Eclipse '99

        It's not that often an eclipse occurs in the U.K. (the last one was in 1927), so as the days towards this once-in-a-lifetime event passed by, I found out what I could about precautions to take while getting pics, looking at the sun safely, and getting down to Cornwall (the area pinpointed by those in the know as the "zone of totality"). Unfortunately, due to the rip-off mentality of the (privatised!) railway firms regarding demand for the eclipse (£50+ for a return ticket from King's Cross to Cornwall - F****** crooks!), the last option was ruled out, but London was to have 95% totality, so i chose Hamstead Heath as the spot I was to go and view one of the rarest occurances you could hope to come across in your life.
        On the day the eclipse occurred, (Wednesday, August 11th), i had an early bath and without really knowing why, I superglued three strips of exceptionally darkened old photo negative on top of each other to look at the sun (I'd planned to buy a pair of eclipse specs, but hadn't gotten around to doing that) with which I could snap away safely at the sky. I left home around 9.45, rushing to the local Tesco's get a pair of safety specs, but they were sold out of them. Coming out the supermarket, I had a quick peek at the sun (one eye closed, ofcourse!) through my negative filter and saw that a small chunk had indeed been taken out of the sun. A lady passing by with her boyfriend noticed me staring and I let her sneak a quick peek).
        It was now, so I had to get moving sharpish if I was to get a good spot on Hampstead Heath, but I took my first pic of the morning on Kentish Town (on a traffic island opposite 'The Bull & Gate'). One eldery gentleman noticed me lining up the shot and told me not to blind myself. I told him that I'd be as careful as I could and got what you see below (not the crescent in the pic. Although the sun looks as bright as it usually would, the crescent in the bottom right-hand corner shows a chunk of the sun taken out by the moon.


Having pedalled furiosly up the hill, I found myself on the 'Heath. There was already a bit of a crowd gathering (though you wouldn't notice from the pic below).


I pedalled/walked up the path leading towards Parliament Hill (a favoured spot for kite flyers) and found congestion aplenty ahead of me, as you'll probably notice below.


I'd finally made to the top of the hill on the 'Heath, and I have to say that that it was crammed where I stood. I guess a lot of people didn't need much of an excuse to take the morning off to catch a view of the big event.


At the very moment I'd reached, the clouds began to gather in the sky. Along with everyone else there, I hoped the weather wasn't going to spoil the view (over in Cornwall, the clouds were supposedly worser than those we had in London), as we all stood and chatted amongst ourselves.



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