eXtensions - Monday 15 October 2018


eXtensions - Travels with Cameras, a Mac and an iPhone (6): Walks in the Country; Apple Watch 4; a Delayed Flight Home

By Graham K. Rogers

Leighton Buzzard


I began writing this in Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow Airport with a flight delay shown as almost 2 hours. As I am always in plenty of time for most events, I had a lot more time to spare than I had anticipated. With just over a week in the UK, I limited my long-distance travel, though still made a few trips. Generally, the weather was sunny, but I did have one day of rain.

Plantation Road

A Walk in the Woods

The last two days I reserved for local trips because I wanted to walk through the countryside that I had under-appreciated in the past. A traveller sees things that locals take for granted. The area the house in is off Plantation Road at the north end of Leighton Buzzard. Despite the number of homes built in the last 50 years, there is still a generous tree cover and the area borders agricultural land which remains untouched in the main: at least for now.

Plantation Road itself has an abundance of trees. At the end of the road, furthest from the town there is a thickly wooded area which was beginning to change to its autumn colours. While the woods were quiet, there were enough cars passing on the road nearby that I had to wait patiently for clear shots. As I was using the Hasselblad as well as the Nikon D850 that doubled the wait.

Plantation Road

The woods end close to a footpath that leads back towards the house. Years ago, the farmer kept livestock in the field. Now there were benches around the edge of the woods.

Old Linslade Road

Firs Path was as I remembered it. Despite the trees - and the quiet - there was nothing really worthwhile as a photographic subject. Even monochrome versions of the shots I took during this part of the walk had insufficient to make me want to display them. It was a pleasant walk in cool, fresh air, but almost until I was home there was little of consequence to see. In the last few hundred meters near what I remember as Sales' Farm (we used to buy our eggs there), the land rises. This gave me a good view across fields towards Buckinghamshire.

Firs Path

Heathrow Intermission 1

After the walk I drove across to Milton Keynes where I tested the limits of my credit card and bought the Apple Watch 4. The staff in the Apple Store were helpful and printed out the paperwork I would need to claim back the VAT at Heathrow. That was far easier than I had expected, with the staff there walking me through the process. I had not opened the box as was required and I was eager to see my new Watch.

With a lengthy wait, I unsealed the packaging and began to set up the Watch. The process was fairly straightforward, beginning with the recognition by the iPhone of the multi-dimensional graphic code that the Watch generates. Once done, and required passwords entered, I changed the Watch orientation and selected a different watch face.

Apple Watch 4 Apple Watch 4

In the area of Terminal 5 where I found myself, none of the USB charging ports would work and several users were expressing frustration. As my iPhone was edging towards 50% and I still had a long wait, I bought a 12W charger (£18 - 772 baht, cheaper in Bangkok at 690 baht). In the shop I was told that few of the USB ports were operating. I was able to charge the iPhone, but the new area I was in did have USB ports working: frustrating. It also dawned on me an hour or so later that I could have used the UK-style charger connection for the Apple Watch that I had just set up.

Car rental

Canalside Walk

On my last full day in Leighton Buzzard, I had planned a walk along the canal. The Grand Union Canal (to give it its full name) predates the railways and was a major feat of engineering, as were the railways when they were developed. Locally, the canal was used to export the high quality sands found in the area. After World War 1, a narrow gauge railway was used to carry sand from the pits, but this linked to the canal, not to the then-developed railway.

While traffic on the canals was initially heavy, rail brought an inevitable decline. In recent years, however, there has been a new growth as the canals are popular for vacations. Some do live on the narrow boats and those I have been on are well-equipped.

Rather than walk the whole way from the house, along the canal, through the town and back again, I left my rented car by the canal along Old Linslade Road. As I do not need to stay in (or pay for) hotels, this is my one indulgence (apart from coffee, candy and chocolate). After the walk and a stroll through the town, I took a taxi back to the car.

Canal Views

The canal towpath used to be quiet, but as soon as I started I was aware that more narrow boats were moored and several people were using it for exercise: running and cycling. Many of the boats were unattended, but a few were in use. I saw several narrow boats navigating the canal and I did manage to catch one entering the sole lock on this stretch. The water was drained, allowing it to use the lower level north of the lock.

Linslade Lock

I was surprised at the number of boats at the premises of the Wyvern Shipping Company. This had long been a known vacation-hiring location, but the number there now suggests a considerable expansion. This being off-season, it is the time for maintenance and repair. Only enthusiasts will be on the water at this time of year.

Canal Views

Heathrow Intermission 2

Eventually, the gate number appeared on the information board and I needed to take the train to another section of the terminal. With the number of people around the gate area, it was a busy flight, run jointly by British Airways and Iberia. BA has a system of boarding in groups and my pass showed Group 5, although when I did board, with the glacial pace that passengers were being checked, I found the seat was close to the back so had to struggle through those already in the plane. That made little sense to me.

The Captain announced that the delay was due to extended maintenance: it had taken longer than planned. That was not encouraging. Although the late departure had been rescheduled to 17:45 we were still sitting on the tarmac at 18:00, eventually taking off at 18:30. The arrival at Bangkok was affected as a gate had to be scheduled, with a consequent long walk to Immigration, and another back in the reverse direction to where the baggage arrived. I entered my apartment at 14:00, several hours later than planned.

Globe Inn

Canalside Walk Continued

At the halfway point between Old Linslade and the town is the Globe Inn. In the early 1970s a builder from Essex and his wife bought the (then) quiet pub as a retirement venture. Within a few months, the popularity was such that it was standing room only most nights and many lunchtimes too.

The couple are long-gone and it was bought by a company. It still remains popular and when I walked past several people were enjoying an early lunch at tables outside. A bit further I saw a group of anglers. The canal had never impressed me as a fishing destination, although I did try a few times. I preferred the sea.

Canal Views

As I walked closer to the town, the numbers of people on the towpath increased and there were fewer good photo opportunities; although I did take a few shots of the road bridge at Linslade and the basin afterwards. This had once served a builder's yard where deliveries had initially come by boat. It is now a modern office building, with a fashionable residential development on the other side of the canal. This area seemed to provide me with some interesting images.

Canal Views

From there I walked into Leighton Buzzard passing Tescos and Aldi. These are in Vimy Road where the First World War Vimy bomber was made: at Morgan's Coach-works (Mike Moran, Leighton Buzzard Observer). Although some cars were made here, this is not the same Morgan Car Company that made 3-wheeler sports cars in Worcestershire and later more powerful handmade 4-wheel versions.

In the town, I bought some home-made chocolate at Creightons, for myself and my colleagues. The shop had been in the town for many years but, as the owners themselves said, some local people are still surprised to find it. For a small family business, their webpage is nicely set out. In a week when Sears has gone bankrupt, this is a sound move.


I had intended to visit Caffè Nero in Milton Keynes again, but as I started out, I changed my mind and went to Bedford, where I had lived for several years. A walk along the river bank set me up for the final evening and I was ready to go back to Bangkok.


Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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