Vive La France

Champagne, it seems, is now cheaper in Somerfield supermarkets than it is in France.

My friend Barrie and his wife Marie Therese dropped in yesterday on their way home from a day trip to Calais to stock-up for Christmas and recommended a quick visit while stocks last, Somerfield that is and not Calais, Mind you, the latter is reportedly clogged with white vans from the rest of the UK buying up anything faintly alcoholic or smokable.

One advantage of living on the Kent coast is that France is so very close and accessible at £10 per person and car for a day trip on the ferry. Today was ideal for a visit, perfect anything weather and instead of hopping over the channel, which I need to do soon, I flew over to Headcorn to pick-up fuel as the Avgas pump at Maypole, where I am parked, is temporarily out of service and I had very little left in my wing tanks.

Headcorn, possibly the only airfield in the country where your landing fee buys you a frozen lamb, is starting to show some winter wear a little muddy and bumpy and feels like taking-off or landing in a furrowed field. Come January and with a little help from the rain, there is a good chance of finding yourself stuck firm in a pothole unless you’re careful, rather like the runway extension at Maypole, the top field, which has seen more than its fair share of aircraft disappear into the mud in the rainy season.

I sometimes wonder how many boxes of wine and favourite cigars I can safely fit inside my Cessna. Customs isn’t an issue, it’s whether I can get the aircraft off the ground in France with a full load. Anyway, a single ‘Beaujolais run’ to Le Touquet or Calais should keep my small supply cellar happily stocked-up with good French wine until the spring.

There is, for anyone interested, an excellent wine cellar tucked away in one of the side streets off the Le Touquet shops on the main drag down to the beach. Thanks to the wonders of Microsoft’s ‘Autoroute 2004’ on my PC, I can tell you that it is in a street running parallel to the Rue Saint Jean sort of behind Les Deux Moineax restaurant and it’s where you can find the good stuff reserved for the locals and adventurous tourists and aviators.


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