Dramatic pictures of the Day the Sky Stood Still..

If this is life with out plains then it is cool by me {Part Two}

Dramatic pictures of the Day the Sky Stood Still. The end of the world as we know it, with nice weather and completely invisible fire and brimstone. No doubt it’s up there, so we are told to believe.

Incidentally the weather conditions are high pressure, which means sinking air, so I would not assume that some of the discolouration is anything to do with volcano ash since sinking air collects all the rubbish anyway. What’s more remarkable is this is one of the few days we may ever see when the sky in Central London is completely free of aircraft activity. The very normality of these pictures is what’s remarkable, but we were lucky to also have this stable high pressure system at the same time as the ash cloud thing was going on. Using the twitter hashtag #contrailfree  Amelia Gregory collected images of the hyperreal crystal blue skies people experienced over London and much of the UK over the weekend.

the city contrail free gavin mackie
A view over the City of London by Gavin Mackie.

Well, it’s Monday and there are still no planes in the sky above the  homes in Brick Lane. True, it’s not the perfect blue sky that it was over our glorious plane-free weekend, but it is most definitely contrail free.

Surrey contrailfree Julia Pollard
The flight path over a lake in Surrey remains blissfully contrail-free. By Julia Pollard.

Over the weekend, as others successfully used the hashtag #getmehome on twitter to help people to return from their travels,  Amelia Gregory used the hashtag #contrailfree to collect photos of the wonderful skies that we experienced over London and beyond.

As I look back at my collection it reminds me of the wonderment I feel every time I look up at the clear blue sky – with nothing between us and space beyond. On Saturday and Sunday it seemed so hyperreal that it was almost unnatural – more Photoshop than real life. And yet this was very real.

Here then is  Amelia Gregory’s to clear blue skies, with thanks to everyone on twitter who joined in with her crazy plan.

Sky over Tooting Jenny Robins
The sky over Tooting in SW London by Jenny Robins.

English cricket pitch no planes Alice
A traditional cricket pitch by Alice.

Bristol contrailfree Pearl peroni
The skies over Bristol by Pearl.

Suffolk contrailfree simon wild
A flag flying in Suffolk by Simon Wild.

Twickenham rugby ground lia182
The skies above Twickenham Rugby Ground by Lia.

Contrail free tristam sparks
Pure blue by Tristam Sparks.

Blue Skies Contrail Free Matt Bramford
Bethnal Green by Matt Bramford.

littlehampton clive flint
Littlehampton by Clive Flint.

Peckham Library Belinda
Lilac skies over Peckham Library in south London by Belinda.

Volcanic ash sunset south bank
A volcanic ash sunset over the South Bank by Amelia.

Today, disbelief that the exploding volcano could possibly affect life in the long term has gradually turned into panic as the lack of air travel starts to affect everyone’s lives in ways that could not have been predicted. Shows have been cancelled, holiday plans altered, and alternative methods of travel found. There is talk of a naval rescue for holiday goers. Beautiful exotic flowers and fruits that are destined for air freight to the West now languish in the refrigeration units in Kenya. As a friend predicted to me on Saturday, the airlines have started to desperately question the authority of the experts who say it is too dangerous to fly.

Bethnal Green contrailfree gavin mackie
Clear blue skies over Bethnal Green (where I live) by Gavin Mackie.

It is not as if I am unaffected – I’ve just paid for a stand for Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration at the London Book Fair where I was hoping to attract international buyers, many of whom will no doubt not have made it into the country. I expect this will result in less sales for me, something I can ill afford. On the plus side I suspect that many European buyers will have made it, having realised that it is possible to carry on business as usual if they travel by land, and not air, to the UK.

Fight the Flights no planes
A view of clear skies above City Airport, courtesy of Fight the Flights.

“There are no flights to anywhere at all and it will probably precipitate the downfall of capitalism.” So predicted 6 music this morning: it was said in jest but herein lies a kernel of truth. Things may become bleak for many businesses dependent on global trade if planes continue to stay grounded and this really could affect how we interact with the rest of the world in fantastic ways we could never have imagined before. Luckily the Transition Towns movement has been putting methods for local resilience into practice for some time: and now might be the time for the mainstream to look at their ideas with closer scrutiny. Not a moment too soon in the opinions of many.

Brick Lane amelia gregory
Brick Lane looking towards the City. By Amelia.

Of course, there is also the possibility that the neighbouring Katla volcano may blow. A far bigger beast, she has accompanied every single of Eyjafjallajökull’s previous eruptions. How long will this situation continue to affect our lives? Will there be long term ramifications for the micro-climates of those countries lying under the ash cloud? So many questions remain unanswered… and in the meantime I continue to marvel at this force of nature, showing us exactly who is boss around here.

Amelia Gregory

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