It was a mixed blessing. Although I had finally sold my elderly parents on the joys of river cruising, they wanted a cruise where they didn’t have to go on any excursions – far too stressful – but rather wanted to watch the world go by.
Working a ski season is a life-changing experience, whether you’re fresh out of university or looking for a break from the traditional nine-to-five. Next winter prospective seasonaires have the opportunity to make it even more special with the chance to work in one of the world’s most sought-after ski destinations: Japan.
Bridlington – or Brid – is the big bag-for-life of fun. The whole package. Especially when the Yorkshire weather starts warming up and everyone’s suddenly out. Fairground rides are creaking back to life, and gulls are perched, ready in waiting for the new season’s offering of vinegar-soaked chips and bubblegum-flavour ice cream. If you were brought up on seasides as a child, this is the nostalgia you’ve been craving.
River cruises are on the rise. A total of 232,300 river cruises were taken by British and Irish holidaymakers last year, an increase of 10.4 per cent from 2017, according to figures released from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK today.
Europe’s biggest airport this morning revealed detailed plans for a third runway.Here are the key points. What’s the big idea?London is the world capital of aviation, measured by passenger numbers. The city’s six airports handle around 170 million passengers a year, way ahead of New York, Dubai and Shanghai.But the city’s two biggest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, are working at way beyond their design limits, and are respectively the busiest two-runway and single-runway airports in Europe.Even with Stansted, Luton, London City and Southend having room to grow, southeast England has a chronic lack of capacity compared with any other world city. Sought-after “slots” for taking off and landing at Europe’s busiest airport change hands for tens of millions of pounds, reflecting the premium that passengers are prepared to pay to fly in and out of Heathrow.After years of prevarication and a series of investigations, the government has approved plans to build a third runway, northwest of the existing two, to open in 2026.On 18 June 2019, the airport revealed its masterplan. It includes a vast amount of detail, from changes in air-traffic control procedures to moving allotments. But the headlines are clear.The number of flights using Heathrow annually is set to increase from the current 476,000 to 756,000 by 2050 – an increase of 59 per cent in take-offs and landings.The number of passengers would increase from 80 million to 142 million, a rise of 77 per cent.The airport’s “operational footprint” will expand from 4.5 square miles to 7 square miles.And the growth would begin even before the runway opens. How can any more flights be squeezed in without an extra runway?The airport has a cunning plan to harness using new navigation technology to add up to 10 extra take-offs and landings an hour; the current average is around 70. Under the proposals, use of both runways for arrivals will increase. Air-traffic controllers would use “independent parallel approaches” rather the current requirement to have aircraft separated diagonally. There would also be reduced separation for arrivals and departures of “compatible” planes – ie those of roughly the same size. The increase would begin as soon as planning permission is granted, with two tranches: 15,000 from 2022, and the remaining 10,000 by 2025. The airport uses the term “Brexit boost” to estimate annual benefits to be £1.5bn.The plan assumes a budget airline will base four aircraft at Terminal 2. This is expected to be easyJet.It would mean that capacity wasn’t all “switched on” at the same time, making it easier for airlines – particularly British Airways, which has more than half the operations – to plan their expansion. When the runway is finished, how will terminals be organised?There will be no new terminals initially. But by 2050 there will be a total of 10 terminal areas, including satellites, making Heathrow more complex than ever.The plan at the eastern end is for Terminal 2 A, B, C and D – with the latter roughly where Terminal 3 is now (it is to be demolished). T4D will be close to the existing Terminal 5C, which like T5B is a satellite. Terminal 5 itself gets a twin, Terminal 5X.To the north, and outside the “toast-rack” pattern, Terminal 5XN will be connected by a shuttle. Like the existing Terminal 4, it will be disconnected from the main terminal system.The minimum connecting time between the two is likely to be two hours – compared with a maximum of 50 minutes at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. What does expansion mean for the passengers?“Passengers will experience a new generation of airport with increased comfort, clarity of organisation and gateway experiences.” But they will also get more destinations, higher frequencies and possibly lower fares. How will passengers and staff reach the expanded Heathrow?The aim is to achieve a public transport mode share of at least 50 per cent by 2030 for passengers, The airport is promising cheaper tickets on the Heathrow Express – the most expensive rail line in Britain – as well as earlier and later services.From towns which do not have direct links, Heathrow is promising services from Maidenhead, Aylesbury, Camberley, Bracknell and Cobham.Staff parking places will be halved by 2040.For passengers, two new parking areas will be created: the Northern Parkway close to the M4, and the Southern Parkway served from the M25. But Robert Barnstone, campaign coordinator of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “Not only does [Heathrow] want to disrupt people’s lives for up to 30 years while building this new runway but now proposes jumbo-size car parks whilst pledging to reduce the number of people using cars at the airport.” What about the effects on the local area?“The Preferred Masterplan will result in the loss of an estimated 761 homes,” says Heathrow. Most of the village of Harmondsworth will be demolished, with 260 of the 400 existing homes going, together with Harmondsworth Primary School.The northern part of the village will be retained, including the historic core. The plan envisages this will be turned into a tourist attraction: Harmondsworth Country Park, described as: “A new community facility focused on the Great Barn and St Mary’s Church, with additional opportunities for beneficial use of residential historic buildings and the conservation area in Harmondsworth.”The villages of Longford and Sipson will also be hit. Three areas of community allotments will be displaced as a direct result of the expansion. These are The Vineries allotments in Stanwell Moor, Moor Lane allotments in Harmondsworth and Pinglestone allotments in Sipson.But in return, “a number of biodiversity ponds will be provided”. In addition grassland will become a Carbon Sink Meadow. And a Green Loop will encircle the airport, providing “connectivity between settlements, public rights of way and landscaped areas around the airport.” How much will it cost, and who will pay?The airport has reduced the stated cost of expansion, from £16.5bn to £14bn, though this figure is challenged by some who say that the actual price-tag will be higher – and is concealed on the pretext that investments would have been made anyway. The figure includes the cost of diverting the M25 and A4.The local property magnate, Surinder Arora, who believes he can deliver the project for less, says: “ We fail to see how they can stay within their £14bn budget or deliver it on time. “It’s too elaborate, almost like they want to build an entire city at the airport rather than focus on the passenger.”Heathrow Hub, which favours an extended northern runway but lost out in the selection process to Heathrow, calls the expansion “the ultimate £30bn unicorn” and saying the costs are “spiralling out of control”.Ultimately the passenger will pay, through charges levied by the airport which in turn are passed on by the airlines. Heathrow and the transport secretary say only that charges will be “as close as possible” to 2016 levels. Won’t it trash the environment?The key challenges are global – meeting targets on carbon emissions – and local, specifically on air quality and noise. High Court challenges by environmentalists were thrown out earlier this year. Heathrow airport and the Department for Transport believe that emissions targets can be met with technological advances. Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director for expansion, said: “We have been working with partners at the airport, in local communities and in government to ensure our plans show how we can grow sustainably and responsibly – with environmental considerations at the heart of expansion.”The government: “The scheme is the right choice on economic and strategic grounds regardless of the future regime to deal with emissions from international aviation”.It is promising “a world-class package of compensation and mitigation measures to support those affected by the expansion, with up to £2.6bn for compensation, noise insulation and community amenities".But many environmental groups say the expansion is unsustainable. John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, the campaign group which opposes a third runway, said: “The impact on local people could be severe for many years to come. Disruption from construction; the demolition of homes; the reality of more than 700 extra planes a day.”Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip – near Heathrow – pledged in 2015 to prevent the third runway going ahead.He said: “I will lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway.” Are the other candidates for expansion now dead in the water? The Davies Commission, which sat from 2012 to 2015, shortlisted the Heathrow Hub extended runway concept along with a second runway at Gatwick. The commission unanimously chose a third runway at Heathrow, even though the CO2 emissions from this option are higher than from the other two.The government backed the plan, and in 2018 MPs voted to approve the Airports National Policy Statement by 415 to 119.Heathrow Hub is continuing to challenge the decision. Gatwick, which has just reported record passenger numbers of 46.4 million, is planning to bring its standby runway into every day use.“Boris Island”, the Thames Estuary airport proposed by Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London, was flatly rejected by the Davies Commission. But were Mr Johnson to become prime minister he might reopen the concept.Other voices, notably Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary, insist new runways are needed at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Only by such bold expansion, they argue, will competition flourish and passenger demand be adequately met. What might it mean for travellers in the rest of the UK?Much has been made of the idea of ring-fencing additional slots for domestic links, restoring connections to airports such as Liverpool, Durham Tees Valley and Prestwick.But some say that this would be sub-optimal use of scarce resources, and that in time they would be re-allocated to more lucrative flights. Why not simply expand elsewhere in the UK?In total, Britain has far more runways than its needs. The problem is that airlines expand where they perceive demand to be, and that is in southeast England.While Manchester has developed an impressive mix of European and intercontinental operations, attempts to establish long-haul flights from other UK regional airports have foundered.The Department for Transport says: “The benefits of expanding Heathrow will be felt across the country as there will be more flights around the UK, better connecting Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North and the Southwest to new global markets via London.” Are there other solutions to increasing capacity?Yes, Heathrow could grow substantially without pouring any more concrete. The quickest fix is to open 24 hours a day, as recommended by Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports. He told The Independent that Heathrow should simply abandon the noise curfew. Another low-cost but high-impact technique: “mixed mode”. This means both existing runways at Heathrow handling departures and arrivals simultaneously. It would increase capacity conservatively by 15 per cent.Less controversially, incentivising airlines to use bigger aircraft, and to fill them with more passengers, will meet some of the demand between now and 2026. What happens next? A further 12 weeks of consultation will continue until 13 September 2019, with dozens of local events organised.The results will inform the airport’s “Development Consent Order” application – planning permission – which is expected to be submitted in 2020.
The English architectural critic and writer Reyner Banham said Los Angeles “makes nonsense of history and breaks all the rules”. There is nowhere like this sprawling, sleazy, exciting and sometimes frustrating town, where the car is king and distances between sights are eye-watering (a rush-hour trip from Venice to downtown can take almost two hours). Here’s how to make the most of any time here.
British holidaymakers to Greece have been warned to protect themselves against West Nile virus this summer.West Nile virus is a rare mosquito-borne infection that can be fatal. In 2018, there were more than 300 cases of the virus in Greece, reports the UK Foreign Office (FCO). The number marked a steep uptick on previous years.According to the World Health Organisation, the spike in 2018 cases was due to the early start of the transmission season, brought on by high temperatures and extended rainy spells, which was an ideal breeding ground for the infection.According to the FCO, tourists should take preventative measures including minimising exposure to mosquitoes, using repellent when outside and closing doors and windows.The West Nile season typically runs from mid-June until November, according to the UK’s National Travel Health Network and Centre.Most people infected with West Nile are symtom-free, although a small number will develop symptoms including a fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, nausea and skin rash. There is no vaccine and travellers should take preventative measures to avoid being bitten.“There have been enough cases to know that this is now a public health issue,” Danai Pervanidou, from national public health organisation Keelpno, told The Guardian. “The virus has established itself in Greece through migratory birds and we are recommending that everyone takes personal protective measures such as wearing long sleeves, avoiding places with stagnant water and using mosquito nets and repellent.”Last year, alongside Greece, European countries including Italy, Romania, Hungary and Serbia reported cases of West Nile.British tourists make more than three million visits to Greece each year.
While hundreds of Boeing 737 Max jets languish on the ground, British Airways’ parent company has signed a letter of intent for 200 of the aircraft.The planemaker’s latest short-haul jet has been grounded since March following two fatal crashes. A total of 346 people died when Boeing 737 Max jets belonging to Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after take-off.In both cases, an anti-stall system known as MCAS forced the nose of the aircraft downwards despite the pilots’ best efforts to fight it.Boeing is working on software and training updates, but at present there is no certainty about when the plane may fly again.At the Paris Air Show this week, British Airways’ parent company, IAG, said it wanted to buy 200 of the planes.Subject to a commercial contract, the mix of 737 Max 8 and 737 Max 10 aircraft would be delivered between 2023 and 2027.IAG said: “It is anticipated that the aircraft would be used by a number of the Group’s airlines including Vueling, Level plus British Airways at London Gatwick airport.”At present BA flies no short-haul Boeing aircraft. The fleet at Gatwick and Heathrow is all Airbus A320 series.Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said: “We’re very pleased to sign this letter of intent with Boeing and are certain that these aircraft will be a great addition to IAG’s short-haul fleet.“We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators.”The biggest operators of the 737 Max in the UK are Tui Airways, Norwegian and Ryanair.
A Norwegian island is campaigning to get rid of the concept of time, allowing residents to do “what we want, when we want”.Citizens of Sommaroy in West Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle, argue that normal business hours should not apply to them because they do not experience time like the majority of the rest of the world.The sun doesn’t rise in winter or set in summer on Sommaroy, leading most of the island’s 300 residents to back a bid for it to become the world’s first time-free zone.Kjell Ove Hveding, leader of the Time-Free Zone campaign, said the aim is to provide flexibility.“All over the world, people are characterised by stress and depression,” he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.“In many cases this can be linked to the feeling of being trapped, and here the clock plays a role. We will be a time-free zone where everyone can live their lives to the fullest.“Children and young people still have to go to school, but there is room for flexibility. One does not need to be put into a box in the form of school or working hours.“Our goal is to provide full flexibility, 24/7. If you want to cut the lawn at 4am, then you do it.”Between 18 May and 26 July the sun doesn’t set on Sommaroy for a full 60 days, making it difficult to differentiate between night and day. It's symbolised by the bridge from the mainland to the island, which is covered in discarded watches and timepieces.According to Hveding, the move to abolish time would just be formalising something that happens already.“There’s constantly daylight, and we act accordingly,” he added. “In the middle of the night, which city folk might call ‘2am’, you can spot children playing soccer, people painting their houses or mowing their lawns, and teens going for a swim.”The campaign gained international attention after Hveding publicly handed a petition to local MP Kent Gudmundsen in June to discuss the practicalities and challenges of implementing it going forward.Since then, other northern towns, including Finnmark and Nordland, have reportedly thrown their support behind the idea too.
Flying taxis could become part of Paris’ public transport network in the next five years.Planemaker Airbus has teamed up with France’s RATP transport operator to explore the viability of electric “vertical take-off and landing” (VTOL) vehicles in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.The feasibility study will look at things such as design, maintenance, urban integration, infrastructure and low-altitude air traffic management.Airbus and RATP want to make flying taxis “accessible to as many people as possible”.Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, said: “Autonomous flights are no longer the reserve of science-fiction. We are developing technology demonstrators to allow populations to connect faster.“We already have the technical blocks but we have to align them and integrate them into the user's everyday life without compromising safety, which is our priority.“RATP is one of the major players in urban mobility. Its knowledge regarding passengers, their needs and related services, make them the ideal partner for Airbus.”Airbus and RATP added that they want to develop the possibility of flying taxis in other major world cities.The pair aren’t the only ones working on flying taxis: Uber is developing a vehicle with the Uber Air programme.Australia will become the first international market for Uber Air, with Melbourne joining Dallas and Los Angeles as pilot cities for the flying taxis.Uber announced the developments at the company’s Elevate (Uber Air) Summit in Washington last week, revealing plans to start test flights next year and begin commercial operations in 2023.
The residents of Bognor Regis have reacted angrily after Which? released the findings of a survey that named it the joint “worst” seaside town in the country.
Japan’s famous wild deer, which attracted more than two million visitors to Nara last year, are dying at the hands of tourists.Six of the deer in Nara Park have been killed due to swallowing plastic left behind by tourists since March.An autopsy showed that one deer had 4.3kg of plastic in its stomach, reports The Telegraph.An additional 29 deer were killed in traffic accidents in 2018, as the animals often wander into the busy road to be fed by visitors.The park, which spans 5,000sq m, is home to around 1,200 sika deer. They are considered sacred and have protected “national treasure” status.For tourists, the main attraction is seeing the deer bow, which they have learnt to do in exchange for food.Stalls selling senbei snacks (Japanese rice crackers) to feed the animals use environmentally friendly packaging, developed by the Nara Deer Welfare Association.However, many tourists will bring their own plastic waste and are not as careful as they should be when discarding of it. Plastic bags, ring pulls, cups and bottles have all been spotted in Nara Park.Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel, said: “The Nara deer have become the latest victims of deadly overtourism, from their run ins with traffic to the now rising problem of plastic pollution – their protected status is in question at the hands of irresponsible tourism.“These sacred animals are being treated as a commodity, used by tourists to snap the perfect shot for Instagram, and not enough is being done to ensure their welfare. Japan is second only the US in plastic waste per capita, a shocking indictment of inaction gripping the developed world, while the excessive plastic pollution is a problem which goes beyond the confines of Nara park.“As with any wildlife encounter, the animals should always be put first, not the tourist. It is clear this is not happening in Nara; those responsible should ask themselves, if these deer are dedicated as ‘national treasures’, isn't it time they were treated that way?”“It is always advisable not to encourage deer to become reliant on humans for food, but in places such as Nara where it is permitted we recommend that only natural foods endorsed by the local authorities is given, and that processed food items and plastic packaging are avoided,” Charles Smith-Jones, technical adviser at The British Deer Society, told The Independent.“At other times it is always best to simply enjoy watching the deer from a distance. The British Deer Society urges everyone to dispose of their waste responsibly and in such a way that it cannot be a danger to wildlife.”He added that, closer to home, the same species of deer lives in Richmond Park, where around five are thought to be killed each year by consuming litter. Energy gel sachets discarded by cyclists have been highlighted as being of particular concern.
London commuters faced rush-hour misery this morning, as a five-day South Western Railway (SWR) strike kicked off.At one point, a 16-seater minibus was provided as a rail replacement bus service for a 10-carriage train.Images flooded social media of passengers packed onto trains and station platforms, and some pictured snaking down high streets to board trains.SWR workers have walked out from today until 23.59 on 22 June in a long-running dispute about guards on trains. At Surbiton station, passengers shared pictures of people queueing for 200 metres down the high street as they waited to board services.> Train chaos South Western Railway strikes this is the que down Surbiton high street this morning. I’m now back at home chilling out waiting for the dust to settle. pic.twitter.com/0DOzNBoNp2> > — Shaun Ferguson 🇿🇦🇬🇧🏴 (@sferguk) > > June 18, 2019Passengers shared images of empty rails and packed carriages.> Strike week on South Western. pic.twitter.com/8MfsvcSAaf> > — Samuel Gould (@iamsamgould) > > June 18, 2019> Yeah I can’t accept apologies. You are running one bus an hour due to strikes and then can not run that bus but can’t tell anyone and then you think it is safe to allow people to travel like this. This is so unsafe. What about the health and safety of your passengers? pic.twitter.com/NO9jQY2nb0> > — Karlyne Oakes (@KarlyneOakes) > > June 18, 2019One passenger complained that a 16-seater minibus turned up as a replacement bus service.> My replacement bus was a hour late and this is what they sent pic.twitter.com/gw3hl1swXU> > — simon (@aldershot4ever) > > June 18, 2019“We are working with bus operators to provide as many replacement services as possible. In the vast majority of cases, these are single or double deckers,” a South Western Railway spokesperson told The Independent. “In a few instances this has involved using 16 seat coaches to help our passengers complete their journeys. On the few occasions where we use these types of vehicles we try to double up the number.”South Western Railway runs services from London Waterloo to destinations in Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire, with London commuters heavily affected. Travellers to Royal Ascot, which starts today, will also be affected.A reduced service will run on most of the network for the next five days. Some routes will not have any trains, nor run a rail replacement service. SWR says it has laid on extra trains to cope with Ascot demand, although it advises passengers to leave extra time to board services.The strike has been called by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).
More than 93 million overseas travellers visited France in 2018. No single nation has ever welcomed more camera-wielding tourists in a single year.
Do you own more than three pairs of raspberry-coloured trousers? Do you prefer the company of Labradors to that of a significant proportion of the human population? Do you recall rationing? If you answered “Yes” to all the above, good on you. The world needs cheerful legs right now and labradors have very soulful eyes.
Did you know that Princess Eugenie has scoliosis? Before her wedding last year, I mean, when she wore that dress with a deep V at the back to show her scar. No, me neither, and nor was I expecting to react the way I did. I was speechless and thrilled, then sad. How brave, I thought, and how I wish I’d been that brave on my wedding day.
Dubrovnik isn't often associated with luxurious spa breaks – understandable really, since planning restrictions prevent hotels within the medieval fortifications from building new wellness complexes. But there are modern hotels on the Adriatic coast to the south of the Old Town which aren't so hampered – while to the north, on the Lapad peninsula, a number of large resorts offer award-winning wellness facilities. Visitors to Dubrovnik tend to come for the history and culture, certainly, but that doesn't mean forgoing a little pampering too.
Lisbon is having a moment. It is the place on everyone’s lips and its breezy sea views, glossy tiled facades and red roofs feature on many an Instagram feed. The food surprises, with a depth far beyond the famous pastéis de nata (custard tarts) that are so known and loved. There is history; from the 12th-century Moorish castle that dominates the skyline to the magnificent 16th-century Manueline monastery of Jerónimos, and the bombastic 18th-century heart of Lisbon, built after so much of the city was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.
Picture yourself on the quays at Bordeaux: before, the Garonne idles powerfully past. Behind, there’s the 18th-century magnificence of France’s noblest riverfront. And, beyond, in the city’s heart, monumental buildings and open space. The magnificent Palais de la Bourse has long suggested that Bordeaux was a capital city in search of a country to rule. The elegance is uplifting, the more so that is now shot through with Latin energy.
You certainly don’t have to spend money to enjoy Bruges. Although there’s an admission fee for most of the top sights, many others are accessible for free, including the Burg square, the Begijnhof, the cathedral and churches. Then there is the sheer pleasure of just wandering about, drinking in the views, and the spires and step-gables mirrored in the canals. It is very easy to get deliciously off the beaten track, just a street or two away from the main thoroughfares and squares.
There is truly no modern city more beautiful and exciting than Hong Kong: its skyline is a vertical playground of steel and glass skyscrapers – including landmark buildings by I.M. Pei, Sir Norman Foster and Cesar Pelli – iced in a rainbow of neon lights and silhouetted against towering green mountain peaks. Cutting through the centre is Victoria Harbour, criss-crossed with tiny wooden sampans, busy commuter ferries and container-laden super-ships, a daily reminder of Hong Kong's rich seafaring heritage. West of the scene lies the shimmering South China Sea, sweeping out into the far distance past inky outlying islands – remnants of the city’s previous incarnation as a backwater fishing village less than a century ago.
It’s no secret by now that Iceland’s laid-back, diminutive capital punches way above its weight on pretty much every level. It's ostensibly a cosmopolitan and highly progressive fishing village, home to more than half of the country’s 300,000 citizens, as well as a slew of expats and a constant stream of visitors all year round.
Tokyo may have long enjoyed a reputation as one of the more expensive cities on the planet to visit – but it’s also surprisingly easy to explore the city without spending a penny. Here are some alternative (and free) suggestions for enjoying Tokyo, from temple hopping in the low-key eastern neighbourhoods to people watching in street culture hotspot Harajuku.
Known for its steamy-hot summers, mild winters and sultry operatic gypsy heroine Carmen, Seville is a bijou city whose fabulous food, extraordinary Mudejar, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and exotic flamenco rhythms never fail to charm and seduce. History oozes through its very pores, with ancient Moorish walls, Roman ruins and Baroque churches at every turn.
From the first days of the Gold Rush, to the hippie movement and then the startups of mass disruption today, San Francisco is the land of pioneers. There's something about that enigmatic fog and those endless panoramas of ocean and green hills, that keeps drawing dreamers and radicals. SF (never 'San Fran') is always changing the way the world thinks, be that about gay rights, the sharing economy, or a 'locavore' diet.