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The Ben My Chree  is in dry dock for a couple of weeks for its bi annual service, so the Isle of Man Steam Packet have chartered a freighter to take the freight traffic to and from Heysham and their fastcraft Manannan is doing two daily returns for passenger traffic; to Heysham in the morning and to Liverpool in the afternoon. We were booked on the afternoon sailing to Liverpool for a long weekend break and it made a nice relaxing change not to have to get up early for the morning sailing. The downside of the afternoon sailing is that you have far less time left in the day by the time you arrive.

It was good to be back on the Manannan again and we settled in to our usual seats in the Executive Club lounge. My plans to catch up on some reading and podcasts went awry as usual, although I did manage to read some more of the Sony NEX-7 manual that I have in PDF format on my iPad.

HMS Dragon Type 45 Destroyer, Liverpool
Photo: HMS Dragon Type 45 Destroyer, Liverpool (Click to enlarge)

Our plan to park the car at the Crowne Plaza hotel next to where the Manannan docks and for me to then ruch int to town to try to collect the pre ordered NEX7 was changed to my wife dropping me in the car as near to the Jessops as possible and I'd try to get to the shop before it closed befoere meeting up with her in Liverpool 1.

Much to my surprise I did manage to make it to Jessops a few minutes before they closed to pick up the NEX-7, which meant that I could charge the battery and get the hang of the basic settings so I could hit the ground running with it in the morning. I also popped in to the Apple shop to buy another Airport Express to further extend and strengthen our home wireless network and also bought a new iPad rear shell case in the hope of eventually using my new iPad 3 instead of my trusty original iPad.  After meeting up with my wife we had our evening meal at Wagamama and headed off to our hotel to check in.

We hadn't booked and Executive room this time, but were allocated a room on the fourth (top) floor of the Crowne Plaze with a good view over the Mersey river. The only downsides were that the top floor was very warm and the aircon in the room only had two settings, on or off. When we eventually turned our aircon off I realised to my horror that our room must be very close to the hotels air conditioning plant as the noise level barely dropped at all and remained at around the same level as a transatlantic jet flight in economy.  

It looked like I was going to get bugger all sleep tonight...


Sony NEX-7

We're off to Liverpool for a long weekend break this weekend and as usual I've been trying to decide what camera(s) to take with us. I'd normally take a DSLR like my 5D Mk II and heavy 24-70 or 24-105 L series lens, but I've had a painful right elbow for several months that's made carrying a DSLR around all day more than a bit painful.

I have a number of compact cameras such as the Canon S90 / S95 / S100 and also the Fuji X100 and Fuji X10 that I love, but apart from the X100 they all lack a really good viewfinder. I'm not a fan of holding cameras out in front of me and squinting at the rear screen, especially if it's sunny, trying to figure out if it's framed and set up correctly.

In recent weeks I've been hearing more good things about Sony's NEX-7 on various blogs, podcasts and magazines. It's almost a "perfect storm" of everywhere I look, read or watch there's the Sony NEX-7 being praised with glowing reviews. The electronic view finder sounds extremely good and just what I've been looking for on a compact / CSC camera.

As I can't get one delivered in time for the weekend I've ordered one of Jessop's website to collect in store in Liverpool on Saturday. I'm planning a solo photo walk / pub tour of Liverpool with the aid of the latest MerseyAle publication I picked up at the recent beer festival. Their MerseyAle publicaion is also available online.

I've also downloaded the manual for the Sony NEX-7 in pdf format so I can hopefully read up on the controls and settings before I pick it up on Saturday.



We had a crap night sleep last night due to lift noise all night and felt knackered this morning. Despite that we got up early for breakfast and then asked about changing rooms. The hotel were happy do oblige so we packed our bags ready for them to move us and headed out for the day.

We took the "Clockwork Orange" (the Glasgow underground train - third oldest in the world after London and Budapest) to the Kelvin museum where we finally saw Dali's "St John on the Cross". I also saw the AC/DC exhibition that was in the basement area.

Afterwards we rode the underground back into town and I got one stop before my wife as I wanted to walk up "Bucky" while she went to M&S again. I had my obligatory look in the Apple shop and had a look at cameras in the Jacobs shop in Sauchiehall Street.

I'd been interested in the Panasonic GX1 camera as my painful elbow was making lugging my Canon 5D MkII a bit heavy going and I was curious about a lighter camera but with decent viewfinder and optics. The GX1 kit was fairly expensive with the optional electronic viewfinder and compact zoom lens and as the Canon G1 X with its huge sensor was due out soon I was also waiting to see that before deciding on one or the other. On the way out of the shop I also spotted the Fuji X10, which was like a little brother of my Fuji X100 camera. I had a quick play with it and quite liked it. Hmmm...

I went back to my local pub, the Toby Jug and had a couple of pints while I waited for my wife. When she arrived we headed to my favourite seafood restaurant just a bit further up Hope Street, the Mussel Inn, where I had my usual seafood platter and Hoegaarden white beer.

On the way back to the hotel we took a detour back to Jacobs where we bought the Fuji X10, leather case, and also a battery grip for my wife's Nikon D7000. By now I was quite cold and tired so I was pleased to get back to the hotel and see that we'd been moved to another room which was the same layout but well away from the lifts and a lot quieter.

My wife decided to stay in for the evening so I headed out to another of my favourite eateries in Glasgow, the cheap and very basic Blue Horizons chippy where fish chips, bread and a cup of tea only costs £5.70 and a refill of tea is 20p. The last time I ate here I had one and a half fish servings on my plate and I assumed that they somehow had half of a fish left in the fryer and gave it to me so I was a bit surprised to again get one and a half fish again this time. Perhaps it's standard with he fish tea?

Needless to say, I walked back to the hotel feeling very bloated...


Flip MinoHD Video Camera

I'd ordered a Flip MinoHD video camera off Amazon last week and it eventually turned up today. Even though the Amazon retailer was UK based it seemed that the Flip had been despatched from the USA so it took longer to arrive than I'd expected.

It's on charge at work at the moment and I'll have a play with it at home later and transfer the supplied software to my Mac.


We went for another drive in the Boxster to Langness. I'd brought my new Canon 5D MkII and Oregon GPS as I wanted to try out geotagging using a seperate GPS unit and not one that was attached to the camera.

I went for a short walk out to the old Herring Tower and and then to near the lighthouse where Jeremey Clarkson owns the buildings and surrounding land.

We then drove to the Sound, but it was busy as usual so we headed off to Niarbyl for soup and a baked potato for lunch and then we drove home.

I copied the GPS track log in to Google Earth and was pleased to see that it showed the route we had driven that day. I then loaded the GPS track and photos into Houdah Geo to see how it synced the GPS data and photos. While it was fairly accurate it was apparent that I needed sync the times of the camera and GPS together more accurately for better results.

Photo: GPS track log in Google Earth