One of the items I had put on my list of things to do while in the UK was a visit to Caen Hill Locks. Located just outside the town of Devizes in Wiltshire, this is part of the Kennet and Avon Canal and it is a sequence of locks to get over the hill into the town. When you think when this was constructed and that it was all done by hand, you find it all the more impressive. From the bottom of the hill to the café at the top (where we stopped for lunch), there are 29 locks. Getting through will take a boat a fair amount of time.
Alongside each lock is a large basin. These are blocked off from the boats so I assume their purpose is to provide water capacity to prevent the traffic through the locks causing the water levels to fall too much. There were signs indicating some limitations on lock usage as a result of water shortages. The locks themselves are pretty small and the narrow boats fitted in snugly. Everything is manually operated with the boat owners operating the gates and the valves to release the water.
Walking to the bottom of the hill provided a great view back up at the alignment of the locks. From the bottom, the canal continues across the plain to the west and off towards Bristol. On the day we were there, a few boats were making their way through. Their crews were having a relaxed time and beer seemed to be prevalent! It was interesting to think back to the times when the canals were the motorways of UK commerce and these locks would probably have been quite congested with freight traffic.
Lufthansa was a launch customer for the A320neo and took delivery of some of the earliest airframes. They now have an extensive fleet of the jets and they seem to be flying in to Heathrow very frequently. I ended up shooting a bunch of their jets in my brief excursion. I am not a big fan of their newest livery but, while it looks dull on the bigger jets, I actually feel like it suits the A320 a little better.
The beach in Eastsound seems to be made up heavily of shells. Walking across it felt like a very destructive act as the shells crunched under foot. I don’t recall ever being somewhere that was made up of so much shell material. It looked very attractive but I didn’t like the breakage that came with it!
Shooting at an airport you don’t normally get to shoot at means you have the opportunity to shoot airlines that you wouldn’t see otherwise. What can be even nicer is if you get a special livery on one of these jets. (There is a small element in the back of your head that worries about not having shot the normal livery and that you still won’t have because of the special but that churlish thought needs to be suppressed!) Three of the jets coming in from overseas were in special finishes as was one of the locals. British Airways had an A320neo in a paint finish that was sky blue. I actually watched it depart too when waiting to board my flight home.
Kenya Airways flies their 787s in to London. The jet that came in on this day had a graphic of rhinos on the rear fuselage. Not a totally different livery but a nice addition. Brussels Airlines flies their A320s in to Heathrow and the airframe I saw was in a Tintin scheme that covered the whole airframe. It looked really good. Royal Jordanian was the last of my specials. Its 787 had a graphic advertising the city of Petra which covered the side of the jet. All nice efforts by the respective airlines.
Boeing Field is constantly operating from both runways at the same time. The light aircraft traffic on the short runway can co-exist with whatever is underway on the main, long runway. However, despite the clear ATC instructions, there are occasional when things don’t quite go to plan. We had a Cirrus and a Grand caravan on approach to the parallel runways. I am not certain who was at fault, but from my angle, it appeared that the Cirrus was drifting off towards the wrong runway. It corrected its path but not before the pilot of the Grand Caravan decided that things were not looking good and went around. It didn’t take them long to get back around the pattern and the second approach was incident free. I don’t know whether the controllers ended up talking to either crew or not.
A couple of years ago, I was taking a road trip across the Cascades and I came upon a large dish alongside the road. It was a surprise and ended up being a blog post. I guess it is a little less spontaneous to search out a dish but, while I was over at Middle Wallop, meeting up with my friend Paul, I knew I was near the old airfield at Chilbolton. This had been an RAF base and then was used for test flying by Supermarine and Folland. What I didn’t know until I looked it up was that the airfield was taken over for use as a radio telescope after it closed to flight operations. I decided to swing by and see the dish. As I came over the hill, I could see it in the valley but the road was narrow and there was nowhere to stop. I got to the gate and a big sign advertised that random visitors were not welcome so I had to make do with a shot from the gate.
Arriving back in Seattle from our UK vacation, we got to use the new international arrivals facility. This includes the bridge from the South Satellite. This crosses the taxiway between the two terminal buildings. It’s not like you have the time to hang around in the area and I imagine they might discourage you from doing so. However, you can grab a few shots of the aircraft beneath you while crossing. The reflections were a bit of a problem but I am not going to be there very often so make the most of it!
A short distance from Winchester is the little town of Alresford. I had flown over it as a youngster but had never actually visited and, when our friends suggested it as a good place to meet up while we were visiting, we went with their suggestion. The center of the town is quite picturesque but some of the older parts of the town are just too like a postcard to be credible. The oldest buildings include some down by the river where the old mill was. As you walked along the path by the water, it was hard to believe that some of these buildings hadn’t been created by a set designer for a period drama. This was a theme for our whole visit with so many villages with postcard-like houses.
The development of the Vulcan required a lot of concept testing before the full size jets were built. Avro built a series of smaller scale delta winged jets to work out some of the issues under the name Avro 707. One of these lives at Old Sarum in the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. It is painted a bright orange color and, while tucked in a dark hangar, it still looks striking. It would be great to get some elevation to show off the delta planform of the jet but still happy to have managed to see it. I was rather close to it so needed to shoot a variety of shots to stitch together afterwards which only worked so well.
When watching the herons hunting in Juanita Bay, you never know exactly what they are going to catch. Something like a stickleback will be a relatively easy thing for them to swallow once they have caught it. On one occasion, though, a heron caught something a little longer. I am not good with different fish so can’t tell you what it was but it had a long body and a tail with some power. The heron had the front of the fish in its beak but the back end was still flailing around. The heron was hoping to win the battle but the fish made sure to give it some healthy whacks around the head before it finally succumbed.