Tag Archives: london

Royal Exchange

We were walking through the city checking out areas that we didn’t normally go to when we worked in Town during our visit last year.  Our route brought us up to the Royal Exchange.  It is a really cool looking old structure but one that has been adapted to modern uses.  The inside is some pretty high end retail and we weren’t buying whatever they were selling.  However, I did love the look of the place.  It was also quite funny because I bumped into an old work colleague that I knew from Seattle (who has moved back to the UK).  Not what you expect in a city the size of London!

St Pancras Sculptures

While walking through the station at St Pancras, I realized that there are more sculptures than I had thought.  The one of Sir John Betjeman I knew of from previous visits, but the others were new to me.  I rather like the stark nature of their textures and imagery.  They have a rather aggressive feel to me which got my attention.  It’s nice that public spaces make the effort to add art to the functional areas.

Retro Saudia Jet Compared to the Original

While the 787-10 was never built at Everett, there have been a few that have come here for completion before delivery to their airlines.  One such jet was for Saudia or Saudi Arabians Airlines.  It was painted in a scheme that was a close resemblance to their livery from the 80s and 90s.  I had thought that it was a retro effort on their part, but I have since heard that this might actually be the livery for the fleet going forwards.

Whether that is the case or not, I did take me back to a shot I got in 1988.  I was working for the CAA in the UK on noise measuring duties and got to spend a week inside the fence at Heathrow taking readings of departing aircraft.  One of these was a 747-300 of Saudia.  I had my camera with me that week and was able to get photos between taking readings.  I thought it might be interesting to compare the old Saudia livery with the newer version.

London Before Sunrise

Our return flight home included a layover in London.  Our flight in arrived before sunrise and brought us up from the south over to the east end and then back across Docklands, south of Westminster and in to Heathrow.  I fortunately had a window seat although I was a bit far from the window itself so there was a certain amount of shooting while reaching across.  Trying to pan appropriately for the movement of the aircraft was a touch tricky but I managed to exploit the low light capabilities of the camera to get some okay shots.

We flew across Biggin Hill and I was able to shoot almost straight down on the runway and ramp areas.  Then we came up towards Woolwich and I could see the ferries and London City Airport.  From there it was not far to the Thames Barrier and then the O2 arena.  The high rises of Docklands were next.  On to Tower Bridge with the Shard and London Bridge Station.  Next stop was The Palace of Westminster with the London Eye and Waterloo alongside.  Last was Buckingham Palace and Knightsbridge.  Some fun sights to see.  In daylight, I can navigate this area easily but, when it is dark, you have to work from key references.

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.