Drone homework

I’ve been planning ahead for our trip to Europe later in the year. Part of that planning is working out where I can safely and legally fly my Mavic.

It’s reasonable to say that there are differences in the approach to drone rules and regulations between differing countries.

Take, for example, the Isle of Man:

Basically, with a few provisos here and there, together with a dollop of common sense and a healthy respect for other people, you can fly your drone up to 120m high anywhere outside that red circle.

You need to employ those same provisos, that common sense and respect in France too. But it’s a bit more complex than the IOM.
Here’s a map of the bit of France we’re going to:


Easy stuff first: no flying in the red bits; but yes flying (up to 150m, nogal) in the uncoloured bits. No problem.
From there though, it gets complicated. Pink areas allow flight to 30m altitude. You can fly up to 50m up in the orange (or is it peach?) areas. Even better, in the peach (or is it orange?) areas, you’re permitted to fly at 60m up from your takeoff spot. I’m not sure why they have this 10m difference. Presumably, something important happens (or is likely to happen) in this narrow strip of airspace in orange areas that doesn’t happen in the peach areas. Oh, and then in the yellow areas, you can fly up to a height of 100m.

I’m happy to comply with all of this, of course. It’s just that it’s massively complicated given that we go through a constantly changing kaleidoscope of colour as we wend our way downstream, so I’m going to have to keep a digital, zoomable copy of this map to hand.

The other thing is that for a lot of these restricted areas, it’s not very clear why there are restrictions. That doesn’t matter, of course – if it says not to fly, you don’t fly. It would just be nice to know what that bizarre mirror image of a question mark is bottom right. And why there’s that huge, weirdly shaped peach (orange?) swathe right across the middle of the map.

Obviously, I’m going to follow all the rules and regulations. There’s more than enough opportunity to get some decent shots and video in between all the bureaucracy.

But it’s going to be much more simple to chuck Florence the Mavic up once we get over to the Isle of Man.

Noa Bakehouse Fire

I spotted news that that there was a fire at the Noa Bakehouse in Douglas, Isle of Man. Fortunately, it was a small fire and there wasn’t much damage.

However, emergency services are still on the scene.

Still. Two days later.

Just in case.

Bleakly Californian

OK. Bear with me. This all started when I saw this photo posted on Facebook:

Look, it’s a good photo. There’s drama, there’s atmosphere, there’s strong contrast; you’re drawn into the image. What’s the story here? Who is the girl? Why is she there? I like it.

Immediately, I had other questions though.

Firstly, WHO ON EARTH names their hotel Bleak House? Do they know what “bleak” means?

a bird’s horny projecting jaws; a bill.

I’m sorry. I have to press really hard to get the L key to work sometimes. So et’s try that again.

I am aware that in the Dickens novel of the same name, the Bleak House is actually far from bleak, but firstly, this isn’t that house, and secondly, how many people have read that much Dickens?

Can you imagine telling your friends that you’ve got two weeks booked in Ramsey (which is surely bad enough, anyway), before then elaborating and telling them that you chose to stay at a place called “Bleak House”.

Really? Were Superb Hotel, Lovely B&B and Entirely Pleasant Lodgings all booked up then?

No. Given the huge – near infinite – range of potential, positive-angled guest house nomenclature available to the proprietors, this seems like a bit of an own goal.

And then there’s the caption. That’s a misquoted lyric from The Eagles’ Hotel California, isn’t it?

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
‘Relax’ said the night man,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!

I know I’m being a bit picky here, but wouldn’t a line from… well… Bleak House be rather more appropriate here?

And I am bored to death with it. Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself.

OK. Perhaps not that one.

Fairy-land to visit, but a desert to live in

Better. Very Ramsey. Apart from the fairy-land bit.
But this one fits perfectly, I think.

As all partings foreshadow the great final one, – so, empty rooms, bereft of a familiar presence, mournfully whisper what your room and what mine must one day be.

In fact, I’m reliably informed that this was exactly what many paying visitors muttered on those very steps, when Bleak House was still an operating business.

But how inaccessible?

Remember this post, when I asked the owners of a small cafe in the Isle of Man to please clean the lens of a webcam near their premises?

I was told:

We’ll have a go…. it’s not exactly accessible but we’ll give it a whirl.

And they did, and it worked.

My dad mentioned it to his friend on the Isle of Man:

I told Carol about the web cam. She asked Alan Clucas to mention it.

And this being the Isle of Man, there was suddenly more information available:

Further to this – they used a duster on a pole to reach it – Alan asked them about it when he delivered their spuds yesterday!

So, not just friendly and helpful, but also displaying some impressive ingenuity and serving great local produce!

What’s not to like?

Sound Cafe Request

You’ll need to know a few things for this blog post:

1. There’s a place on the Isle of Man called The Sound. There’s a cafe there.
2. On the cafe building is a webcam, which one can view through the Manx Radio Webcams page (it’s the one on the bottom left, between Port Erin and Port St Mary).
3. It was very hot in Cape Town yesterday, and very cold in the Isle of Man. I wanted to apply this principle. But the webcam lens was very dirty (sea spray, rain, sleet etc).


Or was it? Because I dropped the cafe a quick message on Facebook:

Fastyr mie from Cape Town, South Africa. It’s 40-odd degrees here and I’m craving something cooler. I recognise that it’s pretty chilly there today and I’m not sure how accessible it is, but if you could give the webcam lens a quick wipe, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

(Fastyr mie being Manx gaelic for Good Afternoon – I can like to be locally polite in my salutations.)

And almost instantaneously, got this back:

We’ll have a go…. it’s not exactly accessible but we’ll give it a whirl ?

That, I think I am right in saying, is the spirit.

And they did it too, before responding again:

Marginally better… ?

But it was actually much better:

Allowing me not only to see the drama of the waves crashing onto Kitterland, but even the (rather less dramatic) Stena Precision en route to Belfast from Birkenhead (on the horizon, far left).

And yes, there’s still a bit of muck in the corners, but the weather is clearly a bit wild there at the moment and like they said, the webcam is “not exactly accessible”.

All in all, a great effort and really amazing service.