Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

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Go Pro Be Gone

Thought for the day    “Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.”

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

Go Pro make some good action cameras.   But so do a lot of other companies (such as Garmin, which I own).   My recent experience of GoPro Customer ‘service’ has made me determined that I will never buy a Go Pro product.   Indeed, GoPro and Customer ‘service’ should not be used in the same sentence, as if you have tried to resolve anything with them online then you will know that ‘service’ is probably the opposite of what you will receive.   Can you imagine an international company that REFUSES to accept emails?   This is the 21st century, yet Go Pro will nicely send you an email telling you that they do not accept emails.  How stupid is that?     And if you dare to try their online chat (only available during certain hours), apart from the unhelpful ‘assistants’ (and that is the wrong word for them) then you may find that the conversation conveniently (for Go Pro) gets cut off.   So they refuse to accept emails and their online chat will leave you searching for some (unprintable) words.

So the end result of all this frustration and failed emails…..I will not be buying anymore Go Pro cameras.  Plenty of good alternatives out there (such as InstaOne and Garmin).   If Go Pro will not accept emails then they will not be seeing any of my money.  Bad customer service drives customers away, and it has done.   Go Pro be gone.

Two photos from Stavanger in Western Norway for the pictures today.   The first photo is of the Old Town which is next to the harbour.    Normally these streets would be full of tourists and visitors from cruise ships, but because of coronavirus, are mercifully quiet at the moment.   Add to that Spring sunshine and it is easy to get some great photos.

and staying in Stavanger for another photo, interesting shapes and colours on the waterfront.  Both photos taken with the Fuji X-T30 camera and 18-55mm kit lens.

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Joys of travelling

Thought for the day…”Reach for the stars, even if you have to stand on a cactus”

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”

The joys of travelling….exciting new places and destinations.  But it is not always fun.   One of my pet hates (one of many) is that hotels often do not have a list of TV channels.   Given that some hotels can have upwards of 100 channels, why can they not put a list in the room to save endless channel surfing trying to find the 5 or 6 interesting channels??    A simple card or print out listing the channels would be so good.   And linked to this pet hate are hotel TVs that as soon as start them are at maximum volume, hardly ideal for a hotel when guests are trying to sleep.

Next pet hate……Many hotels are no longer giving the small bottles of shampoo and conditioner or individual soap, preferring to have dispensers on the walls instead.   All very well IF the hotel refills them but so often just when you are in the shower you discover that the dispensers are empty.

And staying with hotels and pet hates…..the annoying habit that more and more hotels are only putting in one rubbish bin/trash can in the whole room and bathroom.  Saves them a little money, but is hardly good for the guest experience.

Another hate….modern hotels whose managers have decided that THEY know the temperature that guests want the rooms to be at, and have removed individual temperature controls in the rooms….I am seeing this more and more and it is also not good for the guest experience.

Topping the list of pet hates for hotels…..any hotel that has slow internet or has a poor internet signal in the room deserves to go out of business….no excuse for this in the 21st century.    Excuses such as “it is the number of guests in the hotel” or “it is the rainy weather” just get me irritated.  It is not rocket science to get fast, reliable internet in a hotel, but it seems to be a major problem for some hotels.

The list goes on….to be continued………

Today’s photo is of the lakefront in Pembroke, South Island, New Zealand, on a perfect Summer’s evening.  One man and his dog admire the view….

and another photo from the archives…..driving hazards on the roads of Scandinavia….these are a much bigger problem at night when they tend to freeze in the car headlights.   A male elk can be over 300 kg, so can cause a lot of damage to a car.

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Oslo to Copenhagen ferry

Thought for the day..”Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.”

“It is not the strongest of the species which survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” Charles Darwin

Oslo harbour and the ferry which goes between Norway and the Danish capital, Copenhagen.   Prices onboard this boat have gone up a lot, and the journey time has also been increased, making the trip now more expensive and also slower. This boat was previously owned by Viking Line, and sailed from Sweden to Finland.   Whilst the ferry was previously a good option, with the high prices onboard and also with the improved road connections to Denmark, it is no longer a good option.  Quite why the company thought that slowing the trip down was a good idea is a mystery, as is the logic of increasing the prices onboard.  Just like the airlines, DFDS have started to charge for things (eg. internet onboard and the bus connections to/from the boat)  that used to be included in the ticket price.   It appears that nearly all the public seating onboard has also been removed, presumably to try and force people into the bars and restaurants onboard to spend more money.   Sad to see the decline in standards on these ferries now, and the need to pay extra for so many things.     The kayakkers had a great view of the ferry though……

and another photo…A dramatic sunrise over the hills of Pembroke, New Zealand.  Great cloud formations are not unusual on the South Island of New Zealand due to the prevailing winds crossing the Southern Alps, which often leads to banding and wave clouds.   Add that to the first sun of the day and the result is a great photo.

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Norwegian coast at sunset by drone

Thought for the day…”Coffee is a hug in a mug”

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

As always, it is a few bad people who spoil things for the rest of us.    Just been out with the new DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone but nowadays the word drone makes people think of spying and that they are ‘bad’.  Increasing restrictions on drone use are appearing all over the place, yet the responsible people who fly drones safely are being penalized for the actions of a few stupid idiots.     Very sad that every week further restrictions are being placed on responsible drone users.   The results from drones are amazing, and there is no need for more regulations.   Go after the idiots who fly near airports, but let normal, sensible people fly drones and take beautiful photos.

Beautiful evening sunlight over the coast of southern Norway, taken a couple of days ago with the Mavic 2 Pro drone.   Amazing calm conditions and great light for photos…..

and another photo from the archives…. carnival time and a happy woman……

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Road rage, air rage and now airport rage

Thought for the day…”The hardest thing is to take less when you can get more.”                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”

Road rage has now spread to airports as well.   The security checks, long queues and long waits and hassles over baggage mean that people are more stressed than ever.    Airlines have shot themselves in the foot by charging for baggage, as now you see people trying to drag on as much as they can…not uncommon to see them with 3 and sometimes 4 bags.    Airline policies may be wrong, and a lot of the things that airlines are now doing ARE unreasonable, but what is not fair is when you see people’s anger at airports directed at the wrong people – the people working on the check-in desks or at the gate.  These are not the people who have made the rules, they are the ones who are given the unfortunate task to enforce them though.   So it is sad to see passengers at airports getting angry with the wrong people, especially as many of them work for ground companies who are only contracted by the airlines.   By all means get angry with the airlines and the people who have made the mistakes, but make sure that the anger is directed at the correct people.   The person in front of you at the desk or gate may not be the right one.

Late afternoon low sunlight lights up the main street of Brienz, Switzerland for the photo today.  Many of the houses in this area date from the 1700s.

and another photo from the archives – a boat waits at Brienz, Switzerland for the return trip to Interlaken.

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I got scammed – Twice !

Thought for the day…”If you count all your assets you always show a profit.”

“We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.”

Now I am old enough to know better, but sometimes I get caught.   What makes it even worse is that I got caught twice because of a lack of research on the internet.   The warning signs were there IF I had looked before I bought….

I often used websites that compare prices to find the cheapest price.    I am learning more and more that cheapest is not always best.    I used a couple of websites (kayak.de  and also skyscanner.com    to find some good deals on air tickets.  These websites present you with a list of online travel agents (OTAs) who deal with the actual selling of the air tickets (kayak and Skyscanner just list the agents and do not sell tickets themselves).     If you look online at sites such as Tripadvisor you will find pages and pages of reports of people who have had problems with the online travel agents.    I also fell into the trap, and got caught twice, which makes me feel even more foolish.     Lost a lot of money through these OTAs and now that I have had my fingers burned twice, and avoiding them like the plague.   If you have time, then have a look at Tripadvisor and see what people are writing about the OTAs.

The message is very clear…..book direct, whether it is for hotels or for flights.   Although the prices may look cheaper at first, the OTAs will find a way to make their money from you.    And as a lot of people have found, it is very easy to get scammed by the online travel agents, with the final price often being different to the first advertised price.      So now that I have lost money twice by trying to book via an OTA, now I am just booking direct for both flights and hotels.  Save yourself the problems !!

Clear skies and clean air for this photo from the Swiss town of Grindewald.

and another photo from the archives.

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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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The worm has turned (at least for today)

Thought for the day….”When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”

“A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.”

I recently flew with Lufthansa from Oslo via Frankfurt to Zurich.    Apart from the usual rush to get onboard and the usual problem to get space in the overhead luggage bins, the seats on the A320 seemed even closer than before.   But the real insult was the ‘meal’ that was served onboard.  This is what Lufthansa, one of the legacy airlines, served as the ‘meal’….

And not only that insult, but the coffee was served in micro size cups too (the watch is in the photos to give an idea of the small size) –

and the ‘dinner’ on the leg to Zurich was 20g, yes 20g of dry crackers.   Again, no refills of coffee offered, despite the small size.   I had paid an ADULT fare, yet was given these micro sized portions.   Can you believe 20g ??  Lufthansa have also been devaluing the air miles on flights too, so I wonder what is the point in paying extra to fly with the legacy carriers when the service has fallen this much???

BUT fast forward to my next trip to Zurich 3 weeks later.   I am lucky to be able to choose a lot of the time, so due to Lufthansa becoming less good, I chose the German Railways train instead.   What a breath of fresh air. No check in 1 hour before departure.   I could get onto the train carrying tubes of toothpaste, a Swiss army knife and liquids without anybody worrying.   The seats had lots of space.  I could take my own baggage (and be sure that it was going to travel with me on the same train).    The staff on the train were excellent, the coffee in the restaurant car good and in normal sized cups.    I had space to walk around, I had comfortable seats and there were films and TV programmes to watch on the DB entertainment channels.    Despite a much longer journey time, it seemed much faster than flying.  I arrived feeling good, relaxed and that I had enjoyed the journey.    We tend to forget that the train can be a great way to travel.    Just because air travel is fast does not mean that it is good, or that it is the only option.   The train down through Germany was so good that I am not considering using the train for many more future trips.    To quote a great British railwayman (Peter Parker) ..”this is the age of the train”.    Perhaps if airlines continue to pack people in and treat passengers as an inconvenience, then more and more people may discover the train.

No prizes for guessing where the photo below was taken…..yes, a souvenir shop !!   Typically Swiss.  Taken with the Fuji X-T20 camera together with the excellent 35mm F2 prime lens.

and another photo from the archives…..bright colours in Cape Verde Islands….

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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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Rich Norway but icy pavements

Thought for the day…”Every failure is a step to success.”

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” (Franklin Roosevelt)

Today’s photo is of some rare winter sunshine in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.   One thing that you will notice if you visit Oslo in winter is how bad the Norwegians are at coping with snow, even in the capital.    For some reason, the arrival of snow in WINTER seems to surprise Norwegians, leading to travel chaos.    It is also very surprising that the local council in Oslo seems to be so bad at treating the pavements.  On some days, walking around is extremely dangerous due to ice on the streets, yet the Norwegians seem very bad at treating the pavements.  Compared with cities such as Helsinki in Finland, Oslo is a long way behind.  So why is it that the arrival of snow causes so many problems in a country that should be used to it?    As most of the country lies above 60 degrees north (and some parts of it are over 70 degrees north)  then snow and ice should not be a surprise to them, but it is.   And with all the money that rich Norway has, then why are the pavements so dangerous because the local councils have not cleared or treated them??  It is another surprise in a country that many think of as modern and advanced.   As an example of how much money Norway has, the Opera House seen in the photo below cost around 4.1 BILLION Norwegian kronor, or about USD 700 million.  Just to the left of the Opera house, the large new building being built is a new library.  Estimated cost of that is 1.8 BILLION Norwegian Kronor.    So, with all this money, why are the pavements being neglected when it is icy ???

and another photo from the archives….the legs have it…

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Overcrowded New Zealand – record tourist arrivals mean crowded resorts.

Thought for the day “The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.” (Richard Nixon)

“Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place.”

One of the problems at the moment is that New Zealand is getting too many tourists, resulting in overcrowding and an experience that is far from the idea that many people have of NZ.  With over 3.6 million tourists a year now (versus a population of 4.7 million), the country just cannot comfortably cope with the large numbers of tourists.  Queenstown for example, often called ‘The Adventure capital of the World’   has a population of around 16 000 locals but receives over 2.5 MILLION tourists a year (try finding a local person in Queenstown !) and the airport has plans for a 2nd terminal to handle up to 5 MILLION tourists a year (remember just 16 000 locals).    Part of the problem is that airfares to NZ are incredibly cheap at the moment, less than half the price that they were a few years ago.   Flights from Europe to NZ are being offered for around 500 euros return for the 18 000 km trip, with specials sometimes below 400 GBP return.   So whilst NZ is breaking records every month for tourist arrivals, the country is suffering, with overcrowded national parks, fully booked accommodation and crowded tourist towns.   Cheap airfares are not always a good thing.

One of my older photos here, but a historic one showing the now bankrupt Air Berlin.   Seen here at full power climbing out of Innsbruck Airport in Austria on a winters Saturday.  Now Air Berlin are history.

and another photo from the archives…deep thought on the face of this man…..

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Walking and texting, driving & texting, should be banned – moan for today.

Thought for the day…”Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Are you one of those people who walk down the street with their head permanently fixed on their mobile phone??   I have given up moving out of the way for these people who walk with no regard for anybody else who is walking towards them.    Numerous videos on Youtube of people who have walked into fountains and off piers whilst they used their mobile phone.   Even worse are those people who you see cycling and driving whilst texting at the same time.   Asking for trouble.       The trend seems to be getting worse in cafes and restaurants too, where the mobile phone is THE centre of attention.     Full marks to the cafes and restaurants who are now trying to restrict the use of mobile phones.    One bar in Pembroke, New Zealand has a sign up saying “we do not have internet, TALK to each other “.   Let us hope that more cafes and bars follow suit.

And the photo today is from Sydney, Australia, where there used to be an ex-Russian MiG 15 fighter that you could go flying in.  Not much space in the cockpit !!   Despite being an early jet fighter, it could fly at over 1000 km/h and it could fly up to 2500km.  It could also climb to over 50 000 feet/15500m.

and another photo from the archives….sailing boats line up to start a race…..

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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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Warning about Kickstarter

Thought for the day…”Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”

“A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body – the wishbone.”

Just a warning about the online crowd-funding scheme, Kickstarter.   There are some very interesting new projects advertised there, all seeking backing from people in order to enter production.    Lots of interesting categories, and some clever ideas there.    But here is a warning, because when things go wrong, then the Kickstarter staff are going to be no help at all.

I backed an online project for a solar recharger that I thought would be ideal for travelling.   Ordered the charger and my pledge was accepted, and my debit card was debited.  That was last year.  Fast forward to June 2017 and I have still not received the solar charger.  Messages to the company that is supposed to be producing the item were ignored, as was a message sent via Twitter, but the worst part is that KICKSTARTER would not refund my money, nor would they take any action against the company who is producing the solar charger.    It seems totally wrong to me that Kickstarter can advertise products and then forward your debit card details without taking responsibility when things go wrong.    Messages to Kickstarter’s so called customer ‘service’   have been a waste of time, as Kickstarter still refuse to take action in the matter.  They are refusing to accept any responsibility, despite advertising the product and also arranging payment for the product.

So I am now minus 84 euros, have spent a considerable amount of time chasing up the matter, and have still not received the solar charger.    And yet Kickstarter still refuse to take action.   The words ‘flogging a dead horse’  come to mind, as Kickstarter customer service has been a total waste of time and emails.   Once again, it seems that a company has your money then that is it.   So I am 84 euros poorer and without a solar charger.   Thanks to Kickstarter !!

My advice….avoid using the Kickstarter website.

Nice sunshine for the photo today, which comes from 71 degrees north, and shows the Finnmark coastline near Honningsvag.  Not far from here lies North Cape.   The midnight sun is visible here from May until September.

and another photo…again from the same part of the Finnmark coast near Honningsvag….

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Worse service on the airlines, and more to come

Thought for the day…”The envious man grows lean at the success of his neighbour.”

“Hope is such a bait, it covers any hook.”

It is amazing that so many people are still choosing to fly with airlines, as a new round of cuts in services are leaked in the press.  The Hong Kong based  Cathay Pacific Airlines has announced that it too will follow the trend and squeeze in 10 across seating on its Boeing 777 services (the aircraft was designed for 9 across, so the change to 10 across will mean even less shoulder room).  There is also talk about going to 11 across onboard the A380, with the same result, less shoulder room for passengers.  And following on from that announcement, it seems that the Lufthansa group will move towards a ‘buy on board’ system for food.   It is being trialed at the moment, and apparently SWISS airlines (part of the Lufthansa group) are also going to trial a buy on board system.    Here is an example of one of the ‘meals’ that was served on a Lufthansa flight not long ago…about 100g of cheese and bread.   No plate, no meat and no other food.

So even before they start charging for food onboard, then they had almost cut out the included ‘meals’.  Earlier there was the news that British Airways were going to reduce the seating pitch onboard, meaning that their passengers would have LESS leg room than those on Ryanair.    And Lufthansa have also followed the trend by squeezing in more passengers on their new Airbus A320 NEO aircraft.   They have also removed one of the toilets (to fit in more seats) and made the remaining toilet even smaller.   Less leg room, less shoulder room and now even less food onboard.     The airlines mileage/frequent flyer programmes have been devalued so much that they are now virtually worthless, so the question is, is there any point now to choose one of the original airlines over the budget alternatives? Seems not.   You often have to pay for checked-in baggage, advance seat selection and a higher basic ticket price on thee traditional airlines anyway.    So why choose them?????

In most other businesses, giving a poorer service would usually drive people away, but it seems that the airlines are an exception.   Poorer service now, but still increasing numbers of people wanting to fly.  One thing is sure, the airlines that have increased the seating to 10 across on their 777s will not be seeing me onboard.   The limit has been passed.  Economy class has become a test of endurance, and is far from a pleasure now.

Staying with the theme of aviation, a photo that is now history, an AirNewZealand 747, seen here at Brisbane airport in Australia in 2004

and another photo from the archives….a local man in Southern Oman….

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National parks. What do they mean to you?

Thought for the day….” We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail”.

“Experience is what you get when you do not stop trying”

What does a national park mean to you?  Probably an area set up by the government to conserve or encourage nature for future generations, and an area where developments are not allowed.  The ‘conservation of wild nature for posterity’.     To quote from the New Zealand Department of Conservation (who administer the parks in NZ) “New Zealand’s national parks contain some of our most treasured wilderness areas.”   Note those last words most treasured wilderness areas.
Here is a photo of Mt. Aspiring, 3033m.

News is now spreading in New Zealand (NZ) that two companies have ALREADY been given permission to extract and bottle water from the Mt. Aspiring National Park.  One of these is going to be in the extremely beautiful Dart Valley, and the other towards the west coast, including an export facility next to a beach.  To make matters even worse, the permits were given without public consultation (why??).    A petition was started earlier this month to protest, but as permission has already been granted then probably it is far too late.     Of course, the Maoris are claiming that the water belongs to them under the Treaty of Waitangi, but they are trying to claim (wrongly) that the Treaty of Waitangi gave them rights to many things which the treaty never even mentioned.

Even under NZ law, the national parks should have been protected…..

“It is hereby declared that the provisions of this Act shall have

effect for the purpose of preserving in perpetuity as national parks, for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the public, areas of New Zealand that contain scenery of such distinctive quality, ecological systems, or natural features so beautiful, unique, or scientifically important that their preservation is in the national interest.

— National Parks Act 1980, Part 1, section 4, subsection 1[5]”

Yet the consents were given by the government without public consultation.   HOW COULD THEY DO THIS IN A NATIONAL PARK   ?????   Just another sign of the way that things are going downhill in NZ.

To finish off the post, another photo….the lighthouse at Nugget Point, South Island, New Zealand

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION, FAIRNESS


Two from the opposite ends of Norway

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

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”.

So the crazy ‘security’ people in the good old USA have now decided that the humble Kindle e-book reader cannot be taken onboard flights from certain countries, nor a laptop, digital camera or tablet.   Yet people flying from some other countries CAN take the exact same items.    Just another sign of how stupid the USA has become.    And I am even more surprised that the travelling public in the USA is putting up with more and more of this nonsense.  Nothing to do with security, just a way for the Department of Homeland ‘Security’  to exercise even more control over people, without making flying any safer.    Even Australia is now making the use of the naked body scanners compulsory, with no opt-out option,  yet another intrusion into personal privacy and personal rights.     Based on these stupid, groundless ‘security’ procedures ( security scam would be another way to describe it)  then I will continue to avoid the USA, UK and Australia.    Airport procedures now are beyond reasonable.

A photo of the west Norwegian city of Bergen, taken from Mt. Floyen in perfect light.  Again great colours from the Fuji camera, taken as a jpeg.

and another photo….the fishing town of Vardo, Norway.    This is the easternmost town in Norway, and actually lies further East then Istanbul or Kiev !!  One of the town’s slogans is ‘Eternal light, Eternal Night’,  which is a reference to the 24 hours of constant daylight during summer, and the 24 hours of constant darkness during Winter.    The Russian border is only a few km away across the bay.

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RESPECT, FAIRNESS, CONSIDERATION


Overcrowded and full, New Zealand

Thought for the day..”There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

“Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.”

New Zealand continues to be overrun with tourists.   Whilst the tourist board seems to think that ever increasing numbers of tourists are a wonderful thing, those people who are in New Zealand are now seeing the effects over too many tourists.   Accommodation is full in many places, cafes are packed out, roads are busier than they have ever been (=more accidents)  and the national parks and nature are suffering (and suffering is the word) from the onslaught.    And there is no end in sight.     Airlines are putting on more and more flights (particularly from China) and are upping frequencies.     Trying to get reservations for accommodation at the moment is a nightmare and the once quiet country is now far from quiet and unspoilt.

The number of tourists has now passed 3.42 million a year, (population of NZ is about 4.7 million), and is growing by over 10%.     So the overcrowding at the popular tourists sights is becoming serious.     This also means that the nature and wildlife is suffering too.    Imagine driving into Milford Sound (which is in a national park) and arriving before 0900 only to find that ALL parking was already full and that officials were telling arriving motorists to turn around and drive out again.

And the worst part…..there is no end in sight.   Quiet, peaceful and quaint it might once have been.   Not now.

Today’s photo comes from the Old Town in Bergen, Norway.    It started out as a quick snapshot in colour, and was converted to B&W.    Just lucky that there was somebody in the sunlight in the ideal position.   Another reason why it is good to always have the camera ready.

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and another photo from the archives…..sunset over Norway from an aircraft window…..

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Crazy security checks…..

Thought for the day…..”Actions and consquences are a packaged deal”

” Life is a one-time offer.   Use it well”.

Travel has just got easier for me.     The USA, as usual paranoid about security has introduced rules which stop TOURISTS like me from getting the ESTA electronic visas.    If you have visited any of the countries on the USA list, then you are now ineligible for the ESTA visa.   This also means that you cannot transit the USA.     The American government cannot get it into their heads that there are TOURISTS who visit countries like Iran, Iraq and Sudan to learn more about the culture and life there.   But paranoid American officials now consider TOURISTS like these as a security risk.   So it is an easy decision for me, no more visits to the USA.  I will take my TOURIST dollars/euros/dirhams somewhere else.

And now I see that Australia is also becoming much like the USA.   Now at international airports in Australia, they have made the body scanner machines compulsory.   Of course they are saying that there is no danger to the public, but officials also said the same thing with the original body scanner X-Ray machines, until it was discovered that there WERE health dangers with the scanners.   So when they tell me that there is no danger (officials also said the same thing after the Chernobyl nuclear accident) then I do not believe them.   So I will not be compulsorily irradiated because I am innocent.    So now I will be avoiding Australia as well, including in transit.   And apparently, Australia wants to start trials of facial recognition technology at gateway airports to avoid the need for passports.    How much more big-brother is coming???       So two countries on the off list (USA & Australia).   Makes planning the next trip easier.   Their loss, my money will go to other countries.    And is it not about time that these stupid rules about liquids are abolished???    Since when has a 200ml tube of tooth paste or shampoo been dangerous??

And why do they make the pilots go through security checks as well?   Are they afraid that the pilot might get control of the aircraft??   Has no airport official ever seen the STUPIDITY of making pilots (who have full control of the aircraft) go through a security check?   I watched one pilot at Brisbane airport recently having to remove his mobile phone from his pocket to go through security again.  Yet no official has ever questioned the logic of such a stupid procedure.

Having been attacked and robbed recently by a bandit with a bushknife (see the previous post) I was searching around for a new Fuji camera.  I was amazed to see on a website with sample images from a Fuji camera, and advertisement for stab-proof jackets (see the screenshot below).   Either my internet is being monitored, or it was an amazing coincidence….

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and a photo from the now-stolen camera…..again great sharpness and colours from Fuji…..

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Dealing with morons

Thought for the day….” Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something”.

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look but do not tell you what to see

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I love technology.  I really do.  I was keen to install the new mCash mobile phone app so that I could pay electronically using my mobile phone.   mCash is offered by a Norwegian bank, Sparebank1 so you would think that they would be ok with technology.  Wrong.   I ran into a problem from the start….despite having Sweden listed on the menus of the app, it would not send sms to a Swedish mobile number.    So of course I contacted the mCash helpline but they are claiming that they cannot send messages (sms) to a Swedish phone.   Despite asking them many times, they have been unable (or unwilling) to say why they cannot send a sms.  What is even more surprising is that the same morons who set the mCash system up actually put Sweden as an option on the menus.    And when you contact these people, who work in i.t (information technology) then you are left wondering how these morons actually got the job.   So the people working in I.T are unable to explain or fix the simple challenge.   I can send a sms to anywhere in the world, but the morons at mCash are either unwilling or incapable of doing this.  And they are employed to work in I.T.

And why does any app like this demand access to ALL my contacts on my phone, and why does a payment app demand control over things like the flashlight on my phone?   Very interesting to see the sort of permissions that apps like these demand.   Needless to say, the app has been uninstalled.   But I wonder how the morons at mCash keep their job.  And how did they get their jobs in the first place?

Two photos of a sunrise at Riverton, in the far south of New Zealand……both taken on the same morning

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and another photo from the archives….a simple photo that tells a story….

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The airlines go even lower – more economy class cutbacks.

Thought for the day….” Never reach out your hand unless you’re willing to extend an arm”

” Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face”

Airlines again.   So often, things that originate in the USA slowly trickle their way to the rest of the world.  Already the major airlines in Europe are beginning to charge for check-in baggage, and at least one budget airline (Wizzair) is even charging for carry-on baggage.   Meals, which used to be included in airfares, are often becoming buy-on-board.    Lufthansa’s new Airbus A320neos will have LESS legroom than Ryanair.    Like Ryanair, Lufthansa is now charging for check in baggage, something that is now becoming standard amongst airlines.    Now the news is coming from the USA that United Airlines is going even further.   They are introducing a new even more economy ticket.   As well as not having the usual benefits (things like being able to pre-reserve a seat), passengers travelling on the cheapest tickets will now not be allowed to use the overhead luggage bins, and they will only be allowed to store small bags under their seats.   No doubt that this idea will spread from the USA, as airlines will see it as another way to devalue economy class even more.    And spare a thought for the cabin crews, who will now have to police who is putting baggage in the overhead luggage bins, surely a nightmare for them.    So economy passengers will be squeezed in even more (Lufthansa) then will not be able to pre-reserve seats, then will have to pay for previously free meals, will not earn air miles, and if the United Airlines move spreads, will be forbidden from putting bags in the overhead bins.

Years ago, people mocked Ryanair when it suggested making passengers pay to use the toilets onboard.  The way that things are going with the airlines, then those days might not be so far away.

Time for another portrait photo from the collection.   Originally a colour photo, the picture works so well in Black & White.   Great, neutral expression on the woman’s face, and perfect natural lighting.  The quality of the Fuji glass is clear in this photo.

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and another photo from the archives….

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Squeeze more in – more cuts in standards at the airlines.

Thought for the day…”The secret of getting ahead is getting started”

“Some people are like clouds.  When they go away, it is a brighter day”.

Back on one of my favourite topics..airlines.  I see in the news that British Airways (BA) have become the latest airline to increase the number of seats in its aircraft.  The Boeing 777 will go to 10-across seating (currently 9) and the total number of seats will go up from 280 to 332.  The Airbus A320 will have more seats, up from 168 today to 180, and the Airbus A321 will go from 205 today to a new high of 218 seats.    So BA has also chosen 10 across seating for the 777.  And to make matters even worse, they are removing 2 or 3 toilets from economy class as well.  More passengers but fewer toilets.   Since SWISS airlines also introduced 10-across seating on the 777s, then I have avoided them, as the reports online about airlines who use 10 across seating have been far from positive.    Not only are passengers being squeezed width-wise, but also leg-wise as well.   Lufthansa’s new Airbus aircraft will actually have LESS leg room than Ryanair, and again the intial reports from passengers have been negative. And more of the legacy airlines are introducing charges for food onboard (eg. BA from January) as well as charges for checked-in baggage.    All this begs the question, why pay more to fly with the legacy airlines when the service levels are less?

Today’s photo comes from northern Norway.  Honningsvag in wonderful autumn light…..

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and another photo from the archives….landing at Funchal, Madeira……

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Ebay email address – where is it?

Thought for the day…” Good judgement comes from experience.  Experience comes from bad judgement”.

“Success with negative attitude is called luck.  Success with positive attitude is called achievement”.

Have you ever tried to contact Customer ‘service’ at Ebay?   If so, then you will be as frustrated as I am.  Ebay makes it VERY difficult to contact them.    Yes, there is a ‘help & contact’ section, but this will merely lead you to suggested answers.   But try and find an email address for Ebay and you will get very annoyed.  They have made it deliberately difficult for you to contact them.    I merely wanted to contact Ebay to ask about a refund, but they do not publish an email address.  How crazy is that??   What reputable company does not want you to contact them???     Either way it has taught me a lesson.   If they are not prepared to publish and email address or put an online form for you to use, then they do not deserve trade.   It seems to be a trend with many companies now, making it very difficult or impossible for you to contact them by email.  They are happy enough to take your money, and make it very easy to pay, but when you want to contact them, that is a different matter.    Good customer service can actually be profitable for a company, whereas bad customer service actually drives customers away.     So why does Ebay make it so difficult to contact them by email???

One advantage of autumn is that it is a good time to go through the photo collection.  Here is one photo that I have converted to black & white….shadows from the railings on a bridge.

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and another photo from the archives…Afghani street traders….

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