Sunday, November 19, 2006

Strange few days

Hi all

It has been a mixed week.

It did not get off to a good start when I went for my class 2 medical. One of the first tests they do is an ECG. So having got me all wired up, the nurse said that she was having trouble getting a clean trace. After a while she went and got the doctor. After another ten minutes the medical was halted and I went in to see the doc. He said that my trace was showing regular, extra heartbeats (ectopic heartbeats) and did I have any family history of heart disease. Whilst there is some history, many of my relatives lived to a ripe old age. He said that these ectopic heartbearts were not on the trace taken one year earlier and showed me the printout. It seems very likely that this double heartbeat is completely benign, especially as I can feel absolutely no symptoms. It can be caused by alcohol or caffeine. The printouts have been sent off to the CAA and I have got to wait and see what happens next. In the meantime, I cannot fly and I am reducing my intake of caffeine. I am still going to have a few glasses of wine each week.
I happened to be looking at a web forum on GA recently and the topic of flying safety was being discussed. Various statistics were being posted and the conclusion was that it was more dangerous to ride a motorbike than fly. In fact the numbers of hours flown each year is often quite low. In practice you can improve the odds a lot if you are an occasional flyer like me because I only fly in good weather and hire well maintained aircraft. I am also very rigorous in checking that there is enough fuel on board. Quite a few fatal accidents are caused by running out of fuel.
One contributor reckoned that being a private pilot was safer than expected because the regular medical check can reveal health issues early. I think I now agree with that.

On Thursday and Friday we had really gloomy, wet and windy days. Also some of my shares were doing very badly on the stock exchange, although a few others are improving to the point where I could sell them. The result is that I sold no shares over the whole week and this harms my plan of making £100 a day.

So it was great to have a nice, crisp sunny weekend. I had to wear extra layers when taking the dog for a walk, but having blue skies and sunshine was a tonic. I took some photos. I was a slight shame because many leaves had turned to beautiful autumn shades of yellow, red and brown a few days earlier, but the wind and rain had taken the trees past their best.

Some of the leaves still remained on the trees.

The pond is behind this clump of shrubbery.

Bisley Green on an Autumn day.

Many trees still have their leaves much later than usual.

A good crop of acorns.

A Saturday afternoon football match on the playing field.

My dog Angus hates the noise associated with a football match and so he puts his head and tail down and tries to pull you past the pitch as quickly as possible. Here he is pulling so hard that I was unable to keep the camera focused.

I am hoping that things get back on track in the coming week.


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mont Orgueil


It’s Sunday and being a rather uninspiring November day I decided to have that long promised practice at a watercolour landscape. I want to try to develop a loose, easy style that gives quick results.
I’ve walked the dog, Mrs Peewit has gone off to the Camberley shopping centre for the afternoon and so now is the ideal time.
I have a print of a watercolour that I bought in Jersey last year. I like the style of painting and the subject is Mont Orgueil that is in Gorey where we go each year for a week of sunshine and beaches.

After removing the print from the frame, I had a go at copying the original.
This is the result.

Once again, I can see 101 things that I could have done with more skill and the original is far better. I do tend to be so impatient and end up doing things in a rush without proper consideration. Even so, it is a first step towards a style that I want to adopt.

Here is a photo of the actual castle that I took a couple of years ago.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Variax + Toneport ?

Hi all

My weekly trip to the art class comes around so quickly. I always intend to do a bit of practice during the week but never get around to it. This time we were painting a landscape from a black & white photocopy of a photograph. It was not very inspiring and I found my self going into far too much detail and replicating everything in the original. This is not what I want to do. I must try to simplify things and paint with a loose style. Anyway here is what I actually painted. I must admit that if I saw this painting by some-one else that I would think “I don’t like that”.

To make it even worse, when Mrs Peewit saw it, she said “I like the moo moos”. Well there are no cows in the picture, they are supposed to be buildings. Maybe I will find the time to have a practice before my next lesson.

In the evening I went to a demo at the University of Surrey. This was a demo covering the capabilities of the Apple computers and software in conjunction with various I/O devices and guitars. When I arrived I had the opportunity to get into the lecture theatre just a bit before the hordes arrived. Here is the presentation stage.

There were also some demo stations where you could get up close and try out the equipment.

Note the clever way in which all the seating in this half of the hall folds away onto the back wall.

That’s a Gibson Les Paul guitar.

Once the session started there were demonstrations on how to record using the Garageband software that is apparently standard on all Mac computers.

Later when the presentation moved onto the Logic Pro software that simulates a professional recording studio, the guest player Bernard Butler arrived. Apparently he used to be the lead guitarist in the group called ‘Suede’. These days he produces tracks using a lot of the technology we were seeing.
I was impressed with the demo session and the software looked excellent for those wanting to record tracks. There were also presentations from Line 6 (Interfaces between guitar and Mac, plus software) and Godin (guitars).
The whole session lasted two hours and was concluded with a prize draw. I guess there were about 80 to a hundred delegates there and the feedback forms were used to make the draw. There were three prizes so the odds of 3 to 80 did not look too bad. The two Ipod Nano’s were handed out to happy recipients and the last item to be drawn was a Variax 300 guitar and the associated Toneport. By now the odds had reduced to 1 in 78 but alas I was not the winner. I suppose I should be happy as I already have a PRS electric guitar (I got it on Ebay) and a Line 6 Guitar Port that is plugged into my PC. The Guitar Port simulates a long list of different amps and cabinets and effects boxes and I am really happy with it. It is great to just be able to pick up my acoustic guitar when I want a quick practice, but using the PRS and Guitar Port is a lot of fun. By the way, I am just a beginner but I am making slow progress.

Flying news.
Well next week I have my Class 2 medical that is due for renewel , and then I plan to fly to a field with a grass landing strip. Having never landed or taken off from grass before, I will be doing this with an instructor on board. I’m thinking about Sandown on the Isle of Wight as a destination.

Share dealing update.
Over the last three days, prices on the London Stock exchange have been sliding. So it has been an opportunity to buy cheap shares with the hope of selling them when the prices go back up. At least that is the plan. Time will tell if I made the right decision.

That’s all for now.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Guildford market

Hi all

If you want to read about my flight training in Florida then look at the February archives.

This morning I wanted to buy a strap button for my acoustic guitar so I decided to go to Anderton’s in Guildford as this is the nearest musical instrument stockist. It was a gloomy sky but at least it was not too cold. Once I got to Anderton’s I parked and walked into their showrooms. They must have several hundred guitars of all types. I spent half an hour just looking at them. There was one electric guitar that I liked the look of but there was no price on it as it had just come in. I asked the price, but it was £2,200. I did look very nice. There was a replica of a Fender that had been given the distressed look. This tatty looking guitar was over £9000. After my tour around the guitars, I bought my strap button for the princely sum of £1.49 and left.
Mrs Peewit wanted me to get a paper from Smiths, so I walked into town. It happened to be market day in the high street so I took a few photos.

Garlic for sale (to see a bigger version of a picture, just click on it)

or how about some fresh bread

jams and preserves for your bread

fruit and veg

wicker baskets in front of the Angel Hotel

I was tempted by one of the stalls selling pastries. I managed to avoid the urge to buy a cornish pastie and instead purchased a single cheese straw. It doesn’t sound much but it was big at about 12 inches long (I know I should be saying 305mm all because of that little bast**d Napoleon) and although I was going to take a photo of it, I eat it whilst walking back to my car.

On arriving home I found that my share trading system had sold two more lots of shares so I have nearly recouped the £700 loss I made last Thursday. My plan is to make £100 a day, but I have a way to go to achieve that yet. If I ignore my losses I would be on target. Hopefully as I gain more experience, I will cut down on loss making situations.

Anyway, I had better get back to practising my chords.


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Friday, November 03, 2006

Just a perfect day – for flying

After our first real frost this morning, once again the sky was blue and the sun was shining. It was looking like we were in line for a good day.

I got my flying gear together and headed off to Blackbushe where I had booked out a C152 for an hour. I arrived at 10:30 and as expected the airfield was bathed in sunshine and there was no sign of haze or fog. The winds were very light and from the north west. Having checked over the tech. log for G-CDTX I called the tower on the internal telephone to book out. Here I hit a bit of a snag. Apparently there is a limit of 4 aircraft allowed to fly in the circuit at the same time and there were already two other Blackbushe Aviation aircraft doing this, whilst the other two slots are allocated to Cabair (the other flying school at this field). I rang Cabair and asked if they were going to be using both slots. They kindly let me take one of their slots and so I rang the tower again and got permission to fly in the circuit.

I checked over the aircraft and although the air was cold, the lack of breeze and presence of sunshine made the process quite enjoyable. It reminded me of what it was like checking over the aircraft at Naples last February. The cool morning air and beautiful sunny skies together with the excitement of the events to come. I put my camera on the passenger seat so that I could take some photos when in flight.
I took off on runway 25 at 11:05 and embarked on a really useful hour of circuits. The flying conditions were great and although it was quite busy I managed to do a lot of circuits. I lost count of the actual number and remember only one absolutely perfect landing. On one occasion, a visiting aircraft was landing ahead of me. He made a very late and steep approach and having touched down a long way down the runway (it is over 5000ft long) he turned the wrong way off the runway and was told to hold. I was now on late final and was asked by the tower to go-around. I did this but cannot really remember if I carried out exactly the correct procedure in terms of when to take out flap.
Another thing I noticed was that as I was by myself in the aircraft, I climbed away at a faster rate than the aircraft ahead of me in the circuit, so I had to keep a good lookout as to its location compared with mine.
The visibility was perfect and flying was most enjoyable but my hour was soon over as I called for a full stop landing. I landed at 12:00 precisely. As I taxied back I realised that I had not taken a single photo. I guess the workload is quite high when the circuit is at maximum capacity.

Here is a picture that I took once I got home.

What other good things happened today ?
Well, I sold some shares (whilst flying) and these made a 300 pound profit that helped outweigh yesterday’s disaster when some shares fell to their stop loss point.
Plus it is one of my daughters’ birthday. As she lives in Sydney Australia her birthday was in fact already over as they are 11 hours ahead of us. I am looking forward to my 3 week visit to Oz next February. I might even get in some flying over the Sydney area.

All the best

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Half term is over

So it is back to school, or in my case adult education. It was a beautiful day today that started with our first frost of the year and was soon followed by clear blue skies and sunshine. I was strongly tempted to miss my painting class and book up an hour in a Cessna. I checked the weather for tomorrow and it seems to be the same and so I was able to book for an hour of circuit flying on Friday morning and still make it to my painting class.

I managed to arrive precisely at the designated start time and found only one available seat that was rather a long way from where the painting subjects are set up. It was also looking into the light. Once the still life was set up, it looked most uninspiring from my position as a large vase was dominating the arrangement. I decided to do the same as a few others and paint a landscape. One of the ladies had a collection of calendar photos and I borrowed one. Having not done any landscape painting since my beginners course two years ago, I was a bit dubious about the project. Although I was unsure as to where to start when applying paint, at least the first task was to sketch the scene in pencil. As I was doing this, I racked my brains trying to remember the correct process. Yes, I know it is the light areas first, and so I got going.

Here is the result, it is Durdle Door in Dorset.

Here is a photo of the actual place. It is not the photo that I used for my painting.

It is a great looking place and I must take a visit there next summer.
My painting ended up kind of OK as a first attempt but it looked very 2D, so I cheated and used a soft pencil in order to try to give it a bit more shape. Mrs Peewit says that I should add a Scottie dog on the beach.

I mentioned that I had started trading stocks and shares recently. The PC based trading system uses a broadband connection. You can preset buy and sell conditions subject to certain criteria so that even when you are away, the shares can be traded. In the first month I had made over a £1000 profit, but a couple of these preset conditions caused shares to be sold, when if I had been watching I would have hung onto them. These caused losses and the worst one was whilst I was away at my painting class today. I managed to lose £730 in one hit. Luckily, I am still showing an overall profit. I am learning fast about what to do and what not to do. Hopefully I will get better at it and be able to avoid more silly mistakes. Buying my own aircraft is obviously a little way off yet.

I’m looking forward to getting back in the air tomorrow, even though it is only for circuits. It is important to keep my hand in at circuit procedure and landings. It seems that there will only be light winds so it should be fun.


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