Neil's News

London and Paris

24 June 2002

Last week Michelle and I took something called a vacation[?]. What a novel experience. Here are some photos. It was lots of fun, but it is nice to be back at work.

Caledonian Sleeper

[Caledonian Sleeper] This is a brief photographic log of a trip to London and Paris which Michelle and I took in June 2002. Since we were starting in Inverness, the Caledonian Sleeper was the most convenient way to get to London. It is a great way to travel, though it was difficult to sleep through the gymnastics at midnight when the train met and merged with two other sleepers from Aberdeen and Fort William.

Station X

[Teletype] Bletchley Park is a nice day trip from London. Espionage, tanks, cryptography and electromechanical computers. I even got a chance to pound away on a teletypewriter just like the one I used to own. Below is some punch tape I kept as a souvenir.

[Paper Tape]

Welcome to London

[...Females of Doubtful Reputation...] Not everyone is welcome.

British Museum

[Egyptian Hieroglyphs] Michelle scanning for 4000 year old typos in Egyptian Hieroglyphs at the British Museum. We found one.

Science Museum

[Difference Engine: crank end] [Difference Engine: printer end] Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No.2 at the Science Museum. This was the one thing that was on my 'must-see' list for this trip. Although we didn't get to see the engine demonstrated, we did get to talk at length with someone who was conducting some repairs on it.

This engine has the ability to solve any 7th order polynomial. It is tantalising to think about what might have happened if Babbage had launched a steam-powered information age a hundred years ago.

Horse Guards

[Horse Guards] The Queen's Horse Guards on parade. What's with all the Canadian flags we kept running into? I thought we were in London...

HMS Belfast

[Anti-aircraft gun] Uh oh, hide the ammo. Michelle's found the anti-aircraft guns on the HMS Belfast.

Tower of London

[Tower of London] The Tower of London has three features that really caught our attention:

  1. Spiral stair cases. Lots and lots of really tight stone spirals. Really nice.
  2. The British crown jewels. There are few things funnier than watching how the tourists were herded like livestock past the exhibits with the help of moving walkways.
  3. Ravens. These black birds are not only impressively large (there's one perched on the bench), but will walk up to visitors and talk to them. That was a bit of a shock.

Very dark

[Blackness] Suddenly it got very, very dark...


[Eurostar in Paris] ...and when the sun reappeared, we'd passed through the Channel Tunnel and were in Paris.

Paris Buildings

[Tall and Thin Buildings] What's with the aspect ratio of Paris buildings? I did not stretch this image at all; it looks far-fetched enough as it is.

Paris Police

[Paris Police] Paris has a very heavy police presence. Officers in cars, on foot, on bicycles and on rollerblades.

Eiffel Tower

[Eiffel Tower] [Coin Tower] Obligatory photograph of the Eiffel Tower.

On the right is a model of the tower I made last year out of clips and tuppence coins.

Notre Dame

[Notre Dame] We travelled all the way from Scotland, and whom do we meet in front of Notre Dame Cathedral? Never trust a Scot with bagpipes.


[Mona Lisa] The Louvre has an enormous amount on exhibit. But most of the tourists seem to skip everything in the museum so that they can see Venus de Milo or Mona Lisa (pictured) put a checkmark on their "been there -- seen that" list before moving on.

Fill 'er up

[Paris gas] Here's an idiosyncrasy which I found interesting. Most of the world's gas/petrol stations are large drive-in affairs. Paris contains little curb-side establishments which take up no more space than a pair of parking spots. Why are gas/petrol stations in the rest of the world so large?

Paris Panorama

[Panorama of Paris]
Panorama of Paris taken from the Basilique du Sacré Coeur. Click to enlarge.

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