Tag Archives: london

Looping Around the T5 Piers Waiting for a Gate

In February, we headed to the UK for a family wedding that we had really been looking forward to.  The overnight flight to Heathrow got us across the Atlantic.  When we landed, we headed for Terminal 5 to unload.  However, our gate was not yet clear.  We had made good time across the water, so we were a little early and the late departures of BA were not designed to accommodate that!  Instead, we started doing laps of the concourses while they waited for us to have a gate open.  We ended up parking on a taxiway for a while and then doing another half lap.  While this was not ideal, I did end up taking a few photos of the BA jets around the airport.

The O2

Despite it having been built at the end of the 90s when I was still living in the UK and working in London, I have had surprisingly few times when I have seen the O2 Arena (or the Millennium Dome as it was known back then).  I didn’t head out to Docklands very often and one of my few close encounters with it was on a party on a boat that went down the Thames but, since that was a work thing, I was more engaged in conversation than looking outside.  I have seen it from planes approaching Heathrow occasionally but that is about it.

When I made me trek out to the east end of London and walked along the river back to Greenwich, I came right up to the arena.  From the riverside, you actually don’t have a good opportunity to see it clearly because you are too close to it.  It was possible to see some of the supporting cables but, since it is right up against the river, you lack an overall view.  However, I was taking the cable car across the river to get to ExCel and the elevated view this gives provided me with a far better look at the structure.

Looking through the windows of the gondola is not ideal for getting pictures and I was struggling to avoid reflections and not always succeeding.  Despite that, it was the best angle I was going to get so I took a bunch of shots.  The closest locations still had the dome obscured by the new buildings that have gone up in front of it but, as I got further across the river, the dome came more fully into view.

Elizabeth Line Station

Last year, while we were staying in London, I got to take my first trip on the Elizabeth Line or what was known for a long time as Crossrail.  This is a major addition to the transportation network of the town and appears to have been very successful.  I only took one trip through the core of town and one to the airport.  It was a very quick way to cover a journey that previously was a lot more drawn out.  However, the thing that impressed me most was the stations.  They are huge.  The trains are long from the start, but they have built capacity to have them longer and the platforms are about 250m long as a result.  You need to know which end to get out to make sure you don’t find yourself several blocks from where you intended when you get to the surface.

Views Of St Pauls

Our walk through the City last fall brought us out at St Paul’s.  It wasn’t part of our itinerary and is somewhere we have been before but it wasn’t like me to pass a landmark without taking some pictures.  The strange thing about shooting St Paul’s is that it is hemmed in on most sides with other buildings.  It has some space around it but not much given the size of the building.  Consequently, I was shooting some tighter shots to see what I could get.

Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street

We did a little wandering through the City while we were staying in Town.  My familiarity is more with the west end of London and then City was somewhere I would go periodically but not regularly.  Nancy worked there for a while so she knew bits of it but not a large area.  We walked up King William Street and ended up coming to the Bank of England.  With so many classical buildings in the City, it is easy to see just another one.  However, thinking about the vaults underneath this pile and the things that are stored in there makes for a slightly more interesting place!

IFS Cloud Cable Car/Emirates Air Line

I walked along the south bank of the Thames from Woolwich as far as North Greenwich.  Once I got to the area around the O2 arena, I wanted to get back across to the Excel center and the easiest route was to take the gondola across the river.  This was the Emirates Air Line.  It still had a bunch of branding for this but apparently the name was changed in June of 2022.  I was able to use my Oyster to pay for it although it didn’t seem as cheap as other forms of travel that TfL provides!  I could see the system from long before the time I got to Greenwich since it is obvious as you look upriver.

There was virtually no one using the crossing when I was there.  I just wandered into the terminal after having spent some time down on the riverbank watching the gondolas passing overhead.  I stepped straight into my own car and was never troubled by the possibility of sharing space.  This made it easy for me to bounce around taking photos of whatever caught my eye.

The crossing only takes a few minutes.  You do get a good view of things as you go.  The O2 is a lot easier to see from the air than from the ground so that is great.  Coming across the river, I was able to look down on the various construction projects underway on the north bank of the Thames.    The Excel center is the largest thing to see as you head north but there are lots of surrounding structures around the docks as you descend into the other terminal.  The view of LCY is good to and, if only a departing flight had been coming out, I would have got an interesting shot.

I have no idea how useful the crossing is.  It certainly wasn’t busy when I used it, but I was not there at what would be considered peak time.  Even so, it still seemed to be a bit of an oddity in a city where public transportation gets heavy usage.  Emirates has obviously discontinued sponsorship, but that decision might have come during the pandemic when airlines were hardly flush with cash.  Who knows.  It was still quite fun to use, though.

Camden Lock

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.

Parliament In The Morning

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.)

Cars in Kings Cross

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.

Borough Market Has Changed A Lot

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.