Small differences

In all honesty there’s not much different about living in Dublin compared to the UK. A few more Garda roadblocks to check on illegal vehicles maybe (shock horror, the Irish seem to appreciate that pro-active policing is infinitely better than sticking a random revenue generating safety cameras up!)

However, one difference has become apparent recently. It’s getting to the time of year which in the UK is marked by the night sky being filled with fireworks as kids and adults alike enjoy the run up to Guy Fawkes night.

Not here however. Fireworks are illegal in the Republic of Ireland. It seems awfully quiet.

Vulcan XH558 flies!

There are some times when checking the news in the odd 5 minutes at work brings me great delight, and this is one.

It is fantastic to see the Avro Vulcan take to the skies again, after years of hard work, setbacks, lottery funding and more setbacks. Brings back memories of seeing it fly at Mildenhall airshow in the early nineties.

Can’t wait to see it in the flesh if it can make any airshow appearances.

Wedding photos

We got the first batch of our wedding photos delivered this week, as a set of 7×5″ prints. I’m chuffed with how they have turned out and am looking forward to receiving the full set in soft copy so I can put them up on the web. I’ll link to them over at our wedding blog and here. A shout out must go to James and Shawna at AAA Photos for a sterling job.

I’ve also been busy with my camera and new lens at the wedding of our friends Steve and Louise in the UK last week. I took it along purely in an unofficial capacity as the ideal opportunity to test out the 17-55 in a variety of indoor and outdoor locations. It was also the first serious work out for my 430EX Speedlight which proved invaluable for fill both indoors and out. I’ve yet to fully master it, but am very happy with the results. I won’t be posting them to flickr, but have put up a slideshow of them. Given that they had a pro doing their main shots I stayed in the background for the most part trying hard not to interfere (there’s nothing worse than missing a shot because everybody happened to be looking at the wrong, i.e. my, camera I’d imagine!) so I’m most happy with some of the more reportage style of shots, especially these two:

Wedding image 1

Wedding image 2

(Sorry if you are viewing this on the web and the images sneak across the right column of the page, but I don’t have the software at work to do a decent job of resizing them)

I especially like the way that the backlighting on the second one highlights the hair, and the catchlights in the eyes from the Speedlight.

The formal shots took a good 90 minutes or so but once the reception meal started the pro ‘tog finished up leaving me to capture some shots inside, of which my favourite is this one capturing Louise’s reaction to her father’s speech:

Wedding image 3

I won’t be giving up the day job anytime soon though – I can’t imagine there are many more stressful jobs than official wedding photography. It is easy to capture decent shots when I can both relax in the knowledge that nobody is counting on me and also when I can pick and choose the ones I want to show (notice the complete lack of group shots!)

Enabling link splicing

I’ve just enabled splicing of my bookmarks into the feed for this site. For those that subscribe to the feed (via Feedburner which hopefully every feed link on this site should go through) will get a single daily digest of any bookmarks I make. I’ve done this partly to make more use of than I currently do. I’ll aim to add a small personal comment to each item I bookmark to help people work out if they will find it worthwhile following any links. Another reason for doing this is that I’ve found quite a few links this way from Andy, Roo and other’s feeds.

Losing faith with Heathrow

I love Heathrow airport. My first ever flight was from there in a British Airways special flight to see Halley’s Comet in 1986 (with Patrick Moore no less.) I’ve flown out of there too many times to remember, for business and pleasure. I like to think that I’m pretty good at being able to navigate my way around and know the best routes, as well as tricks and tips to speed up my journey through the airport.

However lately I’ve been ultimately frustrated whenever I’ve had to go through LHR. The first frustration is with how simply overloaded the airport is with regards to air traffic. It feels like every time I’ve been on a flight to LHR we get delayed taking off due to air traffic control restrictions i.e. there are just too many planes to land. The most recent example of this being on Thursday morning whilst taking a BMI flight from Dublin. We boarded on time for the 0905 departure and were then told by the captain on the plane that Heathrow had put a stop on our departure until 1010. Of course, BAA themselves are campaigning for a third runway which presumably will alleviate these problems. I’m not going to argue the rights or wrongs of that (it has been an emotive subject and recently sparked demonstrations.) especially as I have relatives who live in one of the villages which would be obliterated by the plans. However it surely makes more sense to improve capacity at LHR than some of the other plans. The last thing London needs is more people being pushed out to Stanstead which is just too far away to really be considered a London airport, or worse yet a fourth one (sorry Luton doesn’t count as far as I am concerned!) Incidentally, our flight back to Dublin on friday suffered a two hour delay due to knock-on effects of the plane being delayed earlier, probably for the same reason. I struggle to remember the last on-time flight I took into or out of LHR.

The knock on effect of increased flight traffic is increased people traffic in the terminals. Whilst I’ve not found this too bad when travelling through one terminal into or out of London, we recently had to navigate the flight connection centre when coming back from New York on our honeymoon. We arrived on American into Terminal 3 and had to transfer onto Aer Lingus out of Terminal 1. We left a healthy 2 hour connection time. The flight in was late (can you guess why? Yes, LHR air traffic control restrictions) what’s more we didn’t have a stand! I don’t believe that has ever happened to me at LHR before, let alone on a transatlantic flight. The net result being that a bus ride from a remote part of the apron subtracted more time from our connection. Another bus ride took us from T3 to the flight connections centre in T1. We still had enough time however. That was until we saw the queues to get through security. We arrived at the Aer Lingus desk to collect boarding passes 15 minutes after the flight closed and they had already given our seats away to standby passengers (this wouldn’t have been a problem had we been checked straight through on checking in at JFK, but that’s a rant for another time!) All in all it took about 1 1/2 hours to transfer from one flight to another between two terminals, on a Sunday morning. It used to be that leaving yourself two hours to connection at LHR was plenty enough, but the sheer number of people there nowadays makes it something of a lottery.

So, I’ll be trying to avoid LHR from now on. There’s more than enough choice in how I get back to the UK from Dublin every now and then. Unfortunately options for long haul travel are less flexible. Direct flights from Dublin to the US tend to be 50% or so more expensive than flying to LHR first, and whist Schipol might be an alternative (and a much, much nicer airport to boot) it adds even more time onto the transatlantic leg.