Traveller's tales

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Derbyshire weekends

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Kuala Lumpur

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beryl's chocolates

Village life

On Klias River, Malaysian Borneo

Orang-utans in Borneo

A great break in Borneo

Thanks to everyone who made our winter holiday so memorable in Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. (15.1.2009 - 26.1.2009) Hello to the folks from Perth, especially to Lukas and his lovely family, and Isabell and Iain from Inverness, and finally not forgetting our great guide, Nick. Thanks to all at the Tarjung-Aru Hotel.
Robert and Nazan Fielding

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Air travel 1

What have the Carpathian Mountains, chicken biriyani and gin and tonic got in common? Here’s a clue , the time is 4 in the afternoon or 10 at night, and I don’t normally drink alcohol at any time – the answer is; they all figure prominently in one particular day in my life – the day I fly from Manchester to Dubai – along with three hundred and odd people, who, like me have spent the last three hours watching that funny little plane crossing Europe at a snail’s pace (500 mph +) and being given continual updates on our ground speed, altitude, outside air temperature and estimated time of arrival in Dubai.

As I intimated earlier, I wouldn’t normally consider a G & T at any time, but hurtling across the Alps, 30,000 feet below, time – earthly time, seems somehow – well, timeless – irrelevant. It’s the time right now sitting on this plane that matters – the time ticking down on all the TVs – one for each of us (don’t get me started on lowering our carbon footprints just now, please).

We had already watched people bolting down overpriced burgers and fries at 11 am in the departure lounge in rainy Manchester, wondered at the constitutions of men gulping down pints of lager prior to boarding, and half-anticipated bouts of air-rage an hour later.

Reading about how to diminish my own carbon footprint – 9.99 from Waterstone’s in the departure lounge, does little to increase my desire not to fly – my main concern is pacing myself so that I don’t land in Dubai with either stomach cramp or gin on my breath at passport control.

After all, I wouldn’t want to insult my hosts, the Customs officials courteously and patiently waiting for me to produce my passport. Prolonging my journey is not an option I want to even consider. All I want to do is fight my way through the throngs of relatives impatient to meet their loved ones from the sub-continent, spot my main man and leave the building.

A full hour stuck in the car park with the engine running – with everybody’s engine running hasn’t exactly made us environmentally conscious travelers, but all anybody wants to do after modern, high speed travel is to get home and sleep – Earth’s problems will have to be put on hold until tomorrow, I fear.

The trouble with that is that every busy airport from Dubai to Dublin is a’ city that never sleeps’, each and every minute of every day (notice I avoid the cliché 24/7) tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, probably, are doing just that – letting the environment go hang until they get some shut-eye.

The sun, it used to be said, never set on the British Empire – now it never sets on us churning out more and more pollution - our final destination seems to be getting close.
Robert L. Fielding

Air travel

Sitting comfortably in a most unnatural, yet latterly very natural environment, the crowded cabin of a 777 at 35,000 feet above sea level, which, at this precise moment happens to be the Black Sea, I marvel at how easily we frequent fliers take to jet propulsion hurtling us at 584 mph through an virtually oxygen free atmosphere at an icy -50C, halfway between our comfort zone and the stratosphere.

People are watching an in-flight movie, chatting while waiting to use the facilities, sleeping or speaking a Babal of foreign tongues (English and Arabic mainly, and several I couldn’t even guess at). A lot of people are using Dubai airport as a sort of high-tech stepping stone on their way further east and beyond.

The tireless crew are answering questions, putting things in overhead lockers, or chatting to each other in the rare moments when they have nothing pressing them, when everyone is still and contented. Life goes on amid the furious roar of the gigantic engines right and left (or is that port and starboard) of us, burning high octane fuel at the alarming rate of a ‘wing-full’ every three hours, while drawing 5 tonnes of air through each silver portal every minute, to keep us airborne.

The air pressure on the wings and tail, enough to tear down two multi-storey car parks, is happily contained by cast titanium airframe members and passengers and pets are borne aloft, if not in absolute comfort, then relatively so, where for 7 hours or so, the need to drive 7 days on the roads between two climatically different destinations is thankfully removed.

Travelling by air is exhausting and tiresome, but it is much, much safer than starting down the M6 and finishing on Sheikh Zayed Highway.
Robert L. Fielding

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Lanark and the Lanark Medieval Festival

Where on God's Earth could you find a Viking fighting man, a Roman Centurion, one of King George's foot soldiers, broadswords, and Scots carrying the saltire in one hand and a claymore in the other - all together facing up to each other in one field? Answer - the Lanark Medieval Festival on Sunday, 17th August, 2008. Quite what my friends Tarek, Shu, Dimitry and Ahmed made of it all, I am not sure, but I do know they all enjoyed the spectacle of it all, as we did.
Ealier in the day, we had been round nearby New Lanark, Robert Owen's social experiment cum commercial venture on the banks of the infant but furious Clyde as it rushes down wooded ravines on its way to a more tranquil Clydebank, under the bridges of Glasgow on its way to become the Firth of Clyde flowing out to the Irish Sea and beyond.
We had seen the mills and tied cottages that housed some 1,500 workers, Owen's own house where he penned his wise soliloquies and kept a punctual, orderly working population with everything they could possibly need to start work in the mills at 6 every morning. These included free education, healthcare, subsidised food and cheap housing along the edges of this crowded, teeming part of the valley of the River Clyde.
Robert L. Fielding

Robert Owen
A village boy who hobnobbed with royalty,
A shop assistant who became a factory manager,
An educator with little education,
A rich man who fought for the poor,
A capitalist who became the first "socialist",
An individualist who inspired the Co-operative movement.
Robert L. Fielding and Robert Owen

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekend on the island of Bute: seals and sun

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hillcroft - Treaslane - a home from home

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