Anno 2022

So yes, as my most recent posts have already illustrated, I flew a lot, got my PPL(A) and my EASA Night Rating, and I took some pictures in Norway, but there were some other memorable events in the past year which should not stay undocumented. For people who still care about personal blogs. (I am really getting old…)

First of all, as far as Europe is concerned (sorry China), COVID (finally) kind of ended around the middle of the year, thanks to everybody being vaccinated multiple times and/or already having gotten – a by then mostly mild – COVID. Especially after returning from Norway I don’t recall needing a mask anywhere anymore, and things have mostly gotten back to how they were before the pandemic. Except for working from home, because there is no way I am giving up the comfort of my own space for a cold (or too hot) and noisy office. Of course I am happy to go in for social occasions (mostly organised around food), and the occasional actually necessary face-to-face meetings.

In January I started the year with biking again a bit more, although I knew I would never get to the level where I ended up in 2021, simply because I wanted top spend more time on flying (especially on the theory).

February meant the beginning of intensive work on the new Telraam S2 prototype, which – over the following months – brought some new challenges and learning opportunities to my professional life. I did a lot of systematic hardware and software testing in the beginning, but the most memorable task was using Blender to create renders of the upcoming device for the product page. The actual units just came off the production line after I wrote these sentences, so there is still plenty of interesting times ahead.

The first half of the spring was gone in no time (flying, studying, working, and biking on repeat), before we flew to Girona to meet up with Cole and Nora for four days of biking, eating, and (re)watching Ted Lasso. I loved the town, I enjoyed each of the four rides on my rental steel bike in the mostly nice and sunny weather (seasoned with a bit of an ice cold shower on day two). I finally made it to the famous coastal road and the top of the Rocacorba, and I got to have brunch and post-ride food – meeting my very high expectations – at the prototype of cycling cafés: La Fabrica. I would be happy to go back one day, as there are still a few rides on my to-do list in the region.

May revolved around Liverpool’s chase of the quadruple, and while at the end they only won the League Cup and the FA Cup, finishing – once again – one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League, and losing the Champions League Final – once again – against Real Madrid, it was still an amazing run, especially compared to how they are doing this season :S

In the summer as COVID disappeared we started having brunch or lunch in Leuven every Saturday, and looking for good meals have became a recurring theme for the rest of the year once again.

In the beginning of July – just after passing all my flying theory examinations – I flew to Samos for work for a few days, which was my first work related travel since 2018. The approach to the airport of the island is a famously dangerous/difficult visual procedure, so I enjoyed every moment of it from the window seat :D The weather was excellent, the food Mediterranean, and it was nice to meet some people outside of my immediate circle for the first time in years.

The second half of July brought literally 40 degrees Celsius to Belgium, delaying my practical flying exam by a week, which then really just barely fit between packing our bags for Norway and actually flying there. Roughly 24 hours after the successful skill test, we landed in Tromsø on the first evening after the midnight Sun that actually had a sunset (followed by a night of 1.5 hours already). After a good night sleep we picked up our rental car and spent almost two weeks travelling across the Vesterålen and Lofoten. It was a great and mostly relaxing holiday, with a couple of short hikes, good food, amazing scenery, and a much more reasonable amount of driving compared to our Iceland or Southern Norway road trips. I hope we can go back once during the winter too, to catch the aurora dancing above the snow-covered mountains. Here is another batch of photos just with my phone, Instagram style.

In August I biked a bit more, due to still having to wait for my pilot licence (and then radio licence) to arrive, and also simply because it was very nice weather and Willem was finally also getting into cycling again. Unfortunately on what was supposed to be our first epic ride of the year, Willem fell in a corner of the Eifel just in front of me, which meant that his season was over (along with my motivation), and we got to visit a German hospital instead of a day of suffering fun on the bike.

September started with flying along with another friendly pilot from Namur to Spa for a cola and a nice chat, which made the last days of waiting for my own flying rights slightly easier. Then finally the last pieces of the paperwork-puzzle have arrived, and I could go flying as a real pilot from then on.

At work we had a fun team-building sailing trip along the Belgian coast, broadening the range of vehicles I could captain (even if only for a quarter of an hour in this particular case). At the end of the month we had a week of holidays in Budapest, visiting my parents, some of the new architecture, miniature statues, and at least one hip and trendy brunch/lunch/dinner place every day (although nothing could topple my pulled pork sandwich from the first afternoon). The weather was great, the food was great, what else do you need?

In October I took my first passenger flying, and that’s also the time when I spent a lot of time learning Blender, having a lot of fun “at work”. Making the YouTube videos after my flights always took a lot of time (typically 3-4 evenings), so there was not much happening besides work, a flight every few weeks, followed by making flying videos in the evenings or during my free Fridays, an occasional bike ride, and going to Leuven on Saturdays for some nice food.

This pattern continued throughout November and December too. Besides everyday life, I started and finished my EASA Night Rating, and even had a just for fun flight (without the usual GoPro recordings) above the snowy and foggy Ardennes. Not long before this we went to the Ardennes also by car for a weekend, but unfortunately after a small hike the first afternoon I got sick and I don’t even remember much from the dinner afterwards besides me being too cold and tired to enjoy it… It is a pity because the weather would have been perfect for a hike the following day. After a lot of thinking I ordered a new road bike, which is already paying off in the form of extra motivation for the upcoming season, but I will write about it when it is actually here ;)

We spent the holidays in Leuven, but unlike during the past two COVID-ridden festive seasons, we could finally return to our restaurant-visiting traditions. After a cheese/meat/bread-themed Christmas dinner at home, we had dinner at Barba (excellent in this price range), and at the Michelin-starred Couvert Couvert (nice, but not meeting our expectations), finishing the year off with a food-box from Zappaz (it was so huge it took us 6 hours to eat everything, and we had to leave some of the dessert for the next day).

Oh, and Filou is still the best.

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