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Is air travel becoming too cheap?

Thought for the day…” A bad attitude is like a flat tyre.  You cannot go anywhere until you change it”.

” Look up to the sky.  You will never find rainbows if you are looking down”  (Charles Chaplin).

Is air travel becoming too cheap?   The Flight Centre, an Australian/New Zealand chain of travel agents, published some figures to show how the cost of a return ticket from New Zealand to Europe has fallen in real terms.  Interesting reading….

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Travel’s golden era
• Best price of a return flight from Auckland to Europe:
• 1947: $1170 (85 weeks’ pay of average worker)
• 1980: $1800 (six weeks’ pay)
• 2014: $1500 (1 weeks’ pay)
Source: Flight Centre
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Whilst the days of the 1 euro ticket in Europe have disappeared, it is still possible to get flights for under 20 euros.
The New Zealand tourism department are no doubt congratulating themselves on the record number of arrivals into New Zealand, now over 2.9 million arrivals a year.    The airlines are hopping with joy at the demand for seats to and within New Zealand.  Emirates Airline now flies 3 Airbus A380s a day to NZ, Chinese airlines are putting on extra flights and even low cost airlines like Air Asia and Jetstar (part of Qantas) are planning to increase services to cope wit the demand.   All very nice for the the airlines who now have full aircraft.   All very nice for hotel and motel operators in NZ, who are often fully booked.  BUT not so nice for the small towns and popular places in New Zealand.  Most of those 2.9 million tourists want to see the same few places (such as Rotorua on the North Island, and Queenstown on the South Island).   Some of the most popular walks (for example, the Tongariro Crossing) are so crowded that the idea of giving walkers start times has been discussed.   The media in NZ often shows the traffic problem in Queenstown, which at one time was just a small lakeside resort in the mountains.  Tourists are sometimes finding that their travel plans are now dictated by where they can get accommodation, rather than by where they want to go.  Same situation with buses, plans are now being dictated by when the bus has available seats, rather than by when and where the tourist wants to go.  As the number of tourists goes up, often the level of service goes down., cafes, shops and tourist attractions are suffering from the big increase in visitor numbers.    Queenstown, which was once a small, quiet lakeside town has become a major internnational tourist resort.    Try finding traditional New Zealand local life in Queenstown now.   Difficult.    The situation in some places (again Queenstown springs to mind) is becoming similar to the Caribbean islands, where the arrival of 2 0r 3 huge cruise ships absolutely swamps the local towns, when 7 or 8 thousand tourists descend at once.
No sign of any tourists in this photo, the hills near Tarras, Otago, New Zealand.  As usual at the end of summer, the hills here are very dry, and there is little for the sheep to eat.  This view was taken from the main road which heads down to Queenstown.
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and another photo from the archives….festival girl in El Salvador….

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On offer in your local supermarket

Thought for the day…” Failure is just success postponed”.

“If you want to make your dreams come true, then the first thing that you must do is to wake up”.

The local supermarket has a noticeboard which is usually full of for sale items.    But not always.    An advert seen recently amongst the items for sale….

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It is the bit about being used to living without hot water that worries me the most.  Would you offer a home to people who were not used to hot water and who did not want to pay rent?    Judging by their spelling, they are also not used to using a dictionary either.

Today’s photo comes from Otago, New Zealand, and is of the view from the Lindis Pass.   The main road from Queenstown north towards Christchurch climbs up to 971m at this point, passing through an area famous for the special grass called tussock grass.  From here, the road is heading down towards Omarama and the Lindis Valley.   Despite being summer, the road was remarkably quiet when the photo was taken.   Taken with the Fuji X-E1.

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New, looking old – more classic cars

Thought for the day….”  It is better to be looked over than overlooked”   (Mae West).

“If you focus on results, you will never change.  If you focus on change, then you will get results”.

Lucky timing with the camera recently and a case of being in the right place at the right time.    There has been a rally of Ford Model A cars in the Otago region recently, and I just happened to be at the village of Cardrona when the cars were also there.   Over 4.8 million Model A cars were made between 1927 and 1932 , the car being a replacement for the famous Ford Model T.    One version of the car even featured a V8 engine.   Prices ranged from USD 385 up to USD 1400.   Interestingly, it was the first car to feature safety glass in the windshield.

Two of the cars are seen here, outside the famous Cardrona Hotel.  Originally a gold-rush village, it now sits at the base of a ski resort.  A disused (gold) mineshaft can be seen inside the hotel bar.   From here, to the left of the photo, the road climbs up the Crown Range, reaching a height of 1119m, before descending towards the tourist town of Queenstown.       Due to the bad light that day, the photo was converted to black and white, then changed to sepia, to give it a 1930s look.

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and another photo….some of the 20 000 plus runners in the Stockholm marathon…

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NEW NEW NEW     more  photos available on Picfair.com  too !!!   Have a look there as well     NEW   NEW   NEW

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Idiot of the Week award goes to……GoPro Customer Service

Thought for the day…” Feed the mind a positive seed in the morning and harvest the reward all day”.

” Failure is just success postponed”.

Idiot of the week award goes to GoPro customer ‘service’.    I am not sure if ‘service’ is the word that should be used here, I can think of some alternative words that are more appropriate.    The story so far……bought a new GoPro Hero 4 Black only to find that it gets hot whilst filming in 4K then cuts off to save itself from burning out.   Not very convenient if you are trying to film action, as you can bet that the camera will have cut out just before the exciting part of the action.

The GoPro Hero 4 Black user manual warns you about the issue, and advises you to stop filming and let the camera cool down.  Again, not very practical if you are in the middle of an action sport.   Lots of emails to/from GoPro customer ‘service’ but they are now trying to deny the problem, even though their very own user manual, written by GoPro themselves, describes the issue.      The latest reply from GoPro customer ‘service’  (there is that word again), really takes the biscuit…..

“I apologize if our manual guide mislead you, that was certainly not our intention , anyway i would like to explain you that TEMPERATURE ICON is not a bug or a issue, like in most part of electronic devices or cars for instance this icon is present with the only intention of alerting the user the camera becomes too hot and needs to cool down.

I imagine if you were driving trough the desert on your car and the temperature icon come up you wouldn’t for sure ask for a refund of the vehicle, same thing apply s to our camera, Your camera was designed to identify conditions of overheating and is designed to respond accordingly.” (quote end)

Well I can tell GoPro that if I bought a new car which was designed for the desert, and it stopped working in the desert after only a few minutes due to overheating, then I most certainly WOULD ask for a refund. Remember that this is a brand new ‘action’ camera which was sold as a camera that would record in 4K. Indeed it does record in 4K, but only until it gets hot and cuts out. So the people at GoPro are still trying to deny what THEY wrote in their own user manual. My retailer has been fantastic about this matter, and I feel sorry for them, as they are caught in the middle of this whole mess. It is not their fault that the NEW GoPro Hero4 Black is bugged with this issue. The real fault lies with GoPro, whose customer ‘service’ are real idiots for trying to deny the situation.  They were the ones who described the issue in the user manual, and so were aware of it from the start.   So it becomes rather stupid for them to now try and deny the issue, even though it is written in black and white.   And the people at GoPro are either ignoring or are deliberately not acknowledging the other postings on the internet.    People have been testing this camera with infra-red cameras to record the overheating.   Same issue there too.

Yes GoPro customer support, I most certainly WOULD ask for a full refund on a NEW car that stopped working after only a few minutes, especially if that car was sold as a desert car.  Same with your camera, which turned out to be a useless piece of kit that I have lost money on.   Customers can forgive a lot IF they see that a company is trying, but not if that company is being like an ostrich, burying its head in the sand.

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and another photo from the archives….The Bosphorus and city centre, Istanbul, Turkey…..

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Colourful Copenhagen

Thought for the day…” Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if you remember to turn on the light”.

” A negative mind will never give you a positive life”.

Today’s photo comes from the Danish capital, Copenhagen.   Around 474 islands make up Denmark, but there are also the islands of the Faroes and Greenland, which also belong to Denmark (although are autonomous).  The highest point in Denmark is only 170m (Mollehoj).   Some Danes joke that summer in Denmark is different to winter in Denmark because the rain is warmer.     And did you know that the fairy tale books from the author Hans Christian Anderson have been translated into more languages than any other author? And more Danish trivia….Walt Disney, after visiting the amusement park Tivoli in Copenhagen, gained the inspiration to start his own park, Disneyland?  The famous Sydney opera house was designed by a Danish architech too.   And that famous children’s toy, LEGO comes from the Danish words ‘leg gott’  which means ‘play well’.     As an estimated 320 BILLION Lego bricks have been sold then it works out that every human being in the world owns/has owned 56 Lego bricks.   According to the Lego website, it would take around 40 billion lego bricks to make a column tall enough to reach the moon.   Not made of lego bricks are these colourful buildings in the city centre of Copenhagen…..

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and another photo from the archives….arriving at Nadi, Fiji.  Early morning sunshine, but before it got too hot…..

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Classic car – Jaguar Mk2

Thought for the day…” The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions”

“Happiness is always an inside job”.

The GoPro saga continues.     Customers can forgive a lot if they see that a company is trying, but when a company tries to avoid admitting an obvious problem, then customers rapidly lose confidence.    So far, customer services at GoPro have been far from brilliant and also far from helpful.   There are already a lot of unhappy GoPro 4 Hero Black users on the internet, many of whom have had issues with the camera overheating when recording 4K video (which was the sole reason that I bought that particular camera).   So what would you or I do if you had a product that you knew had a problem??   Continue to sell it?    No.    Offer to refund the money?    Yes.    But so far, GoPro have not offered anything.      The user manual acknowledges the problem, and suggests recording only short video clips at 4K.  Not practical if you are doing action sports, as you can hardly pause the action just to wait for the camera to cool down.     So the emails to GoPro customer service go back and forth.   The GoPro camera sits in its case, no longer used due to the overheating issue.   I would like very much for GoPro to refund my NZD 732 that I paid for it.    My action sports continue, but will be unrecorded !!   Come on GoPro.   You have admitted in the user manual that there is an issue, now do the right thing.

Two photos of an immaculate 1961 Jaguar Mk2 car, seen here in Alexandra, New Zealand.  These cars were built in Coventry, England between 1959 and 1967.   Engine sizes ranged between 2.4L and 3.7L, with up to 220 bhp.     Top speed for the 3.7L engined version was about 201 km/h, although with a high fuel consumption of around 14L/100 km.  The TV detective, Inspector Morse drove a Jaguar Mk 2.

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Go Pro 4 Black – unhappy experience

Thought for the day…” Genius is 1 % inspiration and 99 % perspiration”.

“You miss 100% of the shots that you do not take”.

They say that hindsight is always 20/20, and with hindsight I would not have bought the GoPro Hero 4 Black.    There are lots of brilliant videos on Youtube and the net made by GoPro cameras, but I guess that the new GoPro Hero 4 Black is not going to be producing so many of them.

I purchased the latest version of the camera recently, but was dismayed to find that it has a problem.   Not just a problem but a serious one.   After a short time, it gets hot and cuts out automatically (to save further damage to itself).   The user manual warns you about this, and I have now read a good number of reports on the internet about problems caused by overheating.   And of course, the plastic case that you use most of the time just makes matters worse, as it stops airflow around the camera, resulting in an even hotter camera.  So GoPro have produced an action camera that does record in 4K (as the advertising says) but a camera that gets so hot that it cuts out after a few minutes recording.

An email to customer services at GoPro got a useless reply, which just restated what the user manual said.    GoPro are suggesting that users take short video clips, and then let the camera cool down between filming.  Hardly practical if you are doing action sports, as you cannot really pause your action sport for a couple of minutes just to let the camera cool !!   That is a guarantee that the action moment will be missed.

But what is sad is that GoPro know of the problem, (even describing it in the user manual) and must be aware of all the complaints on the internet about it.   That said, it seems that the GoPro 4 SILVER is fine, and works well, just that the top of the range Hero 4 BLACK has the overheating issue.

What would I do now if I was running the GoPro company?    Admit that the units have a serious problem and recall them and offer a full refund.  Customers can forgive a lot if they see that a company is trying.  Mistakes do happen, but to keep selling items with a known problem is just not on.   Probably bad for business in the long-term too, as selling a product with a known fault is not going to encourage loyalty or improve your company image.

So I will send more emails to GoPro in the hope that they will do the honourable thing and offer a full refund.  I do not intend to limit my action sports to just a few minutes !!

No problems with the Fuji X-E1 camera, which continues to produce fantastic still photos (with no overheating problems!!).   Two examples below to show how good the camera is.   First photo was taken recently in Pembroke (Wanaka), New Zealand.

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And another photo from the archives…early morning in autumn in the hills of Norway…..another Fuji X-E1 photo….

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Madeira, Funchal airport

Thought for the day…” Work for a cause, not for applause.   Live life to express, not to impress”

“Ham and eggs.  A day’s work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig”.

Two photos from Funchal airport, Madeira.   Blessed by a great year-round climate, Madeira is popular with tourists, many of whom travel from Scandinavia, Germany and the UK.  About 1 million tourists visit each year, including a large number of cruise ships.   About 265 000 people live on the islands, most of them on the main island of Madeira itself.  Mountains rise to 1862m on these volcanic islands.  The islands are part of Portugal, although are semi-autonomous.   Despite its small size, the airport has direct flights to a surprising number of cities.  The airport is also famous for aircraft spotting, due to the excellent viewing opportunities on the side of the single runway.    Infamous for the turbulent winds, watching a few arrivals normally produces a few interesting landings.  No problems on this calm day though, as TAP arrives from Portugal.

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And another photo from the archives…..a backpacker on the Annapurna circuit in Nepal talks to a local.

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Early one morning…..sunrise in Pembroke, New Zealand

Thought for the day…” Strong is what happens when you run out of weak”.

“If you want something that you never had, then you have to do something that you have never done”.

Currently in New Zealand waters, and at present in Auckland, is a 134m superyacht, ‘Serene’.    One of the world’s largest private yachts, owned by a Russian vodka company boss, the boat is said to have cost some USD 330 million.   Crewed by 52 staff, it boasts 7 decks, 2 helipads, an indoor salt water swimming pool, movie theatre, nightclub, climbing wall, gym, underwater viewing room, and several jacuzzis.   When the Russian owner is not using Serene, it is available for charter.  Not cheap though, as rumor has it that when Bill Gates rented it, the cost was some USD 5 million a week.    No doubt that the price includes a good selection of vodkas in the bars though.

Today’s photo is a lucky shot.   Suddenly one morning for about 5 minutes the clouds parted during the sunrise, and just for a very short time, I was able to get some great photos of a dramatic sunrise.    Another occasion when it was good to have the camera there and ready……..Lots of photos of sunSETS on the internet, but not so many of sunRISES.      Taken in Pembroke, New Zealand, with the Fuji X-E1 camera.

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And another photo from the archives…window cleaners in Ljublana, Slovenia

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Challenge Wanaka – cycle leg

Thought for the day…” If you cannot do great things, then do small things in a great way”.

”  Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines”.

Four photos from the cycle stage of the Challenge Wanaka traithlon.  Coming around the final turn before the transition to the running leg, these competitors will have already completed the swimming leg and are almost at the end of the cycling stage.   Those doing the full triathlon will have swum 3.8 km and will have cycled 180 km, with ‘just’ the 42.2 km (marathon) to complete.   Some competitors enter the 1/2 challenge, with about 1500 people taking part in Challenge Wanaka this year.   The Dutch cyclist Fred Rompelberg holds the speed record for cycling, having achieved 268 km/h on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA.   The next Challenge Wanaka will be on 21st February 2016.   Book now !

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