Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

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I like big architecture

heathrow 3
heathrow 3 by Tim Caynes

its all very well sitting there in your office pointing your camera at yourself and then painting shadows and highlights all over your face, but sometimes you might need to get out into the real world and turn your camera around to look through it, rather than looking at it. and what better place to do that than in a place where you are surrounded by lots of shiny new architecture like the new terminal 5 building at Heathrow airport where there is the most shiniest and most enormous bits of architecture I’ve come across recently. I mean, I rather like big shiny bits of architecture with walls of glass and unfeasably large skeletons, but there are only so many times you can stand in front of the Forum in Norwich getting the reflection of St Peter Mancroft over someone from the BBC eating dough balls with a Chianti at lunchtime.

one of the reasons I like photographing big architecture, especially modern, Richard Rogers style architecture, is that it often lends itself very well to post-processing of the style you might inadvertently call post-modern-urban-apocalyptic-galvanised, or, um, shiny. and that’s the kind of post-processing I like to do, most often with my own face, which, in its own way, is a kind of post-modern apocalypse anyway and is often quite shiny, but in general, works better with loads of glass. and metal. so when I was lucky enough to be British Airways-bound for Colorado via terminal 5, for a user experience summit with a twist, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to fill up my memory card with geometric shapes and reflections the size of Norfolk. in fact, I got there over 3 hours early, which, after a 4 hours National Express coach ride on the 727 is the minimum recovery time before a 9 hour journey in economy, armed with 2 cameras, a home-made sandwich, and the sun even came out. a bit.

the nice thing about terminal 5, it seems, is that you can actually take a dslr out and point it at things without fear of incarceration. the most interesting shots were to found on the outside of the building, landside, so probably not too much to worry about, but I was also able to wander freely within the terminal after security, airside, taking really rather pointless photos of concrete and aircraft noses and the occasional departure board. the most interesting bit, however, was the largest escalator I have ever seen, which transported down to the transit to take you from terminal a to terminal b. this wasn’t just a large escalator, this was an escalator with its own vanishing point and although I was unsuccessful in getting a perspective view down from top to bottom, or from bottom to top, that was worth using, I did catch some of it in this rather nice overlap of escalators, elevators, staircases, suspended walkways and other shiny stuff, just before heading to the transit. you can just about make out the people crammed into the glass elevator, which, right after I took this photo, crashed through the roof and landed in a chocolate factory.

incidentally, although I had meant it to be the point of what I was writing but as usual lapsed into something completely different. I used a number of things to process this photo, but it was a combination of Topaz, Photomatix, Photoshop adjustment filters and a fair amount of painting things with a brush, which I really need a tablet to do properly, and not the kind of tablet that gets rid of the headache I’m giving myself.

travelogue 11

travelogue 11
travelogue 11 by Tim Caynes

that’s it, its time I was going, so back in the suzuki geriatric and we’ll head down the toll road to the airport where I might even get my trainers shined up by those guys by the stairwell before getting a double scoop of artichoke and onion and syrup of figs ice cream from errol who plainly doesn’t want to be there serving me so my lame english jokes about tubs and cones and traffic go down like a lead balloon but I’m past caring by this stage because I’m never going to see these people again and in 2 hours I’ll be dribbling into an all day breakfast that comes in a cardboard box at dinnertime while the lights are going out all around me and the seat in front is tilted so far back that I’m licking the lcd screen in the seatback everytime I try and take a bite of this nondescript food thing which is just dropping stuff all over my trousers which I can’t see anyway so who cares but it’s the principle even though its cheap BA class I want to be able to move a leg from time to time.

in the end I strike lucky on the journey back like I did back in november and there’s 2 spare seats in the whole plane and they’re both next to me in the row of 3 so as soon as the seat belt sign goes off I’m shifting to the middle, putting all the armrests up, making myself 5 feet wide and sprinkling unsavory looking items from my hand luggage around the place so it looks a bit of a slum. mind you, having a row of 3 seats to myself in world traveller plus is about as exciting and comfortable as having a row of 3 upturned crates in a row in a dark cupboard if you’re over 6 feet tall/long and so try as I might to lie down during the 9 hours flight I just end up sitting upright in the middle falling in and out of consciousness but just aware enough to know that I’m regularly snorting myself awake with a horrible ad hoc snore and my head is nodding like a deranged donkey on speed and so by the time we’re taxiing up to the terminal I have stretch armstrong neck and my head is wobbling all over the place.

only security to go now though. oh, and I have to walk through the labyrith of the heathrow airport connectiong tunnels for about 30 minutes. and then take a 4 hour bus ride back home. nice. at least we’re going to the pub tonight when I get home by which time I’ll probably have been up for about 3 days and so I’ll have a gin and tonic and go mental and lose all my friends. looking forward to the next time already

travelogue 1

travelogue 1
travelogue 1 by Tim Caynes

right mate, terminal 4? right, get off this one and get on that one over there. he’s going to terminal 4 but I’m knockin’ off and I can’t be bothered and as you’re the only one then I don’t really care, right? yeah, this your bag? right, there you go mate. <crash> dave’ll sort you out. dave! terminal 4! I ain’t going, can you take this one! he’s only one! alright, I’ll go, here’s my suitcase, careful with that. <crash> anywhere mate, be about 5 minutes. thanks. hang on. this bus has got leather seats. and it’s got a huge telly at the front that shows you where we’re going. and the aircon works. dammit. I get to sit 4 hours on a sharabang from 1989 with flock wallpaper on the seats and the heating up to 11 with sticky patches on the carpet, which are, incidentally, on the back of the seat and footrests that take the skin off your shins, just because I travel from East Anglia? what’s with that then? this is a nice bus. I want to be on this one all the way, not just the last leg after being ejected by a truculent dolt of a provincial driver who wants to get home for sausages and arsenal.

passing south african airways on the right, a 777 passes overhead at about 50 feet before skidding onto runway 2 and I’m wondering whether booking the hotel closest to terminal 4 is the best idea in the world as we pull up at departures and get hoofed on the concourse, our suitcases cascading out the back of the National Express like it’s a waste collection. the hilton heathrow is supposed to be connected to terminal 4 by a covered walkway which sounds like something out of dr. no, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion it might end up being an experience more like dr crippen judging by the way the day has gone so far. through the terminal building I spy a helpful yellow sign that says ‘hotel’ and realize I’m on the wrong floor and in the wrong elevator and so I press all the buttons at once to see what happens and I get ejected onto level 2 where there’s a tatty looking weatherspoons called ‘the departure gate’ or something ridiculous and just to the left there’s a barely noticable black hole in the wall where the journey to narnia begins through the back of a photo booth where you can get your head superimposed onto michael jackson. again. so this must be it. the otherworld that is the heathrow hilton covered walkway. it’s a tin tube with the occasional window and unsettling fire escape and signs which say that you’re ‘5 minutes from the comfort and luxury of the hilton heathrow’ or something like that, which doesn’t give me a great feling for how long it’s actually gonna take to get me to a bed tonight. the walkway is also suspended over the inner roadway for the airport so the odd rumble of delivery lorries underneath and business class overhead make for a sublime underworld experience. with ‘1 minute to go before the plainly further than that away entrance lobby of the luxurious and splendid hilton heathrow’ I’m beginning to lose confidence and the will to live, but as I round the next corner, I see the portal to the otherworld and I pass through into an ecstatic reception from the queen sized gods of bedroomland. well, I get to the car park anyway, and it’s raining, but hey, there’s the lobby, and what a fine lobby it is…

checking in is painless and dutch and I’m soon off to room 217 to unload, unwind and work out where dinner is. get in the room, dump the stuff, take off a couple of layers of day-old clothes and hey, let’s check out the view. hang on. this is looking into the hotel, not out. I can see the restaurant, the bar and the huge atruim in the middle of the huge square hotel. there’s loads of people down there. and they’re all looking up here. at a fat guy with no shirt on picking fluff out of his navel and doing a huge belly-out yawn. this is a mirror right? I mean, a one-way mirror. I can see them, but they can’t see me. I mean, it would be stupid to have hotel rooms on the 2nd floor looking out onto the atrium and everything where everybody out there can see back in while you’re getting undressed and checking out the tv. don’t panic. no sudden movements. just gently sliiide to the back of the room and take a moment. right. so. there’s a cleaner next door, I saw her, so let’s ask her about the windows onto the world

excuse me. sorrie? excuse me. yissss? these windows, they’re just one way, right? I mean, I can see out, but they can’t see in, is that right? I’m sorree, I’mno to understand the windoors? never mind. so I crawl back acorss the floor of my room, peel my shirt of the bed and get dressed again before casually striding up to the window and pulling those curtains across like it’s something I do every day. it turns out, when I’m down in the bar, that you can see directly in to the rooms, which is why the business rooms are on the fifth floor, so you can look down on everybody with just your boxers on and nobody ever needs to know. I spent some time talking to a student on his way back to the Netherlands who wanted to be an IT journalist when he leaves home and travel around the world like I do. except I’m only going to Colorado, I told him and he’d already spent half his life in africa helping staving children with his parent’s charity work, so I wasn’t really much of a role model, but the fact that he was even talking to me was a novelty, so I milked it as much as I could and got him to pay for my drinks with the british airways payout he’d been given for them not having a connecting flight for him. genius.

tomorrow it’s 9 and a half hours to denver, so I’m going to watch match of the day now with the curtains open and write messages on the window backwards with melted chocolate.

wake up dammit

19 hours of travelling and I’m sat in front a tv that’s 5 feet off the ground trying to focus on re-runs of CSI or something that’s got loads of earnest looking americans picking up suspicious objects from the floor of smoky warehouses in slowmotion and then cross fading to a train that goes over your head like what it does in the French Connection until some words or other slide into the frame and then just as I get it the adverts cut in and there’s a massive Nissan Globalwarmer driving across a desert with a boat in the back of it and a caption comes up at the bottom saying ‘professional driver in a simulated desert thats not real so dont do this at home in wisconsin because itll be all your fault when the chassis falls to bits and a flying camshaft takes out Mrs. Pantiles at number 47’. I must be dead in Colorado.

7 years ago all this was fields, well, probably a golf course, but now it’s full of hotels that you can see from 17 miles away but apparently I can’t find the entrance to without driving the wrong way up highway 36 and then taking a turning onto Interlocken and then realizing every turning here is called Interlocken so I’m no closer to my bed than I was 18 hours ago when I got out of it at 7 in the morning and said goodbye to my family like it was a trip across antartica but they actually were still asleep and just kind of said ‘yeah, er, bye’. in between then and now, which seems like about 5 fat tires and 2 bar meals in the tap room talking to Brad about cutting your thumb and listening to Tom going on about wine which is just a bit warm, but definitely not corked, I managed to squeeze in a bus a plane and a chevy cheapskate. oh, and a taxi to the bus station, where Ron dropped me off as we saw a couple kissing each other goodbye and he said ‘youre not getting one of those mate!’ and he was right, even if I offered him double the fare. I usually stay in a rubbish hotel in the heathrow flight path the night before flying out, well its practically on the runway, just at the point where they dump 10 hours worth waste over berkshire, but the flight to denver leaves at 15:50, so rather than taking 2 weekends out I decided to take the bus in the morning to the airport, because the bus isn’t that bad really. unless it’s sunday morning at 7 oclock and the driver has obviously just had a row about eggs with his wife and will happily call the IT specialist an ‘arsehole’ who just put his bag in the luggage compartment marked in his head as ‘gatwick’ instead of the secret one called ‘heathrow’. that was the longest 4 hour bus journey ever. so I get to heathrow about 4 hours before I need to and because I’ve checked in online, I can’t check in yet and so I have to sit in the pre-departures ‘seating area’ which is like finding a dry piece of newspaper to sit on at glastonbury – funny for 2 seconds. 2 hours later I can check in, but that’s alright, because my online check-in means I ‘beat the queues’. apart from the queue that is everybody who has checked in online for British Airways, which is the longest queue of all queues in this collection of queues that is a check in area at heathrow airport.

anyway, as Patricia says, BA’s service onboard is impeccable, even thought the 777 I’m sat in is pants compared to a 747-400 and I’m damned if I can work out when Hotel Rwanda is going to start, so I end up watching Hide and Seek instead which has that 6th sense twist that you kick yourself for not seeing an hour before and then de niro goes all cape fear/tribble, which just isn’t so good at 60, especially when you can see him in Meet the Fockers on channel 16 on the screen on the seat next door. kind of takes the tension out of it when he’s simultaneously wielding a blood-spattered spade and rescuing a toy dog from a toilet . still, dakota fanning was a great dark-haired miseryguts. I managed to squeeze in another film I’ve already completely forgotten about before we landed and no sooner had I stepped off the Avis shuttle bus than I realized I probably couldn’t find my way out of airport in the chevy preferredaccount without at least breathing some real air. I stopped for a while in the car lot and remembered that last time I came here with Chris, Air Force 1 was just landing and we watched it taxi up to the gate where will smith and tommy lee jones appeared from a range rover and we got whisked away to the marriot in Boulder.

having eventually negotiated InterlockenEverywhere I was checked into the Omni and there I sat on the end of the the bed, after a couple of swift ones in the tap room talking with a nice woman from StorageTek about Malcolm Glazer and bikes, flicking through the interactive services menu to see if the bar bill was already on my online statement which it wasn’t which I though was interesting but actually soon realized that just meant I should go to bed and stop being so sad. for some reason I woke up on the hour, every hour, until it was time to get up again. I can’t explain that, but I’ll probably not try and program the radio alarm clock and the p800 and the tv and wake up service all at the same time tonight.

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