2010 TRIP TO ENGLAND, by Colin L. Miller

Intro June 10 June 11 June 12 June 13 June 14 June 15 June 16 June 17 June 18 June 19 June 20 June 21 June 22 June 23 June 24 June 25 June 26 Expense Report

FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2010


As the plane headed northeast over Canada and then the Atlantic Ocean, night rapidly progressed. Only a few hours later the sky was lightening with the quickly approaching dawn. Although I had a window seat, England was mostly covered by clouds so there was very little to see, except for other air traffic. On the way in to Heathrow, we did a few descending loops along with other aircraft, and I took some photos, but later I discovered a problem with moving my pictures from the camera's memory card to the netbook's hard drive: if it was the same day, the camera would restart the numbering of the photos. That meant that newer photos with the same name could overwrite older photos, and now I'm sure at least several photos and videos were lost this way. Oh, well.


Although the plane's captain had spoken of increasing speed to make up for the 2-hr. delay, we still arrived at Heathrow (LHR) over an hour late, which made getting to the train with my reserved seat to Newcastle very difficult. There was quite a crowd at the passport check area, but the line moved along quickly enough, and soon I had another stamp in my passport. I entered the main Terminal 4 concourse. At an ATM, I used my debit card to get 300 in cash ($452.85 and a $3 fee). Then I found a vending machine for SIM cards. I put in a new 10 note and got a T-Mobile SIM (I still needed to get airtime minutes).

Then I went downstairs to the Underground station for Terminal 4. At a self-service kiosk, I verified that I had an OysterCard balance of 5.50. I then fed the machine a 10 note, which should be enough for my limited time in London. With 15.50 of prepaid Underground fares, I waved the proximity card at the turnstile/gate and went to a waiting train. A few minutes later, I was heading for Kings Cross (KGX) Train Station.

Heathrow Terminal 4 Station for London Underground

An hour later I was at the big, bustling train station, at 1:05 PM, way too late for my reserved seat on the train. I found a ticket kiosk and claimed my ticket and useless seat reservation. After checking the boards for the train departure times and platforms, I went to Platform 4 for the next train to Newcastle (NCL). At 1:30 I was on my way. For part of the trip I got a reserved seat that wouldn't be taken until a later stop. Using my experience from last year, I moved to the standing room area at the end of the coach near the bathrooms and luggage racks. I had taken this trip last year to York, so the scenery was much the same. At 4:30 I was off at Newcastle Train Station (NCL). A few minutes later I checked in at County Hotel by Thistle with a keycard for room 316.


Unburdened by my baggage, I headed back out for a walk, going first around the Cathedral Church of St. Mary just west of the hotel, then back on Neville St. northeast to St. Nicholas Cathedral, southeast on St. Nicholas Street past the Black Gate and the castle tower, then to a pedestrian area with footpaths along the hillside overlooking the river Tyne. Since there were numerous wildflowers growing around here, I of course took some bug photos.

Then I wandered back into the city and got some snacks and supplies at Sainsbury's Local (8.39) north of the hotel on Gallowgate. I noticed that a headache was settling in on me. The late afternoon sun was low enough that I had to shade my eyes from the uncomfortably bright light as I walked.

Back at my room, I tried Wi-Fi Internet, but the hotel only had a pay service available. I then remembered that the travel cell phone would not charge by USB with the netbook unless a driver was downloaded from Motorola and installed (I had done this last year, but I did a new Windows 7 install since then that didn't have the driver). The Wi-Fi signal was weak, so I went downstairs to the lobby area. I then signed up for 90 minutes of Internet access (5.95 on the credit card, $8.70). Then I had to do a search for the driver. A message board had a link to the Motorola developer website. There, I found I had to register as a developer. Once that was done, I finally was able to download the driver and so I finally charged up the phone. As that was going on, there was a good amount of foot traffic to the hotel's bar one floor up where they were enthusiastically watching World Cup soccer. I checked the weather forecast and decided to do the Hadrian's Wall tour tomorrow, switching it with the Peterborough trip.

Before landing at Heathrow, the plane does a few descending loops (along with other incoming air traffic) somewhere between Oxford and Luton.

Intro June 10 June 11 June 12 June 13 June 14 June 15 June 16 June 17 June 18 June 19 June 20 June 21 June 22 June 23 June 24 June 25 June 26 Expense Report