Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

Posts tagged “travel

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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As always, two laws, depending on who you are

Thought for the day…”Rough Diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles.”

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

So often in life there are two sets of laws, depending on who you are and who you know.  The New Zealand government is charging NZD 3100 (about 1800 euros)  for the compulsory 2 weeks quarantine but has a quote system to limit the number of international arrivals.   Sounds fair enough to only allow in as many people as can be housed in the isolation hotels BUT, as always, some groups are getting in.    A film crew was allowed into New Zealand to make a sci-fi film as they were considered ‘essential workers’.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/121692713/political-favouritism-for-hollywood-film-crews-says-opposition-mp

This week, the NZ news is reporting that the West Indies cricket team is being allowed into Queenstown, all 28 of them –

https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/queenstown/warm-welcome-windies

Whilst there are stories in the press and on the internet about families UNABLE to get places in the isolation hotels and unable to get one of the limited places to be allowed into NZ.    Families are also being kept apart –

http://www.thesouthafrican.com/lifestyle/south-africans-delays-henco-de-beernew-zealand-quarantine/

So while families and couples are being kept apart due to the quota system for managing isolation and arrivals, a film crew is deemed to be ‘essential workers’   and 28 members of a cricket team are also allowed in.  Now in my mind that is wrong.  Very wrong.  Making a sci-fi film is NOT essential, nor is playing cricket.     But as always, there seem to be two sets of laws…….

Gone but not forgotten, this 747 of Air Pacific takes off from Nadi airport in Fiji.  It was retired from service in 2013.

and another photo from the archives…..a motorist enjoys the early morning view over Lake Wanaka, Pembroke on the South Island of New Zealand.

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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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“Its because of coronavirus”

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.”

Far too  many companies are now trying to excuse their own inefficiencies with the excuse that “it is because of coronavirus”.      Airlines in particular seem to be especially bad at the moment, and their excuse is always “coronavirus”.     Same story with a lot of other companies too.  Emails are going unanswered and customer ‘service’ is falling even more.    Given that a lot of people can work online from home for things like refunds and answering emails then the coronavirus excuse is wearing very thin now.

Airlines such as SAS and Norwegian Air Shuttle (both of whom seem to be ignoring emails for months) are not going to see my money for a long time.

But in the long term these companies are going to lose.    Companies (such as airlines) which are now failing to reply promptly are going to lose some or all of my business.  The World is still turning, despite coronavirus, and businesses cannot use coronavirus as an excuse for everything.

And staying in Switzerland, a Piper Cub seaplane on the Brienzersee during a recent seaplane meeting.  The village of Ringgenberg is in the background.

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Lufthansa German Airlines group and Economy class travel

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

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

Too many companies are using coronavirus as an excuse now.   Often it is being used to cover up their own failures but the excuse of coronavirus is being overused.   Joining the bandwagon of companies blaming (conveniently) coronavirus is the Lufthans group (LH) airlines.    Now this is why I am getting angry…..according to Lufthansa, they are no longer giving ECONOMY class passengers tea, coffee or food on flights of less than 150 minutes.  This is to protect “your health and the health of our employees”

https://www.lufthansa.com/ch/en/current-onboard-services#short-haul

BUT if you are travelling Business class then you will still get food and drink.   Now would the managers at Lufthansa like to tell me why Business class passengers are not seen as any risk whereas Economy class passengers are seen as a risk?   Or is the real reason that Lufthansa just wants to save money and is conveniently using coronavirus as an excuse to make further cuts to Economy class services?   I know which answer my money is on.   And also why do Lufthansa no longer service food when other airlines ARE still serving food to economy class passengers?

Companies should stop trying to blame coronavirus for everything.  Be honest with customers, and if you are going to cut out meals and drinks for Economy class passenger then BE HONEST and tell us the real reason….to save money.   Do not try and blame it on coronavirus.  We are not stupid.

And another photo from the archives, Ometepe in Nicaragua at sunset….

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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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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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The positive side of coronavirus

Thought for the day…”Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.”

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Despite all the doom and gloom at the moment, there are some positive sides to coronavirus.   Staff in shops and cafes have become noticeably better recently, and are happy to serve you now.   Not only that but they have time to help and, with the lack of customers, are actually trying to help out.   Shops and cafes have become more polite, with people waiting patiently in spaced-out queues.    Cafes have started putting most items in plastic to prevent contamination, hand disinfectant is now common and for the time being, people are being very good at using disinfectants.  And another bonus, the enforced free time is giving some of us some a great opportunity to catch up on things that previously we never had time for.   So it is not all negative at the moment !!   Stay safe.

The southbound Oslo to Kiel ferry passing the coast of Norway at Drobak.

and another photo from the archives….sunrise captured with the Fuji X-T30

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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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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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Thought for the day….”One fails forward toward success”

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

Off to the Himalayas and to Nepal for the photo today.    As usual, the porters were carrying extremely heavy loads, this time including the kitchen table.    Unusually though, these porters had good footwear, instead of the more common flip-flops or sandals.   Climbing up with such loads is even more difficult due to the thinner air and often harsh conditions.  The photo is from a scanned 35mm negative.

and another photo from the collection….Oslo city centre, which in parts is dirty, run down and full of beggars and drug-addicts.  Far from the image of Scandinavia that many people have.

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Soon to be devloped – an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Though for the day…”Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.”

“To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.”  (J.B. Priestley).

A panoramic photo from Glendu Bay on the South Island of New Zealand near Pembroke.    This area is on the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park, but sadly is being sold for development.  Already new roads are being put in and sections for houses laid out.    It is terrible that the local council is allowing an area of outstanding natural beauty to be developed.  As they say, “money talks”.     Sadly the politicians and officials in NZ have not learned from the mistakes that have been made in other places, and once this area is developed then it is gone forever.     Soon photos like this will be just a memory.   Progess??

And another photo from the archives, beautiful Wineglass Bay in Tasmania, Australia

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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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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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Video or not. That is the question

Thought for the day…”One fails forward toward success.”

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

One of the big decisions that I am wrestling with at the moment is whether to concentrate on taking still photos, or take videos as well.    Taking videos is a whole different ball game, needing more equipment (including a much heavier tripod)  and a host of other bits and pieces.   Not only that, taking videos takes more time to set up and then even longer to edit.

Not only that, but I am beginning to question just how much photographic equipment I am sometimes carrying….a Fuji still camera, extra Fuji lenses (including a zoom lens that weighs 1.4kg), battery charger, spare batteries and trip.   Add to that 2 action cameras (Garmin & Go Pro), their battery chargers, their cables and all the special fittings that both need then the camera bag starts to get very big.     And on top of this, there is the quadcopter, again with its own battery charger, extra batteries and controller.   Of course, the leads and plugs for each are different.

So the camera bag is getting fuller and fuller, heavier and heavier.   Sometimes I think that going out to take photos is becoming a bit like a National Geographic photo trip.    So once again, I am trying to decide whether or not to concentrate on still photos, or to continue with videos as well.   Not an easy decision.   The quality of videos on sites like YouTube and Vimeo is SO high now….what was acceptable 10 years ago is not not, so videos have to made much better than before.

Not an easy decision, and one that needs a lot more thought.

Two still photos today, the first from the Brienzersee lake in central Switzerland, with one of the BLS lake boats, the second photo from the military air base at Meiringen, and a photo of an F-18 Hornet taking off for a practice flight prior to the recent airshow.

and another photo from the archives…

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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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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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Houston – we have a problem

Thought for the day…”Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”

“Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great.”   (Rose Kennedy).

You just have to feel sorry for the NASA astronaut who discovered recently whilst on a space walk that he had forgotten to put a memory card in his GoPro camera.    We have all done that, or have forgotten to recharge the camera batteries, but to be out in space on space walk and discover that you have no memory card in the camera must feel very bad, very bad.     And to make it even worse, the omission was even broadcast, the link for the video from NASA is here –

Back down on Earth, here is a photo from a religious even held in the Swiss town of Brig recently –

The Interlaken (Switzerland) to Lucern express train of the Zentralebahn arrives in Meiringen.

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Aviation variety…..aid flights in PNG and military flights in Switzerland

Thought for the day….”Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”

Two aviation photos today, the first from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where the missionary aviation companies fly into the most incredible (and near impossible) airstrips on the hillsides and ridges.  One photo from a typical landing…with the aircraft on one of the flatter parts of the runway.   If you check on Youtube, you will see some great videos of the flying in this part of the World, it is extreme to say the least !  Camera for this photo was the Fuji X-T10.   The second photo today is from Switzerland, and from the town of Meiringen, where the Swiss Air Force has an important air base.  Seen here is an F-18 Hornet aircraft and in the rear of the picture the nose of a Northrop Tiger fighter jet.  Camera for this photo was the Fuji X-T20 coupled with the 100-400mm lens.

and another photo…a F-18 Hornet of the Swiss Army, seen here in the Meiringen Air Base.

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jeritilley@hotmail.com

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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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jeritilley@hotmail.com

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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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jeritilley@hotmail.com

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Now it is SWISS airlines turn.

Thought for the day…”It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.”

“The less you talk, the more you’re listened to.”

More evidence of how bad things are getting for Economy Class passengers.   SWISS airlines have now announced that on routes to/from Geneva GVA, that passengers on the cheapest economy tickets will now only get free water.  Gone are the  (included) meals and tea/coffee for those travelling on the cheapest fares.   So given that SWISS airlines are using aircraft such as the Airbus A320, the same as some budget/Low cost carriers (LCC) are using then what is the point of paying extra money to fly with SWISS airlines??   Seats and interiors are very similar, and both are going for a buy-on-board system, flight times are very similar, and increasingly, departure and arrival airports are the same.    So the legacy carriers believe that people will continue to pay higher prices for the same service as on a budget airline?  Not me for one.  Airline managers may have looked to the USA and have been inspired by what airlines there have been able to get away with, but I am drawing the line now.    With SWISS airlines announcing these cuts to basic economy tickets (not to mention the devaluing of the frequent flyer points system), I may end up flying a budget airline such as Wizzair in future.   No point to pay more money for the same service.  At least the budget airlines do not try and pretend that they are full service airlines.  Swiss airlines have gone too far with the latest cuts.

A black & white for for the picture today, one from Iceland taken in 2005.

and another photo from the archives…early morning on the lakefront in Pembroke, South Island, New Zealand.

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jeritilley@hotmail.com

RESPECT, CONSIDERATION & FAIRNESS