Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Good Life

After a freebie trip to Luxembourg and thinking that plane was very small, I was in for a real surprise when we made a long awaited trip in a friends plane to France. I'm not sure what I was expecting, I knew how many people the plane could hold but was not expecting exactly how small it was.

Let's admit it, a pilot friend with a plane is a good friend, but it's been literally years until we have found a weekend where we along with two other friends have all been free - and the weather has been good enough to pop over to France for a) the flying experience b) some fabulous lunch and c) the purchase of some amazing wine and food.

I was fortunate enough to pick up some nice bottles of red in Cora the week before - so was mainly looking forward to the first two. I dressed in what I believe to be suitable jet setting attire, a new mini maxi dress (I love this style) boots and a Karen Millen jacket (we were told to wrap up), and of course, Ray Bans. Not aviators, although the pilot was wearing those - standard.

Checks had to made on arrival at the airfield along with a refuel. We waited outside the cafe which is a really nice set up. There are lots of picnic tables and a koi carp pond. Once we had a mandatory safety briefing (and I actually listened, not like when I'm on a Boeing...) it was time to board. I was lucky enough to be co-pilot, but did spend the flight trying not to touch anything or get my knees in the way. It was a bit like being on the helicopter in Vegas with the headphones on.

The runway at Panhanger is only 875ft long, therefore take off was fast and surprisingly smooth! Turning, however is slightly different. 'Banking' the technical term you are literally doing a steep wing over and can see the floor - scary the first time but it gets very fun (especially post two bottles of wine).

Landing was probably the smoothest landing I've ever done, it was amazing. The destination was Le Touquet on the northern coast of France. It was beautiful. We browsed the shops but really our mind was on food. The pilot, being a frequent visitor knew where we could get the best mussels in Roquefort in town, sold. The restaurant was absolutely charming and the smell was out of this world.

A wonderful bottle of Sancerre, 3 portions of moules frites and a duck for a non-seafood loving friend and I was very happy. Following the Sancerre we went for a bottle of Bordeaux and creme brule - I really need to switch to a new desert soon, I feel like that's all I've been eating.

After lunch we walked on the beach - and what a beach it is. The sand was soft and it was so deep. There are also grassy sand dunes, so we decided to attempt the climb and work off some of those mussels. It was really hard to get up some of them, and at one stage I ended up flat on my rear with sand in my boots. Oopsie.

Finally a trip to the shops where we all picked up handmade chocolates and wine. The flight back I was in the back - and feeling a bit braver fuelled with Sancerre the pilot did some acrobatics. Flying at zero G with the chocolates floating around the cabin was hilarious fun, as was serious banking over the sea. They really were the screams of joy and it left with the same feeling as riding a roller coaster.

We vowed to not leave it as long next time, and to go back in the summer where we can lay on the beach and snooze off the cheese. Amazing. It is so good to get a taste of the high life. I could get used to this.
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