Port of Felixstowe pt II: Wheels and Concrete

Having seen the shipping side of the docks, I have also explored the ‘other’ side, which is the equally interesting ‘nuts and bolts’ of how the port works.  If you aren’t familiar with Felixstowe or the East of England, then you may not know that the port is woefully poorly connected to the rest of the country.  Basically, there is one trunk road, known as the A14, which runs pretty much from the dock gate to Birmingham in the centre of the country.  It is hopelessly over capacity, such that traffic often grinds to a halt at busy times.  You would imagine that rail would also be a good way of moving the vast numbers of containers that we saw in the previous post – considering that one large ship can now carry some 10,000 20 foot containers, that is potentially 5,000 truck journeys, or a fraction of that number of trains.  But the rail network is not great either, so there is something of a bottleneck for freight leaving Felixstowe to its destinations.

These photos were taken at various places in or near to the docks, and represent some of the more interesting things I found as far as moving the goods around is concerned.

Above: trucks lay waiting to be called to pick up their loads.  There is massive security at the port, and drivers must produce a biometric ID card at the gates or they are denied access.

Above: ‘The Grid’ – the containers come off the ships and are stacked on a 3-dimensional grid system, which you can see marked on the ground.  Each container is allocated an ‘X’, ‘Y’ and vertical ‘Z’ position so it can be found easily to be loaded for its onward journey.  Did you know that the docks sometimes close when it snows?  The reason is that the snow covers the grid markings, and the crane drivers cannot see which containers are which!!

Above: Stacked ‘Short Sea’ containers [denoting that their journey is short as opposed to from the other side of the world].

Above: a fork lift which can lift a loaded 20 foot container, which could weigh 20 odd tons.

Above: There are all manner of ageing vehicles which are only used within the yards, and which are known as ‘shunters’.  This tired-looking one must have retired from the open road many years ago.

Above: Abandoned?  This has been dropped off whilst another container is emptied, to be picked up again later.

Above: I for one would not like this to be my place of work, as I fear heights!

Above: Waiting seems to be a large part of the job, for the ships’ crew and everybody else reliant on them.


Port of Felixstowe pt I: Ships and Shore

The second set of pictures I took yesterday afternoon, in unseasonably warm sunshine, was from the marina at Shotley.  This is a peninsula between the rivers Orwell and Stour, and within a few hundred yards of the shore here you have Harwich, to the south, which is a major ferry port for European destinations, and Felixstowe to the north, which is one of the largest ports in Europe.  It being a Sunday afternoon, the port was relatively quiet, with two large container ships already berthed, Maersk Klaipeda and MSC Rossella, and one which arrived whilst I was shooting, Maersk Taurus [which is the one in the last picture]. 

It is quite interesting watching the movement of these vast ships – the port is now able to handle the largest container ships in the world – because although the Taurus has a weight of 94,000 tonnes, it was pirouetted 180 degrees by two little tugs in about five minutes, and looked for a moment rather graceful.   The other interesting thing about shooting a large port like this is the sheer vastness of the machines.  As well as the ships, which are incomparably large, the cranes also dwarf everything around them.  Their drivers sit a hundred feet above the ground in a glass cab, sliding back and forth over the dock and then over the ship as they move the containers.

Pin Mill in the Afternoon

My daughter is at school quite a way from home, and as a result, when birthday parties occur, there is usually a long drive involved.  Rather than try and get home and then go back again, I find it easier [assuming the weather is decent] to take the camera and find somewhere nearby to take some photos for a couple of hours. Today was just such an afternoon; the dog refused to get into the car, so I could not spend the time walking him.  Instead, I took two sets of pictures.  The first is of Pin Mill, a small hamlet that sits on the south bank of the River Orwell as it flows from Ipswich out to sea at Felixstowe.  The light was very clear today, and the still water provided some great reflections.

Liverpool by Night

Here are a few pictures from a recent trip to Liverpool, mostly from the Pier Head area.  I snuck out of the hotel and captured some interesting sights.  My previous ramblings around the city were documented here.

The first one was taken out of my hotel window, and the second is a crop of the first, but with the white balance turned down to about 2200.  They were all taken on my d3100 with shutter priority mode at F16 over a long exposure at ISO100.  Hey, enjoy, already too soon!

Copenhagen in Winter

Right, to ease me back into blogging again after a lengthy lay off, I am posting a little photo diary of this weekend’s trip to Copenhagen.  It was savagely cold, in a way that the UK has not been so far this winter.  The east wind goes through any layers you are wearing and eats its way into your very being.  Copenhagen is a compact little city, with a lot of waterways, and a few very good real ale pubs.  These shots were all taken with my little Samsung point and shoot camera, because we only took hand luggage and the big camera is too big!!


2011 in review


Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Break

It is hardly appropriate for me to take a Christmas break from blogging, because I have posted very sparsely since the autumn.  My apologies – this is because I have been busy doing other things and there has not been much time to post things.  I will get around to it soon!  In the mean time, these Victorian singing cats have a message.

Wish You Were Here….

Phew, long time no posts, eh?

Sorry about the break – you know the kind of thing.  Work, real life, tonsillitis – but tonight I’ve decided to post some things just to get me back in the habit again. August was such a great month for FR – I was acually exceeding one post per day at one point – and then…only one for the whole of October!

Not much commentary with these as I had originally felt that they didn’t make the cut – but I think I was also getting a little to technical – precious about my shots as well, and I had forgotten that a picture can be worthwhile even if it’s not technically perfect.  So….they do at least convey, to me at least, the end of summer on the bleak Suffolk coast – the crowds have gone, the temperature is cooling, the clouds have obscured the sun, and the leaves are starting to drop.  Some are HDR’s but the people on the beach one is just a single exposure.

It’s a long haul ’til next spring…

And finally, moving north-west again,I took this one in my New Brighton Beach set which I posted last month.  To some of you it will be horrendously over-cooked, and that’s why I held off from posting it.  However I have just looked at it again and I think it’s worth posting – it certainly conveys that ‘end of summer’ feeling, although some might say it’s more ‘end of the world’……if you have an opinion, use the comments box below to let me know!

A night of IPA at The Dove, Bury St Edmunds

This is an attempt to divert my attention from photography for one moment, and to recall that FR is actually a blog concerned with all manner of good things, including cycling, beer and travelling as well as taking pictures.  In this spirit, I am pleased to post a short account of my Saturday night, which was very enjoyably spent in good company at The Dove, Bury St Edmunds’ finest beer house

The Dove is one of a rare breed – a ‘proper’ pub which is run by a beer enthusiast, the impressively bearded Roger Waters.  Dating back to the mid-1800s, the pub has, probably by virtue of its rather out of the way location,  managed to remain unaffected by the march of lager, jukeboxes and fruit machines, remaining a basic, bare-floorboarded two room bar which does not have gastro pub pretensions, but instead concentrates on serving six real ales at all times.  In recent years there have been a few ventures in the town that aim for a similar purpose – The Old Cannon being one, The Beerhouse being another.  Both of those pubs are also micro breweries as well, and the Cannon is very firmly in Gastro Pub territory.  But they both just miss the ‘real pub’ ambience – they just seem to be too self conscious in their attempts to be the real thing, and end up looking like they are trying too hard.

Our arrival saw the pub in a nice, half full state, with locals already enjoying the available ales. We were sharp enough to bag one of the scrubbed wooden tables, which was a shrewd move because the bar soon filled up with drinkers.  The ales that were ‘on’ constituted an interesting choice.  Woodfordes Wherry and Crouch Vale Brewers’ Gold are always available as the staple beers, but in addition we also noted Nethergate IPA at 3.5 percent and a very interesting 5.2 percent bruiser from Lowestoft, Green Jack Mahseer IPA.  One for later, I thought.

We began almost unanimously on the Nethergate.  All the beers here are kept fastidiously, Roger being apparently something of a font of beer related knowledge.  The pint was clear, amber-coloured and had a lovely frothy white head.  At this relatively low strength, it didn’t pack much of a punch, but had a nice, malty flavour and a reasonable finish of [apparently fuggles] hops.  As somebody who used to live in Huddersfield, now the apparent real ale capital of the UK’, you do get somewhat used to a certain style and the northern hop-monsters do make you a little blase when tasting anything else.  In order to have something to wash down with our beer, we also bought a pint of pork scratchings from the bar – not the plastic bags of Black-Country rind you often get in pubs, but big, majestic bits of salty crackling which were ideal for producing a continued thirst.

The problem with a sessionable beer such as the Nethergate is that you are tempted to drink it very quickly and then want another one.  This was the case and so I suggested to my fellow drinkers that we move on and try a pint of the Green Jack, a much more formidable beer.  The bar, although now full, was being served efficiently and waiting doesn’t seem to be a problem like it is in some pubs.  The other thing that I noticed, first with surprise, but then delight that such a reactionary step could be taken, was that The Dove has no lager taps on the bar.  Now I did not trouble myself to look into the fridges behind the bar, but I am sure a meagre supply of bottled lager may be available.  However, what a statement, and what a great one at that.  If you want to ensure that your pub is kept free of the kind of person who quaffs Carling habitually, then here is your template.

Now as I mentioned, The Dove does not ‘do’ food.  However, a short chat with landlord Roger later on revealed that a bespectacled stranger sat at the bar was, in fact, also a local butcher, and his pork pies were available from the bar, wrapped individually in greaseproof paper and with a little mustard sachet included.  We felt we had to continue our beery patronage of pork in its many, manifest forms, and so a pie each was procured.  They were quite excellent – firm, meaty, with good short pastry and little jelly to distract from the taste.  What a great drinking accompaniment – and luckily the Green Jack Mahseer IPA was strong enough to cut through the fatty pork.

Mahseer is a really great pint.  It tastes like all of its 5.2 percent strength – you feel a sense of respect for it in the mouth.  It is a strong, amber coloured pint with a creamy, tight head and a very long, almost American IPA kind of finish – probably because it has both English and American hops in the brew.  I would place it close to Adnams American IPA for taste and strength.
And so the evening carried on – although we were generally sensible enough to swap back to the sessionable Nethergate after one Green Jack.  Full marks to Roger and his team at The Dove.

Photo of the Day: La Rambla, Barcelona, 7pm

This shot of passers by was taken in the still oppressive heat of early evening by a busy news stand (oh how witty – I didn’t know a news stand could take photos!!!). It was shot in RAW format and then given a pop in Topaz Adjust to bring out all those details from the flagstones to the myriad clothing styles worn by these people.