Category Archives: UK

A Few Photos of London

After returning home to the UK from Barcelona, I only had a week left at Merlin (Medical Emergency Relief International) head office in London. This is one of the views from the office:

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We also get massive RAF Chinook helicopters flying past on occasion, and I managed to grab a couple of photos of this one as it circled several times very close to our building before flying off. I felt the building start to shake and heard a thudding noise, so I knew what was about to appear and got to the window with my camera before I could even see it:

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A random London photo:

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On Sunday, February 28th, as planned several weeks beforehand, a bunch of people gathered at the home of my Canadian friend Aidan to watch Team Canada play in the 2010 Winter Olympics Gold Medal Hockey Game. It kicked off at 8pm UK time, and it was amazing to watch, though Aidan, Skylar, and I all had to feel a little strange being in London when we’re all BC natives and should have been in Vancouver for the game.

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I caught one of the Canadian goals on camera when it was replayed:

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After the amazing sudden-death overtime goal by Sid the Kid (have I ever mentioned I was born in Nova Scotia?), a few of us went to Trafalgar Square where we found a huge crowd of Canadians waving flags, singing out loud, and mysteriously producing free Sleeman’s Honey Brown beer, which apparently had been handed out at the Canadian embassy earlier in the day. As usual, it was a night of small world encounters as I met one girl who knows a bunch of people with whom I went to high school, then I met another girl who turned out to be a friend of Skylar’s who he hadn’t seen in a couple of years.

Sadly, my camera battery had died earlier in the night so I didn’t manage to capture any of these events on camera.

Weekend Trip 2: Cambridge, England

A week after my short trip to Edinburgh, I decided to finally visit Cambridge. Even though it’s only a 45 minute train ride from London, I’d never in all these years managed to visit. Since meeting a couple members of Engineers Without Borders Cambridge, I’d been meaning to go visit them there, so on Saturday the 12th I caught a train.

Cambridge is a really beautiful city. It certainly helped that the weather was really nice, but walking around Cambridge was extremely relaxing. I’ve seen a lot of old buildings in my travels, but the ones in Cambridge are somehow a bit different, in a good way.

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Cambridge University, like Oxford, is organised into a series of colleges. They’re not colleges in the academic sense that Americans are used to, but sort of like student societies, and you have to be a member of one of them in order to be a student at the university. Most students live in college housing. Many of the colleges are also open for tourist visits during part of the day.

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The college where my friends Fran and Andy live is called Emmanuel College, and it’s reeeally neat. Andy let me crash at his place, which was really nice. This is one of the buildings on the college grounds:

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Another random Cambridge building:

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On Sunday I took a long walk up and down the Cam, the river that runs through Cambridge and gives it its name.

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Random keys on a wall:

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There were loads of rowing teams out on the river practising:

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And the typical canal boats (which usually seem to have been shipped from the Netherlands) that you see all over England:

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With perfect weather, my short weekend in Cambridge was exceptional, and I started thinking it would be nice to do another degree if it were at Cambridge…

Weekend Trip 1: Edinburgh, Scotland

In early February, I was really tired from a lot of overtime hours spent working on the head office logistics side of Merlin’s response to the Haiti earthquake. So I decided to take a trip to Edinburgh to visit my friend Vania, who’s studying for her PhD there. The train trip was easy enough, but arrived more than two hours late, after midnight on Friday, February 5th. I had visited Edinburgh with over a hundred fellow students in my first year of university, back in 2002, but those memories are a bit fuzzy now.

On Saturday, Vania and I walked around town, saw a bit of the university, ate delicious food at a pseudo-Swedish restaurant/café, and played guitar hero at my friend Woody’s apartment. It wasn’t amazing weather so I didn’t really take any photos that day.

On Sunday, we went out walking again. This time we really walked a lot. I can’t remember all the places we went, but these are some of the things we saw:

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Vania had no idea why I was asking her to stick her tongue out:

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A view of Edinburgh:

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King Arthur’s Seat:

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The lamppost in this photo was rather unfortunately located…

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We also walked up to Edinburgh Castle but didn’t pay to go in, since we’d both been in before:

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Sunday evening I caught a train back down to London. All in all Edinburgh was a very nice city, and it was really nice to take a weekend off outside of London.

A weekend with Engineers Without Borders

On November 20th I caught a train in the morning from London to Coventry. I met up with my friend Spela, who I met in Slovenia back in May 2008 and is now studying in Coventry. We had lunch and took a look around the Coventry Transport Museum before realising that I was nearly late for my afternoon train, and speedwalked back to the rail station. A few pics from the museum:

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This is the hub of the front (large) wheel on an old penny-farthing bicycle. Just below the hub, that round thing is a kerosene lamp holder to see at night!

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Luxury motorcycle:

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In the Second World War, the Nazis destroyed almost all of Coventry from the air. The cathedral walls remained standing, but the roof and everything inside was completely destroyed:

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After my short visit to Coventry I headed to Shrewsbury, near the border with Wales, for a 4 day post-cyclone reconstruction weekend with Engineers Without Borders. I didn’t take many photos on the first night or the first day, which was spent indoors, but this one’s neat. One of the participants can bend his fingers back to touch the back of his hand!

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On Sunday the 22nd, we spent most of the day outside, building a shed that could withstand a category 4 storm. First, we had a quick chat about being careful with tools and stuff, which Louise and Sean must have forgotten pretty quickly:

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There was lots of sawing and drilling and hammering.

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Once we had built it, we tested it with a Newton meter (to measure how much force we were applying to the structure), and it flexed quite easily the first time, before we had added any diagonal braces. The second time, after adding support, it withstood a large amount of force:

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However, even with all those people pulling, we couldn’t pull hard enough to simulate the force of a category 4 wind. So we hooked the rope up to the back of Razi’s car, with Muhammad in the middle holding the Newton meter to see what amount of force was being exerted.

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For some reason, no one thought to double up the cheap synthetic rope (I have a good excuse: I was trying to take photos from a distance and didn’t look at the ropes being tied), and eventually the rope broke and the Newton meter flew out of Muhammad’s hands and back toward the shed, landing just short of the people weighing it down:

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We spent the evening back inside, going over lots of different information on rebuilding homes after a natural disaster, which was very interesting.

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On Monday morning, a few of us went for a short walk down to the flooded River Severn. On the way there, this sign was down on the ground:

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The flooded river:

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The weekend was really informative and as a bonus, the participants were really friendly and fun to hang out with. Here are a few of the many people shots I took on our construction day:

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On Monday afternoon we got a ride to the rail station in Shrewsbury, but a few of us had an hour or so to waste so we took a walk around town. Kind of funny that the County Council offices are right beside Blower’s Repository:

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Shrewsbury is not a very well-known town, but it does have one claim to fame: Charles Darwin grew up in Shrewsbury. I found out a couple days later that November 24th (the day after I took this photo) was the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species,” Darwin’s famous book proposing the theory of evolution.

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Looking up the main drag in Shrewsbury:

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On the first train we caught, this ridiculous poster was near the doors. I have no idea how someone actually thinks this might possibly affect a young person’s behaviour. It’s hilarious! I doubt anyone consulted someone below the age of 50 in designing it…

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