February 24, 2020

Just my luck

Like I said in my last post, we’ve been going through a spell of lovely weather that’s been perfect for flying and with signs that it’s coming to an end from tomorrow, with drizzle and cooler temperatures being forecast for the next few days, I’d banked on getting away for a flight in my Weedhopper today.

I’d had a route worked out for a while but it had been impossible to use Malbec up to now because it was still too soft after the winter rains. In fact it was really still a bit soft today, but I knew that if I didn’t get my first flight of the year in, the runway could well get soaked and would need to be left for who knows how long to dry out all over again. We’ve played that game a few times…

So after the bright sunshine of the last week or so, what did we wake up to today? Yup, you’ve got it, fog! To be honest, I didn’t think that a flight would be on at all but it did begin to clear as from late morning. So I watched and waited and decided to give it a go from mid-afternoon. Here’s the route I’d made up.

null

After taking off from Malbec, I wanted to head north-west towards Fleurac and then north to take a look at some local features that interested me. Then I wanted to head south-east via my house and Thonac for a landing at Galinat, whose long grass runway I checked the other day and found usable.

From Galinat I wanted to fly to land at Condat on its long hard runway returning via Thonac for another practice landing at Galinat from where I’d head off south to Sarlat. Then I’d head north-west via the magnificent Chateau Beynac and St Cyprien for a return to Malbec.

Well, I completed my route alright but in awful conditions with the most foul vis as a result of a filthy little low-level inversion. If it hadn’t been my last chance to fly for I don’t know how long, I’d not have bothered to be honest.

I set up one of my little Chinese sportcam camcorders on the Weedhopper’s right wing which yet again let me down and switched itself off even before I’d taken off, so once again I got no record of my flight. Those things really are junk and I’m more or less resigned to having to get myself a GoPro if I’m going to continue videoing flights, which I do want to do.

At Condat I bumped into Roland, the airfield owner, and as we always end up chatting with me always having to refuse a beer, I lost a bit of time and had to leave in a bit of a hurry. I completed my second landing at Galinat but took off again straight away without turning my engine off.

By this time the afternoon was wearing on and the vis was actually getting more filthy. I wasn’t surprised to find that there was no other traffic at Sarlat so I just did a touch-and-go and headed off north-west to return to Malbec and cut the corner a bit to save a bit of time.

At that time of the afternoon, it’s usually easy to spot Malbec from quite a way away, but not today in the filthy haze that was increasing by the minute. But eventually there it was and I had a nice landing, a bit long on purpose to clear the softish landing area at the foot of the runway and taxied right up out through the runway entrance, that I’d left open, and onto the area outside the barn.

So although I was glad that I’d taken the opportunity to fly, I can’t say that I’d enjoyed the flight that much. But what really surprised me today was that I’d calculated my route on the basis of an airspeed of 85 kmh, which is good for a 503 powered Weedhopper and which the leg times showed that I achieved.

But for a total flying time of 1 hour 45 minutes, I’d only used 20 litres of fuel, giving a consumption of only 11.5 litres/hour. That was totally unexpected as I’d been anticipating a figure of around 14-15 litres/hour, so that was truly my highlight of the day. Amazing!

February 22, 2020

Just in case

We’re in the middle of a superb spell of weather with temperatures of around 15-16° Celsius coupled with flat calm or very light winds. But we know that things can, and will, change and that there will still be quite a few chilly days and nights before we really turn the corner and needn’t worry about heating our houses.

So with the latter in mind, I reserved some more fuel for my wood-burner ‘just in case’ before I left for Egypt and after waiting for a couple of days of drizzle to clear, I picked it up the other day. I will probably only need a bit under one stère (cubic metre) to see me through, but I decided to get two in to make sure that I’m well covered. It’ll always be there for next winter anyway.

It was just over a single trailer-load and here’s the first lot outside my wood store before I began to unload it and split it.

null

null

null

Here’s a shot after I’d split and stacked the first trailer-load and put the remainder into a small stack for me to split later. My new splitter is fantastic and has increased my productivity enormously. This quantity would have taken me all day to deal with using my old, small splitter but with my new one I was all done and dusted in three hours or so. Fantastic!

null

The weather, of course, is perfect for flying. Only one problem though. I took the two shots below at Malbec this morning showing my two aircraft in the barn.

null

null

And that, sadly, is where they’ll be staying. I walked the whole length of Malbec’s runway and it’s still too soft to use, especially in its middle section and its landing zone. I’ve got a great first-flight-of-the-year already programmed involving a landing on Galinat’s long grass runway, which yesterday I found to be perfectly fine to use, and landings also on the hard runways at Condat and Sarlat.

But for now it’ll have to wait. The weather will stay fine before, possibly, a bit more drizzle on Tuesday, so with a bit of luck Monday, which should be perfect, might be the day. Now it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing 😉

February 19, 2020

Xair towbar

ULMs with nosewheel steering are all fairly difficult to manoeuvre on the ground, with any real precision anyway, and towbars that clamp to the nosewheels and that allow you to steer them while pushing or pulling are very handy things to have. I designed and had one made locally for my Savannah and it makes handling of the aircraft on the ground exceptionally easy, especially when doing it by myself.

In fact, with a towbar it’s best to do it by yourself because although they have the best of intentions, helpers tend to push and/or pull at just the wrong moment and there’s more chance of bashing into things then than if you’re doing it alone. I’ve got the marks on my Savannah’s main wheel spat to prove it 😉

When pushing or pulling both the Weedhopper and the Xair, because their nosewheels tend to castor very freely, it’s difficult to aim them exactly where you want them to go so they could also benefit from towbars. However, I’ve now readvertised the Weedhopper for sale and hope to be selling it soon, so that’s not now a priority as I can live with the problem for a few more weeks. But when I eventually get the Xair down to Malbec, it will be very handy to have a towbar for it, just because of it’s size alone.

Here’s the design of my Savannah towbar that I had fabricated locally.

null

Here’s how it looks when in use.

null

It has worked beautifully and I’m very pleased with it. I particularly like that when it’s attached to the Savannah’s nosewheel, there’s no chance that it can slip off, whether it’s being used to push or pull or the aircraft. This means that there’s no possibilty of causing any kind of damage. I also like how because it’s attached using horizontal pins, the bar can be raised and lowered or rested on the ground if necessary as in the above picture without needing to detach it.

I’ve therefore decided to make a towbar of similar design for the Xair, this time doing it myself as I now have a small arc welder rather than putting it out to a local fabricator. I’ve already purchased the materials (that’s what the DPD driver delivered the other day) and have worked out the basis of the design, although I can’t go ahead and start work on it yet as I don’t know what the exact dimensions are.

Here’s a picture I’ve mocked up showing what I have in mind.

null

It basically employs exactly the same principle as my Savannah towbar, except with the Savannah there were two bolts that I could use (by using longer ones) to attach the tow point that the towbar attaches to on the nosewheel assembly. There are no such bolts on the Xair, so what I’ve decided to do is make up two small triangular pieces of stainless steel with holes in to take the pins on the towbar, that I will bolt to each side of the Xair’s nosewheel forks after drilling them.

I think it’ll work fine and won’t in any way compromise the forks for normal use (take offs and landings) but if anyone can think of a better way, I’ll be grateful of course, to hear of any other suggestions before I get cracking on the construction.

February 17, 2020

You’ve gotta larf…

I had an amusing incident today – for me anyway, but maybe not for the other party. I seem to be getting a lot of deliveries nowadays that use DPD as the courier company and maybe because of that, problems with drivers being unable to find my house have been few and far between. But not today.

DPD operate a system where you pre-arrange a delivery time with them – today it was any time between 1000am and 0130pm – and it seems to work pretty well. Normally if the driver doesn’t already know where my house is (there are no house numbers in the countryside and even our road doesn’t have a name, although that’s scheduled to change sometime this year), when they get to the general area and are close by, they just phone for directions and arrive within minutes.

But it seems that today’s driver decided to take it into his own hands and search for the house which is not a good idea. It seems that he drove up and down the road two or three times (I saw him twice from my front window without knowing who he was as he was driving a hired vehicle) before doing the sensible thing and giving me a call. As a result when he did call he was in a highly agitated state, to say the least.

I tried to find out exactly where he was so I could give him precise directions but he seemed more concerned with shouting down the phone at me and almost seemed to be accusing me of hiding my house from him (it’s on the main road) to make his job more difficult and I cut him off a few times just to get some relief from his tirade. In the end I told him that if he’d shut up for a minute I’d explain how even a monkey could find my house from where I think he said he was and sure enough he drove past yet again before reversing back into my driveway.

I thought that that would be the end of it and blasted him with one of my sunniest smiles to melt the ice, but I could tell from his face that that wasn’t going to do the trick. And as he was grumbling on and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying anyway, I just took my parcel from him and went off back down the driveway laughing.

I hope that he’d got over it by the time he arrived at the next customer 😕

February 16, 2020

Then there were two

The same again today – another pleasant, sunny day, a little bit more windy than yesterday (but nothing like the 70-80 mph winds that are battering the UK at the moment), so time to pull the Savannah out and give it a thorough clean like I did to the Weedhopper yesterday. Took 2-3 hours again but well worth the time and effort as I’m pretty sure it’s probably now the cleanest it’s ever been since I’ve owned it.

Here are a few shots of the both of them standing outside the barn when I’d finished.

null

null

null

null

null

null

I emailed the prospective buyer of the Weedhopper with the photographs that I took of it yesterday and I’m now waiting in the hope of getting a positive reply. In the meantime I can get cracking on the jobs that I need to do on the Savannah while also seeing if I can at last get a bit of flying in for the start of the year. The latter might be pushing it a bit because we’re expecting lower temperatures and a bit of drizzle for the next couple of days but Thursday looks to be a possibilty. I’ll have to wait and see.

February 15, 2020

That’s my girl!

It took about three hours but the effort was well worth it and at the end, my little Weedhopper was spick and span and all ready to go.

null

null

null

null

null

null

null

null

null

null

It was sunny and bright while I was cleaning her up but it clouded over before I could take the pictures to record my handiwork but I’m super-pleased with how she came up. It’s hard to believe that this is a 20 year-old aircraft as it doesn’t look it either inside or out. The shots over the wings show how its covers are still in excellent condition for its age – much better than good ole MYRO’s were.

So it’ll be the turn of the Savannah tomorrow and with a bit of luck from the condition of the runway today, I might even be able to get the first flight of the year in, in the Weedhopper because when I’ve confirmed that everything to do with it is fine (I’m sure it will be) I want to contact the prospective purchaser ASAP. I might even shoot a little video to send to him – I’ll have to wait and see how things turn out.

February 14, 2020

Time to get started

We’re not yet out of the woods weather-wise by any means but we haven’t been subjected to the monstrous storms that northern Europe has had to face and there’s now definitely a whiff of spring in the air. Indeed, although I didn’t see them myself, Sophie and Wim reported yesterday that they’d seen flocks of ‘grues’, storks, heading northwards over their house on their regular spring migration from Spain and north Africa, and that’s a sure sign that winter proper is over.

We’ve had a few drizzly days lately that have deterred me from wanting to do much outdoors, but today and for the next two days at least, we can expect a spell of dry, sunny weather which will provide an excellent opportunity to get started on the things that I need to do. And the first of those is to get my Savannah and Weedhopper out of the barn where they’ve stayed over the winter and get them thoroughly cleaned up and ready for the new season.

This is especially important for the Weedhopper which I need to get ready for potential sale as soon as the weather is good enough for it to be viewed and taken for test flights so although I didn’t intend to start work on it today, this afternoon I took it out of the back of the barn where it’s been behind the Savannah and swapped the aircraft around so I can make an early start on it tomorrow with bucket and mop.

Here’s a shot of the Savannah moved from its original position with its tail forward in the front of the barn to the back. It’s much dirtier than it appears in the picture being coverd in dust, rodent droppings and bird poo.

null

And here are some shots of the Weedhopper.

null

null

It doesn’t look too bad from its right hand side but the shot taken of its nose from the left shows how messy it actually is. It also needs to have a layer of grime removed from its interior. That won’t be difficult, though, as it will only need a wipe over with a wet cloth as it’s just dusty and not oily.

null

null

And finally some shots of both aircraft back in the barn. They fit in together quite nicely so long as they are carefully pushed up tightly together.

null

null

null

I’m hoping to be able to get both aircraft cleaned up tomorrow but I doubt that I’ll be able to fly either this weekend as I checked today and Malbec, which was quite firm when I returned from Egypt, is now too soft and soggy again. Patrick had flown in in his autogire today, which can be seen in some of the Weedhopper shots, and I noticed that it had created some quite deep wheel ruts, so regular use of the runway is unfortunately out for the moment.

But I’ll be happy to see the Savannah and the Weedhopper both cleaned up and ready to go. I’ll put them back in the barn with the Savannah to the rear for now while I contact the Weed’s potential buyer from last year. Hopefully he’ll still be interested and we’ll be able to start moving things along 😉

February 12, 2020

I’m back!

From my dose of winter sun in Hurghada, that is. And feeling much the better for it too. In fact I’ve been back for almost a week now but I’ve been sorting things out, doing things like cleaning the house, you know, all those tedious things that you know will be waiting for you when you get back from any holiday.

I’ve also been sorting out all the pictures that I wanted to post here on My Trike. It’s taken a little bit longer than usual because although I took quite a few stills, mostly I shot video on the little 4K sports cams that I use for recording flights in my aircraft. This means that I’ve had to lift screen shots off them and then crop and edit them in order to get the format and the best level of quality that I could.

Except for the shots taken in very low light, on the whole the quality of the shots that I’ve lifted from video have not turned out too badly. The trouble is, though, when you shoot with a still camera you usually only take one or two shots of a scene and leave it at that. When you shoot video, however, it’s easy to end up with so many more because each clip can produce several nice stills, and that’s exactly what’s happened.

I’ll be putting together a video in due course but don’t know if I’ll be uploading it or not. This post only contains still images, but be warned, there are over 60 of them which if you last right through to the end will take several minutes of your life to get through that you’ll never get back again! I could have put them into a picture gallery, but who looks at picture galleries? Anyway, here goes…

BORDEAUX – GENEVA

The past two times that I’ve travelled to Hurghada I’ve flown from Toulouse which is a bit of a drag to get to from where I live and also the flight times have been less than convenient, either late in the evening or first thing in the morning. I’ve also had to stop over and change airlines which have meant overnight layovers at Istanbul (not too bad) and last year at Charleroi (a nightmare – less said the better). It has also meant having to take account of each airline’s baggage rules, which resulted in my being restricted to a tiny 10kg case last year because of flying Tui for the leg from Charleroi to Hurghada.

This year I was delighted to enjoy the luxury of all my flights being with easyJet out and back from Bordeaux via Geneva with the bonus that easyJet offer, along with BA, the most generous cabin baggage allowance of all the short-haul airlines (15kg case of max dimensions 56 x 45 x 25 cm). And as my outgoing flight was scheduled for 9.30pm with just a 9 hour overnight layover at Geneva, a civilised enough place surely, what could possibly go wrong?

OK, Friday 24 January, my departure day, was a ‘jour de grève’ (strike day) in France in which air traffic controllers were, of course, involved, but I’d been monitoring Bordeaux arrivals and departures from time to time during the day and everything seemed to be flowing smoothly enough. So when I left home with plenty of time for the drive to the airport I was feeling pretty relaxed and looking forward to starting my journey to the sun.

It was dark by the time I got to Mérignac and I was gobsmacked by the amount of traffic entering the airport – two solid lanes that were only slowly inching forwards. I wasn’t worried though, as I’d allowed myself plenty of time and merely had to find parking area P4 where I’d prepaid for a parking spot (1900 hrs 24 January to 2200 hrs 5 February, 51€). Simple enough, you might think, except for one problem. There were no signposts.

I had seen a map showing the location of P4 but it was impossible to rationalise that with one’s position in this solid column of traffic. And it seemed that I was not the only one affected by this. As we came up to the first parking area, I and something like a dozen or so other vehicles turned into its entrance. Ah… this was parking P1/2, so we all had to turn round and re-enter the traffic stream.

But that was just the start. The traffic was only one-way, towards the passenger drop-off area, a pay-to-enter zone towards which we were all moving. Clearly airport management had realised the problem although they’d done nothing to deal with it eg like putting up signposts. Instead they’d gone for the more pragmatic solution of leaving the drop-off zone entrance and exit barriers open so all of the unfortunate souls like me could just drive straight through.

The problem is compounded because Mérignac airport is currently just one huge building site. OK, it’ll probably be lovely when it’s all finished (2022, 2023, later?) but presumably the unfortunate passengers will be subjected to this kind of treatment until that happens. But that still left me with the problem of finding P4 and with the possible nightmare scenario of missing it, ending back in the traffic stream and having to go around again, it didn’t bear thinking about.

I managed to ask a ‘security’ man the way but didn’t get directions that I could easily understand so just followed them the best that I could. This was tricky. Every now and again I kept seeing the odd sign to ‘Parking…’ but as none was luminous and just appeared as dark blobs, it made it hard to tell which way to go in the dark and especially with several vehicles right on my rear bumper. I thought that I saw one saying P4 so dragged the wheel to the right and went off up a rough track which brought me to a mini roundabout and… yes… a sign saying P4!!

I eventually did find my way in and here’s a shot that I took while waiting for the free shuttle bus to the terminal.

null

easyJet fly from terminal Billi, which is ‘low cost’ in every imaginable way, from the airlines that use it to its construction. I don’t know if it’s a permanent structure but it looks as though it wasn’t intended to be, either inside or out. Here are a couple of shots showing passenger security clearance and the beginning of the passenger waiting area.

null

null

It was immediately obvious from the mass of people in the area that departure delays had been accumulating since I’d last checked during the afternoon. In fact, nothing was moving and all of the (few) flights on the board were shown as being delayed. My flight to Geneva was the last one on the list.

null

So I did what everyone else had done, which was take my time having a pee and then join the massive queue for some kind of refreshment.

null

Slowly but surely the flights above mine on the list were called and got away, much to the delight of two guys I spoke to who were heading off to Bristol and seemed quite happy to wait as long as it took all the while they could keep knocking back their Heinekens. And at last my flight was also called and we all surged for the gate in the hope of at last leaving Billi behind us.

But there was still no relief. A large group of passengers were arguing about being asked to cough up a surcharge for some reason or other, but instead of the young easyJet agent taking them all to one side to deal with their problem and allow the rest of us to pass through unheeded, we all had to stand there and wait while the arguments went backwards and forwards. I’m afraid that customer service isn’t a French forte. Surely it couldn’t get any worse?

null

I’m afraid so. It turned out that because of the delay to which our flight had been subjected, we wouldn’t be able to fly into Geneva, which closes at midnight (along with the rest of Switzerland, I think). We were told that we could only fly as far as Lyon from where we’d be taken to Geneva for our onward connections by bus. Here’s a shot that I took of us all at Lyon waiting in the freezing cold foyer to board the double-decker bus that had been laid on by easyJet.

null

And here are some shots of the journey, crossing the frontier into Switzerland and our arrival at Geneva in the early hours of 25 January.

null

null

null

null

null

null

null

Geneva has a splendid, modern airport terminal. And scrupulously clean too in the Swiss way, which was lucky because there is no passenger seating to speak of and I and many other hardy souls ended up stretched out on the floor trying to catch a couple of winks while waiting for our flights several hours after we’d arrived. How thoughtful of the airport authorities to have thought of such a thing – surely nothing to do with the fact that employing a drove of cleaners who you need anyway is much, much cheaper than providing inconvenient things like chairs for passengers to sit on.

While wandering around killing time I did come across something like half a dozen seats outside the police and crew areas, but nothing like the amount of seating needed given the volume of passengers. So Geneva turned out to be yet another nightmare airport for a layover. But eventually my flight was called and I at last joined the queue at the departure gate for my flight to Hurghada, but what an effort!

null

GENEVA – HURGHADA

The easyJet flight to Hurghada was fine. Having bought a breakfast for myself before departing Geneva partly because it gave me a chance to sit on a proper chair at last, I didn’t bother buying anything to eat or drink on the flight. I didn’t have ‘Easy Boarding’ or whatever easyJet call their priority service but there was plenty of space for my baggage and I was comfortably esconced in a window seat that gave me good views behind the Airbus’s starboard wing.

null

The desert views as we descended for our approach into Hurghada were spectacular.

null

null

null

null

null

null

Our approach into Hurghada airport was from the south and eventually we turned left for final to land over the beaches, hotels and other buildings along the coastal fringe to the south of the town – there’s nothing inland apart from desert. My hotel is a few kilometres to the north of Hurghada town so was not visible.

null

null

null

null

null

null

We were transferred to the arrivals terminal by bus at which point it began to become a bit chaotic. Before passing through immigration you have to buy a visa costing $25 from one of the banks on air-side, otherwise you are turned back as I found when I came the first time. The problem is that there are only two of them and as several flights had arrived bringing passengers from various parts of Europe speaking several different languages, the queues and the delay were considerable.

null

However, I eventually got through, found a taxi outside the terminal (the taxi driver found me by grabbing my case out of my hand) and after negotiating the fare to my hotel (50€ demanded, 20€ offered, 30€ demanded, 20€ agreed, although I also gave him a 5€ tip after he’d complained as all the taxi drivers do of having umpteen mouths to feed and working 26 hours a day to do so…) I eventually arrived for the third time at my hotel.

HURGHADA

null

null

null

My hotel experience was, as usual, very enjoyable. After the first day, that is. I told them that this was my third visit but even so, they tried to pull one over this old dog by giving me what must be the very worst room in the hotel. It was on the ground floor in the back corner with no proper balcony therefore, where no sun could reach so was very dark and gloomy as a result. It was also in incredibly poor condition. It had a low table but no chair in which to sit at it (they suggested bringing in one of the outdoor chairs, one of which was broken) and the in-room safe was also broken and not working.

So I promptly told them what they could do with the room and demanded another, which I got the next day. This turned out to be one of the newest rooms in the hotel (a level has been added onto what was the old top floor and it was one of those) and certainly the best one that I’ve been in on the three occasions that I’ve stayed in the hotel. Nevertheless, because of previous guest abuse, I still had to remount the wardrobe doors on their runners and repair the chairs on the balcony, but that was little, if any, inconvenience.

null

null

null

null

Below is the view from the end of my floor overlooking the hotel’s outdoors showing the view to the right (south).

null

And below is the view from the same position showing the view to the left (north). I think that this hotel is one of the very best in this part of Hurghada, if not the best.

null

A few shots of the general reception area which also contains a bar and a few small shops. The coloured glasses contain free cold drinks for guests to take and drink as they are passing through.

null

null

null

null

And now shots taken in the hotel’s gardens showing the pools and other facilities, which are superb. Gardeners, cleaners and other staff are working constantly to keep everything pristine and it shows.

null

null

null

null

null

The ‘menagerie’ which was there the last two times that I visited has now gone, and not before time I think. It doesn’t do to keep a large pelican in a small wire cage or a stork that stands all day in its tiny enclosure on one leg with its head dipped into a filthy trough. Now it’s been replaced by more pools for adults and children.

null

null

The hotel has given careful consideration to the possible clash of cultures. The main swimming pools can be used by anyone meaning that there are scantilly dressed European ladies there and also arab ladies in burkhinis. However, the pool where I go to lie in the sun and read the books that I take with me is designated ‘Only for Bikini’ which means that arab ladies are discreetly turned away and only Europeans use it.

null

Next to the pool is a refreshment stand dispensing free hot and cold drinks (the hotel is ‘All Inclusive’) during normal hours and everyone is given a free towel every day using a ‘towel card’ that they receive on arrival.

null

null

null

null

null

As last year, the hotel offers two restaurants, the main one for any guest on the floor above the reception area – Level 1 means different things depending on which lift you use 🙂 – and another one called Bon Apetit designated as ‘Only for Europeans’ at ground level in the back corner adjoining the horrible room that I was originally allocated.

null

Having experienced the pandemonium that always seems to reign in the main restaurant, I always used the Bon Apetit, an experience that I always enjoyed despite thinking that the food on offer hasn’t been quite up to the standard on the last two occasions that I found when I first visited the hotel.

null

null

null

Any final comments about the hotel? Yes, just one. Regrettably some arabs (a lot) like to spit and they do it almost anywhere, including in the corners of the hotel lifts and the area facing the doors while they are waiting for a lift to arrive.

I mentioned to the General Manager who I bumped into one day in the Bon Apetit that the lifts were filthy and he had them cleaned within the hour. But not including the shiny metal walls that remained covered in spatters, of what one can only imagine. It seems that they can turn a blind eye to certain aspects of cleanliness that we Europeans regard as important, and although I still thoroughly recommend the hotel, I would suggest that parents keep control of babies and young children accordingly in such public areas.

And so it eventually became time to leave and I found myself in the hotel foyer on 5 February bidding farewell to Jean and Pete, an English couple from Kent in England and living not far from where I used to, and waiting for a taxi that I’d booked through the same chap in the hotel as last year, to take me to the airport for, once again, 20€.

null

null

The helpful young driver carried my case out for me and on this occasion I enjoyed the privilege of being carried in a fairly modern Kia with seat belts!

null

HURGHADA – GENEVA

I disembarked at the airport thinking that it looked a bit different this time and my taxi drove off. It was only when I went to enter the terminal that I found I was at the wrong one – this was Terminal 2 and I wanted Terminal 1, although my e-ticket didn’t show this. The worst thing was that it was not possible to walk between them – I had to get another taxi which wasn’t difficult of course, because yet again there was a bevy of waiting drivers ready to bite my hand off. But it still cost me another 10€ 🙁

Compared to the outbound flight, everything was fairly relaxed at Hurghada. Save for easyJet’s awful ‘Rapid Boarding’ option. Ryanair have a similar system and have got it right by having two clearly designated queues. easyJet just have one and think that calling for priority boarding passengers is enough. It isn’t because nobody listens and many don’t speak the language anyway.

As a result everyone joins the boarding queue and at least half are then turned away to start another ‘queue’ to one side. Then when all of the priority boarders have been processed, all of the passengers who have just been standing around ignore this second queue and just make a dash for the gate, causing mayhem. It’s something easyJet needs to deal with – for goodness sake, it wouldn’t take much just to put up signs at the gate showing who is entitled to board and when.

null

And so onward to Geneva, this time in an aisle seat so no views of Venice and Italy for me, and eventually, after a short layover, finally back to Bordeaux where the whole thing started 11 days before.

null

null

It was a marvellous break which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially the people whose company I enjoyed in the hotel and that of the French gentleman who was next to me with whom I chatted the whole way from Geneva to Bordeaux. I was worried about the possibility of my C-Max not starting after standing out in the cold for this period of time as I suspect that it’s battery is getting towards its last legs, but no worries in the end on that score.

So now what? Well, as the prospective Belgian purchaser of my Weedhopper has been back in touch, I need to get that out of the barn, give it a good clean and get it ready for sale. The next priority will be to get my ex-pat Xair, 24ZN, over to France from the UK. Before I can do that, I’ve got a scan coming up in early March but hopefully I’ll be free to do it after that.

I’ve also said that I’d like to give my pal Roger a hand to trailer two Shadow microlights down from Abbeville to the Corrèze and if possible, help him bring his main Shadow over from Ireland, so I’ll have to see how things play out. But all in all, busy times around the corner. So no change there, then… 😉