Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas Spirit

With a clear, bright blue sky outside, I had been toying with the idea of hopping over to France this morning to buy some cheap Christmas spirit but the forecast from Manston has put me off. This reads as "EGMH 230910Z 231019 25015G25KT 9999 BKN030 TEMPO 1019 25025G35KT" or roughly translated; between 10:00 and 19:00 the wind at Manston is expected to produce gusts of 35 knots, roughly forty mph, which is a little too lively a crosswind for me trying to get back into a narrow grass runway at Maypole!


Santa last seen doing wheelies on the Thanet Way

Weather permitting, we may go up in the big Cessna 172 and tow a "Merry Christmas" banner around Canterbury tomorrow afternoon - Just for fun, wearing the kind of costume you can see in the photo above.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Coldest Day of the Year

It's icy out there this morning. I've just been out to Brighton with Airads to take photographs of a new building in the town centre. The good weather stopped at a line west of Brighton marina and so it was like stepping from a world of harsh bright sunlight and blue sky into a dull winter's day over a clearly defined cloud shadow line. Posted by Hello



From Brighton, it was back to Kent via Lydd to refuel, where the photo above was taken and then over to Whitstable and out to sea. to photograph the progress of the windmill farm which you can see in the photo below. Back to work now and time to write my first column for Silicon.Com. There's a revolt brewing over the national identity card and perhaps I should throw my own thoughts in that direction. Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I Flu from Oman

The flu or heavy cold I collected in Oman has left me facing a flight of stairs as if it was a climb to the peak of Mount Everest. Arriving home with some kind of ailment after a long international flight appears almost inevitable these days and one can understand why the Japanese often travel wearing surgical face masks, which has always struck me as a little obsessive but if it works, don't knock-it! Posted by Hello


The beach at Westgate on Sea

In contrast with the white sand, palm trees and mountains of Oman last Saturday morning, I've been outon the beach taking photographs. No palm trees in sight as they appear to have migrated south for the winter but plenty of seagulls.

Last night, there was a ferocious gale. One couldn't get near the sea-front and the waves were breaking thirty feet high over the sea wall. It's quieter this morning but unlike last Saturday morning, I don't think I'll be going swimming. Posted by Hello


Monday, November 15, 2004

Flying the Easy Way

Breakfast in Dublin then. No delays on EUjet which was a smooth a piece of travel as anyone could ask for. I arrived at Manston airport sixty minutes before the flight, was checked in within another five minutes and the aircraft left right on time, arriving in Dublin at 08:25. It then took another hour to reach the hotel, longer, as I pointed out to my taxi driver than the flight from Kent. He commiserated, "It's all the cheap money", he told me, "everyone is buying cars and now they can't get anywhere with them."

"I know what you mean", I replied. "You'll have a congestion charge before you know it." Posted by Hello



Dublin has changed in five years, a European success story but I can't quite work out where Ireland makes the money to support all these new signs of prosperity. Guiness exports maybe?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Sunset at Whistable

A trawler making it's way back into Whitstable at sunset this afternoon. Having towed a banner for the London Erotica show for four hours around all the South-east's major shopping centres and towns, all the way up the Thames to Canary Wharf, we worked our way home via Ashford, Dover, Ramsgate, Margate and then Herne Bay and Whistable, landing at Maypole just as the Sun went down.

You can't have missed us -Surely?

Off to Dublin tomorrow at 7AM to chair an NHS conference but on EU Jet this time. Posted by Hello


Friday, October 29, 2004

Good Deed for The Day.

I've just helped set-up a website for the Thanet Shotokan Karate Club. You can find it at www.tskc.org from Monday. Posted by Hello but until then it's here.

In this part of the world, having a martial arts skill is a good idea.


No member too small

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Keep Your Pets Inside

I read the Thanet Gazette's front page story describing the savage torture of a kitten by a Margate sixteen year old with a growing sense of disgust and horror. What worries me more perhaps, is the well-meaning and naïve belief that a juvenile who commits such a crime and has previous 'form' for this and other related violent offences, can see the error of his ways and can be rehabilitated into society at the end of his custodial sentence. Among the long list of those who acted in a similar manner, we can review the records of Jeffrey Dahmer and Albert De Salvo, the Boston Strangler. Posted by Hello


Being cute won't save you!

In the words of FBI Behavioural Scientist, Alan Brantley, "Animal cruelty is not a harmless venting of emotion in a healthy individual; this can be a warning sign that this individual is not mentally healthy and needs some sort of intervention. Abusing animals does not dissipate those violent emotions, it may fuel them."

In the United States, the Police will invariably place such individuals and their families on a "Watch list" in an attempt to anticipate and prevent further violence in the community. And in Thanet, what will we do about such things? Wait and see perhaps?

Finally, in one of the UK's most socially deprived areas, any consideration of a mega casino in Margate would not reflect well on our local politicians, who gave us the clock tower traffic lights and the Turner Centre and other equally bold and brilliant ideas.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Chavscene

Heard in a schoolboy conversation on the train to Victoria this morning.

"We've been told we have to do numeracy, what's that?"
"Maths I think!"


The schoolchildren were pretty dire in my day but those between Westgate on Sea and Whitstable any morning would frighten the Iraqi insurgents rather more than the threat of sending in The Black Watch. Posted by Hello


"Give me a child to the age of seven and I will give you the man" - A Jesuit maxim

In the meantime, Margate, has I'm told won its funding to open the new, muli-million Turner Centre on the harbour, the one with no Turner paintings at all. My hairdresser commented that the money would be better spent opening a "Chav" centre, a celebration of all things Chav, decorated in Burberry and which may attract far more visitors to the town than any attempt to celebrate fine art at the reluctant taxpayers' expense. You know what? She's quite right.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Blot on the Seascape

A View of the Windmill rig out to sea beyond Herne Bay today. From the air one can see lots of brown stumps, the bases for the windmill farm which will soon grow up and rather spoil the view I think. Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Famous at last. Two mentions in The Thanet Gazette and a mention in Mongolian News , all in the same week. What more could a man ask for I wonder? Adscene maybe?Posted by Hello

Frozen Webcam

I notice the Police are regularly speedtrapping on the St Nicholas roundabout on the Thanet Way in the mornings on the road towards Birchington, so watch out!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Party Pieces

I had a brief exchange of pleasantries last night with Oliver Letwin in the men's room of the Marsham Court Hotel. One can't really cram a great deal of profound economic dialogue into such a small space, so it wasn't really worth trying. I had to remind myself that this was Bournemouth and not Thanet and change my delivery to suit the surroundings and the rare sight of me wearing a suit and tie and not a leather jacket and jeans.

This morning's conference breakfast on local eGovernment, sponsored by BT had all the right ingredients. Eggs and bacon, strong coffee and even stronger statements that electronic government should be more focused on agility and delivery and less focused on turning unwieldy paper-based systems into their online equivalent. This is a subject that I could go on about for hours but at least the Conservative Party now has a firm and I think sensible policy on eGovernment that it can follow-through in the run-up to the next election and it's up to the Conservative Technology Forum team to help build this into next year's election manifesto.


Left to right, BT's Mike Blackburn, Michael Fabricant (MP), the Shadow Minister for Technology, Conservative Technology Forum Vice Chairman Nick Wood-Dow and Councillor Paul Bettison, the national eGovernment champion.

Funnily enough and on a completely different subject, I just gave an interview to the local paper, the Thanet Gazette, on what I think of the new EUjet service from Manston. I wonder how it will read on Friday? Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Plane Jane

I've just taken Thanet Gazette columnist, Jane Wenham Jones for an overhead tour of Canterbury and the island in advance of the heavy weather warning for this afternoon.

She's back in one piece, shaken and not stirred and had a go at flying the aircraft herself as we went looking for her home in Broadstairs. You should be able to read about her death-defying experience at my hands a forthcoming Thanet Gazette, that's if you live close enough to the edge of the known world where Thanet is.

In fact and until quite recently, Microsoft's Encarta encyclopaedia still had Thanet listed as a proper island, the pizza-fed cartographers in Redmond not knowing that the Wantsum Channel in Kent had silted-up in the 15th century. Mind you, Microsoft are infamous for their geographical errors, such as which country owns the disputed region of Kashmir and the thorny question of Taiwan ,which the politicians in Beijing are a little sensitive about.. Posted by Hello


Thanet Gazette columnist and author Jane Wenham Jones

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to next week and the Conservative Party Conference where I have to co-chair a breakfast briefing on local government, sponsored by BT, with Michael Fabricant and Paul Hammond MP. It's all happening at Bournemouth this year, so I'm hoping I can fly down, weather permitting, rather than spend the rest of my life on the train.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Mission Romantic

"Caroline Baby - Will You Marry Me" - The message on a banner that Bob and I were towing behind the Airads Cessna over the Kent village of Tenterten, earlier this afternoon. A local Fireman has a long romantic streak it seems and found an original and romantic way of popping the question to the woman he loves, as the local inhabitants pointed at the banner being towed around a small housing estate on the edge of the village. Posted by Hello




"Was that you I saw towing a banner over Canterbury earlier", asked my wife, when I arrived home a few minutes ago. "Yes", I replied. "I thought so", she said. "I was too embarrassed to look up. You never did anything like that for me."

"Possibly because I didn?t have an aircraft at the time", I replied.

So there you are. You want to ask your fiancée to marry you or simply impress your girlfriend with something more original than a bunch of Daffodils? Call the man from Airads but remember, we don't do "Happy Anniversary", because Bob has trouble spelling it, he says! Posted by Hello

Sunday, September 26, 2004

I just found an old photo of my wife coming home from work!

Invicta Radio is reporting that Plane Station, the company that was once Wiggins and owns Manston airport, is buying EUjet, "To ensure that the airport continues to develop as an international hub etc etc". (See RTL report)

This strikes me as a little sudden, as EUjet have only been flying for three weeks and I'm wondering what circumstances prompted Plane Station, one of the shareholders, to dive in and acquire the lot before the service had time to bed down? Having had a look at the latter's last set of annual accounts, I'm even more curious. I'm sure such speculation will be satisfied by a little more detail in the coming week. Posted by Hello


"A succesfull mission - Two carvans and a Nissan Sunny shot down over Birchington"!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

EU Jet Live Departures & Arrivals Board

I see that yesterday, an EUjet flight from Manston, with twenty-six people on board made an emergency landing at Dublin Airport after experiencing difficulties with its nose wheel. These things always sound more dramatic than they actually are and in this case, everyone arrived safely.

I've been in the position before when the Tower, desparate for a bit of excitement, has been asking "Do you want to declare an emergency" and I've replied "Not at the moment thank you", thinking of all the CAA paperwork I might have to fill in if the wretched warning light insisted on staying on. It's a bit different when something more serious happens, such as a bit falls off the aircraft but thankfully that rarely if ever happens to anyone!

This reminds me that my aircraft should be on its way for a repaint at Bournemouth this afternoon but fat chance getting off the ground in this gale.

Thanks to Dick Osborne who has passed me the link to the EU Jet "Live" arrivals and departures board over at Manston airport. You can now look-up the flight times from here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I walked the few miles into Cliftonville today to collect my mountain bike, past the Nayland Rock where two boys from Hartsdown School, were attempting to kick the glass out of the big shelter and on, along Margate seafront, past empty amusement arcades, a deserted scene except for strolling refugees and noisy sea birds.

Cliftonville, on foot is like an ascent into a windswept, empty world of grinding poverty, particularly up Margate Hill past the DSS building into the High Street. Gaunt teenage mothers pushing prams and equally haggard-looking refugees and unemployed young men walking past shabby charity shops at the western end.

Cliftonville is being slowly throttled by neglect, unemployment and its role as a dumping-ground for the DSS and London councils happy to pass the responsibility for their problems elsewhere. How government, local or central, could ever make a difference here is beyond me. In a generation, it's collapsed into a shadow of what it once was and it could take another thirty years to recover, which it won't without rapid, intelligent and expensive intervention. Posted by Hello


Monday, September 20, 2004

If anyone ever wondered what the Martello towers in the sea between Herne Bay and Southend look like from the air, we caught this shot on the way in the other night. Looking like invading robots from a Stars Wars movie I think! Posted by Hello
A view of the Albanian "Big Kebab" bar in Broadstairs' Albion Street. The only food source open on Saturday night when several pilots stumbled out of my first pub crawl in twenty-years. Opposite Marchesis' restaurant, Big Kebab deserves several Egon Ronay stars, if only for being open. Always suspicious of fast food outlets and as "designated driver" I ordered a plate of chips and was amazed to discover that these and the kebabs ordered by my companions were beautifully cooked and the equal of anything one might find in a good restaurant. Evidence of how a polite and friendly young Albanian has found a niche in Broadstairs! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Time Poor

Struggling to find the time to write my next Computer Weekly column. Snowed under with work and then I had to deliver my aircraft for its annual service this morning. Gale force conditions made that "interesting". There's a ship beached just off the ranges at Lydd in Kent and its become quite a tourist attraction from what I could see from the air. By the way, does anyone know wht both Legoland and Chessington are both closed. My poor daughter turned-up there this morning after a 120 mile drive and found the gates to both shut and people milling around not knowing why two of the UK's largest theme parks would be closed in September? Posted by Hello

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The Weald's Favourite Airline

Where was I? Oh yes, flying EU Jet to Nice and back this weekend and what I thought of it.




The vote, from a quick poll of my family and other passengers on the flight was this is a great way to travel. No long queues or airport stress. Straight into Manston, Kent International, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, unjaded by years at check-in desks elsewhere, a mug of Starbuck's coffee and quickly onto a very comfortable Fokker 100 to Nice, Cote D?Azur in less time than it takes to get to London on any morning.

I could commute this way I thought and I'm tempted. EU Jet obviously needs to fill-up their flights rather more than I saw this weekend but these are early days and I'm not complaining. Having experienced years of travel "Hell" at Heathrow and Gatwick, this was a comfortable and welcome change, door to door from my house in Kent to a house in Nice in less than four hours and in a way which bought some pleasure back to travel.

To be honest and I go to Nice quite regularly on business, - with the client paying my Business Class fare from Heathrow with British Airways, - I would much rather pay the £40 to EU Jet and go comfortable economy than take the longer haul with BA any day. In fact, my small daughter having spotted an Emirates Jet parked next to us in Nice suggested that instead of flying to Dubai from London next time we go, we take EU Jet to Nice and pick-up the connecting flight from there. It's not a bad idea either.

A couple of thoughts for EU Jet though. If photographs are forbidden in the departures lounge then you need a sign saying so rather than a polite reprimand from security. Let?s be honest, a band of boy scouts could probably infiltrate Manston if they really wanted to, so while security is important, let?s not go overboard on forbidding photos.

If the incoming aircraft is late, best let the passengers know rather than take bets among themselves. Our flight to Nice was twenty minutes late coming in from it?s last stop, Dublin and so I called the tower at Manston and asked where it was before telling the two very nice girls at the check-in desk who didn?t know.

The coffee on the aircraft is far too hot, super-heated in fact. I had to add cold water to mine and if there was any sudden turbulence there could be a nasty scalding accident.

The pilot could say a little more. I know the First Officer was a young woman but it doesn't have to be a secret!

Marks out of ten for EU Jet on our first flight then? In contrast with any other airline I've flown, including BA, EasyJet and Emirates, I'll give EU Jet nine out of ten for efficiency, courtesy and above all enthusiasm!


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Hacked-off

I’m singularly hacked-off today. No, it’s not about the call I had from The Halifax Bank surveying my opinion on the quality of their customer services. Would I recommend the Halifax to a friend? Not on your life, given the record of ineptitude I’ve experienced this year.

What really annoyed me today was a minor emergency involving my aircraft. I was due to have lunch this afternoon with Peter Hayes, the VP of Government Business for Microsoft and had planned to fly to White Waltham, near Reading, to meet him.

Fly EU Jet from Manston from September 1st

About thirty seconds after taking-off from the runway, a latch on the engine inspection hatch on my front cowling, failed and the slipstream swiftly found its way underneath the cover, breaking the second latch and forcing the hatch open to twist and bank against my windscreen, which was a little unnerving as it hid my view of the world outside. After another thirty seconds or so of flight, it twisted and tore itself off the aircraft, falling into one of the fields below, as I pulled the aircraft back into the circuit to make an emergency landing.

The damage isn’t serious and the engineer has taken a look and ordered the new parts which should be with me next week but it forced the cancellation of my lunch with Microsoft and my instrument revalidation exam tomorrow.

It could have been worse I suppose. I was thinking only this weekend that with the number of hours I now have, I’m about due for something to go wrong and so if this is the worst I can expect, I’m doing well.

If Manston seems a little quiet, it's because MK airlines, the freight carriers, are moving to Ostende. In a loss to the airport's finances, MK, who appear to believe that Manston is overcharging them, are taking their business elsewhere, simple market forces. This rather seems to support what many people are saying about the local government forcing new business out of the area by being too greedy, whether this involves the harbour at Ramsgate or the Airport at Manston.

Don't believe it!

Meanwhile, there are all kinds of daft rumours flying around that EU Jet, who start their scheduled service out of Manston next week, will only last until March, because the lease on their aircraft runs out and one can’t book on their website after April. I made a quick call to their Managing Director, who told me that it was “Absolute rubbish” as the software for next summer routes hasn’t been loaded yet and the aircraft are leased from the company’s largest shareholders.

According to Managing Director, Mike Halper, "EU Jet now has over 10,000 unique visitors a day to its Website, which is more hits than Aer Lingus, Singapore Airlines, Iberia and numerous other airlines receive in the UK market."

"On the 1st September EU Jet's first four services to Amsterdam, Dublin, Nice and Girona are all in excess of 80% load factors, the first flight to Murcia on Saturday the 4th of September has 107 people booked and 67 on the return (despite it being the first inbound....). As far out as next February some of the popular ski destinations like Salzburg and Geneva have flights 80% full."

"In the next few days senior managers in every major company in Kent and Shannon will receive a letter from EUjet containing a paper aeroplane urging them to support the services from their local airports. At the same time 2million people in Manchester, Dublin, Edinburgh and Glasgow will get an email from EUjet/Kent Tourism Alliance promoting short breaks in Kent. We have over 800 radio ads running every week in Kent, adverts in every major Kent regional newspaper and billboards in every major train station and at key roadside points. 300 taxis in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester take to the streets next week with the campaign "If you are going to Kent you should fly to Kent".

"In terms of where we are today we are considerably ahead of where we expected to be in terms of revenue and bookings, and these continue to get stronger every day."

It just goes to show that rumours are just that and as I look out of my window, I’ve just noticed one of the new EU Jet Fokker aircraft flying circuits. I’m taking my family to Nice on the 9th September with the airline, so I’ll report back on the experience, a change to have someone else doing the flying. I wonder if they go as far as White Waltham?


Monday, August 02, 2004

Carts & Horses

For real evidence of the progress of electronic government in Britain, there are times when you don’t have to look much further than your front door.

My local council, The Isle of Thanet, on what the locals call “Planet Thanet” at the Eastern edge of the known universe, has, since my last visit finally, turned its Web site from a token informational mess into a useful source of information, on-line payments and downloadable forms for the relatively low proportion of the local population that has access to the Internet. Whether they actually visit the council Website is another question but then, if they do, there’s no guarantee that the council will actually respond to any enquiries, electronic or otherwise.



Last month, according to the local paper, the Thanet Gazette, the audit commission produced a “Damning” report, “A catalogue of mistakes which included unsatisfactory customer services, a lack of investment in IT, unreliable computer systems and a failure to answer more than a quarter of a million telephone calls.”

Now, to me, this sounds rather more like a progress report for central government and in particular, the note in the report that highlights a "systems crash" in 2003, which resulted in the loss of a large amount of work. But meanwhile, back in Whitehall, the cogs of government continue to grind relentlessly with, last week, The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, releasing the draft proforma for the fourth round of the Implementing Electronic Government Statement exercise, which is a little different to its predecessor, whereas in last year's IEG3 exercise, councils were asked to report on progress against the six-part model of the local e-Organisation, in IEG4 local authorities are required to self-assess their progress towards delivering each of the ODPM's Priority Service Outcomes up to April 2006.

Roughly translated, into English, this means more statistical paperwork to add to the mountain of forms, and meanwhile, the ODPM have decided that everyone, including local councils at the edge of the known universe, could do better and to remind us all that it both exists and is very important, the ODPM has now launched an extensive research programme to assess councils' progress in eGovernment, how they are approaching this task and find out the particular barriers they face. In a separate study, all local authorities will also be contacted shortly about a forthcoming 'web audit' on activity related to environmental issues and services.

Back on Planet Thanet, the council’s Chief Executive, Richard Samuel, reportedly blames his own problems on a level of deprivation on the picturesque island, some of this being a consequence of inner-London councils “outsourcing” many of their refugee problems to the far end of the M2 motorway. With challenges like this, to tackling, eDelivery and worries over the future of public WiFi might be asking too much of a local council that is struggling to find the resources to cut the grass around my local tennis courts. However, whether it has an “E” in front of it or not, efficient communications with the customer, the general public, remains key to local government success and so I called Mr Samuel’s office, introduced myself to PA and said, “With some experience of eGovernment, having been partly to blame for kicking off the entire agenda, I might be able to help, I’m only down the road.” She politely took my details and explained that Mr Samuels was busy and that someone would call me back. That was a week ago and so I guess you can add my name to the quarter of a million lost telephone calls, leaving me to believe that for many councils, the ODPM’s ambitious dreams of universal eGovernment efficiency at local level, are at best wishful thinking or at worst, evidence of putting the cart before an unwilling horse.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Don't Look Down

I took my daughter Charlotte over to Le Touquet for the first time yesterday. I had promised her a visit to the aquapark on the sea front but hadn’t expected it to be as busy as it was. Of course the French children are already on their summer holidays and most of them appeared to be queuing for the water slides, absolute bedlam but she enjoyed it and slept all the way home to Kent, missing the view on the way.



In fact, I had considered cancelling the flight in the morning, as Le Touquet were giving four thousand metres and special VFR in mist but hearing one of my past instructors on the radio, mid channel, I asked him what it was like there and he suggested that we could duck under the poor visibility at low-level from Boulogne, which we did, only really seeing the runway once we were joining downwind.



The day eventually cleared into what summer should really be and I wonder how long it will last. Apparently, the jet stream has moved south this year and as a consequence we are collecting all the arctic low fronts, which normally stay away from Europe in summer.

Friday, I went to visit Unisys in Uxbridge and hadn’t realised that Denham airfield was so close, a short taxi ride from the centre of the town. Forty minutes into Denham was much easier than two hours or more by car and of course, the view of the city is rather better from an aircraft which also manages to avoid the congestion charge.

My local council, Thanet, I see has been slated as one of the worst in the country in the comparative league tables rom the Audit Commission. To be honest, I’m hardly surprised; it’s always been the case down here, pretty as the area is. Matters are made worse by poor services and the insistence on the part of the poorer London boroughs that they ‘Dump’ their unwanted problems on Thanet’s doorstep, with the consequence of a rather nasty stabbing incident this week in Cliftonville. The residents are rightly complaining that too many children’s homes, homeless hostels and refugees, crammed into a square mile is a recipe for disaster and disorder and one only has to read the local paper any week to see the unhappy results. With so many young foreign students being mugged by feral gangs in the Margate and Ramsgate area, I’m surprised that any European or Russian parent in their right minds would send their children to learn English in those two areas. I certainly wouldn’t.

Anyway, one of Thanet Council's major failures or excuses appears to be its IT, so next week, I’ll call the head of the council and ask if I can be of help. I couldn’t make matters any worse than they are by all accounts!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Banner Towing with Captain Bob
 
A busy towing 'Airads' banners all day between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. The day starts at Maypole with a refuelling stop at Rochester before flying on to Beccles in East Anglia which we used as the base for two tows before wandering home again this evening.
 

 
A lovely view of the North Kent coast from five thousand feet over the Thames estuary as I start a slow 500 fpm descent in Captain Bob's Cessna 172, towards the distant line of Birchington and the field at Maypole, just visible in the evening haze.  I felt very privileged perched up there in the sky between East Anglia and Kent, looking towards the small bend in the coast where my home is. While other people are crammed into the 17:34 from Victoria, I have a very different, even unique, view of the world and challenges that simply can't easily be expressed in words.
 
It's an unusual thing to do but then Bob Shilling's  Airads aircraft appreared on the BBC programme, 'Restoration', last night, so I guess he's a 'celebrity' banner tower now.
 
One thought though. Try drinking a cup of coffee and eating a cornish pasty and a jam donut while flying an aircraft. It isn't easy and the jam is deadly, leaving us both casting round for a 'wet wipe', the remains of a curry disaster from last week's trip to Troon and the Open Golf, which is another story.