Byron Bay, Australia – photography by HTC not SLR

Gallery

This gallery contains 9 photos.

It’s cheating right? I do own a SLR camera that I unleash from time to time. Trouble is that it weighs slightly more than my two year old child and when you have it tethered around your neck you tend to ‘fit … Continue reading

Want to fly Samoa Air? The weight is over!

Samoa AIrfair

Hahaha. I don’t know why you’re laughing, you’re going to be paying double my ‘airfair’ mama!

“Talofa, the weight is over”

Yes, yes I know I’m so excited this will be my first trip to Samoa.

“No chubster. Not wait – WEIGHT!! – cough up the extra cash”

I’m sure I’m not breaking any news here by reporting Samoa Air has decided to charge their airfares – which they are pithily calling ‘Air-fairs’ – by a combination of the passengers body weight and that of their luggage. My favourite grab from their website calmly states…

“Booking a flight with us is as easy as inputting your approximate weight into our online booking engine (don’t worry, we will weigh you again at the airport)…”

 

‘Don’t worry?’ it’s the exact opposite! Last time I checked you go on holiday to a tropical island to relax & unwind. That includes indulging – spas, cuisine,cocktails et al… Not PT sessions & Special K to ensure you don’t go bankrupt at check-in.

Oh no. That damn mousse is gunna cost me!!

OH NO. That damn chocolate mousse is gunna cost me!!

The Sky’s the limit!

Well actually no, probably more like 140kgs is the new limit, but no need to change their tagline just yet.

However I mentioned at the start of this post that I’m not breaking any news with reporting this story but the below, the below my friends, is a very different story!!!

Could this be an unreleased Samoa Air Press Release? Too controversial to publish to market that has miraculously found its way across this editor’s desk. Sources can’t be revealed of course. Actually it’s more likely that if you are planning a trip to Samoa you might want to pay more attention to cutting out creamy sauces than worrying about mine!

The unearthed Press Release.

Genuine? Much like the shroud of Turin I fear we’ll never know.^

Samoa AIr Press Release

^ OK, ok I wrote it. But I didn’t do the cloth, you know, the shroud thingie.

Christchurch is Avon a rebirth

Christchurch chair earthquake memorial

22 February, 2011.

A devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake ripped through greater Christchurch claiming 181 souls and forever changing the face of the ‘Garden City’. Today these victims are poignantly commemorated in the memorial photographed above in the form of 181 pure white chairs located within the, hitherto sealed, CBD – now mostly re-opened. The fact that you can actually now view this site at all is a testament to the fantastic endeavour, tenacity & fierce pride that Cantabrians hold for their city & community.

IMAG3950This stoicism is being channeled into building a new city hewn with due deference and acknowledgement to the past but with both eyes firmly focussed on creating a great future. That’s kinda exciting albeit understandably there will be/ and has already been pot holes (literally!), angst and great divergence of opinion as to what this final Christchurch might be. Indeed it may well be that there isn’t ever an ‘end’ as such – much like a Peter Jackson movie.

The garden city is again filling a ‘gap’ in the market.

So with the past acknowledged let’s talk about how bloody cool Christchurch is right now. Specifically I want to highlight the amazing Gap Filler Project.

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The Pallet Pavillion

In their own words from their website. Gap Filler

…aims to temporarily activate vacant sites within Christchurch with creative projects for community benefit, to make for a more interesting, dynamic and vibrant city.

Arguably the piece de resistance of the projects currently active is the Pallet Pavilion (opposite). The week I visited it was a bar, live music hub, wedding reception venue & cosy reading & games room (below). I have to say I found it all extremely palletable.

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Check out a time lapse of the Pallet Pavilion’s construction.

Some of the other Gap Filler projects have included:

My absolute utter favourite though is the Dance-O-Mat.

Dance-O-Mat is a dance floor located on a vacant site with lighting and sound provided courtesy of a coin operated converted washing machine. Wink, wink – Laundromat…Dance-O-Mat, get it. You just arrive on site, plug in your smartphone loaded with your fav beats and get about owning the dancefloor. Check out the video below. Charles & Camilla were recently in attendance bustin it too. No seriously I think he may have done a hip.

Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2013. Top 10 cities – Christchurch #6.

So don’t take my word for it but do that of the doyen of travel guides – Lonely Planet. They came, they saw, they quite possibly danced and their verdict was to include ‘CHCH’ in their Top 10 cities to visit in 2013. Their article on Christchurch is here.

In closing.

There is a palpable energy & vibrancy to what is occurring in Christchurch right now. If I am to be frank I would say that it would most appeal to cool people with copious cachet. Oh that’s you, great! If you would revere a Banksy rather than try to cash a cheque in one then I think we’re on the same page. The Christchurch of today is a contemporary amalgam of popart, retro, make-do, innovate, dance-to & future-proof. Or maybe the photo below offers a better visual synopsis.

Smash Palace bar

Smash Palace bar

ResourcesIMAG3949

http://www.christchurchnz.com

http://www.gapfiller.org.nz/

Planes, trains & automobiles. Oh and boats & buses & … (PART 1)

Otitis Media

Sadly this isn’t the name of an upscale Manhattan media agency but rather a latin term meaning – ones middle ear is very unhappy 😦 One happened to discover said condition upon landing in Hobart, Tasmania about three weeks ago. Suffice to say there was definitely a lot more than just ONE(!) expletive being unleashed by this author as I landed. Ouch!

So off to the doctors I went. What would you reckon might be something you don’t want to hear from a doctor? You know apart from the obvious such as – “you know, you’ll laugh but I’ve blasted well forgotten to reorder the lube, we’re all out. Anyway let’s get started” That aside how about just a good old declaration by doc of…

“Oh dear!”

As he peered into my left ear he further quipped

“Well you’re not flying for a week. You don’t have any travel to do, do you?”

He sounded so upbeat & perky I didn’t have the heart to upset him by telling him that I actually had three flights to make in the next couple of days starting with one…oh, you know, in about three hours!! Oh sorry I should have now more accurately said – I did have some flights to make.

Now ear’s a predicament. What to do?

So let me get this right I mused – I can’t fly. Hmm…”I am vexed” to quote one of my fav lines from Gladiator. Then I went through the standard range of emotions associated with emotional upheaval.  Much like when I heard Arrested Development had been axed.

SHOCK – DISBELIEF – DENIAL – PAIN – REFLECTION – (& finally) ACCEPTANCE

But finally there was that acceptance. This could even be the start of an adventure of sorts I thought. You know like the Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor and the other bloke except without a celebrity, or, um motorbikes or any glamour whatsoever, or a film crew or…

ear_map

DAY 1. Hobart – Melbourne. Car + Overnight Ferry. 730Kms (450 miles)

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Two thumbs up if you have NO IDEA what the h&ll you are getting yourself into!

So with the bravado and misplaced glee of a WW1 embarking soldier off I set. From Salamanca Market in Hobart for a three hour drive up to Devonport. There I was to board the Spirit of Tasmania overnight ship to Melbourne. I thought this was sure to be ferry interesting!

Sunshine & tunes (apparently)

Sunshine & tunes (apparently)

The drive was fine. Had the radio blearing but couldn’t really hear it. I was still pretty much deaf in my left ear after the flight. Incident free I arrived in Devonport and my trusty Android phone & Google Maps deposited me at the dock in good time.

My friends know me to not be the world’s greatest fan of cruising. Not that I wish ill on those (and there are MANY millions) that love cruising but it’s just that I’d rather, well – rather kinda do anything else but. So the irony as I boarded wasn’t lost on me but I was at peace and – as mentioned – in that ‘acceptance’ phase after a long drive. It wasn’t until I started to explore amidst the throng on-board that a bead or two of sweat formed on my brow. Wow how lucky was I to have even been able to get on I thought. See for yourself below. Of course it goes without saying that the cold sweats could have also been from the buffet.

PHEW! That was close...

PHEW! Just squeezed on…

We docked at 6:30am in Port Melbourne. As I was gathering up my linen and bedding to steal I suddenly noticed a foreboding note on the back of the door.

DO NOT REMOVE ANY BEDDING FROM THIS VESSEL. BEDWARE IS PROTECTED BY ELECTRONIC MONITORING!

Holy man-overboard Batman! – Now that my friends is an Electric Blanket!!

Tune in soon when I travel a further 2800KMs (1730 miles) from Melbourne to Kangaroo Island, South Australia & back just two days later. But that’s in Part 2 – coming soon.

Suitable for last minute pre purchasers

image

OK just a quick observation. Here’s, by definition and title, a ‘last minute’ accommodation website strongly pushing bookings, um, well in advance? Hmmm…

Book in advance & SAVE heaps!

Me thinks two websites may be in order here or possibly some counselling for website schizophrenia. Maybe going on a holiday would help, or perhaps not – would they book it early or hold out for a late deal??

Notes from Switzerland

Ah Switzerland. Four official languages, 3000m+ peaks, 7000 lakes, eight million-ish inhabitants & ten million calories (& that’s just breakfast). Yes with chocolate, Rosti, fondue & mousse flowing as if the Trummelbach Falls onto the nation’s dining tables I found it astounding that there aren’t mini-mountains wandering around everywhere. But there isn’t. Not so this author who found it particularly rude when the Google Maps car tried to log my rapidly expanding co-ordinates.

First rule of Nutella Club…

Don’t ever leave any Nutella!

If that means getting your coffee spoon in there to clean it out then for god’s sake do it. Unlike Fight Club however there is also a useful recommendation…

Rule #2 of Nutella Club. I recommend to not eat two entire sachets of Nutella one after the other. Sickly schoolboy error!

Ride on time

No one would ever say ‘catch ya later’ in Switzerland. It would be ‘catch you at 17:43.08’. You notice it as soon as you arrive at the airport. The airport transfer train clock counts down in seconds and arrives exactly as it goes from 00:01 – 00:00. Back home if you asked someone how long until a transfer you’d be likely to get ‘oh about 10 minutes I reckon & what’s it to you anyway!’ A good example of this uber timekeeping is demonstrated in this image.

I paid for a day of Wifi to clear emails and was impressed with the rather detailed summary of the time I had left. I was actually  rather irritated when I had to leave around 508 minutes & 8 seconds unused  when I checked out

Swollywood.

I haven’t been to Switzerland in about ten years or so and plenty has changed. One thing that is particularly notable is the large number of Indian tourists here. There have been a number of successful Bollywood films produced in Switzerland & Swiss Tourism hasn’t dilli Delhi’d in pouring millions into the Indian market to obvious effect. Now an essential destination Switzerland (in particular the Jungfrau/ Interlaken region) seems to be a real Goa for Indian families.

Fahrt jokes.

Few things in life are assured but there is one certainty.

When an Aussie discovers a word similar to ‘fart’ overseas uproarious laughter will begin and last for, ohh, about six days. Picture the scene at our conference in Zurich where a special tram service was put on for our group that was proudly emblazoned on the front with the term Extrafahrt. Two of the group didn’t sleep for three days. Thank god we didn’t go to Wankdorf on this trip I think we may have had a death & I won’t even mention the reaction to Kunsthaus!!

The next post will be Photos from Switzerland. See you then…

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Hold the phone. NYC through the lens of my HTC

When it comes to photography I’m the wheezy kid who tries hard but ends up walking half way through the race. I am passionate – yes. I am skilled – um would love to be. I am dedicated – er have you tried lugging a SLR with two lenses around for long??

So recently I came home from a business trip to London via NYC. I did bust out the Canon for an afternoon or so but the beguiling allures of the West Village, the down right hipster-ness of Williamsburg and the cachet of the Meatpacking district meant that I wanted to lug a large camera and accessories around about as much as wearing a I heart Chechnya t-shirt outside the Kremlin.

Pixlr-o-matic

So you now know that I pretty much just snapped away with my Android phone. For the gallery below I have processed many, not all, with a super amazing app called Pixlr-o-matic. It’s free and available for both Android & iPhone. A word of warning – there is every chance that you will become addicted.