Cirrus has just announced an optional G1000-derived cockpit for the SR22. Keypad, synthetic vision, softkeys, integrated autopilot and transponder etc. Me want. Drool.
I have flown to Amsterdam twice in the last six weeks. Schiphol is pretty much the largest and busiest airport a private pilot can visit in a single engine aircraft. Try landing at Heathrow and see what happens! It’s not cheap (about 250 Euros) but worth it for the experience. You can fly in VFR and I did this a couple of years ago. But these trips involved the full IFR arrival and radar vectored ILSs.
The planning feels a bit daunting – you need to book handling with KLM JetCenter and make sure you have the necessary slot booked. Then you need to read the pages and pages of Jeppesen notes for the airfield as well as the usual IFR stuff like GARs, flight plans and so on. Although it has loads of runways, once you know which one you’re going to (and they told me when I was half way across the North Sea) it was just like an ILS approach anywhere. Nothing to be daunted by.
When I went in March, they vectored me for an ILS on runway 36R and then I broke right at a few hundred feet to land on 04 which runs up to the GA parking area. Yesterday, they told me to expect 18R (which is a couple of miles taxi from the GA terminal) and then changed it to 22. They brought me in on a four mile final and I had to drop down from FL70 in short order. I still managed to put it down on the numbers and make the first exit right into the GA parking area. Great fun, especially with a 12 knot gusting crosswind.
In March I went with my Dutch teacher to practice my Dutch. We went to the Anne Frank house, a pancake restaurant and then she had me visiting various shops trying (in very broken Dutch) to find and buy different things. Yesterday, I went with a couple of friends to visit the Rijksmuseum and we had lunch at Hans and Grietje, a cafe nearby.
The main museum is closed for rebuilding but there’s a newly-refurbished wing open around the corner. It’s much less indigestible than the main museum used to be. With so little space, only the best work makes the cut. Every object and painting is the best of the best. There are four Vermeers and more more Rembrandts than you can shake a stick at. Including the famous Night Watch. It took a couple of hours to visit and every moment was thoroughly enjoyable.
The light of Holland favours paintings even when it is grey and overcast but yesterday it was sunny and warm. It is hard to imagine a more pleasant place to be on such a day than Amsterdam.
I flew my wife down to Bournemouth last week for lunch at Chewton Glen. It is my second visit there. The first, a couple of years ago, was marred by absent-minded service. Luckily this visit put that ghost to rest.
We flew through low cloud and light rain the whole way, with intermittent IMC becoming solid as we approached the south coast. I had expected to do an instrument approach and so all the plates were ready. However, there was another aircraft on frequency trying to find the airport visually. When this failed he had to prepare for an ILS in the air and it was obviously causing a fair amount of work – you could hear the stress over the radio.
It made me very grateful for the equipment in the Cirrus and all the IR training and practice I’ve had. I called up the approach plates on the MDF (I also had printed copies). I could see where the Class D airspace was and avoided it while I waited to get my call in to Bournemouth. Setting everything up while flying on autopilot and then hand flying the ILS were unstressful, even enjoyable. Such a difference from my first ILS years ago when I was doing my IMC training. I’m not claiming to be a super-pilot (it was hardly challenging) but it’s very satisfying to see the combination of equipment, plane and training turn a stressful situation into a routine one.
Anyhow, back to lunch. I had a Double Baked Emmenthal Soufflé to start and it was decadent and splendid. Aileen had cream of leek and potato soup from the good-value Prix Fixe menu. I had a pasta dish which was tasty but not memorable while Aileen had a delicate portion of fish and chips. No pudding – too full.
The most charming thing about Chewton Glen is the setting. It has lovely gardens and the restaurant looks out onto greenery. The food is pretty good and, thanks to the lunchtime prix fixe menu, good value. It’s easy to get to from Bournemouth by taxi. It took 20m and cost £15-20 each way. The route through the New Forest is more scenic than the faster urban route.
Tel. 44 (1425) 275341
Fax 44 (1425) 272310
Reservations Direct Line 44 (1425) 282212
US Toll Free Tel. 1 800 344 5087
US Toll Free Fax : 1 800 398 4534
Germany Toll Free Tel. 0800 1 810890
Opening hours: lunch 12.30-1.45, dinner 7-late
Meal for two: £100
Michelin Rating: *
The Relais Gourmand Olivier Roellinger – one of the Maisons de Bricourt – is one of those special places that is both august and homely. It’s three Michelin stars, inventive spice-rich cuisine and impeccable service make it a paragon. Yet, it is a small place. It is on a friendly, human scale.
I went with two friends, landing at Dinard. The town of Cancale is a thirty minute cab ride from the airport. As usual, we were running late (time to spare, go by air) but they kept the kitchen open and we arrived at about 2pm local time.
I had a clear, lightly spiced broth over a bowl of prawns and shellfish with a few thin vegetables to start. It was clearly inspired by Vietnamese food but like everything else here it was its own creation. The spices have a local history because Cancale was the port through which much of France’s spice trade flowed. My main course was two fillets of John Dory with a sauce made of 14 (count them, 14!) spices. It was subtle and flavoursome, not at all overpowering. My favourite course, though, was the pudding. I had hibiscus jelly with fruits and a small sorbet on top. The jelly was sublime with a hint of pepper, I think.
The staff all speak fluent English and are very welcoming. The menu, however, is only available in French. I speak it a little but I don’t have any menu French. The waiters were happy to translate for us but choosing our order was a bit like throwing darts in a darboard. Mind you every throw is a bull’s eye.
I also recommend the spice shop and the Grain de Vanille tea and cake shop, both part of the same business, as post-meal shopping.
Overall, this restaurant is one of the best I have visited. Next time, I will arrive promptly and linger long.
1, rue Duguesclin,
Tél :02 99 89 64 76
Fax : 02 99 89 88 47
GPS : N48 38 588 W 001 52 345
Check website for opening times.
Meal for two: £250 with wine
Michelin Rating: ***
I’ve been playing with Meteox and it’s pretty cool. It gives you a composite weather radar for most of Europe based on inputs from national weather authorities.
It was useful last week when there were complicated weather systems over the UK and I had to get to Cardiff and then to France. I could see where the fronts and troughs were and plan my routes and timings accordingly.
It’s not as good as an in-plane weather radar or the satellite download weather you get in US Cirrus planes but it’s pretty useful.