Archive for London

Jan
24

My Favourite Photos of 2013

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Rather than pick out a load of pictures I took in 2013 with my trusty old Nikon (or Olympus for underwater pics), I thought I’d showcase my Instagram skills. For those of you who don’t know, Instagram is a popular, free photo sharing app available for your smart phone. It always you to crop, rotate and apply some basic effects to the image taken with the camera on your smartphone and I’ve been pretty impressed how easy it is to use.

Below are a sample of my favourite images I took using my phone. Any editing was done within the Instagram app.

Sunrise over the Cunard Building, Liverpool, UK

Ipamena

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Knutsford

Dawn in Knutsford, north west England

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Rainbow over Dedham Vale, England

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Houses of Parliament, London

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The last sunset over London in 2013

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Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

 This isn’t a photo I posted to Instagram (Instagram pics are always square, this is panoramic) but I took it with the camera on my smartphone. It is the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro where the 2014 World Cup Final will be played.

I’ve found Instagram to be a great little app to share photos which. A huge number of people have smartphones with cameras and the app is free to download. It is easy to use and allows you to share your photos quickly and easily onto Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

If you would like to see more of my Instagram photos, my account can be found here – www.instagram.com/robatherton

Aug
19

Heathrow Pods at Terminal 5

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If you have ever flown from London Heathrow Terminal 5, you may have seen this strange little pods approaching the terminal building on a concrete ramp near the end of the runway. A number of them can be seen at any one time and they are quite small so for a time I wondered what they were.

A few months ago, I discovered they were used to move passengers from the T5 Business Car Park to the terminal. It seemed like a great alternative to the more traditional bus. Ahead of a recent trip to Zurich, I was flying from T5 at Heathrow and needed to pre-book some parking. The BAA website usually has some pretty good rates when you book in advance so it is part of my trip routine if I’m driving to the airport.

When I logged on to their website, I hadn’t really considered the Business Car Park. Generally, they are a lot more expensive and with the Swiss Franc being so strong, I wasn’t looking to spend any more money than I had to on this trip. I needed to park for 2 days so I typed in the details and the search results came back. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Business Car Park was only £4 more than Long Stay (£36 as opposed to £32). The opportunity to have a go on the Heathrow Pods was too good to miss so I booked them straight away.

On arrival, the Business Car Park is pretty similar to any other airport car park although it is a bit small in terms of number of bays. There are 2 pod stations; A and B. You simply walk to the nearest one and wait for a pod to arrive. When it does, there are a couple of very simple options on the touch screen, you jump in and away you go.

Inside, the pod will seat 4 people comfortable along with their luggage. The journey takes 5 minutes and drops you right in the heart of the terminal. On your return, you follow the signs to point you were dropped off, pick one of the waiting pods and chose your destination; Station A or Station B.

Heathrow quite often gets a bad rap, usually unfairly but I have to say that the Business Car Park pods are as efficient as anything I’ve experienced anywhere in the world. I’m not sure how much extra I would be prepared to pay for them in future but I will definitely consider them in the future. Unfortunately, they only operate at Terminal 5 which is where most (not all) of the British Airways flights operate from. Travelling in the modern age can be a real pain and it is little things like this that make our journeys a little easier.

Heathrow Terminal 5 Business Car Parking can be booked online at the BAA website*

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*Affiliate link

Categories : Britain, Europe, London
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Jul
08

Travel Assistance at London City Airport

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Guest post by: My Mum

Courtesy of Flickr user "1541" Darren WebLondon City Airport (Picture: Flickr user 1541 under Creative Commons) is one of Londons gems. Situated on the south bank of the river Thames I found that this is an efficient and well run airport. It was initially used by businessmen due to its close location to the City of London but more and more people are using it for leisure trips.
Ten years ago my husband and I discovered the joy of travelling via London City Airport and today I can only endorse the most favourable impressions that were made in 2002.
Today, there is an excellent rail connection from the City Airport to the main rail routes which has encouraged people like me to use this wonderful little airport.
Last year, I flew to Australia and I arranged wheelchair assistance along the way. This time, my destination was much closer but I felt so much more at ease knowing that people would be there to help me at the airport. Once my flight to Zurich was booked with British Airways, I contacted them to arrange wheelchair assistance. It was very simple and free of charge.
When I arrived at the airport, I went to the customer services counter. The staff are friendly and helpful and the wheelchair that had been ordered well in advance was soon on the scene. They helped me all the way through security, passport control and right to the aircraft.
My journey was so much more enjoyable thanks to the wheelchair assistance provided at London City Airport. I believe that most, if not all, airlines off this service and most airports.
Long live London City Airport!
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In the course of The First World War, the death over the fields of Flanders was on an awful scale with a large number of bodies never identified or retrieved. On 11th November 1920, simultaneously ceremonies were held both in London and Paris to unveil tombs of unknown soldiers.

The tomb of the unknown soldier came to represent the loss experienced by the families of soldiers who died and their bodies were never identified or recovered. The unknown French soldier lies in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris while the unknown British soldier lies entombed in Westminster Abbey amidst kings and statesmen.

The concept was initially talked about by a clergyman named Reverend David Railton. In 1916 in France, he had observed a cross with the words “An Unknown British Soldier” written on it. Four years later in 1920, Railton got into contact with the Dean of Westminster recommending it may be appropriate to have a nationally recognised grave for an unknown soldier.

4 British servicemen were exhumed from Aisne, the Somme, Arras and Ypres and transported to a chapel at St Pol, in the vicinity of Arras. Every body was covered in a Union flag and one was picked out by Brigadier General L J Wyatt. Wyatt had no idea where the soldiers had been taken from or their rank. The idea was that the unknown soldier could quite possibly have been anyone from a Private right up to a Colonel, a colonial manual worker to the child of an Earl.

The soldiers casket was carried to London and was taken to Westminster Abbey in a horse drawn gun carriage. The cortege was accompanied by King George V and members from the Royal family. At Westminster Abbey, it was flanked by a guard of one hundred recipients of the Victoria Cross.

The coffin was placed and covered with earth brought from the battlefields of World War I. It was topped with a piece of black marble from Belgium and is the only tombstone in Westminster Abbey on which it is forbidden to walk.

Since then, several other nations have devoted very similar tombs such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Russia, Ukraine and the United States.

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Oct
04

Frank Bourne Rorkes Drift Hero

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The Battle of Rorkes Drift is certainly one of the most popular battles in the past of the British army. It was at this little mission station near the border of Zululand and Natal where a few thousand Zulu warriors attacked the garrison of around 140 British soldiers. The soldiers fought for their lives all night and by morning, the Zulus had withdrawn. The highest award for gallantry from the British Army is the Victoria Cross and the defence of Rorkes Drift saw twelve VCs awarded, greater than in any other single action in history.

The fight was portrayed in the Stanley Baker movie “Zulu” and one of several leading characters who acted with distinction at Rorkes Drift, in the end failed to receive a Victoria Cross. Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal that is ranked second behind the Victoria Cross. In addition, Bourne was also offered a commission although he turn it down. As Bourne was the eighth son in his family, there was no money on hand and this would have been a time when wealth was used to buy commissions for officers with the British Army.

Having said that, Bourne was destined to be a career soldier and an excellent one too. Following South Africa, he was posted to India and Burma prior to eventually earning his commission eleven years following the Battle of Rorkes Drift. He at long last retired from the British Army in 1907. Only seven years afterwards, The Great War broke out and Bourne re-enlisted in the army. By the conclusion of the Great War in 1918, Bourne had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was made an OBE. Bourne left the military again, now for ever.

Due to the actor who portrayed Bourne in the motion picture Zulu, several people considered Frank Bourne to have been in his mid-50s during the time of the Battle of Rorkes Drift but in reality he was simply 24 years old. Just after the end of The Great War, he lived in retirement in Beckenham, South London and he was the final survivor of Rorkes Drift to pass away at the age of 91 on 8th May 1945, the very day the Second World War in Europe came to an end.