Saturday, November 05, 2005

How the Other Half Flew

Secrets from the Concorde Trolley

photograph picture of concorde at filton

On Thursday I finally realised one of my lifetime dreams. I found myself on Concorde. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as I imagined it would be, we weren't going anywhere, but these days it's the best I could hope for. I grew up near one of the airfields where Concorde was built and consequently, as a child, was totally in awe of and fascinated by this most beautiful and innovative of aeroplanes. I dreamt that one day I would fly on it.

photograph picture of concorde at filton

Sadly, this beauty no longer soars through the skies. But, the very last Concorde to have ever flown supersonically is now temporarily based at Filton Air Field, close to my mother's house, so we decided to take a tour and get up close for a look. Booking in advance is essential. Check out the Concorde at Filton website for more details. When we arrived at the car park to pick up the little tour bus we were amused by the age of all the other visitors. Let's just say I was the youngest, Fred was the second youngest and my mum was the third youngest. Seeing as I am almost 40, this was no mean feat!

photograph picture of concorde at filton

The rumour has always been that Concorde is incredibly small inside. It's not exactly huge, it's true, but the £14,000-a-pair luxury leather seats are insanely comfortable and the amount of leg room available put United's Economy class to shame.

photograph picture of concorde food menu at filtonEvery Concorde customer was First Class and the menu reflects that fact. I talked to one of the volunteer guides who explained to me that the food, albeit minimalist in style, was always beautifully presented. He told me each plate would be artistically adorned with little squiggles and dribbles of sauce, presumably assembled in what are the tiniest airplane galleys I have ever seen. I pushed our guide a little further with my questioning. When he exclaimed that the food was as good as in a five star hotel I cajoled him. "Oh, c'mon", I said, "It can't be, it's all kept warm or reheated. How can it be?" He was adamant, "No, no, no, I've eaten both on Concorde and in five star hotels, they are definitely comparable." Eventually he added "unless you are one of those people who are really fussy about their food". At that point I just nodded and laughed.

Each passenger would have their own white table linens and fine china. It's a class above what most of us are used to when it comes to airline travel.

photograph picture of concorde at filton

The most incredible aspect of what we saw was the wine list. Take a look at this. It was exclusive to Concorde. How about a Pol Roger Cuvee de Winston Churchill 1986? A Chateau Smith Haute Lafite Grand Cru Classe Pessac Leognan 1994? Or maybe a Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Clos de la Mouchere Domaine Boillot 1993? The wines were all chosen by popular journalist and Wine Master Jancis Robinson. Don't imagine, however, that the whole cellar was available for every flight. Instead, they would choose a red, a white and a sparkler that would feature as the selection for the journey.

photograph picture of concorde at filton

A feature of Concorde was that every bathroom contained a single red rose.



PS. I forgot to ask what the Concorde sick bags were like. If the food was as good as they claim, perhaps they never needed them...?

Archive Alert! On this Saturday in 2004 I was having dinner at The Blue Plate with Brit friends Penny & Kevin. Kevin now lives in the UK again and I was out with him last night.

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How the Other Half Flew

14 Comments:

  • At 5/11/05 12:06, Blogger drbiggles said…

    Nicely done, a marriage of food and high speed. I say, bring it on!
    More please.

    Tootles

     
  • At 5/11/05 17:52, Blogger Lena Silverwood said…

    That is insane! In a good way, I mean.

     
  • At 6/11/05 06:47, Blogger farmgirl said…

    I love this post. So interesting, so well done. Sounds like you are having fun! : )

     
  • At 6/11/05 15:09, Blogger David said…

    I friend of mine was a flight attendant on the Concorde and he said they all used to complain because it was so small. Andy Warhol used to collect the silverware from the Concorde too. (You didn't happen to swipe any for me, did you?)

     
  • At 6/11/05 17:10, Blogger Lady Amalthea said…

    That is really crazy. Cool though. And what a wine list!

     
  • At 6/11/05 23:37, Blogger shuna fish lydon said…

    This aeroplane used to fly over my grandparents' house in Long Island and we would be chatting away, see the mighty creature pass by and then pause.

    BOOM!

    The house rattled, and then it was a dot in the sky.

     
  • At 7/11/05 03:18, Anonymous sam said…

    phew = i seem to have got away with my tenuous attempt to write about concorde on a food blog

     
  • At 7/11/05 12:04, Blogger drbiggles said…

    Nah, this is Sam's blog. I think people come by here for you and your ways, they're after YOU.
    Hmm, well but if you started writing about New Concrete Construction Technology I think you'd lose a lof of us.
    At least the air plane thing was cool, write about cool stuff.
    I'm looking for a goose.

    Biggles

    ps - I don't think that came out how I intended, heh.

     
  • At 7/11/05 14:14, Blogger Del4yo said…

    How lovely!

    Flying on Concorde was my dream too!

     
  • At 7/11/05 15:27, Blogger Sam said…

    Biggles - fred ordered goose at a little restaurant we went to but they ran out and replaced it with duck.

    del - look here

     
  • At 8/11/05 00:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    sammie - please come back to the bay!!!!!!!!!!

    gibby

     
  • At 8/11/05 02:16, Blogger Sam said…

    soon, gibby, soon!

     
  • At 8/11/05 11:40, Blogger Owen said…

    Sam,

    I grew up three miles from Farnborough and we had the Concorde fly by at least twice a week during development and then when they announced it was ready we got flybys every day for a week. They got closer and closer until the day it went by only a few hundred feet up at supersonic speed. Every house on the street got broken windows! I was always really sad I never got to fly in it!

     
  • At 9/11/05 18:12, Blogger kelli ann said…

    swanky! thanks for the photos - i'm going to show m'boys (when they wake up tomorrow morning of course) because they love the Concorde... it has such appeal on so many levels. but yes - the other half indeed. phew!

     

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