2010 On Tour Pics

Annual Spectacular

Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, provided a massive fireworks display to show in the new year; similar to this one, taken when the building opened in January 2010.

Everything’s On Track
As 2010 ends, things are looking good.

Flying Lessons
Resting between flying lessons, this baby sparrow awaits further instruction from its mother.

Sydney Sunrise

The first thing airline crew do after arriving in a hotel room is check out how close the nearest crane is. Can you get to sleep before the guys start work? Before the maid starts vacuuming the room next door? Why do they insist on banging the vacuum cleaner into the skirting board, centimetres from your head? Sydney’s Hilton is across the road from a large building site -- at the moment it’s at the jackhammer stage -- the hotel staff try their best by placing day-sleeping crews as far away as possible.

Maldives Sunset

Reaching-up from the depths of the Indian Ocean, this island; one of 200 inhabited within the Maldives; catches the last rays of the sun. The Maldives has 1,192 islets (small islands), together forming the smallest Asian country. The average height above sea level is 1.5 metres, making it vulnerable from damage from tsunamis. After the third largest earthquake ever recorded by a seismograph, the Boxing Day earthquake of 2004, 15,000 people in the Maldives were displaced, and 82 killed in the subsequent tsunami.

Intersectional Bliss
A Chinese sidecar puppy’s ride in the freezing morning air is interrupted by a blissful red-light pat.

Collecting Firewood
Not far out of Beijing a man uses a converted bicycle as a wheel barrow.

brian the bus driver
Unsung Hero

One of the delightful aspects of a life on the road are the people who are regular touchstones with normality. But there’s nothing normal about Brian, who takes us to and from the hotel in Sydney. Originally from The Old Country he’s worked in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle as a French Polisher and for the RAF. He even worked as a “Doctor” treating Malaysian rubber plantation workers for three months under a Singaporean aid program. ‘They had leprosy and everything, the only treatment we gave them was Vitamin C and Cod Liver Oil!’

After moving to Australia and a life on the road -- originally as an interstate Coach Captain and now, when lesser men would be retired, as our trusty driver. He finishes picking-up and delivering the Auckland crew to Departures then moves to Arrivals and manhandles our 30 suitcases and 30 cabin bags on and off, then goes to pickup the next crew -- from Thai Airways. In between flights he works in ’the yard’ servicing the fleet -- or takes some tourists as far as Canberra.

One morning, double parked in Pitt Street, he was the target of a road rage attack when an angry motorist punched him to the ground before two of our pilots stepped-in. The offender has escaped scot-free due to lack of witnesses. While you are enjoying your Christmas dinner, raise a glass to this great man, who’ll be getting ready to pickup our A380 crew bound for DXB and retrieve those just in from AKL.

Ray Leigh at SYD Basement rehearsals
Ray Leigh’s Back!

Only on youtube, sadly. Whilst he now lives in Sweden, we’ve come across some tapes of him rehearsing at the Basement in Sydney in the 1990s. Click HERE to find the first song: Moon River. There are seven more, including Wonderful World, Sweet Lorraine, Almost Like Being In Love and my favourite: My Funny Valentine.

It’s Scary On Stage
The cast of Kids’ Theatreworks Dubai show parents and friends what they’ve been learning for the last term.
Sign up for next year

Hyde Park Sydney
Despite Oprah madness they still have time to prepare for Christmas.

We’re In China
Over a highway north of Beijing a sign implores drivers not to dring and drive.

Mt Rakaposhi Dec 2010

The 27th highest mountain in the world greets the sunrise. Near the Pakistani - Chinese border in the Karakoram Ranges, it is close to the airway waypoint of Purpa -- and sports a minimum safe altitude of 28,000 feet. The Karakoram Ranges are 500 kms long (northwest of the Himalayas) and are home to the most glaciated non-polar areas of the planet, as well as greatest concentration of five mile high peaks in the world. More than 100 peaks are over 20,000 feet. Whilst it only takes about half an hour to traverse the range, it takes much longer than that to prepare secondary flight plans in the aircraft flight management systems -- just in case an emergency descent is required.

Jeff Lands Back At Home Base
Jeff Grima, from Malta, lands the A380 on runway 30 Left at Dubai after flying from Toronto.

London Snowstorm

The U.K. is suffering a cold snap and whilst Heathrow is clear this morning, Edinburgh and Gatwick airports are closed. Gatwick will be closed for at least another 24 hours. Further snowfalls are expected this afternoon, about the time we get to fly the full-sized A380 back to Dubai.

The Greatest Wall ... Ever!

At minus 5C, the exciting taxi ride; (almost as exciting as in Hanoi ... but less than Bangkok); took only one hour -- thirty minutes better than predicted. As sole occupant of the freezing chairlift -- best taken with eyes squeezed shut whilst listening to an audiobook -- the ten minute ride to the top and subsequent loss of a few years of longevity was a good trade for the five thousand upward steps.

Mind-Numbing Achievement

To walk even small sections of the Wall takes more energy than you’d imagine. In places it is extremely steep as it hugs the ridges of the surrounding terrain. It’s impossible to understand how it was built, and how many must have fallen to their deaths. A group of Chinese businessmen, wearing only suits in the crisp sub-zero stillness, chanted team-building slogans and rallied-around red flags.

Spiritual Experience

Apart from the businessmen, away in the distance, I was alone with wall and its ancient spirits. That a stretch of rock -- that stretches over the mountainous peaks in the distance -- can render you humble and insignificant, is breathtaking. Go there. Do it.

Cloud Mapping

Winds off the North Sea create orographic lifting of the moist air along the Norfolk coastline on England’s east coast. The ‘lifting’ of the air mass causes strato-cumulous clouds making it easy to map the land-sea barrier. The line of cloud ahead is running along the Belgian beachfront.

Sunrise Over Severn

Approaching overhead Cardiff Airport, the sun rises over the Severn Estuary and, to the right, the Bristol Channel. Cardiff is on this side, and Weston Supermare on the other. It’s possible to spot the River Avon entrance in the middle of the picture; just to its left is Filton, birthplace of many great aeroplanes, including the Brabazon, Britannia and Concorde. Today Airbus employs more people there than ever before, making the wings for all Airbus ‘planes, except for the A380 -- whose wings are made in Broughton, North Wales.

Iranian Mountains

Like two huge Humpback Whales surfacing, the earth in Iran is squeezed and pushed at the join of the Arabian and Eurasian Tectonic plates forming salt domes. Not far to the East the Indian plate joins them both. It seems that every year an earthquake causes distress in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan or India. Still moving at the rate your fingernails grow, each plate is between four and forty miles thick. A glance out the window at Iran’s Zagros mountain range makes you wonder how anyone can imagine that the earth is younger than 100 million years ... that’s how long ago these mountains were formed by the collision of the plates.

New Jersey Devils Slip On The Ice In Toronto

After an eight game losing streak the Toronto Maple Leafs -- (I tried to correct the spelling of ‘Leaves’ but it is written everywhere and my texta ran out) -- have strung together two wins in a row, defeating the red New Jersey team, 3:1. The evening opened with a rotund, middle aged male tenor, without accompaniment, delivering a tear-jerking display of both national anthems. Australian sports lovers take note: neither team clutched their left nipples during their song, and the Canadian crowd matched their singer, note for stirring note. They knew ALL the words.

Like A Piano ...

The game began like a piano being edged-out of a skyscraper, by the end of first third it was just leaving the top floor. The top shot shows the makings of a Toronto goal. In the dying minutes, as the piano passed the mezzanine level, the Devils substituted their goalie for a sixth attacking player. Weird to see their goals undefended, but the puck had no intention of going in that direction -- all action was in the Devils goal as the visitors tried to defeat gravity. The bottom shot shows the Maple Leafs goalie expertly deflecting a Devilish attack. Like their nearby baseball venue, the stadium was amazingly clean, the food and beverage service top class and crowd warm and hilarious. All except the two Devils fans sitting in front of us, who must have wished they had left their branded clothing at home. In two days the Leafs (?) travel to Montreal to try their luck on the Canadiens -- word is that they’re gonna miss their hometown advantage.

Hugo watches cats on Tv
Hugo The TV Watching Puppy

One of the pleasures of dog-sitting the hilarious HUGO is watching his reaction to Animal Planet on the high definition television. As soon as any felines, from cats to lions, appear on the screen he launches himself onto the furniture -- growling and snarling. To date he has taken on snakes, a turtle and even a horse. He’s a real bloke ... when any woman knocks on the door he is off ... not even stopping to say goodbye.

EK A380 Arrives In Heathrow

Eight minutes early, on runway 27 Right, piloted by Paul Ridley and Paul Naude. Meanwhile the Qantas A380s, and now three belonging to Singapore Airlines, remain grounded due to problems with their Rolls Royce engines. Lufthansa have changed one engine and continue to fly their A380s. Emirates and Air France do not use the problematic power-plants, instead using an American engine, the Engine Alliance (EA) GP7200; a joint project between General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.

Stormy Over Sri Lanka

Visible on the weather radar from hundreds of miles away, even on a moonless night, this thunderstorm becomes active -- providing the energy of 10 to 100 nuclear bombs. If the Sri Lankans could tap into the energy released every thirty-five seconds by this one storm -- they would need no other energy source. I wouldn’t want to be the electrician charged with connecting the cables ...

flemington on Cup day
All Melbourne Loves The Spring Carvival

Today is Emirates Stakes Day at Flemington, the last day of the Spring Carnival. Sydney-siders find it difficult to understand why the Spring Carnival, and particularly Cup Day, is so heavily attended by Melbournians. Unlike them, the last long weekend was Queen’s Birthday - which rings in the ski season on the winter solstice. So it’s been a long, cold winter. The Cup Carnival is a celebration of impending warm weather. Here, in a photo taken by an observer in the A380 flight deck, we see 110,000 Melbournians -- it looked like half of them took flash photos of us going past. If you have a good pic, please let me know at james@jamesnixon.com



The Emirates A380 Flypast

Top Melbourne photographer, Mark Smith, positioned himself underneath the flight path of the A380 on the bank of the Maribyrnong River to capture these photos of my flypast of the Melbourne Cup. He kept saying: “It’s SO BIG!” Correct. 80 metres wide, and as heavy as 25 Melbourne trams (the old ones), when fully laden. Thanks mate.


Photo by James Morgan Photographic Consultancy, see their work HERE

The Emirates A380 Crew

Celebrate after completing two successful Melbourne Cup flypasts, timed to the second. Captain Eric Trotter, Senior First Officers James Nixon and Sayed Ahmad Al Hashimi; with Purser Amandah Cotchin with Cabin Crew Paul Eddy and Nichola Knudsen. The A380 flew at 1,000 feet above the course in front of the 110,000 strong crowd and a worldwide television audience.


It’s Not Often
You get to fly past your sister’s house. Thank-you to brother-in-law, Steve Ashton, for the image.

The Race Is On

As the afternoon Europe-bound fleet heads over Iraq the race for the optimum altitude continues. The two Airbus A330s 2.000 feet and 4,000 above are split by a Boeing 777 just behind (and closing at a faster speed). An Etihad A340 ahead, and 1,000 feet above our A380 keeps us pinned-down. Once past Iraq, in Turkish airspace, the flightpaths diverge and we can finally climb to 38,000 feet and start saving fuel. The A380’s faster cruising speed, 0.85 Mach, is faster than most aircraft.

Careful - Lookout For Dead Bodies

Just north of London’s Heathrow Airport is farm land, a few houses and ‘common-ground’. Land where anyone can go wandering. And even in a stiff breeze, it beats the drudgery of the hotel gym. But all the viewers of U.K. TV. know, it’s on these small paths that, weekly, a stack of dead bodies pile-up. Stories ignored by the news services. But if you happen to wander into a village, say -- Midsomer -- you can expect to be up to your waist in ‘em.

Centre Of the Universe
So this is where all those naughty pictures come from: a side street in Seoul, Korea.

A World Without Borders

Overhead the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon's Beirut, and further down the coast, Israel's Haifa are clearly visible. Up here the earth's humanity is evidenced by lights. One planet, one race. If only everyone could see the world this way.

belgrade-by-night 2010
While You Were Sleeping

The constellation Orion rose over cloud-covered Belgrade, capital of Serbia. Below and to the right is an Etihad A340, also travelling to the middle east, 2,000 feet below. Immediately in front a Cathay aircraft is coming in the opposite direction. Waiting to takeoff after our A380 at London, a Virgin Atlantic A340 was told to line up behind the A380. The pilot replied, "Cleared to Line-Up after the Bigger-Me!"

Sharjah Jetskis

Sharjah, one of the Emirates within the UAE doesn't allow alcohol. Which is wise considering the use of jetskis on Saturday afternoons. Imagine the carnage if their reflexes were impared.

Well Meaning ... But Misguided

Toronto's Uni Students divided into teams and staked-out intersections harrassing pedestrians for donations to give the people of the world 'Clean Water'. When quizzed as to where donations would go they had no idea. They couldn't say how much would go to 'the people' -- in fact they didn't know which countries were needing clean water. One girl said 'The people in Dubai don't have any water' ... that's when I walked-on.

Canada Rail

The A380 Superjumbo of yesteryear sits in elegant retirement right in the middle of Toronto. Behind it the massive infrastructure keeps the country's train wheels turning. In Australia the rail system has almost failed. The bumper wheat crop, after ten years of drought, cannot rely on the traditional method of transporting wheat. Train lines that have been closed and 'downgraded' are unable to be handle the task. Today's crop from north western New South Wales alone will require 10,000 double-bogie truckloads to get it to the ports of Brisbane and Newcastle, taking almost a year and further damaging the roads.


Moving Tribute

Last night the Emirates Pilot's Club function turned into a tribute for the two UPS pilots killed in the recent B747 crash near Silicon Oasis. As well as the local representative for UPS, we were joined by two of their pilots on their layover. Framed prints of our aircraft were signed and will be given to the families of the two pilots -- plus one for the crew room in their base of Anchorage. Attending his last function prior to retirement was the Captain who, during his last flight, relayed ATC information to the doomed crew, and was the last person with whom they spoke. Read further on the matter HERE.

Harry Connick Jr Abu Dhabi
Harry's Not Bad At All

Harry Connick Junior is a very talented singer, actor and devout son of New Orleans. His actions just after Hurricane Katrina helped get the city the emergency aid it needed. Since then he has headed some amazing charity works, specifically the Habitat for Humanity's Musician's Village. But more than all of this ... he's a brilliant musician who has to be seen to be believed.

Emirates A380 parked at Dubai
Number Thirteen

The thirteenth A380 has arrived at Dubai for Emirates. Only 77 more to go until the largest aircraft order in history is completed. Another perspective, (still trying to find an angle that makes it look pretty), of the 80 metre wide monster -- powered by the most powerful, and most economical, aeroplane engines ever produced. They are made by a consortium of manufacturers under the name Engine Alliance; and have proven more economical than the Rolls Royce engines used by Singapore and Qantas.

Remove Before Flight

Standing level with the flight deck side window, but clear of the spinning engines' intakes, the Dispatch Engineer holds up the nose gear steeering pin for the benefit of the pilots. Attached to the pin is a long red tape with 'remove before flight' written in large white letters. The pin is necessary to prevent uncommanded movement of the nose wheels during the pushback phase. If the pin is not removed the gear will not retract, which, in the past, has resulted in embarrasment for pilots in a number of airlines. Unless it is a very short flight, invariably it means dumping enough fuel to prevent an overweight landing, then returning to land. Transport aircraft can takeoff with a much greater weight than they can comfortably land. The A380 can always land at its maximum takeoff weight in an emergency, but it is very stressful on the brakes ... and the pilots!



Jazz CRJ taxis in followed by fire trucks
Jazz Emergency

Having declared an emergency prior to an uneventful landing at Toronto airport, the JAZZ Regional Jet taxis to its gate followed by two rescue vehicles, out of sight of the passengers.

Toronto International Film Festival

Has arrived, so the city's hotel workers take the opportunity to voice their concerns. As the top Hollywood actors check into the famous Fairmont Hotel they find managers performing the role of normal workers. Outside in the street unionists complain that the hotels have refused to increase staffing levels since the Global Financial Crisis, despite recording strong growth. This has resulted in "overworked and injured staff" and lost opportunities for those retrenched in the downturn.

winsor-hotel melbourne
The Captain Is Dead

Every Melbournian has a story about The Windsor Hotel's most flamboyant resident, Captain Peter Janson; who, it is rumoured, has died after an illness in Melbourne. Not one media organisation has run the story. Hilarious party-monster, brilliant part time racing, rally and double decker bus driver, the Captain (of what it's dubious) was a delightful host and spender of Other People's Money. He changed his name to NGK to get around sponsorship regulations which only allowed driver's names on the windscreen strip on racing cars. One Friday night I was having drinks at his 'warehouse' in Richmond -- after he'd been moved-on by the Windsor Hotel's new owners. He received a phone call and excused himself. 'John!' he exclaimed, 'How would you like to do the Chamberlain trial? ... Great! ... Let's speak tomorrow.' The caller? John Phillips QC who went on to unsucessfully defend the Chamberlains. The Captain had fingers in many pies and will be missed by all whose lives he touched.

yellow-peril in retirement
Yellow Peril Retires To South Melbourne

Officially named VAULT, the $70,000 Ron Robertson-Swan sculpture invaded the Melbourne City Square in 1978. The media immediately dubbed it Yellow Peril and whipped-up a noisy campaign demanding its removal. After only seven months it vanished overnight -- courtesy of rambo dentist, Dr.Maurice 'Supertooth' White's engineering sideline. It later reappeared in Batman Park on the Yarra and remained for 21 years. Like many retired city workers it has crossed the river to Southbank and now spends its days relaxing next to the Australian Cantre For Contemorary Art in Sturt Street South Melbourne.

The Demise Of Manufacturing In Australia

Opposite The Melbourne Club in Collins Street workers are replacing water pipes. The club house was built in 1858, at a time when Melbourne was the richest city in the world due to the gold rush (1851- late 1860s). In ten years the Australian population nearly tripled. What would the city's founding fathers have to say about the new water pipes -- made in Switzerland by VonRoll hydro? That Australia can no longer build cast-iron pipes, coated in polyurethane or zinc-bitumen, and deliver them to Melbourne more economically than those made in a tiny land-locked country in Europe speaks volumes about its current status: the cleanest third world country in the world.

Who Needs A Beach?

Toronto, on Lake Ontario, doesn't have a natural beach. No matter. Truckloads of sand have produced a beach for the late summer enjoyment of the locals who live in the many apartment towers on the shorefront.

It's All Too Much

A million people visited Buskerfest in Toronto during the weekend. Whilst Mum was getting an ice cream this little spectator couldn't stay awake but kept a vice like grip on her twisted balloon puppy.

Stop ... Police!

A Police car screams to a halt outside a bank during the filming of an episode of La Femme Nakita in Toronto on a quiet Sunday in Toronto, Canada. The wheelchair guy is not an actor, but a member of the public whose progress was delayed during the take. The strong Canadian Dollar (it's about the same as the Australian), and the California Governor's incentives; has meant that the outsourced work for Hollywood, (like the X-Files) has dried-up. As a result the local industry's productions have gained a toe-hold.

Democracy In-Action

Australian Voters line-up to hang their government on Saturday 21st August 2010. Much is made of the compulsory requirement to vote. However, that notion is incorrect. You only have to attend the polling-booth and have your name ruled-off. There is no requirment to make a valid vote. Besides hanging the Parliament, so it'll take about two weeks to determine a winner; up to 6% of votes had no mark on the ballot paper, or were invalid. What people really come for are the sausages, being BBQd under the tree to the left. Polling booths are surrounded by party members handing out How To Vote literature, and the smell of cooked onions and snags.

Football Fan's Revenge

Squadrons of Silver Gulls descend on the MCG during the last half of every football match to supp on cold chips left by fans. They disrupt play and often trick the auto-focus of the TV cameras as they swoop around the players. Here a strategicallly-placed chip on the inside window sill at the Fisho's Club fools a feathered flier.

The Drain Man

Signs on the footpaths of Albert Park remind Melbournians that whatever goes into the storm water drains soon enters Port Philip Bay. Nothing prepares you for what comes back the other way!

The Big Men Fly

Hawthorn's Buddy Franklin flies high to mark the ball in the match against Melbourne to the delight of the club's cheer squad during the final stages of the Australian Football League's match on Sunday. The Hawks eventually drew ahead of the Demons to take victory in the rain-affected match.


A Stiff Katabatic Wind

Clears the haze, dust and pollution from Dubai's summer skies. At six thirty in the morning the temperature is already 36 C and on the rise. The QE2 waits patiently to be converted into a hotel and towed to The Palm development. The global financial crisis has slowed her transition from famous Cunard ocean liner to posh pub.

K2, Second Highest Mountain In The World

Four of the 'Big Nine" mountains in the world sit together in pakistan at the western-most edge of the Himalayas. A few days earlier a climber was killed on the mountain, recognised by climbers as much more dangerous than its big brother, Mt.Everest.

Mt Rakaposhi

On the border of Pakistan and China, is the 27th highest mountain in the world. It stands in the Karakoram Ranges, immediately west of the Himalayas.


Sydney In Winter
To the left of the Harbour Bridge lies the Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens.

London In Summer

The London Eye and the Houses Of Parliament sit beside the brown River Themes. Trafalgar Square, to the right, the Mall leads to Buckingham Palace (top left)

Under The Threat Of Nuclear Attack

Life goes on as normal in the South Korean capital, Seoul, as their navy and that of the USA undertake a four day exercise named Invincible Spirit. North Korea has threatened to use its 'nuclear deterrence' in response. However locals just yawned and said "... Whatever ..." Nerves of steel.

World Cup Final
The French tri-colour gets a run at the FIFA World Cup Fan Zone in Paris despite the lack of their team in the finals.

The Result?
The Spanairds caught the Dutch napping.

Up Periscope

There are two periscopes in an Oberon Class Submarine. The forward one, used by the Captain, is called the Attack Scope. Presenting a small target, its field of view is limited. The rear one is much larger, uses two eyepieces, like binoculars, and can have a camera attached. Here HMAS Onslow's attack scope is focused on Sydney's Centrepoint Tower.

Single Pilot Operation

HMAS Onlsow's Helmsman's position, like all Submariners' positions, is cramped. Similar to the controls used by aircraft, the control yoke provides roll (left and right) and pitch (back means up, forward means down). Unlike Pilots, Helmsmen never get to see where they are going, their entire lives spent 'on instruments'. In 1972 a disgruntled sailor used these controls to try and destroy the ship, and all hands, by disobeying orders and diving the submarine to twice its safe operating depth. Luckily the ship was not crushed by the increased pressures, and the ship and crew was saved. The incident led to a change in policy. Never more would conscripted-sailors become submariners in the Royal Australian Navy. From that day forward, all submariners have been selected from volunteers.

Adrian King Goes to Work

One of the first planes to takeoff after the end of the morning curfew in Sydney is a Jetstar A321 piloted by Adrian King, late of Ansett, Air Malta, Azzura Air and Vietnam Airlines.


In terrain that has defated every invader since time began, Australians are fighting, and dying, in Afghanistan. The futility of Armed Forces Vs Terrorists becomes apparent to anyone who has seen the geography. The only time terrorists have ever been defeated was in the Malyan Emergency where armed forces were supported by the hard-slogging detective work of the Police Special Branch. Now that Afghanistan has become the longest war for both the USA and Australia; with the President and the United Nations telling us that The Taliban may actually be our friends after all; it seems that the public is becoming restless. Motivated as we are by images, we will stay until we are shown a defining image of the war's futility ... to sicken and revolt the Mothers who continue to send their children to fight. In Vietnam, it was the Police Chief executing a plain-clothed Viet Cong soldier in the 1968 Tet Offensive, and followed-up, after the decision to pull-out, with vision of napalm-victim Kim Phuc. But today the media is controlled in Afghanistan and there is little chance of such an image making it onto the front page. As letter writers flood the Australian press imploring their government to pull-out, a lesson in history may be gleaned from the U.S.A's Vietnamese disaster - the only war they have lost. It's widely agreed that if they had stayed an extra three weeks they would have starved-out the Viet Cong in the southern half of the country, and maybe won a Korean-like victory. Food for thought.

French Fields.
As summer arrives in eastern France, the farmers' harvesting continues on schedule.

A380 in Toronto
On The Other Side Of The World.

The A380 readies for departure from Toronto after a late afternoon rain shower. Due to the proximity of Lake Huron to the northwest and Lake Ontario on its doorstep, the area is prone to afternoon showers and storms anytime the temperature soars. The thrice-weekly service is always full, thanks to the large Indian expat population in Canada's largest city.

And In Paris ...

In the airport industrial park, they have a pleasant distraction from the workday stress: a small forest and lake. Not a bad place to take a crusty bread roll, some cheese and a small bottle of wine during your lunch hour. They even have fake, broken down piers on which you can sit and pretend you are miles away. It wouldn't happen in Australia: the 'Nanny State' as labelled by current F1 World Championship leader, Mark Webber. Instead of the greenery there would be Occupational Health & Safety signs warning you of the dangers of sitting on the crumbling piers. As in France, you could still injure yourself ... but the over use of warning signs would contribute to the stress the lake is designed to reduce.


Clinging to the western bank of the Volga River, and previously named as Stalingrad; Volgograd is Russia's 12th largest city, with a population of one million. In 1942 between 1.2 and 1.7 million people were killed in one of history's largest battles. From July until late November the Germans and their allies gained the upper hand. After almost flattening the city by aerial bombing, they gained control of 90% of the city. Then in late November the Russians, with winter on their side, hit back, attacking in a classic pincer movement, and slicing the supply lines. House-to-house flighting ensued which bogged the Germans down, in one skirmish control of the railway station changed 14 times. Eventually they starved the aggressors out. Of the 91,000 Germans captured only 5,000 returned home. in March 1943 40,000 were buried in a mass grave after catching Typhus. The rest died over the next eight years in labour camps. Today the city has an important industrial role: oil-refining, steel and aluminium production; as well as ship and car production. The city is powered by a hydro-electric plant.

Iran Aseman B727 airborne
Iran's Aseman Boeing 727

Technology has no sentimentaility for history. Here a noisy Iranian Aseman Airlines Boeing 727 takes to the air in Dubai. At one time the most popular airliner in the world, and only overtaken by the Boeing 737, there were 1,831 built before production ceased in 1984. They first took to the skies in 1963. After building the tourism industry in Australia, opening-up the Gold Coast, Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Tasmania and Cairns as destinations; they have been banned from operating, even as freighters, because of their noise footprint. Originally 21 miles, 'hush-kits' shrank the noise affected area to 3 miles, but it's still much louder the A330 (below) which carries an extra 120 passengers for the same fuel burn.

Emirates A330 over India
Emirates A330 Over India

The airways over India are crowded with air traffic heading to and from Asia. Enhanced radars, aircraft instrumentation, autopilots and systems engineered to a higher quality, with qualified crews and controllers operating to critical specifications, allow the airspace to be deemed RVSM. Reduced Vertical Separation Minima means that aeroplanes can be only 1,000 feet apart instead of the standard 2,000 feet, which makes for spectacular passing manouvers at closing speeds of nearly 2,000 kph. The twin GPS and triple Inertial Navigation computers ensure each aeroplane flies within milimetres of the airway's centre, their headings only adjusted for the prevailing winds. This means that airways can be laterally closer together, with twice as many levels between 29 and 41,000 feet, allowing more flghts and less delays, resulting in fuel savings and happier passengers. Emirates was the first airline to paint their logo on the underside of their 'planes, an innovative marketing initiative now adopted by other airlines.

A BA A320 lines-up on Runway 27 Right
Heathrow's Third Runway Scrapped

A British Airways A320 lines up on Runway 27 Right. News today that the new UK Government has scrapped plans for the third runway for the worlds busiest international airport. This will have wide repercussions for airline manufacturer Boeing, who have bet on the 'more flights more often' mantra in developing the 250-330 passenger 787 Dreamliner. With no ability to increase aircraft movements the prize must go to Airbus who bet on the 520 seat A380. Airlines with only two landing slots a day have no other choice to satisfy future expansion demands in the short term; and 202 have been ordered. Most of them will operate into Heathrow. Boeing's passenger version of the 747-800, currently being built as a freighter, should seat 467 passengers when it takes to the skies in 2011. There are only 35 or so on the order books.

The Dubai Marina from the-palm
Moving In At Last

After being delayed for two years, residents are starting to move into the Oceana project at The Palm in Dubai. The swanky apartments are well-finished and offer a resort style living. Here, from the infinity pool, swimmers gaze upon the Dubai Marina. Buyers can grab a bargain, a luxury two bedroom 1,600 sq.ft. apartment, with a study, for less than US$700,000. The property has 240m of white sands beach, a lazy river, a gym, numerous bars and restaurants and even room service, provided from the Movenpick hotel which adjoins the apartments.

Bangkok Hotel Notice

In a concerted effort to stamp out child sex tourists, hotels in Bangkok are leaving these signs in each room. Australia has helped by enacting a law which prevents its passport holders from having sex with minors anywhere in the world. Offenders will be pursued when they return home. It may have slowed-down Aussies, but the over representation of middle aged single males at the airport's baggage collection area, mainly from the U.K. and Germany, makes you wonder if the practise has decreased at all.

Nifty Architecture

Summer has arrived early in Toronto Canada with a 25 degree day in late spring. This building's owners have taken a novel approach to painting an otherwise bland western wall which faces a park.

Life's Simple Pleasures

Beside Sydney Harbour you don't need to be rich to enjoy life; just a pair of runners or a fishing rod. This Maltese-born angler describes the one that got away. Bream and Snapper are his targets ... although they weren't biting that particular morning.


New Life In Dubai

Nest building in Dubai utilises all the native materials at hand ... from the building site of the 20 story Novotel building site next door, from paper scraps to pieces of string and cotton. It's warm, 30 degrees by day, but due to get much hotter in the next two months. The industrious mother-to-be never stops. Is she already pregnant?



Her skinny partner, after strutting his stuff for the last few weeks, has been absent for the nest building. Now it is almost completed, he comes back, loudly announcing his arrival, then takes-off when asked to lend a hand. Males are males the world over...



For Indians the annual 1 billion dollar market is up and running as to the date of the monsoon's arrival in Mumbai. Their equity market climbed for the fifth consecutive day on the weather bureau’s forecast of a normal monsoon. Here it is, in all its electrical glory, lit by last night's full moon. As to its location, direction and speed ... well, that'd be telling.

Civil Unrest In Thailand

The red shirts / yellow shirts problem in Thailand is escalating. The background issues are, of course, plentiful. The yellow shirts are predominately well to do city folk, whereas the red shirts are impoverished country people. Their hero, deposed leader Thaksin Shinawatra, did much to alleviate poverty and increase health care but is accused by the yellow shirts of corruption. He now lives in exile. Red shirts are said to be in favour of doing away with the monarchy, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the longest-serving in the world. This sign, adorning the entrance to the new airport, is next to a huge 10 story mural of the King and Queen. Balanced on the edge, the country could dissolve into civil war at any time. But then the new PM, Abhisit Vejjajiva, (born in the U.K. and educated in Eton and Oxford), knows that his military maybe be equally divided as yellow and red supporters. Asking them to quell the protesters could be a very silly thing to do.

Windsor Castle

You can't fly over it when the Queen is in residence. Although it happend once. Just after the 747 was born, a Pan Am clipper lost an engine on takeoff from runway 27 right. Instead of turning left, as demanded, in an effort to keep the aircraft flying he flew straight ahead, calling a mayday and requesting permission to dump fuel. 'Negative, the Queen is in residence!' came the controller's reply. 'Well, Sir, she can have the fuel or the aircraft ... her choice' came the American's calm reply. The ATC paused then said; 'Permission to dump fuel'. Aviation fuel, which is highly-filtered kerosine, evaporates after falling a few thousand feet. But you can bet there were no mosquitoes at the castle for a few months afterwards.

The White Cliffs Of Dover

Fitting on Anzac Day, to consider the hundreds of thousands of young men who have longed to see this iconic signpost enroute to Old Blighty. As we bring the first plane load of post volcanic ash passengers who have been able to complete an uninterupted trip from Australia, the sight of Dover-bound ferries still crammed-full of affected travelers makes one think of earlier times when travel disruption was just another hurdle to be faced by the plucky island nation.

Eyjafjallajoekull Glacier

Don't ask me how it's pronounced ... here is the Icelandic glacier atop the now-active volcano which is causing distress to european flight operations. Over a thousand flights a day used to traverse above it enroute to and from Northern America. This photo was taken last summer. To use a high quality copy of this image in your media outlet, email me HERE. There are fears that the plume could last two months. More worrying to British Airlines, which was losing about a million pounds a day before the eruption, is that the nearby Katla volcano could also blow. Also covered in ice, the much larger volcano traditionally explodes within six months of its smaller sibling ... and the plume could last up to two years. The prevailing winds would blow the plume over the UK and western europe.

mashed-potato sandwich
Only In South Korea
At the restaurant in Seoul's Inchon airport, the ultimate in carbohydrate loading.

New Toys For The Boys

American President Obama gave Australia the flick recently, abandoning his tour to stay in Washington and push through his health care package. That didn't stop his offical escort from making the trip though. Seen here in Auckland New Zealand, the five new Supert Hornets and their airborne refueller, a converted DC10, take a day off from their gruelling trip - which also doubled as a delivery flight for the new squadron.


Terry The Terrible Terrier

Is sadly no longer. After a long battle with lumps and bumps, failing eyesight and hearing, giddy legs and a raspy chest; the plucky pup made his last visit to the vet today. He had just turned fifteen. Not a bad innings really ... and despite his name, he was never really Terrible. A loyal trier, he annually challenged to find out if he was Top Dog. Alas, he never was. But he was a great mate to all who knew him ... and the entire world to Sandy, the Gay Dacshund -- who is gonna have a tough time sleeping alone.

A severe Christian once told me that a dog couldn't go to Heaven because
"A dog's got no soul". If Heaven doesn't allow dogs like Terry, I don't want to go there.

Read more HERE.

Romantic Interlude

is written along the fuselage, just in front of the tail of the Pakistan International Airlines' 737 taxying at Dubai airport. Whoever designed the tail's colour scheme, and what were they thinking?


In Auckland's Domain, on Saturday a full-on one dayer. On Sunday the pavillion is empty and a family takes to the field.

duck-pond-Auckland's Domain
Aqua-Allergic Ducks

In Auckland's Domain, the largest and oldest park in the city, which is actually sited inside the dormant Pukekawa volcano; the freshwater seepage from the bottom of the volcano forms Duck Pond.

KLIA drains
Airport Drainage Systems

Passengers are blithly unaware about the geography of airports. Which is a good thing. Due to their distance from terminals, or anything else to give a sense of scale, people don't get scared by approaching the 3-4km long runways at speeds fasters than a Formula One car. To be successful airports are flat, and effective at removing large volumes of water, especially in tropical areas like KL. The problems are solved by a small group of experts. Often they use onsite dams to hold the run-off, such at Sydney and Dubai, which create their own problems. Sydney's has nets over the top to discourage birdlife which cause birdstrikes. Drainage ditches like the one above can be deceptive and are the reason why pilots keep their aircraft on the runway during emergencies. in 1992, at Brisbane, a Boeing 727 cleared the runway onto a taxiway after an emergency landing. Some rescue fire fighters, trying to encircle the jet with their huge truck, ended in the massive ditch ... the 22 tonne water tank crushed the cabin, causing one firefighter to become paralysed.

Kuala Lumpur

The name of Malaysia's capital means muddy confluence according to Wikipedia. It sure gets enough rain. The 13th busiest in the world always seems to be empty, unlike JFK which at 19th busiest always appears to be on speed. It's built about 50kms from the city, a healthy fare for the taxi industry, and is surrounded by forest. The Grand Prix track is nearby. But forests mean green and green means hot. During approach pilots (and passengers) have to contend with turbulence due to the localised hot air rising from the canopy. It's good for the Pilots' image. Passengers think they are the cause of the sudden smoothing of the approach as their planes cross into the airport.

Real Hailstones

Sceptical that Melbourne was assaulted by monster hailstones last week, one must acknowledge defeat when due. Whilst the whoppers presented in the media to date appear to be handfuls of round pea-sized units melted together, these beauties, collected in Mont Albert and whacked in the freezer, are the real deal. When deftly placed beside a US Dollar and Pacific Peso for scale, numerous partygoers decided to add various items for comparison, including a nice garnish. When a loaf of bread was added the party ended ...

The story goes that the lady of the house was gardening when hit on the back of the neck by such a lump of ice. This co-incided with a number of the hailstones hitting the tin roof nearby and, for a minute, she thought these were gun-shots and she was a victim. She yelled out for her daughter to join her, presumably thinking,
"... if I am going to die, I'll take my family with me ..."

Gravity Art
Propped-up against the van whilst the owner makes room inside, a painting is caught by a gust of wind.

Artist At Work

Top Melbourne photographer Michael Blamey works on his next image for one of his two websites: Melbourne Today and St.Kilda Today If you think it's easy, imagine waking-up knowing that you have to produce two high quality images before the end of the day, EVERY day.

Labour Day

They say that Australians work more hours than any other country (ref: HERE), and they'd be wrong. At 8 hours a day, 5 days a week that's 1,920 hours a year. My Security Guard in Dubai works 12 hours a day, 7 days a week ... 4,032 hours annually. In three years he'll get one 42 day holiday and be able to buy a business back home at the end of his contract. But Australians DO work after hours, free of charge, just to keep up with the flood of email. Here a State Sales Manager of a national company does her email whilst licking her fingers over breakfast. The annual Labour Day holiday celebrates the adoption of 8 hours work, 8 hours play and 8 hours rest. If today's managers worked only those hours, the place would grind to a halt.

Makes It All Worthwhile

You don't really believe you are an author until you see your product on the bookshelf of your favourite bookshop. Here, at the Avenue Bookstore, ON TOUR : Travels With An Airline Pilot is available for a one-off low price as a promotion. How much? Go there and find out, or contact them via their website HERE.

Dundas Place Flood

Albert Park experienced its second thunderstorm in a month, (see SOLAR POWER below). Customers at the Dundas Place Cafe evacuated indoors after being hit by hail the size of peas. The falling ice was the first sign that the storm was headed our way. Two active cells traversed the suburb dumping 20mm rain in 20 minutes. The TV journalists, most too young to have experienced a large storm before, (due to Melbourne's decade long drought), reported that the hailstones were the size of tennis balls ... table tennis more like it. Why is it that no-one ever seems to be able to photograph golf-ball or tennis-ball sized hailstones? 24 hours later five men had been treated for injuries after falling from ladders during the cleanup.

Corner Post Cafe Kitchen

Julia and the staff of the Corner Post Cafe and Nursery in Beaconsfield take time out to admire the shop's copy of the book ... the shop takes Albert Park to the bush ... best food anywhere and well worth a visit, corner Woods Street and Old Princes Highway.

Dawn Princess
Dawn Princess

Returning after a two week trip around New Zealand, passengers arrive back in Melbourne after a two week rock and roll cruise. It'll take three days for their ears to stop ringing. A surfboard paddler takes advantage of the glass-like sea.

St.Kilda Pier

The Little Blue Cafe is an excellent place to have a meal, (read about it HERE). As well as great food, wine and service, the view of the sun setting over Melbourne is enough to make it worth the trek out to the end of the pier.

Full Of Hot Air

More than 85,000 passengers have been lifted by Melbourne's Balloon Sunrise Pilots since they started flying in 1986. Despite the excellent safety record, you'll never get me up there. Here, two of the five balloons get airborne at Albert Park. If you want to try ... click HERE.

Keep Em On Your Feet, Jason

Sometimes you just wonder. There must be a great story behind these shoes and it's not as if they are a one-off. I have seen shoes straddling powerlines all over the world; wherever big kids bully little kids carrying their gym shoes on the way home from school. Each dangling Reebok a monument to a little boy's worst-ever day, his life changed forever. Or is it? Some say that it is a sign, a meeting place for drug dealers ... In Victoria Street Richmond the dealers are so plentiful it's fun to yell "I'm Jason!" which gets their attention. They think you're saying "I'm chasin' ..." the cry of the hungry addict. Fellow pedestrians tell you to be quiet and not attract attention.

War In The Suburbs

A big issue is being fought-over in two shopping strip suburbs between the local councils, who both want to retain the spirit of their suburbs; and the state government who is trying to solve a wider problem: handling the peak hour traffic. The councils have covered up their previous clearway signs (below) in protest, so in the dead of night the state bolted new clearway signs (above) and have started enforcing the new law themselves. It's going to end in the courts. If the state wins it is another nail in the coffin for strip shopping precincts who are already fighting for survival against shopping malls. It will effectively reduce the ability of customers to park for an hour per day on each side of the road. But there's more. The council who wants to go to court is led by the conservative party ... the state is run by their political opponents ... and there is a state election later this year. Maybe it's not all what it seems.


Stad Amsterdam
Stad Amsterdam

The Stad Amsterdam approaches Williamstown on Hobson's Bay and makes its way into the Port Of Melbourne. The Clipper ship is following the voyage of the ship The Beagle, on which Charles Darwin served under Captain Robert FitzRoy during the Beagle's momentous second survey expedition. The trip was meant to last two years and ended-up taking almost five. The current expedition is loosely retracing the Beagle's route, (the Beagle never visited Melbourne or Adelaide); 150 years after Darwin's theory of evolution was published and carries on board one of Darwin's descendants. Visit Stad Amsterdam's website HERE.

Never Turn Your Back On The Sea

The members of the famous 'Fisho's Club' have been extracting boats from the sea for 100 years at their clubhouse between Beaconsfield Parade and Port Phillip Bay. It is relatively shallow and the fact that the predominant breeze is south westerly, (right onto the beach), it doesn't take long for conditions to become sloppy and uncomfortable. Boats have to be threaded through wooden pylons to be positioned under the overhead crane system. Some guys make it look easy. It's important not to let your fingers get between the boat and the pylon ...

Sunrise Rhapsody

The rising sun catches the Rhapsody Of The Seas backing into its spot at Port Melbourne pier; one of 45 cruise ships to visit the city during the 2009 / 2010 summer season. Over 70,000 passengers and crew, nearly all over 50 years of age, spend 10 hours in the city, 54% are from the USA with other main groups from the UK, Canada and Germany. 50% of the tourists undertake prearranged bus tours of the city. Below, the following day, the Queen Victoria appears to kiss the Seabourn Oddessy as she approaches Station Pier.

queen vic and Seaborn Oddessy

Global Financial Crisis

With office space at a premium, this Melbourne businessman runs his business from a recyle bundle in Merton Street, Albert Park. Or does he? Even if looks prove to be deceptive, the truth is in the number of vacant shops. Seven in the Victoria Ave / Bridport Street shopping strip. The largest number of vacant premises since this reporter started surveying the strip in 1991. A local trader said that Australia's ability to sidestep the GFC is a smokescreen, paid for by a country's Government prepared to mortgage the future of its grandchildren. He says ... "business is tougher this year than last. It's off at least 7% ... which was our profit margin."

Traffic Crawl

As walkers, runners and cyclists circumnavigate Melboune's Albert Park, daily commuters sit bumper to bumper at a maximum speed of 50 kph. The road becomes the track for the Australian Grand Prix on the 28th March. That day drivers will be doing 300 kph. Sadly no money has been spent on the surface since the first race in 1996 and the track is showing signs of wear, (see the cracks in the main straight below). This year Bahrain will hold the first race, pushing Melbourne's back a couple of weeks. As a twighlight race they are taking a risk this year. A week after the equinox, if it's cloudy, they may be finishing the race in the dark! You can pick up cheap tickets HERE ... six weeks out, the event is yet to have a naming sponsor.


Solar Power

These days the idea of getting free water and electricity from your roof is all the rage. The average thunderstorm has more energy than 10 nuclear blasts, some have 100 times as much. Natural selection dictates that you get scared when one is approaching ... ancestors who weren't terriffied never lived to reproduce. When you see the greenish tinge you know it's close. Time to get under cover. Here a Port Melbourne resident gets a year's supply of free electricity in a millisecond.

Pit Lane In The Airline Game

The 6000th Airbus slides up to the gate at Heathrow. In 90 minutes it will slide away again after disgorging its 500 passengers, and having been cleaned, refuelled, watered, resupplied, maintained and re-crewed. 1,000 bags will cycle under its floor and another 500 passengers will board. Waiting in the crew bus to perform her role, this Purser watches the gaggle of service vehicles lined-up, ready to pounce.

Heathrow’s Traffic-Stopper

A little disconcerting, for an A380 pilot, is to come over the hill enroute to Heathrow and see an A380 playing in the traffic. This 1/3rd scale model has replaced the BA Condorde which graced the intersection for many years, and is the first thing arriving passengers see as they leave the airport. The model, which is as large as a 737 and is the largest model aeroplane ever made, was designed and built by Californian company Penwal Industries. Their trade mark is: ‘We build cool stuff’ which is undeniable. See the video of the A380 project, from start to finish, HERE

Shiraz, Iran

The sixth biggest Iranian city is the site of the country’s first solar power plant and was the birthplace of Shiraz wine hundreds of years B.C. It is not the same grape variety as the French Syrah, there is no chance of it having migrated there from Iran as the Iranian version was a white and the French is a deep red. The Gallic grape was brought to Australia under the name Scyras during the mid 1800s and eventually the name was Australianised to Shiraz, and later Hermitage.

Sydney Visitor
At nine every morning the A380 flies over the Sydney skyline enroute to Auckland.

Threading Through the I.T.C.Z.

Picking a clear way through the cumulo-nimbus clouds of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone keeps pilots busy for a number of hours during each north or southbound trip over the equator.

Eiffel Tower

The most-visited paid monument in the world, with over a million visitors paying to ascend it each year, the Eiffel Tower dominates the Parisian skyline. It was the tallest building in the world from its completion in 1889 until the Chrysler building was completed in 1930.

Arc De Triomphe

As mentioned elsewhere in this site, this wonder that sits atop the hill in the middle of Paris was commissioned by Napoleon to glorify France’s many victories. Never seeing the completed article, (they showed him a wood and canvas mockup); he was dead by the time it was completed in 1835.

France has a reputation for being extremely good at surrendering.
Winston Churchill was scathing at the speed with which they gave up against Hitler. But then they had been massacred in WW1, losing over 1.6 million people, and were probably not up for a re-run. An unknown soldier was buried under the arc, and an eternal flame burns in his memory.


HP Hard Drive Failure

You think you’ll get a good computer by buying the top of the range HP Vista machine. After all, they have such a good name. Then, when you are using a Windows Only program while studying for a Simulator Check, suddenly, bang - gone. The hard drive just dies. Not only is it inconvenient, but you might fail the check and lose your licence, and possibly your job. You just can’t trust or rely on Hewlett-Packard to perform as advertised. Thankfully the Macbook continues to run like a dream.

Australia’s National Dish

New Zealanders will tell you that they invented the Pavlova, and Aussies will disagree. But the Kiwis are most likely correct. The brilliant dessert’s recipe was published in Home Cookery For New Zealand in 1926, although it wasn’t named Pavolva (after the Russian Ballerina), until she was served it in a Wellington Hotel during her tour later that year. Like all things good that make their way to ‘the West Island’, Aussies have adopted The Pav as their own. But the proof of the pudding is ... it didn’t appear in an Australian recipe book until 1935.

Superman Exists

On a Paris street, Rue de Opera, women stand and stare at the blue clad figure streaking skyward, glass all over the footpath the only evidence of Superman’s swift departure from a phone booth. So much for his x-ray vision, the glass door didn’t stand a chance.

Crêpes à la Banane et au Chocolat

At A$18.00 each, a banana and chocolate crepe may not be everyone’s idea of a daily snack. But if you’re in Paris it’s worth splurging once in your life. The decision by cafe’s owner to refuse to take credit cards, (“Non Monsieur, Pas du Card de Credit!”), meant that the officious waiter missed out on a substantial tip ... “Je suis desolee - faute de votre patron” (I’m sorry - blame your boss)

Velib Bicycle Rentals

Parisians have taken to the Velib bicycles. The first hour is free, which is good, cos it can take 29 mins to complete the initial transaction. Before you go, click HERE and download the instructions. Check which bike you want to hire BEFORE you start the transaction, (one had a flat tyre). The charge of 1 Euro per hour is well worth it (even in sub zero temps) ... but be prepared for the kicker ... Paris has a hill. The Arc De Triomphe is at the top. People get their bikes and ride down hill all day and leave them at the parking stations at the bottom. Then overnight a huge operation involves taking them back to the top of the hill for the next day. By late afternoon down the bottom, all the spots are taken in the electronic bike racks. It took us about 45 minutes to find a rack that had spaces. You feel like just leaving the bikes at the rack unsecured, but the 150 Euro deposit per bike on your credit card (450 Eu in my case) makes you keep searching for that empty spot.

Avenue Des Champs-Elysees
The Most Expensive Street In The World

Paris’ Avenue des Champs-Elysees, from the top of the Arc De Triomphe, is arguably the most expensive street on the planet to get a coffee. Looking down to the Place De La Condorde where the gift from the Egyptians, the Obelisque, has replaced Madame Guillotine; and further, through the gardens to the Louvre Museum. On the left hand side of the concorde is the head office of world motorsport, the FIA, and the famous Buddha Bar. Below a Parisian man enjoys the most expensive coffee in the world.


Confused Duck

As Australians prepare to celebrate their national day in hot summer conditions, spare a thought for this duck at Paris’ Jardin des Tuileries. He can’t understand why, although the fountain is still working, the water on the pond is frozen solid.

World’s Tallest Building

After scaring crane drivers during the construction process, Dubai’s Air Traffic Controllers have now turned their attention to residents of the world’s tallest building. By taking departing aircraft from runway 12 Right off the standard instrument departure tracks they can increase the number of departures per hour, and give us spectacular views. Meanwhile, if you want to see it from the tenant’s perspective, there is a viewing experience called AT THE TOP on the 125th level, (which isn’t really at the top). Tickets are 100 AED if you plan in advance, or 400 AED for V.I.P walkups, and yes, you get to stand outside. Not me.

Basra Iraq
Basra Iraq, As the Squadron Heads Home

A few stars and a planet are visible above the earth’s horizon. Two other company aircraft head southeast, one from Germany and the other England. Left of track is Basra in Iraq, and the bright fires are burnoff from the oil wells. At the bottom of the A380 windscreen is the parked wiper blade. Six second exposure using ISO 2500.


F-f-f-f-f-rench Models At Work

It’s all in a day’s work for a Parisian model. Sadly the ad for the new perfume, due out in springtime, has to be shot today. Makeup and lighting simulate the midday sun in summer ... but you can’t beat the cold, which feels like being immersed in a cold bath ... It’s just above freezing, the warmest day of the last week. But at least it has stopped snowing.


The female model is swathed in a blanket, there are two gas heaters pointed at her legs. Until needed she wears a parka and chews gum. The male model has to suffer the cold unaided.



UAE Mountains
Mountains In The Mist
South east of Dubai the mountains quickly rise to over 8,000 feet and peep above the winter mist.

Auckland Cemetry
Humanity Vs. Nature = Nature Wins

The Symonds Street Cemetery in Auckland is a rambling, unfenced affair that served the community for 44 years from 1842. It has a number of notable graves of important people from that era. But, as this photo attests, you can’t beat nature ... and obviously human remains make pretty good fertiliser.

Auckland Graffiti

Auckland Graffiti
On an empty block in an Auckland side street graffiti artists have been plying their trade to great effect.

Burj Dubai 1

Burj Khalifa : 828 Metres High

On a mild 20 degree evening the residents of Dubai were treated to a spectacular display of fireworks and lighting celebrating the opening of the world’s tallest building, previously known as the Burj Dubai and renamed tonight as the Burj Khalifa. Its height, previously a secret, is 828 metres. That’s about 200 storeys. The opening date was chosen to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the rise to power of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates.

Burj Dubai 2


The Decade of Terror

Will the two thousand and tens be another decade of terror? Here the Australian Army, (who have more helicopters than the Air Force), undertakes an anti-terrorist training exercise past the world’s tallest apartment building, the Eureka Tower in Melbourne. My recent reading includes Super Freakonomics and Winston Churchill’s intimate view of World War II. Both are recommended. Hopefully, the internet, twitter and the like will lift the lid on the crazies in time. Unlike the afternoon when Hitler came to power ... when he killed 3,500 Germans who opposed him. The machine-gunners had to be given rest breaks ... mass murder, it seems, is tiring work.

NZ islands

Welcome 2010

New Zealand’s islands are one of the first places in the world to see the new year’s sunrise, (only the Cook Islands and Kiribati - Christmas Islands see it an hour earlier). In Melbourne, frontal activity dropped the temperature 10 degrees at 9pm and brought a series of thunderstorms to Melbourne, washing-out many New year’s Eve activities. Hopefully it is a portent of the year ahead. After a decade of below average rainfalls in Melbourne, it’d be nice to get some rain. Dam levels started the new year 37.5% full ... that’s 3% better than a year ago. Meanwhile, in Dubai, 14,000 workers are frantically readying the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai, for its official opening on the 4th.January, the fourth anniversary of the rise to power of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

NYE Melbourne Radar

Previous Year’s ON TOUR pics
Follow the link to see last year’s On Tour Pics HERE and see hundreds of images from around the world.

Blue Moon NYE
Blue Moon

The last night of 2009 saw a Blue Moon rise in clear skies over Dubai, (above). The second full moon in a month can never occur in a February, or more than once every 19 months. Usually, because a February gets in the way, it takes even longer. The last one to occur on NYE was in 1990. Can you remember what you did that night?

The fourth Lunar partial eclipse in 2009 also occurred during the year’s last night. Visible from Western Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and, best of all, from Sultan’s back yard in Dubai (below); it concluded about half an hour before the year itself.


Previous Year’s ON TOUR pics
Follow the link to see last year’s On Tour Pics HERE and see hundreds of images from around the world.