Jonny the Pilot

Commercial Airline Pilot. Vlogging Europe. Loving life. Ironman. Feminist.

Category: Adventure Update

7 Days in Cape Town 🇿🇦

I’ve heard a lot about South Africa – it’s beaches, it’s stunning nature, the great food and local wine and some of the most exciting wildlife in the world. 👌🦈 🐳  Checking on BA.com I had three options – Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban (the latter a new BA route for 2018). After some quick research, decision was made – Cape Town here I come.

So here’s a quick run down of my adventure over the week in pictures; a 7 day itinerary for Cape Town.

This November I had a week off and wanted to make the most of it – time to head somewhere new, somewhere I could switch the cold for some warmth, sunshine and adventure.

I’ve heard a lot about South Africa – it’s beaches, it’s stunning nature, the great food and local wine and some of the most exciting wildlife in the world. 👌🦈 🐳  Checking on BA.com I had three options – Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban (the latter a new BA route for 2018). After some quick research, decision was made – Cape Town here I come.

Despite the last minute booking (and planning!) and it being my first ever time in the Southern Hemisphere (!), I packed a lot into a short visit, all made possible by limited time difference and an overnight flight – I boarded from London on Saturday evening and arrived in South Africa at 9.45am Sunday morning.

So here’s a quick run down of my adventure over the week in pictures; a 7 day itinerary for Cape Town.

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📸|@IADSPOTTER Instagram

 

Day 1

  • Camps Bay for a wonder/ freezing toe dip in the sea
  • Lunch at a beach front restaurant called UMI
  • Grand cafe (beach club & restaurant (good for sun downers and dinner )

Booked car hire using the free airport wifi as I waited for the luggage at the baggage carousel. Since being given the tip years ago from a rental company employee, I now always book the cheapest car possible online before upgrading at the desk in order to get a great deal on a decent car. This works for me 99% of the time. Cape Town was the 1% as Thrifty apparently couldn’t take payment to upgrade as I booked through RentalCars.Com (a favourite) But hey the Rolls Royce badged up as a Datsun gave us a few laughs as we started to drive into the city (about 25 min drive) and it only cost about £100 for the week. #win

Where to stay – The first 2 nights accommodation was in Camps Bay.

This area came recommended by a friend and is beautiful. White sand, natural rock swimming pool and the Twelve Apostles mountains just behind you gives you the feel of a cross between the Jurassic coast of Devon and Malibu. Behind the beach, seafood restaurants, cafes and cocktail bars which all overlook the boardwalk and crashing Atlantic waves. there are lots of places to stay some pretty pricey. my approach is generally go for something more personal, authentic and less extortionate than the 5* hotels on offer unless my plan is to sit by the pool and make the most of what that offer. There is so much to do in South Africa so I booked into a guest house. If you want the former have a look at the Belmond Mount Nelson, the later took us the the ‘Ocean View House’. (£160/night on booking.com).

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Getting around –  in the evening was easy and safe and cheap using Über. ideal if you want to sample some of the amazing wines on offer.

Dinner – We headed to a beach club about a 20 min drive from Camps Bay called ‘Grand Café’. Not a typically authentic South African experience but somewhere we enjoyed a few cocktails as the sun set and relaxed candlelight dinner at their restaurant. Great food, great wine and a pretty cool vibe (£25/pp).  👌

Tipping – I generally tipped between 10 and 20%. 

Day 2

  • Chapmans peak drive
  • Misty cliffs beach 👌
  • Noordhoek Farm Village (lunch at the deli)
  • Cape of Good Hope 🌊
  • Boulders beach for penguins 🐧 (late afternoon wasn’t too busy)
  • Llandudno beach on the way home 🏖
  • Hussar grill dinner 🥩 🍴

A busy day but great way to cover a few of the must do things whilst there.

Breakfast looking out over the ocean before hopping into the car. The Chapman’s Peak Drive known as one of the worlds most scenic drives is a fantastic coastal route along Chappie’s Toll road (have a few coins ready) with the most majestic scenery. 🚙  ⛰

Keep your eyes peeled for whales on the right and baboons on the left. The most amazing deserted white sandy beaches  with mist blowing off the sea gives the feel your on a film set. Absolutely fantastic!

Lunch – Pop into the Noordhoek Farm Village and enjoy the ranch style setting. Eat in the deli. The cafe looks fab and the food looks delicious. we had a look around grabbed a drink and the chef made us a coupe of fresh sandwiches to go. The only thing this place was missing was a few courses tied up at the door. Highly recommended for a pit stop.

The plan then was to continue the drive straight down to the Cape of Good Hope National Park and walk up the hill (take trainers) to the lighthouse before driving  back up to swing by Simon’s Town, Boulders Beach to see the Penguins.

This was good advice we were given as the penguins can be off doing there thing in the day and there are coach loads of tourists to battle. We arrived around 5pm which was perfect. They’re just as cute and funny as you might expect! 🐧

We opted to do the same drive in reverse as opposed to taking the motorway back to Cape Town dropping into a coupe places on route.

Llandudno Beach – This is a hidden gem.

Almost out of sight from coastal road, light blues melt to deep darks where many ships have wrecked themselves in stormy waters. Take a picnic blanket, a bottle of South African wine and throw all your worries away. Watch the surfers do their thing whilst you find a sheltered spot behind one of the boulders and take an ankle-deep Atlantic dip.

This was one of my favourite spots. No restaurants, not many if any tourists, easy parking and an idyllic setting.

 

Dinner – The Hussar Grill. Great if you like steak and wine. Whatever happens, order the Chocolate Vodka Martini for Dessert! 👌 Again approx £25/pp

Day 3

  • Stellenbosch – visiting wine country
  • Boschendal vinyard (awesome picnic lunch ) tour and tasting session. Didn’t book but recommend booking a picnic hamper.
  • Stayed in Stelenbosch seems safe to walk about at night and some great restaurants for dinner

About an hours drive up into the mountainous wine region we arrived in Stellenbosch, surrounded by vineyards. The town has a real colonial style to it known as Cape Dutch. The streets are lined with oak trees, cafes and art galleries and again was a safe place to walk about even at night and sample the restaurants.

Accommodation – Our home for the night was a lovely little guest house in the centre of town. 2 nights would have been great but so much to see and so little time.

Stellenbosch is wine country and you may well have treated yourself to a bottle of wine with a Boschendal label in Waitrose. Well thats exactly where we ended up.

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A wine tasting in their rose garden (the biggest in the southern hemisphere), all imported from Kew Gardens. I highly recommend booking a picnic for lunch before meeting Francois, who’s family used to own the vinyard. He told us all about how its made and what to actually look for when the waiter asks if you’d like to taste the wine at dinner… 😆 We obviously then ended up buying lots to take home.

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Day 4

  • Whale watching with Ivanhoe Sea Safari’s in Gansbaai (although not that many left…best time is from June-early November)
  • La Perla for dinner in Sea Point.
  • Nice for a run along the Sea Point waterfront in the evening.

Lots of driving, a couple of whales and a fun day out. Not really prime season for whale spotting but an enjoyable couple of hours on the boat in the sunshine and the excitement of seeing a whale up close.

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Would be nice to stay in Hermanus for a night perhaps and do a shark dive but again there weren’t many sharks about either due to the Orcas being in town and apparently they don’t get on too well. Whale watching £70/pp 🐋

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Accommodation – A new guest house in Cape Point. ‘Maartens Guesthouse’ £60/night Bargain! Great location for getting about, friendly, comfortable and cheap.

Dinner – Relaxed dinner at La Perla near the waterfront and a short walk from the guesthouse.

Day 5

  • Robben Island (Dutch for Seal Island), Boat departs from from Victoria & Alfred waterfront at 9am. Prison tour was excellent!
  • Explore of the Victoria & Alfred dock
  • Dinner in Sea Point at Mojo, a food hall with central seating a great bar and live music every night 👍

Robben Island – This is an absolute must. Our guide of the island prison was a former prisoner which in its self was mind-blowing that he would want to be anywhere near the place. He was imprisoned alongside Mandela and tells his story with passion. See my Instagram TV 🎥 (IGTV)

This was Mandela’s cell. He spent 18 years imprisoned on Robben Island in solitary confinement 

The earliest boat leaves the dock at 0900 and returns for 1300 giving you the afternoon to explore the V&A (Victoria and Alfred) waterfront restaurants and shops. Touristy but a relaxing way to spend the afternoon listening to the various musicians and taking a stroll.

 

Dinner – We ate at a fantastic foodhhall, ‘Mojo Market‘. It is an eclectic mix of daily fresh goods section and over 30 food stalls. The undercover market unites the bustling roadside and passing pavement footfall with floor-to-ceiling views of the sea and palm-lined Promenade, the Market is new and is proving a huge success with live music every night. A buzzing atmosphere and nice change to a more formal restaurant dinner.

Day 6

  • One hour hike up Lion’s Head, a mountain forming part of the dramatic backdrop to the city
  • Two hour hike up the infamous Table Mountain (one of the oldest in the world)
  • Hussar grill again for dinner.

A day of Hiking. Naturally we picked the hottest day of the week to do it… The original plan was to go paragliding from Signal Hill but the wind conditions weren’t right so we ended up doing the nearby Lions head (more intimate that Table Mountain) and then the Platteklip Gorge route (shortest 1hr 30min) up to the top of Table Mountain. Parked at the bottom of the hike which begins a short drive past the cable car which you could also take up (we took it down). An enjoyable hike. You’ll probably see a few Hyrax on your way up. These are small furry mammals. They look like robust, oversized guinea pigs. 😆

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1 hour in… 😅

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The top of Table Mountain. Sweaty work.

It was a challenging hike after having done 1 already that day in the heat but enjoyable. I preferred the view from Lions head personally as you could see 360 degrees but recommend doing both.

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Clambering my up Lions Head

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The view our first conquest, Lions head. Taken from the top of Table Mountain 📸

The earlier the better if you want to be the only ones up there. A friend decided to propose whist up there, to make sure they were alone they dd the sunrise hike. 0430 start! 🌄

Day 7

  • Paragliding off Signal Hill (finally after delays due to windy weather!) – great fun, about £70/pp
  • Afternoon tea to finish the trip at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. 👌

Paragliding is fantastic but very weather dependent. I recommend booking knowing that you may have to come back and try another day if the conditions aren’t quite right. this happened to us but thankfully managed to launch off a hill on the final day. It was worth the persistence.

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To top of an utterly spectacular week we headed to the prestigious Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel for afternoon tea. Lots of cakes and lots of tea. you get a 2 hour slot with passed quickly so worth arriving a few mins early to make the most of it.

Then it was the to head for the airport, board the Queen of the Skies and depart for London.

Don’t forget to use seat guru to find the best seat available in your cabin on the aircraft. For those that worry when it comes to turbulence have a read of my ‘where to sit’ blog.

Epic week!

Things we didn’t do but wanted to
  1. Hop on hop off bus
  2. Botanical gardens
  3. Shark diving (not many around due orcas apparently)
  4. Walking tour in city centre
  5. Delaire Graff Estate (vinyard)
  6. Grande Provence Estate – The Restaurant, Franschhoek
  7. the kitchen (cafe/restaurant), Woodstock

I hope you enjoyed the read and that you find what I managed to fit into a week useful for planning your trip.

South Africa is an incredible country with so much to offer. I only touched the surface but absolutely can’t wait to return!

Please do leave your comments and questions. Have an awesome day.

Jonny.

3 Comments on 7 Days in Cape Town 🇿🇦

6 days in Los Angeles 🇺🇸 ☀️ 🌴 🏄🏽‍♂️

Cue packing, taxi, airport lounge,  the almighty British Airways Airbus 380, and a seat that transformed into a bed on the upper deck of this contravercial (when it comes to looks) aircraft bound for California. I was fortunate enough to have a week’s holiday in LA – the city of stars, surfers and sunshine!

Cue packing, taxi, airport lounge,  the almighty British Airways Airbus 380, and a seat that transformed into a bed on the upper deck of this controversial (when it comes to looks) aircraft bound for California. I was fortunate enough to have a week’s holiday in LA – the city of stars, surfers and sunshine!

Picking up the rental, I couldn’t help bargaining for an upgrade (if you’ve read some of my previous posts you’ll know I’m not adverse to the odd sports car!). Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a Corvette – that was it. Papers sorted, over to the Corvette we went…to discover the boot (AKA trunk if you’re American!) isn’t really designed for two  bulky suitcases plus hand luggage 🙈

After masterfully rejigging the luggage, we were off in the tightly packed Corvette, the ride that got us around LA and the surrounding area for the next 6 days – what a holiday!

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3, 2, 1… GO!

From strolling along the beautiful Crystal Cove beach in the south to a luxurious stay in the West London Hollywood Hotel in Beverly Hills to a rather eventful mountain biking session in nearby national park, Big Bear Mountain resort, it really is the city with it all.

Some of our adventure was caught on film by British Airways – check it out on YouTube.

Otherwise read on for some of the best places we came across during our adventure. In no particular order…

Huntington Beach – get that quintessential California lifeguard pic 🏄‍♀️🏄‍♂️

It’s not necessarily beautiful but it was the first beach we visited and, given it’s pretty iconic life guard huts and live video feed in every Holister store, the huge expanse of soft sand under our feet got us off on the right foot of our adventure; this beach is quintessential California.

A shamelessly big, long beach, you’ll find a long concrete pavement winding along the coastline (otherwise known as the Ocean Strand) with people of all ages cycling, jogging, walking and occasionally rollerblading along. On the beach itself groups of people of all ages congregate around big fire pits while in the sea you get a view of surfers ripping up the waves around the Huntington Beach pier.

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Crystal Cove – 🌊 

A beautiful beach in an upmarket part of the city. If you head there you might be sat next to the odd BA pilot or cabin crew – it’s a firm favourite!

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Head here for a more peaceful and beautiful beach experience compared to Huntington – it feels less like mankind has intruded although there are a few buildings along the beach edge including The Beachcomber café at Crystal Cove which is worth a visit. This place serves its food with a view! We visited during the week and even then this little café was busy serving brunchtime food to tourists and locals. Apparently it’s also a beautiful place to visit in the evening for dinner whilst listening to the ocean.

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The Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove 👌


Big Bear – exploring the great outdoors!
 🐻⛰ 🚲 

On our first full day in LA we awoke to a cloudy sky – not the weather we’d expected in California! (June gloom) Subsequently we decided to jump in the Corvette (did I really need an excuse?!) and head two hours north winding up through forest-covered hills to break through the clouds surrounding Big Bear mountain.

2000m above sea level, we weren’t disappointed – the valley views were SPECTACULAR as we broke through the clouds and the sun beamed down on us.

We grabbed some food before considering how to make the most of our afternoon in this year-round holiday (I should say ‘vacation’) resort.

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If you like the outdoors then you’ll love Big Bear. In the winter you can hit the slopes on your skis or snowboard. We were there in spring and had so much choice – kayaking or boating on Big Bear lake, horse riding, hiking…

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In the end we plumped for a couple of hours of adrenaline-fuelled downhill mountain biking. Gear sorted, we headed up in a chair lift to then wind down the wooded mountain trails on two wheels, hanging on for dear life.

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Claire got a bit over-excited on the final run and ended up displaying her acrobatics before coming to rest on the far side of a bend, splayed across the bike trail…! 🤦‍♀️ But after a quick dusting off, we both agreed it was such an awesome place! We only wished that we could’ve stayed for a few more days of fresh mountain air to get our adventure on!

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Oooouch

El Matador State Beach – hidden gem 🏖 

This Malibu beach was a gem of a find and topped our list as the favourite sandy strip we visited!

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Beautiful El Matador State Beach

We came across it by chance, parking on a busy highway and following a trickle of people down some steep steps to a beautiful, sandy and quiet beach dotted with huge rocks.

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It felt personal, exclusive and like a well-kept secret! There were also some modest waves to play about in if you fancy a dip.

Venice Beach – California on steroids 💪

If you love people watching then this is the beach for you. It’s such an eclectic mix of people and just stuff going on – from people working out at Muscle Beach to people blasting out music as they rollerblade to music Mr Motivator used to play to quirky shops selling merchandise along the edge of the beach.

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The long stretches of concrete pavements make it an ideal place to skateboard. After all, this is where it all began… We were also lucky enough to see Sky Brown hitting the main skate park – there’s a reason why she drew the crowds, she’s incredible and only 10!!

Pink’s hotdogs – you’d better like big sausages 🥪 🐶

Watch the British Airways ‘Inside Los Angeles’ YouTube video and you’ll spot Claire and I stuffing our faces with some enormous hotdogs…seriously tasty! We even met the owners – what an awesome family! We were plied with every merchandise imaginable…

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This place has been around since 1939 and always in the same family. There’s always a queue – if you’re hungry this is the place for you!

Santa Monica 🎣 🎡 

This place is probably most famous for its pier and being officially the last stop on the famous Route 66 – aka the metaphor for the American Dream! If you’re road tripping then this beach is a must visit – gaze out at the beach views from the pier, chat to the locals doing their best to catch some fish and jump on a fairground ride for some old-fashioned fun.

Runyon Canyon – get your sweat on with the stars

Your in the foothills over LA alongside the infamous Hollywood sign. If you’re looking to get your sweat on with a jog/walk then get yourself over to Runyon Canyon.

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We were in LA in June and it was HOT. Don’t go around lunchtime when we did – the hottest part of the day.

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Downtown LA in the distance. Exploring the canyons in the hot summer haze

Clearly the weather doesn’t deter locals from pelting up and down these canyons – sturdy trainers needed!

I like to think I’d be as fit as the locals if I lived in LA…truth is I think I’d be splashing around in the sea and cooling off!

Still, definitely worth a visit for that view over LA – awesome!

GET YOUR ADVENTURE ON…

So this was pretty much a long list of some of the things we got up to. But in short LA was FANTASTIC. If you’ve got bundles of energy then there’s just so much to do here and we barely scratched the surface!

Let me know what you think and if you’ve been to LA. I genuinely can’t wait to go back!

@TheKevinGreene – Epic capture

I also recently came across a handy blog I wish we’d looked at before we went – a genuine abundance of tips and ideas for your visit from a Californian local: California through my lens. Check it out and let me know how you get on!

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24 hours in New York, New York! 🍎 🚕

A couple of days off…what to do?? Where to go that’s not too far, somewhere I’ve never been and I can jam-pack full of adventure?

Flight booked at 5.55pm. Uber arrived at 6.05pm. Horrendous traffic at peak commuter time (move out the way!!). Check in online en route. Heathrow Terminal 5 at 7.10pm. Flight departs at 7.50pm….it was close!

A couple of days off…what to do?? Where to go that’s not too far, somewhere I’ve never been and I can jam-pack full of adventure?

Flight booked at 5.55pm. Uber arrived at 6.05pm. Horrendous traffic at peak commuter time (move out the way!!). Check in online en route. Heathrow Terminal 5 at 7.10pm. Flight departs at 7.50pm….it was close!

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Hello First Class!

So off I went. Ushered into my seat, 5G, on a BA Boeing 747 where I was plied with champagne, water and delicious food for the next 7 hours.

Before I knew it I was disembarking and getting very confused about which immigration queue I needed to be in. Third time lucky – there I was stationed at the end of the longest queue! 🙄

Collected my bag and walked out of JFK airport to miles of yellow cabs. I’d arrived – I was in NEW YORK CITY!

An hour later I was in Mid Town Manhattan, a stone’s throw from Central Park and Times Square. This place is nuts!


I literally couldn’t stop saying WOW. Everything is so big – the cars, the buildings, the lights, the food portions – just WOW. People everywhere, sirens on steroids, sights, smells…

Even though it was 12.30am EST the place was buzzing. And those lights – it could be daytime! ☀️ 😎 I headed out for a couple of Long Island Ice Teas – why not?!

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I was wandering around in awe. And it felt so different to London! The people are so friendly. They actually want to chat and say hi which is pretty nice (…unless you’re in a hurry 😉)

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My plan for a fresh morning jog around Central Park quickly went out the window. Instead I found myself waking up and heading towards a local diner – The Morning Star Cafe – to get the real authentic American breakfast experience 😜  Waffling down some huge portions, we were told by a local on the next table that our accents “were like music”. Ok, thanks I guess!

We jumped on some bikes and went for a cycle. Great way to see the city. Don’t even think about driving. The place is gridlocked!

We headed south on second avenue towards East Village and Lower Manhattan – cool area. A cross between London’s Soho and Brixton. Loads of old school bars, cocktail lounges, alternative restaurants. At all times I genuinely felt I was on the set of Friends – in fact for some reason I felt like I was on a film set the whole time. It was all so surreal.

Food’s never far from my mind and we were near the infamous Katz’s Delicatessen – the number one Deli in NYC. This place was founded in 1888 and each week it serves 6800kg of pastrami – that’s CRAZY. Upon entry were given a ticket and chose our meal.


The place was rammed – so many people, so busy, staff everywhere behind the counter carving and carving that pastrami and corn beef. A healthy helping of grub in our stomachs, we paid with our tickets on the way out. Nice.


Then hello Central Park – an oasis in the city and even bigger than some countries (apparently it’s 6x larger than Monaco!). And everywhere you look in the distance there are these huge, towering sky scrappers rising above the trees. We’ve all seen it in the movies but it’s something else in real life.


At this point I headed to Uptown to meet some friends. Made a new acquaintance too, hey Melinda (apparently her and Bill are big fans of The Crown!) – and then off I went up one of the tallest buildings in NYC…the Empire State building.

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Again WOW! What a view from the top. You literally have a 360 degree view of the city. Top tip – pay a bit extra for the fast track otherwise you queue forever for the lifts!

First lift takes you to 80th floor where you get an amazing view. Then it’s another up to 86th floor where you can go outside – awesome.

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And then you can go up even further to the 102nd floor (not for those with a fear for heights!). From there it’s like there’s nothing in New York you can’t see. Except where I parked my bike 😉

The Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler building, the Flat Iron building, the Rocefella building, the Hudson River (where good old Sully landed), Central Park, the list goes on….

Then it was time for me to leave the city that never sleeps. Boarded a Boeing 777 bound for Gatwick, wheels up, lights out – I slept all the way to London. (The White Company duvet made it especially comfy – good partnership BA).

Gorgeous morning in London – what a nutty 24 hours adventuring over the other side of the Atlantic.


Am literally still BUZZING from the whole experience and can’t wait to go back – just definitely go with deep pockets because the place has a steep price tag!….but it’s worth it. Just WOW!

Any tips on where to go and what to do when I next visit let me know.

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3 Comments on 24 hours in New York, New York! 🍎 🚕

I’m off to Love Island…

It’s got it all – Sun, Sand and Sangria. Its aquamarine water and raw adventure is simply second to none (and of course it’s home to the set of popular tv show Love Island).
You won’t get bored here! Welcome to Mallorca. Or is it Majorca…

It’s got it all – Sun, Sand and Sangria. Its aquamarine water and raw adventure is simply second to none (and of course it’s home to the set of popular TV show Love Island).

You won’t get bored here! Welcome to Mallorca. Or is it Majorca…

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Welcome to Love Island (Aka Mallorca!)

Last week I hung up my cap and epaulettes for 6 days of escapism. Some of you will know I’ve been a few times in the past couple of years – once to go windsurfing after missing a flight to Greece (note to self Mallorca isn’t actually a surfer’s paradise due to the general lack of wind!) and another time to go road cycling with a friend who lives half the year on the island, getting our sweat on winding up and down the incredible Tramuntana mountains.

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SOS! 🚵🏻‍♂️

This time it was just me and Claire enjoying a mix of relaxation and exploration of the west of the island. Here’s some of the best places we found during our stay.

Sa Calobra

Two things to know about this small but beautifully formed beach: (1) get there early, it gets packed pretty swiftly; (2) bring goggles/snorkel.

The drive down to the car park seems like an endless pattern of twists and turns but it’s worth it. Get ready to stroll through some pedestrian cave walkways as the view of the bay you’re heading for emerges. 

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First you’ll likely spot some super yachts already moored in the bay – there will be more as the day progresses. Eventually you’ll spot the small pebble beach poking out between two cliff faces that you’re heading for – probably a ten min walk from the car park.

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Yep, that’s me. I’ve floated further from my super yacht than intended. 😜

We arrived at about 10am and we’re glad we did. After soaking up the scene we hobbled across the pebbles down to the lapping Mediterranean Sea. Goggles on we plunged in – amazing! Water’s so clear and just an awe inspiring place to swim.

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We found a couple of rocks to jump off if you’re feeling adventurous.

After a good long swim we headed back to the beach – this is when we realised this place gets busy! After sticking it out for 20 mins we retreated with our beach towels in land and eventually left for some food and a drink back at the nearest cafe.

Definitely worth a visit but I’d recommend getting there around 10am if you can to fully enjoy and appreciate the natural surroundings. And if you’ve got a yacht definitely a spot worth mooring up at (and if you invite me to join I’ll accept).

Valldemossa

A stunning town 30 min drive from Palma into the Tramuntana mountains. It’s promoted internationally as a place of outstanding beauty and makes for a great two-three hour visit in either the morning or afternoon if you’re in the area. 

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The beautiful Valldemossa. I took this photo in April when I came cycling.

We stopped for a late lunch in a cafe called ‘Cappuccino’. There are lots of shops to pop into and cafes/restaurants to eat at. It’s renowned for its ice cream so worth sampling as 1 of your 5 a day 😉

Beyond that soak up the traditional architecture and wander up and down the cobbled streets. There are a couple of beautiful churches worth exploring and an art museum for the more cultured among you.

Sa Foradada, Deia

WOW! This place is something special…but you’ve got to be prepared to feel the heat (i.e. sweat A LOT!) to reach this secluded bay.

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Thinking about the walk back up already… it’s worth it though, trust me! 🌡 ☀️

The views you get on the 30 min walk down give you a taster of what’s to come – beautiful secluded bay, a load of rocks you’ve got to try and make yourself comfy on (it’s worth it), crystal blue waters and some pretty spectacular super yachts and sailing boats ⛵️ who all seem to have been tipped off about this idyllic spot.

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All the essentials. Rubber ring, goggles, towel ✅

 

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On the walk down. You’ll struggle not to stop and take pics. It’s stunning.

The other attraction of this place – beyond it feeling like a bit of a local secret – is the restaurant ’Sa Foradada’ perched overlooking the bay. Amazing location and apparently good food but if you don’t book they’re not interested in your custom – not a huge fan of that attitude but I will say that the food looked. 👌🏻🦐 

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Sa Foradada restaurant. The food looked delish – remember to book!! 📷 |Tom Exwood

We had a fantastic day here so if you’re up for the challenge, check this spot out.

Pollença

Just a quick mention on this town as we didn’t really explore it but we did go for a sea kayak here with a company called Mon d’Adventura. A great 3 hour afternoon trip including gliding through a natural arch, a quick view of some local mountain goats in precarious places and a refreshing stop halfway through including a dip in an empty bay again only accessible by boat, kayak or mountain goat.

Good for the arms 💪🏻 And beware as the default is you share a twin kayak if you book as a 2…doesn’t always make for plane sailing 😬😜  (45 Euros/pp)

Puigderros

If you enjoy snorkelling and exploring rocky enclaves then this is the place to go. Overall I think this was my favourite place to swim, dive, jump off rocks into the sea and swosh past plenty of sea life 🐟🐠🦀. 

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Negotiating the rocks!

As with most of the other beaches I’ve mentioned it’s not sandy (try Mallorca’s East coast for sandy beaches). But there are plenty of rocks to accommodate you, other tourists and the many locals! Crystal blue waters, fish in abundance, I loved it! 

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Right above the rocks there’s also the Mhares Sea Club where you can base yourself if you’re looking to enjoy the day with the comfort of a padded lounger.

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Evening view of the Mhares Beach Club 😎 

This was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Dinner there was great (try the salt baked sea bass!) It was also refreshing to come back up to a mojito after hitting the waves. 

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This place is only 10 minutes from the airport so we made a second and final dash to the sea here before jumping on our British Airways flight back to London that afternoon.

Sóller & Port de Sóller

Finally, the place where we started our trip – Soller is another beautiful town centred around a lively square bustling with cafes and restaurants with a mix of locals and tourists soaking up the atmosphere. 

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Port de Sóller

Sóller has some great restaurants (try Restaurant Ca’n Boqueta if you’re feeling romantic – 55 EUR pp for 5 courses with wine paring!) and benefits from being well connected thanks to its unique tramline. 

We spent a while figuring out where it stopped but once we did, jumped aboard heading for Port de Sóller – a 20 min trip (€7 one way) and worth doing to get a different view of the surrounding area. 

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Tram from Sóller down to the Port

The tram also goes all the way to Palma if you’re thinking of a day trip – sounds awesome. 

Port de Sóller is pretty beautiful despite being fairly commercialised. The beach doesn’t get as crowded as you’d expect and there are plenty of shops and activities to keep you entertained.

We did a spot of paddle boarding in the bay. Always good for a laugh.

Overall, a big thumbs up for Majorca/Mallorca. It’s not somewhere I get to stay when I’m working but it’s a fantastic and easily accessible destination (2 hrs from London) for a week’s summer holiday.

The locals are incredibly welcoming of tourists and we also enjoyed being surrounded by such a great mix of nationalities – Brits, Germans, French, Norwegians, Belgians, Dutch, etc, etc… an island that offers so much adventure and fun times – that’s what it’s all about! 

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This was an absolute steal! Booked through the travel supermarket – 35 Euros for 6 days 💰

To get a great Instagram pic as you come into land sit on the right hand side of the plane. This will give you a great view of the Tramuntana mountain range that lines the north of the island as you descend towards this summer paradise. 

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Cheers 🥂

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to give Mallorca a go? I simply can’t wait to come back! Totally fell in love 😉

Hope you’re having a great weekend,

Jonny.

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A very swanky 4th July Party 🇺🇸

If you’ve ever been to America you’ll know that Americans don’t do things by halves! It’s that time of year and what better excuse to party than to celebrate the…

If you’ve ever been to America you’ll know that Americans don’t do things by halves!

It’s that time of year and what better excuse to party than to celebrate the country’s  independence in serious style.

It was time to sharpen up

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Taken by the amazing Mark Harrison 📷

I was lucky enough to receive an invite to the swankiest party in town. The US ambassadors annual 4th of July celebration at Winfield House set in 12.5 acres of Regent’s Park…

I approached the 15ft high iron gates around which there is a serious level of security (lots of black suits and sunglasses). After an ID check I was ushered through to the Ambassador’s garden where there is absolutely everything I love about America. We’re talking a Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Gin cocktails, a Jim Bean whiskey tent and a Craft Beer Motel!

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People danced the night away to a fantastic live soul band (The Soul Jets) on a centre stage fit for a music festival with a mix of familiar faces from TV, Radio and politics, all dressed to impress.

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The garden was lined with Marines in uniform who entered the party in true military fashion providing quite the show. Check out my Instagram TV for the video.

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The incredible Laura Wright sang the National anthem and the party began…

Mr Ambassador, Robert Wood Johnson (Woody) then gave a fantastic speech joined on stage by his wife and 2 sons in suave matching Ralph Lauren outfits.

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Thank you Mr Ambassador for putting on such a great party.

A spectacular firework show drew the evening to a close.

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Happy 4th July! 🎉

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Glasgow 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 & Bologna 🇮🇹 for a night

Hi everyone, This is a look back at a post that became lost back in June 2017 within the desolate depths of the cyber world. I thought is would be…

Hi everyone,

This is a look back at a post that became lost back in June 2017 within the desolate depths of the cyber world. I thought is would be sad not to share the adventure unless of course you already know which city celebrates producing popes, painters and sausages..?

Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to leave a comment 😊

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Cheers!

Let me start by saying that, without doubt, I have the best job in the world!  Travelling around Europe as a British Airways pilot and enjoying the sights and sounds of more than a dozen different countries is a dream come true.

Many of you are kind enough to comment on my social media photos and videos via Twitter: @jkp320 and on Instagram and Facebook: @jonnythepilot so I thought I’d bring them altogether into a weekly blog.

Do let me know what you think.  Any suggestions about what you’d like to see more, or less of would be greatly appreciated.

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Relaxing with my sister @CharlottethePilot at @lakes_ByYoo in the Cotswolds

Here goes…

Started my week with my little sister Charlotte who is also a pilot. I absolutely love this photo of the two of us chilling together at Lakes by Yoo. We’re lucky to have a friend who lives on the 850 acre estate and so took the opportunity to visit for a couple of days when it was just too hot to sleep in London. You may have seen our videos on Instagram including this one…

 

Before trying to build a Kayak tower… 😆

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Hot, hot, hot. Wet, wet, wet.

Anyway, back to the day job.  As I may have mentioned, I really do think I have the best job in the world travelling around Europe in the front seat of a British Airways Airbus 320. This week I went to Brussels; Belfast; Glasgow; Copenhagen and Bologna!

Let me share with you my time in Bologna:-

I absolutely love Italy, but had never been to Bologna before so I was super excited. It has an amazing cafe culture, architecture and arcades.  And I don’t mean the arcades where you’d find lines of 2p slot machines but those of architectural magnificence, adjoining arches that stretch a staggering 38 kilometres across town.

I decided to hire a scooter and see the sights.  A white automatic Vespa from Paula at Travelhoo was just the ticket to zip around town.  You can find Paula right in the centre of town and hire bicycles as well scooters at a very reasonable rate. Vespa rental was 40 Euros for 3 hrs plus petrol.

 

Bologna is celebrated for producing popes, painters and sausages.

                                                                                                                        – Lord Byron 

If you’re unsure about renting a scooter then there’s plenty of opportunity to stroll though the arcades instead. They stretch for miles so don’t worry if by some miracle its raining and you’ve forgotten your brolly.  You could cover most of Bologna’s city centre without even getting wet (minus the odd road crossing).

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 One of many arcades in Bologna

Leaving the rest of the flight crew relaxing at the hotel I took the opportunity to meander the streets and stumbled across a weekly market selling everything and nothing I needed!

But my mission was to find the birthplace of Lamborghini. As I headed to pick up my Vespa, I stumbled across the iconic twin towers of Bologna.

The Asinelli tower at 97 metres stands taller than the leaning tower of Pisa and her sister Garisenda has an even greater lean than THE famous tower.  Have you been?

Asinelli and Garisenda are the city’s only remaining towers from the 13th century.  If you fancy the exercise you can climb a rickety spiral wooden staircase up Asinelli for a spectacular view of the city.

The time had come to swap two wheels for four.  I could hear the sound of the raging bulls, the Lamborghini museum was calling my name. In true Italian style, I adjusted my sunglasses and hopped on the Vespa to head 40 mins out of town through the picturesque countryside in the 38 degree heat. The breeze was a welcome delight.

My friend @wolfiekutner, an absolute genius when it comes to anything cars had pointed me in the direction of super-car heaven and I was only too delighted to take a few photos for his Instagram page.

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Mind blown…

The guided tour of the Lamborghini museum was incredible – made even more unique by the fact I was the only one on the tour on a Saturday afternoon believe it or not

This experience absolutely sits at the top of my Bologna to do list and only cost 20 euros.

They also run tours on the factory floor Monday to Friday.  Note to self:  Another visit to Bologna plugged into the roster in the next couple of months.

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Did you know only V12 Lamborghini’s have scissor action doors as standard

Check this beauty out: The Reventon.

It has a V12 engine with scissor action doors and 668 Hp.
An F22 fighter jet inspired look with its forward-thrusted air intakes up front, hungry-looking scoops on the side and the 4 glass louvers offering a view of the racious V12 engine.

Only 20 were ever made and were over a million euros to buy in 2007…

Any guesses how much they go for today?

I’ll keep saving…

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With a heavy heart I headed back to the Royal Carlton crew hotel in the centre of town to prepare for the serious job of flying an Airbus 320 for British Airways from Bologna (BLQ) to London Heathrow (LHR)

We took off, headed west and chased the setting sun for two  hours over the Alps and across Switzerland and France up to the UK.

The transfer to the airport was quick and easy only taking 20 mins.

Arriving back into Heathrow we disembarked the passengers before programming the aircraft for our next flight and deciding on how much fuel to load.  Meanwhile the bags were being loaded and the catering replaced.  Did you know we now offer a Marks and Spencer inflight service?  I love Percy Pigs and Pals.

It was a quick turnaround and 50 mins later we were ready to go.  Time to swap the glamour of Bologna for the grittiness of Glasgow (GLA).  Flight time time: 1hr 5mins

Joking aside I love visiting Glasgow, its one of my favourite destinations. Always a friendly welcome, a great hotel and a curry to die for!

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Buchanan St – Glasgow

Have you been to Glasgow? I often travel to Scotland’s second city and would be delighted to welcome you aboard next time I’m flying up. Keep checking my tweets for the next time I am scheduled there. Maybe even a selfie in the flight deck.

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Pre-flight relaxation

Lots of people ask about pilot training.  The job, stresses and tensions in the cockpit.

It’s so important to be able to manage your stress levels and state of arousal at work in such a busy and dynamic environment.

There can be many challenging factors throughout the day such as no fuel tanker arriving at the aircraft on a 45 min turnaround, a missing passenger, adverse weather – be it thunderstorms activity causing delays and diversions or cold weather requiring de-icing, the list goes on but the most important thing to remember is that safety comes first.  Making time to compose yourself and stay relaxed is paramount.

 

The time to relax is when you don’t have the time for it

                                                                                   – Sidney Harris
Another overnight stay and then next morning we returned the A320 to Heathrow (LHR) and swapped it for a slightly smaller A319 aircraft. You may not notice the difference as a passenger.  It’s a tiny bit smaller!

To finish the day we flew to Belfast City and back – ‘a link’ in pilot parlance. A quick flight but nevertheless an enjoyable one.

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A short runway and beautiful views of the the Irish coastline and of the docks where the Titanic set sail.

If you’re planning a visit I highly recommend the Titanic museum and the dock tour, just a stone’s throw from BHD City Airport.

I hear the tour of the old prison in the centre of town is also a popular attraction and of course the ‘perch’ bar in town is a trendy place to try a cocktail or two.

 

So, there you go, that’s my week.

How was yours?  See you next time.  Happy flying.

 

 

2 Comments on Glasgow 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 & Bologna 🇮🇹 for a night

Ever fancied sailing the Med? ⛵️

Hi everyone, What a month it’s been! Despite September often being associated with the end of summer and the drawing in of longer autumn nights, Heathrow has been buzzing with…

Hi everyone,

What a month it’s been!

Despite September often being associated with the end of summer and the drawing in of longer autumn nights, Heathrow has been buzzing with sunshine-seekers and city-breakers, all looking for a quick adventure before winter truly sets in.

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This means I’ve been busy zooming back and forth all over Europe and have been lucky to fly to some great destinations (mainly in the rain it seems if you read on below!), as well as squeeze in a couple of amazing trips with some great friends. It’s all part and parcel of a pilot’s life – making sure you seize every day!!

Here’s a snippet of what I’ve been up to inside and outside the cockpit over the last couple of weeks…

It all began with a trip over to a city that oozes elegance and is arguably Italy’s gastronomic paradise. The original home to balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham and Bolognese sauce. It is also home to the oldest university in the world!

Got it yet?…

🇮🇹 Bologna

Fast cars, great food, graffiti-embellished piazzas and medieval terracotta buildings. I simply love this place.

I went the other month for the first time and spent a morning travelling by vespa to the Lamborghini museum – if you’re a car enthusiast like me, then you’d absolutely love it!

I didn’t manage to head out that far this time, but I still love the city…even in the pouring rain!!

 

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Popped out for lunch and went with the recommended Spaghetti Bolognese… I gave it the thumbs up, along with the owner.

 

🇩🇪 Hamburg

A new night stop for me this month was Hamburg, now my favourite city in Deutschland. Of course, it decided to rain during my visit 🙄 …but it still looked beautiful!

And you’ll know that the rain doesn’t stop me from getting out and exploring the city…

Tip alert: pay attention to the signposts – don’t be a numpty like me and walk in the designated cyclist path…!

Beyond these trips I also flew to Vienna, Manchester, Gothenburg, Aberdeen and Madrid, managing to capture a few great photos from my office along the way 😉

Now to the times where I squeezed in some leisure…

I’ve travelled a lot with work this month but it certainly doesn’t stop me wanting to jump back on a British Airways flight for an adventure with some friends.

Popping over to the beautiful island of Mallorca in early September, I was seeking a different mode of transport to my usual Airbus….a 48ft yacht.

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We weren’t quite sure which of the Bond villains this belonged to… any ideas? We had to take a closer look as we sailed out of Palma.

Sailing from Palma to Barcelona over two days with two of my best mates who I met when I lived in Lyon was epic! It was just us, the sunshine and the waves for 32 hours….oh, and some dolphins about 2 hrs off Barcelona. Made the four hour shift pattern completely worth it – what a magical moment!

 

I’ve got to say that as much as I love being in the sky, the freedom of being at sea is incredible. Hadn’t had the opportunity for a year or so and I think I’ve got the bug back…!

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Kate and Leo, eat your heart out 😛 ⛵️

A couple of weeks later I also managed to squeeze in a trip to Edinburgh – and yes, it rained…! This time I was there for a stag do for one of my best friends from my training days in Oxford. Can’t believe it’s been nearly ten years since we were training there!!

 

 

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Yes, the stag wore a pilot outfit… 👨‍✈️ Here’s when the stag met Forrest Gump…

Anyway, there were 12 of us with an appetite to show the stag a good time. We spent a fair amount of time meandering the streets and then hunkering down in a number of pubs. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember the names of any of the pubs but am keen for recommendations for my next visit so please let me know!

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Had to have a pic with this chap – he was belting out the tunes! Will have to give it a go myself one day – get your ear plugs ready! I also quite fancy my own tartan 😉 Did you know British Airways has its own tartan?

Selfie of the week…

 

 

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What a good looking team 😛  This is the Captain and me with the fueler. He may look like Mickey Mouse but without this guy we’d be going nowhere ⛽️

And another for good measure…

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It’s not strictly a selfie…but after six days working on the trot, I was super excited to attend a charity day for The Brainwave Children’s Charity and bump into this lady! She didn’t have any cakes on her 🙄 but she was still pretty awesome and up for a pic. Thanks Mary! You can find out more about the amazing work that’s being done to support children with disabilities to achieve greater independence here.

After a jam-packed roster and a few bits of personal travel squeezed in, I’m now looking forward to nearly 3 weeks off….that’s right!! I absolutely love the day job but sometimes after jetting between different countries and cities, some R&R is required.

So it’s off with the wings and on with the tourist hat…here’s to some autumnal adventures…

You can come with me if you like?

All my daily adventures will be on my Instagram story, Facebook Page and for those that love to tweet – Twitter 

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As always love to read your comments and suggestions.

See you soon!

 

2 Comments on Ever fancied sailing the Med? ⛵️

The Day I Became a Horny Cow 🐮

  Hi everyone, What a week! Can’t believe its September already.  This year has flown by… Apart from a few sunny days in June we seem to have been rained…

 

Hi everyone,

What a week! Can’t believe its September already.  This year has flown by…

Apart from a few sunny days in June we seem to have been rained on for most of the year.  Who else is hoping for an Indian Summer?

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Chilling with my sister, the amazing @PilotCharlotte

Having said that the sun did shine for the August bank holiday as I safely delivered many of you on your last summer holidays before the kids are back to school and now its the long stretch from here to Christmas.

Yikes, I can’t believe I’ve mentioned the C word with still another three months to go. Moving swiftly on, this is what I’ve been up to this week.

I began my bank holiday weekend on the sunny Friday afternoon in London with a flight over to Frankfurt and back before heading to Berlin, one of my favourite cities and one I’m lucky enough to visit fairly regularly.

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Storms moving in at Frankfurt 🇩🇪

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+TSRA (Thunderstorms and heavy rain in pilot speak) Time for a bit of a detour…

After negotiations with thunderstorms departing Frankfurt and the notorious stop board at Tegal airport (TXL) in Berlin we hopped into the crew transport which whisked us into town where we stay at a lovely hotel by the zoo.

A quick shower to freshen up before heading to the toilet!  The KLO bar to be precise. You may recall I visited this whacky bar with a colleague once before. After telling the story to the crew on the journey to the hotel they were keen to experience sitting on the loo drinking from sample bottles! The bar with its moving tables and squirting water certainly didn’t disappoint and we had a great evening.

We had a late pick up the following day and so I treated myself to Wiener schnitzel for lunch.

 

As we flew back towards home, the gods must have been looking down on us.  Air Traffic Control was quiet!  That’s almost never the case at one of the busiest airports in the world where aircraft land seconds apart.  Speed reduction and at least a 10 minute delay is the norm.

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Approaching the east coat of the UK before our descent into LHR

It was our lucky day: ‘Speedbird 985, maintain high speed 300 knots. Expect straight in approach, runway 27L’. Awesome! The words every pilot loves to hear.

We were 20 minutes early delivering delighted passengers to the stand and it also meant some unexpected chill time for us before prepping the aircraft for Paris 🇫🇷

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Prepping for our departure to ORY 🇫🇷

Flying to Paris is over in the blink of an eye and our work must be swift but precise. Running a systems check of the aircraft, sending for an updated weather report for destination and alternate airports to make sure they’re still suitable options and checking the runway you are expecting to land on is still the one in use are done without delay.

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We are lucky enough to see some incredible views. 🛫 🇫🇷

It’s then time to check the coding in the system for the approach you expect to be flying and deciding on how the approach is to be flown. We brief that between us in the flight deck, setting ‘gates’, where we verbalise our intentions at certain stages of the procedure. The pilot flying will intend to have the aircraft in a certain configuration at a certain speed. This is a hugely efficient way of sharing your mental model. We achieve this with the use of what we call ‘open questions’. Questions beginning with what, why, how, describe, tell me about, therefore engaging the other party in conversation.

Paris, au clair du lune 

                                                                                       -Paris is the moonlight

This time we were flying over to Paris Orly (ORY) as opposed to (CDG). I enjoy flying into ORY with its 2 runways and a short taxi onto stand. Safely on the ground and with passengers disembarked my mission on this trip was to see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

I managed one better. I also skateboarded the final stretch of the Tour de France that Chris Froome has cycled to victory on, 4 times!! (The Champs Elysee)

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Sunday morning in Paris was as perfect as you might imagine. Like all capital cities the pulse slows but she remains elegant and stylish. A relaxed atmosphere, locals sitting outside enjoying their morning coffee with breakfast. The polite exchange of bonjour was pretty much my limit as I glided up towards the magnificence of the Arc de Triomphe. This is where the heartbeat quickens.

L’Etoile (the star) is 12-pointed junction – the craziest roundabout I’ve come across and I was certain the saying Fred karno’s circus must have originated. Even on a Sunday morning it was carnage!  Sat serenely in the centre is the Arc de Triomphe.

 

My guide book tells me the Arc was commissioned by Napoleon, the then Emperor. He wanted to honour the ‘Grande Armee’ (the French Army), who had conquered most of Europe. Napoleon told his soldiers  “to return home through the Arches of Triumph”.

A grand gesture from the famously diminutive leader, but nevertheless the Arch remained unfinished for 12 years during the abdication of Napoleon and was finally completed a decade later in 1836 at a cost 9.3 million Francs

 

I really enjoyed being a culture vulture in Paris and next on my list is heading to the top of the Eiffel Tower. `Next time.

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The city of love – My skateboard and I

Heading home I was looking forward to sharing some quality time with family and where better than the rather swish Soho Farmhouse in the Oxfordshire countryside.

With 40 log cabins set in more than 100 acres its the perfect getaway for yours truly and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

I swam, I worked out in the gym, I ate delicious food and I chose to be a horny cow for an hour!

 

Hopefully you were able to see my Instagram live in the gym. If you missed it you can find it all on my Facebook page. Facebook.com/Jonnythepilot

 

Selfie of the week…

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It was a pleasure to meet twitter follower Pete @Rightpeg on one of my flights this week who had been away to watch N.Ireland win their football match. ⚽️

I finished my week with a walk back in time in the magnificent city of Bologna but more of that next week.

See you then…

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Comments on The Day I Became a Horny Cow 🐮

Full moon; half moon; total solar eclipse!

Hello everyone, Hope you’ve had a wonderful week and are enjoying the bank holiday weekend?  I can’t believe its the last one before Christmas.  If you’re heading away for a…

Hello everyone,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week and are enjoying the bank holiday weekend?  I can’t believe its the last one before Christmas.  If you’re heading away for a few days remember the roads will be very busy, especially on Monday.

I have an idea guys, why not fly with me instead?  I’ll be in Berlin, Frankfurt and Paris! I absolutely love travelling to all three cities and in fact used to live in one of them.

What have I been up to this week?  Well, it began at my favourite place for brunch @thelidocafe.  Its a great location for me to have a swim and recharge my batteries.  As always, the food was just too good and I ate more than I’d planned, so afterwards I made sure to squeeze in a run. Flying around Europe means long hours which can take their toll and I always try to stay as fit as possible.

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Scrambled eggs and avocado on toast. My favourite start to the day.

So, after a few days R&R it was time to pack my bags, brush off my hat and head to work for a two-day trip.

I was off to Stavanger, one of Norway’s oldest cities, officially founded in 1125.  Flight time is just over 1 hr. Our route will cease in October so I hope to spend a couple more days there before it does.  I read that Stavanger’s Old Town is preserved as a historical monument and is  home to hundreds of 18th and 19th century white timber properties. The area is car free and includes restaurants, an open-air market, and small fishing boats along the harbour selling freshly caught shrimp, crab and lobsters. Yum!

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‘Pulpit Rock’ ~ photo by Brice Portolano

The lady that meets the aircraft in Stavanger told us we must also visit the ‘Pulpit rock’, very popular with base jumpers apparently.  It looks amazing and definitely on my to-do list.  Sadly, not enough time on this trip.

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Our view from the cockpit departing south from Stavanger, gorgeous beaches. 19 degrees, warm enough?!

Arriving back at LHR and after a quick turnaround (normally in the region of 50 mins), we were heading to Paris for the night with no idea quite how the weather would affect our plans later in the week. More of that in a moment…

Its just a quick hop to Paris, flight time in the region of 40 mins, straight into Charles De Gaulle on the Easterly Runway, 09L.

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On our way to Paris. Fabulous views to the west as the sun dipped beneath the clouds into the Atlantic.

But, a lengthy taxi almost doubles the journey time onto stand and makes for quite a conversation with ATC.

Speedbird 322 the first left, right, left, left, contact apron on frequency 121.930. 

Speedbird 322 hold at N1 then right, left, giveway to the Airbus 380 before first left and left again, standby for stand number‘…

You get the idea.

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We stay in the centre of town and it was pretty late when we arrived so after a quick change into civvies we went straight out for some local vin rouge and an entrecote.

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Dining with the Crew by the Champs Elysees 🇫🇷 🍷

 

The following morning I had an early run to take in some of the famous sites.  More of that in a future blog.  I’m still desperate to have dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower.  Who wants to come?

Back to the hotel for a quick shower and we were soon heading home again.

I’m constantly travelling and so don’t spend as much time at home as I would like.  The flip side of course is that I have a birds-eye view of Europe and after just enough time to unpack and repack my carry-on I was returning to work. This time a 3 day trip!

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If you’re travelling through an airport and you see a first officer with a skateboard, it’s probably me!

We started with a quick trip up to Newcastle and back, or at least that was the plan. Sadly, the weather had other ideas.

As I’m sure you know, LHR is a very busy airport and our air traffic control operators are superbly efficient at making sure we all get on our way in good time.  However, you can imagine the chaos it creates as soon as aircraft can’t take off or land for only a few mins. Bad weather can cause havoc with our schedules.

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Captain Neil and I waiting and waiting and waiting our turn for pushback.

A couple of weather cells passed west to east over the airport and after many changes in a slot restriction we spent three hours on the stand before being able to push back and join the queue for departure.  There was more challenging weather to the north which contributed to our delay as northerly departures were now being limited to one every 10 mins.  We were 10th in line.  Colleagues in nearby aircraft were 16 & 17 in the queue…

To help pass the time for passengers we invited those onboard to visit the cockpit and say hello as we gave them regular updates on the delays.  Passengers and crew frustrated, all in the same boat.  With the weather as it was we felt like we needed one!   After as lengthy a delay as I can remember, we were finally on our way and up to NCL.

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On the approach into NCL

The weather was much calmer at NCL and after an uber-quick refuel we were soon back at LHR for an aircraft switch and then off to Spain 🇪🇸 , Barcelona to be precise.

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      Italy has great food and Barcelona has great energy

                                                                                                                               – Stefon Harris

I love Barcelona, but this trip was tinged with sadness as we arrived the day after the terror attack on Las Ramblas.  I took some time the following morning to visit the thoroughfare and was delighted to see locals and tourists alike determined not to be bowed by terrorism.  It was bustling with activity and I even managed to catch up with the amazing Emily Deeker, a senior producer at Sky News who was broadcasting live with her team.

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Now, I know that many of you have this rather glamorous image of an airline pilot and it is a great job, but it doesn’t always go as smoothly as planned!  Apart from the weather challenges this week we were also slightly delayed by a toilet blockage…

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Although a small inconvenience… the problem was quickly resolved and after loading the aircraft with food and fuel we were once again taxi-ing for take-off.

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Operation in full swing at LHR to prepare the aircraft for our trip to Dusseldorf.

Arriving in Dusseldorf we wanted to dine at a local Italian restaurant – when in Rome – but it was closed.  So instead we took advice and indulged in a highly recommended kebab, washed down with a local beer.  I have to say it was excellent but with one more day of this trip left it was early to bed.

Day 3 had us heading to LHR and up to Aberdeen where it was blowing a hoolie and horizontal rain with it. Not the best weather certainly, but I always LOVE spending time in Scotland so I really don’t mind what weather greets us.

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…especially when I’m working with such a fantastic team.  There was just time for a quick selfie on the airbridge before heading home and some well-deserved rest days.

My rota is incredibly busy this month and I was gutted I couldn’t make it over to Madras in Oregon for the ‘Jaffa cake’ eclipse, who remembers that famous ad?

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Still, I could watch it all unfold on Sky News. As day turned to night-time, Kay B did what she does best.

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It was almost like being there. Almost.  I loved her phrase centuries: in the making, decades in the planning, minutes in its magnificence!

Even the President and the rest of the First family took time to head out onto the Truman balcony and look up.

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NASA had chaser planes in the air and scientists on the ground across the whole path of the total eclipse, some 2,500 miles, as it cast a shadow from Oregon to South Carolina racing at speeds of 3,400 miles an hour.  That puts our A320 top speed into perspective!

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I was inspired to learn more and a quick Google search brought up this photo from more than 40 years ago. Wow.

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Concorde backlit by a total eclipse – photo Arthur Gibson, 1973

That’s it, I’m definitely making plans to see the next one in person.  South America 2019, here I come.

Right, that’s about it. Hope you enjoyed flying around Europe with me.  Just before go I thought I would end this week’s blog with a new feature.

Selfie of week…

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Maybe you next week?  If you see me on my travels do please come and say hello.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

10 Comments on Full moon; half moon; total solar eclipse!

Run in Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Windsurf in Greece 🇬🇷 All in a weeks work…

Hello everyone, Let me start by saying a huge thank you to all of you.  Your interest in my blog has seen me voted the best pilot to follow on…

Hello everyone,

Let me start by saying a huge thank you to all of you.  Your interest in my blog has seen me voted the best pilot to follow on Instagram by Londonspotter. I was shocked and delighted by the accolade!  I’m also thrilled to be able to tell you I’ve been made a BA ambassador. Better make this week’s blog a good one!  Here goes…

Its certainly been another busy couple of weeks both in the air and on the ground with trips to Corsica, Italy, Denmark, Greece and one of my favourite destination’s Edinburgh.

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Despite the downpour I decided to brave the elements and run. Run I did, all the way up to ‘Arthur’s Seat’  🌧 🏃 ☔️

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Amazing views from Arthurs seat! I was soaked but it was worth it.

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Every time I visit Edinburgh I fall in love with it a little bit more. I feel like this could definitely offer a pretty awesome lifestyle with so much available on the doorstep.

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It took me about 25 mins to run up to the top. I had a couple of high fives from hikers and many more ‘are you mental’ type looks as I powered on. 😆

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Cobbled streets on the way to the top – not ideal for running!

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Here you can see the National Monument of Scotland and Nelson’s Monument on top of Calton Hill.  You can climb Nelson’s Monument if you fancy the 143 steps to the top. It was closed when was there but i’ll definitely be giving it a go!

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Conquered! 😊

We had a very special passenger aboard our flight to Edinburgh who made a flower from the inflight magazine.  How cool is that.  His cheerfulness all the more surprising given he’d had everything, including his dissertation stolen, while he was in the Pyrenees.  We did our very best to make his flight as enjoyable as possible.

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While I jetted off to Legoland in Billund, Denmark I noticed some of my colleagues had also been having fun blogging and vlogging as part of #BASmart.  Perhaps you saw my buddy @mmsba take his followers on a virtual journey to Beirut.  All from the comfort of a cafe at Terminal 5.  If not, do check it out on his Twitter feed.

While MMS was heading to the Middle East I took a train to Brighton to celebrate with Claire who had walked 100km in less than 30 hours in sheet rain to raise money and awareness for Oxfam.  She was absolutely exhausted as you can see, but am so proud of her.  You can support her here.

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It was certainly a stormy few days and while challenging for Claire it also caused a few problems for us in the air.  We were hit by lightning!  Sounds dramatic, but be safe in the knowledge our aircraft and expertise mean we can cope with every eventuality.

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I used the blustery conditions to my advantage when arriving in Athens and with 30 knot winds decided to seek out the top windsurfing spots.  Being brought up on an island I am no stranger to water sports and learnt to windsurf at a young age. Having seen the forecast as part of our preflight briefing you can imagine how excited I was to learn that it was going to be 35kts of wind all day long! It was a northerly wind so headed to a well know local spot about 45 mins in an Uber from where we stay. This was the perfect opportunity to get out on the water and blast around for the day in the waves. I rented some really decent kit from Lucas the local water sports dude with a radical haircut. I was shattered by 6pm which worked in my favour as the wake up call for our flight to London was at 0400.  An early night was just what I needed.

Speaking of the Isle of Wight, I managed a quick overnight trip home this weekend to celebrate the end of Cowes Week with schoolfriends.  So good to catch up and recharge my batteries with people I know and love.

Which is exactly what I did with mum this week too.  She still lives on the island but has taken a few days holiday to Lourdes.  I’m sorry I couldn’t fly her down to Toulouse but I know she’s in safe hands with my colleagues.  Next time…

I know lots of you enjoy my pix airside so let me share this with you?

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Any idea?

Well its a Mototoc. A remote control pushback machine that can manage up to 25 pushbacks with one battery charge! It seemed to work… I couldn’t help but imagine a giant whacker was about to appear from the top. 😆

Pretty cool, don’t you think?

So, thanks again for taking the time to read my blog.  Hope you’ve enjoyed travelling around Europe again with me this week.

I also had the opportunity to visit to Venice. Watch out for my next blog!

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Ciao for now!

 

 


 

 

1 Comment on Run in Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Windsurf in Greece 🇬🇷 All in a weeks work…

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