Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

Posts tagged “holidays

Censorship and Freedom of Speech

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

“Striving for sucess without hard work is like trying to harvest when you have not planted.”

People often criticize countries such as China for restricting freedom of speech and people’s freedoms.    But now the governments around the World are being just as bad as any dictatorship.   Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are now censoring posts which do not comply with the official government line or which question vaccines or controls.    So even when there is scientific evidence, people are being stopped from publicly questioning governments.   And governments now are using coronavirus as an excuse to introduce all sorts of controls and restrictions on freedom that would never have been accepted before.   People fought two World Wars so that generations could have freedom, yet now those very freedoms for which they fought (and sometimes died) and being taken away by politicians.   Many, many years ago, I was taught in school an important lesson which I have never forgotten….that is to never believe everything that people tell you.   Very good advice.   So now when I see statistics then I am careful.    And when I see the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube removing posts which go against what the politicians are promoting, then I am very, very suspicious.    We are already well down a very slippery slope.

Great light and mood in this photo from Glenorchy in New Zealand, looking towards the Mount Aspiring National Park and both the Dart and the Rees valleys.

and another photo from the archives, Zebras drinking at a waterhole in Namibia –

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South Island beauty, Southern Alps of New Zealand

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

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

The beauty of the South Island of New Zealand with some fantastic weather.   The river here, the Waimakariri, is one of three rivers which cut through the Southern Alps.   The main east-west road and also the trans-alpine railway follow this river for many kilometres.  In just a few km from where this photo was taken, the vegetation changes from dry grasslands and bushes to the rainforest of the (wet) West Coast.  This area was also the area where the extinct moa bird was said to have been seen by two locals in 1993, leading to a mini tourist boom.  The fact that these two locals were about to take over the running of the local pub near where the ‘moa’ had been seen may just have been coincidence !!   Nowadays you are more likely to see fishermen by the river and hunters in the hills after wild boar or deer.

and another photo from the archives…an intense stare from this boy in a market in Sri Lanka

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Chapter 1 Vanlife begins

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

“Life Always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow”.

Chapter 1.    Vanlife begins.    Despite having previously owned a campervan, the urge was always there to try building one for myself.    Buying a ready-made campervan is easy, but it is always a compromise.  Compromises in the long run usually make everybody unhappy.   And given that I have a non-standard lifestyle, then a standard campervan was never going to work…sort of round peg in a square hole type of situation.     So the campervan (a VW Karmann) was sold last year even though it was modern and bright inside and had all the essentials, including a shower.    But it was a compromise.     For use all year, a campervan needs great insulation, and for somebody like me who does a lot of sport then it needs a BIG watertank.   I also need a lot of storage space for the cycle and sports equipment.

Since then I had been looking throughout Scandinavia for a replacement van.   But finding one that would tick all the right boxes and at the right price was near impossible.     On that great online university, YouTube I had become fascinated by the number of people who had bought ordinary delivery vans (Mercedes Sprinters for example)  and had converted the vans themselves.    The results that some of them have achieved are incredible.   That idea about building a van just would not go away.   And the vanlife videos kept appearing on YouTube.

So last week I took the decision to get a van and to begin converting it myself.   Found a VW Crafter van online in Stavanger, Western Norway and purchased it FAST, without seeing it or without even test driving it.   Experience had shown me that the good vans and good campervans disappear almost immediately, and with coronavirus then there were even more people after them.   So I had to act fast, and bought it within a few hours.  Took the risk to transfer the money online to a seller whom I had never met and my only contact had been via the online website.  Big risk, yes.    But there is a saying in English “sometimes you have to jump first, and grow your wings on the way down”.   So the van was purchased and the transfer fees paid.

Now I know that there is a risk of failure, especially as I have never done anything like this before.   The fear of failure should not stop people from trying, and there is one way to find out if I can do it.  That is to try.    It may turn out to be a costly mistake, but at least then I will know.    It may turn out to be a success, but until I try then I will never know.

So I hope to collect the van this Wednesday.   Then the real fun will begin !!  Watch this space for photos and updates and probably a video or two.

To be continued……..

One photo from the archives -matruska dolls from Russia at a market in northern Norway

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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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An aviation classic – the Hawker Hurricane

Thought for the day…”I haven’t failed. I just found 10 000 ways that won’t work” Thomas Edison.

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadow falls behind you”.

Wanaka, New Zealand hosts the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow every two years, and was at one time, also home to a number of Warbirds, such as this Hawker Hurricane.  This particular aircraft had an interesting history, having flown in 1940 and crashed in Preswick, Scotland, then after a rebuild was damaged several more times before being transferred to the Soviet Air Force in 1941.  It crashed again near Murmansk, Russia in 1943 and was recovered around 1990 and partly rebuilt in the UK from 1992 to 1995.  It was fully restored in Wanaka and flew again from Christchurch, NZ in January 2000.    It was later sold to a French owner based in Cannes.   The photo was taken in Wanaka about 2010 prior to the sale to the new owner.

And a photo from Oslo harbour in Norway.   The DFDS ferry travels overnight down to Copenhagen, Denmark.  Unfortunately, journey times have been increased now and prices onboard are very high, making it much less attractive than previously, especially when the highway down through Sweden is a fast alternative.  Why management wanted to slow the trip down is a mystery, as the boat is now much slower and leaves both cities too early to be much use to business travellers or people wanting a full day trip.

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Boats and planes, Morocco and Madeira

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

” Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.”

A photo of an Airbus A320 about to land at Funchal, Madeira for the photo today.  This aircraft was involved in an emergency descent on 8th July 2014 when on a flight from Lisbon to Amsterdam.  The aircraft declared an emergency and descended rapidly from FL380 (38 000 feet) down to 10 000 feet.   The passenger oxygen masks were deployed, but the aircraft landed without further problems.   This aircraft regularly does 5 flights during a single day, and is seen here at one of it’s regular airports, Funchal.     It was flying at around 130 knots (240 km/h) when the photo was taken. LOW-RES-TAPAnd another photo out of the archives…fishing boats in Essouria, Morocco.   Spot the figure on one of the boats….

Wordpress-Morocco-Boulmane

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Two from the photo collection

Thought for the day….”Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow”

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

Winter is a great time to sort out the photo collection, and also get rid of the duplicates and not-so-good photos.    Far too many photos in the collection, so some serious pruning is needed, although it is a lot of fun going back through the old photos and reliving the moments.    A couple of photos here taken not long back, trains around Brienz, Switzerland.   Brienz is a Swiss town very much in the shadow of its famous nearby neighbour Interlaken, which receives nearly all the tourists.   But Brienz has its own charms, such as the steam train up the Rothorn mountain.   Add to this a superb lakeside location, some great bakery cafes and it makes a great alternative to Interlaken.    Both photos were taken with the Fuji X-T20 camera.

and another photo from the archives….

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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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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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Oslo, Norway – Not the modern, organized place that you think…..

Thought for the day..”It is better to rust out than wear out.”

“We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.”  (Charlotte Wilton).

One of the great mysteries of life is why in Norway, the arrival of snow in winter causes such chaos.  Norway lies mostly above 60 degrees north (parts of it are over 70 degrees north) so is Artic or sub-Artic, yet the arrival in WINTER of snow seems to cause such chaos.   Do the Norwegians not expect snow in WINTER?   Are they not used to snow arriving in WINTER?   It appears not.    As anyone who has been in Oslo recently will have experienced, the streets have been extremely difficult to negotiate.   Pavements have alternated between sheet ice and deep snow, all of this in the CAPITAL of a country that is rich and that is supposed to be modern.     It sure shatters a lot of images when you work in Norway, those images that many people have of a modern, well-organized society soon change when you see how it really is.   And I just cannot but help wondering what the local council in Oslo is doing (or rather, not doing).     The one plus side to the chaos caused by the snow and ice is that is has forced many of the begging gypsies off the streets.   Again, the gypsy problem is something that the Norwegian government and police seem unable to deal with, same as with the heroin problem in Oslo.   Whilst drug sellers operate openly in the city centre, nothing appears to be done about the problem.   Oslo has been called the “heroin capital of Europe’, with the statistics showing the big problem with heroin addiction and deaths in the city, but the authorities do not seem to be doing enough.  Have a look at some of the videos of the problem on YouTube.    So if you have any ideas that Norway is a modern, clean and well-run society, then a short visit may change your views !!

One photo of the Norwegian capital, Oslo, taken before the snows arrived…..

and another photo from the archives Rafsundet near Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands, Norway.

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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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The Worm Has Turned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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The Far North of Norway

Thought for the day…”Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.”

“We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.”

Two more photos from the far north of Norway (70 degrees north).    At this time of year, there is 24 hours of daylight, as the sun never goes below the horizon.   Whilst the Norwegians may get excited about having 24 hours of daylight, it is not in fact very useful, because you still have to sleep.  And the other side of the coin is that in winter it has 24 hours of darkness (the so-called ‘eternal night’)  so it must be extremely depressing then.  Seen here in the photo is one of the many cruise ships which visit at this time of year, this one the ‘Mein Schiff’ from TUI Cruises.  Built in Finland at a cost of some 360 million euros, it carries around 2500 passengers, so is much smaller than the 6000+ passenger ships that cruise the Caribbean.   Seen here in Honningsvag, Finnmark, Norway.

and another photo….Mehamn in the far north of Norway

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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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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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Money well spent, or not ???

Thought for the day…” Hope but never expect, Look forward but never wait”

“Obstacles are those frightful things that you see when you take your mind off your goal”  (Henry Ford)

The waterfront of the Norwegian capital, Oslo is changing fast.   Currently it is a mass of cranes and building sites.   A photo from yesterday taken in perfect weather and warm temperatures, showing just how much building is going on.  The white building on the right is the Opera House, which was completed in 2007, supposedly based on an iceberg shape.    The exterior is covered with Italian marble, Carrara marble.   This is an odd choice to use, as the architects had perhaps not read about the problems that this same type of marble had when it was used for the Finlandia concert hall in Helsinki.    Whilst Italian marble may be very suitable for use in the Mediterranean, it does not handle the extreme cold temperatures of Scandinavia well.    Much of the marble used in Helsinki on the Finlandia Hall had to be replaced, so it is interesting to see it used in Oslo, which has a similar climate.  Time will tell !   The cost of the Opera House in Oslo was over 4 BILLION Norwegian kronor, or over USD 700 million.   Would this money have been better spent on a new medical centre??

and another photo showing the whole building….

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