Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

summer

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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Words of Wisdom – a poem for some thought

Thought for the day…”The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.”

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

Something different today…a poem.   Cannot remember where I got it from, not my work of course, but the words are very good –

When as a child I slept and wept,
Time crept.
When as a youth I laughed and talked,
Time walked-
When I became a fullgrown man ,
Time ran.
An older as I daily grew,
Time flew.
Soon shall I find in travelling on:
Time gone.

_____________________________________________________________________

Winter is a great time to sort out the photos, so here is one from a time back, love the great Fuji colours in it.   A good photo needs good light, and the light was perfect for this photo, bright but not too strong.

and another photo from the archives….some market colour…

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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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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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Time to Delete…..

Thought for the day….”Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.”

“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”

Autumn is a good time to get around to sorting the thousands of photos that are sitting on discs and hard drives.   Those of us over about 30 years old will remember that at one time, you only got 36 pictures (37 if you were lucky) on a roll of film, and even on a long holiday, you did not come back with thousands of photos.   But with digital cameras, it is far too easy to click away and end up with hundreds of photos.    I am looking back at my earlier photos and putting them through a test.   First question is “would I be proud to show this photo to somebody else? ”  and the second question “is this photo special to me?”    If the answer to both questions is NO then it is time to hit the delete button.   Rather like pruning trees after the summer, it will result in a leaner, cleaner and better photo collection.    Hit that delete button !

Classical buildings in the Frogner part of Oslo for the photo today, originally a colour photo that I have converted to Black & White.

wordpress Oslo buildingsand another photo, the lunchtime Wideroe Dash 8 Q300 aircraft arriving in Honningsvag, in North Norway.   This is only about 30km from the North Cape, which is claimed to be the top of Europe at over 71 degrees north.     That said, North Cape is actually on an island (Mageroya) so whether or not it is actually the northernmost point of Europe is debatable.  wordpress WideroeALL PHOTOS ON THIS SITE ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

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Think before you install……that app may not be so innocent

Thought for the day…”What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

It is amazing that so many people install apps on their mobile phones without any regard for just how much information those apps may collect. I recently wanted to install an app to control the flashlight on my mobile phone, but refused to install it when I discovered that it wanted access to my camera, email contacts and microphone. Absolutely no need for a glorified light switch to need access to my emails or the microphone on my telephone. And a second flashlight program proved just as bad.

Now there is the news on the internet about Amazon, and their plans to open physical stores in the USA. Apparently, they are going to monitor shoppers mobile phones, and will block their internet access if they attempt to check prices at other stores or online. So not only will Amazon be able to see what you are interested in, they will also be able to stop you comparing prices, and presumably, will also be able to see other sites on the internet that you are interested in. No doubt many people will quickly install a new Amazon app, without thinking about the loss of privacy. 50 years ago, people would have demonstrated against the idea of carrying something that gave authorities the power to see where they were within a few metres, and also what they were reading/eating/shopping/listening to. Even installing a flashlight app may now mean that somebody is listening to your conversations. Privacy is important, yet many people are now readily giving it up.

A photo from Spitsbergen of the Artic poppy flower, braving the cold weather…

and another photo….early morning in Riverton, in the far south of New Zealand.  At one time, this port received freight boats from Australia before the estuary silted up.  Now the railway and the larger boats have long since gone, leaving just the small fishing boats and a few tourists who pass through Riverton whilst driving the Southern Scenic Route.

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Flying variety – old and new, north and south

Thought for the day….”Success – keeping your mind awake and your desire asleep.”

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

Two photos from the opposite sides of the Earth….the first is a Tiger Moth aircraft seen here in Pembroke, New Zealand.   This type of aircraft was designed in the 1930s  by the De Havilland company, who went on to make over 8800 of them.   Many pilots learnt to fly in these, and they are still popular for teaching pilots their initial tail wheel training.   Typically, it had a 120hp Gypsy Moth engine, which required hand starting as there was no electrical system in the aircraft.    Top speed was 140 knots.

and another photo….the lunchtime Wideroe Dash 8 aircraft arriving at Honningsvag in Artic Norway.  The aircraft carries 50 passengers, and is often used in Norway on the ‘milk run’ service in northern Norway, stopping at many of the isolated towns along the coast.

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Good Customer Service – Fujifilm

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

“When one burns one’s bridges, what a very nice fire it makes.” (Dylan Thomas)

For the last 5 weeks, I have been without the camera, which suffered a cracked screen after being dropped onto the floor.    Sent it back to Fuji, but Norwegian Post (and there is a company who deserves to go out of business if ever there was one)  took 9 days to get it to an address near Oslo.   Then, after that delay, the camera got delayed for weeks due to the virus in the TNT Courier computer systems.   TNT seemed unable to get the camera delivered, and it just sat there for weeks, getting nowhere near the repair shop.   But here is the happy ending….Fuji (who are normally very good with customer service and backup) have offered to send me a new camera.  That was something that I did not expect, but it is good to know that there is good customer service around.   The feedback online is also good for Fuji, as other users have also written about similar good treatment.    So I am happy to continue using Fuji, just have to wait a little longer (now over 5 weeks) for the replacement to arrive.   Then back to photographing again.

Back in 2008, Singapore Airlines (one of the World’s great airlines) were still using 747s on the route from Zurich to Singapore.  The ‘Queen of the Skies’, weighing almost 400 tonnes,  is seen here taking off on 23rd May 2008 for the 10 294km journey back to its’ home base.  Flight time was around 12 hours and 10 minutes.

and another photo, an art gallery in Honningsvag, in the Artic north of Norway.

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Not a nuclear explosion, but sunset over the Baltic Sea

Thought for the day…”Well done is better than well said.”  (Benjamin Franklin).

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

A wonderful story in the news at the moment from Washington, DC,  about ‘Steve’, the security robot who fell down some steps into a water fountain.  The high-tech robot was fitted with ultra-sonic sensors, infra-red sensors and HD video, yet still managed to fall down the steps and into the water below.   His makers, Knightscope,  have been providing updates on his ‘condition’ from ‘hospital’.   The security robot is quoted as thanking his human helpers for saving him, and he is also quoted as saying that he did not see the ‘No Swimming’ sign before entering the water.    Apparently the water has played havoc with his electronics (natually).  His condition was reported as ‘critical’.    So despite all the high technology, the ‘intelligent’ robot still managed to end up wet and useless.   And this is supposed to be the future !!

Not a nuclear explosion, but sunset over the Baltic Sea near Sweden for the photo today…

and another photo…Lake Hawea on the South Island of New Zealand, another Fuji X-T20 photo..

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