Sunday, April 20, 2008

Trip Photos

Here are the two albums from our visit back to the homeland last week. First we were down South, in England, for Malc and Sandy's silver wedding anniversary at Calcot Manor.

Then we went up North, for Innes and Susan's wedding at The Caves, in Edinburgh.

If you want a copy of any of the photos in the albums let me know and I'll send you the original full size version. For the web albums I've edited the photos a bit. The room at Calcot was very bright, so I've added warmth to a lot of the pictures from there and The Caves was quite a dark venue, so I've lightened a lot of those.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A National Disgrace

Heathrow airport has not had a great month, so let me tell you one thing that is brilliant about it: The Heathrow Express. Fast. Clean. Punctual. Jump on the train and you're in the heart of London in 15 minutes. It's great. I hope that, despite the relatively high cost, it is the first impression of Britain for many of the arrivals at Heathrow because here's what's not great: The Heathrow Hotel Hoppa.

Some folks arriving at Heathrow may decide that, after their long journey, they'd like to spend a night, or their layover, in a hotel near the airport. Others may decide that, when leaving, rather than getting to Paddington with their bags and catching the Express to the airport in the morning, they'll spend their last night in the UK in a hotel near the airport. Their first, or last, impression of the UK will then be of this ridiculously inefficient, pettily priced, shambolic embarrassment of a service.

You arrive in the UK, you perhaps haven't got any UK currency yet and you want a bit of sleep, so you head out for the bus to your hotel. Having navigated outside and found out which of the 8 different buses you're going to have to wait at least 15 minutes in the cold for*. Some oik then has the cheek to demand 4 quid to drive you the 5 minutes to your hotel, but certainly isn't going to help you loading your bags. Oik only takes UK cash. Not Euros, not dollars, certainly no minor currency. Don't worry, there's a ticket machine nearby that takes credit cards. For one ticket at a time. Languages other than English might not be available on it. Oik might wait. The bus might not fill up.

Britain can and should do better. If they're not going to let the hotels provide the free shuttles they provide in most other civilised countries ("because of traffic concerns") then at least provide the service for free. If you're going to have the flipping cheek to charge people then at least have detailed timetables, enough shuttles to meet the demand, multi-lingual signage, waiting rooms next to the bus stop and routes that aren't going to visit other terminals before you finally get out of the airport.

* unless you've had the misfortune to turn up after 9.30 at night or before 6 in the morning, when you're probably really tired, then the wait will be much longer.

We're Home

Those of you following on Twitter probably noticed that our journeys, other than the train trip, were awful. Once we arrived at our destinations though, the trip was fantastic. Had a great time. Pictures of the good times will be downloaded and posted shortly, but first, there may be a rant or two.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Taking a week off

We leave tomorrow for our trip to the UK. We're flying through Chicago, which is a worry as our layover is not long and the weather there has been crap. For those of you interested in our progress, I'll be updating Twitter as we go. If you don't want to click through, you can follow us on this very site, under the section that says "Where's Ian?"