My Sister-in-law just got a new puppy – a cute little Black Labrador called Bella. She bought it just before the family were due to go on holiday so we kindly offered to house sit for them so we could look after the puppy and the two kittens while they were away…
Where the family live is a world away from my apartment in the middle of town. The family live in an old farmhouse that has been passed down through the generations – it’s full of old stuff and it’s really cosy. It’s outside of the city and it’s in the middle of farmland and country lanes with no street lights, no internet and only 2 TV channels.
It’s a lovely house and naturally it has a big garden which got me thinking… As a kid I always wanted a radio-controlled airplane but never had one… so why not buy one of those cheap toy helicopters and give it a whirl? (Sorry, that’s an awful pun!)
I couldn’t find a decent helicopter so I bought a stunt plane – the SilverLit X-Twin Pro, no less! It’s a little polystyrene plane with two rear-facing engines that runs on a rechargeable battery. I had to buy 6xAA rechargeable batteries and a charger which cost more than the plane though – so this was already turning out to be a more expensive flight of fancy than expected (stop it Gavin)! Still, if all else failed I would have some rechargeable batteries and a charger…
…Which brings me to my first problem – I had six batteries and the charger only had four slots! So I had to wait twice as long for the batteries to charge up. Then, for some reason when I put the batteries in the control unit, the power light would not come on – I tried putting in the batteries a few times but in the end it took the magic fingers of my wife to get them working.
So one quick charge of the airplane during dinner, a small bit of construction and we were ready to go. So I put my Aviator shades on and we went into the garden to practice our stunt pilot skills:
First Attempt: Plane goes straight up, starts to fall and dives onto the roof. Ok, first time, didn’t expect much else!
Second Attempt: Plane goes up, loops and crashes into the ground. Hmm, doesn’t look like there’s much space in this garden so we move into the neighbouring field
Third Attempt: Plane goes up, starts to come down, I start to gain control but the speed was too low so it veers into the tree. After a little shaking, we get it down again…
Fourth Attempt: Plane goes up, except I aim the nose down a bit… wait… wait… it’s a little out of control but I think I got it… I try to loop it to keep away from the tree as it doesn’t move much to the left or the right so it does three violent loops and crashes into another tree. After much shaking and bending, it falls down!
Fifth Attempt: Plane goes up, I have control… but again it’s going towards the tree so I try to climb over it as I can’t steer it… it looks like it’s going to clear it… yes… yes…
…No. It gets stuck about 20ft up the tree and as it’s a birch tree, no amount of shaking it will budge it. So I have the bright idea of throwing the niece’s football to dislodge it. Guess what? It only gets stuck up there as well! Now, I can live without the plane but the ball – well I’m a dead man if I don’t get it down!
So now we have a scene out of a bad comedy film, I decide to get the step ladder while the wife and the dog look on. Naturally, the step ladder is only half as tall as it needs to be and the bushes around the tree are thick, so I precariously shoved the ladder through the bush to try and rest it against the tree.
A dangerous mix of branches, leaves and a bit of tree trunk were all I had between safety and a festival of arboreal death! It doesn’t help that my confidence is wobbly on ladders, so with much trepidation I climbed up to devise my strategy. I decided that a parasol with beer logos on was the way to go, so my humble assistant (wifey) passed it up to me. I had to carefully manoeuvre (shove) the parasol through the tree branches to reach the plane. Carefully balanced on a very wobbly ladder, it took a while to reach the plane, but I made it and after a good few attempts to poke the thing, it came loose and fell to the ground!
The sweet smell of victory was cut very short when my wife kindly reminded me the ball was still up there 😦 So I twisted over to the right and I managed to get that free and return to Terra Firma safely. Phew!
The Verdict: Clearly, even if you live on a farm, your back garden just ain’t big enough to fly a radio-controlled plane around. But I haven’t given up yet – on Saturday I shall make another attempt at the local football field and let you know how that goes… 😉