Sunday, February 18, 2007


This weekend we went to Duxford. The Imperal War Museum's attic. It consists of six hangars full of aeroplanes. Had we set off earlier we would have had time to see more than just two of them. However, the ones we did see were spectacular. We looked in the new "Airspace" hangar (History of British aviation) and the American collection. Airspace has a prototype concorde you can go inside, a vulcan bomber and many others.

The last Spitfire (Mk 24F)

The only criticism I can offer is that the aeroplanes are so closely packed it's difficult to photograph them. Here, the spitfire is framed above by the port wing of the Vulcan, with the Lancaster behind it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Half Term Break

Siobhan broke her arm falling off her cousin's trampoline on Sunday. It's a buckle fracture of both the ulna and the radius. This week she is modelling a temporary plaster from Bury Hospital Accident and Emergency department until any swelling has gone down. Next week we take her to our local hospital to change the plaster for a permanent one that she will wear for the next five weeks until the bones have healed. This evening her first tooth fell out (not related to the trampoline-diving incident). So the tooth fairy has to find a pound to exchange for it tonight.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lovely Snow!

Winter has finally delivered. With five inches (125mm) of snow, travel to work was not possible and I worked from home, having seen the weather reports yesterday and brought my laptop home with me. At lunch time we went out and played in the snow. Ewan was very excited by it. We even did some tobogganing on tea trays. Metal tea trays make surprisingly good vehicles for sliding down-hill. Round ones are more exciting because there's a strong possibility you'll spin round as you descend. I'm hoping the snow will make it too difficult to travel to work tomorrow as well.

The snow shows how much heat we lose through our supposedly high-tech roof. It was constructed as a so-called "warm roof": all the insulation is just below the tiles unlike the traditional British roof, where the insulation is laid over and between the joists on the ceiling of the upstairs rooms. This means that our loft space is as warm as the rest of the house. I've always had misgivings about the roof because the top four feet always melts the frost quite quickly. It also melts the snow and the whole lot had slumped into the gutters by late afternoon, unlike our neighbours. We must be losing a fair bit of heat through the top of the roof. But then, we also have the flue from the wood-burning stove passing through the loft space and that dumps a lot of heat in there. I suppose it has to go somewhere. I don't feel too bad about it though, because most of that heat was generated from carbon-neutral logs.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Monument

We went up The Monument. This is the column built to commemorate the Great Fire of London. It is 202 feet high (61.5m) and is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. I read that on the Monument web site. I've no idea what that means. I've seen taller stone columns (the Washington monument, for instance), but presumably they don't count because they're not isolated. It must be some technical term because the Washington monument in Washington is in the middle of a field in the centre of Washington DC. That's isolated from other buildings as far as I can see. So, I can only assume that it fits the criteria because it's shaped like a classical column and it's by itself. The Washington monument must be an obelisk.

Anyway The Monument is well worth a visit, with spectacular views from the top once you've climbed the 311 spiral stairs.

Cabinet War Rooms

Wow! Winston Churchill's bunker. When the war ended, the Cabinet War Rooms were just locked up and left. Some of the rooms were emptied but most of the 33,000 square foot (3100 square metre) complex remained exactly as it was for 60 years. We saw the room where the cabinet frequently met during the war, where members of the government slept, even Churchill's personal dining room and the room where the first transatlantic hotline phone was set up
I couldn't help thinking that if we'd lost the war, this would be a bit like Hitler's bunker is now: ruins. As it is, it survived intact and with much of the contents untouched until the War Museum began reopening it. The parts that were stripped have been refurnished using photographs taken shortly before that happened. It's just an amazing experience wandering around and thinking that it's just as it was 70 years ago. The picture shows D looking at the cabinet meeting room as he listens to the audio commentary.