Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who Do You Think You Are

The title is the same as a popular TV program in the UK which traces peoples roots.

This thread is not about genealogy at all.

It is dedicated to all the people who have left the UK to come and live in this lovely country, France. There are many British ex-patriots living here and all come here for a different reason. Many are here to escape their former lives and are trying to build something better, but does the former life have any bearing on who we are in this country?

Jude and I left our civil service jobs, working for the MOD, to retire early. We found a life where we can do as we want without the constraints of having to go to work every day. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time as an aircraft engineer, with a good salary in the UK, but in my case the UK government always wanted more of my take home pay. I didn’t really want to work, I just wanted to play, to go out on the bikes when the sun was shining.

I have met many Brits who live here and have helped some in moving here. The following is a description of some of the characters, the names have been changed, but the individuals will know who they are.

One chap who we know quite well, is in his late 60s. He was a bandsman in the RAF and lives life to the full. I’ll call him Andy. Andy lives for life. He can be found on the ski slopes in the winter, just an hours drive away, and loves playing in a band. He was also a motorcyclist till just recently. Andy enjoys getting out and visiting places. I recently took him for a flight in the microlight and, as expected, he loved it. Andy’s favourite saying is “It doesn’t get much better than this”. He takes French lessons every week and speaks the language much better than I do. He lives in a small village and likes to cycle the 10 miles or so into the next biggest town. I just hope that I am as fit and enthusiastic as he is when I am that age.

Then there is Burt. Burt is married to a German lady, and lives half his time here and the other half in London. Burt is also a skier and a motorcyclist. Burt likes to organise day trips out on his bike and is keen to get others to come along and find new things. Burt is a very social animal, and is always looking for a reason to go out for a ride and meet new people.

Next is Fred. Fred is very overweight and has trouble moving around. He is not very intelligent, but likes to tell people that he is. Fred tells many tall stories about what he was or what he has done, and they will all amaze an audience – trouble is that none of it is true! Fred likes to offer advice, most of it is wrong, but you cannot tell him as he thinks that he knows best. He has lost loads of friends since he has been here, but I suspect that that is the story of his life.

Many people come here to start a business only to find that there is a lot of commitment needed. Running Gites or B&B means that one has to be at home all the time. There is no chance of going traveling or even taking a week off. The rude awakening can then happen in September or October, when the tourists dry up. Not for me thank you very much, too much commitment.

People will also come here wanting employment with a French business, no good unless they speak very good French. If some one is a plumber in the UK with all the correct qualifications, then there is still little chance of coming here and carrying on in that same line without a huge headache. The French plumbing qualifications will be required as well as the language.

In my opinion, the way to do it is to sell the house in the UK, buy something that can be lived in here that is not too big and expensive, and live off the excess from the sale of the UK house till a pension kicks in.

You might be asking what the point of this post is, well it is just me rambling on.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Yet more flying

Last Friday the weather turned out clear and warm, time for more flying! We took off from our local airstrip, Galinat, and after a little local flying went onto Montpezat, on the river Lot.
The skies were clear and we flew at around 3000 feet for the first 45 miles or so. As we approached the river Lot from the north we could see that there was blanket cloud ahead and below us. We only had about 4 miles to go, but the valley was shrouded in cloud. We dropped down to 600 feet and were just below the cloud. At that height it is difficult to see very much in the distance, but the GPS knew where the airfield was.
After a few minutes we were over the airfield, we dropped into the empty circuit and landed. No one else was flying. The owner came out to greet us and said that the weather was about to clear and coffee was available inside. As is normal in France, there were no landing fees to be paid. After we had a coffee each we went back outside to drink and were amazed to see the clouds disappearing.
20 minutes later we were off to return to Galinat.
Saturday was a good day for a local fly around and Jude (who would not relax her grip on the microlight the week before) took some pictures.
The picture below is typical of the Dordogne.
We also headed over towards our house which is about 5 miles from the airfield. As we passed over the village of Plazac (see earlier post) Jude took a very good picture of the village.
We ended up flying for about 8 hours in total over the four days.
We took our little gas camping cooker with us and made tea at our home airfield, we also wandered around the runway and picked mushrooms which we fried up with bacon and had in our sandwiches.
As is normal on this blog, you can double click on the pictures to see more detail.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Yet another flying day - only just

Baynac off the nose

Why do the weather forecasts never tell the truth? Today and the weekend were forecast to be nice and sunny a week ago, then we get nearer the day and the sky is overcast with a little rain.
We went to Galinat and rigged the aircraft, and fitted the GPS.
Off we went to over fly Plazac as Chrisina in the bar had said she would wave. We could not see her so she must have had the music on too loud. We then went off to Montignac to see it from the air, very pretty.
After that we went over Les Eyzies and buzzed our friends Jim and Diana, they were waving. Before any UK pilots try to tell me off for buzzing houses, the French microlight pilot handbook tells me how to do it!
We then returned to the airfield to have our sandwiches and a cup of tea (we take a camp stove with us when we are out).
The next trip took us south. We passed Sarlat and headed for the famous bastide town of Domme. Then on to Roque Gargac and over another friends house. By this time the cloud had forced us down to 800 feet, so we headed back, but passed Beynac castle and another Chateau on the way.

Another pretty castle

Beynac again

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Home again!

We are home at last. Despite being made welcome at Rob and Libs house in rural Oxfordshire, it is nice to be back. Thanks Rob for putting up with me and my microlight quest.
The microlight was towed home on the trailer that was bought specifically for her. We kept the speed below 55mph all the way back as I was not too sure about the small trailer wheels even though they had new tyres and one side a new bearing. The car managed fine and still gave over 40 mpg.
We contacted the French chap who owns a local 400 meter airstrip and were told that we could use it anytime for free. the first flight was last Saturday.
We rigged the aircraft and refueled.
I took off for a quick test flight to make sure that everything was OK before Jude got into the back.
After a quick 5 minutes, I landed and Jude got into the rear seat with her camera attached to a neck strap. She was cold and worried, so worried that she did not take any pictures!
We spent a very happy hour flying around to get our bearings and saw many local sights from the air, Roc st Christophe, Rouffignac, Les Eyzies and much more. After we landed I got into the car to collect more fuel from the local petrol station, but on my return it had started to rain. We packed up the microlight and went home.

To make sure that I did not need to spend too much time local flying I decided to fit the Garmin 296 GPS, that way we can find our way back to our airfield.
Here is a picture of the GPS fitted to the right and the digital instrument screen in the center.
Next thing to do is fit the radio.
We are planning on flying again this weekend.
Click on the pictures to see a larger view.