Not dead!

January 28th, 2015

Nope, I am not dead. I’ve just been to England, sick and busy. In that order. First I went over to the UK for Christmas and New Year. It’s a long way to go. I had to overnight in South Korea on the way. It was -8C and snowing the night I was there. I went for a walk in the morning but where I was there wasn’t much around and nothing was open. There was snow though!


Was good to finally get to England. I love London. This was round the corner from where I was staying near the Barbican.


Actually I was born in London and I still tend to identify more with England that Auckland. Auckland seems to do it’s best to lose it’s history and doesn’t really even feel like part of New Zealand any more (probably why the rest of the country hate us JAFAs).

I feel at home in the UK so I had a great time there. Christmas day and boxing day were spent in Bramber, a small village near Brighton. Nothing there but a really old church, some castle remains and a pub. Was perfect! Brighton was interesting. Middle of winter it was quiet bleak. The beach isn’t a beach as we know them here. No sand at all, just pebbles!

2015-01-09_0_1 2015-01-09_17_1 2015-01-09_4_2

The rest of the time was spent in London with day trips down to Brooklands and another to see Bletchley Park and the national computing museum. There were loads of things I wanted to do (Beaulieu, National Rail Museum, Tank Museum, and about 100 other places and people) but there just wasn’t time. Christmas is a bad time to go too. Everything was packed. I went to Hamleys and they had security guards directing people about it was so packed. Never been to a toy shop with security before. Most disappointingly they didn’t have any Wombles and the two staff I asked did even know what Wombles were! What is happening to the world? I was thinking I should send them a letter of complaint.

I did visit most of the museums in London I remember visiting nearly 18 years before. The Science Museum is still great. The floor with the aircraft engines is still the same as 18 years ago and is my favourite. I didn’t get to go into the Natural History Museum this time as the queues were massive. The Imperial War Museum has been ‘done up’ and wasn’t as good as I remembered. The Holocaust exhibition was new and very good though. I rushed off to find the engine from the Red Baron’s plane that was there last time I visited and found that whole area has been redone to ‘tell a story’ and it just wasn’t as good (and the engine wasn’t there). I prefer dusty cabinets stuffed with artifacts to these modern museums.

I did finally made it to the British Museum. When I was in the UK 18 years ago I went to go there and got confused and ended up at the Natural History Museum instead. It was good but again absolutely packed. Some places you couldn’t move due to people. I got a few pictures there.

2015-01-07_23_2 2015-01-07_26_2 2015-01-07_19_2

The chair wasn’t an exhibit. I just liked it.

The best trips were the two day trips I did. One to Bletchley Park and one to Brooklands. As a computer geek Bletchley is just amazing. The atmosphere there is fantastic and they have done a good job capturing the spirit of the place. Anyone with any interest in computing and code breaking should go there. Unfortunately this is where I had my camera accident. I only took one camera with me on my trip (apart from my phone), a film Olympus OM4-Ti. I also only took one lens. A 35mm. For some reason that lens seems to lack sharpness (although to be fair it was usually dark so I had to have I wide open and couldn’t stop down) so all my photos have a slight fuzziness to them. I took a ton of photos at Bletchley of the Bombe and various Enigma machines and so on. Unfortunately for some reason that film didn’t wind on in the camera so the whole roll was actually unexposed and lost. Oh well, good excuse to go back!

2015-01-09_1_2 2015-01-09_38_1 2015-01-09_3_1

These are a few of the photos that I did get (on a different roll of film). I also popped next door to the National Museum of  Computing and saw Colossus running. That museum seems to be less well funded and really reminded me a of our local MOTAT a bit. Unfortunately all my pictures of Colossus were lost. I actually prefer that kind of museum to the modern, sterile ones (like Te Papa – bleargh). The old, dusty, slightly run down ones have way more atmosphere to them.

Brooklands was another great trip. Another very atmospheric place if you know anything of the history there. Quite sad though when you see how little of the circuit is left and the state it is in. Basically falling to bits but then I don’t know how you could preserve it. Just walking on the banking was the highlight for me. I also borrowed a small bit of it. I have plans for that! The rest of the museum was a bonus. I went there on New Years day and there was a sort of open car club day so various cars were parked all over the place.

2015-01-06_12_1_2 2015-01-06_13_1 2015-01-06_9_1 2015-01-07_4_2

As well as the banking you can walk up the old test hill up to the bridge. At the top was a kind of workshop with a car body building company in there. I can’t remember the details but have their card somewhere. I think they do aluminium body work for various cars and it was interesting to see their tools were the same as I used. Basically wooden mallets! There were a number of Aston Martins there too. Wonder if they have any job openings?

2015-01-06_49_1 2015-01-06_51_1 2015-01-06_52_1 2015-01-06_53_2

This is the path leading to the bridge (which doesn’t go anywhere anymore).


The museum has lots of interesting things too. Like the Barnes Wallis stratosphere chamber.


There is also the London Bus Museum there so I had to get a photo of  Routemaster bus. Research material for finishing off my bus sign project.


I took various other photos.

2015-01-06_3_2 2015-01-06_48_1 2015-01-07_1_1 2015-01-07_2_2

The last one is of course an Austin 7.

One of the best things I got to do at Brookland was sit in a Harrier jet cockpit. That was very cool.

London was great and I had a very good but extremely busy time. I did get to go on one of the new Routemaster buses which are pretty nice. I jumped off that hoping to go to the Temple Church (which was shut) then the very next bus to come along was an original Routemaster on the heritage route so I got to ride on that too. I love the Underground. Love the railway network and trains that actually run and travel quickly (and have announcements in English you can understand). I know people in the UK complain about the railway there all the time but they haven’t seen what it’s like in Auckland. I don’t think Auckland Transport can competently spell ‘Railway’ let alone run one. I have a feeling when we get the new electric trains on the Western Line here (eventually) they won’t run any faster than the 50 year old diesel/electrics they are meant to replace.

It was a very long flight back and when I arrived I ended up getting a bad virus and was off work for nearly two weeks. I had lent the Chummy to Joss when I was away and unfortunately he had an incident where the wiring in it shorted out and basically totally melted down. Luckily the car didn’t burn (very lucky considering the petrol tap was leaking) and Joss found it and was able to prevent anything nasty happening.

So with the car back I had to fix that and start work on the special again. I have been busy with all that but that’s for the next post!

2 Responses to “Not dead!”

  1. Renaud in Brittany Says:

    Hi Simon,
    Pleased to have you back!

  2. Peter Says:

    Glad you enjoyed the UK .Try to come over in July next time so you can go to the Austin 7 day at Beaulieu!

    Beaulieu is definitely on the list for next time!

Leave a Reply