Sunday, July 29, 2007

UK - Canterbury

With the typical English 'summer' setting in over the last few weeks, it's been a bit tough to get out of London (due to flooding everywhere). Finally a sunny weekend emerged, so we went down to Canterbury to check out the sights.
We did a river cruise with George as our rower and guide along the River Stour. We followed this with a gentle stroll through the historic city. Apart from all else the main attraction is still the cathedral, and it is worth the visit.
The cathedral is a massive structure with intricate carving and decoration all over it.

Inside it is even more spectacular. The sheer enormity of it is hard to describe but there are multiple altars in the crypt, nave and quire.
Choir area in the center of cathedral looking towards the front
There are many intricate stained glass windows all along the sides and ends and our camera just didn't do the colours justice. The original stained-glass windows were removed during the war for safety. In hindsight this was a good call as the replacement windows were damaged. The original windows were subsequently returned to their rightful place.
The intricate carving seen on the outside was replicated inside as well. This is a shot looking up one of the towers.
We were lucky enough to hear the choir practicing for the Evensong later that afternoon.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

London - Red Bull Air Race

Seeing as Claire isn't really in the best form for adventure sports at the moment we thought we would go and watch others do it instead.

The activity of choice was flying, in particular flying down the river Thames at a height of around 5-10 metres, while dodging inflatable 'gates' going at speeds of up to 400km/hr. Impressive to say the least. It was very reassuring that one of the pilots has a day job with British Airways, although if he flies his jumbo like his racing plane it could be an interesting flight!!

The race caused the closure of the London City Airport and the river. The planes first had to battle the highrises of the Canary Wharf financial district in order to get low enough to enter the course (outside Millenium Dome), as the plane must be below the height of the gates as it goes through or they get a time penalty. Red gates have the plane flying through sideways and blue gates must have horizontal wings. More time penalties apply. The course is completed twice with a 'half cuban' (upside down loop) at the half way mark.

If you have the same question that we did, what if the planes hit the gates? That was answered, and happy to say apart from a loud bang as the 'gate' burst, the plane continues although off course. There were crazy guys sitting on the pontoon just waiting for this, and the replacement 'gate' only took 5min to go up.

Unfortunately the photos weren't too good as we had to rely on the camera phone, as someone forgot either of our 2 cameras....

Friday, July 27, 2007

London update

It has been a little quiet over the last few weeks, as the we've been busy in London. It didn't help that last weekend Claire was in too much of a hurry to catch a train (see photo). The outcome was a very painful sprained ankle. Not good, although the recovery is progressing well.

Other crazy things we have seen in London lately is a bizarre art sculpture on the South Bank. It was a series of water fountains that showed water coming out a few different ways from the sculptures. Modern art !?

In other news, the local cygnets (swans) are growing up quickly. They are living at Canada Water which is near our local underground tube station. The babies are almost ready to go it alone, and lose their grey feathers. If only the local council would clean away the rubbish that is thrown into the water...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Le Tour de France hits London

After a fortnight of terrible weather, the sunshine returned for a big weekend across the UK. Londoners definitely had much to choose from as this weekend saw the finals at Wimbledon, the Formula 1 at Silverstone, the Live Earth concert at Wembley stadium, and the start of the Tour de France.

Claire did her good deed for society and volunteered at the cycling for both days (the Time Trial on Saturday and the 1st stage on Sunday). Unfortunately she was 'backstage' for the entire Time Trial so only saw the riders for the few seconds it took to pass her on Sunday. Steve caught up with Sharyn & Conor to watch Saturday's festivities, and took numerous photos. Apparently over a million people turned out, and I could definitely believe that as I have never seen so many people in Hyde Park.

Nice flower bed in Hyde Park

Conor & Sharyn

Our best vantage points were near Westminster, and I saw the last few riders across from Buckinham Palace.

In the warm up, I think he was a mobile phone addict!!

They averaged about 50km/hr, so bit tough to photograph the riders side on

At a corner on Buckingham gate

The winner of the Prologue - Fabian Cancellara

Lots of people watching one of the many big screens around London

Before Sunday's stage, I caught the Caravane, where the Tour sponsors create interesting floats.

Just bizarre... Pizza anyone??

Water bottle

Motorised Wheelie Bin

Although the race didn't officially start racing until they reached Greenwich, they were still going mighty fast