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24 December 2008

Christmas Wishes

A Christmas card for all of my Blogger friends. I hope Christmas brings you all an abundance of love and happiness that stays with you throughout the New Year.

13 December 2008

Christmas countdown

It's only when I reach mid December that I really begin to get into the feel for Christmas. I simply can't stand thinking about it before December and even once December starts it still feels too early. It's not that Christmas feels a long way off, far from it, it's more that it simply doesn't feel that long ago since the last Christmas! Consequently I start to feel pressured, that I've not allowed myself enough time to get things done and that has an even greater dampening effect on my Christmas spirit. Still, for all that, I have finally finished writing my Christmas cards and got most of my present shopping done so maybe now I can start to look forward to it a bit. I probably won't be putting these deccies up today though, still too soon for that..."bar hunbug" :-)

14 November 2008

Bad day

I had a bad day again yesterday. seems I'm not quite over the caffeine withdrawal after all. I had a headache all day despite regularly taking paracetamol to combat it at the advice of my GP. They made no difference. To be honest, it wasn't a thumper but I was concious of it and found it hard to concentrate on anything much because of it. What if really hate about such niggling headaches is how they seem to affect my whole day. I couldn't find anything to smile about and everything seemed to go wrong. OK, I know that's just a warped perception of the day building negative energy and causing me to look at the black side of things rather than the seeing the positives but knowing that didn't help.
I could have just grabbed a cup of normal tea of coffee and cleared my head but I was determined to stretch it out longer. I knew I had gone 72 hours before between caffeine fixes so I needed to make sure I went at least that this time. the trouble was that would mean the next time I could have a caffeine fix would be my after diner coffee and that would likely cause me another sleepless night. There was nothing for it but to stick it out until this morning making it a good 80 hours between 'fixes'. As I woke this morning my headache was nestled in well behind my left eye and throbbed at me as I sat up. No matter, I was going to have two mugs of normal tea with my breakfast...Yes!
Breakfast was 2 hours ago now and my headache is 90% better. Not totally banished I have to say but I'm sure it will be soon. At least I feel more positive today which is good because I have a lot of work to get through.

11 November 2008

Downside of being caffeine free

Yes, that's right, I can now claim to have beaten the caffeine thing. Once I got the hang of it, it was all quite painless really. The downside is that last night I made a cup of filter coffee after my dinner as usual only I accidentally used the wrong coffee. Normal coffee rather then decaf. I didn't think much of it at the time as one cup of caffeinated coffee wasn't going to kill me and probably wouldn't make much difference to my digestion. It was not until I went to bed that I realised the difference. It took me at least 3 hours before I finally went to sleep. I couldn't believe it, I'd never had problems sleeping after coffee before and always thought people who said coffee kept them awake were exaggerating but there I was wide awake and concious that I was going to have to get up in another 4 hours. Best not make that mistake again.

05 November 2008

Sciatica & Caffeine Withdrawal

OK, enough was enough, I still have the 'Sciatica' or what ever it is so I went to see my GP this morning. He didn't know what was causing it but has ordered some x-rays but he thinks what ever it is I've had it a long time but the pain has been masked by the caffeine I'd been taking in my tea as caffeine is an analgesic. This is why it has become a problem now I'm almost totally decaf. I'm beginning to feel like I'm falling apart.
It will be over a week before I can get the x-rays done and then another 3 weeks before my GP has the results. Hey Ho!

04 November 2008


I had to have a normal cup of tea this morning as I woke up with the beginnings of another headache. Still, that's OK because it was 45 hours since I last had a caffeinated drink. I must be almost there.

03 November 2008

Caffeine...who needs it?

We spent the weekend in the New Forest visiting my mother-in-law. I managed on just normal tea on Saturday morning and a normal coffee Sunday mid morning when the first signs of a headache returned. Apart from sciatica that came on Friday night and which I don't think is connected, I've not had any other adverse effects. I have not had any caffeinated drinks since the coffee on Sunday so I think I've probably got this sorted now although I did fall asleep after lunch today. I simply could not keep my eyes open. My indigestion has improved since being off the caffeine so now I just need to get rid of this sciatica!

31 October 2008

A little of what you fancy

07.55 am
Didn't sleep that well last night. Kept waking up with my headache. Not only that but now my right eye aches as well and both feel sore. I'm now having a normal cup of tea in the hope that the caffeine in it will abate my headache and allow me to get on with my day. I'll be back on the decaf for the rest of the day or at least until my headache returns, assuming it goes away in the first place. I can feel my stomach objecting to the caffeine already but if it is going to be a battle between my head and my stomach I'm afraid my head wins, at least temporarily.
Mind you, I have to say, this normal tea that I have enjoyed all my life, suddenly doesn't taste that nice any more.

OK my headache has gone, my eyes are no longer sore and I generally feel fine. Even my indigestion only got to a 'low simmer' for the present. All-in-all the trade off was fine. I'm sure if I can keep off the caffeine for the rest of the day I should be able to keep both my head and stomach happy. Fingers crossed :-)

Well I got through the day without any more caffeine. My indigestion kept niggling me but nothing too serious. I do have very achy joints and my head ache is just beginning to return but all that can wait until the morning when I may have another cup of proper tea. If I can leave it a little longer still I will as it will likely increase my indigestion to a more uncomfortable level if I do.

30 October 2008

Caffeine withdrawal is no fun

I was diagnosed with a hiatus hernia a few months back which had been causing me constant indigestion. Since then I've been taking some medication to help but little had changed, I still had indigestion. On returning to my GP I was told I would need to give up caffeine. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a coffee addict but I do like tea and have about 6 mugs of it a day. No worries, I thought, I'll buy decaf. That was two days ago and today I have had a headache all day despite taking analgesics to get rid of it. Not only that but I feel listless but restless as well. Foggy in the head (I know there are some that would think that was normal) and blurry eyed. I can't concentrate on anything much and I'm either cold or flushed.
I assumed it was due to the medication I was on being increased but then, as I was about to make myself an after dinner coffee I suddenly realised it was the lack of caffeine that was the most likely culprit.
I Googled caffeine withdrawal and to my dismay discovered these symptoms can last a week of more. I don't know why my GP didn't warn me of this. I'm now thinking that going cold turkey on caffeine is not the right way to go about this and think I will allow myself one cup of proper tea tomorrow even if it does result in the return of my indigestion which, btw, has improved.

11 October 2008

Lido Airport, Venice

When I suggested Venice as a destination on our Italian flying holiday, Paul was not overly impressed. "Landing and parking charges at Venice will be prohibitive and they probably won't have parking for GA aircraft anyway." was his response. That set me a challenge and much to my surpirse it didn't take too much digging on Google before I came across a discussion thread for an airfield on the Venice Lido. The more we looked at it the more it seemed too good to be true but true it was. Paul was now totally committed to the idea so our plans were set and after leaving Bergamo we headed off for Venice.

St Nicolo Airport is situated at the far north end of the Lido and was the first airport for Venice being opened by Moussellini in 1930. It has no special instrument approach so landing there is weather dependant. Our approach took us over the lagoon of Venice and up the west side of the Lido. You can't fly over Venice itself due to noise abatement. The airfield is a grass strip of 750m and kept in perfect condition and it was like landing on a very large golf tee, it was so smooth.

The terminal building is typical Art Deco and was fully restored last year. There is fuel available next to the terminal with prices consistent for most of Italy at 2.6 euros per litre. There is also a bar and restaurant.
Despite being in Venice the landing and parking fees were very cheap at just 35.59 euros including 3 days parking and tax. Not bad for Venice.
St Nicolo airport is open 7 days a week through the summer but as of the 15th October and through the winter it is closed on Mondays. Telephone number for the airport is +39 (0)41 770300 Fax +39 (0)2428714 e-mail

Being on the Lido meant it was about as close as we could get to Venice itself. There is a bus stop outside the airport and a short ride on this took us to the main water bus terminal where water buses run regular trips the the rest of the islands and up the Grand canal. Here we were able to buy a 3 day bus pass that covered us for as many bus rides as we wished on both water and land buses. We could have got a Water taxi from directly outside the airport but as we needed to get right to the far end of the Grand canal the cost of one journey with luggage on that would have been about 1/2 of what we paid for our two 3 day bus passes so we gave the taxis a miss.
There are two water bus routes, No.1 which is slow as it stops at every stop on route and takes an hour to go all the way from Lido to the far end of the Grand canal. The other is the No.52 with does it in half the time but only stops at a few stops. The buses run very regularly but they are crowded. Still, very good value for money if you buy a bus pass.

06 October 2008

Bergamo - Italy

Well we have been off on our travels again. 12 days touring Italy by plane and car. We started off by flying to Bergamo, near Milan. Initially, in the planning stage, we had thought of going to Milan and only found Bergamo when we looked for a suitable airfield to land at near-bye. Bergamo airport is where Ryan air flights land for Milan but Bergamo is a wonderful destination in it's own right. It is a Medieval city perched high on the top of a hill and surrounded by it's original city wall. Everything within the wall is either Medieval or Renaissance. There is a larger, more modern city below the hill but once in the old city, or City Alta, as it is referred to locally, you become isolated from that part. Bergamo is full of character and surrounded by wonderful views. Getting there from the airport is simple too as there is a regular and very cheap bus service from the airport right up to the top of the old city.
If you click on this image to see it large you can see the airport in the distance. It is the green area top right.
We stayed two nights here in a B&B just outside the city walls to the North East of the city. Accommodation is limited in the old city so B&Bs make good alternatives if you don't want to stay in the modern part.
From Bergamo we flew on to Venice and I'll talk about that later.

19 September 2008

Brac, the aquaphobe

Brac is fascinated by water but finds it difficult to pluck up the courage to go in. At best he will only paddle. The water here is only about 6" deep.
Click on the image to view large.

05 September 2008

Reaping Rewards

There is a long story to this photo so I hope you are sitting comfortably with a cup of tea or something a bit stronger :-)

The fields behind our house have been bought by a new farmer who intends to grow just salad stuffs but as he wanted to get them planted quickly he planted wheat in all but a few. The land is transected by a road and the fields on the far side are more picturesque as they are gently undulating. As the wheat ripened this year I hoped to get a good shot of them reaping in these fields with the north downs in the background. I walked Brac over there every day as the time approached but on a day when I walked in the morning, they managed to cut all of that side in the afternoon! They must have had several machines going at once to get it done. Anyway, there were still the fields on my side of the road and as our house backs right onto them I would be sure to hear if any reaping was going on.

The weather turned bad from that point on. Barely a day went by without some amount of rain or if not it was damp. No reaping could take place until the crop dried out or it would rot. As the weeks went by a black mould started to appear on the husks so something had to happen soon. Finally we had a dry day followed by another but it was not until that night that the combines moved in. I laid in bed listening to them working through the night.

The forecast was for more rain in the morning. When I woke up it was raining and had been for some time. I took Brac over the fields and was relieved to see that there were still two fields they had not managed to get done. I was still in with a chance.

Ok, so back to walking Brac over the fields every day with camera in hand only now, as the fields left were the least interesting photographically, I was only taking my little sony P&S camera as I didn't feel it was worth the effort of carrying my very heavy D300. Another week went by and nothing happened. Then, one day I went out with my Sony in my pocket and as I entered the fields I could see the dust rising in the distance. They were reaping. At last I could get some shots. I walked over to the field they were working on and got my camera ready only to discover I had left the memory stick in my PC! AAAAH! That's it, it's just not meant to be. I finished Brac's walk in disgust.

When I got in I thought about it some more. that was likely to be my last best chance of getting such a shot as from now on they will only be growing onions and lettuce over there. I had to go back. I grabbed my D300 and headed out knowing that they were 2/3rds finished when I saw them last.

Brac couldn't believe his luck; two walks straight after each-other!

As I headed out in a hurry now a neighbour who's wife had not been well for some time was in his garden. I knew it would be rude of me to just pass by so I had to stop and ask after her. It was a longer conversation than I really wanted but what could I do?

Finally I head off into the fields. By the time I got to where the combine was there was only a few strips of wheat left to reap. No matter, it would be enough. The tractor was parked at the end of the rows and the combine was going to it to unload the grain into its trailer as the field was quite small so no need for them to work in formation. I positioned myself at the other end of a row and waited for the combine to come towards me. As it approached I started snapping moving around for a different angle. I than saw the combine extend its arm and to my express delight the tractor pulled up along side. They decided to transfer the grain in formation and I'm sure it was for my benefit. To make matters even better the sun decided to poke it face out for those few minutes too. When they got to the end of the row the combine driver gave me a wave as he turned to go back.

If I had remembered to check the memory stick in my Sony I'd never have got these shots. I guess it was meant to be after all.

29 August 2008

My Garden Visitors

I never told you guys about my garden visitors. Very remiss of me. Well about 2 weeks ago I was doing some weeding and heard some rustling that wasn't caused by me under a bush beneath my kitchen window. It was very difficult to see what was making the noise but eventually I saw a hedgehog curled up in the leaf litter. As I looked a couple of tiny heads appeared. The babies were trying to suckle which was what was causing the noise. I didn't disturb them but left some food out for them overnight. The next morning most of the food had gone and they were tightly curled up asleep. When I took Brac out for his walk just before lunch I again heard the rustling from the bush. I looked in and saw all the babies were on walk-about while mum was still trying to get some sleep. I counted 6 but it was hard to see for sure if that was all because of the dense foliage they were under. They seemed totally unconcerned about me so I picked this little chappie or chapess up to get a photo.
After I returned from my walk I checked in on them again. They were all back in the nest deeply asleep again.
They were about 1/3rd grown at this time.
After about 4 or 5 days they suddenly disappeared. I had no idea where they went but hoped they were safe and hadn't got themselves run over which is the normal hedgehog demise. Then, last night I was watching TV when I heard some very odd noises in the garden. Brac got concerned too so I switched of the telly and listened. The noises stopped. I continued watching telly and they started up again. I went to the French windows and turned the lights on the patio. There was mum hedgehog and she was making the most peculiar noise. It was loud and the effort she was putting into it made her look like she was convulsing. I opened the door and stepped out. She stopped the noise and frose. I took a few photos and then went looking for the babies who from the rustling noises seemed to be at the other side of the lawn. I located two. when I returned to mum she had resumed her chorus. I recorded some of it and you can hear this by going to my Utube site here Audio of hedgehog calling
Here is mum rolled up in a ball. My hand is there to give you some idea of her size.
Here is one of the babies. Grown a little in the last couple of weeks.

22 August 2008

Our Return Home

Stockholm was harder to leave than we imagined. We were originally informed that there would be no aircraft movements before 10am on a Sunday and as Biggin Hill (our home airfield) closes at 8pm on Sundays we didn't have a lot of spare time. As it turned out Stockholm had since changed to time to no aircraft movements before noon. We were stuffed especially as there was an extremely strong headwind all the way home. We were going to have to stop somewhere on route for another night. We settled on Groningen in the Netherlands. I shot this windmill on the approach to the airfield as it is so far the only windmill I have ever seen in this country!
By the time we had booked into a hotel and got a bus into Groningen town centre it was getting quite late, and, being a Sunday night the town was very quiet. In fact, there were more gulls and crows in the precinct than people. The town centre was a typical mix of old and modern but apart from searching out a restaurant we had little time to look around.
Back home to Dartford and the weather was awful. Before our decent we had flown through a thick snow shower at 7000' at the mouth of the Thames estuary. Come on, it doesn't snow in July! Our landing at Biggin was uneventful, thankfully, but as we transferred our luggage to our car the heavens opened and it rained. What a wonderful homecoming. Hey Ho!

21 August 2008

A Slow Meander Back

Outside the Vasa museum was a tram stop but when we asked where it went we discovered it didn't actually go anywhere useful as it was just run for the tourists!!! Hey ho. We were two tourists that did want to go somewhere so we decided it was easier to walk.
Our walk back from the museum took us through one of the many parks. The laws were busy being grazed by a flock of barnacle geese many of whom had chicks. The chicks varied in size from newly hatched to almost fledging.
We walked around the harbour along Raoul Wallenbergs torg. This particular quay was popular with vintage vessels which were moored often two or three abreast. I love these old boats, they are so full of character I could spend hours taking photos.Finally we left the waterside and headed back through the town to our hotel wishing we had a few more days in Stockholm.

20 August 2008

Vasa Museum, Stockholm

After visiting the Palace we left the tour and made our way to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was commissioned by the King of Sweden in 1626. It was to be a ship like no other at the time with two gun decks instead of one. It was launched on 10th august 1628 from her ship yard in Stockholm and sank after the first mile. seems she was top heavy. She sank into the mud and although attempts were made to try and raise her at the time that is where she stayed until 1961 when a recovery team successfully refloated her and set about her restoration. She is the most complete ship of her time with over 90% of her original timbers intact. Apart from the rigging here what you see here is all original.
This is a scale model showing the Vasa in her original colours and discovered from tiny paint fragments still surviving on the wood.
As the ship set sail on it's maiden voyage it only had half it's sails set. Despite this as it caught the wind it keeled over too far. The water rushed in through the gun ports and it sank like a stone. Archaeologists have studied the ship and discovered the area where the ballast was placed was not big enough and so even though it was full it was not heavy enough to hold the ship upright under sail.
Waxwork of a seaman from the Vasa. Many of those who would have been on the deck survived the sinking but those trapped below decks had no time to escape. This waxwork was reconstructed from studying the bone structure of one of those who died and clothing fragments found on the ship. They do not know who he was.
Apart from the fact that the Vasa settled in the soft mud where there was little oxygen to start the rotting process the other main reason why she is in such good condition is because she sank in brackish water rather than the salt water of the sea. Most wooden wrecks are eaten away by something called ship worms which live in salt water. The brackish water around the Vasa could not support these worms so her timbers remained intact. As I said, 90% of the ship original timbers were recovered more of less in one piece. In the restoration missing timbers have been replaced but these have been polished smooth and left light in colour so you can clearly see what is original. In this shot you can see the bowsprit is new is the rail and some of the treads on the steps on the star port side. All the rigging and ropes are obviously also new.Here you can see most of the top deck. The boards here have all largely been replaced, you might notice they are paler and very smooth.
When they recovered the ship her hull was in such good condition that by simply plugging the gun ports with pieces of wood they were able to pump the water out of her hull and float her into dock. OK, it was all far more complicated than that but in essence, that is what they did.

17 August 2008

The Royal Palace, Stockholm

After coffee we walked around the corner to see the royal Palace. Architecturally speaking I found this building to be the least interesting in the Old Town from the outside anyway. It appears as a square block with a square courtyard and hardly any garden. OK it's not actually square but it has a flat appearance that just gives me the impression of a cube. I am sure there are loads of people that would hold their hands up in despair to read this but as Palaces from this era go, this has got to be the dullest. I'm sure inside it would be a different story but we didn't have time to go in. The building in it's current state was commissioned in 1997 by Charles XII but it virtually bankrupted the Royal family of the time and as a result the completion 30 years while funds were scraped together and by then a new king had taken the throne. Now, royalty live mainly outside of Stockholm. Probably for a bit of peace and quiet.
Beyond the Palace you can see the main Stockholm church where many of the Royal weddings have been held.
The garden is not open to the public however, having said that, this is all there is to it which you can see easily from the gate. Considering the size of the building this is just a postage stamp. Clearly King Frederick I (ruler when the building was finished) wasn't into horticulture.

13 August 2008

Stockholm on foot

Back in the old town and we are shown around some of the quieter areas away from the main streets. Everywhere we turned there were cobbled streets lined with tell terraced houses all painted in warm earthy tones. when the sun shone they glowed and when they were in the shade they took on a cosy feel. Above them there was an azure blue sky. This place was idyllic.

Around another corner and we were surprised by a large statue of St George. Seems old St George got around a bit.Here was me thinking he was England's patron saint but it turns our we share him. Seems there are just not enough saints to go around.
I loved the detail in this statue, it is quite a flight of fancy but the one thing I think lets it down is that it has no passion. St George looks more like he is in a trance than fighting for his life and is gazing off into the distance. Perhaps that is the essence of being a saint, to be calm in the face of adversity.
The time came for a coffee break so our guide ushered us all along another narrow street. suddenly it opened out into a very handsome square with and extremely ornate water pump in the centre. The buildings huddled together in three sides with the National Academy building making up the forth. There were plenty of coffee shops but we settled for this terracotta coloured place where we sat outside and watched the world go bye.

12 August 2008

A Nobel Venture

This was our second day in Stockholm and a tour has been laid on for us. First stop was the city hall. Not just any city hall but the building where the annual Nobel dinner and awards take place.
This building was commissioned in 1907. It is built in the Venetian style as a result of a competition and took 12 years to complete. The bricks were all specially made as they are twice the size of normal bricks. Money, as ever, became a problem as the costs of the building spiralled so changes to the original design were made as it progressed. There are however, still some wonderful details to be discovered like the relief of an artist figure on one of the columns see here. He appears to be carrying a small child. Unfortunately I have no idea who he was meant to be.

10 August 2008

Stockholm continued

Back on dry land and one of the first things that greets us is an equine statue of King Carlos II (or was it III?). One of the Swedish Kings. His imposing statue looks down on the main quay area as if he is saying to all the visitors who alight here "This is my country".
We wandered back through the old town along different streets. The warm colours of the buildings really impressed me. They were all different but all blended so well. Apparently the planing regulations are extremely strict here and everything the is done to any of these buildings has to be approved and only traditional materials can be used. It sounds a bit like the grade 1 listed building status in the UK but here it applies to the whole town.

The lion is used as an heraldic symbol of Sweden just as it is for England. But in Sweden it is mainly the head of the lion that is used as in this beautiful knocker. I saw many of these as I wandered around. Not just door knockers either. There were lion head mooring rings and similar for tethering your horse. This symbol also appeared on flags.

The main church towers over the old town in Stockholm allowing tantalising glimpses of it's bell tower between the narrow streets. Despite it's size it is not a cathedral. It is located next to the Royal palace and has been the site of many royal weddings.

09 August 2008

Chramed by Stockholm

Stockholm old town was totally charming. OK so it was busy with tourists but apart from them I doubt it had changed much for a couple centuries. The main street was narrow by modern standards but the side street were pencil thin. These were havens of quiet as no one seemed to notice them yet alone wander in their cool shadows. All the houses were painted in these warm earthy tones which just glowed when the sun hit them. Even in the shade, the colours just gave the place a cosy feel.

That first afternoon we were just following our nose and before long we had walked through the old town and were now standing at the quay. Well, one of many quays actually as Stockholm is built on several islands in an archipelago so it is surrounded by water everywhere. We were not done with the old town by far and I'll be taking you back there but for now, with tired legs, we thought we would get on a water taxi and take a trip around the archipelago.
This ship had millions spent on its restoration and is now a floating youth hostel. This has got to be the most interesting youth hostel I've ever seen.
One of the islands had a pleasure park on it that opened in the afternoons and through the night. Apparently this is a popular place with the locals in the evenings but didn't get the opportunity to visit it this time, there were simply too many other things to see in the short time of our stay.

08 August 2008

Onwards to Stockholm

The next day we prepare to leave for Stockholm, but before I tell you about that I must just mention Malms airport. This was the original airport for Helsinki and doesn't appear to have changed much since it was built. It is a perfect Art Deco building. The departure lounge is circular and all the original Art Deco fittings are still there. Not quite as beautiful as Shoreham airport on the UK's south coast but a good contender non the less.
The weather for our flight to Stockholm was perfect (CAVOK) so I flew that leg. When we landed we needed fuel and as the fuel pump was being temperamental we soon ended up in yet another queue. I don't think the refuelling went smoothly at any airport we landed at during the trip.
That afternoon, after we had settled into out hotel, we walked into the town to explore. As we walked down the main shopping street in Stockholm towards the old town the first thing that hit me was how busy it was. There were so many people it was like walking down Oxford Street in London. Then we reached the start of the old town which is situated on it's own island. The impression I got then was that Stockholm was grand. As you walk over the bridge to the island you are confronted by the parliament building and chancery which are joined by a triumphant arch. You know that you are in for something special as you approach. To be continued...

07 August 2008


I have to say that I didn't find Helsinki overly inspiring. That's not the say it was dull, far from it but the beauty had to be hunted for. It had a lot of Art Deco architecture but the detail was quite minimalist so could be easily missed. The main religion is Lutheran so even the churches are simple in design. This is the main Lutheran church. A large white Romanesque building not too dissimilar to the White House in Washington. It's lines are clean and very geometric. The interior very Spartan. Nothing to clutter the mind or distract from worship. It has a simple beauty.
I wandered around the harbour and I stumbled across a small pier with just old sailing ships moored. I'm not sure I was supposed to wandering around there but as the signs were in Finnish and I only understand English I used that as an excuse to take a closer look. Most of the ships were being worked on. I think in hind sight they might have been being made ready for the tall ships race that was due to start in a few weeks from the UK. I took quite a few photos but eventually I seemed to be attracting too much interest so thought I would leave before I was removed. I'll upload a few more later.

03 August 2008

Day 5 - Helsinki or bust!

It's the morning of day 5 of our trip and we are heading off into the blue again. This time we are leaving Norway for Helsinki, Finland. We were also leaving behind this wonderful blue sky because before long we were dodging thunderstorms.
When I originally saw dozens of lightning strikes on our storm scope all perfectly aligned on our route I started to believe it was a computer error until I saw this beasty. It was emitting constant bolts of lightning every few seconds from the same place on its far right edge. We got permission to divert to the west by air traffic control. It was a long way around but flying through active thunderstorms is something even the big boys avoid.
Our diversion took us down the west coast of Finland. Well, in truth I guess they only have one coast. Despite this being a sea coast it looked more like the coast of a large lake. There was no evidence of any sandy beaches just hundreds of tiny islands.
The detour added an extra 40 minutes to our flight but it kept us reasonable safe so well worth it. Eventually we arrived at Malms airport, Helsinky and had a chance to swap tales with the rest of the group. No one, it seemed, had had a boring flight :-)

02 August 2008

Work in progress

As there was only this one road linking the villages along the coast it had to be kept open even during major road widening work. I felt like I was driving through a building site, which I guess I was. These machines look very big when you are squeezing between them. :-)The coast on the other side of the fiord was totally different. Here the breeze was roughing up the water and the light was in the wrong direction to provide the superb reflections seen on the other side. Despite this it had its own beauty.
That evening we went on foot in search of catching a view of the midnight sun. We had had to return the hired car so were restricted to finding a view on foot. That limited us as Alta was on the wrong side of some high ground but we had to try. another down side was that it was cloudy. This ended up being as near as we could get to capturing the moment. This photo actually looks like it was quite dark but that is just my little point and shoot, that I was carrying at the time, trying to cope with the brightness of the sky.
By the time we got back to our hotel and turned in for the 'night' it was 1am. It was still quite warm and as our airconditioning didn't work we had our windows open. There was a kid in the car park below on a skateboard. I can't begin to explain how strange that felt trying to sleep in virtually full daylight with the sounds of children playing outside.