Thursday, October 30, 2008

A sign you'll only ever see in Britain

With all due respect to British people, I don't think you'll see a sign like this anywhere else in the world :-)

(Photographed in Soho, London last month)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

High heels on a wooden floor

Seen in a hotel in Reading, England last week. I don't wear high heels for my nightly Irish step-dancing rehearsals, nor do I wear high heels while I practice basketball dribbling techniques in the early hours of the morning, so this sign doesn't apply to me :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Corpus Clock in Cambridge, UK

The new Corpus Clock was unveiled last month on the corner of the new library building of Corpus Christi college in Cambridge. As the clock's YouTube page explains, the clock operates through the motions of a mechanical "chronophage" creature (a "time eater") which sits atop the clock. Very clever, and expensive (it cost 1 million pounds, and features a gold-plated dial).

At night, it is lit up in blue, which was when I saw it and photographed it. Well worth seeing if you're in Cambridge.

The chronophage:

And the entire clock:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Harry Potter's Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station

Photographed today at King's Cross Station in London, the Platform 9 3/4 sign from the Harry Potter books. This sign is round the back of the large station announcement board, near platforms 9 and 10.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A good use of a cameraphone

I use my cameraphone to take (blurry) pictures of car park location identifiers. That way, I usually find my car again. Much easier than writing the information on a piece of paper.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Halal car insurance

Spotted near London, a bus shelter advertisement for Halal car insurance from Salaam Halal Insurance.

From their website: "Salaam Halal insurance is the UK’s first dedicated Islamic insurance provider set up to provide Islamic insurance based on the Shariah principle of Takaful. So now you can have great value insurance, without compromising the principles of your faith."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cat packing

I think my cat is trying to tell me something here. I wouldn't advise her to sit in the bag like that at 4am when I'm hastily throwing together some clothes for an early morning flight, though.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Burj Dubai, tallest building in the world

The Burj Dubai is the world's tallest building, located just inland from Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. It is still under construction, but will include offices, apartments, and a Giorgio Armani hotel.

Burj Dubai, world's tallest building

Just to show that the Burj Dubai is by no means the only tall building in Dubai, here is a video of a drive down Sheikh Zayed Road, ending looking right at the Burj Dubai. You can see the new railway under construction (on the white concrete platforms, by large yellow track-laying machines which you see intermittently):

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Antlers or horns are accepted as checked baggage only"

I flew with Air Canada today, and was surprised when their check-in terminal asked was I carrying any antlers or horns.

It turns out that Air Canada has all sorts of regulations for transporting antlers, horns, "bounty", and guns.

I note that "Latitude and Executive fare customers are entitled to check their antlers or horns (one piece per passenger) at no charge for travel within Canada and the 50 United States."

I guess that Air Canada Latitude and Executive fare passengers must really stand out from the crowd in an airport (unless they have checked their antlers or horns, that is).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum

Last week, I learned the hard way that it's better to buy tickets online for the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum. When I went over to the ticket desk, in the bottom right of the photo below, all the tickets for the day were sold out.

So, I didn't see the exhibition which I'd read so much about, and which is housed in this building in the great hall of the museum.

Next time I'm in London, I'll book ahead.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cheap London City hotels at the weekend

Last weekend I stayed at the Crowne Plaza London City, near Blackfriar's Station, on a cheap rate from Many business-focused hotels in the City are very cheap on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. These hotels are a cheaper (and nicer) option than tourist hotels in places like Bayswater or South Kensington. The Crowne Plaza London City has a good basement bar, which serves Hoegaarden beer and surely the smallest serving of nachos you will ever see this side of Lilliput. St Paul's Cathedral, the Tate Modern, and the new Millenium Bridge are all close by.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Don't get ripped off by taxi drivers at Heathrow

Last week I attended a conference in the Heathrow area. Two separate Americans told me of being ripped off by taxi drivers:

1) Two women were charged 35 pounds to travel the 4 miles from Heathrow Airport to the Quality Hotel. They were not pleased to find out that they could have taken the Hotel Hoppa bus for 4 pounds each.

2) A guy was charged 55 pounds to travel to the Slough/Windsor Marriot hotel, which also is on a Hotel Hoppa route.

I can kinda see the reason why this happens. Taxi drivers wait in a line at Heathrow and expect passengers to be headed into London (which would cost 35 pounds or more). But, when they are asked to drive a few miles to a local hotel, an unscrupulous taxi driver may then try to get the same amount of money, except without the drive into London.

Note I'm not talking here about the "black cab" London Taxi drivers, who use meters and are (I find) generally very honest. But the drivers at Heathrow who do this seem to be locals, not using meters, as far as I can tell by listening to these stories from people who were ripped off.

The lesson seems to be to either (a) just use the Hotel Hoppa bus if you're going to an airport hotel, or (b) negotiate a fare up-front. Paying the equivalent of 100 dollars for a 3 mile taxi ride really is just crazy.