Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The UK is going down the pan

Are the residents of the UK feeling the financial pinch? I often watch the UK news and hear many stories about the global credit crunch, but am not too sure if it is global, or just the UK and US that are suffering the most.

As Britain has chosen to keep the pound sterling rather than move to the Euro, many costs are hidden from the British public. Not only are food and fuel prices increasing in the UK, but the currency is also suffering against the Euro. About a year ago one pound would have bought one euro and 49 cents, today it will buy one euro and 25 cents. So, when measured in the European currency, UK house prices have actually fallen about 15%.

This free-fall in the value of the pound sterling makes everything that is imported into the UK much more expensive. It also causes minor problems for those of us living in France who depend on a UK pension. In January 2007 my RAF pension was just over 700 euros per month, this month it was 581 euros. That cannot be blamed on just the falling pound, but also on the UK governments decision to tax the poor. I now pay 20% tax on my pension rather than 10% - thank you Gordon Brown.

I don't mind too much, but the thing that I don't like is the fact that I have to pay UK tax on my pension instead of French tax. I have no choice. If I were to visit the UK, I am not entitled to use the NHS despite being a tax payer and having spent most of my life serving Queen and country.

I have been asked many times whether I would ever return to the UK to live. The answer has to be a definite NO. France is the country that I have chosen to live in and here I will stay. I have been back a couple of times, but do not see the need to return again. I still have siblings living in the UK and communicate via email and phone on a regular basis, but don't feel the need to visit.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A new home airfield

Having spent the last 6 months with our microlight on a trailer we were looking for a permanent airfield. We met Wim and Regis who own the microlight pictured below. Regis came up with an idea, and took us to see a friend of his who has a small airstrip about 20 km away from us. His friend does not fly, but is happy for us to use the area as much as we want.
This first picture is Regis about to take off.
There is a small hangar at the strip, but it is used by a French chap at the moment who has a problem with his microlight and has let us use the hangar for now. This hangar is about 12 by 6 meters and high enough to fit our aircraft in fully rigged. The owner of the land has given us permission to build another hangar and use the strip as much as we want.After a picnic and a few flights to get used to the new airfield, our Tanarg was locked away in the hangar and Wim took off in the Scirroco to return to his 140 meter(small) airstrip at Fleurac. We drove the car back to see that everything was OK for him to land and found him doing some low circuits to try and clear the cows off the runway!
Cows cleared, Wim was able to make a nice smooth landing, this is him on finals.