The clippers have no seating out front, nor on the side, and most of the windows don't open. The first one was empty but not going where we wanted; the second was heaving.
So we were doomed to sit inside, behind some mucky windows through which photography was a lost cause. But down the back there was a bar, so catering was possible.
At North Greenwich pier there's this. Is it art? I have no idea. The dangleway dangles its way past everything, and a plan germinates in my head: how many forms of public transport can I use in a single day?
I'm very taken by the orderly seagulls perched in rows on this thing, having turned the metal into barcodes by shitting so much on them.
I love the Greenwich peninsula and nearabouts. There's seemingly nothing they can or will ever do to make it look pretty. We've just sailed past the zone of aggregates and the views are of cranes and sugar factories and disused wharves. It's so fantastically bleak. Even the O2 itself looks kind of shit really.
The big Rolls Royce engine outside the Emirates Aviation Experience, however, looks ace. Aviation you say?
That's right. It's time for Helen's birthday present, 6 weeks or so after the day itself. We're visiting a small exhibition about how planes work, with a focus on the A380. This place is next to the dangleway, the Boris-and-Emirates vanity cable car joining two shit parts of London together while providing shit views of other shit parts of London. Even during the Olympics barely anyone used the damn thing, and we're not going to use it today. But we are going to do plane-y stuff.
Engines work on 4 basic principles: suck, squeeze, bang, blow. Who knew?
Turns out it is quite uncomfortable. She's raging because there's no pyjamas, and the legroom sucks. The entertainment system works, and one of the videos is about what flying does to the human body. There's a "frequent flyer" giving advice on how you should avoid alcohol onboard, and some science sounding guy saying it's common that you'll find your emotions heightened when watching movies. That'll be why I'm always in floods of tears, eh. To add to the realism, one seat's entertainment system is broken and needs rebooting.
Keep the diamonds in the centre. Follow the flight path. Keep the dot on the 10º line during take-off then level off. Go to heading 18. Etc.
Landing at Heathrow. We do this three times; the first twice are a great success, while on the third we would most likely have died.
Having got the hang of Heathrow, she then chooses to land at Hong Kong Kai Tak airport. Go look it up if the name means nothing - it doesn't exist now, since Chep Lap Kok replaced it. Back in the day it was one of the most challenging approaches in the world, with jumbos having to weave between skyscrapers and pull a strong right before landing on a short runway poking into water.
Helen lands almost perfectly at her first attempt. Slightly to the right, on the grass, but otherwise spot on.
Hong Kong looks as misty as it does in real life.
The session ends with a textbook cloudy night landing in Dubai, followed by a quick take-off and bank to the left in order to see Burj al Khalifa, Burj al Arab and the Palm Jumeraih. Seriously these graphics are pretty good, even if my phone couldn't capture that very well.