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Blue skies, blue skies, nothing but blue skies

Thought for the day…”  It is better to be looked over than overlooked”  (Mae West).        ” Never test the depth of the water with both feet”.

Never understood why some countries make it difficult and expensive for TOURISTS to visit.  Tourists bring in money, create jobs and also help to develop a country.   Tourism, within reason, is not a bad thing, and countries like New Zealand depend upon it.   New Zealand makes it easy for tourists, and gets lots of them.    But the bottom line is that tourists bring money into a country.    I had details of some good offers on Swiss Airlines (great airline too, so no hesitation in flying with them), including to India.  India is another one of those countries which likes to make things difficult for people just wanting to visit as a TOURIST.   Not only is there all the hassle of forms, possible interviews and questions which go far beyond reasonable (is it really important what my mother’s maiden name was?), but you also have to pay a large amount of money for the privilege as well.   Compare that to many countries where all you need is a valid passport when you arrive.  Guess where I am NOT going??

And another photo of Norway in beautiful weather again (of which there has been lots this year).  Warm temperatures, no wind and cloudless days…can this be Norway??

LOW-RES-NOR-Geilo-lake-(3)-14-Sept-2014

and another photo out of the archives…a traditional house bus in New Zealand……

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Clear air and beautiful reflections, Autumn splendour.

Thought for the day….”  Some people are alive only because it is illegal to kill them”.

” The Earth is the insane asylum for the universe”

Another beautiful morning in the hills of Norway for the photo today….clear air and almost no wind…… Did you know that Norway is home to Europe’s highest waterfall (Vinnufosen which falls some 860 m), and also the World’s longest road tunnel (Laerdal Tunnel, at 24.5 km long), and also the deepest road tunnel in the World (Eiksund Tunnel which goes down to 287m below sea level).    It is also home to Europe’s deepest lake (Horninsdalsvatnet which goes down to 514m depth) and has the longest coastline in Europe ( 53, 199 km of coast).     Norway has also won more winter Olympic medals than any other country in the world.    And around 98% of all electricity comes from hydro-electric sources, the highest ratio of any country in the world.   There is a fair amount of water visible in this photo of the lake at Geilo……..

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and a photo out of the archives…..the old pub in Cardrona, South Island, New Zealand.

LOW RES NZ Wanaka Cardrona hotel & car 2

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23.13 Night train to Oslo, Norway

Thought for the day….” Do coffins have lifetime guarantees?”                         ” If heat rises then shouldn’t Hell be cold?”

Gladys Knight and the Pips had a big hit with the song “Midnight Train to Georgia”, but the photo today is of the 23.13 night train to Oslo, which is a long way from either Georgia the country or Georgia, USA.   Not much sleep ahead for the drivers of the night train from Trondheim, Norway south towards the capital, Oslo.     They still have about 495 km to drive through the mountains at night.   I had forgotten that travelling by train could be so pleasant, especially when compared to air travel.   Boarding the train is completely fuss free, no security goon worries if I am carrying a tube of toothpaste (which apparently, is dangerous now) and nobody at the station had a panic attack because I was carrying a Swiss army knife.   I also did not have to stand in a line anywhere, nor did I have to undress to get onto the train.    Once onboard the train, the coffee came in normal sized cups, and actually tasted like good coffee, unlike airline economy-class coffee.   And was the train any worse off because the passengers had not been through security checks???  No.  It even arrived in Oslo early.  Almost forgot to mention that they were serving hot, fresh cinnamon rolls from the oven in the cafe onboard.   Well done NSB !  Already sent an email to NSB to congratulate them, as it is good to give positive feedback when it is due.

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And another photo out of the archives, and from the other side of the world……coral reefs surrounding the islands of Fiji.

WORDPRESS-FIJI

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Helsinki duo – Two from Helsinki, Finland

Thought for the day…” The difference between genius and stupidity is…..genius has limits”

” The secret of getting ahead is getting started (Mark Twain).

Two photos today  from Helsinki, capital of Finland.   Helsinki is one of those cities that you have to discover, for there is a lot that is not obvious on arrival.   For one thing, Finland is number one on the world for coffee consumption per capita, and the coffee is good, strong and available everywhere. (Try ‘The Roastery’ on Alexanderkatu for some really good coffee). And to go with the great coffee….some Fazer chocolate (although Karl Fazer was actually originally from Germany).   It is also the only city in Finland to have trams and a subway (metro) and is said to have the world’s most northerly metro station.     The language is horribly difficult for a foreigner, in winter is is very cold (-25 is not uncommon) and also dark for most of the day, but to make up for this there are some excellent sports facilities, wonderful architecture, good eating places, and the feeling that you have left Europe behind and have crossed into Russia (like when you see the Russian Orthodox churches in Helsinki, with their onion domes).  Indeed, parts of Helsinki look so much like Russia that Helsinki used to be used instead of Russia when making films (such as ‘Gorky Park’) until the city council decided that it was not a good idea and stopped promoting it.    And if you explore the indoor markets, then you may find things like bear meat for sale as well as the more common reindeer and moose meat.  But perhaps give another tradional (but popular) Finnish sweet, salty liquorice, a miss.   The city has about 53% women (versus 47% men), and after Reykjavik, Iceland, is the world’s most northerly capital city.  More trivia….it was the first country in the world to give women the vote and also the first country to make broadband a legal right for citizens.

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and another photo out of the archives….taken just a couple of hundred metres from the previous photo, but months apart….a new photo converted into Black & White, then converted into Sepia to give it the old-fashioned look.

WORDPRESS FINLAND-Helsinki-Sepia-10-J

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Sunshine in Stockholm, Sweden

Thought for the day…” Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”    (Einstein)

” Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”.

Although not very tall, the City Hall Tower in the centre of Stockholm does give great views of the Gamla Stan (Old Town) in the Swedish captal of Stockholm.   Stockholm is home to about 900 000 people, and lies at 59 degrees north and has daily ferry links to Finland, Estonia and Latvia.  Visible in the photo is the island of Riddarholmen (which means Knights Island) with its pointed church, and behind that, the Gamla Stan (Old Town), and in the harbour behind, the ferries to Finland (and a couple of visiting cruise ships too).  Despite its image as a modern, Scandinavian centre, areas of the city such as Tensta and Rinkeby in the suburbs suffer from high crime and racial problems (including some riots not long back).    Stockholm, in a similar way to London, suffered a great plague.    It has over 100 museums, including the ABBA museum.  The photo shows Stockholm on a summers day, but summer here is very short, and for much of the year it is cold and dark, which the sea freezing during the winter months.    Not a place for a winter holiday !!

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And another photo out of the archives….a hard day in Tallinn, Estonia…..

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Feel free to leave a comment !!

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Pinot Noir wine from New Zealand

Thought for the day…” They talk about the speed of light, but what is the speed of darkness”

“If a mime artist is arrested, does the policeman tell him that he has the right to remain silent? “

Off to New Zealand for the photo today and to the very scenic Lake Hayes near Queenstown.    Apart from being very scenic, Lake Hayes is also home to some good wineries, such as the famous Amisfield (which also includes a restaurant).   This area (Central Otago) has now become famous for quality pinot noir wines, although in the 1860s it was the scene of the Central Otago Gold Rush.  Until the 1970s, there were few vineyards, but since then they have expanded rapidly, helped by the perfect climate, being protected by high mountains and having hot, dry summers and a short, cold winter.   Pinot Noir grapes originated in the Burgundy region of France, but are a difficult grape to cultivate and also to convert into wine.   Pinot noir is also used in the production of champagne.   Looking at the photo below, it is hard to believe that Queenstown Airport, which is just a few kilometres away (in the back left of the photo) handles over 1.2 million passengers a year, many of them heading for Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of New Zealand.

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and a photo out of the archives…..a new photo made to look old.    The outdoor museum in Ballarat, Australia.

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The Streets of Pakistan – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…” Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity”

” If you want to shine like the sun, then you have to burn like it”.

Off to Pakistan for today’s photo, and to Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber area of the North West Province.   This area is a centre for tribal groups, and because it is not far from the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan, then traders from Afghanistan are often seen on the streets there.   Once part of the British colony, it became part of the newly created Pakistan in 1947, although due to its position on the routes into Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, then it has seen conflicts for centuries.   Hot and dusty, with temperatures reaching into the 40 degrees during the summer.  Despite a population of around 2.5 million people, it is mostly men that are seen on the streets of Peshawar (as in much of Pakistan).  Pakistan is still very much a male orientated country, except in the Hunza province in the far north, where things are much more equal.    Seen here in the photo are Afghani street traders, a common sight on the pavements in Peshawar.

Wordpress-Pak-north

and a photo out of the archives….a Ground Eagle seen in Zambia……..

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Busy Bee, and colourful too.

Thought for the day…” Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon, and wise too late”.

”  An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind”.

For years and years, I have used toothpaste without problems.   But now, when I go through an airport security check,, apparently, toothpaste is dangerous.  And talking of airport security checks, why do they also make pilots go through the security checks??   Are they afraid that the pilots might gain control of an aircraft (!!!!).    Crazy.   And in one of the current photography magazines, I read that Manchester United football club in the UK is banning people from bringing in electronic devices larger than 150 mm X 100 mm.  So things like Ipads are no longer allowed into a football stadium.   The club said that it was following airports and also following security intelligence.    I would like to ask what sort of ‘intelligence’ says that Ipads are a security risk??    And also, what sort of ‘intelligence’ says that toothpaste is also a security risk.   Bring back common sense, and also get rid of this sort of paranoia that appears to be spreading now from airports to even football stadiums.

And today’s photo is a close up of a bee collecting pollen.

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and one out of the archives….a rag and bone collector in Albania…….

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Sunrise to sunset, two different continents. Not the Quality Resort Spa Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there”.

”  The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute.   The man who does not ask a question is a fool for life”.

Not so many photos of sunrises on the internet (wonder why? !!!) but here is one taken in the hills of Norway at about 750m altitude.   Deep down in the valley below, the villages are covered by the clouds, but higher up, the sun is already warming the hilltops.   Another beautiful day ahead….

One of the challenges of photographing sunrises in summer in Norway is that during the summer, the sun rises VERY early in the southern parts (and in the north of Norway, it does not set at all (the midnight sun), so there is no sunrise at all in the far north for a few months).  This photo was taken on a very early morning trip to Oslo airport.  If you have not already read about the airport, then have a look here-

http://wp.me/p2qvhc-Ef                                   (this post came out on 1st August).

Oslo airport is a disgrace for a Scandinavian capital, best avoided !!

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and another photo out of the archives, as a contrast, sunset in Nicaragua.

LOW-RES-Nic-sunset

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The Power of the Internet

Thought for the day ” What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end”

” You never know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out”   (Warren Buffett).

Having just written about the problems with Cyberphoto and the difficulties in getting money back from them, suddenly, after writing on the internet, the money was repaid.    Once again, the internet has shown that it is a powerful tool.

Today’s photos were both taken with the Panasonic FZ-150 camera.  The first photo is of leaf cutter ants in Colombia, and the second photo (out of the archives) shows a lake and mountain scene from Norway.   You have to look very closely at these photos to see that they were not taken with an expensive DSLR, just a normal ‘bridge’ camera.   Leaf-cutter ants form very complex societies and live in underground nests that be up to 30m wide and can go as deep as 6m.   The colony is divided into different castes based on size, with different castes carrying out different tasks.   The largest ants can be up to 16mm long.  They cultivate fungi in their nests, and collect leaves to feed the fungi.  Adult ants feed on the leaf sap, and also use the fungus to feed ant larvae.  Apart from humans, it is very unusual for any other creatures to cultivate their own food.   The ants also operate an efficient waste management system from their nests.

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and a photo from the archives…..early morning reflections in Haglebu, Norway………

web-version-2ALL PHOTOS ON THIS SITE ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE.

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