Monday, December 1, 2008

Planes, planes, planes, and more planes!

Today was my long-awaited trip to the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, North London.

Thanks to yesterday's dramas with traveling (including Juliette taking us to the underground when we needed to catch an overground train), getting to the museum was easy: catch a SouthEastern train from Abbey Wood to Waterloo, then switch the the Tube's Northern line up to Colindale station. From there, a ten minute walk to the museum (all up, the journey took about 90 minutes).

What can I say about the museum? It was great -- several large buildings filled to overflowing with things-with-wings. I was very camera-happy: 311 photos in three hours!

The highlight for me, I think, was the Bomber Hall. Filled with numerous types (from a World War I Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.12 to World War II types like the Lancaster, B-17 Flying Fortress, and B-24 Liberator), the room was dominated by a Vulcan bomber, one of the most purposeful-looking aircraft ever to enter operational service -- looking like a bat out of hell!

Afterwards, I wandered into the Historic Hangars which was filled with jets and helicopters (and a few prop planes). Nestled amongst these were two of my all-time favourite aircraft, an FGR.2 Phantom and a Tornado in the livery of 617 Squadron (the famous Dambusters).

In all, I spent about three hours at the museum, and I still didn't get to the Battle of Britain Hall or the Grahame-White Factory. I went into the gift shop, which was a little disappointing: the T-shirts were too small, the die-cast models weren't terribly well made, and the posters were exorbitantly priced. But I did get myself a Dambusters mousepad, Vulcan bookmark, and a copy of Black Hawk Down.

I left about 3pm, and reversed my journey back to Abbey Wood. Took slightly longer, and it was almost 5 by the time I got to the campsite.

And where was Juliette in all this? Knowing she'd be bored stiff within 30 seconds of arriving, she decided to stay back at the campsite.

Tomorrow, we take the campervan back to Just Go. Despite all the trials and tribulations of driving around England and Scotland, I'm going to miss it. When not being pressured by narrow roads, ridiculous intersections, or other traffic, the van's nice to drive, and it's been our home for the past two weeks, and I've gotten a bit fond of it. Might be a bit teary-eyed when I hand the keys over :-(

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