Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

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Flags of Convenience

Thought for the day….”A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”

There is an interesting story in the news in Norway at the moment about Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) overselling seats for the summer.   SAS has set up an Irish based division (SIAL)  and uses cheaper, Irish contracts to avoid Norwegian taxes.   But the plan seems to have backfired, as many staff have left the new Irish division because of lower pay and also having to work longer hours.    It is unfair that companies like SAS can use ‘flags of convenience’  to circumvent local procedures.   Same job, same aircraft and same routes, but different levels of salary for the same work, all because of flags of convenience. So SAS have been left in a position where they have sold many more seats than they have staff to operate because of a lack of staff.  I hope that all those passengers persue claims under the EU 261/2004 regulations.    The same thing happened in shipping previously, now it is spreading to other areas too.   Cheapest is not always best, and the same work should get the same pay.

Two colourful photos from Fiji for the photos today….

and another photo, a Fokker 100 aircraft seen here in Papua New Guinea, about to fly from Mount Hagen back to the capital Port Moresby.

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Not doing it, not for fun anyway

Thought for the day..”You can’t expect to hit the jackpot if you don’t put a few nickels in the machine.”

“Words are often seen hunting for an idea, but ideas are never seen hunting for words.”

Just had an email from an online travel agency trying to encourage me to book some cheap HOLIDAY flights.   The prices were very good and the destinations interesting….Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Entebbe (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya) etc.    Stress the word ‘holiday’ for these flights.  But when you read the details, the flights arrive at around 0200 or 0300, returning at around 0300 or 0400.   Now on holiday, I like to enjoy normal sleep, so these cheap flights would ruin at least 2 nights sleep.   Arriving at 0200 in a foreign country (especially a place like Nairobi or Johannesburg) is not only no fun, but also dangerous too.      And the thought of a departure around 0300 or 0400 means another ruined night.   All of this for a HOLIDAY, which is supposed to be a time to relax and enjoy.    So this time, I will pass over these cheap offers….life is too short to have this sort of cruelty on holiday.    And the good thing….holidays are optional, so I can choose better flight timings.    Many birds do not fly at night, and for good reasons.   I like my sleep too !    And I like to enjoy my holidays too.   Good luck to those who choose these cheap offers…..arriving into somewhere like Nairobi (sometimes called ‘Nai-Robbery) at 0200 then they are going to need it.

A peaceful evening at this bay on Praslin island, Seychelles for the photo today….

and another photo from the archives…a railman looks on as a railtour backs into Penzance station, in the far west of England

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Censorship by Booking.com

Thought for the day…”Chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness.”

“The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.”

Free Speech.   Something that is very important, but something that is disappearing fast in Europe.   Political correctness has already gone far to far, but now the online travel agency (OTA)  Booking.com   is also at it.

I recently stayed in some accommodation in Zurich which I booked online via Booking.com         The property was not good (badly run, dirty and with poor facilities) with poor security.   Not only was the property not clean, but it appeared to have many problems, one of which was what appeared to be asylum seekers in the accommodation.   So after my stay, I wrote a TRUTHFUL review to help other people in deciding whether or not to book.    One of the things that I wrote in the review was that the property appeared to house asylum seekers.    I did not make any statements about the rights or wrongs of this, nor did I mention nationalities, skin colour or race.    No references were made to immigration policies or criminality, just a statement that there appeared to be asylum seekers housed in the property.

But Booking.com   refused to publish my review because I had used the words ‘asylum seekers’  which they said could cause offense to some some people.   I would argue that the words described (truthfully) a situation, and were just reporting what I had seen and experienced.   Despite emails to Booking.com   the review did not get published.     So it seems that Booking.com   also want to be politically correct, even if this means distorting the truth.

The result of this….I cancelled a lot of future bookings with Booking.com     and now try to book direct with hotels etc. where this is possible.  I am not going to have Booking.com   tell me what I can and cannot say in a review.   It also makes me think that the other reviews on their website may also have been edited too.    So if you are reading reviews there then be aware that the reviews may have been edited for suitability.    George Orwell’s   1984 is here, just a bit late.   Booking.com    is in the same group as Priceline.com    and Agoda.com

Today’s photo comes from Glendhu Bay on the South Island of New Zealand.    The valley in the photo was until recently one of the homes of the Canadian country-pop singer, Shania Twain.  Nearby is Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Southern Alps.

and another photo from the archives….a SRN-4 hovercraft seen here in Boulogne in France.  These hovercraft had a top speed of 154 km/h and crossed the English Channel in as little as 22 minutes.  The record is held by the hovercraft in this photo, the Princess Anne.

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Oslo airport OSL does it again

Thought for the day…”If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.”

“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”

Oslo airport does it again…makes it unpleasant for passengers.   On Saturday I had the misfortune to use Oslo OSL airport again.   Even with their big, new extension, it is still the same unpleasant place as before.    Despite have a big new space, there are still almost no seats for passengers waiting to check in (WHY??) and even though they have put in a big new duty free shop (which they conveniently funnel passengers through whether or not you want to buy), they still have not got it right for passengers.  Why do their departure gates have seats for about 30 people when the aircraft using them take 170 passengers or more?   And can the managers at OSL not count?   Why on Saturday were most of the security check-points CLOSED ?, resulting in a long queue of people trying to get through security.    The managers at OSL must know how many flights are scheduled to depart, yet they seem unable or unwilling to put enough staff on the security checkpoints.  Bad management?   Of course, if you pay money then you can go ‘Fast Track’ through security, but this is merely an admission that the normal waiting times at security are too long.    And whilst the airport managers may be happy to see more and more (expensive) shops at Oslo airport, they still have not put in enough facilities for passengers.   Try finding a water fountain or a working electrical socket.   Try finding something to do whilst you are waiting at OSL.   And the worst thing……we passengers are actually paying a lot of money to use OSL airport.   Because it has a monopoly position then it can take our money without providing good services.   Flying from Oslo is not something to look forward to, especially if you have to wait there.   Perhaps the train from Oslo is the answer…….

A photo of the SR.N4 hovercraft taken in 1997 in Dover, England, from a scanned slide in my collection.   At that time, the SRN4 was the largest hovercraft in the World.  Top speed was 154 km/h and they could cross the English Channel in as little as 22 minutes.  The noise and vibration inside them was unforgettable, and if you crossed the English Channel on a rough day, then the ride inside them was ‘interesting’ !!  But they were a thrilling way to travel over the waves.

and another photo from the archives…by the sea in Cuba.

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The Worm Has Turned.

Thought for the day…”If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.”

“Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” (Margaret Thatcher).

When I was 16 years old, I would always shop around for the cheapest (as students do), with little thought for quality or service.   But now it is the opposite.    I cannot understand why Ryanair (which is so often on the internet or newspapers for cancelling flights or upsetting passengers) is still in business.   There are so many people who will automatically go for the cheapest airline ticket, with no thought about quality or service.   Ryanair can upset thousands of passengers, yet still makes large profits.  When an airline upsets me (and many have) then they lose my business for good.  I vote with my feet.   Plenty of airlines out there, and those that mistreat passengers do not deserve business.  But why do people keep flying with Ryanair?    Cheap is not always good.    Service costs money to provide, but by paying more, you can often avoid problems.    Airlines such as Singapore Airlines are not the cheapest, but the service levels and reliability (and inflight experience) are FAR better.  If more people voted with their feet then average service levels would go up, as airlines such as Ryanair and Air Asia would be out of business.  Same thing with the airlines who are now putting 10 across seats into their Boeing 777 aircraft.  If more people refused to fly on these cramped aircraft then the airlines would be forced to go back to 9 across.  But too many people want the CHEAPEST.   But some of us are saying no, and are voting with our feet/money.

A photo from Aruba, in the Southern Caribbean for the photo today..

and another photo from the archives…beautiful coastline around Antigua, Caribbean……

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Oslo (Norway) Gardermoen airport – Still a disgrace for Norway

Thought for the day…”The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.”

I have had the misfortune (and misfortune is the word) to travel through the enlarged Oslo airport.   It is still a national disgrace for Norway.   Despite earlier complaints, the airport managers in their infinite wisdom, have still ignored the needs of waiting passengers.   All very well to build a big new terminal, but the queues to check in and at security seem just as bad as ever.    Not only that, but those same airort managers have STILL not put in anywhere near enough seats for waiting passengers.   Before, their excuse was that they did not have enough space for seats (although apparently they did have enough space for stupid scultpures).  Now that the enlarged terminal is open (with more space), there are still not enough seats for waiting passengers.

And once you have negotiated the snake-like lines to go through the security controls, then you have another challenge to find enough seats whilst you wait for the flight.    If you want to find something to do while you wait, good luck, because there seems to be almost nothing for passengers to do (apart fro slow, restricted internet).   Good luck too if you want to charge your phone or computer…the search for a socket will keep you amused for some time before your flight.

So the recently enlarged Oslo airport is just as bad as before.  The queues are still there, the lack of seats is still the same, and the lack of things to do whilst waiting for your flight is just the same.    And the worst part…..we passengers are paying for the privilege of using these poor facilities.    A disgrace for Norway.

Plenty of space for these 2 people on the beach near Surat Bay, on the Catlins Coast of New Zealand..

and another photo from the archives….black and white lines and modern architecture…

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Swiss mountain town bans photography

Thought for the day..”Public opinion is no more than this: what people think that other people think.”

“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”  (George Patton)

What is the world coming to?    News on the internet is that the Swiss town of  Bergun in the Graubunden area has voted to ban photography in it’s area.    People taking photos will be fined CHF4 under the new bylaw.     Apparently, the local council has already taken down publicity photos from the internet.    So many places in the world are restricting photography, you have only to think of the USA where photographing public buildings is now likely to lead to trouble with the authorities,  and in many places in the world, taking photos near an airport is also likely to lead to problems.     It is amazing that the central government in Switzerland has allowed the town of Bergun to introduce the new photography ban.   It would certainly change my decision to visit any town if it had a photography ban.  What has happened to freedom?   And what is the town of Bergun so afraid of???    Surely any town should be please that people want to visit and take photographs.    And because Switzerland is usually a civilised country, then the photography ban is even more surprising.     Recently Sweden introduced a complete ban on filming from drones/quadcopters without special permission, and other countries are gradually introducing more restrictions as well.

Today’s photo is a scan of a slide taken many years ago, a local train from St. Ives passes the beach at Carbis Bay in Cornwall, England.

and another photo…..a scanned slide photo from the 1990s.   A Penzance to London train in the Glynn Valley near Bodmin Road in Cornwall, England.

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New Zealand Sea lions – the Fuji XF 100-400mm lens again

Thought for the day….” Do not watch the clock, do what it does, keep going”

” Success is when preparation meets opportunity”.

The Fuji XF 100-400mm lens.    Interesting how things have reversed.   Initially I returned the lens after one day, having decided that it was far too heavy (almost 1.4kg) and too big to carry around.    But after seeing so many brilliant pictures on the internet, and also needing a longer zoom, I purchased it again.    Once you have adjusted to the size of it (it is big !!) and have adapted your way of carrying it, then it starts to get better.    Initially I thought that I would only use it occasionally, but as it is such a great lens then I am finding that I use it much more often.   FAST at focusing and also fast at taking photos, but it is the photo quality which is outstanding.    I used to think that the Fuji 18-55mm  kit lens was fantastic, but now the XF 100-400mm lens has taken top place.   Not a cheap lens to buy but quality costs, and this lens certainly IS quality.   The 3 photos below of sea lions in New Zealand will show what this lens can do, although the images here are only low resolution copies for the internet.   The photos below were taken with the Fuji X-T20 and the XF 100-400mm lens, all taken as jpegs.

and another photo…..

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New Zealand Oystercatcher bird – the Fuji XF 100-400mm lens

Thought for the day…” Turn your face to the sun and the shadow falls behind you”

“You cannot live a positive life with a negative mind”

When was the last time that you printed a photo???   Nowadays it seems to be the trend to take a photo with a mobile phone, then only share it via Facebook or Instagram.   The photo is only a temporary thing, shared then forgotten.    Previously photos were printed out, then passed around at meetings of friends.    Far easier to look at a printed photo instead of an image on a mobile phone or tablet.    Photos printed out mean more.    Much nice to look at a printed photo then a mobile phone screen.     And photos will be treasured more than an image on a mobile phone screen for only a few seconds.  Many of those images on a mobile phone will only last as long as the phone lasts, whereas photos that are printed out will last a long longer.   And printing photos is fun too !!

Today’s photo was taken with the Fuji X-T20 camera and the Fuji XF 100-400mm lens.  The quality of the lens is amazing, and with 5 stops of stabilisation, photos like this can be taken hand held.   The lens is big and heavy (almost 1.4kg)   but the quality of the photos speaks for itself.

and another photo….Lake Hawea on the South Island of New Zealand.   An early morning photo….

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Yellow Eyed Pengiuns of New Zealand

Thought for the day….”Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great”

“The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”

Lucky to have got one of the first Fuji X-T20 cameras in New Zealand, and while many people are waiting for their orders, I have been trying out the new camera.    Great new sensor (now 25.4mp) and also the ability to take 4K video (looks superb).   It has been said that Fuji cameras make taking photos FUN again, and it seems to be true.   Nice to have physical controls and also the ability to customize a lot of the menus and buttons to what you want.      Having upgraded from the X-T10 then a lot of features on the X-T20 are similar,  which makes using it much easier.  Same batteries and same lens mount (X system) too, so again changing cameras was no big problem.    A couple of photos of the Yellow-Eyed penguins, found on the South Island of New Zealand.    For those who are interested, the photos were taken with the Fuji XF 100-400mm lens, hand held.   As the light was fading fast (the penguins come ashore around sunset) then a much higher ISO was used than is normal.

and another of the penguins, taken the same day….

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