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railway

KFC goes into space

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

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

Saw an interesting story in the news recently about KFC, who are going to send one of their ‘Zinger Burger’ chicken sandwiches into space, through a company called World View.    The project is partly being finance by KFC.   So it will be interesting to see the effects of zero gravity and no oxygen on the burger.   Of course, KFC will be posting the details on their webpages live.  Not that KFC are first with their idea,  previously a pie company has sent one of its meat pies into space to space to study the effects of space on it.   Interesting, that ‘launch’ took place from outside a pub in northern England !!

Today’s photo comes from 70 degrees north, in Finnmark province at the top of Norway.   The reindeer are easy to spot at this time of year, especially as they come near the towns lower down to feed on spring grass.   The photo was taken hand-held using the Fuji X-T20 and Fuji 100-400mm lens.

and another photo….a cross country train starts it trip from Penzance, Cornwall, England

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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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Out of the camera -JPEG photos

Thought for the day…”Dreams do not work unless you do”                 “Do not wish for it, work for it”.

One of the great bonuses of the Fuji X-E1 camera is that the photos straight out of the camera are so good, even in jpeg form.    Previously I would spend many hours with RAW files, adjusting and ‘developing’ the RAW image into finished JPEG photo, but now things are so much easier (and quicker).   The standard jpegs straight out of the camera are so good…..have a look at the 2 photos below.   Great colours, great sharpness and great contrast.  Not quite ‘point and shoot’  but certainly much faster and much easier than previous digital cameras.    And having been so impressed by the quality of the glass in the Fuji lenses, then another lens purchase might just be on the horizon..but will I be able to bring myself to pay the 2000 euros for the new zoom lens??????   Quality costs.

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and another photo from the archives…night train to Oslo from Trondheim….

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Fast and Slow, Albania to China

Thought for the day…” Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving”  (Einstein).

” If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there”.

Around 3.2 million people live in Albania, which borders Greece in the south and Montenegro in the north.  Italy is just 72km away across the sea, yet Albania remains one of the poorest parts of Europe.   One strange difference in Albania is that shaking your head means ‘yes’ whilst nodding your head means ‘no’.  Today’s photo shows the train from the Albanian capital, Tirana arriving at the second largest city of Durres.    At the time the photo was taken, trains ran all the way from the capital, however now the main train has been demolished to make way for new roads !  Even when it was operating all the way, average speeds were extremely poor, with the 38km journey taking around 90 minutes.   Compare that to the world record for a conventional train, held by the French TGV which reached a top speed of 574.8 km/h in April 2007.    Up to July 2011 (when its top speed was limited to save energy) the Chinese CRH2 Harmony train covered the 922km from Wuhan to Guangzhou at an average of 313 km/h.

LOW-RES-Albania-Durresand another photo from the archives….boats in Essiouria, Morocco.  Spot the man on the boats….

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Crossing to Tibet – A portrait in colour

Thought for the day….” Never ask a barber if you need a haircut”

”  If past history was all there was to the game, then the richest people would all be librarians”.

Sometimes it is open, and sometimes it is closed, so getting into Tibet is a bit of a lottery.   Around 3 million people live in Tibet, which is officially regarded as a Chinese autonomous region.    And to complicate matters even further, the ‘borders’ of the Tibetan kingdom are much larger than the official Chinese autonomous region’s borders.   It contains the world’s highest plateau (at over 4000m), and includes the Himalayas.  Tourism is controlled by the Chinese government, and a special permit is needed to visit, even if a Chinese visa is held.  Trains to Lhasa started in 2006, with the trip from Bejing taking around 48 hours.   Interestingly, the train is said to be the highest railway route in the world, and due to the altitude on the trip (up to 5231m altitude) then the trains are provided with an oxygen supply.  They also have windows with special protection against the strong ultra-violet rays at the high altitudes.    And having enjoyed the train trip, then travellers can look forward to yak meat and the (salty) butter tea, and perhaps a photo like the one below……

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And another photo from the archives…..a black and white photo from the old town in the centre of Tallinn, Estonia.

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Heading to the Fjords, more blue skies

Thought for the day…” If at first you do not succeed then skydiving is not for you”.

” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance”.

Staying in Norway for the photo again today, and a shot of the famous Oslo to Bergen train.   The train still has over 400m vertical to climb at this point, but the views will be fantastic as it reaches the summit at over 1237m.   It has just passed the half way point of its 493 km journey from Oslo to Bergen.   The opening of the line in 1907 was delayed due to snow (often a problem on this route due to the altitude and exposed nature of much of the route), but the full route opened in 1908.   Despite several new tunnels, the route is still one of the great railway journeys, and is highly scenic.  About 5 trains cover the full route each day, including a night sleeper service.   Soon the passengers on the train will get their first views of the glaciers, as the train will shortly be above the tree line before it starts its long descent towards the fjords and Bergen at seal level.   Highly recommended if you are in Norway !!

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and another photo out of the archives….a timeless scene from rural Ethiopia…..

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23.13 Night train to Oslo, Norway

Thought for the day….” Do coffins have lifetime guarantees?”                         ” If heat rises then shouldn’t Hell be cold?”

Gladys Knight and the Pips had a big hit with the song “Midnight Train to Georgia”, but the photo today is of the 23.13 night train to Oslo, which is a long way from either Georgia the country or Georgia, USA.   Not much sleep ahead for the drivers of the night train from Trondheim, Norway south towards the capital, Oslo.     They still have about 495 km to drive through the mountains at night.   I had forgotten that travelling by train could be so pleasant, especially when compared to air travel.   Boarding the train is completely fuss free, no security goon worries if I am carrying a tube of toothpaste (which apparently, is dangerous now) and nobody at the station had a panic attack because I was carrying a Swiss army knife.   I also did not have to stand in a line anywhere, nor did I have to undress to get onto the train.    Once onboard the train, the coffee came in normal sized cups, and actually tasted like good coffee, unlike airline economy-class coffee.   And was the train any worse off because the passengers had not been through security checks???  No.  It even arrived in Oslo early.  Almost forgot to mention that they were serving hot, fresh cinnamon rolls from the oven in the cafe onboard.   Well done NSB !  Already sent an email to NSB to congratulate them, as it is good to give positive feedback when it is due.

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And another photo out of the archives, and from the other side of the world……coral reefs surrounding the islands of Fiji.

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Ultimate Swiss army knife !!! – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement”.

”  Happiness is a road to travel, not a goal to reach”.

Did you know that the original Swiss army knife was grey, not red?  And in the beginning, when the knives were made for the Swiss army, they did not feature a corkscrew because soldiers were forbidden to drink whilst on duty.  Apparently, on modern Swiss army knives, the corkscrew is the one part that is not made in Switzerland (it is manufactured in Japan instead).  The Swiss army knife started life in 1897 after being developed by Carl Elsener.   His idea was to manufacture something to stop emigration due to unemployment.  The design has been so successful that it has even been used in the Space Shuttle.  It is now possible to buy a Swiss army knife WITHOUT the knife part, so that it can be carried on flights (a knife-less Swiss army knife!) .   Wenger, one of the two main companies producing the knives (the other is Victorinox)  produces a knife known as ‘The Giant’, with some 87 tools included on it.    And here is a photo of one…which was on offer in Switzerland for CHF 1200……

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One strange or odd fact about the Swiss army is that they accidentally invaded the neighboring country of Lichtenstein in 2007 after getting lost in a rainstorm !!

And a photo from the archives, this time from Cuba….4 modes of transport in this shot…..

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Busy doing nothing – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…..” Never let perfect be the enemy of better”     ”  It takes twenty years of hard work to become an overnight success”

A photo from a few years back, taken on the main railway station in Tallinn, Estonia.  Estonia has been independent from the Soviet Union since 1991, although there is still a lot of Russian influence there, with around 45% of the population speaking Russian.  It still shares a border with Russia, and another with Latvia.   Around 430 000 people live in the capital, Tallinn.   It has become known as the Silicon Valley of the Baltic due to the large IT industry there, with Skype being its most famous development.    More than 1.5 million tourists visit the city each year, with about 1/3 of them arriving by ship.   Plans to link Tallinn to Helsinki (Finland), some 80km away by an undersea tunnel have been put on hold, although they were part of the European Union plans to improve links to the area.

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And one from the archives, taken a few years ago, the rare Rothschild giraffe.

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Canterbury hills in evening light – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….’ When one door closes, another door opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully at the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us”   Alexander Graham Bell.

I used to fly a lot with Norwegian Airline.   In the beginning they were reliable and good, but recently have decided to outsource their cabin crews.  Just before Christmas they made their Swedish-based staff redundant but the staff were able to continue to work via an employment agency (albeit with worse working conditions).     Redundancy must have been a lovely Christmas present from the company to its staff.   Not only that, but the airline is crewing its new long-haul flights with Thai staff, presumably because it is a lot cheaper.    The same thing happened onboard ships earlier, the end result being that jobs are lost in many countries when the workers are replaced by cheaper foreign crews.    So now Norwegian Airline is at it too.  So from now on I will try and avoid flying with Norwegian Airlines.   Companies that treat staff like this do not deserve support.

Looking almost like a painting in the soft light of evening, the photo today is from Spotswood in the Canterbury region of New Zealand.  This area is a big sheep farming area, although vineyards are also becoming popular as well.   Just crossing the lower part of the picture is the main north-south railway line which nowadays only sees one passenger train a day during the summer months, as well as regular freight trains.

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