Saturday, January 16, 2021

The America's Cup is boring brilliant!

After the America's Cup World Series (ACWS) I had that familiar feeling of any sailor from the UK following the oldest sailing competition: disappointment. Yet again our entry was slow, losing every single race.

But recently things have changed and the score in the Prada Cup is currently:

I have been waking up and checking the interwebs for news and twice now been mind-blown by seeing the results. Then I stream the America's Cup YouTube videos of the races while waking up over a cup or two of coffee.

But I also remember this is just the beginning, and the other teams are also working equally hard to improve their performance. So don't get excited yet but enjoy the screenshots above.

BTW, for the commentators, a tip and plea: please remember that England is not the UK or Britain and not to confuse these terms! This is a rather sensitive point at the moment given that Brexit has put up trade barriers between Britain (which is England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland (which together with Britain makes the United Kingdom) and that the Nats in Scotland are always looking for excuses to feel angry with those south of the border.


Update: Today definitely wasn't boring. Hope American Magic are soon back in the water:



Monday, January 04, 2021

What are your 2021 Sailing Fantasies?


Not those sorts of fantasies! Doh! Go have a cold shower!

What I meant were holidays, vacations, escapes from the endless lock-down and Covid-19 restriction. In London we are in Tier 4 (complex, basically Stay-At-Home) and due to enter even more lockdown (really Stay-At-Home) so all that is left is dreaming.

But where would I go if there were no restrictions? Well three ideas come to mind:

1. Head North

As you might have spotted, I have the high-latitude bug and its intoxicating. Clear air and skies, stunning wildlife and scenery that is totally off the beaten tracks, like the photo above. Can't wait to go back.

2. Somewhere Photogenic

Another hobby of mine is photography and it would be great to combine this with sailing. I hear great things about the Lofoten Islands in Norway, but there are so many other places I'd like to visit.

3. Somewhere Warm

It is currently freezing in London and even though I'm a "head north" type, there a lot to be said for heading south until the butter melts. I once saw an article in Yachting World which had this image of a yacht sailing in Bora Bora and it seemed to be the stuff of dreams, clear blue seas and warming sun:

But of course that yacht is way outside my price bracket and there's no currently chance to leave London let along fly half way round the world. 

Sigh.

Time to be patient and wait for my turn to get the vaccine. Until then will just dream of better days while watching YouTube sailing channels:



What would be your sailing fantasies?


Saturday, December 05, 2020

Liam Gallagher "live" on the Thames


I miss going out, enjoying London's rich cultural life - the museums, theatre and above all the concerts -  but then this is 2020, the year of Covid-19.

So instead I've been watching some "live" gigs streamed onto my big TV. Not as much atmosphere but you can grab something from the fridge when you like and the journey home is a lot quicker. Last weekend was Dua Lipa and her Studio 2054 show was brilliant - the long tracking shot during "New Rules" was epic.

This evening Liam Gallagher was live streaming a gig which he played on a barge travelling up the Thames. Apparently it was filmed about a month ago, so no chance to see it really live.

It was great fun, with lots of old Oasis classics, and London looked absolutely lovely, particularly from the river and tracking helicopter Not sure that was the intention of a true Manchester City supporter like Liam.

He had a particular issue with the London Eye, and the stream got rather fruity ("big round thing, lit up, f*** off!") as they sailed past.

Ah, happy memories of the Gallagher brothers with a live mic! I remember seeing his brother Noel Gallagher at Greenwich a few years ago properly live and that was just a magical evening.

You can see an exert of the #downbytheriverthames show in the clip above.

If EDM is more your thing, then check out the Above and Beyond Group Therapy 400 on the Thames back in September:



Update: trailer for the Liam Gallagher show with more views of London:

Friday, November 06, 2020

The Last Clipper (for now)


London's back in lockdown (groan) so no more Thames Clippers. This was one of the last, zooming under Chelsea Bridge Wednesday evening.

They will be back, London will be back, this will pass.


Sunday, November 01, 2020

Arctic Culture and Climate at the British Museum


I've loved my visits to the Arctic - Greenland three times and Svalbard once. So you'd think I'd have really enjoyed an exhibition at the British Museum on the subject, but I left feeling sad on three fronts.

Firstly the full title of the exhibition is Arctic Culture and Climate and the last word relates to the impact that Global Warming is having, which is to be melting away an environment and way of life. The polar ice is retreating, as shown by this map:

This map also shows the different cultures and peoples that live within the Arctic Circle. There can be significant differences, particularly between those that focus on sea animals like whales and seals (such as the Inuit in Greenland) and land animals (such as the reindeer herding Sami in north Scandinavia).  These two art works nicely shows some of the differences in their life styles:


There were some gaps I would have liked to see filed. For example, the organisers missed a trick in not showing the amazing Ammassaalik wooden maps (as blogged here) owned by the nearby British Library. And the book shop was a bit gloom and doom and would have benefited from something entertaining like the marvellous Dancing on Ice, reviewed earlier.

I rather enjoyed the story of the building of this Inuksuk which you can watch for yourself on the BM's web site.

It reminded me of the cairns we saw in Scoresby Sound, Greenland:

And that led to the second reason I left this exhibit leaving sad: the ongoing travel restrictions that make it unlikely we'll have a chance to explore again this wonderful landscape for a long time.

The third reason was the imminent lock-down in the UK, which means that the chances to visit museums like this will have to be put on hold again.

Covid and Global Warming, what a combination.

For those interested in these high latitudes I'd recommend a visit - when you can. Until then, we must keep warm indoors and dream.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Blog turns 15


Today this blog is 15, but to be honest with Lockdown V2 just announced I don't much feel like celebrating.

Maybe another time, another year, when Covid is something for the history books.

Stay safe and keep going.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Long John Silver quotes Kim Kardashian


Recently Long John Silver was heard to say:
 
"After 2 weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time...

Ah-ha, me hearties, so it be, ahhhhhhh."

I suspect that for Long John Silver and friends, the "health screens and quarantine" was replaced by "drink lots of rum" - for medicinal purposes.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Hammersmith Ferry, DHL riverboat and Thames Clipper PIRATE


I've been too busy to post recently, but here are three stories about the river Thames in London from the last few weeks.

1. New Ferry at Hammersmith Bridge

The arguments about who pays to fix Hammersmith Bridge (which might be falling down, as posted earlier) roll on with no resolution in sight. But the lack of access to the other side of the Thames is driving local residents crazy, so there are now proposals for a ferry by Hammersmith Bridge run by Transport for London (TfL).

This would require work to get the moorings etc. installed so it won't be up and running until at least the new year... just in time for another Ferries of London project, maybe.

See the Evening Standard article here.

2. DHL take to the Thames

The courier service DHL have recently launched a service delivering parcels via the Thames. Their web site says:

“With traffic and poor air quality becoming an increasing problem in urban areas like London, we’re committed to finding a better blend of transport. This new and unique service, combining electric vehicles, riverboat and last-mile bikes creates fast and efficient access across the capital.

It did make me wonder if by "riverboat" they mean "boat" (above), but the idea is a good one if it reduces traffic and emissions.

3. Thames Clipper Pirate

A little early for talk-like-a-pirate day, there was this great story of a man stealing a Thames Clipper and going for a joy-ride on the Thames - at 3 in the morning. The police were called and, with blue lights flashing, laid chase to the pirate who refused to stop, so they had to board and take back control.

But the Thames Clipper pirate managed to get all the way from Trinity Wharf to Tower Bridge, about four miles of the river, before being captured!

See this article in the Evening Standard and this in the Independent.

Apparently Thames Clippers are now called Uber Boats, but this is just branding. You can't order a Thames Clipper like you can an Uber, but it has led to a lot of jokes about U-boats being spotted on the Thames.

Alas I have no photos of the excitement, so here are some from the archives:


Friday, August 14, 2020

Hammersmith Bridge closes the Thames

 Back in 2019, Hammersmith Bridge was closed to traffic due to cracks being found in its cast iron casing, but pedestrians and bikes could still use it. Indeed, during lock-down it was nice to take the daily exercise as a loop crossing the Thames over this bridge:

But this week the bridge has been closed even to pedestrians and cyclists. 

And its not just traffic crossing the bridge, the PLA has closed the river to all vessels at Hammersmith Bridge!

The problem is the recent heatwave we've had in London has made cracks in the bridge worse and there's a real concern about it's integrity. In other words, it might fall down:

Hammersmith Bridge is falling down,

Falling down, falling down.

Hammersmith Bridge is falling down,

My fair lady

Oh dear!

I hope they quickly manage to stabilise the cracks as this is a lovely bridge, and we can't have an Oxford - Cambridge boat race without the ability for boats to go underneath:

The other problem is that London needs its bridges to connect north and south London and a lot of local communities are finding this a real issue.

The difficulty is it has been estimated to cost £120 million to fix - and that was before the cracks got bigger. And of course the economy has sort of tanked recently.

2020 eh?


Update 1: British Rowing is very concerned about this

Update 2: FAQ from the PLA here

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Photography Post: Going Full Frame


I've just checked outside to see if I can see any flying pigs or the Loch Ness monster swimming up the Thames, for the long rumoured, near-mythical Sony A7Siii has finally been launched.

There have been so many years of speculation about it that some abandoned all hope of ever seeing this video focused full-frame camera. And yet here it is

Sony is saying it "Exceeds Expectations" but I thought that was a Harry Potter thing.

Canon have also released their R5 and R6, so its time for another photography post, this time about moving up to full-frame myself. My last post on the subject ended with this:

Maybe one day I'll go full frame, but don't feel you have to. Focus on composition and think about what lenses you need.

Later that year I thought I ought to at least find out what I was missing, so decided to rent out a Sony A7iii and 24-105 f/4 lens for the weekend. 

It was a good weekend to choose, as manage to fit in:
  • Trooping the colour (below, maybe the last time we'll see these ex-Royals in a Royal coach)
  • Hot air balloons over London
  • Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures at Kew Gardens

And I was rather impressed. Images were noticeably sharper than the APSC equivalent.

The hire shop (Wex Photo Video) had this deal by which if you later bought the gear, they'd refund the hire cost, and so I splashed out and bought that camera and lens. I rounded out my gear collection with two primes including the stunning 24mm f1.4.

Since then I've taken it on my travels (how very 2019) and even lugged it up Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise (where I became very aware how much heavier it was):


But I don't always take the A7iii. Recently I cycled into central London and took the A6500 as it was a lot more convenient - smaller and lighter. However its good to have the option of switching to the main camera when want to take the best possible photo. 

One benefit about the Sony system is that the full frame A7x and smaller APSC A6xxx use the same E-mount for their lenses, so you can easily switch between the two. In particular, putting a long zoom lens like the 70-300mm on the APSC A6500 effectively extends its reach so it acts like a 105 - 450mm lens.

Not that I'm tempted to get the A7Siii as I'm more a still photographer than videographer, though there are some lenses I have my eyes on.

But I'm not spending just yet. I tend to buy when I have a reason - such as an interesting trip - but because of covid-19 there doesn't seem much chance of that this year.

Maybe in 2021 - though who knows what tech will be available then!


Friday, June 26, 2020

Returning to messing about



London is reawakening. The Thames is getting busier, parks are packed with picnickers and the sun is out.

Alas its not all good: concert halls remain empty while roads are filling not with people friendly bikes and microvehicles but noisy polluting cars. Air quality is reverting to pre-lockdown poor levels.

It might even be possible to go sailing again - if work, work, work (I am triple loaded at the moment) doesn't get in the way.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Thames Partially Re-opens


As of today, the Thames is open yet again for recreational activity, subject to restrictions as described in the PLA Notice to Mariners No.9 of 2020, extract above, full text here.

The river has been wonderfully quiet recently, allowing wildlife to flourish:


Though during the lock-down it hasn't been entirely empty of recreational users, as have spotted the odd kayak, rowing boat, canoe or stand-up paddle board out there.

But the policing has been sensitive rather than heavy-handed. Indeed here there seems to be more interest in taking a photo than names and addresses:


Maybe things are turning a corner, for a future where R < 1. Or, as a pirate would say, where Rrrrrr  < 1!

Fingers crossed.