Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Fitting a post around a picture   2 comments

I never know whether one should try to make a post to fit a picture, but as this picture will be both amusing and nostalgic to some of my audience I thought I’d give it a go.

I was reading recently that BT has a very prolific wireless network around London, and much of it is based around their street furniture. So their street cabinets and their phoneboxes have all benefited from the addition of wireless network equipment, it must be quite heavy, look what it did to these phone boxes !!!

Street Art in Kingston

Street Art in Kingston

Apologies that the light is not in the best place for the image, but I was in a little bit of a rush.

Posted April 2, 2013 by bluonthemove in Family, Food, Travel, Wimbledon

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Taking a Gander…   2 comments

Toronto

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net


 

Gander Airport

Gander Airport
Courtesy of Google Maps and R. Villarias

invisible

Canada is one of those countries one goes to, that one immediately likes. Its true that in my case it was always coupled with a business trip to the USA and I was certainly jaded from up to three weeks working in the USA by the time I arrived.

There was always something peaceful about Canada, even in Toronto (pictured) but perhaps more so in Montreal. Many of the best aspects of French culture have been taken by the city and made their own.

I remember clearly on my first visit that I had a client meeting where the address was fourteen thousand and odd Trans Canada Highway. I really had visions of driving for about 2 days and the meeting being actually in Vancouver.

It was with trepidation then that I ordered a taxi from my hotel, made sure that it took credit cards, jumped in the back purposely refusing to look at the meter at any point during the journey.

I managed to get there in the end and only a few minutes late. The cab fare however was somewhat over 100 C$.

On a more recent occasion I was flying from New York to London on American Airlines. Sitting across the isle from me was a very pleasant American woman doctor with whom I was discussing the importance of Continuing Medical Education. We were interrupted by a stewardess who asked the medic to go with her as an old lady was suffering some kind of distress.

The old lady was brought forward to sit with the doctor and given an oxygen mask. We weren’t too far from Gander at the time, so we were diverted to there. For those that don’t know, in the days before they could fly very far, planes would take off from Heathrow, fly to Shannon in the West of Ireland, refuel there, then fly to Gander where they would again fill their tanks for the rest of the journey. Since the advent of the 747 Gander is no longer used for this purpose.

On our arrival at Gander, some paramedics boarded the plane. Two of them immediately helped the old lady, the third seemed to be rifling through her things. The doctor, seeing the concern on my face and knowing I was from the UK, leaned over and told me they were just looking for her credit cards to make sure she could pay for their services. Not entirely sure what they would have done if she didn’t have one, but she was an American so unlikely.

By this time the delay mean’t we had missed our landing time at Heathrow, and we weren’t allowed to take off from Gander until a new time spot could be agreed, which was problematic given how busy Heathrow Airport is. The end result was we were on the tarmac for about 4 or 5 hours, they were not able to allow us off the plane or able to bring extra supplies on board.

This was a day time flight so we didn’t arrive at Heathrow in the end until somewhat after midnight and the place was deserted. American Airlines laid on some buses and I was able to get to Victoria Station but had to get a taxi from there to get me home.

I’ve been playing with the formatting on this post, as I don’t really like the default way that WordPress handles placing text around images. It seems to work fine on both my PC Laptop and Apple Airbook, but might not work too well with tablets and phones. Please let me know if you have a problem with it.

Posted January 28, 2013 by bluonthemove in Food, Publishing, Travel, Walking

Wrong time, wrong place   4 comments

With all the security in place around London 2012 Olympics, and with the arrest of suspected terrorists in southern Spain, one’s mind turns to one’s own security and personal risk.

As someone currently living in London, I am aware that every day I travel into central London I will pass within 100 metres of a fundamentalist person who would probably quite happily slit my throat in different circumstances. I have also had personal experience of terrorism on a couple of occasions during the mid 1980’s.

Borobudur Temple Indonesia – Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

My first brush with terrorism was on a business trip to Jakarta the capital city of Indonesia. This is a nice picture of Indonesia, as I didn’t find any of Jakarta and didn’t have my own camera to take pictutes with at the time.

As our flight from Singapore began its final descent into Jakarta airport, I kind of knew this was going to be an interesting trip. It was the captain’s announcement that those sitting on the right hand side of the plane could look out and see a spectacular firework display, which was actually a government ammunition dump that had been set on fire to by rebel terrorists. The “fireworks” were missiles and rockets exploding, but not close enough to the airport to provide a real danger to landing flights. It was noisy enough though.

Fortunately we landed safely, and I made my way to the hotel without incident. At the time, as a small company, we were using holiday packages for our travel, they enabled me to visit maybe 5 capital cities in less than three weeks, were very good value for money, and provided four star hotel accommodation. My room was nice, lots of dark wood offset by a nice big picture window which let in plenty of light.

Off to work first thing in the morning, I got a taxi to the first clients offices, a major American pharmaceutical company. The taxi driver was trying to tell me something, but his English wasn’t very good, so he gave up after a few minutes and took me to the address I’d requested. We arrived after about 30 mins to find the burnt out shell of the offices of the company, which had been fire bombed over the previous night. The guy I was meant to see was there, helping to clear out the rubble, along with a senior colleague of his from the US office who I also knew.

After a brief conversation with both guys, I got back into my cab who was waiting for me and we went off to the second client of the day, a major British pharmaceutical company. Gosh the rebel terrorists had been busy, they were shut for business and slightly singed around the edges. My third meeting of the day was with the local CEO of a Japanese company, and as we’d planned to have lunch at my hotel, I was a little bit worried.

After a productive lunch, I walked a few blocks to another client’s offices, and that was my meetings for the day complete. It was the hot humid season, so when I got back to the hotel I decided to have a cool bath then lie on the bed and enjoy the air conditioning and a cold soft drink from the mini bar.

B O O M !!!!

Now I was lying on the bed encased in that nice big picture window I referred to earlier. I was covered in shards of glass, they were everywhere, the whole picture window had been blown inwards and mainly over me. The window was a single glazed panel of non-safety glass, and some of those shards were like daggers. Before I’d really processed what had happened there was a knock on the door, followed by the sound of a key, the door opened and there was one of the assistant managers who I recognised plus another guy.

They cleared the glass from around me, helped me to walk to the bathroom, where I was able to get dressed after they’d dabbed at the minor cuts I’d sustained from the flying glass. The manager then escorted me downstairs to the lobby bar where they’d organised some food and brandy for the injured. Unbeknown to me at the time, the other guy was packing all my belongings up for me, and moving them to another room on the other side of the hotel.

The hotel wasn’t busy, it was off peak so no tourists, but there were a few other Brits I got talking to, so we decided to go outside to find out what had happened. When we got outside we discovered that the hotel was next door to some government building which had been the target for the bomb. Terrorists it seems are not stupid. Around the government building were a number of what looked like 1930s American fire engines, spraying their hoses as high as they could, about 5 floors. The bomb had been placed on the seventh floor, so it was burning away happily unconcerned at the attempt to put it out. My room was facing the government building and on the 8th floor, so had got the brunt of the blast from the explosion.

After some discussions with the travel people I left Jakarta the next day and arrived early in Hong Kong, so had a couple of days of “me” time before continuing my business trip. Now fast forward a couple of years and I find myself in Paris.

At the time, Le Defense was one of the major office developments in Paris, just over the Seine at, if I remember right, Neuilly bridge.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Le Defense was one of the major office developments on the outskirts of Paris, and was a popular office location with a couple of pharmaceutical companies. Paris was a city I visited a lot in those days, probably four or five times a year depending on the business opportunities.

There was nothing special about this trip, it was as I remember September time, and I was visiting our regular clients to negotiate their support for the forthcoming year. I had travelled to Europe the previous week, starting in Amsterdam and then going by train to Brussels with meetings along the way, and then from Brussels again by train to Paris, arriving on Friday evening so I could enjoy the weekend there, in preference to Brussels.

So, on Monday morning it was I arrived at the offices of my first client of the day. This proved not to be an onerous meeting, the working relationship was good and I was able to secure a small price increase from the previous year. After the meeting, I made my way back to the metro station to take me back to central Paris.

On my way across a paved square, I saw an inviting looking cafe and as I was in no hurry I considered stopping for a coffee. It was quiet, as it was mid morning, but it would be very busy between midday and 2pm. I went over to the cafe and looked at the menu in the window. Being tight, erm mean careful with money I thought the cafe looked too expensive to bother with, there were nicer and cheaper places in the area around my hotel. That carefulness saved my life.

I was some distance from the cafe walking away from it, probably 50 to 150 yards, when the whole cafe exploded. The force of the blast lifted me right up in the air and landed me some few yards further away scraping the skin of my hands and wrecking my suit trousers. I managed to pick myself up, find my briefcase, and despite the pain I was in make my way quite quickly to the Metro station. I didn’t want to find myself being interviewed by either the French police or journalists, not sure which I disliked the idea of more, and I certainly didn’t want to be on French TV.

Reading a newspaper the next day, it seems that the bomb was not supposed to go off when it did, and the cafe may not have been the intended target. It seems the bomb was not that well made, went off prematurely killing the bomber. I think I’ve had my share of close calls, so heres hoping there won’t be anymore.

Blu

Posted August 4, 2012 by bluonthemove in Publishing, Travel

Trapped   1 comment

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I am sitting at home, feeling somewhat trapped. There is some idiot, or should that be idiots, running in the middle of the road carrying flaming torches, a major bush fire risk if ever I saw one. They are being followed by a police car and a coach, why on earth don’t the police arrest them for causing traffic chaos.

Oh wait, the Olympic torch has arrived in Wimbledon. Its off up to the tennis courts; its a prophet of doom for the traffic chaos to come over the next three weeks. Now I’ve nothing against sport, international or local, and living here one is used to some small level of disruption during the annual tennis event. Its pretty minimal to be honest, mainly larger than usual numbers of people about late morning getting the busses from the station up to the courts.

I do think nine billion pounds is a lot of money to spend on a two week three day sporting event. With the savage public sector cuts, couldn’t the Olympics have taken their share of the pain, surely they could have coped with six billion instead, the other three billion saved could have been spent on the Police and the NHS.?

Furthermore, road aren’t shut during the tennis fortnight, yet for the Olympics loads of roads are being shut. Shops cannot have daytime deliveries to try and help with traffic flow, on the days when Olympians are actually playing tennis deliveries are restricted to between midnight and 6am. This is due to the new roof, that now allows play to continue until the local authority curfew of 11pm.

I suppose I should be grateful that tennis is not a paralympic sport, not that it would be played on a grass surface even if it was, so all the chaos will not be repeated, atleast locally to me, during September.

Posted July 23, 2012 by bluonthemove in Travel, Wimbledon

Trees   7 comments

I like trees, more so than most members of the human race if the truth is known. I sometimes think the phrase “as thick as two planks” is unfair to trees.

I went one time to Tenerife, on a freebie travel agents holiday, and as a result criss crossed the interior of the island many times, very much seeeing parts average tourists never did.

My travel companion and our Canarian guide

This was essentially a trip for divers, so the two non divers teamed up to investigate the walking opportunites that Tenerife has to offer. In case you are wondering dear readers, that slope is as steep as it looks, and the path as treacherous.

This is a dragon tree. Quite similar to the one in the Convent in Gibraltar posted by Britontherock

Having got a bit further down, the slope is now more gentle and we are getting a view down towards the coast. Oh look, free oranges!!

Orange trees. Growing wild, and self service.

At this point we are still quite high up, and although this picture only has a token tree on the right hand side, the views at this point were spectacular. Just wish I was a better photographer and hadn’t set the camera to a low resolution setting.

Spectaular view, token tree!!

Having safely completed our descent, we went for a posh lunch where we met up with the divers who had completed their morning dives. That afternoon we all went to a small town, don’t remember what it was called, but it had some nice trees in the town centre.

Foreground 2 locals, background church tower thing.

The church tower in the main square, from a different angle.

More church tower, less tree.

There are also trees in the leafy London suburbs. Here are a couple of photos taken in Richmond, South West London to finish off this post.

Deer feeding in the dapled sunlight in Richmond Park.

The old Richmond alms houses, in a beautiful tree lined setting

Posted July 14, 2012 by bluonthemove in Tenerife, Travel, Walking, Wimbledon

Blu before he moves – Wimbledon part 1   13 comments

Having charged my camera up last night, I thought I’d go out on Sunday and take some pictures of the area where I currently live, sort of a blu before he was on the move, so to speak. It will be 28 years since I moved into my house on August 4th, and although my circumstances have changed over that time, I’ve never seen a reason to move, just to buy another house in London.

Three bedrooms and three reception rooms, what more does one need; its big enough for two and for the last 15 years or so, big enough for one. Now that I’m giving up work its time to leave the UK, and move to pastures both newer and warmer. I finally finish work on 29th June and cannot wait to get away.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m planning on moving to Gibraltar, or Britain in the sun as I sometimes call it. Talking of the sun, its lovely and hot today, about 25 deg and I’m sitting here baking.

Not just because of the temperature, but because I’m working on this in the front reception room, the french windows out into the garden at the back of the house are tightly locked, as criminality in London is now so bad, the local toerags will be in over your garden fence and in your windows in no time. Those of my neighbours with sheds have had them broken into on a regular basis over the last 18 months or so.

So what is Wimbledon like. Well it has a theatre which is quite well known across London. I’ve only been a few times, the things I’d be interested in seeing sell out quickly, and I don’t want to go to the theatre just for the sake of going to the theatre. That’s the kind of thing my mother would have done.

The theatre has been renovated quite recently and now calls itself the new theatre. I’ve not been in there since the renovations were completed so cannot comment on how much its been improved. Its quite an impressive building and I like the dome on top of it, but as you can see, even on a Sunday the roads are busy.

We also have a shopping centre, imaginatively called Centre Court, I wonder who got paid a fortune to come up with a name like that. It comes complete with the usual suspects, Apple, Sony, Debenhams and Marks and Spencer, plus numerous mobile phone providers.

If you look just passed the front of the big red bus, you’ll see that there is also a Tesco here. The part of the building that Tesco are in is the old Wimbledon town hall before it was done away with in another reincarnation of local government structure, that brought us the creation of the London Borough of Merton.

The more observant will also notice the job lot of traffic lights that were sold to the borough. Its only the facade that has been kept, the heart of the building was ripped out by the developers. Centre Court also features the facade of an old church and the fire station, similarly dessimated.

I would have taken pictures of these, but the main police station is on the other side of the road and many London police officers are of the belief it is illegal to take photographs of public buildings, so thought better of it. No problem with the other photos though, the police budget cuts have seen to that.

They say that familiar concepts make people feel at home, so I had to reassure my faithful readers that we have a Morrisons too, albeit somewhat smaller than the one in Gibraltar. Perhaps I should point out that the space above Morrisons’ is a gym, which helps explain what the image of the young lady in the window on the left is up to. I’m not going to add a slide show to this post, there are only 3 pics and they are quite big so its not really necessary.

Posted May 28, 2012 by bluonthemove in Gibraltar, Relocation, Travel

Photography   7 comments

I was once told that the problem with my photographic efforts lay between the camera case and the ground, I’m cannot think what they meant!!

Below is an excellent example:

Image

These are the two I will miss most when I leave London. No, not the rose bush, even though that is what the camera decided to focus on, but my neighbours two pussy cats, Cleo and Dave, who are twins if that is the right word when talking about cats in the same litter. Its hard to say, but I think that is Cleo in the background and Dave in the foreground, they are not quite identical and if someone hadn’t put that rose bush in the way. I’ll miss Olly the hyperactive spaniel who lives the other side of me too, but he has a pet passport, has been on holiday to Portugal, so could come and visit me.

I think this photo would qualify for the WordPress ‘unfocussed’ theme. I’ve got what was a half decent camera when I got it in erm 1999, its 3.3 megapixel and has a 340mb IBM microdrive to store pictures on, which allows me 1600 low res images or 350 high res ones; even the latter is more pictures than I’ve taken in my lifetime. It also came with a manual about an inch thick telling me all the things it can do, including taking 30 sec video clips, stitching a series of photos together to get a panoramic effect and the like. Its only been used in earnest when I went on a travel agent freebie trip to Tenerife about 2 years after I got it. Sometime when I have the time to do it, I might dig out some of those old pics from then and do a Tenerife post, as its the closest I’ve ever got to going on holiday since childhood, but I’ll first have to find the computer I was using 10 years ago and try and get it going!!

I browse the camera shops from time to time, looking at the 25 megapixel offerings from Canon and Nikon, but so far common sense has prevailed, as I know even if I spent a thousand quid on a new camera it wouldn’t improve my photos one bit, and my current camera is perfectly good for anything I’m likely to use it for. Here are a couple of other examples of my appalling photography. I don’t know how to do posh slidey show things so I’ll just post them as they come.

Image

This is Cleo inspecting my patio, in the mistaken belief its actually hers, something cats tend to do. I think she wants to know when I am going to clear up the hedge clippings. Here is another pic to remind you lucky bast people what a spring day in London looks like.

Image

I guess being honest, I’ve just never really got in to photography as a hobby. I never had a camera as a child, and thinking back I probably bought my first and only film camera in my mid to late 30s. I think I resented the cost of film and film processing. I liked the idea of digital cameras as there was no film to buy or process, and you could take half a dozen photos of the same thing, and just keep the best ones, many of which were then imported in to adobe photoshop and ended up on various websites I used to create for people. I hope WordPress is going to allow me to add categories to this once I click the post button, if not I might have to learn to add them manually afterwards.

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Posted May 15, 2012 by bluonthemove in Gibraltar, Relocation, Travel