2020 is a year to forget. As readers of this blog will know, late winter/early spring is often a time for an aviation adventure. However after a number of longer range trips, Miranda and I decided to start the year with a short trip to Spain in the then expectation of some more exotic destinations later in the year. We would fly there in my bonanza G-TRJB to Seville spending a night on the way down and the way back at our favourite watering hole La Rochelle on the FrenchAtlantic coast.
At this time of year, flying over the Pyrenees can be problem particularly if a cold front stalls over the mountains and causes icing conditions but this year we were lucky with good weather forecast once we were south of the Loire Valley. Seville is a busy regional airport; it is possible to self handle but the handling charge is relatively modest as these things go and certainly makes for a much easier transit both on arrival and departure and assistance with refuelling.
Seville is a city we know well and usually the afternoon temperatures in the second half of the February reach a very pleasant 22/23º C so a welcome change to what is often poor winter weather in the UK. We had three very pleasant days in Seville staying in a quaint hotel in the old part of the city as the first part of an Inntravel three city tour also taking in Jerez and Cadiz.
As it happened, Phil Caiger, his wife and daughter overlapped with us in Seville on a half term break having flown down there in G-PTXC so we met up with them for dinner on the night of our arrival and caught up with their news. We visited a number of our old haunts in Seville but for the first time took a tour of the cathedral’s roof from where we had some stunning views over the city.
From Seville we took a train down to Jerez leaving G-TRJB at Seville. Jerez also has an airport we know well which in the past has been the jumping off point for flights further south but the Inntravel tour provided the train as our transport and it was certainly convenient. Jerez is perhaps best known for its sherry bodegas and on this visit we managed to join a tour to a small and much recommended bodegas not far from the cathedral where we sampled a number of glasses of different sherries before retiring for a siesta!
The third city Cadiz was new to us, and we knew of it historically as an important naval base. Our early morning train seemed unusually crowded with fellow passengers in all sorts of fancy dress and it turned out that we were arriving on the most important day of an early Spring fiesta there with the old city area of Cadiz heaving with dancing throngs of people. The following day was quieter and we enjoyed a relaxed tour and visited a couple of restaurants friends had recommended to us.
It was in Cadiz that we began to be aware of what was then called the ‘Corona virus’ later to become covid-19 which was then spreading rapidly through Madrid. We did not give it much thought and all too soon it was time to get on the train back to Seville, then out to the airport and take off for the return trip to the UK night stopping again at La Rochelle for another excellent fish dinner at André
The weather over northern Spain was fine but with very strong westerly winds which generated strong mountain waves over the high ground to the northwest of Madrid. After departure the following morning from La Rochelle, the weather deteriorated as expected and we landed back at Biggin Hill in gloomy conditions.
The rest of 2020 is history; covid-19 spread throughout Europe and the UK. Aviating became much more difficult; we managed a few trips to see family and friends in the summer and early autumn, including a three day visit to a very windy Lands End but any flying outside the UK became too complicated with different quarantine regulations and other uncertainties. We hope 2021 will be different and allow us to visit more exotic destinations again.