Category: Spain

Flat Tyre & Radio

Unfortunately I found a flat tyre this morning, which I changed and then drove the car to the garage to get the tyre fixed – they replaced it and at the same time I got a radio installed. It took quite a while, so I ended up taking a long walk to pass the time, since it was a nice day. The whole thing took more or less half of the day, and then I went to Hipercore to get the car cleaned.

I’ve got my Progress Test 2 profile tomorrow and then a night flight. I had to cut my navigation exercise short since there was a lot of cloud where I was going, and flying below it would mean I’d be below my minimum planned altitude. We have to stay clear of cloud by a 1000ft and 1500m horizontally when flying VFR.

Car’s back!

Finally got my car back after 2 weeks! I really missed it. There are so many times I use my car to get out of having toast because I missed dinner due to my flying schedule or whenever I don’t feel like having canteen food. I went into Jerez on the bus today, just to take a walk in the city – something I’ve not done often whilst I’ve been here. The weather’s not been great today, however I’m not too bothered, as it’s my day off from flying. I am hoping for good weather tomorrow though, since I have a solo VFR navigation exercise and then I’ll be doing my CPL qualifying cross-country flight. This usually goes from Jerez to Granada to Seville and then back to Jerez.

New Year

Happy 2008!  The Christmas break flew by, and like everyone else felt it was far too short!  It was great catching up with friends and family and eating home cooked meals once again.  I just missed the snow in England; it was snowing in parts of UK the day after I got back and it was something I wanted to experience before I got back to Spain!

Unfortunately the first night back didn’t go very well – I found my car had been broken into at the car park.  They had smashed one of the windows, stolen the contents and the radio and managed to damage the boot lock and air controls.  Having only just picked up Spanish since I got here, it was quite difficult trying to communicate to the insurance company over the phone!  I eventually ran out of options in terms of getting transport back to Jerez – none of the car companies were hiring cars, it was too late to take the train and I even considered flying to Jerez!  Still, I thought the best option would be to stay overnight in a hotel and sort things out in the morning, in daylight so I could determine what damage had been done and if I could drive back.  I did manage to drive back to Jerez and at the moment my car’s getting the window replaced and will then be dropped off at a garage to get the rest fixed!  What a nightmare!  Could have been worse though – could have turned up with no car in sight and the car is insured so that’s a relief.

Things on the flying side are going well, I’m really enjoying the solo flights and we will soon be getting into VFR navigation.

Festival del Otoño

Festival del Oto̱o Рor the Autumn Festival is on this weekend celebrating the grape harvest. We went into town in the evening to check out the medieval themed market Рwhich also included puppet shows, a Moroccan tea tent, and plenty of delicious food!

A little train in the main square:

The puppet show:

Many types of herbal tea being sold, including those for certain medical ailments:

Arabic calligraphy:

I got my name and some for my sisters and parents:

It took pretty long for the ink to dry so I ended up waiting around the stall, but I didn’t mind so much!

Busy markets went on till late:

There were stalls in the main central square of the city and then they lined one of the streets branching up to another open area around what looked like a fort or castle. Not sure what it is – I still need to explore that part of the city!

The Moroccan tea tent:

The tea here was just amazing – mint tea! It was served in an ornate cup, which we’re allowed to take back with us.

Spotting & Birthday Dinner

We went out for a bit of spotting – both aircraft and bird! Hayden managed to take a photo of an MD-80 taking off, whilst I was quizzed by the Guardia Civil.. by the time I had explained to him that I was just taking a photo and showed him my security pass, I had missed the opportunity! Security are fine provided you carry your security pass, and wear a high-visibility jacket if you’re inside the airport perimeter. He seemed satisfied and let us continue on.

Jerez airport tower and you can just about see the aircraft that has just taken off:

We decided to pay the falcons a visit since Hayden hadn’t seen them yet. I’ve been teaching myself some Spanish and trying to improve it at every opportunity, so this time I managed to ask a few questions to learn a bit more about these birds. I was told that the falcons are a mixture of Spanish, Central European, American and Mexican, and there were some that were bred at the site here in Jerez.

Later on, we caught the bus into Jerez town centre to have a birthday dinner at Churchills – for Keenan’s 22nd birthday.

We were stunned when a lady came out to take our orders, with perfect English, in an English accent – as we were expected to be greeted in Spanish! The owners had moved from England to Spain a few years ago, and had moved to Jerez about a year ago and opened up Churchill’s. A group of tourists from Holland, Belgium and Germany strolled over for a chat at the end of the evening – they had flown to Malaga and were touring Andalucia by car.

Came back to FTE around 2am and went straight to bed, as there was groundschool the next day!

Zahara, Grazalema and Arcos – Weekend out with the instructors.

Two of our instructors – one of them, our course mentor, took us out on a scenic drive around Southern Spain – to Zahara, Grazalema and Arcos. The day started with an hour’s drive to Zahara. The town’s built hill, so it was quite a walk up to a cafe where we had something to drink.

The views from the top were amazing:

We then headed off to Grazalema for lunch at a restaurant.  I ordered grilled swordfish, since I’ve not had it before and thought I’d try it out – and I was very pleased with my choice!  The next stop was Arcos; we routed through roads on the slopes of mountains and stopped on the way take a look at the view.

Arcos is a small town just east of Jerez – photo taken from Arcos:

We got back around 7pm and on the way back we passed a bridge and section of the road crowded with people – for some kind of tractor race!  Later that evening we drove back to the area to see what it was all about.  Unfortunately there wasn’t any parking.. and instead we managed to get lost in the maze of roads near the runway threshold! However it did give us the opportunity to meet:

La Barrosa (Chiclana de la Frontera)

No rain today… so we decided to head for the beach! We’ve heard a lot about La Barrosa – from instructors and a friend of mine who had visited the beach, with her parents. It was a pleasant 25 minute drive to La Barrosa, which is just outside the town of Chiclana, south of Jerez.

A smaller stretch than Cádiz, but quieter:

Clear and cleaner water than in Cádiz:

Myself and Mahmoud enjoying the La Barrosa!

Had a wonderful weekend to relax and recover!

Rainy weekend… so far.

Went out for ice cream on yesterday – Ben managed to find a comfortable seat:

Enjoying the ice cream:

We met thunder and lightning as we made our way back to FTE later, yesterday evening. Earlier on today, it really rained down hard – many roads in town were flooded which made it very difficult to drive around. We were caught in it, as we had gone into town to go shopping and eat out. I think this is the first time I’ve seen it rain so much, in Spain.

It’s been nice to have a stress-free, relaxing weekend again.. even if the weather hasn’t been so great!

Latest News

Sorry for not writing lately – been so tied up this last week with work, tennis, swimming, eating and of course – sleeping!

It’s been a pleasure to get to know the new guys on course 69, the party was heaps of fun and we got to the beach last weekend to recover. We’ve been playing quite a bit of tennis recently – especially since we’ve got a tennis instructor on the new course! He had been coaching tennis before he came over to FTE. It’s nice to get some instruction – something which I’ve never had with tennis before. It’s amazing how much one can improve with a little bit of coaching. We played doubles on the weekend and again during the last week. I think I prefer doubles over singles – much more fun with more people. I bought another racquet, as the one I originally had, has a huge sweet spot, which made the ball quite difficult to control… and I wouldn’t want random tennis balls knocking out people outside the court!

Other than tennis, I’ve been re-learning – or I should say, re-gaining my confidence in swimming. I succeeded in managing to do just that yesterday, thanks to Mikhail! Took me a few weeks, but I got there! Now that I have my confidence back, I think I’ll be jumping into the pool more often.

Temperatures here have been really high – reaching the upper thirties and even through to 40 celcius. It’s such a contrast to the weather in UK – where they’ve been experiencing plenty of rainfall, which has caused floods. A matter that we’ve discussed in Meteorology as well.

I’ve not bothered to go out to the beach this weekend – the heat really exhausts me and I end up not doing much work as a result. Though I can get away with not doing much work at the moment, I don’t think I can for much longer, since we’ve got progress tests coming up in a few weeks. The plan is to continue to a little bit of work, but regularly to keep on top of things. I’m finding the concepts and material itself quite easy, but the volume of work is the difficulty – maybe not just yet, but I’ve no doubt it will be if it’s not managed.

I’m really enjoying the subjects, so motivation is not a problem at all. My favourite subject at the moment is Meteorology. Also, I find the subject Engines really illuminating – we’ve been taught all the theory behind engines in Physics, at University, but not much on the practical side. I really like how instructors demonstrate on and use real engine parts to explain concepts – it’s much easier to see what’s going on when looking at a 3D, real object, rather than a 2D diagram. For the subject of Instruments, we recently went down to the demonstration room to have a look at how gyroscopes work. Again, really useful, much easier to see how it works by having a look at one and playing around with it, rather than having a look at a diagram in a book.  It was also fun demonstrating conversation of angular momentum to by class mates by allowing a spinning bicycle wheel to spin me around on a swivelling chair!

Relaxed

Went to “The Wok” on Friday for Chinese food, which I really enjoyed, especially because they had Sushi and a variety of ice creams! I’ve not had Chinese food for ages, so it was good to dig into some here.

Then yesterday we were at the beach – I was so relaxed that I managed to doze off there! We then went on a mission to find a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream store – took us a while, but with our persistence and motivation we got there! I haven’t swam for a long time so I’m not very confident at the moment, but I had a go and enjoyed myself, even though the waves kept pushing me down!

I love the FTE campus, but think it’s nice to experience a change of scenery, for at least one day of the week. It’s quite refreshing and one comes back relaxed. And on that point.. we spontaneously decided to go to the beach yet again today!

We explored the older part of the city, which has the Cathedral situated in it:

Two weeks of ground school have passed, and it’s a little scary how fast it has gone! I’ve not had much work to do this weekend, especially since I’ve been working consistently during the week – little at a time but regularly.