In 1993 I was back in the UK turning around a small regional airline that British Airways had foolishly bought because the man in the wooly jumper ( Richard Branson) had threatened to buy it. Despairing of me ever organising a holiday Geraldine had instead booked us on a package holiday, our first. It was to Corfu. When I had left Corfu in 1965 after a season of teaching water skiing at the largest of the then just three hotels on the entire island it was still the Isle of Lawrence Durrell’s Prospero’s Cell and his younger brother Gerald’s My Family and other Animals. People still calculated distance by the number of cigarettes it took to get there, the N.E. part of the island facing Albania was closed off and no one allowed there, there was no coin small enough to buy one glass of ouzo you had to have three to be able to pay for the drink, every drink was accompanied by freshly caught prawns and the only restaurants were small beach bars where one of the waiters also doubled as the guy who swam out to catch what you had ordered. Our return in 1993 was a shock. The small village of Govia where my solitary hotel had been was now a massive town full of hotels, bars and fish and chip shops and Corfu seemed ruined. A chance meeting that holiday led us to the North East coast where the lack of beaches and the steep hills alongside the sea had prevented any developement. Instead small villas were for rent and rather than a car you rented a boat to move from small shingle beaches to tavernas only reachable by sea and back. We went on to enjoy many super family holidays holidays there.
Last Friday Brindisi harbour was alive with aircraft engine noise. A 19 seater Cesna seaplane ( float plane) was doing taxiing trials there and potential sea lane take off and landing areas were being mapped out. 80 years ago almost to the day Imperial Airways the predecessor of British Airways first operated to Brindisi using Short S8 and S17 flying boats on their India and Cape Town routes.
The EU taxpayer ( who else ) is funding the trials to the tune of €2Million and if successful a new seaplane service will start next year between Brindisi and Corfu. Service between Brindisi and Croatia, Montenegro and Albania are also planned. The EU committee “funding” this is the Cross Border Integration Committee ( you just couldn’t make this up could you).
I have flown on seaplanes a few times and it is an odd sensation to see the sea water being sprayed on the window as you lumber along engines roaring to unglue the plane from the sea. It is also quite weird to approach a landing and hit the water. Great fun though and despite the EU throwing taxpayers money around I for one will be one of the first passengers on board if it happens. In the meantime the respective council members and mayors plus their families and various hangers on the proposed routes will no doubt be flying around burning through the €2 Million on goodwill visits and dinners etc. EU gravy trains know no bounds do they. Let’s hope they don’t get too ambitious !
I was told this weekend that featuring the Foo Fighters on my blog put me in the almost seriously hip bracket. I feel honoured. The only pop star I have ever known as a friend rather than chance meetings on flights etc is Johnny Fay the drummer with The Tragically Hip a famous Canadian band that toured in Europe a few years back with The Rolling Stones or The Aging Bones as someone at Glastonbury was heard to call them
We visited his house in the Bahamas when on a short holiday to Nassau. We sat on his patio with the sea lapping up to the wall with a few other people . I was chatting to a very pleasant unassuming young guy who said he was in the rum business and that he had flown down with Johnny after doing a few sales calls in Toronto. After he had gone I said to Johnny, nice lad that, very pleasant , good sales guy, should go far I would imagine, who does he work for ?
He owns Bacardi rum was the reply I flew down on his private jet this morning !