My Month of May – 2017 Edition

I fear I may once again have neglected this blog a bit this month, if my list of pending posts is anything to go by. I’ve suddenly got really busy with work again, so that’s my excuse. I’ve only been able to find time to write this one by getting up extra early.

I’ve had a couple more helicopter lessons this month, though one got cancelled due to bad weather. My flying is coming along quite well; I can now do basic autorotations (a procedure for landing safely in the event of an engine failure – though I haven’t learned the landing bit yet!). I did my best ever hover the other day – I cannot tell you how satisfying this is – and I’m now starting to learn how to hover taxi (moving around about 5ft off the ground). On the admin side of things I’ve passed my Class 2 medical, which is a higher class of medical than the self-declaration one I have for my existing pilot’s licence. I had to have an ECG, blood pressure check and various hearing/sight tests for it, so it’s good to have been given a clean bill of health.


I’ve also flown the beloved Robin a bit, including to Wellesbourne (pictured). I’m still in love with its beautiful wings!


Lee and I had a nice day out in Gwenn the Dimona in the sunny weather last week. We flew to Compton Abbas, a lovely airfield in Dorset, for lunch. I’ll write a full post about it as soon as time allows!


Wilhelm is in maintenance at Gloucestershire Airport at the moment, so we’ve been in and out of there a few times too. On one occasion we spent the morning there working in the cafe, which was nice. I snapped this rather nice business jet on the way back out to the plane one day.


I love spotting interesting things from the air, as you know, and this local windmill is always a favourite.


Back on the ground, I’ve been completely captivated by wisteria this month. I’ve been spotting it everywhere and I never grow tired of it. I particularly liked this one on the Pen and Parchment in Stratford-upon-Avon.


The one in our garden has also been absolutely magnificent, though all too fleeting.


The weather has been so glorious that I’ve been able to sit outside and work, and we’ve spent long evenings sitting out in the garden breathing in the delicate scent of the wisteria.


The alliums are also looking wonderful. We’re very lucky that the previous owners of our house are keen gardeners, and they’ve planted the garden in such a way that there’s always something different flowering each week. It just gets on with it, not demanding any attention from us. This makes the garden a constant source of delight, despite my being just about the least green-fingered person I know.


We’ve been to France yet again this month – a spontaneous overnight trip to Boulogne-sur-Mer to blow away the cobwebs. We booked it on a Friday night and travelled down on the Monday (via the Eurotunnel, as always). We took the scenic coastal route from Calais, as usual, and when we stopped off at Cap Blanc Nez it was so windy I could hardly even stay upright.


The weather was a lot better next day, so we started the day with a wander around Boulogne’s old town before making our way to the big supermarket to stock up on French food. Boulogne was decked out in colourful bunting, so I got lots of pics for Instagram.


On the way back to Calais we had a picnic in the car at another of the coastal lookout points, where you can see lots of Second World War concrete bunkers. The headland in the background of this photo is the one with the obelisk I’d photographed the day before.


It was so clear that we had a fantastic view of the White Cliffs of Dover – a rather alarming reminder of just how close the Germans got.


There were local elections this month; this was my view from the polling station. I was the only one there. Sadly I still don’t have a dog with whom to take part in the ‘dogs at polling stations‘ fad still sweeping social media!


I always enjoy heading over to the local farm shop to stock up on fresh veg, and it’s a particular delight now that asparagus season is well underway. We live in a part of the world so obsessed with asparagus that there are local festivals held in its honour (‘Asparafest’ – I kid you not). This is the sight that greets you in every local farm shop at this time of year. We barbecued some the other day and it was lovely.


I’m still volunteering at Guide Dogs every week, which is a tremendous antidote to the stress of everyday life. Just look at their little faces!


On the subject of antidotes to stress, I’ve even managed to do a bit of baking this month, including this nice easy sponge traybake (pictured – recipe here) and banana bread.


Which brings us up to Bank Holiday Monday, when, having worked all weekend, Lee and I took the day off and attempted to attend the world-famous Cheese Rolling event at Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester. We almost made it, but there was so much traffic and the crowds were so enormous that we chickened out at the last minute (it was also raining, to be fair). We found a nice pub deep in the Cotswolds for lunch instead, and made our way home via lots of lovely little villages and lush green countryside.




Finally, we also stopped on the bridge at Toddington to admire these beautiful steam trains.



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Classic British Bank Holiday weather, as you can see, but every bit as atmospheric as a sunny day!

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