Tag Archives: uk

HMS Severn

The Royal Navy has a bunch of coastal patrol vessels that are named after rivers around the UK.  From what I have read, HMS Severn is one of the first batch of vessels and it is less capable than the later batch.  Although originally planned for retirement, it has been kept in service patrolling the UK coastal region.  It was heading out of Portsmouth when I saw it.  I think it was originally painted grey when it was commissioned but it currently has more of a camo scheme applied.  It made me think of the disruptive camouflage used during the First World War.  I actually shot a pano of it as it headed out taking advantage of the lack of an immediate background to avoid any issues with the movement between shots.

Car Transporters Are So Elegant

Having grown up by the sea, I always like looking at passing ships.  However, there are some that are just a little bit harder to like.  Car transporters are that type of ship.  While on the Isle of Wight, I saw this one passing by.  I was going to take a shot of it because when don’t I take a photo but this is a prime example of just how lacking in grace this type of ship is.

Swiss Cottage in Osborne’s Grounds

Some kids are lucky and get to have a tree house or something in the garden to play with.  If you are a member of the royal family and the child of Queen Victoria, things are a little bit more extreme.  The Swiss Cottage in the grounds of Osborne House is quite something.  Here the royal children got to play all sorts of pretend.  I’m sure they had plenty of staff to make sure things worked out the way they wanted.

The house itself is good enough for anyone to live in.  The interior is fitted out to provide any sort of entertainment you might want.  Now it is also a museum of various artifacts from the household.  Some of these are rather suspect items to a modern eye.  Things that were taken from conquered countries and clothing from someone killed in battle make for a slightly uncomfortable viewing.

The grounds around the cottage are also interesting.  There is a fort that was built by one of the princes.  I think by looking at it that the prince had no real effort in building it.  Some military staff were apparently roped in to this process.  This fort looks a lot more impressive than the average fort a kid might make.  This is not cardboard boxes and sofa cushions.

The Most Unpopular Bridge

I spent a lot of my childhood in a town called Cowes on the Isle of Wight.  Cowes was on the coast by the outfall of the River Medina.  The other side of the river was East Cowes and the two were connected by a chain ferry known to everyone as the floating bridge.  I remember as a small boy when the previous floating bridge got replaced with a newer and larger version.  This same one was in service until relatively recently.  A new one was ordered and its introduction to service has not been smooth.

I see the content of some Isle of Wight Facebook groups and complaints about the new bridge are widespread.  Like most people, I don’t know the actual details of what is behind the problems, but the online experts know everything, and the accusations of corruption are widespread.  In my experience, the most likely problem is just a screw up.  People make mistakes a lot and looking for a deeper reason is usually fruitless.  I don’t even know if it is all working properly now, and everyone is rehashing old stories or whether it is still problematic.

We did take a trip on it though.  It was working and we needed to get from East Cowes to Cowes so we gave it a go.  Everything was fine.  However, it was busy and the car in front of us was the last one to get on.  That did give me some time to get some photos of it and I also took a little video too.  As an aside, while we were in Portsmouth, I saw the old bridge laid up awaiting its fate.

A Brewery Close To My Heart

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?

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.

Swan Family (And What Is With The Foot?)

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.

Thames Barrier

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.

Ryde The White Swans

You’ll need to be of a certain age or musical interest to get this title I suspect.  The seafront of Ryde is home to a lot of mute swans.  I knew a few lived on the boating lake but the seafront had loads of them.  It seemed you couldn’t move anywhere without seeing some more.  Swans do seem to have been a bit of a theme for our vacation as I think about it further.

They were swimming around in groups in the sea and some were sheltering in the marina area.  Occasionally some would fly from one spot to the other when swimming seemed like it would take too long!  From where I was, it did look as if they might get in each other’s way but I guess that is just the effect of distance on my perspective.

As we walked back along the seafront, a few of them took off from the sea and headed towards the boating lake.  They were flying straight towards us at one point (although I failed to get a good focus on them so those shots were wasted) but then turned inland to head to the lake.  The sound the swans make as they beat their wings is quite noticeable.  If we didn’t have things to do, I could have spent ages watching them.

The East Side of Heathrow Proves Fruitful

My visit to Myrtle Avenue proved to be a success, even if it had been a lot shorter than intended.  As I headed back to the Tube, I was ready to call it a day.  The arrivals had moved to the northerly runway and I figured that was not going to be practical to shoot.  However, I could see the arrivals in the distance and decided to try one of the overpasses to see if I could get any shots.  This location was not great but I decided to walk a little along the road to see whether there was anything better.

What I had not thought about was that, since I was on foot and didn’t have to worry about parking, I could really try anywhere.  This worked out very well and I progressively made my way up the perimeter road trying out different locations that either had good angles or were closer to the approach path.  The good news was that there was plenty of traffic and, while British Airways A320s were extremely prevalent, there was a lot of variety.

I am not sure the next time I will get to shoot an Iran Air A330 for example.  I was also getting lots of arrivals of Middle East carriers as well as African airlines.  All of this is a nice change from the regular traffic I see on the west coast of the US.  I was also getting a few jets from airlines I meet see at home but not the types that I would normally see.  All of this combined with the sun being particularly cooperative and I was quite happy with the conditions.  I was mainly shooting stills but I did occasionally try a bit of video as you can see below.