I bumped into a guy I had met before while at Fox Field outside Lancaster CA. He had just arranged a ride out on to the ramp with one of the airport staff and invited me to come along. One of the old airframes stored at Fox Field, near the air tanker ramp, is an old Armstrong Whitworth Argosy. I have no idea of the history of this airframe and how it ended up here but here it is. We were free to wander around and get some shots of it.
I understand it has been at Fox Field for a long time. It isn’t going anywhere in a hurry but, courtesy of the dry climate, it is only decaying slowly. I have no idea how long it will be before it becomes unsafe to have around any longer but I imagine it will be a while. Definitely an unusual aircraft to get to shoot these days.
Every once in a while, you have a moment when you realize something obvious. I used to occasionally go to Camden Market when I lived in Town and I knew of Camden Lock but it never occurred to me that Camden Lock was called that because it had a lock. How did that never register? Anyway, it became obvious as we came to Camden during our walk along the Regents Canal. There were the locks and a bridge over the top of them. It was absolutely heaving with people. Camden is a tourist magnet and so I was keen to keep moving through. I did stop long enough to have a look at the locks, though.
My friend, Paul, had advised me that Lancaster CA had a couple of aircraft on poles that were worth a look. One is a retired Air Force test F-4 that sits at a busy intersection next to a rail station. The other is a NASA F/A-18A that is at the entrance to a baseball stadium. I decided to try and photograph both one evening when the light would be most favorable.
The guys hanging out near the F-4 looked a little perplexed as I drove up and started photographing this plane on a pole. I think they didn’t see the interest in it that I did. I think I attracted a few strange glances and I grabbed some shots and then headed back to the car. The Hornet at the baseball stadium was a different story. Not too many people around at that time so I took some shots and then headed off. There was one more target of interest but that would have to wait for a morning visit.
The day after we arrived in Town, I headed out on my own for a while. Before I hopped on the tube to go east, the sun was up and illuminating the Houses of Parliament rather nicely so I strolled along the South Bank and across Westminster Bridge to get some shots of the newly refurbished clock tower before heading off. It was very busy with tourists but it was great to see everything looking so nice on a sunny morning. (Besides, while I may have considered this area my manor, I am just a tourist too at this point.)
When we lived in the UK, there were plenty of good local breweries producing bitter that I could sample. Some of the larger brands would have national reach and one of those was Wadworth and their 6X bitter. I am very partial to this beer. I have had occasion when I have had a bad 6X but that is down to pubs that don’t keep their beer well. Wadworth is based in Devizes and this was where we went to see the Caen Hill Locks. It would have been churlish not to pay a brief visit to the brewery. It is alongside the main road through the town so getting a clean shot of it took some patience but I was successful. I think went to the gift shop because how could I not?
Our walk along the Regents Canal took us to Kings Cross and, when we got there, plenty of people were out enjoying the sunny Saturday. This included a bunch of car enthusiasts that had brought a variety of vehicles. These were not the sort of thing I see at Exotics@RTC. This was more a focus on enthusiasts for older vehicles that they have restored with much love. Old vehicles from my childhood were all over the place. I liked lots of them but the Bond Bug was a particular favorite. I had quite forgotten about this type of car until I saw it here.
The car ferry terminus at Portsmouth has moved locations over the years. The current Gunwharf location is tucked in quite a tight spot and the ferries are getting ever larger. It requires some skill to get a boat that big in to the berth frequently and quickly. I had multiple opportunities to watch them do this when in Portsmouth and when waiting to board so I got stills and video. A little video of them working is below.
We also were close to the terminus when we had our lunch on Spice Island. The ferries actually come around Spice Island and in to dock and the view along the shore looks almost continuous so, when the ferry goes in or comes out, it looks like it is emerging from the land. For some reason, I don’t tire of watching this happen.
There were lots of swans in the water along Caen Hill Locks. Some families were swimming around together with the cygnets well grown. One of the families had a member that had one foot up and out of the water. I have no idea whether this is a normal behavior for swans or the sign of an injury but the swan did not seem to be having any problems.
At some point, a couple of the swans got into a little bit of hassle. I don’t know whether this was a territorial thing or a case of swan flirting but one of them was really chasing another and seemed to be intent on getting them out of the way. A little separation was enough to stop all of this so I don’t know what it was all about.
When I worked in London, we used to go top Borough Market a lot. Nancy would shop there sometimes and we would often go up at weekends. Consequently, we were keen to go and see how it is now. In some respects, it was very familiar but in others it had changed a lot. The railway bridges over the market have been expanded in more recent times. At one point, there was a suggestion that the market would go as a result of the railway changes but thankfully that has not been the case.
What does seem to have changed is the balance of the types of vendor that are there. There were always plenty of places to buy food to eat straightaway. However, I seem to recall a lot more vendors of meat, fish and produce. There are certainly still a lot of these but now the balance seems to have shifted towards more of the immediate eating options. I am not saying that this is a bad thing but it does feel like it has turned away from being a market towards being a tourist attraction.
Since we were tourists, I can’t have much ground for complaint about this. I love looking around the market with its cast iron framing and the variety of stalls. There are some great meat vendors present and a few fish stalls too. We did have a guilty treat with some donuts and they were very good indeed. I am obviously part of the reason it has evolved. There is an old sign on the wall that lays out rents for the market. I suspect this is a little out of date at this point.
For as long as I lived and worked in London, I had never really seen much of the Thames Barrier. I had seen it from as distance and even gone through it on a boat when at a party but I hadn’t really ever got a good look at it. For those that don’t know, the barrier was built to protect London from flooding following some very destructive floods in the 50s. Construction started in the 70s (we Brits know how to get things done fast) and finished in the 80s. The barrier is the most obvious part of the construction but it also involved building up the banks along the river downstream where the water level would be raised when the barrier was closed.
There are multiple piers across the river with a rotating panel between each. These panels normally lie on the bed of the river but they can be rotated up to block the flow between the piers. I understand that, when the barrier is closed, they actually slightly over raise the panels to allow some flow under them to moderate the increase in levels.
The good news while I was there was that one panel was raised and another was rotated right out of the water allowing me to get a good look at the design. Each pier is clad in a stainless steel surface which is quite striking and makes the barrier very recognizable to people. Looking down the river towards the barrier, you can appreciate the width that it covered. When close to it, you can compress the perspective and make all of the piers look really close together. With the sun out, the piers were shining nicely. I sat and ate my lunch on the banks of the river by the barrier and watched the river traffic coming and going for a while. One other person was there. It was a most tranquil spot to take a break.