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Rice terraces in China

Thought for the day…” Do not make excuses, make improvements”.

“Expecting and accepting are two sides of life.  Expecting can end in tears, but accepting will bring you cheers”.

A photo from the south west part of China for the photo today, from Yunnan province.   Around 45 million people live in this province, which borders Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.   The western part is mountainous, with the peaks reaching over 5000m.    Ethnic groups make up about 1/3 of the population, so local dialects and colourful local costumes are very much evident in the towns and markets here.    The hills in the west border the Tibet autonomous region, with deep valleys and hillside farming.   It is also very rich in minerals, so mining is very important, as is agriculture.    Seen here are some rich terraces not far from the border with Tibet.

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and another photo from Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands……

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Opposite sides of the world

Thought for the day…”  Some people are like clouds.  When they disappear, it is a beautiful day”.

“Life does not get easier, you just get stronger”.

Another photo from up in the Artic Circle, and again from Norway.   Today’s photo comes from the small Norwegian town of Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands.  These islands are known for their small mountains and islands.  Previously, fishing, especially for cod, was the main industry, but now tourism is becoming increasingly important.   The islands are situated at about 68 degrees north, so experience a long dark winter with up to 24 hours of darkness, as well as the midnight sun during summer.   Surprisingly, despite being within the Artic Circle, there is a type of coral found in the seas around Lofoten, and even a coral reef near the island of Rost.     The photo here was taken in the harbour at Svolvaer, the ‘capital’ of Lofoten.

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and another photo from the archives…..an aerial view of Mt. Aspiring, 3033m in New Zealand.

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Squeezed all ways

Thought for the day…”A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer”.

” Those who do not learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat them”.

I was sad to see that one of my favourite airlines, SWISS Airlines, is falling into the trap that some other airlines have already slipped into.    Swiss Airlines, who are normally very good, have announced details of their new cabin layout for the 777 W aircraft.    As one of those people who travel economy, I was sad to see that they are going to squeeze in 10 abreast economy seating (3+4+4).    Airlines such as Emirates had already done this, but now Swiss are going to as well.  Not only are economy class passengers squeezed for leg room, but now they are also going to be squeezed for shoulder space too.    Add to this the fact that Swiss (part of the Lufthansa group) also charge for selecting a seat in advance (25 euros approximately for each long haul flight), then the benefits of paying more for this airline disappear.    I have so far avoided airlines which squeeze 10 abreast seating on the 777, and it will certainly influence my choice of Swiss in future.   10 abreast is just not pleasant for a long haul flight, and a charge of about 25 euros to reserve a seat is just another nail in the coffin.

Two photos in black and white showing the city centre in Bergen, Norway.    As it was a dull day, then switching to BW was the answer..

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Sea Eagles in Norway

Thought for the day….”Those who do not learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat them”

” Do not wait for the day of judgement, it takes place every day”.

Also known as the fish eagle, the sea eagle can grow up to 1 metre in length and have a wingspan of 2m.  The white tail feathers show that the birds are adult.  Some sea eagles have been measured at over 7.5kg in weight, with the largest populations being found in the Artic north, including around the Lofoten Islands (where these photos were taken).   Despite their name, the fish eagle also hunts small mammals but they are largely scavengers, and will often steal food from other birds.

The photos below were taken with the Fuji X-E1, hand held on a moving boat (!!) with a 50-230mm lens.

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North Norway duo.

Thought for the day…” The darkest night is often the bridge to the brightest tomorrow”.

“Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of inertia”

Up to the Lofoten Islands in Norway for the photo today, and some typical Lofoten scenery.   These islands are situated at around 68 degrees north, and inside the Artic Circle.    Humans have lived in the islands for over 5500 years, despite the long, cold winters.  Fishing was traditionally the main industry here, mainly for cod.   The mountain peaks rise to over 1100m, whilst surprisingly, the sea here has a form of coral.   As Lofoten is above the Artic circle, then the sun does not set between 25th May and 17 July, meaning 24 hours of daylight.   It is also the home of the Lofoten Insomnia cycle race.

The photo was taken late evening, north of Svolvaer, Fuji X-E1 with the 18-55mm kit lens.

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And another photo from northern Norway, colourful houses by the sea…another triumph for the Fuji X-E1 camera.

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Fishing boats in Norway’s easternmost town

Thought for the day….” People who say that money does not buy happiness do not know which shops to shop in”. ” Adversity is the weight that strengthens us”. Back online after some internet problems, and another photo from the north of Norway, far above the Artic circle.   This photo is of Vardo, in the province of Finnmark.   As Finland is so close at this point, then it also has a Finnish name (Vuorea) and a Sami name, (Várggát).    Only a small population of around 21oo live here, although with the extremely long winter, then that is hardly surprising.  It has the honour of being the easternmost town in Norway, with Russia being not far away across the bay.     It actually lies further east (31 degrees) than Istanbul, Kiev or St. Petersburg.  Much of the land around is barren and treeless artic tundra.  Fishing and fish processing are the main industries here.   Interestingly, it is also the site of Globus II, a radar tracking station for space junk, although given that Russia is so near, then this station may also have other uses.  Vardo is one of the stops on the famous Hurtigruten coastal boat service in Norway. Another photo taken with the Fuji X-E1 camera. Wordpress-Vardo and another photo from the archives….4 modes of transport in this photo from Cuba……. LOW-RES-Trinidad ALL PHOTOS ON THIS SITE ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE. http://www.qualityresortnorefjell.com                   http://www.norefjellsparesort.com

Colour at the top of Europe (almost).

Thought for the day…” A fool and his money are soon elected”   (Will Rogers)

“It is better to regret something you did, rather than something that you did NOT do”.

Work has taken me up to the top of Norway and the top of Europe, but I took some time off to get out and about with the camera.      Despite several very grey and dull days, a burst of sunshine made all the difference for a photo of these houses at Honningsvag, Norway.   Officially, to be classed as a city in Norway, a place has to have over 5000 people, but Honningsvag, poplulation about 2500, was exempted from this rule.   Fishing and tourism are the many industries here, with cruise ships visiting in summer to allow passengers to travel to the nearby Nordkapp.   The mean average temperature here is just +2 degrees, as it is at almost 71 degrees north.      Taken with the Fuji X-E1 camera and 18-55mm standard kit lens.

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and another photo from the archives….a serene scene from the Seychelles.

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Plastic or Paper? No choice in Rwanda.

Thought for the day…”Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

” Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

It is estimated that at least 1 TRILLION plastic bags are used each year, and that China alone uses more than 3 billion everyday (3 per person).     If you consider that it takes around 1000 years for a non-biodegradeable bag to completely disappear, then it is bad news for the environment.    The bad news goes further, many of these bags end up in the sea, creating even more problems.     One big surprise (but a good one) is that Rwanda banned plastic bags completely, no manufacturing, importing or selling of plastic bags.   And the results of this are VERY easy to see when you travel around the country.   The Rwandans decided that charging for plastic bags in shops was not an option, as the bags would still be dumped around the countryside, so there would still be a problem.   Medical use is one of the few exceptions in Rwanda.   The results of the plastic bag ban are very clear to see when you visit the country, is is surprisingly clean.    Rwanda also has a monthly community cleaning morning, called “Umuganda”.  This is compulsory for every citizen aged between 18 and 65 who is able to work.   On the last Saturday of every month, citizens carry out public works to clean and tidy the country.   Things like cutting hedges, mowing grass and clearing paths to keep the country clean and tidy.   Tourists often are surprised that Rwanda is so clean, and the frequently-heard comment is that Kigali is the cleanest capital that they have been in.   Some other cities around the world are following this idea of banning plastic bags, but the Rwandans have shown that it can be done and that it works.   Full marks to them !!!

Copenhagen for the photo today, and a cruise ship competes with apartment blocks for the views.

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and another photo from the archives…..Caribbean sunset in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia…..

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I get that peaceful, easy morning feeling

Thought for the day…” Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? ”

” The cure for insomnia is to get more sleep”.                  ” If a book about failure does not sell, then is it a success”.

Not the words from one of the hits of the Eagles music group but a peaceful scene from Norway for the photo today.  One of the early photos from the Fuji X-E1 camera here, taken whilst I was still trying the camera out.   Early morning in the hills of Norway, with some light mist starting to appear over the lake and the first signs of autumn on the trees.   Did you know that in the Swedish and Norwegian languages, that there is no word for ‘please’.   It always sounds very strange (and impolite)  to a non-Scandinavian to simply demand things (eg. give me a coffee.) instead of saying please.    Finnish is another language which does not have a direct word for please (although it does have some polite ways to ask for things, such as  Saisinko (=can I have).     And perhaps because of the long, dark winter and cold winter nights, Norway is number 2 in the world for coffee consumption per capita, around 142 litres (or about 9.5kg of coffee beans) a year for each Norwegian citizen.  Finland still tops the list.

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and a photo from Brazil, with a storm approaching Sao Paulo airport……

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Autumn colours at Glendu Bay, New Zealand

Thought for the day…”Life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it”

”  Opportunity does not knock.  It presents itself when you beat down the door”.

Autumn at Glendu Bay, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand for the photo today.  In the centre of the photo is the Bonar Glacier and Mount Aspiring (3033m) in the middle of the Mt. Aspiring National Park.  Glendu Bay is famous for its autumn colours, and often features on postcards and in brochures.  The nearby camping site is packed out over Christmas and New Year, a kiwi tradition to set up camp by the lakeside here.   The town of Pembroke Wanaka is a short drive away as is the small Treble Cone ski area, whilst further up the valley is the start of the national park, with fantastic nature and hiking possibilities.   The Canadian pop/country singer Shania Twain owned property near hear until recently, not hard to see why.

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and another photo from the archives…..the Sultan’s Palace in Muscat, Oman

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