I’ve been able to track stay for days in Brive and some have then even been returned to their senders. This one I can’t track because it was shipped by an Ebay seller and you only get a delivery date band from them.

As the end of my date band is this coming Sunday FGS I can’t even chase the seller up until Monday and then I won’t hold my breath in expectation. My guess is that next week I’ll be chasing Paypal for a refund and looking for another source of injectors, but that doesn’t help me to get my car back on the road and Victor’s 2CV back with him.

Speaking of Victor’s 2CV, a week or so ago while I was experimenting with creating multi-camera videos, I shot a couple in the Deuche which show what it’s like driving this quirky little classic vehicle, and here they are.

Victor’s being really good about me still having the Deuche but I certainly didn’t expect to have it anything like this long and if I’d known at the very beginning, especially with the time it’s taking to get my car fixed since I got it back home again from Paris, I’d have bought another car to use in the meantime.

I’m planning to do some take offs and landings in the Savannah tomorrow in advance of going off with Wim and taking Victor as passenger to a fly-in at Ste Foy la Grande. What’s the bet that if the injectors are going to arrive, they’ll do so tomorrow when I’m out and can’t sign for the package, creating yet another delay 😐

September 13, 2018

Plum jam

As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, I’ve been snowed under with plums, and when I say ‘snowed under’ I mean a veritable sunami of the things. At this time of year, ever since I’ve been here, the northern edge of my front lawn has been carpeted with small black fruits which I’d always thought were damsons. I’d always had in mind to make some jam out of them but in the end had just ended up throwing them away.

But not this year. It’s been a bumper year for them and if in previous years my lawn has been covered by a slightly thin and moth-eaten carpet, this year it’s been transformed into a thick, lush Persian rug. And only when I came to dispose of the first batch so I could cut the grass underneath did I find out that the fruit was actually plums, not damsons after all. And particularly nice juicy ones too that are delicious to eat raw but which I surmised would make excellent jam.

I’ve been pretty lucky in the preserves department. I belong to the school of cooking that says ‘if it looks right it probably is’. I find a recipe or two for what I want to make then throw them over my shoulder and combine the various ingredients, sometimes with others added or some removed, in the way that I want to. And the approach has never let me down so far.

Since being here I’ve made a couple of batches of onion chutney both of which turned out very well. In the second batch I used figs rather than sugar as the sweetener and initially was a bit disappointed as the result was a bit too crunchy for my taste because of the tiny pips that the figs contain. However, as the pots have matured the pips have softened to the point of being more or less unnoticeable and the result a year or two later is delicious.

I also bought marmalade oranges in Intermarché by mistake a couple of years or so ago and after initially being of a mind to throw them away decided that I’d make marmalade out of them instead. And the result even though I say it myself was excellent – much better than I’d expected, probably as good as any marmalade I’ve ever bought and certainly much nicer than the awful runny stuff that is all you can buy over here.

So up to last night I’d had a couple of large bowls of plums sitting on my kitchen table for several days and as I was getting ready to turn out the light and go to bed, it occurred to me that I ought to take a look at them. There were still plenty of nice plump plums remaining but the few that had been soft when I’d picked them up were beginning to develop mouldy white spots and starting to decay.

So as I’d bought a special 3-pack of ‘preserve’ sugar earlier in the day there was only one thing for it. I had to immediately separate the bad from the good, wash, de-stone and break up the latter, add sugar to them and place the plummy-sugary mix in the fridge overnight to macerate. So that’s what I did before I went to bed with the idea that sometime today I’d get stuck in and make some jam.

It also alerted me to the fact that time is marching on and although there is still fruit on the trees, the plums that are dropping are now very, very ripe – over-ripe in some cases. That made me think that as Madeleine had asked to have some more, I’d better pick her some before it’s too late, so this morning while it was cool I climbed up my stepladder to fill a carrier bag with good fruit, which I handed over to her this afternoon.

Then later this afternoon I got going with my jam making. I started off using half of the mix that I made last night and added it to a large pan. As the special sugar that I’d used had already contained some citric acid and some pectin I didn’t bother with any of that stuff and just got the mix boiling, which it did by bubbling away beautifully smoothly.

I had no idea how long to keep it going so kept tasting it off my wooden spoon (absolutely delicious) and after ten minutes or so placed some on a cold spoon to see if it would start setting, which it did. So that was the time to place it in a couple of jars and get on with the second batch.

I didn’t boil the second batch for quite as long as the first because I sensed that the extra boiling had removed some of the fruitiness, although I may have been wrong. But in any case, after not very long and certainly no great effort, I ended up with several jars of gorgeous looking plum jam of a rich, deep red colour.

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My guess is that around 3 kilos of plums plus 2 kilos of sugar have made something like 4 kilos of jam, but those are only rough estimates. OK, looking good is one thing, but the main test is ‘how does it taste?’ There’s only one way to find out – take a short length of French baguette, cut it lengthwise in half and lightly toast the two pieces. Then add just the right amount of Brittany butter and a goodly coating of jam.

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Now obviously the jam hadn’t had enough time to fully set by then and despite having been placed in the freezer for a short time to cool its jar and it down, was still more runny than it will be when fully cooled. So how was it?

Absolutely awesome! I’ve now decided that I’ll have to get some more sugar pronto and start picking the remaining fruit still on the trees before it’s too late as it would be a travesty to waste it. I’ll also need to get hold of some more jars but Wim told me this morning that Sophie had put a bagful out for me the other day which I forgot to take with me when I left for home.

As the replacement fuel injectors for my car didn’t arrive today, all that I’ll now need is for them to arrive tomorrow, solve my engine problems when they’re fitted and life’s pleasures will be complete. More jam anybody?

September 12, 2018

Savannah wrap-up

I dropped into Malbec today to remove the Savannah’s engine cowling and check that no mice were in residence in there and no damage had been done by the previous unauthorised rodent visitor who’d found it’s way into the Savannah’s cabin. Luckily everything was present, correct and as it should be and the oil and water levels were as I’d left them after I’d prepared the engine for my abortive UK flight earlier in the Spring.

It then occurred to me why I’d experienced my rodent problem.

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By leaving my new towbar attached to the nose wheel I’ve been providing the mice with an easy entry up into the Savannah. All they have to do is run up the towbar handle, climb up the last few inches into the engine compartment, then squeeze through the firewall holes that the rudder actuating rods pass through and they’re inside the cabin.

The reason that I’ve had no problems up to now is because with having spats on all three wheels, it’s impossible to do the same if the towbar is not present because by climbing onto the tyres, all they’d do is end up inside the wheel spats and there’s then no way for them to double back out and continue climbing upwards. So the simple solution is to detach the towbar when the aircraft has been pushed back into the hangar.

In the meantime I’ve reluctantly set a couple of traps, one inside the cabin and one on top of the nose wheel spat, but I hope that they won’t be used as I can’t see the point of taking a little mouse’s life for no reason when all it’s doing is following its instincts. Anyway, time will tell and hopefully both will be un-sprung with their pieces of cheese still in place when I go to Malbec next time 😉

By the way, as I’m still waiting on the replacement injectors for my car, I’ve now decided to postpone my flight to the UK until after I’d had my upcoming scan on 25 September. Time is now just too tight but if the good weather that we’re currently experiencing (light winds, highs of around 30 degrees C) continues into October, hopefully it’ll be possible to do it then. I’m sure it’s the right decision, and it will also allow us (Wim and me at least) to drop into the fly-in at Ste Foy la Grande next Sunday in our Weedhoppers.

September 10, 2018

Hurrah!

The Savannah is done. I’m at last at the end of the tunnel that I entered when I bumped the Savannah’s wingtip right back in May when I was preparing to take off for my planned flight to the UK.

But not without a few bumps in the road along the way as seems usual with this aircraft whenever I start doing any work on it. Sadly, much as I love it, I’ve never had a more ‘unlucky’ aircraft than the Savannah which seems to constantly pick up bangs and scrapes every time that I do anything with it. And this time was no different. I think that I could almost say that I’ve spent more time repairing it than I have flying it.

My main task was to repair the damage to the slat and wingtip and I achieved that by acquiring a replacement slat at low cost and fitting a new wingtip plastic to replace the one that had been broken. And I also wanted to tidy up the small dents that I’d put in the rudder while reversing it back into the hangar on the same day when I’d managed to touch the edge of the raised hangar door with it.

All the main work had been done and two days ago all I needed to do was pull the aircraft out of the hangar and finish off the little bit of painting that I had to do. And that’s when all Hell broke loose.

A big problem with the Savannah is that if the aircraft is positioned side-ways on a slope, fuel flows into the low tank and ultimately begins to siphon out of the low tank’s breather all over the wing. This has happened a couple of times in the past and I’ve managed to get away with it. But not this time. This time the fuel succeeded in getting under the edge of the paint layer around the fuel filler cap and stripping it off the wing. Here’s a shot of the damage that was done as of two days ago.

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So as a result I ended up with a bigger paint job than I’d started with and that’s what has occupied me since it happened on Saturday. I couldn’t do anything yesterday but here’s how the wing looked as at the end of this afternoon.

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I’ll settle for that and while I was at it, I also cleaned up another dent that was present on the top of the left wing just adjacent to the fuel filler cap when I acquired the aircraft, plus the worst of the blemishes that were on the replacement slat.

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So that’s it. The aircraft is now more or less ready to take off and fly to the UK.

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I say ‘more or less’. Before I do so, I need to do a few landings and take offs in it plus today I discovered yet another issue. A mouse has found its way into the Savannah’s cabin and chewed up a sick bag that was stowed in the area behind the seats. I cleared up the mess today including the inevitable droppings but can’t leave things there.

The only way in for the damn thing was through the engine compartment and firewall so although I was going to check all of the mechanics and oil anyway, now I’ll have to remove the engine cowling and thoroughly check everything underneath in case it has built a nest in there and bitten or damaged anything while it has been in residence.

I really can’t believe what I’m constantly up against with this aircraft but what’s certain is that I’m going to have to set some traps in the hangar as far too much is at stake to be held to ransom by a bloody rodent. I had enough of that when one destroyed the seats of the X-Air at Galinat. I certainly didn’t think that I’d have a similar problem with the Savannah in a hangar at Malbec 😐

September 6, 2018

Help!

I’m being buried under a tidal wave of plums. After clearing the area under my trees of fallen plums two days ago so I could mow the grass here’s a shot of what I collected yesterday morning to clear the area again.

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Two huge bowlsful. I don’t know what to do with them. You can only make so much jam and I don’t have that many jars anyway.

We’ve had a drizzly start to the day today but I’ve looked out and found that today there are even more on the ground to be picked up with a large number still left on the trees that will inevitably follow in the next few days.

I’ve just eaten several for ‘afters’ after today’s lunch but they’re so filling that you can only consume so many that way and my guess is that as they’re so sweet, they’re full of calories too.

At the moment I don’t see any alternative other than to start throwing away perfectly good plums that Madeleine tells me are selling for 3€/kilo in the supermarkets. Very sad but I can’t see any other way out of the problem. Suggestions on a postcard please… 🙁

On a different note, there’s a possible light at the end of the tunnel on the car front. I spoke to my mechanic yesterday as he wanted to give starting the Kia’s engine another go, so I went over to give him a hand turning the key while he stood by ready to blank off the air intake in case it started and began to rev uncontrollably, which is what it did.

He said that this confirmed that the engine itself is undamaged and that it’s just a fuel problem, so that was good news. But he still didn’t know for sure what the problem was although he suspected that as it was obvious that excess fuel was being pumped in under high pressure, it was probably down to the pressure control valve. However, he said not to order a replacement just yet because his diesel expert colleague had just got back from holiday and that he’d see what he thought might be the cause.

And so it was that shortly afterwards I got a message saying that when an injector pump breaks, as mine had done, and excess fuel pressure is applied to the injectors, it’s common for one or more of the latter to also fail. He said that he was going to test mine ASAP and a little while later I got the news that three of the four had indeed failed with a picture to prove it.

So hopefully we are getting there at last. I have already ordered four replacements to come in from Germany arriving next week so for the time being I’ve put buying another vehicle on hold. I’m still toying with the idea though, of hiring a small vehicle for next week in order to save Victor’s 2CV because I’m becoming more and more loathe to keep adding more and more kilometers to it. I’ll make my mind up about that very soon, but at least the prospects for my Kia appear as though they’re beginning to look up, and that’s a big something.

September 4, 2018

This and that

I decided yesterday that I really had to get stuck into tidying up my garden which had become very overgrown with weeds over the past few weeks. So yesterday I got out my electric hedge trimmer and cut back all of the briars and bushes plus the weeds along the front of the house and today it was time to cut what I laughably describe as grass but which is in fact mainly weeds, especially in the front.

What has been deterring me somewhat over the last week or so though, has been the number of plums that have fallen off the trees along the northern edge of my front garden and have gradually carpeted the ground more and more. I have this problem every year but this year my trees have produced an abundance of fruit to the point of my being at a loss as to know what to do with it all.

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I want to turn some of the fruit into jam and Madeleine said that she’d like some to do the same, so before I started I spent an hour or so picking up as much clean, ripe fallen fruit as I reasonably could plus even more ripe fruit from the trees that was obviously about to drop and end up on the ground.

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In the end I had two good size carrier bags full but it still left loads of fruit on the ground not to mention much, much more still on the trees. In the end I had no choice despite much of it being good, ripe fruit but to rake up what was still left on the ground and dispose of it on my compost heap as otherwise it would only have got squashed by the wheels of my mower and then I’d have had another problem with lots of little plum trees taking root and popping up next year.

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Today was another hot day, not as hot as it has been as we’re now into September but still in the region of 30 degrees C, so it was warm work to say the least. But it was worth the effort because here’s how the ‘lawn’ looked after I’d removed the plums just before I attacked it with my mower.

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Changing the subject somewhat, I’m still being plagued by car problems. I still have no idea what’s wrong with my Kia’s engine and neither does my mechanic, who’s now waiting until his friendly diesel expert returns from holiday in the next few days. This leaves me with a problem, however, because I’ve been on the receiving end of Victor’s fantastic generosity ever since I lost the Kia and have been using his amazing restored Citroen 2CV as my personal transport.

However, this can’t go on because I’m now knocking up the kilometres on what I think is a very special car. Yesterday I drove 1½ hours each way in it to Limoges and back to view a Ford C-Max Titanium that I saw on Le Bon Coin. I’ve decided that I’ll have to purchase another vehicle whether or not I’ll be getting my Kia back and I’ve decided that a 1.8 litre C-Max will meet my needs.

Sadly despite my having high hopes from its ad, the car turned out to be mechanically excellent with a very low mileage (or kilometrage) but it’s body and interior were shocking and I couldn’t believe how an owner could have abused a vehicle so badly. However, after being advised today by Madeleine where else I should be looking besides Le Bon Coin, my searches have already revealed some more excellent (sounding) vehicles on other web sites.

But don’t you know it – there’s absolutely nothing in my area. Everything as usual is hundreds of kilometres away. So that then presents another problem – how to get to view the vehicles in question because there’s no way after yesterday that I’ll be driving the 2CV and adding yet more kilometres to it. No way.

September 2, 2018

Savannah wingtip finished

And the replacement slat is also now permanently in place, so thank goodness for that. I made a start just after lunchtime and worked through until I’d finished at around 4.30pm, five-ish by the time I’d cleared up and put everything away.

The job isn’t perfect, and I never expected it to be as I don’t have either the skills or the tools to perfectly reshape bent metal, but even so it’s come out pretty well and stands up to quite close scrutiny. First a shot of the whole wing with the job done and the replacement slat finally fitted.

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And now several more close-up shots of the tip itself taken from various angles.

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So that’s it all ready for my upcoming next UK flight, hopefully within the next couple of weeks. And I think that the repair will last until I can eventually get around to converting the wing to VG, whenever that might be.

I’ll just have to wait and see, bearing in mind that my big priority for next year now that I’ve resubmitted my house planning will hopefully be my house renovation and extension. Lots to look forward to 😉