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You might find that something like an Easy Pigeon just feels a bit naff for an experienced modeller. Jim's suggestion of looking at RCM on the Puffin site would point you at some much nicer planes. If you do go for his Elegant you should definitely get the version with flaps for a small field (or even a large one - they glide for miles). But RCM Swift might be a better bet for a smaller and simpler model which is still high-performance and has a spoiler.
how to find a thermal - must be more to it than to wait until the glider goes up !if the glider does go up, are there maneuvers you should attempt in order to remain in the thermal
do you only lose gliders by simply flying them too high and losing eye contact