Oct 202013
 
Some last comments…
Air Transportation

British Air:  The Dulles to Heathrow leg.  If you ever book a flight on a BA 777-200, DON’T get seat 27A (and probably 27K).  Under the seat in front of you is something I think could be a combination of the cabinet for the in-flight entertainment and the in-armrest tray tables (row 26 is an exit row) that takes up most of the floor space.  I don’t think there was enough room to put package of copier paper under the seat.  I had to put my left foot between the cabin wall and the seat support, and my right kinda at an angle sticking a bit into my neighbors foot area.  Cabin crew was pretty good — reset my entertainment console.

Air France:  Return was London to Paris to Dulles.  That’s what happens when you use award travel.  Air France has a different take on baggage restrictions.  Your checked bag has the normal 23Kg limit.  But they have a weight limit for your two carry-ons — 12 Kg.  I had to repack my checked bag (made it 22.9 Kg), and wore my coat with pockets stuffed.  As soon as I passed through security, I moved the coat and all the stuff in the pockets back into my carry-on duffel.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

If you lived in London, you’d be crazy not to have a membership:  http://www.kew.org/

The Palm House at Kew Gardens.  (Click image to enlarge)

The Palm House at Kew Gardens. (Click image to enlarge)

Stonehenge/Salisbury/Avebury Tour
Avebury  (Click image to enlarge)

Avebury (Click image to enlarge)

Well worth it to spend the extra money for the mini-bus tour instead of the large motor coach tour.  David was a personable, knowledgeable guy and the small group means you have a little more flexibility.  His company is Stone Circle Tours:

http://stonecircletours.com/

Booking was through International Friends:

http://www.internationalfriends.co.uk/london-international-friends.html
http://www.internationalfriends.co.uk/stonehenge-salisbury-avebury-the-mysteries-of-ancient-britain.html

Around London

Transportation:  The easiest way to get around London is by the Underground (the Tube).  I recommend getting an “Oyster”, which is a smart card you preload and touch to the yellow circle on the fare gates when you enter or exit a Tube station, or when you get on a bus.  You can buy them at each of Heathrow’s terminals.  The card costs £5 (which can be refunded if you turn the card in when you fly home).  I loaded my card with £25 — and had 70 pence on it after my last Tube trip.

Transport for London:  http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

The London Eye:  http://www.londoneye.com/

The Shard:  http://the-shard.com/

National Gallery:  http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/

Courtauld Gallery:  http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/

Covent Garden:  http://www.coventgardenlondonuk.com/

London Transport Museum:  http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/

British Museum:  http://www.britishmuseum.org/

Victoria and Albert Museum:  http://www.vam.ac.uk/

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Apollo Theatre):  

http://www.apollotheatrelondon.co.uk/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time

 

Oct 192013
 
The British Museum, Victoria and Albert, and Mozart’s Requiem at Southbank Centre
The British Museum

The British Museum is the quintessential historical/cultural museum.  It combines an enormous collection of physical objects with unparalleled research facilities.  Some of the collection was gathered up during the height of the British Empire in locales where the indigenous leadership (if any) had little interest in saving historical artifacts — or was unable to stop the collection activities.  Some of those areas, now modern nation states, would now like their stuff back.  There is an overarching question as to whether or not the objects would still exist if they hadn’t been collected and shipped to England.

The British Museum's Great Court.  This was covered over in 2000, and now is the focal point for most of the museum's supporting activities.  The central structure used to be the museum's Reading Room. (Click image to enlarge)

1. The British Museum’s Great Court. This was covered over in 2000, and now is the focal point for most of the museum’s supporting activities. The central structure used to be the museum’s Reading Room.
(Click image to enlarge)

The Rosetta Stone...And a constant stream of viewers. (Click image to enlarge)

2. The Rosetta Stone…And a constant stream of viewers.
(Click image to enlarge)

Grecian Marbles.  (Click image to enlarge)

3. Grecian Marbles. (Click image to enlarge)

4.  Grecian Temple.  (Click image to enlarge)

4. Greek Temple. (Click image to enlarge)

5.  Assyrian lion hunting.  (Click image to enlarge)

5. Assyrian lion hunting — a sport for kings which also symbolized him protecting his people. (Click image to enlarge)

6.  Egyptian sculpture.  (Click image to enlarge)

6. Egyptian sculpture. (Click image to enlarge)

The Victoria and Albert Museum

An eclectic collection of modern and old.  Contemporary fashion and fabrics to ancient marble statues — and reproductions.  A huge collection.

7.  A tiny part of the collection, in just one gallery.  (Click image to enlarge)

7. A tiny part of the collection, in just one gallery. (Click image to enlarge)

Medieval oak sculpture.  (Click image to enlarge)

8.  Medieval oak sculpture. (Click image to enlarge)

Detail of a monument to Sir Moyle Finch and his wife Elizabeth.  He died in 1614 -- she in 1634.  His eyes closed -- hers open.   (Click image to enlarge)

9. Detail of a monument to Sir Moyle Finch and his wife Elizabeth. He died in 1614 — she in 1634. His eyes closed — hers open.
(Click image to enlarge)

10.  Moonrise over the Thames, from the Hungerford Bridge.  The white dome of St Paul's to the left, and the Shard on the far right above Royal Festival Hall. (Click image to enlarge)

10. Moonrise over the Thames, from the Hungerford Bridge. The white dome of St Paul’s to the left, and the Shard on the far right above Royal Festival Hall.
(Click image to enlarge)

Photo Notes:

Because of the way the blog software downsamples the in-column images, you need to click the images to see them more clearly.

  1. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 800 | 1/50 | f/5.6
  2. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 3200 | 1/20 | f/4
  3. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 3200 | 1/60 | f/5.6
  4. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 18mm | ISO 3200 | 1/35 | f/4.5
  5. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 14mm | ISO 1600 | 1/45 | f/4
  6. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 30.2mm | ISO 3200 | 1/18 | f/6.4
  7. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 1600 | 1/60 | f/7.1
  8. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 55mm | ISO 800 | 1/25 | f/7.1
  9. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 55mm | ISO 3200 | 1/20 | f/11
  10. Fujifilm X20 | 11.3mm | ISO 1600 | 1/9 | f/2.8
Oct 182013
 
The Courtauld Gallery, Paul McCartney at Covent Garden, the Fourth Plinth, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery is a smaller museum with collections of Post-Impressionist, Impressionist, 18th Century, Baroque, Renaissance, and Medieval works.  It is located in Somerset House, where the Royal Academy was once located.

Paintings displayed in smaller rooms in what was once the main exhibition area of the Royal Academy.   (Click image to enlarge)

1. Paintings displayed in smaller rooms in what was once the main exhibition area of the Royal Academy.
(Click image to enlarge)

Joshua Reynold's "Cupid and Psyche" overlooks some of the Courtauld's silver.  (Click image to enlarge)

2. Joshua Reynold’s “Cupid and Psyche” over the mantle and some of the Courtauld’s silver.
(Click image to enlarge)

Coutauld staircase.  (Click image to enlarge)

3. Courtauld staircase. (Click image to enlarge)
Paul McCartney at Covent Garden

…So I was walking towards Covent Garden and noticed several news crews heading that direction.  And then, in front of St. Paul’s, the crowd.  I had no idea what was happening.  It turns out he was promoting his new album.

4. The crowd for a short performance by Paul McCartney — from the back of the black truck on the right.
(Click image to enlarge)

131018-london-xpro1-203-w

5. That tiny little head on the right: Sir Paul.
(Click image to enlarge)

 The Fourth Plinth.

The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square never got the statue intended for it.  It is now hosts regular temporary installations.

The Fourth Plinth:  This is a BIG blue rooster.  The National Gallery behind, and St. Martin's in the Field to the right (with spire). (Click image to enlarge)

6. The Fourth Plinth: This is a BIG blue rooster. The National Gallery behind, and St. Martin’s in the Fields to the right (with spire).  (Click image to enlarge)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

A brilliant play at the Apollo Theater in the West End.  See it if you visit London.

Brilliant Play.  (Click image to enlarge)

7. Brilliant Play. (Click image to enlarge)

Photo Notes:

Because of the way the blog software downsamples the in-column images, you need to click the images to see them more clearly.

  1. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 3200 | 1/90 | f/4
  2. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 1600 | 1/30 | f/5.6
  3. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 1600 | 1/20 | f/5.6
  4. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 400 | 1/150 | f/6.4
  5. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 55mm | ISO 400 | 1/40 | f/6.4
  6. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 19.6mm | ISO 400 | 1/340 | f/7.1
  7. Fujifilm X100S | Fuji 23mm | ISO 3200 | 1/50 | f/5.6
Oct 172013
 
The London Eye and “The Shard”
London Eye

This is a repeat visit to the Eye, but it’s a great view and worth looking for new images to capture.

Through the London Eye logo.  (Click image to enlarge)

1.  Through the London Eye logo. (Click image to enlarge)

Using one of the pods as a set for a standup shoot.  (Click image to enlarge)

2.  Using one of the pods as a set for a standup shoot. (Click image to enlarge)

 

The "studio" pod reaches the peak during a break in the clouds.  (Click image to enlarge)

3.  The “studio” pod reaches the peak during a break in the clouds. (Click image to enlarge)

Looking down as our flight concludes -- County Hall on the right.   (Click image to enlarge)

4.  Looking down as our flight concludes — County Hall on the right.
(Click image to enlarge)

The Shard

The Shard is a multi-use building down the Thames from the London Eye in the London Bridge Quarter.  The tower has 87 stories and is 1,004 feet high — the tallest building in the European Union.  Working down from the observation levels are residence floors, a hotel, restaurants, and office space.  A visit to the observation decks is not inexpensive…But it is totally unique.

The Shard, seen from the Millennium Bridge (which spans the Thames between St. Peter's and the Tate Modern.  (Click image to enlarge)

5.  The Shard, seen from the Millennium Bridge (which spans the Thames between St. Peter’s and the Tate Modern.
(Click image to enlarge)

A view down from the lower observation deck -- looking down river towards the Docklands and Greenwich. (Click image to enlarge)

6.  A view down from the lower observation deck — looking down river towards the Docklands and Greenwich.
(Click image to enlarge)

Visitors on the lower observation level.  (Click image to enlarge)

7.  Visitors in the enclosed gallery, which is the lower observation level. (Click image to enlarge)

 

The upper observation, which is open to the weather.   (Click image to enlarge)

8.  The upper observation deck, open to the weather, is at the 804 foot level.
(Click image to enlarge)

Another view of the upper observation level.  The building extends above this level.   (Click image to enlarge)

9.  Another view of the upper observation level. The building extends above this level.
(Click image to enlarge)

Looking up from the upper observation level. (Click image to enlarge)

10.  Looking up from the upper observation level.
(Click image to enlarge)

 Photo Notes: 

Because of the way the blog software downsamples the in-stream images, you need to click the images to see them more clearly.

  1. Fujifilm X-Pro1 |Zeiss 12mm | ISO 400 | 1/480 | f/8
  2. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 30.2mm | ISO 400 | 1/600 | f/8
  3. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 400 | 1/1200 | f/8
  4. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 400 | 1/170 | f/9
  5. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 23.3mm | ISO 400 | 1/450 | f/6.4
  6. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 19.6mm | ISO 800 | 1/400 | f/5
  7. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 800 | 1/480 | f/8
  8. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 800 | 1/680 | f/8
  9. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Zeiss 12mm | ISO 800 | 1/450 | f/8
  10. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 35mm | ISO 800 | 1/320 | f/13
Oct 162013
 
Salisbury, Old Sarum, Stonehenge, and Avebury
Salisbury Cathedral

It was a overcast and threatening when we left London, and by the time we approached Salisbury, it was overcast, raining, and dreary.  Our guide had planned to visit Old Sarum first, but looking at the weather id didn’t seem like starting the day on a hilltop would be the best idea, so we went straight on to Salisbury Cathedral and made Old Sarum our second stop (one of the advantages of a smaller tour rather than the big motor coach tours).  The cathedral has the tallest medieval tower in Britain, and houses one of the four known copies of the Magna Carta.

Salisbury Cathedral -- View down the Nave from the Font. (Click image to enlarge)

1.  Salisbury Cathedral — View down the Nave from the Font.
(Click image to enlarge)

A reminder of life more than 2 1/2 centuries ago. (Click image to enlarge)

2.  A reminder of life more than 2 1/2 centuries ago.
(Click image to enlarge)

"Prisoners of Conscience" Window (1980) and tending the Shrine Tomb of Bishop Osmund -- one of three tombs brought here for reburial in 1226 from the previous cathedral at Old Sarum. (Click image to enlarge)

3.  “Prisoners of Conscience” Window (1980) and tending the Shrine Tomb of Bishop Osmund — one of three tombs brought here for reburial in 1226 from the previous cathedral at Old Sarum.  (Click image to enlarge)

Kids in the Cloisters on a rainy day...All kinds of medieval kit for them to try.

4.  Kids in the Cloisters on a rainy day…All kinds of medieval kit for them to try.  (Click image to enlarge)

Old Sarum

Still drizzling when we headed back to nearby Old Sarum…Blustery and misting when we got there…And then sunshine.  Originally a Neolithic site, this was an Iron Age hill fort and then the first location of Salibury.  The first Salisbury Cathedral was built here.

Outline of the original Salisbury Cathedral at Old Sarum, seen from the ruined fortress walls. (Click image to enlarge)

5.  Outline of the original Salisbury Cathedral at Old Sarum, seen from the ruined fortress walls.
(Click image to enlarge)

Stonehenge

Blustery, but sunny…

Stonehenge (Click image to enlarge)

6.  Stonehenge (Click image to enlarge)
Avebury

Something you won’t see on most tours…A neolithic henge monument consisting of three circles, one of which is the largest in Europe — about 1400 feet in diameter.

A portion of the Avebury Circle, including two gate stones. (Click on image to enlarge)

7.  A portion of the Avebury Circle, including two gate stones.
(Click on image to enlarge)

8.  Panoramic of Stonehenge. (Click image to enlarge)

8. Panoramic of Stonehenge.
(Click image to enlarge)

Photo Notes:
  1. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 18mm | ISO 3200 | 1/9 | f/5.6
  2. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 28.9mm | ISO 1600 | 1/20 | f/5
  3. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 18mm | ISO 3200 | 1/15 | f/4
  4. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 39mm | ISO 800 | 1/75 | f/5.6
  5. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 22.3mm | ISO 800 | 1/220 | f/8
  6. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 37.4mm | ISO 200 | 1/600 | f/6.4
  7. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 35.8mm | ISO 400 | 1/340 | f/9
  8. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 23.3mm | ISO 200 | 1/500 | f/8
Oct 152013
 
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

This visit was planned, but not scheduled.  October weather in Britain can be unpredictable, so the first thing I checked on Day 1 was the weather.  It looked promising, so I got on the Tube and headed out to Kew Gardens.

Kew Gardens is more than just a big park.  It is also a world leading botanical research and preservation operation.  Most of what falls under the heading of “Kew” takes place in other locations.

However, the gardens in southwest London are exceptional in their own right.  This is a mix of formal gardens, research/educational plots, parkland, restaurants, glass houses, and places to just sit and enjoy.  Somehow, they have manged to all of this “right”.  If you appreciate plants, you can easily spend most of a day here.  If you are seriously botanically inclined, you will have no problem spending two full days at Kew Gardens.

(Note:  Because of the way the blog software downsamples the in-stream images, you need to click the images to see them more clearly.)

A pool, off to the side in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. (Click image to enlarge)

1. A pool, off to the side in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
(Click image to enlarge)

2. Kew Palace and Royal Kitchens. (Click image to enlarge)

2. Kew Palace and Royal Kitchens.
(Click image to enlarge)

3.  On the north side of Kew Gardens, a viewpoint.  Beyond the fence is the River Thames and in the distance you can see Syon Park, the London home of the Duke of Northhumberland.  This spot is the terminus for Syon and Cedar Vistas -- long sightlines that run the width of the gardens.  Syon Vista terminates at the Palm House, one of two great Victorian glass houses.  Cedar Vista terminates at the Pagoda.  Note two of the hundreds of wooden benches spread throughout the gardens. (Click image to enlarge)

3. On the north side of Kew Gardens, a viewpoint. Beyond the fence is the River Thames and in the distance you can see Syon Park, the London home of the Duke of Northhumberland. This spot is the terminus for Syon and Cedar Vistas — long sightlines that run the width of the gardens. Syon Vista terminates at the Palm House, one of two great Victorian glass houses. Cedar Vista terminates at the Pagoda. Note two of the hundreds of wooden benches spread throughout the gardens.
(Click image to enlarge)

4.  About 1/3 of the way down Syon Vista from the viewpoint above.  Palm House can be seen in the distance. (Click image to enlarge)

4. About 1/3 of the way down Syon Vista from the viewpoint above. Palm House can be seen in the distance.
(Click image to enlarge)

5.  Near the location above is the Sackler Crossing, a curved bridge over a small lake.  This award-winning design features a vertical guardrail system which opens up the view without sacrificing safety. (Click image to enlarge)

5. Near the location above is the Sackler Crossing, a curved bridge over a small lake. This award-winning design features a vertical guardrail system which opens up the view without sacrificing safety.
(Click image to enlarge)

 

6.  A view from the Sackler Crossing demonstrating the impression of openness.  If you look closely at the bottom right, you'll see a small disk between every metal upright.  This is a lamp, so the entire bridge is illuminated with a gentle glow from below.  A brilliant design. (Click image to enlarge)

6. A view from the Sackler Crossing demonstrating the impression of openness. If you look closely at the bottom right, you’ll see a small disk between every metal upright. This is a lamp, so the entire bridge is illuminated with a gentle glow from below. A brilliant design.
(Click image to enlarge)

The dedication on one of the benches.  Sponsorship of a bench (for 10 years -- roughly the life expectancy of the wooden benches) is 5,000 pounds. (Click image to enlarge)

The dedication on one of the benches. Sponsorship of a bench (for 10 years — roughly the life expectancy of the wooden benches) is 5,000 pounds.
(Click image to enlarge)

8.  Visitors on a path, seen from the Xstrata Treetop Walkway. (Click image to enlarge)

8. Visitors on a path, seen from the Xstrata Treetop Walkway.
(Click image to enlarge)

9.  The Japanese Gateway. (Click image to enlarge)

9. The Japanese Gateway.
(Click image to enlarge)

10.  The Pagoda, seen from the Cedar Vista in the afternoon sun. (Click image to enlarge)

10. The Pagoda, seen from the Cedar Vista in the afternoon sun.
(Click image to enlarge)

11.  A panoramic view from the Kew Palace to the Orangery Restaurant. (Click image to enlarge)

11. A panoramic view Kew Palace on the left and the Orangery Restaurant in the center.
(Click image to enlarge)

 Photo Notes:
  1. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 14mm | ISO 800 | 1/55 | f/10
  2. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 19.6mm | ISO 800 | 1/50 | f/10
  3. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 52.7mm | ISO 400 | 1/450 | f/8
  4. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 55mm | ISO 400 | 1/220 | f/5.6
  5. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 18mm | ISO 400 | 1/480 | f/5.6
  6. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 18mm | ISO 400 | 1/480 | f/5.6
  7. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 46.3mm | ISO 800 | 1/170 | f/4.5
  8. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 40.7mm | ISO 400 | 1/25 | f/5.6
  9. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 19.6mm | ISO 800 | 1/200 | f/5.6
  10. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 18mm | ISO 800 | 1/450 | f/5.6
  11. Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55mm @ 22.3mm | ISO 400 | 1/60 | f/11.0
Oct 142013
 

I finally figured out how to identify the first day of a intercontinental trip…The day of arrival doesn’t really count, so:  Zero.

Upon arrival...First things first.  (Click image to enlarge)

Upon arrival…First things first. (Click image to enlarge)

A walkabout after a nap in the hotel…Police car with siren blasting heading for the main entrance to the British Museum.  Then an Air Ambulance helicopter arrives…

Just touching down...  (click image to enlarge)

2. Just touching down… (click image to enlarge)

Oddly, for a city the size of London, this is the only air ambulance airframe.

Vertical Climb-Out  (click image to enlarge)

3. Vertical Climb-Out (click image to enlarge)

So on to something London-ish, then back to the hotel…

Pub  (click image to enlarge)

4. Pub (click image to enlarge)

 Photo Notes:

1.  Fujifilm X20 | 11.7mm | ISO 400 | 1/25 | f/5.6
2.  Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55 @ 18mm | ISO 400 | 1/150 | f/4.0
3.  Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fuji 18-55 @ 21.4mm | ISO 1600 | 1/75 | f/4.5
4.  Fujifilm X-Pr01 | Fuji 18-55 @ 16.5mm | ISO 320 | 1/35 | f/4.0

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