Click on pictures to enlarge
19th February 2013
I recently attended a lecture by Engineer David Cooper, who told us about the London cable car project he had been working on. The brief was to create something that would be higher than any ship using the River Thames on a very high tide, but lower than aircraft taking off or landing at London City Airport!
It is now up and running and known as The Emirates Air Line. It is available to the public to board at Royal Victoria Docks on the north side of the River Thames or at the south side at Greenwich Peninsula; both points are near the London Underground or Docklands Light Railway systems. On a sunny but freezing cold English winter's day I went up to London to see this new attraction. I took my River Thames chart with me, and also memories of Union-Castle Line ships using the Royal Victoria docks in days gone by, as shared by some of my Monday Mariners friends recently.
Some of the Docks, shown on my River Thames chart
Emirates Royal Docks, on the north west corner of the Royal Victoria Dock.
First view of the Air Line and the three pylons
Part of the workings
One of the cable cars, each holding ten people maximum
Royal Victoria Dock, looking east, with the barge and The Shack below
Ready for landing
But still high up
Emirates Greenwich Peninsula
Ravensbourne - Innovation in Digital Media and Design
I was intrigued by the construction and pattern of the tiles of this unusual building, and then met two of the people attending Ravensbourne - one from Portugal and one from Afghanistan. They enjoyed seeing my River Thames chart and the location of the River Ravensbourne, and I enjoyed being given a tour of the building inside. It is open plan styling, with porthole-like windows.
Deptford Creek and the River Ravensbourne, west of Greenwich
Red carpet for the Brit Awards 2013, to be held the next day
Antony Gormley sculpture 'Quantum Cloud'
People climbing to the top of the roof on the O2
The Air Line from the south to the north and the three pylons
An aircraft taking off from London City Airport over the Emirates Air Line
Airliner and Air Line
The Thames Barrier
London City Airport, between Albert Dock (N) and King George V Dock (S)
Looking west, towards O2 Arena, Blackwall, Poplar and Canary Wharf
River Thames chart looking west to Canary Wharf
Looking west, towards Bow Creek and East India Dock Basin
One of the original 1952 cranes
View towards the Excel Centre, footbridge, SS Robin, Trinity House Lightship 83, original Flour Mills. The SS Robin was built at Blackwall, East London, in 1890, and had a long career as a steam coaster. She is the last of the 'dirty British coasters', described in John Masefield's poem 'Cargoes', and is due to be opened to the public this year by the Robin Trust.
Old Flour Mills, SS Robin and Trinity House Lightship number 83 in the winter sunshine
'Silver Queen' of Silver Queen Cruises Ltd., gliding through the water. She does half-hour cruises around the docks, and is a 1940 Dunkirk Veteran.
Royal Victoria Dock, looking towards the Flour Mills on the south side
Emirates Royal Dock on a nearby poster
Emirates Royal Dock from the south side of the Dock
Nearby barge being renovated, using planks of wood from an old railway engineering works. The various colours of the planks signify which department of the works they came from.
Royal Victoria Dock Watersports Centre, run from The Shack with the assistance of a happy labrador/retriever dog. He frequently went in the water and enjoyed it; each time he came out he shook himself energetically and a cloud of water droplets sparkled in the sunshine.
The Shack, at the Watersports Centre, which is also constructed of coloured planks from the old railway engineering works. There are also photos of Queen Victoria, and black and white photographs of ships loading and unloading their cargo in the Docks.
The little beach nearby
I had enjoyed a fascinating day out in this part of London, the capital city of a maritime nation.
(click on pictures to enlarge)
Part 6 - the final one
Friday 7th December 2012
Hooray, the storm has obviously abated overnight, for we arrived in CocoCay Island at 7.30 in bright sunshine and tremendous heat, and put one anchor down.
The tenders were prepared and goods were sent ashore; this is Celebrity's island and so we can all go ashore for excursion things or to do nothing and have lunch ashore. It is a very small tropical island and like nothing I have ever seen before.
We had a leisurely breakfast (with good English bacon, in the spacious Lido) and took the free tender to the tiny harbour, then strolled round to one of the fine sandy beaches. I loved the sapphire and aquamarine colours of the water.
On the island the trees were sparse and obviously lacked water, but the sand was fine and soft, and there were all sorts of water sports available; one could also do absolutely nothing. We paddled, took photos, I tried a hammock strung between two trees (very comfortable but difficult to disembark) we strolled around to another part of the island where some local craft were berthed, and admired the large piece of carpet on a linkspan.
We had a light lunch and drinks provided by the cheerful ship’s staff, and then later headed back to the ship for coffee, tea, cake and ice cream in Café al Bracio. What a contrast with yesterday’s weather.
I now have my disembarkation papers for tomorrow when we arrive back in Miami. Thanks to Celebrity I have been able to arrange to leave as an independent traveller soon after 8.10 a.m. and take one of their coaches to the Bayside Market complex; there my luggage will go in secure and guarded storage for the day until 5.30 p.m. when I take another coach to Miami International airport, so I appreciate this facility that the cruise line offers.
Tonight’s dress code is Smart so I had the chance to wear again what we English jokingly like to call a ‘posh frock’. Packing quickly completed, I joined my friends for a pre-dinner drink and then a lovely meal. A late night walk on deck was in amazing heat, even up on the top Deck 15, with no breeze, and with the sight of several other ships in the distance all lit up.
Ships seen: Cococutter 2, Cococutter 1, Nina, La Santa Maria, a Disney ship on the horizon, various others at night which couldn’t be identified
Saturday 8th December 2012
Back in Miami at the Cruise Terminal I was up early and had the chance to ring beloved daughter, and hear about two little boys seeing real reindeers the day before. I was preparing for an early breakfast and departure from the ship at 8.30 on my pre-arranged Celebrity Excursion, went through Customs and collected my suitcase, and on the quayside I was directed to a coach to travel to the Bayside Market complex. There my suitcase was put in a secure container for the day – peace of mind. Then I could go into the Market mall as planned and locate one of my good friends, with free wi-fi and coffee, before saying goodbye.
One of my American friends was unexpectedly free so we were able to meet and have lunch and a little visit. I saw the Mary Brickell village, the fantastic Biltmore Hotel entrance hall, and routes around there, before being dropped off back at the Bayside Market (thanks Ernie).
I was able to catch a double-decker red open-top tourist bus from there to travel over the MacArthur Causeway and see the cruise ships, before crossing the road and catching another red bus back to Bayside. Driving over the Causeway, there was CELEBRITY REFLECTION coming towards me, along the Government Cut, and it felt a bit odd to be in the position of ship-watching from there, rather than on board!
Back at Bayside I collected my suitcase from the safe storage, and was escorted onto the bus to Miami International Airport, which was all part of the Celebrity Excursion for today. It seemed a sensible thing to arrange to do, as I was unencumbered by my suitcase for the whole day and knew it was in safe keeping.
I checked in for my evening British Airways flight, which arrives tomorrow morning at London Heathrow.
Ships seen: Celebrity Reflection, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Breeze, Norwegian Epic
Sunday 9th December 2012
It was an uneventful long flight home, but I think the ‘social whirl’ caught up with me and I slept well! On arrival at Heathrow I was soon able to catch a coach heading south, and then beloved son met me and drove me home. I had been away for three weeks and enjoyed every minute of it, both the sea time and the land time.
The ships were all very different but interesting in their own ways, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been very fortunate.
One could say that, on REFLECTION, I’ve been able to BREEZE through PARADISE.