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Autumn in Norway – sunset in Bronnoysund

Thought for the day….”Life is the flower for which love is the honey”

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

Bronnoysund (Brønnøysund in Norwegian) is known as the coastal town in the middle of Norway.  About 5000 people live here, at around 65 degrees north.    As well as a local airport, it is also visited by the daily Hurtigruten coastal boat service, both northbound and southbound.   Three photos, taken in lovely evening light on 13th October.   Camera was the Fuji X-T10 with the 18-55mm kit lens.   Soon this lens will be joined by the new Fuji 100-400mm lens, which has just been ordered.  Not an easy decision to buy a lens that costs about 3 times as much as the camera, but quality costs, and the quality of the Fuji lenses is superb, so the ‘buy’ button was pressed.   Just have to collect it now……

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and another photo from the same town….

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Political correctness – something is wrong here.

Thought for the day…”Why does a round pizza come in a square box?”

“If electricity comes from electrons, then does morality come from morons”

If you have visited Sweden recently then you will have seen the large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in the cities and in the train and bus stations.    Whilst normal tourists need to apply for a Schengen visa to enter, it appears now that the borders to Europe are open to all, and without limit.     Swedish Television has now issued instructions to it’s staff that they are not to use the words ‘immigrant’, ‘black skinned’, ‘dark’ or ‘African origin’  for fear of  insulting people.   The use of words such as ‘white skinned’ is still allowed though.   Is that fair?  Is it not discrimination??  Even  worse is that anyone accused of racism by an immigrant is not going to be allowed time on TV or radio to defend themselves.  And whilst people in Sweden have had to put their names on waiting lists for sometimes several years in order to get public housing, asylum seekers are being put into housing quickly.  Across the border in Norway, asylum seekers are housed in hotels (at public expense) and are given a daily living allowance, whilst Norwegian people have to pay to stay in hotels and are taxed on the priviledge.    Is that fair?

The photo today comes from the lakeside town of Pembroke Wanaka, on the South Island of New Zealand.  A typical morning view of the lake from near the town centre.

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and another photo from the archives….window cleaning in Ljublana, Slovenia

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Two sides of Oslo, Norway

Thought for the day….”Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”

“Be nice to people on the way up because you will meet them again on the way down”

Today’s photo is of the Opera House in the Norwegian capital city of Oslo.  Opened in 2008, the shape is supposed to resemble an iceberg.   The cost was a staggering 4.1 billion NOK, or about USD 720 million.    A new public library is to be built nearby as well as several office blocks.  Despite the wealth, the streets nearby have many beggars and drug addicts, as well as rubbish and grafitti.   Even nearby the Opera House, there are parts of the city that are run-down and are dirty, a fact that often surprises visitors to Oslo.    It is known as the heroin capital of Europe, with 248 deaths from drugs in 2010.   Again, visitors are often surprised by how obvious drug use and drug dealing on the streets is, something which does not fit in with the image of clean, well-run Norway.     Reality is sometimes very different.

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and another photo from the archives…a dramatic sunrise in Pembroke, 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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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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A Hot Summers Day, New Zealand – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell

Thought for the day…” A life without ambition is like a journey without a destination”.

”  A problem is just a solution waiting to happen.”

Central Otago, New Zealand,  for today’s photo, and a typical hot, dry summer day.   Central Otago is a big wine-growing region, with most of the vineyards at around 300m altitude and surrounded by mountains.  Pinot Noir is the main wine from this area, characterised by the smaller grapes that are used to make this type of wine (one reason why a good Pinot Noir costs more).  Wine making in this region took off in the 1990s, whereas in the 1800s, it was gold that was the big industry here.  In summer, temperatures here can reach 35 degrees, but in winter, parts of Central Otago fall to -15 degrees.

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And one from the archives……a steam train in Uppsala, Sweden.

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Slide film memories – Bolivia – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” If you were arrested for kindness, would there be enough evidence to convict you? ”

“If you want to feel rich, then just count all the things that you have that money cannot buy”.

Saw an amusing story on the internet from Italy, where a cleaner in an art museum has thrown away an ‘art’ display that was meant to be part of an exhibition.  The cleaner in the province of Bari, Italy thought that the ‘artworks’ were actually rubbish left behind by the installers of the exhibition.  According to the BBC news, a similar event occurred in 2001 when cleaners in a London exhibition threw away coffee cups, beer bottle caps and full ashtrays, which were also supposed to be an art ‘display’.    Who can blame these cleaners for throwing away such rubbish?   Surely, overflowing ashtrays and piles of scrap carboard cannot be art?

Off to Bolivia for the photo today and a nice portrait of a local woman weaving.   Those people who remember the days of film, and more especially, slide film, will remember the sort of quality that you could get from Fuji Velvia slide film.  The photo today is actually a scanned slide, but it goes to show that even before the days of 24mp digital cameras, that you could still get some fantastic photos even with film.   The slides were scanned high resolution on a Fuji photo-processing machine, initially as .bmp files, then converted to standard jpeg files.   One of the great thrills of travelling in the days of 35mm film was returning home with a bag of undeveloped films, and having to wait for the postman to return the processed films.     Something that we have lost with instant digital photos.    The day that the postman brought the processed photos was always a BIG highlight.

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Heading to market in Pakistan – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” Those who forget where they came from tend to get lost where they are going”.

” Sometimes you have to take a leap at life and build your wings on the way down”

After all the stress and frustration of Emirates Airlines (see the last post for the details), I ended up cancelling the ticket completely.   No more bookings with Emirates Airlines, lesson has been learnt. But life goes on, just that I will never buy another ticket with an airline that has such bad customer ‘service’.

Today’s photo comes from the northern part of Pakistan, not far from the border with Afghanistan.   Another one of those lucky photos that you just have to take without thinking, yet the position of the donkey and cart and also the beggar were great for the photo.   As usual, another shot taken with a cheap Panasonic camera.

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Party Time – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the Day….” Do coffins have lifetime guarantees?”

” Isn’t Disney world just a people trap operated by a mouse?”

Another happy scene today, this time from the Cook Islands in the Pacific.  Every year the local churches arrange a ‘Gospel Day’ in which the churches compete against each other to put on the best show.    The islanders dance, put on small shows, sing and also drink a lot of alcohol.  One play that the churches have performed was based on the attacks against the twin towers in New York.   Gospel days start early, sometimes around 0300 and go on long into the night.  Lots of flowers, dancing, singing and fun.  The next gospel day will be in October 2014.

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New, looking old – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” Better to be a star rather than a spark.  Sparks are for the moment, stars are for the future”.

“Talent is the key to success, but you have to find the door”.

Update on the story about the refund from Air France.    I cancelled an air ticket with AF, and understood that the actual ticket was not refundable, as the conditions stated, but asked Air France to refund the taxes.  Things like departure taxes had not been incurred, as I had not travelled, so I expected a refund of these.  After many many emails to Air France, and to some very unhelpful customer ‘service’ departments, then finally I got a refund, minus a 20 euro ‘administration fee’.  Still very unhappy with Air France because I had to write so many emails to them, but at least I have got most of the taxes back.   So the moral of this story is that even if the airline says no in the beginning, then keep on at them as they ARE supposed to refund the taxes.

A new photo made to look old for today’s picture.  The shot comes from the museum at Ballarat in Australia, and started off as a colour photo, then was converted to black & white and finally was given the sepia touch to make it look old.    It was just a matter of waiting for the tourists to disappear out of the scene then an easy job to capture this scene, which could be from the 1800s but is actually quite recent.

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