Warner Bros Studio Tour

Booked several weeks before setting off for LA the Warner Bros Studio Tour was high on the list of places I wanted to visit this time. Previously I had visited both Paramount Pictures and the Universal Studios in November 2018.

Entrance to Warner Bros Studio Tour

The studio is associated with numerous films and television shows that I grew up with so it was a dream come true to finally visit. I also got to visit the sound stage for Lethal Weapon TV series which has just been cancelled so the sets were due to be demolished this week and my group would be one of the last to tour them.

Check out the Gallery for all the photo’s from the tour, they did ask not to record video during the tour and not to take photo’s whilst on the sound stage so unfortunately no photos of the Lethal Weapon set.

Los Angeles (Santa Monica)

For my second visit to Los Angeles I decided to stay near the sea at Santa Monica. The hotel is located around ¼ mile from the sea front and the famous Santa Monica pier. The area is much nice than the area of Hollywood I stayed in previously with more shops, restaurants and cafes in the area near to the hotel.

Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica

For this visit rather than just to rely on the iPhone camera I bought a simple ‘point & shoot’ from Canon. This gives better overall images as well as an optical zoom (x4) plus a better digital zoom (x18) if needed. It only records video in 1080p where as the iPhone will do 4K at 60FPS.

Flying once more from Heathrow Terminal 5 with British Airways (got to use that Bronze membership) I flew directly to LAX. Once again I upgraded the standard economy seat with a seat near the emergency exit to allow the extra leg room.

Santa Monica State Beach

Places visited so far – Hollywood walk of fame & Chinese Theater, Warner Bros Studios, Griffiths Observatory, Malibu and the Santa Monica Museum of Aviation. As the weather is going to be poor tomorrow I have decided to visit the California Science Center which should be interesting.

Check out the Galleries for the latest pictures.

Adelaide to Sydney

Finally uploaded a video to YouTube that I recorded whilst flying back to Sydney from Adelaide in January 2019. The video is of the aircraft backing away from the airport gate and then belting down the runway as it takes off. It was recorded on my iPhone 8 in 4k 60FPS, if you don’t see it in 4k then that’s down to Youtube.

Qantas QF756 – Boeing 737-800 at Adelaide Airport.

I am not a professional video recorder or editor so don’t expect Lord of the Rings or 2001 : A Space Odyssey.


Countdown to Santa Monica

The countdown is underway! 64 days until I set off again to LA only this time I’ll be staying in Santa Monica. Having visited the Hollywood area in November I’ll be staying closer to the beach and sea front on this trip, around 500m from the beach.

Santa Monica Pier taken from Palisades Park 9th November 2018

Initially it was between returning to LA or visiting New York instead. As there were a few things I didn’t get to see or do last time I opted to return to LA and possibly visit New York at a later date. There are so many places in the United States that I would love to visit.

Tickets to fly…

All the hotels are booked, flights and train tickets arranged. The plan is same as my previous visit in that I will travel down to London the night before and stay overnight in a hotel near Heathrow. The following day head over to Terminal 5 and get the flight to Los Angeles.

I’m looking forward to returning to LA and exploring the city further.

Exploring The Universe

From an early age and looking up at the millions of stars in amazement I have had an interest in astronomy.

Orion Starblast 4.5 Reflector Telescope. 113mm mirror and 450mm focal length.

Many people, myself included, visit places all around the world to see the natural wonders, take photos and appreciate nature at its best. In places such as Natural Parks, Rain Forests and the mountain ranges. So what’s the difference to looking out across the landscape to looking up at The Moon? The answer is so simple: The distance to our moon is hundreds of thousands of miles whilst the galaxies and nebula can be millions of light years.

Simple image of the moon taken by an iPhone through the eye piece of the Starblast 4.5.

The Moon, planets, stars, nebula and galaxies in the night sky are just as much a part of the natural wonders of this world. Unlike say visiting the Peak District which can be easily reached in a small car exploring the Lunar landscape takes a little more effort and money.

Orion SkyQuest XT10g Reflector Telescope. 254mm mirror and 1200mm focal length.

You don’t need a Saturn V and billions in cash to be amazed at the universe, a small telescope can do the trick from your own back garden and gives a wow factor that’s well worth the money spent. I won’t go into the details of what telescope to buy as there are many web sites and You Tube videos that do this already.

The wow factor of looking at the mountains and craters on the moon, seeing the cloud bands and moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, the phases of Venus, seeing a distant galaxy, new stars just born in the Orion Nebula and the thousands of stars inside a globular cluster.

The biggest draw backs of this hobby: The British weather, light polluted skies and resisting the temptation to spend more money to buy bigger and better gear for that better view.

British Airways Executive Club

After the recent flights to Los Angeles and Sydney I’m no longer a Blue but rather a Bronze Member of the British Airways Executive Club. I now have a real membership card, the Blue Membership card is a virtual one on the BA app, and a couple of rather nice luggage tags.

Every time you book a flight with BA you earn a number of tier points. The number you get varies on the following: How far you are flying, What class of cabin you fly in and the flexibility of the ticket. The more tier points you collect during your membership year the higher up in the Executive Club you climb.

So what does being a Bronze Member mean? Well I can now use priority business check in, free reservations of seats 7 days before the flight rather than 24hrs and a higher priority when boarding the aircraft even if I book World Traveller [Economy]. As a Bronze Member you also get 25% more AVIOS loyalty points to spend on flights, upgrades or in flight purchases if flying European short haul.

The most important benefit of all, I get to pretend to be Royalty whilst still being a peasant….

Sydney (January 2019)

Tied with the USA one of the other places I’ve always wanted to visit was Australia. Originally planned in November 2018 I was going to fly out to see family who had emigrated there several years ago. Unfortunately due to conflicting dates of travel – my cousin would be flying to Europe more or less the same time (give or take a few hours due to time zones) I would have been taking off for Australia.

British Airways BA15 – Boeing 777-300ER refuelling at Singapore Changi Airport

The dates for Oz were put back a few months to January 2019 and the height of the summer in the southern hemisphere. The flights were booked and plenty of factor 50 suncream was ordered. It also coincided with a record breaking heatwave that featured on the news most nights.

The obvious sights were of course Sydney Opera House and the Harbour bridge. Like the recent trip to LA I researched the places to go and how to get there before I travelled so on arrival I knew one of the first things to buy was an Opal card.

The Opal card was probably one of the best things I have bought whilst away, free to buy and then pre-load it with a balance to travel. Tap on and off the bus, train and even the ferry. A daily spend limit of AU$15 and AU$60 a week gave excellent value as all trips after hitting these limits were free.

East Midlands Trains – Chesterfield to London St. Pancras International

First lesson of the Australian summer – it is hot, very hot. Even on a cloudy day with a breeze it could be anywhere between 30˚C and 38˚C, even at 5am it was around 25˚C. The only two times you were not covered in sweat was 1) in a good air conditioned room 2) in the shower or sea (and there’s sharks in the sea).

During the stay I decided to jump on an internal flight to Adelaide for a couple of days to visit other family members who traveled out a few days before. I got to see some of the sites of the city and meet up with some more friends who also emigrated there some time ago.

British Airways BA16 – Boeing 777-300ER at Sydney International Terminal

Australia is a vast country, with many wonderful sights and attractions such as the Harbour bridge and the opera house. I enjoyed having lunch / dinner at the restaurants on the Circular Quays watching the ferries and ocean liners come and go.

When I go back to visit again I would probably go when it was not the height of summer or try to time it so its not one of the hottest summers on record….

Los Angeles (November 2018)

For my first trip to the USA I chose LA as my destination. Having seen so many films and TV shows based around the city I’d always wanted to go from an early age. Finally I got around to booking and actually going.

British Airways BA281 – Boeing 787-9 at Heathrow Terminal 5

Staying on Vine Street in Hollywood, I wanted to be close to the studio’s such as Paramount, Universal, etc as well as the famous Hollywood sign and the ‘Walk of Fame’. I also intended to visit the beach at Santa Monica, Malibu Beach and ‘Gorn Rock’ which is a rock formation where many TV shows & films have been filmed including Star Trek, Big Bang Theory, and many more.

Unfortunately the first night I was there a shooting occurred which resulted in the deaths of several young people in a night club, as well as a police officer first on scene. The following morning a wild fire started around the same area which destroyed a large number of homes, killed many people who were trying to escape or defend their property.

British Airways BA280 – Boeing 787-9 at LAX Tom Bradley Terminal

As not to wonder into the danger area I decided it would be best to re-arrange travelling to certain places or not visit them at all. Malibu and Gorn Rock was dropped, whilst Griffiths Park and the observatory were postponed by a few days till the small fire there had been put out. If I didn’t see them this time round on the grand scale of things it was no loss, I could always come back another time.

Overall I really enjoyed the trip to LA, I completed most of the things I’ve always wanted to do: Stay in Hollywood, see the Hollywood sign, visit Paramount, find “my” star on the walk of fame, Universal Studios, visit Santa Monica and generally explore the city and experience the cultural differences between the UK and US. I now know in the US ground floor is floor 1 where as in the UK its called ‘Ground’ and a 5c (Nickel) coin is bigger than a 10c (Dime) coin, not to mention all the bank notes (bills) are the same size.

Hollywood Sign from Griffiths Observatory

The whole point of travelling to other countries is to experience the differences and learn about them. It gives us better understanding of the world and appreciation of it.

Would I come back to LA again? Yes, definitely. Watch this space…

New Website

Welcome to the new website!

As Facebook seems to reduce the quality of the videos posted to its site to the extent that they are only just viewable, I have decided to place the pictures and videos of my travels direct to the web. The videos will be hosted on YouTube as they can be played back at the original resolution and frame rate that they were recorded at (4K 60FPS).

The site will be updated slowly as I have spare time so don’t expect daily / weekly or even monthly updates!

So crack open a bottle and celebrate the launch….