International Travel

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Car hire cost-cutting tips

<p>Free upgrades<br />It’s worth taking a chance by booking the cheapest car going, which is usually also the smallest. Because these cars are limited in number, the rental agency will sometimes offer you an upgrade. If they initiate the upgrade, make sure you don’t pay more for it – especially if you booked ahead with a credit card.</p> <p>Get insurance gratis<br />About 20% of all consumers always take rental car insurance and another 20% sometimes do, according to a recent study by a Canadian car insurance company. But there’s a good chance they’re already covered under their own credit card’s insurance, which means they’re paying an unnecessary extra.</p> <p>Call the toll-free number on the back of your credit card before you leave to find out what coverage, if any, you have. Check to see if your card offers insurance and then bring along a printout describing the coverage for the rental car agency. The caveat: some cards limit rental-car coverage to premium card holders, and others may not provide coverage for luxury cars, off-road vehicles or campervans.</p> <p>The clock is ticking<br />Most rental car companies use a 24-hour-clock rate when charging you. It pays to know its billing policy – does the day end at midnight, or is it strictly 24 hours? Some companies charge an hourly rate for the first three to four hours late, while others will give you a breathing space of 90 minutes.</p> <p>Airport fees<br />Must you really collect your rental car at the airport? You’ll pay a premium if you do.</p> <p class="p1"><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/car-hire-cost-cutting-tips"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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"Quite alarming!": Queen cracks joke about new statue

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>The Queen has made her audience laugh after cracking a joke about a new statue unveiled in her honour.</p> <p>Her Majesty spoke to South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, Governor Hieu Van Le and sculptor Robert Hannaford to view the statue that has been installed in the grounds of the government house in Adelaide.</p> <p>Video footage of the conversation released by Buckingham Palace shows that the sudden unveiling surprised the Queen, who made a quick joke.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CL46ghGH_tC/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CL46ghGH_tC/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>After seeing the statue so suddenly, she joked that “it must be quite alarming to suddenly see it out of the window - you’d think, gracious, has she arrived unexpectedly!”</p> <p>She was also presented with a scale model of the statue, which she thanked the sculptor for and said "I'm glad it's not quite as big as the original statue!".</p> <p>A palace statement said Her Majesty was also “briefed by the Governor and Premier on developments in the region, including the vaccination rollout to key workers, the response to Covid-19 and the lifting of restrictions in South Australia.</p> <p>“The Queen also heard from the Governor about the recovery from drought and bushfires in the area at the start of 2020, and from the Premier about how cooperation between health services, police, government - and the resilience of the Australian people - has been instrumental in their frontline response to the pandemic."</p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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10 hilarious stories about travelling with kids

<p>1. Drive-by egging<br />Driving home with the shopping in the backseat and looking on the floor thinking, “Why is there water down there?”</p> <p>It took a few moments to realise it wasn’t water. It was egg.</p> <p>Then I looked at my daughter and saw what was in her hand… just as she threw it at the back of my husband’s head. She had opened the eggs and thrown them all over the place!</p> <p>That will teach us to turn around more often I guess. – Julie Riley</p> <p>2. Rubbing salt in the wounds<br />We went to Adelaide with a three-year-old and a six-month-old and decided a day trip to Lake Bumbunga was a good idea. It’s one of the pink lakes, sometimes blue, where you can take cool photographs. Except it was dry and muddy and not pink. So Miss Three tried to do a runner away from the boring lake. But she lost a shoe. And when my husband went to rescue her, he found the only sinkhole in the entire land. He was up to his knees in mud – black, not pink – and to add insult to injury, the salt from the lake got in his wounds.</p> <p>Now he likes to tell people that he’s travelled with kids and has the scars to prove it. I, meanwhile, just got a good laugh. – Amelia Masters</p> <p>3. Stayin’ alive<br />Our trip to New Zealand in a campervan with our four children was full of laughter. As soon as the tape got stuck in the cassette player at the beginning of our two-week journey, they knew every word of the Bee Gees. Amazing what you remember about a trip! – KL Day</p> <p>4. Not so plain sailing<br />We recently took our kids sailing on our yacht. We spent 18 months on the water, exploring the Coast of Australia. We planned to sail to New Caledonia, but 50 miles out of Surfers Paradise our autopilot broke and we were forced to return.</p> <p>We arranged a new autopilot and waited for the next suitable weather window, to make the six-day journey to New Caledonia. This time, 200 nautical miles off the coast of Australia, on what was our second attempt, the new autopilot failed. Again we sailed back into harbour shaking our heads.</p> <p>We were soon to discover that the mechanic who installed the autopilot had taken a shortcut and failed to drill in one grub screw, which would have prevented the autopilot from failing.</p> <p>Exhausted and feeling defeated, we sailed the Whitsundays up to Cairns … what a fabulous second prize. The experience was amazing for the kids. Their confidence grew. They learnt new skills that you don’t learn at school and they met some amazing other kids. They also managed to do schooling online and via Skype with their fabulous distance education teacher.</p> <p>Maybe next year will be our year to sail to New Caledonia. Let’s wait and see. – Yvette Fishburn</p> <p>5. Sweetly poetic<br />Travelling with kids is beloved and funny, especially amidst differences in currency and money.<br />A whole world out there to explore, something as simple as finding a coin on the seashore.<br />Inspires a little heart that now has a vision to collect many treasures as his every day is filled with wonder &amp; pleasure. – Kylie Turner</p> <p>6. Pardon?<br />While on holidays in Fiji my daughter, after reading the dessert menu, requested a Bar Fart from the waiter.</p> <p>After lots of laughing and a couple of questions we realised she actually wanted a Parfait. ­– Sarah Harvey</p> <p>7. One way to jump the queues<br />We had dragged our four-year-old out all day around Paris and as art lovers we really wanted to see the Louvre and the Mona Lisa. We waited in line, finally got in and walked the thousands of steps to find her.</p> <p>We were at the back of the line waiting to get to the front to see the painting when our four-year-old absolutely chucked a tantrum, started screaming the place down and cried so much she made herself vomit all over me and the floor of the Louvre.</p> <p>Needless to say the crowds disappeared pretty quickly, and although we were mortified, at least we then got to have a front-row seat to see the painting, albeit apologising the whole time to the cleaning staff. – J’aime Newland</p> <p>8. Chaos on the high seas<br />The time we went to New Zealand on a cruise for 14 nights with two adults and four kids under five. The first night we all got food poisoning and spent the next three days in bed. Then when we got off the boat one kid got bitten by a bee and we discovered he was allergic, so we spent two days in the hospital. Then on the second-to-last day we lost one kid for four hours. He had found a ‘friend’ and was on the top deck getting a tan! – Skye Danaher</p> <p>9. Where the wild things are<br />Sleeping in tents on Kenya’s Maasai Mara was exciting, thrilling to go to sleep listening to the sounds of lions in the distance. But I was shocked to hear, three years later, the kids (then aged seven, 10 and 12) confess that one night they woke up and went roaming on foot, seeing elephants and wildebeest in the distance! – Sarah Gover</p> <p>10. Forget something?<br />Memorable in a scary ‘bad Mum’ way: I rounded them up, I made sure the boot was packed and closed, I shrieked at the spilled Coke, eyed the traffic and took off… minus a child.</p> <p>Not far down the road a timid voice from the back asked if we were going to go back for T.</p> <p>I broke traffic laws and the sound barrier getting back just in time to see T wandering out of the loo. Sigh. – Sue Bouquet</p> <p>This one isn’t quite as bad: she only drove off and forgot her cake… on the roof of the car.</p> <p class="p1"><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/travel/10-most-memorable-moments-while-travelling-kids"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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10 hotel secrets from a former hotel inspector

<p>I worked as a hotel inspector and photographer for seven years at Forbes Travel Guide and Oyster.com (a TripAdvisor company). Though it sounds like a made-up job for a protagonist in a rom-com, I can assure you that inspecting and photographing hotels was very much my real life. I really did get paid to order room service, sit by infinity pools, and ensure the cocktails were made with high-quality booze. I also had to count closet hangers, photograph bathtub grime, and memorise hotel staff names and uniforms.</p> <p>For Forbes Travel Guide, I anonymously booked two to three nights in luxury hotels. I ran each hotel through a series of identical service and facility tests to give it a star rating (yep, that’s how Forbes assigns five-star hotels). The hotels were almost always ultra-expensive and emphasised personalised service and stunning locations. At Oyster, the hotel staff usually knew I was coming and gave me a tour and access to take photographs. I’d often spend the night, but not always. After visiting, I’d write a hotel summary and guide explaining the hotel’s pros, cons, location, rooms and features, accompanied by the photographs.</p> <p>The two jobs were vastly different, but over the span of my career, I’ve slept in several hundred hotels for review purposes on five continents. The hotels ranged from tiny bed-and-breakfasts in Italy to enormous all-inclusive resorts in Cozumel to trendy boutique hotel openings in Los Angeles. Here are some of the hotel secrets I learned over the years. And no, I never experienced bed bugs!</p> <p>Do your hotel research on TripAdvisor<br />If you’re taking a holiday based on a destination, and not to specifically visit one famous hotel, start with a TripAdvisor search of the area. I used to work for TripAdvisor, but it really is the best travel site for reading reviews from past guests, looking at photos, and getting an idea of the different room types and rates without the hotel’s marketing department getting in the way. You can also filter results to look at large hotels or zero in on properties with specific features like all-inclusive rates, swimming pools, adult-only, beachfront, or within a few kilometres of tourist attractions like national parks, beaches and ski lifts.</p> <p>Book with the hotel directly<br />Hotel booking websites, like TripAdvisor and Hotels.com, are an easy online way to figure out which hotels in your price range have open rooms. But once you’ve decided where to stay, book directly with the hotel. For one thing, most hotel inspectors book directly. You might be flagged as a hotel critic or writer and be given special treatment. Note that hotel inspectors are actually trained to look for special treatment, and we might abandon an inspection if we think we’ve been flagged by staff. After all, we’re trying to figure out how hotels actually treat real guests. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cash in on a suite upgrade or complimentary bottle of Champagne.</p> <p>More importantly, third-party booking sites usually get the worst and tiniest rooms – the rooms that haven’t yet been renovated or are located near the noisy ice machine. Hotels usually keep the best rooms for themselves to sell directly to guests. If you find a great deal on a third-party booking site, the hotel will often price match it to keep your business with them directly.</p> <p>Accountability is also important. If something goes wrong, like the need to cancel or change the dates of stay, the hotel is way more likely to work with you to find a solution or reschedule for the same price if you’ve booked with them. There are lots of third-party hotel booking reservation horror stories out there.</p> <p>Don’t trust the decorative bedding<br />One of the things I miss most about my hotel inspecting days is how comfortable and cosy a hotel bed can be. Freshly ironed Italian sheets, perfectly plumped down pillows and multi-thousand dollar California king-size mattresses are a real bedtime treat. But! Stay away from the decorative elements of the bed. Those decorative pillows and runners likely aren’t getting washed between guests. And if the housekeeping staff stores bedding elements on the floor during turndown service? Just tuck them in the closet for the rest of your stay. Ew.</p> <p>Be direct about your needs<br />I know it’s old-fashioned, but part of my process as a hotel inspector at Forbes Travel Guide was to call the hotel’s reservation hotline and make a booking with their reservation team. Yes, it took longer. But, it’s an ideal time to have a chat with a staff member about your hotel needs. This is the best time to tell the hotel if you’ll be arriving early (there are no guarantees prior to check-in time, but staff can flag your room to be cleaned first). You can also request a room on a higher floor, away from the elevator, or with non-adjoining rooms. Want reservations at their restaurant? Let them know. Need a spa appointment? Now’s the time. The reservationist’s job is to convey all of this data to the front desk and housekeeping teams so they can take care of the details before you arrive.</p> <p>If you don’t want to book on the phone, there should be a comment section where you can type in special requests. At higher-end hotels, a staff member will likely reach out to you prior to arrival to make sure everything’s arranged to your liking. And make sure to mention if you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary. You just might get a bottle of wine or dessert to mark the occasion, like I did when I celebrated a birthday in Hawaii. The hotel staff sent a bottle of pineapple wine and a birthday cake.</p> <p>Check out the fitness centre for freebies<br />Sure, you can work out in the fitness centre if you want. But even if you’re taking a break from working out while on holiday, stop by the hotel gym. It’s often stocked with bottled water, fresh fruit and energy bars that you can grab. Large hotels and resorts also offer fun classes like outdoor yoga, beach walks and meditation that you might want to check out. For more freebies, ask the concierge desk if they have any coupons or discount codes for tourist activities, restaurants, shops or water parks. And if you need little extras like shampoo, a toothbrush, or another robe – call housekeeping and ask politely.</p> <p>Join the hotel loyalty program<br />Since I often checked in using a pseudonym, or received a comped hotel room at a press rate, I didn’t get the insane hotel loyalty points you might be imagining. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sign up. The only way to earn hotel loyalty points is to book directly with the property. Some third-party booking platforms do run their own independent rewards programs, but those points are only good on their specific sites. Instead, stick to one or two hotel chain’s loyalty program, and you’ll eventually accrue enough points for free breakfast, later checkouts and free visits. Pro tip: check to see if your current credit card partners with any hotel chains for even more bonus points.</p> <p>Splurge on room service, and make it breakfast<br />It’s not a real holiday if you don’t get room service at least once. My advice is to make it breakfast. There’s something so luxurious about eating a fruit plate in a bathrobe and lingering over coffee while you get ready for the day. Breakfast foods tend to travel best, too. I’ve had way too many less than stellar salmon and steak room service dinners (including one that gave me a severe case of food poisoning). If you’re at the hotel for dinner, I highly suggest having it at the bar instead of in your room.</p> <p>Even mid-range hotels usually allow guests to place their room service breakfast order the night before. Most hotels even have a room service order card you can simply place on the exterior doorknob the evening before. Simply make your breakfast selections, choose the time frame you’d like it delivered, and enjoy breakfast in bed the following morning.</p> <p>If there’s a problem, communicate it<br />Hotels want you to enjoy your stay. After all, hotels are part of the hospitality industry. It’s in a hotel’s best interest for all of their guests to have positive experiences so they return and recommend the hotel to friends and family. But issues can arise at even the most highly rated hotels. Before you take to social media to complain, let hotel staff know what went wrong and give them a chance to fix the situation. Maintenance staff is on hand to fix most issues, and management will switch your room (often with an upgrade) or comp your meal if necessary. I once checked into a luxury hotel room in Las Vegas that reeked of cigarette smoke. One quick call to the front desk and I was immediately switched to one that smelled better. Problem solved.</p> <p>Ask for turndown service<br />Not all hotels offer turndown service, but most of the four- and five-star hotels do. It might be automatic, but you can usually request it. It’s definitely worth getting the evening refresh for a stash of fresh towels, straightened bedding and emptied wastebaskets. Staff will often dim the lights and play soft music to set the stage for relaxation. The best turndown service also includes thoughtful extras like bedside water, your slippers laid out and even an evening treat like bath salts or chocolates.</p> <p>Pack duct tape<br />This one is for all the light sleepers out there. Hotel rooms usually have high-quality blackout curtains to block external light, but what about all the lights inside the room? Blinking and bright lights on espresso machines, TVs, smoke detectors and the bedside alarm clock can bother sensitive sleepers. My solution? Place a little piece of duct tape over the lights before bed.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by <span>Megan Wood</span>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/travel/travel-hints-tips/10-hotel-secrets-from-a-former-hotel-inspector/"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Climate change is flooding the remote north with light – and new species

<p>At just over 14 million square kilometres, the Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s oceans. It is also the coldest. An expansive raft of sea ice floats near its centre, expanding in the long, cold, dark winter, and contracting in the summer, as the Sun climbs higher in the sky.</p> <p>Every year, usually in September, the sea ice cover shrinks to its lowest level. The tally in 2020 was a meagre 3.74 million square kilometres, the second-smallest measurement in 42 years, and roughly half of what it was in 1980. Each year, as the climate warms, the Arctic is holding onto less and less ice.</p> <p>The effects of global warming are being felt around the world, but nowhere on Earth are they as dramatic as they are in the Arctic. The Arctic is warming two to three times faster than any other place on Earth, ushering in far-reaching changes to the Arctic Ocean, its ecosystems and the 4 million people who live in the Arctic.</p> <p>Some of them are unexpected. The warmer water is pulling some species further north, into higher latitudes. The thinner ice is carrying more people through the Arctic on cruise ships, cargo ships and research vessels. Ice and snow can almost entirely black out the water beneath it, but climate change is allowing more light to flood in.</p> <p><strong>Artificial light in the polar night</strong><br />Light is very important in the Arctic. The algae which form the foundation of the Arctic Ocean’s food web convert sunlight into sugar and fat, feeding fish and, ultimately, whales, polar bears and humans.</p> <p>At high latitudes in the Arctic during the depths of winter, the Sun stays below the horizon for 24 hours. This is called the polar night, and at the North Pole, the year is simply one day lasting six months, followed by one equally long night.</p> <p>Researchers studying the effects of ice loss deployed moored observatories – anchored instruments with a buoy — in an Arctic fjord in the autumn of 2006, before the fjord froze. When sampling started in the spring of 2007, the moorings had been in place for almost six months, collecting data throughout the long and bitter polar night.</p> <p>What they detected changed everything.</p> <p><strong>Life in the dark</strong><br />At that time, scientists assumed the polar night was utterly uninteresting. A dead period in which life lies dormant and the ecosystem sinks into a dark and frigid standby mode. Not much was expected to come of these measurements, so researchers were surprised when the data showed that life doesn’t pause at all.</p> <p>Arctic zooplankton — tiny microscopic animals that eat algae — take part in something called diel vertical migration beneath the ice and in the dead of the polar night. Sea creatures in all the oceans of the world do this, migrating to depth during the day to hide from potential predators in the dark, and surfacing at night to feed.</p> <p>Organisms use light as a cue to do this, so they shouldn’t logically be able to during the polar night. We now understand the polar night to be a riot of ecological activity. The normal rhythms of daily life continue in the gloom. Clams open and close cyclically, seabirds hunt in almost total darkness, ghost shrimps and sea snails gather in kelp forests to reproduce, and deep-water species such as the helmet jellyfish surface when it’s dark enough to stay safe from predators.</p> <p>For most of the organisms active during this period, the Moon, stars and aurora borealis likely give important cues that guide their behaviour, especially in parts of the Arctic not covered by sea ice. But as the Arctic climate warms and human activities in the region ramp up, these natural light sources will in many places be invisible, crowded out by much stronger artificial light.</p> <p><strong>Artificial light</strong><br />Almost a quarter of all land masses are exposed to scattered artificial light at night, as it’s reflected back to the ground from the atmosphere. Few truly dark places remain, and light from cities, coastlines, roads and ships is visible as far as outer space.</p> <p>Even in sparsely populated areas of the Arctic, light pollution is noticeable. Shipping routes, oil and gas exploration and fisheries extend into the region as the sea ice retreats, drawing artificial light into the otherwise inky black polar night.</p> <p>No organisms have had the opportunity to properly adapt to these changes – evolution works on a much longer timescale. Meanwhile, the harmonic movements of the Earth, Moon and Sun have provided reliable cues to Arctic animals for millennia. Many biological events, such as migration, foraging and breeding are highly attuned to their gentle predictability.</p> <p>In a recent study carried out in the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, between mainland Norway and the north pole, the onboard lights of a research vessel were found to affect fish and zooplankton at least 200 metres down. Disturbed by the sudden intrusion of light, the creatures swirling beneath the surface reacted dramatically, with some swimming towards the beam, and others swimming violently away.</p> <p>It’s difficult to predict the effect artificial light from ships newly navigating the ice-free Arctic will have on polar night ecosystems that have known darkness for longer than modern humans have existed. How the rapidly growing human presence in the Arctic will affect the ecosystem is concerning, but there are also unpleasant questions for researchers. If much of the information we’ve gathered about the Arctic came from scientists stationed on brightly lit boats, how “natural” is the state of the ecosystem we have reported?</p> <p>Arctic marine science is about to enter a new era with autonomous and remotely operated platforms, capable of operating without any light, making measurements in complete darkness.</p> <p><strong>Underwater forests</strong><br />As sea ice retreats from the shores of Greenland, Norway, North America and Russia, periods with open water are getting longer, and more light is reaching the sea floor. Suddenly, coastal ecosystems that have been hidden under ice for 200,000 years are seeing the light of day. This could be very good news for marine plants like kelp – large brown seaweeds that thrive in cold water with enough light and nutrients.</p> <p>Anchored to the sea floor and floating with the tide and currents, some species of kelp can grow up to 50 metres (175 feet) – about the same height as Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London. But kelp are typically excluded from the highest latitudes because of the shade cast by sea ice and its scouring effect on the seabed.</p> <p>These lush underwater forests are set to grow and thrive as sea ice shrinks. Kelp are not a new arrival to the Arctic though. They were once part of the traditional Greenlandic diet, and polar researchers and explorers observed them along northern coasts more than a century ago.</p> <p>Some species of kelp may have colonised Arctic coasts after the last ice age, or spread out from small pockets where they’d held on. But most kelp forests in the Arctic are smaller and more restricted to patches in deeper waters, compared to the vast swathes of seaweed that line coasts like California’s in the US.</p> <p>Recent evidence from Norway and Greenland shows kelp forests are already expanding and increasing their ranges poleward, and these ocean plants are expected to get bigger and grow faster as the Arctic warms, creating more nooks for species to live in and around. The full extent of Arctic kelp forests remains largely unseen and uncharted, but modelling can help determine how much they have shifted and grown in the Arctic since the 1950s.</p> <p><strong>A new carbon sink</strong><br />Although large seaweeds come in all shapes and sizes, many are remarkably similar to trees, with long, trunk-like but flexible bodies called stipes. The kelp forest canopy is filled with the flat blades like leaves, while holdfasts act like roots by anchoring the seaweed to rocks below.</p> <p>Some types of Arctic kelp can grow over ten metres and form large and complex canopies suspended in the water column, with a shaded and protected understorey. Much like forests on land, these marine forests provide habitats, nursery areas and feeding grounds for many animals and fish, including cod, pollack, crabs, lobsters and sea urchins.</p> <p>Kelp are fast growers, storing carbon in their leathery tissue as they do. So what does their expansion in the Arctic mean for the global climate? Like restoring forests on land, growing underwater kelp forests can help to slow climate change by diverting carbon from the atmosphere.</p> <p>Better yet, some kelp material breaks off and is swept out of shallow coastal waters and into the deep ocean where it’s effectively removed from the Earth’s carbon cycle. Expanding kelp forests along the Earth’s extensive Arctic coasts could become a growing carbon sink that captures the CO₂ humans emit and locks it away in the deep sea.</p> <p>What’s happening with kelp in the Arctic is fairly unique – these ocean forests are embattled in most other parts of the world. Overall, the global extent of kelp forests is on a downward trend because of ocean heatwaves, pollution, warming temperatures, and outbreaks of grazers like sea urchins.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, it’s not all good news. Encroaching kelp forests could push out unique wildlife in the high Arctic. Algae living under the ice will have nowhere to go, and could disappear altogether. More temperate kelp species may replace endemic Arctic kelps such as Laminaria solidungula.</p> <p>But kelp are just one set of species among many pushing further and deeper into the region as the ice melts.</p> <p><strong>Arctic invasions</strong><br />Milne Inlet, on north Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada, sees more marine traffic than any other port in Arctic Canada. Most days during the open-water period, 300-metre-long ships leave the port laden with iron ore from the nearby Mary River Mine. Between 71 and 82 ships pass through the area annually, most heading to — or coming from ports in northern Europe.</p> <p>Cruise ships, coast guard vessels, pleasure yachts, research icebreakers, cargo supply ships and rigid inflatable boats full of tourists also glide through the area. Unprecedented warming and declining sea ice has attracted new industries and other activities to the Arctic. Communities like Pond Inlet have seen marine traffic triple in the past two decades.</p> <p>These ships come to the Arctic from all over the world, carrying a host of aquatic hitchhikers picked up in Rotterdam, Hamburg, Dunkirk and elsewhere. These species — some too small to see with the naked eye — are hidden in the ballast water pumped into on-board tanks to stabilise the ship. They also stick to the hull and other outer surfaces, called “biofouling.”</p> <p>Some survive the voyage to the Arctic and are released into the environment when the ballast water is discharged and cargo loaded. Those that maintain their hold on the outer surface may release eggs, sperm or larvae.</p> <p>Many of these organisms are innocuous, but some may be invasive newcomers that can cause harm. Research in Canada and Norway has already shown non-native invasive species like bay and acorn barnacles can survive ship transits to the Arctic. This raises a risk for Arctic ecosystems given that invasive species are one of the top causes for extinctions worldwide.</p> <p><strong>Expanded routes</strong><br />Concern about invasive species extends far beyond the community of Pond Inlet. Around 4 million people live in the Arctic, many of them along the coasts that provide nutrients and critical habitat for a wide array of animals, from Arctic char and ringed seals to polar bear, bowhead whales and millions of migratory birds.</p> <p>As waters warm, the shipping season is becoming longer, and new routes, like the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route (along Russia’s Arctic coast), are opening up. Some researchers expect a trans-Arctic route across the North Pole might be navigable by mid-century. The increased ship traffic magnifies the numbers and kinds of organisms transported into Arctic waters, and the progressively more hospitable conditions improve their odds of survival.</p> <p>Prevention is the number one way to keep invasive species out of the Arctic. Most ships must treat their ballast water, using chemicals or other processes, and/or exchange it to limit the movement of harmful organisms to new locations. Guidelines also recommend ships use special coatings on the hulls and clean them regularly to prevent biofouling. But these prevention measures are not always reliable, and their efficacy in colder environments is poorly understood.</p> <p>The next best approach is to detect invaders as soon as possible once they arrive, to improve chances for eradication or suppression. But early detection requires widespread monitoring, which can be challenging in the Arctic. Keeping an eye out for the arrival of a new species can be akin to searching for a needle in a haystack, but northern communities may offer a solution.</p> <p>Researchers in Norway, Alaska and Canada have found a way to make that search easier by singling out species that have caused harm elsewhere and that could endure Arctic environmental conditions. Nearly two dozen potential invaders show a high chance for taking hold in Arctic Canada.</p> <p>Among these is the cold-adapted red king crab, native to the Sea of Japan, Bering Sea and North Pacific. It was intentionally introduced to the Barents Sea in the 1960s to establish a fishery and is now spreading south along the Norwegian coast and in the White Sea. It is a large, voracious predator implicated in substantial declines of harvested shellfish, sea urchins and other larger, slow moving bottom species, with a high likelihood of surviving transport in ballast water.</p> <p>Another is the common periwinkle, which ruthlessly grazes on lush aquatic plants in shoreline habitats, leaving behind bare or encrusted rock. It has also introduced a parasite on the east coast of North America that causes black spot disease in fishes, which stresses adult fishes and makes them unpalatable, kills juveniles and causes intestinal damage to birds and mammals that eat them.</p> <p><strong>Tracking genetic remnants</strong><br />New species like these could affect the fish and mammals people hunt and eat, if they were to arrive in Pond Inlet. After just a few years of shipping, a handful of possibly non-native species have already been discovered, including the invasive red-gilled mudworm (Marenzellaria viridis), and a potentially invasive tube dwelling amphipod. Both are known to reach high densities, alter the characteristics of the seafloor sediment and compete with native species.</p> <p>Baffinland, the company that runs the Mary River Mine, is seeking to double its annual output of iron ore. If the expansion proceeds, up to 176 ore carriers will pass through Milne Inlet during the open-water season.</p> <p>Although the future of Arctic shipping remains uncertain, it’s an upward trend that needs to be watched. In Canada, researchers are working with Indigenous partners in communities with high shipping activity — including Churchill, Manitoba; Pond Inlet and Iqaluit in Nunavut; Salluit, Quebec and Nain, Newfoundland — to establish an invasive species monitoring network. One of the approaches includes collecting water and testing it for genetic remnants shed from scales, faeces, sperm and other biological material.</p> <p>This environmental DNA (eDNA) is easy to collect and can help detect organisms that might otherwise be difficult to capture or are in low abundance. The technique has also improved baseline knowledge of coastal biodiversity in other areas of high shipping, a fundamental step in detecting future change.</p> <p>Some non-native species have already been detected in the Port of Churchill using eDNA surveillance and other sampling methods, including jellyfish, rainbow smelt and an invasive copepod species.</p> <p>Efforts are underway to expand the network across the Arctic as part of the Arctic Council’s Arctic Invasive Alien Species Strategy to reduce the spread of invasive species.</p> <p>The Arctic is often called the frontline of the climate crisis, and because of its rapid rate of warming, the region is beset by invasions of all kinds, from new species to new shipping routes. These forces could entirely remake the ocean basin within the lifetimes of people alive today, from frozen, star-lit vistas, populated by unique communities of highly adapted organisms, to something quite different.</p> <p>The Arctic is changing faster than scientists can document, yet there will be opportunities, such as growing carbon sinks, that could benefit the wildlife and people who live there. Not all changes to our warming world will be wholly negative. In the Arctic, as elsewhere, there are winners and losers.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Jørgen Berge. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/arctic-ocean-climate-change-is-flooding-the-remote-north-with-light-and-new-species-150157">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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How to feel like you are on holiday every day

<p>That holiday feeling... without the holiday<br />Whether Covid-19 has derailed your travel plans (or meant that money is too tight for a holiday this year), or whether you simply want to continue to enjoy that holiday feeling year-round, fear not. We show you how to make every day feel like a holiday.</p> <p>Make sleep a priority<br />Not only does a good night’s slumber improve learning but studies also show that not spending enough time between the sheets can have a negative impact on your daily life. People who are sleep deprived have a harder time controlling their emotions, making decisions, paying attention, and managing stress.</p> <p>“When you’re tired, you tend to cope poorly, eat worse, and have bad habits [such as caffeine consumption] that reinforce poor sleep,” says Dr. Atul Khullar, medical director of the Northern Alberta Sleep Clinic and senior consultant for MedSleep, a nationwide network of clinics that treats sleep disorders.</p> <p>“If you’re sleeping better on vacation, you should really examine your sleep habits in your own bedroom.” Dr. Khullar says that the most important thing is to not bring any problems to bed, which is what happens if you have your phone, computer, or television in the bedroom. It also helps to remove the clock (or angle it) so you can’t watch it and make sure that the room is dark and cool. Finally, you should aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you’re falling short, start by going to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier. “Added up over a week, it can make a big difference,” he says.</p> <p>Get moving<br />Exercise is one of the best and most effective ways to lower stress, and it’s inexpensive and healthy for you. On holiday, you do it without even thinking about it by walking around a new city. At home, you should build it into your day.</p> <p>“Even moderate-intensity activity, such as going for a brisk walk, releases ‘happy hormones’ like epinephrine, adrenaline, and serotonin, which improve your mood and increase your energy,” says Zilkowsky. “It also lowers all of the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety.” Start with 15 minutes of daily exercise, which is enough time to increase your heart rate and begin to reap the benefits.</p> <p>Cycle to work, do a mini-yoga session or dust off the treadmill in your basement and walk while you watch TV. “It doesn’t have to be a long marathon run or CrossFit session,” says Zilkowsky. As well, she recommends building regular movement breaks into your workday, where you get up from the computer to get a drink of water or stretch.</p> <p>“It increases productivity and helps you stay focused,” says Zilkowsky. Set a notification reminder to help you remember.</p> <p>Eat mindfully<br />On holidays, we enjoy long drawn-out restaurant meals with loved ones; in real life, we scarf down processed foods in the car on the way to hockey practice. It’s a fact that stress leads to poor food choices, says Andrea Holwegner, a registered dietitian.</p> <p>“We have really good research to support that families that eat together have less anxiety, less depression and a reduced risk of obesity,” she says. “They score higher on tests academically, all because they’re simply eating together.”</p> <p>Holwegner recommends that families eat at least one meal a day together to connect and eat healthy (no technology allowed). If dinner isn’t ideal because of work commitments or kids’ activities, let breakfast be the backup. To make meal planning less onerous, ask the question “What’s for supper?” the day before and take something out of the freezer so you won’t have any excuses.</p> <p>Find a restorative practice<br />You know that moment when you lie back on your beach towel, toes in the powdery sand, tropical sun on your face, and literally sigh? That’s called the “ahh feeling,” and it’s important to make time for it daily to unplug, calm your mind and body and take a break from the world, says Zilkowsky.</p> <p>“There are so many ways you can get that feeling, and it doesn’t mean you have to go to the spa,” she says. It could be quiet time with a good book, breathing exercises or meditation, which is gaining more fans as a method to manage stress.</p> <p>“A restorative practice can be anything that makes you feel better,” says Martin Antony, a professor of psychology at Ryerson University and author of The Anti-Anxiety Workbook.</p> <p>“For some, it may be a hot bath or massage; for others, it’s getting social support.” Carve out space for your “ahh” time and schedule it into your day or week until it becomes a habit.</p> <p>Learn how to teach yourself to meditate and beat stress.</p> <p>Make “no” your default answer<br />It’s tempting to be a yes person, assigning yourself to school fundraisers and volunteer committees even though you don’t have the time. That’s the beauty of holidays: We only say yes to things we want to do. Ziplining? Heck, yeah! Hula lessons? Not so much.</p> <p>“Most people say yes to everything, and then they start getting stressed out and have to backtrack,” says Holwegner, who also coaches clients on workplace wellness and stress management.</p> <p>“We see so many overextended people. People have to be very intentional about what their priorities are in life and create boundaries around what’s really meaningful.”</p> <p>If you’re uncomfortable saying no to a request right away, ask for time to think about it. If it’s your boss asking and you really can’t say no, make sure to clarify what items can slide down the priority list to make time for the new project.</p> <p>Be a tourist in your own town<br />Part of what makes a holiday so exciting is the novelty of a new place. You eat at trendy restaurants, sign up for bicycle tours, and try activities like surfing. In short, you do things that bring you joy and let you discover a destination.</p> <p>The good news is, it’s easy to be a tourist in your own town, especially on weekends. Make a point of checking out that hot new jazz bar or signing up for a food or brewery tour. Try a new hike or visit a museum.</p> <p>“Day in and day out, we get up, go to work, come home, and turn on the TV while we’re doing chores,” says Zilkowsky. “We’re in a rut. A lot of that stuff empties our cup. So how do we fill it back up?” In other words, what will make you feel alive, right here, right now? Go and do it.</p> <p>Express gratitude daily<br />Giving thanks is good for you: It breeds optimism, boosts immunity and helps people cope with stress. Every day on vacay is a little shout-out – we feel so fortunate and lucky to be spending time with friends, loved ones or even alone. It’s much harder to practise gratitude back at home while living the daily grind, but it’s tremendously important.</p> <p>“Find gratitude in small, everyday moments,” says Lisa Jones, owner of Spark for Life Coaching. “Put your head down at the end of the day – even if you’re just grateful for surviving the day! That can really improve your mood, your happiness and your sense of fulfillment.”</p> <p>When we become consciously aware of all we have to be thankful for, whether by writing it down in a journal or just making a mental note of it, it puts the little aggravations into perspective.</p> <p class="p1"><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/7-ways-feel-you-are-vacation-every-single-day"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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The first place in the world to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>The tiny cluster of islands known as the Republic of Palau is one of the few places on Earth entirely free from COVID-19.</p> <p>Hoping to maintain that status, it could be one of the first countries to be entirely vaccinated against the deadly disease.</p> <p>The islands are home to around 18,000 people and received its first shipment of the vaccine on Saturday.</p> <p>The vaccine has been developed by US pharmaceutical company Moderna, with vaccinations starting the very next day.</p> <p>Health care workers, key officials and vulnerable groups were among the first to receive the vaccine, with the first shipment including 2,800 doses.</p> <p>The vaccine will be administered in two shots, 28 days apart.</p> <p>Palau has not recorded a single COVID-19 case or virus related death, according to the<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://covid19.who.int/region/wpro/country/pw" target="_blank"><em>World Health Organisation</em></a>.</p> <p>The country's Incident Commander of the Ministery of Health Ritter Udui spoke about receiving vaccines from the United States mass COVID-19 vaccination program known as Operation Warp Speed.</p> <p>The islands are an independent nation but have a free association with Washington.</p> <p>“We are lucky to be in a position where we have access to vaccines through OWS, and our small size makes it easier for us to roll out the program,” Udui said.</p> <p>“It’s not compulsory to receive the vaccine, so our goal is to vaccinate about 80 per cent of the population.</p> <p>“We hope to achieve herd immunity (through the vaccination program).”</p> <p>Sylvia Osarch, 60, was the first person to receive the vaccination.</p> <p>“I felt excited to set an example for my community,” she said.</p> <p>“I want to tell the community that I took the vaccine to protect them.</p> <p>“So when it is their turn to take it, please take it to protect us, the healthcare providers.”</p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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Coronavirus could turn cities into doughnuts: empty centres but vibrant suburbs

<div class="grid-ten large-grid-nine grid-last content-body content entry-content instapaper_body inline-promos"> <p>The most COVID-19 lockdowns were accompanied by sobering news from the UK’s high streets. The Arcadia Group, which owns some of the UK’s most iconic high street clothing retail outlets – Topshop, Topman and Dorothy Perkins, among others – has gone into administration.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the UK’s oldest retail chain, Debenhams, is closing. Around 12,000 people are set to lose their jobs, on top of 6,500 already lost this year, after efforts to rescue the retailer fell through.</p> <p>All of this comes at the end of a decade that saw a major decline of British high streets. Since 2007, some 556 retail companies have failed, with the closure of almost 39,100 stores and the loss of 468,809 jobs as shoppers move online.</p> <p>These impacts vary geographically. Many of the closures are concentrated in city centres. But beyond the city core, there remains the prospect that smaller town centres and suburban high streets might emerge stronger in 2021 as people learn to love shopping locally again.</p> <p><strong>A downwards trend</strong></p> </div> <div class="grid-ten grid-prepend-two large-grid-nine grid-last content-topics topic-list"> <p>Long before the pandemic, high street retailers were facing stiff competition from out-of-town shopping centres and, more importantly, online retailing.</p> <p>According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, online sales in November 2006 totalled 2.8% of all retail sales. The latest data shows that online sales in October 2020 amounted to 28.1% of total retail sales – but this had already risen to 21.5% in November 2019, before COVID-19 reached the UK.</p> <p>The pandemic has exacerbated the downwards slide of high streets. Thousands of the shops closed in March 2020 have not reopened.</p> <p>But there are markedly different patterns from town to town. Local high streets with more convenience shopping, hot food takeaways and other essential businesses have generally performed much better than city centres dominated by department stores and shops selling higher-value items.</p> <p>Take Greater Manchester, for example. Google’s Community Mobility data shows that visitor numbers to retail and recreation spaces in smaller town centres like Bury and Rochdale have recovered faster. In contrast, Manchester city centre has continued to perform much more poorly as commuters continue to work at home and avoid public transport.</p> <p>It may actually be that COVID-19 has encouraged more people to shop locally, and that they have begun to see more value in their local town centres. This raises a fundamental question about the future of city centre retailing.</p> <p>London provides a good example. Now that the first COVID vaccine has been approved by the UK government, central London will undoubtedly eventually return to some of its former vitality, attracting tourists and other visitors to enjoy its eclectic night-time economy, theatres, galleries and museums.</p> <p>But, if more people prefer to work at home and not head into central London from the suburbs, the retail retraction we have witnessed in 2020 will only worsen.</p> <p><strong>Hollow cities</strong></p> <p>Retail and recreation visitor numbers in central London – the City of Westminster and the City of London – have been particularly affected by COVID-19 when compared to the wider city.</p> <p>Overall average daily visitor numbers to retail and recreation spaces within Westminster and the City of London fell by 70.6% and 76.7% respectively between February 15 and November 24 2020. The most recent lockdown, which commenced on November 5, saw retail and recreation visitor numbers fall to 90%-92% below pre-COVID levels.</p> <p>In comparison, overall average retail and recreation visitor numbers in inner London and outer London councils were down by 54.9% and 38.4% respectively. Our mapping of the impact of COVID-19 on visitor journeys to retail and recreation places across London effectively reveals a “doughnut city”: shoppers have abandoned the centre, while suburbs have remained rather more resilient.</p> <p>The future of city centre high streets after COVID-19 is uncertain. One answer would be to suggest the cities will bounce back as vaccinated workers and shoppers return, and that their shopping streets will live on.</p> <p>However, this does not take into account the scars left by COVID-19. Take London’s iconic Oxford Street as an example. Since late March, department store John Lewis has halved the size of its Oxford Street store. House of Fraser, another department store, is to be part-repurposed as offices and a gym. Topshop’s flagship store on the street is at risk of closure.</p> <p>With online retail behemoth Amazon emerging as one of the only winners of COVID-19, we have to be realistic about the future of central London as a shopping hub.</p> <p>Retail rents are declining fast in the West End, and it is likely that prime retail sites will be converted to offices or even homes. The UK government has already loosened planning regulations that permits the conversion of shops to residential uses without planning permission – all part of the drive to solve the housing crisis.</p> <p>We are witnessing a switch in the use of urban space, as people working from home increasingly spend time, and money, outside city centres. The hope is that smaller high streets and those local centres most valued as hubs of community life, not just places of consumption, will witness a renaissance in 2021. The viability of larger centres – Birmingham, Manchester, and especially London – looks to have fundamentally unravelled.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Paul J. Maginn and Philip Hubbard. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-could-turn-cities-into-doughnuts-empty-centres-but-vibrant-suburbs-151406">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> </div>

International Travel

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Freewheeling with Justine Tyerman

<p>With visions of sipping a Peregrine rosé at the end of the 20km trail from Arrowtown to the Gibbston Valley, we set off early on our Wisper Wayfarer ebikes while a skiff of frost was still on the ground. We never seemed to tire of ebiking, regardless of the weather.</p> <p>The cycle and walking track runs alongside the tranquil, willow-lined Arrow River made famous by the gold rushes of the 1860s. It crosses the river several times using a variety of clever methods including an ingenious underbridge below the road bridge at Whitechapel to keep riders safe from the busy highway.</p> <p>A highlight was riding over the graceful 80-metre Edgar Suspension Bridge, high above the Arrow River where it plunges into a deep gorge before joining the mighty turquoise Kawarau River. An impressive engineering feat, the structure is so light on the landscape, it’s almost invisible. It’s named after a distant relative of mine so I felt proud to be riding over it.</p> <p><img style="width: 300.78125px; height: 500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839145/1-justine-and-chris-on-the-frankton-to-kelvin-heights-track-around-lake-wakatipu-copy.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/031588eabbc440799fb7430082d85f75" /></p> <p>Another thrill was crossing the historic 1880 Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, a landmark which used to herald the much-anticipated announcement from our parents that we were nearing Arrowtown after a four-five hour car trip from Dunedin. After its replacement in 1963 with a new bridge, the old one became the exclusive domain of bikers, hikers and A.J. Hackett’s Kawarau River bungy, the world’s first ever bungy jump.</p> <p>We stopped, as we always do, to watch a steady stream of thrill seekers plunge off the bridge head first, feet first, in pairs or alone, screaming their heads off. We shook our heads in disbelief, and continued on our way along the breath-taking Gibbston Valley on a track right on the edge of the canyon. That was thrilling enough for us.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839142/3-the-bungy-jump-platform-at-the-historic-kawarau-bridge-on-the-arrowtown-to-gibbston-valley-track.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/addf7eb38aec425aabfc6c72d531491b" /><br /><em>The bungy jump platform at the historic Kawarau Bridge on the Arrowtown to Gibbston Valley track.</em></p> <p>As luck would have it, Peregrine Winery was closed for a wedding but with a plethora of other wineries in the valley to choose from, we found a delectable rosé at Chard Farm instead.</p> <p>After a night at the excellent Arrowtown Camping ground where we were again surrounded by Maui look-alikes (Kiwis were out in force supporting the tourism industry!), we cycled up the gorge towards the old gold mining ghost town of Macetown, as we often do whenever we visit my childhood holiday place. In the summer tart gooseberries, sweet raspberries and pastel-coloured lupins grow wild and dusty on the side of the track but in the winter, hoar frost transforms the skeletal plants to silvery works of filigree. Whatever the season the play of light on the tussocked hills and the dark shadows cast by the high mountain ranges and deep gorges is spell-binding.</p> <p>On the way back, we visited the Police Camp Cottage in the Arrow River, possibly the most photographed structure in Arrowtown. Inside the cottage, there’s excellent information about the history of the building. It was built in 1863 and is Arrowtown's oldest surviving timber building. It was constructed from pit-sawn red beech and had hand-cut shakes on the roof. Originally in Cardigan Street, it was moved to its present site in 1991.</p> <p>When gold was discovered in 1862 in the Arrow and Shotover Rivers by Jack Tewa, miners descended on Arrowtown in their droves. They were an unruly lot so law enforcement and the building of a jail and the cottage quickly followed. Its exact purpose is not known but bars on the windows suggest it might have been used as a gold deposit office that held the gold securely before it was transported by armed escort to Dunedin.</p> <p>Also inside the cottage, there’s a wealth of information about rare plants and protected wildlife such as the kea and cryptic skink, efforts to control wilding pines and protect native birds, lizards and insects against predators like stoats, ferrets, cats and rats.</p> <p>The entire Wakatipu Basin is a network of immaculately-maintained hiking and biking trails so next day, we were spoilt for choice. </p> <p>After queueing up with the locals for hearty filled rolls from the Arrowtown Bakery, we rode along the Kawarau River, sparkling like phosphorus at the foot of the Remarkables, terrain that was new to us despite holidaying in the area for decades. We crossed the Shotover River on another iconic landmark, the Lower Shotover Bridge, now open only to foot and pedal traffic . . . and probably horses. Tall poplars, magnificent in autumn but gaunt in winter, stood sentinel at the entrance to the bridge.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839143/4-justine-taking-a-break-in-the-gibbston-valley-overlooking-the-kawarau-river.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/49f6ca95ed0b4665b89055bc3e4cece9" /><img style="width: 300.78125px; height: 500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839143/4-justine-taking-a-break-in-the-gibbston-valley-overlooking-the-kawarau-river.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/49f6ca95ed0b4665b89055bc3e4cece9" /><br /><em>Justine taking a break in the Gibbston Valley overlooking the Kawarau River.</em></p> <p>We whizzed along the shingle riverbed and over the historic Kawarau Falls Bridge which has been superseded by a smart new two-lane structure.</p> <p><img style="width: 300.78125px; height: 500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839146/1-justine-and-chris-on-the-frankton-to-kelvin-heights-track-around-lake-wakatipu.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/bf3c91f0bc0f4169ab93fe038d24dd51" /><br /><em>Justine and Chris on the Frankton to Kelvin Heights track around Lake Wakatipu.</em></p> <p>The track skirts the edge of Lake Wakatipu in front of the Hilton Hotel at Frankton and passes below million-dollar mansions interspersed with quaint Kiwi cribs. We lunched by the lake at Kelvin Heights. Angry storm clouds amassing down the lake looked ominous, so we high-tailed it back to Arrowtown on our zippy e-bikes arriving at our cosy Maui motorhome just before the heavens opened.</p> <p>To be continued...</p> <p>Read <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=0GMIbnN87DsjMFAs_RntUvaijjyLSXDBhcbZZtsBrYAAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fheading-for-paradise">part 1</a>, <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=bjiUdwydiTZ4jgDPbudNlZIFwb4Pg9C4-0piecnz1T4AKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fturning-greener-with-the-years">part 2</a>, <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=G_WyeMHKC2MrVIogTpUti2dfBXXWyFZwiBNTkl3u3wwAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fin-the-company-of-giants">part 3</a>, and <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=1Yof2WyTpVF-KYh4zlyCMGD1WNVR44HEcHeU60koW2gAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fside-tracked-with-justine-tyerman">part 4</a> of Justine’s Central Otago road trip here.</p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=AxB4ieU8dbDlo-KSg6mfo2TS0ohvK_yu3Y_Ms9OprbgAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2f0NZvC71RRPFAjrRi8EI5K%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com">thl</a> in a <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=rH__qBmu8aq4Meyz4q2EX23I1hOnFnekHAcKFtIGKPgAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fSZ3uC81VVQF68mku1wRMn%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com">Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</a> and rode a <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=RJ-XB2tGxAqzF0-xb_RAw9i5dZyJtxQEWsOaB25D_hQAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fhPV0C91WW0FkVJOf3kUTe%3fdomain%3dwisperbikes.co.nz%2f">Wisper Wayfarer ebike</a> courtesy of <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=2Hxqx-1UtuJkw8bO_hX6hH94XbuW1HR20NwwJgKtuXsAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fy0IvC0YKKGCG0nyUWUHfG%3fdomain%3delectricbikes.co.nz%2f">Electric Bikes NZ</a></em></p>

International Travel

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A vaccine will be a game-changer for international travel. But it’s not everything

<p>The United Kingdom yesterday became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use. Following a review by the country’s drug regulator, the UK government announced it will begin rolling out the vaccine next week.</p> <p>Other countries are likely to follow soon, authorising the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and possibly other leading candidates too. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration says it’s continuing to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech data.</p> <p>The world has been eagerly awaiting a COVID vaccine, touted since early in the pandemic as our best hope of returning to “normal”. A big part of this is the resumption of international travel.</p> <p>Certainly, an effective vaccine brings this prospect much closer. But a vaccine alone won’t ensure a safe return to international travel. There are several other things Australia and other countries will need to consider.</p> <p>Give $30 a month and help improve Australian media.<br />International travel in the age of a COVID vaccine<br />When people are vaccinated before boarding a flight, we can have confidence there will be significantly less COVID risk associated with international travel. However, the data we have at the moment doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.</p> <p>Let’s take the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as an example. They have reported the efficacy of their mRNA vaccine to be 95% in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, having tested it on around half of the 43,000 participants in their phase 3 trial (the other half received a placebo).</p> <p>The vaccine appears to be safe with only mild side-effects in some participants. And notably, the study included people aged 65 and over and those with health conditions that put them at higher risk of more severe disease.</p> <p>However, the study hasn’t officially reported the efficacy of the vaccine against becoming infected, as opposed to displaying symptoms. While it’s encouraging to know a vaccine stops people getting sick, this point is important because if people can still become infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), they may still be able to spread it.</p> <p>Ugur Şahin, BioNTech’s cofounder and chief executive, believes the vaccine could reduce transmission by 50%. This puts something of a dampener on vaccination being the key to the safe resumption of international travel.</p> <p>At this stage, we also don’t know how long immunity will last for those vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. But as the trial will continue for several more months, some of this data should become available in 2021.</p> <p>A doctor or scientists fills a syringe from a vaccine vial.<br />Over time, vaccine trials will reveal more data. </p> <p>It’s going to take months — or, more realistically, years — to vaccinate everybody who wants to be vaccinated. It won’t be feasible to expect every single person travelling internationally to be vaccinated.</p> <p>There are several countries that appear never to have had community transmission. As of November, these included many Pacific island nations such as Tonga, Kiribati, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa and Tuvalu.</p> <p>Then there are countries that have COVID-19 under control with little, if any, community transmission. Examples include Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Singapore.</p> <p>People arriving in Australia from these countries pose very little risk and should not need to quarantine, whether vaccinated or not. For other countries, it would very much depend on their epidemic situation at the time.</p> <p>Some organisations have already developed COVID risk ratings for different countries or jurisdictions. For example, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) rates the COVID situation in each European country as “stable”, “of concern” or “of serious concern”.</p> <p>These risk assessments are based on factors including each country’s 14-day COVID case notification rate, the proportion of tests coming back positive, and the rate of deaths.</p> <p>Clearly, people from high-risk areas or countries will still need to quarantine on arrival, unless they have been vaccinated. It’s likely Australia will develop a similar rating system to the ECDC to streamline these decisions.</p> <p><strong>Testing</strong><br />Many countries now require a negative COVID test certificate before entry. For example, Spain requires a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours before travelling.</p> <p>Similarly, some airlines, such as Emirates and Etihad, are mandating COVID testing before travel.</p> <p>It would also make sense to have rapid antigen testing available at airport arrivals or border crossings. Although not as accurate as PCR tests, these tests would provide a second check that a traveller hasn’t incubated COVID-19 on the way to their destination.</p> <p>Even with vaccination, testing will still be important, as vaccination doesn’t guarantee a passenger is not infected, or infectious.</p> <p><strong>Certificates and passports</strong><br />Once COVID-19 vaccines become accessible, countries and airlines may well require visitors to produce a certificate of vaccination.</p> <p>Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has suggested all Qantas international passengers from next year would be required to have a COVID vaccination certificate.</p> <p>There are also many groups around the world working on immunity passports and technologies to track travellers’ virus status.</p> <p>For example, the International Air Transport Association is developing a digital health pass which will carry testing and vaccination status.</p> <p>It’s likely international travel will be allowed globally in the second half of next year, once vaccination is well underway.</p> <p>It will be wonderful to be able to travel internationally again, but wherever we go — even with a vaccine — it will be some time before travel looks like it did before the pandemic.</p>

International Travel

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Side-tracked with Justine Tyerman

<p>The handful of Kiwis on the road from Glenorchy to Queenstown got a bonus the day we left Paradise – there were two of everything: mountains upright in their usual position and upside down in the Lake Wakatipu looking-glass. Reality and reflection were hard to tell apart.</p> <p>The historic TSS Earnslaw was steaming towards Queenstown against a stunning backdrop of the Remarkables after a fresh fall of snow.</p> <p>Arrowtown, my childhood holiday home, was our next destination for... but we got side-tracked along the way as often happens when you have the freedom and flexibility of travelling by motorhome.</p> <p>About 5km from Arrowtown, I shrieked ‘Pull over here!’ which my obliging husband was able to do safely at short notice, only because this usually busy tourist road was deserted.</p> <p>We simply could not by-pass Lake Hayes, the world-famous mirror lake where we used to swim and picnic as kids in the summer. We drove down to the water’s edge and debated whether we had time to cycle around the lake on the superb new trail before the weather was forecast to crack up late in the afternoon.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839073/wyus57w0.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/58cc0af220ca436e903204b86c8412cd" /><br /><em>Lake Hayes in autumn regalia. Photo by Destination Queenstown</em></p> <p>With our powerful Wisper Wayfarer ebikes aboard, we were confident that if the weather misbehaved or we miscalculated the distance, we’d be able to get back home fast.         </p> <p>We set off in full winter ski gear with a hint of snow in the air. The 8km grade 2 uppy-downy loop track was a bit like a roller coaster ride climbing high above the lake on the far side and then descending steeply so I made great use of the power-assist and throttle on my Wayfarer. The hills were no trouble at all, such a novelty for a cyclist like me for whom the word ‘pushbike’ has, in the past, had a literal meaning - whenever I encountered anything other than flat terrain, I became a pusher.</p> <p>The trail around the lake was breathtakingly scenic even though the mirror effect was more like crumpled taffeta rather than satin. Coronet Peak, resplendent in pure white, stood regally on one side of the lake and the iconic Double Cone of the Remarkables Range on the other.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839044/justine2-edit.png" alt="Our Maui Cascade motorhome on the shores of Lake Hayes. Photo by Justine Tyerman" data-udi="umb://media/8ea30167c7194d98a16555fe32547a27" /><br /><em>Our Maui Cascade motorhome on the shores of Lake Hayes. Photo by Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>There were many information boards along the way explaining the preciousness of the wetlands, the many native water birds who nest there such as the endangered crested grebe, Project Gold that aims to re-establish kowhai trees which once flourished in Central Otago, and the sculpting of the landscape by massive glaciers in the last Ice Age. </p> <p>We stopped for lunch at the highest point of the trail and looked across the lake at the multi-million-dollar houses that have sprung up along shore in recent years. Discovering a lovely freedom camping spot on the edge of the lake, we decided to park there for the night instead of continuing on to the Arrowtown Holiday Park.</p> <p>Ah, the joys of travelling in a fully self-contained Maui motorhome with the convenience of having a kitchen, fridge, freezer, bathroom, bedroom, lounge and dining room at our disposal. The ability to stop wherever and whenever the spirit willed gave us a delicious sense of freedom.</p> <p>By early evening, snowflakes began to drift down from a slate grey sky and the temperatures plummeted. We pulled the thermal blinds, turned on the heating and enjoyed hot showers followed by tummy-warming gluhwein as we prepared dinner.</p> <p>Showering in a confined space is quite an art and requires a high degree of organisation, ensuring one has everything needed before enclosing oneself in a cubicle about a quarter the size of a regular shower. The gas-heated hot water cylinder allows for two 3-minute hot showers, or longer when you are plugged into mains power at a camping ground.</p> <p>Overnight, we were so snug we had to open a skylight... even in the snow.</p> <p>To be continued...</p> <p>Read <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/heading-for-paradise">part 1</a>, <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/turning-greener-with-the-years">part 2</a> and <a href="https://www.oversixty.co.nz/travel/international-travel/in-the-company-of-giants">part 3</a> of Justine’s Central Otago road trip here.</p> <p><em>*Māori originally named the lake Te Whaka-ata a Haki-te-kura after an ancestress called Haki-te-kura whose image is said to be reflected in the lake.</em></p> <p><em>*Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=7BtkdCC0m6zkzxkMbzBp_u-wDIiN0dqP5C4--uPeeORQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fJhhmC1WLLJHWzgHLuGio%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com">thl</a> in a <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=Qkj6NLpKp2tlANmS7flVVwRI3QQ1--ikfep03D2Q2yJQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fxoYeC2xMMKiylrC1Psne%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com">Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</a> and rode a <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=EREOstBETVaXmFP1mVnBaKL_EfzEYOF92sK3gvj8QSNQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2f7HYRC3QNNLSNA3T2mkmn%3fdomain%3dwisperbikes.co.nz%2f">Wisper Wayfarer ebike</a> courtesy of <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=el2BMJzFCzOsVE0F-1QDqIDJkkAkbT1z4nc0mxuNGHZQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fGgjoC4QOOMSk0PCWQMn4%3fdomain%3delectricbikes.co.nz%2f">Electric Bikes NZ</a></em></p>

International Travel

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The rise of the brown nomads and tips on how to do it

<p>Grey Nomads are a stalwart of the outback campsite, but COVID has seen a surge in younger families hitting the road: the Brown Nomads. These are people whose interstate or overseas jaunts have been thwarted by closed borders, or who have been freed from the 9-to-5 grind and want to take the “work from anywhere” concept literally. However, while adventuring sounds fun, it doesn't always generate a secure income. Consider some good financial planning so you can enjoy the nomadic life <em>and</em> still maintain financial security.</p> <p><strong>Before the trip</strong></p> <p>The options for how to stretch finances depends on your specific circumstances. It's important to see a financial planner early on in this process, but there are a few general tips I can offer.</p> <p><u>Reduce debt.</u> Pay it down as much as you can and see if consolidation makes sense. Do not carry credit card debt into this adventure.</p> <p><u>Plan your income and expenses.</u> Income sources include savings, investment dividends, long service leave, redundancies, ongoing business, or profits from asset sales. Plan expenses, including buying your start-up gear. Many nomads budget for $1000 per week, but it varies. Once you know how much you'll need you can start planning where to take the funds from.</p> <p><u>Interrogate your tax and maximising options</u>. If you’ve received a lump sum and want to use it to kick start your nomadic life, there may be some tax-efficient ways to stretch this amount. Consider various strategies, including a variety of superannuation strategies, consider paying down debt and investing in the name of the partner who didn’t earn an income, or earned less.</p> <p><u>Time your trip to suit your finances</u>. Are there are any benefits to going this or next financial year based on your circumstances?</p> <p><u>Get your financial foundations in place</u>. There are a few things you’ll need to get right as a basis for any secure financial future. These include having an emergency fund, creating a spending plan, getting the right insurances, optimising all aspects of superannuation including fees and investments inside, and having an up to date estate plan.</p> <p><strong>On the trip</strong></p> <p>Now you’ve hit the road and money is flying out the door and not so much is flying back in.</p> <p><u>Review your tax</u>. With the income changes there may be tax incentives you are now eligible for. You could make a spousal superannuation contribution, which will reduce your tax bill. You may also be eligible for the Family Tax Benefit.</p> <p><u>Manage your income streams.</u> Are you relying on income from dividends, term deposits that pay interest or rental income? Should you be? Any income linked to investments can change. Make sure you have enough money parked somewhere to see you through.</p> <p><u>Spend less money. </u>It sounds obvious, but in my experience, people spend what they have. I’ve had clients go from spending $200,000 per year to $40,000 after switching to a nomadic life for a year. When you aren’t in the ‘rat race’ you’ll be surprised how much joy life gives you for free and all the expenses you no longer have.</p> <p><u>Use the nomad community</u>. Experienced nomads will tell you their biggest expense is usually fuel. Find the cheapest with apps like Fuel Map Australia. Second to fuel is accommodation. WikiCamps Australia is one of many apps that has information about sites, including where the free ones are.</p> <p>Packing up and hitting the road does not have to cripple you financially. If you set yourself up right and plan well, you could have the adventure of a lifetime while you’re young, fit and healthy and return to a solid financial foundation.</p> <p>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of two books:  <em style="font-weight: bold;">On Your Own Two Feet – Steady Steps to Women’s Financial Independence</em> and On<em style="font-weight: bold;"> Your Own Two Feet Divorce – Your Survive and Thrive Financial Guide</em>.  <em style="font-weight: bold;">Proceeds from the books’ sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women.  </em>Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who holds a master’s degree in the field. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au"><strong>www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</strong></a></p> <p><strong><em>Note this is general advice only and you should seek advice specific to your circumstances.</em></strong></p>

International Travel

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Turning greener with the years

<div>A few years ago, when we stayed at Mrs Woolly’s Camping Ground at Glenorchy, we were fascinated by the construction of the multi-million-dollar Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat under way next door. Turning greener with the years, I’ve been keen to check it out ever since. We finally got to stay there on our recent South Island ebiking and motorhome road-trip.</div> <div></div> <div>Opened in March 2018, the story behind the camp is visionary and inspirational. It’s the brainchild of US philanthropists Debbi and Paul Brainerd who fell in love with the Glenorchy region 20 years earlier after tramping the Routeburn and Hollyford Tracks. Designed according to the Living Building Challenge (LBC), the most rigorous sustainability standards in the world, the camp is committed to “offering a unique opportunity to experience living in harmony with nature”. The seven categories of the LBC are represented as the petals of a flower – Place, Health and Happiness, Energy, Water, Materials, Beauty and Equity – and involve such factors as supplying their own water and energy, having a healthy interrelationship with nature, supporting a just and equitable world, celebrating design that uplifts the human spirit, using materials that are safe for all species, creating spaces that optimise health and wellbeing . . . all concepts close to my heart, especially the energy and water efficiency aspects.</div> <div></div> <div><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838654/2-early-morning-surrounded-by-snow-capped-mountains-at-camp-glenorchy-eco-retreat.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/525df7e39e2f49f78556dedbc7becc20" /></div> <div><em>Early morning, surrounded by snow-capped mountains at Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat. Picture by Justine Tyerman</em></div> <div></div> <div>New Zealand's only net positive energy accommodation, clever technology allows the camp to generate more energy than it uses – in fact it generates 105 percent of the energy it uses each year.</div> <div><br />Facilities include smart bunkhouses and eco cabins, powered RV/motorhome sites, and shared spaces for guests in the Homestead with a fabulously well-equipped open kitchen, dining room, sunroom, lounge, conference rooms and an outside campfire.</div> <div><br />Eye-catching artworks are a feature of the camp. An entire wall in the Humboldt Room, named after the magnificent mountain range it looks onto, is made of driftwood by international landscape artist Jeffrey Bale.</div> <div><br />I loved the use of recycled materials from the demolition of local woolsheds, stockyards, a grain warehouse and buildings damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes.</div> <div><br />There are state-of-the-art bathroom facilities with fabulous fully-tiled showers and 100 percent odourless composting toilets that save a whopping 300,000 litres of water per year. Purified rainwater supplies the showers and solar power is the energy source.</div> <div></div> <div><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838657/3.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c65f986fae3c4c4395da1e7a560c2e01" /></div> <div><em>The Homestead building at Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat. Picture by Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat</em></div> <div><br />Photos in the Homestead tell the story of the camp’s construction. There’s also historical information about the Head of the Lake for guests to read. Maori began arriving in Aotearoa about 750 years ago and named the South Island Te Wai Pounamu, the ‘Waters of Greenstone’. The region is rich in pounamu, a stone highly treasured by Maori who carved it into adzes, chisels, knives, hooks, clubs and ornaments.<br /><br />European settlement in the area began in 1861 when William Rees established a sheep station there. Then came the gold rush of 1862, sawmilling of beech and totara, scheelite mining and tourism. Travellers in the 1880s came up the lake by steamship had a choice of three hotels. A road link from Queenstown was opened in 1962 and finally sealed in 1997.<br /><br />All profits from Camp Glenorchy go to the Glenorchy Community Trust, directed by leaders of the local community “to support initiatives that enhance the liveability and vibrancy of Glenorchy”.<br /><br />The retreat has recently been named in TIME magazine's list of the World's 100 Greatest Places. It’s seriously impressive, especially for those, like me, into sustainability.<br /><br />In the evening, we had our first night ride on our Wisper Wayfarer ebikes – just a couple of minutes to the Glenorchy Hotel where we enjoyed a hearty dinner by a roaring open fire. The place was packed with locals and visitors watching a rugby match. Such a warm, friendly environment.</div> <div></div> <div><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838658/4-the-communal-kitchen-at-camp-glenorchy-eco-retreat.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8085163b3f9d4c23aa5d289ca10d1f36" /></div> <div><em>The communal kitchen at Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat. Picture by Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat</em></div> <div><br />As we cycled back to the camp, the dark night sky was studded with stars. Glenorchy’s isolation makes it one of New Zealand’s best star-gazing locations, especially on clear winter nights.</div> <div><br />Our motorhome was surrounded by Maui look-a-likes when we arrived home. New Zealanders had certainly heeded the call to explore their own backyard and were out in force. It was a frosty evening but we were cosy in no time, thanks to the efficient heating system.<br /><br />We lit the gas, boiled water for hot water bottles, left the heating on low and piled on an extra duvet, thinking we would freeze . . . but after five minutes the hotties and the extra duvet got the biff, we turned the heating off, opened a skylight and slept soundly.<br /><br />Talking of sleep, the bedding arrangement in the 4-berth Cascade was ingenious. At the push of a button, a queen-size bed appeared from the ceiling while another below was able to be made up from the squabs in the rear lounge. The upper bed recessed into the ceiling when not in use. Such clever use of space.<br /><br />We awoke to a perfect day. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the view from our bedroom window was breath-taking. We couldn’t wait to jump on our ebikes and explore more of this place called Paradise . . .<br /><br /><em>To be continued.</em><br /><span> </span></div> <div><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=tWPA3DSjp88h92_m_yOej0Tyw3e6LI4rEYpaeNNn58pcBoKUAILYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.maui-rentals.com%2fnz%2fen%3futm_medium%3dreferral%26utm_source%3djustine-tyerman" target="_blank">thl</a> in a <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=T67CO7HaB4Hy8m49Jc0LTYu_fAqurQYwHDvzQwTYtjhcBoKUAILYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.maui-rentals.com%2fnz%2fen%2fmotorhome-hire%2f4-berth-campervan-cascade%3futm_medium%3dreferral%26utm_source%3djustine-tyerman" target="_blank">Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</a> and rode a <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=D4fFGghFbcshDq0SojkHUYYtEIErEO2QmPI-NhfBaw9cBoKUAILYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwisperbikes.co.nz%2f" target="_blank">Wisper Wayfarer ebike</a> courtesy of <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=SoAD83WgCmviEe9KsPsHJwa1cyBdBdVIeFrgwi6WIeBcBoKUAILYCA..&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.electricbikes.co.nz%2f" target="_blank">Electric Bikes NZ</a></em></div>

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Heading for Paradise

<p>Justine and Chris Tyerman set off on a road trip to Central Otago... with no idea where they will end up each day. </p> <p>‘Fancy a South Island motorhome road trip this winter... since we can’t travel overseas?’ I asked my husband while he was enjoying a beer by the fire one chilly evening in May.</p> <p>Knowing his hyperactive tendencies, I quickly added biking, hiking and skiing to the mix.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838559/3-on-a-calm-day-the-mountains-are-perfectly-reflected-in-the-mirror-waters-of-the-lagoon-at-glenorchy.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/250001b025aa47f7909fef91f3310fef" /><br /><em>On a calm day, the mountains are perfectly reflected in the mirror waters of the lagoon at Glenorchy. ©Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat</em></p> <p>There was a flicker of interest, especially when I flashed a photo of a luxurious late- model Maui Cascade motorhome in front of him, hinted at the possibility of trialling a couple of brand new Wisper Wayfarer ebikes and reminded him that now we were both ‘seniors’, skiing had just got a lot cheaper.</p> <p>‘What about the weather?’ Chris asked. ‘We’ll freeze to death in a motorhome down south in the winter.’</p> <p>‘Nope. The Cascade has a super-efficient heating system... but we’ll take hot water bottles... just in case.’</p> <p>Fast forward to late August — we duly arrived at Queenstown Airport, collected our smart four-berth motorhome from the nearby Maui depot and set about finding storage for our all bulky ski gear, ebikes, suitcases and enough provisions to last a month. My husband has a fear of running out of food.</p> <p>‘If only you could learn to travel lightly,’ came the predictable comment from Chris, to which I replied, predictably, ‘If only you could learn to buy just what we need.’</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838560/3-on-a-calm-day-the-mountains-are-perfectly-reflected-in-the-mirror-waters-of-the-lagoon-at-glenorchy-copy-2.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/defe5a53d85f43f583d7a86e0e3d013b" /><br /><em>Our four-berth Maui Cascade motorhome at the head of Lake Wakatipu. Picture by Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>Investigating the motorhome, we discovered to our surprise and delight that the skis, boots and poles fitted perfectly in the spacious under-floor compartment, the clothes in the wardrobe and drawers, the empty cases in the over-cab storage, the food in the fridge and kitchen cupboards, one ebike on the rear rack, (sans battery because of weight restrictions), and one inside, wrapped in an old duvet with gloves on the peddles and handlebars.</p> <p>Mission accomplished, we were away laughing... literally. We had no idea where would end up that day. We had been advised to plug into a mains-powered site on our first night in order to fully charge the batteries but thereafter, being fully self-contained, we could freedom camp for up to three days using battery and gas power.</p> <p>After stopping briefly to cushion the cutlery, crockery and pots and pans with tea towels to stop the clattering, the big rig trundled along smoothly and quietly. Chris found the driving effortless with great vision from such an elevated position.</p> <p>The heady sense of freedom took a while to sink in. We had to reprogramme ourselves to the fact we had no fixed itinerary, no bookings or check-in/check-out times and no commitments. The sole focus of every day was to meander along at a leisurely pace driving no more than a few hours, and find stunning spots to stop for lunch, dinner, hiking, ebiking and overnighting.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 301.5625px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838557/gettyimages-1076492536-640x640.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/311c3553b6054a5cb22831244d4ff8dd" /><em>Justine on her Wisper Wayfarer ebike. Picture by Chris Tyerman</em></p> <p>At the Frankton intersection, we had the choice of left to Glenorchy or right to Arrowtown. Chris pointed left, I nodded, and we set off for the idyllic little settlement at the head of Lake Wakatipu, just 50 minutes from Queenstown on one the world’s most scenic lakeside drives. In the pre-Covid era, finding parking space to pull over at the popular observation point at Bennett’s Bluff to photograph the breath-taking view of the lake and mountains would have been well-nigh impossible but we had the road to ourselves that day. We’ve driven that route dozens of times but we’re always spellbound by the vast expanse of the teal-blue lake enclosed on all sides by jagged peaks and gleaming glaciers.</p> <p>We reached Glenorchy by mid-afternoon, leapt on our Wisper Wayfarers and explored the Heritage Trail, an excellent track and boardwalk that begins at the famous Glenorchy boatshed on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and weaves its way through wetlands and lagoons inhabited by native birds, across paddocks and the local golf course. On a calm day, the mountains are perfectly reflected in the mirror waters of the lagoon. The views of Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi and the surrounding ranges are spectacular.</p> <p>No wonder they call this place Paradise... but ironically, it’s not named for the heavenly scenery. To be continued...</p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of </em><a href="https://www.maui-rentals.com/nz/en?utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=justine-tyerman"><em>thl</em></a><em> in a </em><a href="https://www.maui-rentals.com/nz/en/motorhome-hire/4-berth-campervan-cascade?utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=justine-tyerman"><em>Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</em></a><em> and rode a </em><a href="https://wisperbikes.co.nz/"><em>Wisper Wayfarer ebike</em></a><em> courtesy of </em><a href="http://www.electricbikes.co.nz/"><em>Electric Bikes NZ.</em></a></p>

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Day of the Dead festival explained

<p>A celebration of life and death<br />If you’ve heard of Day of the Dead – known in Spanish as Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos­ – but never celebrated it, you may wonder: How can death possibly be a cause for celebration? You have to go back 3,000 years for the answer. That’s when indigenous groups in Mexico and Central America – including Aztec, Maya, and Toltec – began celebrating their deceased relatives. They believed mourning them would be an insult to their memory. After the Spanish arrived, the ritual was intertwined with two Spanish holidays: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 1 and Nov. 2).</p> <p>Day of the Dead is not Halloween<br />Although Halloween is celebrated right before Day of the Dead, it’s nowhere near the same. For one thing, Halloween focuses on the scary aspects of death – namely, our fear of mortality. Day of the Dead, on the other hand, is a happy, joyous occasion.</p> <p>Originally called All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. During Samhain, people created bonfires and dressed up in costumes to ward off ghosts.</p> <p>“All Hallows’ Eve was believed to be a time when the veil between the earth and other worlds was thin,” says grief and death expert Dr Kriss Kevorkian. “Ghosts returned to earth and there were celebrations mostly among the Celts. Halloween, today, doesn’t include much honouring of the dead.”</p> <p>Honouring the dead with food, drinks, and dancing<br />During Day of the Dead, families invite the souls of deceased relatives to come back for a reunion. Traditionally, that includes temporary altars with offerings commemorating their loved ones (altares de muertos or ofrendas). It also includes lots of food and drink, dressing up, and dancing.</p> <p>The Day of the Dead is not a single day but actually a celebration from October 31st to November 2. The first day (November 1st), is to honour infants and children who have died, and the second day (November 2nd), is to honour adults who have passed on.</p> <p>Day of the Dead is celebrated mostly in Mexico and parts of Central and South America. But it’s become increasingly popular in Latino communities around the world. “There are benefits to mourning and celebrating the life of a loved one who has died,” says Kevorkian. “We want to mourn the loss, but also celebrate the fact that we had such a relationship.”</p> <p>“That helps us remain connected, grateful, and appreciative of the love that was shared,” she adds. “Celebrating also helps us to understand that we shouldn’t take our loved ones for granted.”</p> <p>Grieving has no time frame<br />According to a review of studies published in 2019 in Psychosomatic Medicine, the death of a loved one is the greatest life stressor we can face. Forcing a sense of closure only adds to the stress.</p> <p>“Sadly, we are limited in our grieving due to work schedules, bereavement leave, family obligations, and our own desire not to hurt,” says Kevorkian. “But grief manifests in its own time. Give yourself time to listen to your grief rather than trying to make it fit into a particular construct. It can be painful. But it can be reframed a bit. Acknowledge how fortunate you were to have had a love so great that to lose it caused so much pain.”</p> <p>A funeral can be fun (yes, really)<br />Most people tend to think of funerals as sad, somber occasions. But it’s possible to honour the memory of your loved one by celebrating their life.</p> <p>Day of the Dead traditions involve dressing up, dancing, singing, and preparing foods that the celebrated person loved.</p> <p>“Celebrations remind us of all that your loved one accomplished in life,” says Kevorkian. “That tends to help you move forward in your grief.”</p> <p>But don’t force it, she adds. “Create your own traditions. If celebrating your loved one helps you grieve, by all means, celebrate. But do so when and how it feels right for you.”</p> <p>Death is a normal part of life<br />“Cultural practices like Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, the Qingming holiday in China, or the Obon festival in Japan all emphasise, normalise, and ritualise the continuing bonds that link the living with the dead across generations,” says Robert Neimeyer, a grief specialist. That helps “people retain – rather than relinquish – life-defining attachments even across the boundaries of life and death.”</p> <p>One way cultures that celebrate Day of the Dead normalise death: They create temporary altars (ofrendas) and adorn them with things meant to provide the deceased what they need on their journey.</p> <p>Traditionally, according to the Smithsonian Latino Center, that includes paper banners, food like Mexican bread, a pitcher filled with water so the spirits can quench their thirst, and candles to help light their way.</p> <p>You can create your own ofrenda of sorts—any time of the year. Display a collection of snapshots, mementos, and other objects that were meaningful to your loved one.</p> <p>“You can accept that your loved one is no longer here,” says Kevorkian. “But that doesn’t mean you have to forget them.”</p> <p>Your relationship continues<br />Day of the Dead traditions support the idea that your relationship with the deceased isn’t over; it’s simply changing. Grief experts say that having a continued relationship can be healing. Look for ways to continue the relationship with your loved ones that are comfortable for you. Storytelling, for example, is a good strategy for coping with loss; so is journaling.</p> <p>“My grandparents died when I was younger,” says Kevorkian. “But I still celebrate their birthdays out of gratitude for having such loving people in my life. Some might want to celebrate once or twice a year. Others might not want to celebrate at all. Grief is unique to each of us.”</p> <p>You can learn from the loss<br />Loss is never easy. But grief can teach you how to value life and those you love. “We can all seek a broader sense of self, whether trans-situational, trans-generational, or transcendental,” says Neimeyer.</p> <p>“By living well, we prepare ourselves for dying well one day. Be friendly to the whole range of human experiences – joy and grief, security and fear, knowing and not knowing – without clinging to or resisting any of them. That can allow you to embrace life in all its pain, pleasure, and paradox, and accept what is both durable and impermanent in your life.”</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Kimberly Goad. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/day-of-the-dead-festival-explained"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Air New Zealand resumes its famous "mystery breaks" to wild acclaim

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>Air New Zealand has recognised that New Zealanders are eager to explore the country again and has announced the return of its "Mystery Break" offer.</p> <p>This allows guests to book their entire holiday through the airline, including flights, accommodations and transport without learning where they're going until two days before departure.</p> <p>There are also three packages on offer from the carrier, including a "Luxury" option to the "Great" and "Deluxe" options already on offer.</p> <p>All three packages include flights to and from Air New Zealand's 20 domestic destinations.</p> <p>“We’re really excited to have refreshed Mystery Breaks. It’s part of doing our bit to boost local tourism,” Jeremy O’Brien, Air New Zealand’s general manager of brand and marketing, said.</p> <p>“Previously these had been mostly purchased by corporate customers, but we’ve developed the packages further to appeal to leisure travellers.”</p> <p>Customers are allowed to “nominate one place they would prefer not to go”, but apart from that, the destination is completely anonymous until two days before departure.</p> <p>The Great Mystery Break starts at $563 and offers three or four-star hotel accommodation, with breakfast and airport transfers included.</p> <p>The Deluxe package starts at $656 allows you to stay at four or four and a half star hotels with breakfast and the use of a rental car for your stay.</p> <p>Finally, the Luxury package starts at $1,530 and includes five-star accommodation, breakfast and dinner included as well as the use of a luxury Avis rental car included in your price.</p> <p>“(The Mystery Breaks) are also a great gift option because you don’t need a name or a date to buy a voucher – the recipient can decide at a later date,” Mr O’Brien said.</p> <p>New Zealand residents are currently not allowed to travel internationally, with the exception of NSW, the Northern Territory, South Australia and as of today, Tasmania.</p> <p>This is part of the first stage of quarantine free travel between Australia and New Zealand.</p> <p>The travel bubble, which went into effect on October 16th, is a step towards reopening job opportunities and tourism between the two countries.</p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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Coronavirus reinfection cases: what we know so far – and the vital missing clues

<p>To date, there have been six published cases of COVID-19 reinfection, with various other unverified accounts from around the world. Although this is a comparably small fraction of the millions of people known to have been infected, should we be concerned? To unpick this puzzle, we must first consider what we mean by immunity.</p> <p><strong>How immunity works</strong><br />When we are infected with any pathogen, our immune system quickly responds to try to contain the threat and minimise any damage. Our first line of defence is from immune cells, known as innate cells. These cells are not usually enough to eliminate a threat, which is where having a more flexible “adaptive” immune response comes into play – our lymphocytes.</p> <p>Lymphocytes come in two main varieties: B lymphocytes, which make antibodies, and T lymphocytes, which include cells that directly kill the germy invaders.</p> <p>As antibodies are readily measured in blood, they are often used to indicate a good adaptive immune response. However, over time, antibodies levels in our blood wane, but this doesn’t necessarily mean protection is lost. We retain some lymphocytes that know how to deal with the threat – our memory cells. Memory cells are remarkably long-lived, patrolling our body, ready to spring into action when needed.</p> <p>Vaccines work by creating memory cells without the risk of a potentially fatal infection. In an ideal world, it would be relatively easy to create immunity, but it’s not always that straightforward.</p> <p>Although our immune system has evolved to deal with a huge variety of pathogens, these germs have also evolved to hide from the immune system. This arms race means that some pathogens such as malaria or HIV are very tricky to deal with.</p> <p>Infections that have spilled over from animals - zoonotic diseases - are also challenging for our immune system because they can be completely novel. The virus that causes COVID-19 is such a zoonotic disease, originating in bats.</p> <p>COVID-19 is caused by a betacoronavirus. Several betacoronaviruses are already common in the human population – most familiar as a cause of the common cold. Immunity to these cold-causing viruses isn’t that robust but immunity to the more serious conditions, Mers and Sars, is more durable.</p> <p>Data to date on COVID-19 shows that antibodies can be detected three months after infection, although, as with Sars and Mers, antibodies gradually decrease over time.</p> <p>Of course, antibody levels are not the only indication of immunity and don’t tell us about T lymphocytes or our memory cells. The virus causing COVID-19 is structurally similar to Sars, so perhaps we can be more optimistic about a more durable protective response – time will tell. So how worried then should we be about reports of reinfection with COVID-19?</p> <p><strong>How worried should we be?</strong><br />The handful of case reports on reinfection with COVID-19 don’t necessarily mean that immunity is not occurring. Issues with testing could account for some reports because “virus” can be detected after infection and recovery. The tests look for viral RNA (the virus’s genetic material), and viral RNA that cannot cause infection can be shed from the body even after the person has recovered.</p> <p>Conversely, false-negative results happen when the sample used in testing contains insufficient viral material to be detected – for example, because the virus is at a very low level in the body. Such apparent negative results may account for cases in which the interval between the first and second infection is short. It is hugely important, therefore, to use additional measures, such as viral sequencing and immune indicators.</p> <p>Reinfection, even in immunity, can happen, but usually this would be mild or asymptomatic because the immune response protects against the worst effects. Consistent with this is that most verified cases of reinfection reported either no or mild symptoms. However, one of the latest verified cases of reinfection – which happened just 48 days after the initial infection – actually had a more severe response to reinfection.</p> <p>What might account for the worse symptoms the second time round? One possibility is the patient did not mount a robust adaptive immune response first time round and that their initial infection was largely contained by the innate immune response (the first line of defence). One way to monitor this would be to assess the antibody response as the type of antibody detected can tell us something about the timing of infection. But unfortunately, antibody results were not analysed in the recent patient’s first infection.</p> <p>Another explanation is that different viral strains caused the infections with a subsequent impact on immunity. Genetic sequencing did show differences in viral strains, but it isn’t known if this equated to altered immune recognition. Many viruses share structural features, enabling immune responses to one virus to protect against a similar virus. This has been suggested to account for the lack of symptoms in young children who frequently get colds caused by betacoronaviruses.</p> <p>However, a recent study, yet to be peer-reviewed, found that protection against cold-causing coronaviruses did not protect against COVID-19. In fact, antibodies recognising similar viruses can be dangerous – accounting for the rare phenomenon of antibody-dependent enhancement of disease (ADE). ADE occurs when antibodies enhance viral infection of cells with potentially life-threatening consequences.</p> <p>It should be emphasised, though, that antibodies are only one indicator of immunity and we have no data on either T lymphocytes or memory cells in these cases. What these cases emphasise is a need to standardised approaches in order to capture the critical information for robust evaluation of the threat of reinfection.</p> <p>We are still learning about the immune response to COVID-19, and every piece of new data is helping us unpick the puzzle of this challenging virus. Our immune system is a powerful ally in the fight against infection, and only by unlocking it can we ultimately hope to defeat COVID-19.</p> <p><em>Written by Sheena Cruickshank. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-reinfection-cases-what-we-know-so-far-and-the-vital-missing-clues-147960">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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17 things you didn’t know about Prince George

<p><strong>He missed out on a royal birthday tradition this year</strong><br />Like many youngsters in 2020, Prince George had a low-key birthday during the coronavirus pandemic. And there’s one royal honour he didn’t receiving this year: the tradition of the ringing of the bells at London’s Westminster Abbey was a no-go, as the Abbey was closed until August. But the young prince might not even have noticed, as he’s currently spending time with his family away from London at their country estate, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk. His mum, Duchess Catherine, revealed in a podcast that the family enjoys the “simple things” like being “outside in the countryside and we’re all filthy dirty.” A recent pic taken by the Duchess is proof, showing Prince George and his siblings, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte, roughhousing in the grass with their dad, Prince William.</p> <p><strong>He has sibling rivalry with Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte</strong><br />As with any family, there are squabbles between Prince George and his younger siblings. Duchess Kate recently revealed at a gardening event that the siblings are having a sunflower-growing competition – and Prince George hasn’t exactly been happy with the results. “The children are really enjoying growing their sunflowers – Louis’s is winning so George is a little grumpy about that!” she said. And in typical older-brother fashion, he has also wanted to take over his sister’s school assignments. “George gets very upset because he just wants to do all of Charlotte’s projects,” Duchess Kate told ITV. “Spider sandwiches are far cooler than literacy work!” We’re not sure what spider sandwiches entail, although they do sound enticing for a little boy.</p> <p><strong>He volunteers</strong><br />Duchess Catherine and Prince William strive to teach the future king of England about the importance of giving back to those in need. Not even a spring rainstorm could stop Prince George and his family from delivering homemade pasta to the elderly and vulnerable near their Norfolk home, in a photo released for Britain’s Volunteers Week in early June. The young prince had even helped prepare the packages himself, along with his siblings. “They got drenched as it was pouring with the rain but I think they just wanted to do their bit,” one onlooker told The Daily Mail.</p> <p><strong>He’s a normal schoolboy</strong><br />At the school Prince George attends, Thomas’s Battersea in London, the young prince is just like any other student, which is exactly how his parents want it – Prince William and Duchess Catherine haven’t even told Prince George yet he’ll be king one day. “George is really happy at school, [and] his nickname is P.G.,” a classmate’s parent told Vanity Fair. “He’s very popular and has lots of friends, and there’s very little fuss made about who he is,” the parent said. “Either William or Kate do drop-off, and they are always very friendly.” Prince George’s little sister, Princess Charlotte, joined him at the school last year.</p> <p><strong>He loves the British cartoon Fireman Sam</strong><br />Although Prince George is not allowed to have an iPad, he still gets in screen time while he watches his favourite show, Fireman Sam, as his parents revealed in a BBC radio interview. “Fireman Sam is taking an awful lot of interest,” Prince William said, noting that he has to watch along with his son. “You have to pretend you’re really into [his shows] because George gets very upset if you’re not showing due diligence to the characters.” The creators of Fireman Sam even gave a nod to the young prince in their 30th-anniversary episode, “The Prince of Pontypandy,” in which an unnamed royal family makes an appearance.</p> <p><strong>He’s started wearing long pants</strong><br />Royal watchers know that following tradition, Prince George had always appeared in public in shorts, even in winter. But the youngster is growing up and has begun breaking this protocol. His first public appearance in long pants was at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Last December’s Christmas card also featured the young prince in laid-back jeans, described by one British newspaper as a ‘royal shock’. Then again, Prince William and Kate’s Christmas cards are always fantastic, regardless of what the young prince is wearing.</p> <p><strong>His sister wears his hand-me-downs</strong><br />Like any good big brother, Prince George has passed on his clothes to his little sister, Princess Charlotte. In that same Christmas card, Princess Charlotte is wearing a sweater Prince George wore in a 2016 photo with his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Charlotte also wore the same hand-me-down sweater in a photo with their newest sibling, Prince Louis, following his birth in 2018. And this spring, Princess Charlotte was spotted wearing the exact same sneakers Prince George wore the year before, both without socks, no less – although whether she inherited his stinky shoes or is simply wearing a new pair of the same style has not been revealed.</p> <p><strong>He can be ‘naughty’</strong><br />As a toddler, Prince George was something of a handful – so much so that his parents decided to leave him at home when they went on a 2016 trip to India. When asked why the young prince was not with them, Duchess Catherine reportedly replied, “Because George is too naughty. He would be running all over the place.” Maybe now that he’s older, he can accompany them on their next trip there. “The next time we come we will definitely bring them,” the Duchess said.</p> <p><strong>He has seven godparents</strong><br />There are some ways Prince George is just like any other ‘normal’ boy – and some ways his Royal life is very, very different. For example, at his christening, he received not one, not two, but seven godparents to assist, counsel, and support him in his very important royal role. According to the Prince’s official royal biography, they are: Mr Oliver Baker, Mrs David Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Mr Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, The Hon. Mrs Michael Samuel, Mrs Michael Tindall, and Mr William van Cutsem. Just who are these people? They range from childhood and college friends of Prince William and Duchess Catherine to family and other members of the aristocracy. No Royals, though, made the cut, possibly so that the young prince will have others to turn to outside ‘the firm’ as he grows up.</p> <p><strong>He loves dancing, like his late grandmother</strong><br />Prince George’s grandmother, the late Princess Diana, was known for her dancing, such as when she took to the floor with John Travolta at the White House. And the grandson she never got to meet has apparently inherited her skills. “George is doing dancing as well, he loves it,” Prince William shared. “My mother always used to dance, she loved dancing.” Prince George’s school, Thomas’s Battersea, includes ballet class for young students, so he can enhance his natural talent.</p> <p><strong>He tailgates</strong><br />At a polo match last year, with his siblings and new cousin, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince George looked like any boy having a fun outing. (Even though Harry and Meghan’s baby is being raised differently form the Cambridge children). While his dad and uncle, Prince Harry, played, Prince George decided he’d rather kick around a soccer ball than watch the game. At one point, his mother, Duchess Catherine, had to take away a polo mallet he was dangerously wielding near Princess Charlotte. Then, he and his sister had an impromptu tailgate, complete with snacks out of the cooler. They hopped up into the back of their SUV as their mum and brother, Prince Louis, lounged on the grass below.</p> <p><strong>He’s a picture-posing pro</strong><br />From a young age, Prince George was a natural in front of the camera. According to a photographer who took his picture for a special postage stamp when the Prince was only two years old, “he was absolutely charming, as you can see from the picture. You only have a short window of opportunity with small children, but Prince George was on good form and everyone seemed to enjoy seeing him enjoy the day.” Duchess Catherine, an avid photographer herself, also recently revealed her son loves having his picture taken. “Get outside with your camera as well – George and Charlotte love it when we do that,” she advised budding photographers at an event.</p> <p><strong>He goes on spider hunts</strong><br />Speaking of getting outside, Prince George loves being in nature, as his mother recently opened up about during a visit to a ‘forest school’. According to the head of the school, the Duchess “said she often takes her children on spider hunts in their garden, which they love. They can spend hours out there.” At another garden visit, Duchess Catherine talked about how much her children love to learn by exploring the outdoors. “That’s where George and Charlotte would love to be is learning outside of the classroom, not inside,” she said. And Prince George’s grandfather, Prince Charles, has said the youngster is “one of those characters who naturally, instinctively likes to be outside.”<br /><br /><strong>He helped design his mum’s garden</strong><br />With his love of nature, it’s not surprising Prince George actually helped Duchess Catherine design her woodland-themed, play-and-learn garden for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) this year. “We made the stepping stones because Prince George wanted them,” the landscaper the Duchess worked with told Hello!. “The kids loved jumping across [the stream].” Plus, the official Kensington Palace Instagram revealed, “over the past months, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis have helped the Duchess gather moss, leaves, and twigs to help decorate the RHS Back to Nature Garden. Hazel sticks collected by the family were also used to make the garden’s den.” The Duchess said her kids “played [in the garden] last night in a way I hadn’t imagined. They were throwing stones. I hadn’t actually thought that that was what they would be doing. They kicked their shoes off, and wanted to paddle in the stream…using it in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.”</p> <p><strong>He makes pizza dough</strong><br />What kid doesn’t like pizza? Prince George is no exception and even likes making his own personal pies. At a community centre lunch, Duchess Catherine said, “I’ve done that with George and Charlotte, making pizza dough. They love it because they can get their hands messy.” At a recent event where she actually made pizzas with children, Kate said of her own kids, “they would love to come and do this with you. They’ll be very sad that I’ve been out here making pizzas with all you and they haven’t been!” The budding chef also likes to make cookies, although the Duchess has said, “when I try to do this with George at home, chocolate and the golden syrup goes everywhere. He makes so much mess. It’s chaos.” So relatable!</p> <p><strong>He plays tennis – with Roger Federer</strong><br />Another of the sporty Prince’s interests is playing tennis – but not too many seven-year-olds get to take lessons from one of its top stars. At Wimbledon, Duchess Catherine said that Prince George has actually played with his favourite player, Roger Federer, according to the tournament’s Wimbledon Morning Coffee. And as reported in The Daily Star, Federer is also a fan of Prince George, “He’s a cute boy. I love to see they’re into tennis or into sport,” noting that George has “a good swing.” The tennis champ also said about being the Prince’s favourite, “I think I have a little advantage that I actually spent some time with him, so maybe I’m the only player he’s ever met. Then you have a little head start into who is your favourite player!”</p> <p><strong>He gets totally bored at formal events</strong><br />The future king may lead an extraordinary life, but he sure exhibits some pretty ordinary – if adorable – kid behaviour. At last year’s Trooping the Colour, which celebrates the Queen’s birthday, his priceless expressions, including a scrunched-up nose and facepalm, were just like any other bored little boy at a grownup event. Never mind the Royal Air Force fly-by: George is totally over it. This (almost) tops when his cousin, Savannah Phillips, shushed the giggling Prince and even covered his mouth. Whether smiling or scowling, Prince George steals the show!</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Tina Donvito. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/17-things-you-didnt-know-about-prince-george?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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20 of the most surreal natural phenomena – explained

<p><strong>Behold</strong><br />I don’t know about you, but being cooped up in the house has made me yearn for the majesty of nature like I’ve never quite yearned in the past. Sure, prior to quarantine I might’ve gone weeks without seeing moss and not thought twice about it, but now that I cannot venture out of my home to see salt flats or rainbow eucalyptus trees, I am simply beside myself. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use this time to educate myself about them – I dare you to try to stop me from marvelling at Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland and other natural phenomena. Take a look at some of nature’s most dream-like creations, and maybe they’ll earn a spot at the top of your bucket list.</p> <p><strong>Moonbows</strong><br />Much like rainbows, these colourful nocturnal arches occur when light (from the moon, in this case) reflects and refracts off water droplets in the sky. But moonbows are much more rare than rainbows – the natural phenomenon happens only when the moon is very low, the sky is dark, and rain is falling opposite the moon.</p> <p><strong>Sun halos</strong><br />Similar to moonbows, sun halos, or a circle rainbow, form much higher in the sky when light reflects through ice crystals forming a perfect circle. They appear as a large circle of white or coloured light around the sun.</p> <p><strong>Brinicles</strong><br />What Alec Baldwin describes on Frozen Planet as “icy fingers of death,” brinicles are underwater stalactites, or hollow icicles, that form when cold salt water freezes. In the right conditions, brinicles can reach and pool on the ocean floor, eventually freezing slow-moving bottom-dwelling creatures like starfish.</p> <p><strong>Shooting stars</strong><br />Shooting stars are actually meteors, or small rocks that have entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The light you see is the particles heating up and burning. Stargazers can expect to see a shooting star every ten to 15 minutes.</p> <p><strong>Sinkholes</strong><br />A perfect example of how a natural phenomenon can be dangerous is the Florida man who was swallowed by a sinkhole under his bedroom. Sinkholes most commonly occur when water, made acidic by contact with plants or carbon dioxide in the air, erodes soft rock such as limestone, gypsum or dolomite underground, forming a deep cavern.</p> <p><strong>Whirlpools</strong><br />Formed at the meeting of opposing currents, whirlpools are often much more ominous in fiction than in real life. The most powerful whirlpools, called maelstroms, are formed in narrow, shallow straits with fast flowing water, or at the base of waterfalls, but the speed of the swirl rarely exceeds 30km/ph.</p> <p><strong>Glowing beaches</strong><br />Some beaches around the world glow at night. This natural phenomenon is caused by phytoplankton in the water that gives off light when agitated by the movement of waves and currents. These microorganisms can be seen at beaches in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and many more around the world. The image above is a long exposure shot of a blue fluorescent wave of bioluminescent plankton in Thailand.</p> <p><strong>Light pillars</strong><br />Light pillars are colourful beams of light that shine down from the sky, typically during sunrise. They are sometimes also referred to as solar pillars or sun pillars. Light pillars occur in colder climates when light reflects off ice crystals in the air.</p> <p><strong>Waterspouts</strong><br />Some might mistake a waterspout for a tornado moving over a body of water, but in reality, a waterspout is a type of cloud. Waterspouts are rotating columns of air over water and are much weaker than tornados. They mainly occur in tropical and subtropical climates.</p> <p><strong>Volcanic lightning</strong><br />Thunderstorm lightning has nothing on volcanic lightning which appears during a volcano explosion. This lightning forms in the volcanic plume – the cylinder-shaped column of volcanic ash – after it erupts, according to National Geographic. The particles that make up the plume compress underground. Once these particles eject above ground the density changes. Plus, the friction between particles charges them. They separate as they go up, creating space for electricity or lightning to flow between particles, per National Geographic.</p> <p><strong>Blood falls</strong><br />In Antarctica, the famous Blood Falls – a blood-red waterfall pouring out of the Taylor Glacier, are found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Scientists and geologists first thought that the water was the colour red because of algae, according to Atlas Obscura. Research by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, however, found the red colour is thanks to oxidised iron in the brine saltwater. We see the falls thanks to a fissure allowing the water to flow from the small, trapped body.</p> <p><strong>Frozen lake bubbles</strong><br />Lake Abraham in Alberta, Canada, features some beautiful frozen, trapped, bubbles of methane. Methane bubbles form in water when bacteria feasts on leaves and animals in the water. The bacteria eat the matter and ‘poops’ out methane, which turn into floating bubbles in frozen water, according to Smithsonian Magazine.</p> <p><strong>Salt flats</strong><br />There are some well-known and beautiful salt flats, also known as salt lakes in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria. No matter their location, salt flats are all thanks to the evaporation of water and the concentration and precipitation of salts and other minerals dissolved in it, according to the New York Times. They can differ in their water source which could be a lake, groundwater, or one of many other water sources.</p> <p><strong>Glow-worm caves</strong><br />Even worms, although small and slimy, are a natural phenomenon – especially glow-worms and their caves. Most of these caves are in New Zealand and Australia. The Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are the most well-known, having formed more than 30 million years ago. The science behind the glow-worm caves is interesting. In fact, they technically aren’t ‘glowing worms’ at all. According to the New York Times, fungus gnat eggs hatch, their larva constructing mucus. That mucus coughs up silk strings collecting droplets of more mucus. This is the net that illuminates and attracts flies or other victims for the worms.</p> <p><strong>Rainbow eucalyptus trees</strong><br />Rainbow eucalyptus or rainbow gum trees hails from the Philippines and Indonesia. The colourful tree stripes are actually strips of old and new bark. As the thin bark layers peel away, they reveal younger ones with brighter colours. The youngest bark is green then purple, red and brown as the tree ages and loses chlorophyll. Eventually, the bark becomes totally brown again before repeating the shedding cycle, according to nature.com.</p> <p><strong>Travertine terraces</strong><br />Travertine forms as a result of calcium carbonate precipitation from geothermal waters, according to New Zealand’s University of Waikato. The travertine builds up forming terraces over time. When hot water full of carbon dioxide flows through limestone, it dissolves. It carries calcium carbonate to the surface of the travertine, per Atlas Obscura. Still, more research shows there might be other reasons for their formation. Bacteria in the water could catalyse the minerals, forming the terraces, according to Science Magazine.</p> <p><strong>Sandstone waves</strong><br />These sandstone waves were originally dunes in Arizona, USA. Dating back more than 190 million years, the ‘waves’ are made up of intersecting troughs of sandstone turned to rock. According to Atlas Obscura, the dunes form vertically and horizontally, and slow erosion, thanks to wind and rain over time, reveals their wave-like look. Sandstone waves are a must for avid hikers in the American Southwest.</p> <p><strong>Desert roses</strong><br />Desert roses are a special crystal group formed by rain or flooding in desert regions where there are trapped sand particles. Switching between wet and dry conditions forms the crystals while trapping grains of sand. Although most form from gypsum, baryte and celestite roses exist, too.</p> <p><strong>Nacreous clouds</strong><br />Nacreous clouds look like light waves of various colours. They are rare since they’re only visible within two hours after sunset or before dawn. However, they’re more common during winter time in places with high altitudes, like in Antarctica, Scandinavia, Iceland and Canada.</p> <p><strong>Permafrost explosions</strong><br />This natural phenomenon is thanks to frozen, trapped methane, similar to the bubbles seen here in Lake Abraham, Canada. Heating these larger-scale bubbles results in huge bursts, according to Business Insider. The warming temperatures in Arctic zones thaw the ice, releasing the gas and creating permafrost explosions.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Beth Dreher. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/20-of-the-most-surreal-natural-phenomena-explained?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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