Saturday snippets: August 22nd 2015

By | Category: Travel news
the  Talyllyn_Railway

the Talyllyn Railway

Fancy driving a steam train? Particularly if it only costs you a tenner? Over the August Bank Holiday Weekend Talyllyn Railway will be steaming through the night as well as going back to the 1950s as part of Heart of Gold gala for the ongoing 150th anniversary celebrations and during that celebration, wannabe engine drivers can ma £10 and drive a steam engine at Tywyn Wharf Station. As well as that, on Saturday evening the railway is going to continue running right through Saturday night into Sunday. Trains will be departing from Tywyn Wharf at five minutes to the hour between 6.55 pm and 5.55 am in the morning. On the Sunday, the clocks turn back to the 1950s, with highlights including a re-enactment of the specially decorated Coronation train run by the railway in 1953.  The ‘50s theme will continue on the Monday with further special trains which recall the days of the early preservation pioneers. For those who don’t know, Talyllyn Railway is a narrow gauge railway opened for goods traffic in 1865 and shortly after for passenger services. In 1951 the line was taken over by the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society and became the world’s first preserved railway.

Taking advantage of a bit of Christmas shopping at the Mall of America near Minneapolis St Paul International Airport, shoppers can have a rest from shopping by trying the latest ride there. Shredder’s Mutant Masher is the newest thrill ride to open in the Nickelodeon Universe®. The 5,000-square-foot interactive attraction will send riders through a mutation experience during a daring thrill ride experience. Riders will begin by stepping into a mad-scientist-like lab, passing props like hazardous material containers and the remnants of past mutant experiments, immersing riders in the Shredder narrative. Riders will swing and spin more than 50 feet in the air, with the ride functioning as a giant pendulum.

Hats off to Banksy. Taking the mickey out of theme parks with Dismaland in the type face of Disneyland is a piece of inspired genius. That he has done it in a seaside resort – that haven of uninterested workers – makes the inspiration doubly so. I just wish I could show some of the images but you will see them in TV and YouTube. Hundreds of thousands of people, including me, are expected to travel to Weston-super-Mare to see this artistic bit of fun which also has comment on modern life such as the boat people as well as theme park mockery. It is located on the old lido (what better choice?) and opens today but closes on December 27th. Banksy has persuaded some pals like Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Julie Burchill, and Jimmy Cauty to add to the fun by contributing some of their works as well. Even the website is playing up and I can’t access it probably though this is due to the number of hits it is receiving. By the way, if you work for Disney, you are barred so don’t say so; just go, enjoy it and remind yourselves just how awful these places used to, and still can, be.

There are a number of countries that are bringing their culture to the UK. As usual it is generally to London that they come but for those interested and who can get into London – avoiding tube strikes so check first with Transport for London about when the problems will be – there is a lot of entertainment on. Lesya Ukrainka Theater, Kiev’s National Academic Theatre of Russian Drama, brings a festival of events celebrating Ukrainian culture to the St James Theatre from the 8th-19th of September. The festival, comprises four plays, (dubbed into English,)  two free film screenings and a photography exhibition.

the islands of Vietnam

the islands of Vietnam

The other country to flaunt its wares is Vietnam. On the weekend of 12 – 13 September 2015, a free festival at Potters Fields Park on London’s Southbank will see a celebration of Vietnamese culture, cuisine and crafts. After a dazzling opening ceremony featuring dance performances, traditional and contemporary music and an Áo dài fashion show, visitors can take a ‘virtual’ tour of the country in a 3D Cube Space to watching a traditional water puppet theatre show. Exhibitions of fine traditional lacquer and oil painting by famous Vietnamese artists will be complimented by arts and crafts stalls while dance fans can even try their hand at Vietnam’s answer to Morris dancing – nhảy sạp, a traditional Vietnamese folk dance using bamboo sticks!

Tunisia looks as though it will far fewer winter holidaymakers from Europe than they would have hoped. Thomas Cook has cancelled holidays to Tunisia until mid-February, after which it will resume its service offering three flights a week. That isn’t just flights from the UK. Five other countries are affected as well but not Germany. Doesn’t the company think it a bit strange to alter bookings from the UK but still to sell in Germany? The operator said customers due to travel up to February 13 will be able to cancel or amend their bookings free of charge. Package holiday customers who wish to switch to another winter sun destination will be offered a £50 voucher to re-book their holiday, as long as their holiday is on a charter flight. If you want to re-book for a summer 2015 or summer 2016 holiday will also be offered a free swap. Flights and its holiday programme to Tunisia from February 14 – St Valentine’s Day although I am sure there is no connection.

the BA sculpture

the BA sculpture

As a gimmick to publicise its latest promotion, British Airways has created what is believed to be the world’s biggest piece of money art, using a combination of ten, five, two and one penny coins. Six hundred thousand coins were delivered from a London bank vault to the airline’s Heathrow engineering base this week, and a small team created a giant mural on an aircraft hangar floor depicting the Statue of Liberty in New York, which is British Airways’ flagship Atlantic route The artwork measured 10 metres by eight metres, took seven members of the British Airways team six hours to create, as they laid the coins out by hand. The money, which weighed in at a whopping (2,725kg), was delivered by a high security vehicle from London bank vaults, complete with two bodyguards. I’m glasd I wasn’t the bank teller that had to weight count all that money out!

What an acrimonious week in the life of airports in the south east of England. Firstly, Gatwick gets hauled over the coals for misleading advertising, then it issues a 50 page criticism of the findings of the Commission charged with a advising the government and now the chairman of that commission, Sir Howard Davies, has responded to Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s CEO. Davies says,– “Using colourful language, as Mr Wingate has done, does not turn weak points into strong ones, and does him and his company no credit.” And you thought politics was a dirty business!

Was it really necessary for a man to be tasered by police on an easyJet plane at Gatwick after he reportedly tried to take two pieces of luggage on board and then refused to hand over his “man bag?” It happened on a flight to Belfast on Thursday and seems heavy handed especially since a couple of coppers (not known to be small of stature) could usually be expected to persuade an unwilling person to obey them. After this, passengers might be a little more willing to take just one bag!


HMS M.33

The last remaining surviving ship from World War I’s Gallipoli campaign has properly opened to the public. It has been in dry dock in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for years awaiting restoration work but now HMS M.33 is another reason to visit the dockyard. You enter the ship from the dry dock which itself goes back to 1801 a time when Nelson, Hood and Collingwood were the heroes of the British fleet. The layout of the ship and history of the Gallipoli campaign are displayed on the lower deck whilst the engine room has its engines removed to make way for a viewing area where there is a ten-minute audio-visual of the M33.

For a final thought, Alice Springs Airport in the middle of Australia is planning to expand its solar energy intake next month which will increase the airport’s energy production capacity by approximately 40%. It currently receives more than half of its power needs from existing solar energy stations on site and, now, it will have a system large enough to power 280 homes for a year. You would have thought that with the sunshine the Alice gets it could run all its airport on solar power. Now as for our airports, how about powering them from the hot air coming from politicians mouths as they fret over what to do about expansion in the south east of England?



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