International Travel

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How coronavirus self-isolation fatigue may lead to more beach drownings this summer

<p>The easing of physical distancing restrictions can’t come soon enough for those tired of self-isolation, and for many the beach represents a welcome therapy after an extended time indoors and alone.</p> <p>In Australia, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-26/coronavirus-crowds-sydney-beaches-again-despite-covid-19-risks/12185926">popular beaches in Sydney</a>, including the iconic Bondi Beach, were completely closed to public access during the government-imposed lockdown period. When they reopened under restricted conditions in late April (fall in the southern hemisphere), the unexpectedly large crowds led authorities to close them again.</p> <p>More recently, crowded beaches in the <a href="https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-premier-shocked-by-packed-toronto-beaches-warns-covid-19-fight-is-not-over-1.4995033">Great Lakes</a>, <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/coronavirus-comes-spring-break-locals-close-florida-beaches-after-governor-n1163741">Florida</a>, <a href="https://www.khou.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/galveston-beaches-see-uptick-in-crowds-as-city-takes-additional-measures-to-protect-visitors-from-covid-19/285-6bc76e6b-a076-40ac-8a22-a714e8ba0dfc">Texas</a>, <a href="https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-26/crowds-masks-venice-beach-memorial-day-weekend">California</a> and the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/brits-flock-to-the-beach-amid-medics-warning-of-second-wave-20200625-p555y7.html">United Kingdom</a> show that people are eager to find their spot on the sand.</p> <p>While going to the beach to bathe or swim is seen as an enjoyable recreational experience, aside from social distancing concerns, beaches can be dangerous environments and it is <a href="http://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-19-389-2019">not uncommon for drownings</a> to occur. Unfortunately, there are several COVID-19-related factors that have the potential to significantly increase the number of beach drownings and rescues.</p> <p><strong>Beach hazards in a time of COVID-19</strong></p> <p>First, many of those people seeking out beaches may be infrequent beachgoers, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2014.10.011">unfamiliar with beach hazards, such as rip currents, and safety practices</a>, including strategies on how to react when caught in a rip current as recommended by the <a href="http://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-17-1003-2017">Break the Grip of the Rip campaign</a> in the United States.</p> <p>Second, summer travel plans have been altered for many, meaning local and non-holiday beaches — many of which are not patrolled by lifeguards — may see larger crowds and could put <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212349">bystanders who attempt rescues</a> at greater risk.</p> <p>Third, and most important, in normal years, lifeguard services would intervene to ensure that people don’t put themselves into dangerous situations. This year is different.</p> <p>Several jurisdictions from the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-52038489">U.K.</a> and the <a href="https://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/20200608/covid-furloughs-meant-no-warning-flags-on-holland-beach-as-two-boys-drowned">Great Lakes</a> have cancelled their lifesaving programs due to COVID-19-related budget and health concern restraints.</p> <p>Coronavirus-related staff cuts and furloughs prevented Holland State Park in Michigan from setting up the flags to warn swimmers of the daily hazard along that section of Lake Michigan. The <a href="https://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/2020/06/double-drowning-tragedy-underscores-danger-of-great-lakes.html">lack of warning flags and lifeguards has already been blamed for the drownings</a> of a six-year-old and a 17-year-old on June 6. This is just but one example of how cutting funding to beach safety programs could cost lives.</p> <p><strong>Masking the truth about the surf hazard</strong></p> <p>There are interesting parallels between drowning prevention and efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve.</p> <p>Many people do not wear a mask in public despite evidence that masks reduce the <a href="https://today.tamu.edu/2020/06/12/texas-am-study-face-masks-critical-in-preventing-spread-of-covid-19/">potential for COVID-19 transmission</a>. For example, if you have gone grocery shopping and avoided infection, you may become complacent and feel that masks and hand-washing are unnecessary. Or you may bend to peer pressure if you meet up with friends who are not wearing masks or social distancing.</p> <p>These same behaviours come into play with drownings. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-018-3424-7">Evidence suggests</a> that if you didn’t drown on your last visit to the beach, you’ll be confident that you won’t drown on your next visit — despite changing waves, tides and other conditions.</p> <p>Or if you are with a group of friends who are better swimmers, there is a greater chance that you will venture into deeper water to avoid the social cost of staying close to shore. You may also mirror the risky behaviours of other beachgoers.</p> <p><strong>Ignoring the warning signs</strong></p> <p>The time and financial investment made in travelling to the beach after being limited by stay-at-home orders for weeks and months means that more people may enter the water, even if the conditions aren’t ideal.</p> <p>Beach users escaping self-isolation at home may be tired of warnings and further restrictions on the beach and may ignore them, particularly if they believe that lifeguards are being <a href="https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-19-2541-2019">overly cautious</a>. This was the greatest concern expressed at a recent (virtual) conference to celebrate the creation of a legislated lifesaving program in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-015-1626-9">Costa Rica</a>.</p> <p>In the Great Lakes, the problem is made worse by the high-water levels that have <a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/environment/ct-lake-michigan-record-water-levels-20200619-ntztvazvynf7bgbro3cgkp2diy-story.html">limited the amount of beach available</a>. Even where lifeguard services are still provided, the limited beach width means that people will either crowd together on the beach or move away from others, increasing the lifeguard’s patrol area — and the risk that someone will need rescue or will drown.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/famous-sydney-beaches-closed-after-crowds-flout-coronavirus-restrictions">Restricting access to beaches</a> to limit crowds and the <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/15/us/covid-19-second-shutdown/index.html">potential for a second wave of COVID-19 cases</a>, will in turn limit the number of drownings as long as people <a href="https://abc7chicago.com/lake-michigan-chicago-beach-beaches-open/6265505">heed those closures</a>.</p> <p>COVID-19 has created a perfect storm that could make beaches more popular than ever before and raise the risk of drowning. So far, most of the concern has focused on the lack of social distancing and the looming threat of a second COVID-19 wave, but that focus may soon shift to drowning. Are we going to love our beaches to death?<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/141491/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chris-houser-688101">Chris Houser</a>, Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, and Dean of Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-windsor-3044">University of Windsor</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rob-brander-111027">Rob Brander</a>, Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-coronavirus-self-isolation-fatigue-may-lead-to-more-beach-drownings-this-summer-141491">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Queen Elizabeth speaks with US President Donald Trump ahead of Independence Day

<p>Queen Elizabeth has spoken with US President Donald Trump via phone ahead of Independence Day in America.</p> <p>The Queen spoke with Trump on Tuesday by phone from Windsor Castle, where she has remained with Prince Philip since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown in the UK.</p> <p>The call to Trump was “the latest in a series Her Majesty has held with world leaders in recent months, including President [Emmanuel] Macron, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Scott Morrison”, the royal family said on Twitter.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">The telephone call is the latest in a series Her Majesty has held with world leaders in recent months, including President Macron, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.</p> — The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) <a href="https://twitter.com/RoyalFamily/status/1278006235074383872?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 30, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>The two heads of state discussed the coronavirus pandemic and “reopening global economies”, according to White House spokesman Judd Deere.</p> <p>“The President and the Queen also reaffirmed that the United States and United Kingdom stand together in our Special Relationship and will emerge from this trying time stronger than ever before,” Deere said.</p> <p>Deere said Trump also wished the Queen a belated happy 94th birthday, two months after the monarch’s birthday in April.</p> <p>Trump has met with the Queen three times as president. Their last in-person meeting was at a Buckingham Palace reception marking the 70th anniversary of NATO in December 2019.</p> <p>Since Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, she has met with all elected US presidents <a rel="noopener" href="https://people.com/royals/queen-elizabeth-phone-call-president-donald-trump-july-4/" target="_blank">with the exception of Lyndon B Johnson</a>.</p>

International Travel

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The TranzAlpine returns

<p><em>One of the world’s greatest train journeys, the TranzAlpine in New Zealand’s South Island, is to reopen on July 4 after being closed due to Covid-19. A veteran of many train trips overseas, this is Justine Tyerman’s first such journey in her own country.</em></p> <p><span>New Zealand is such a tall, slim-waisted country, you can travel across it in leisurely style and comfort by train in just five hours. The TranzAlpine travels from the garden city of Christchurch and the golden sands of the Pacific Ocean on the East Coast, to the old gold mining town of Greymouth and the black sands of the Tasman Sea on the wild West Coast.</span></p> <p><span>The breath-taking and infinitely-varied TranzAlpine, justifiably known as one of the world’s great train journeys, takes passengers across the fertile, lush, green Canterbury Plains, into the spectacular Waimakariri River gorge, crossing the aqua-turquoise river on vertiginously-high viaducts, and over the magnificent, snowy Southern Alps by way of Arthurs Pass (739m).</span></p> <p><span>The train then descends through the 8.5km Otira Tunnel to the West Coast where the landscape again changes dramatically, skirting beautiful Lake Brunner and meandering along a series of river valleys amid rain forest before emerging at Greymouth on the banks of the mighty Grey River.</span></p> <p><span>Many travellers disembark at Arthurs Pass to explore the multitudinous hiking and climbing trails in the region, rejoining the train to Greymouth, the gateway to the magnificent glaciers and beaches of the West Coast, when they are ready.</span></p> <p><span>A veteran of many train trips overseas, this was my first such journey in New Zealand and as one of the few Kiwis onboard, I felt inordinately proud of my own land. My Kiwi heart soared when I heard a group of Australians saying they had never experienced such a ‘bonzer’ train trip.</span></p> <p><span>If you are short of time, you can travel from Christchurch to Greymouth and back in a day, departing at 8.15am and arriving back at 6.30pm.</span></p> <p><em>Book your trip on the TranzAlpine through international rail specialists, <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.railplus.co.nz/new-zealand-by-rail/tranzalpine/prices-book.htm" target="_blank">Rail Europe</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Read a detailed account of Justine’s TranzAlpine trip <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.oversixty.co.nz/travel/domestic-travel/a-day-on-the-tranzalpine" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">here.</a></em></p>

International Travel

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Russell Crowe remembers hilarious prank Nicole Kidman pulled on Jay Leno

<p><span>Nicole Kidman may have pulled off the greatest television prank of all time – and it’s taken years for anyone to realise.</span></p> <p><span>The Australian Oscar-winning actress known for her class and poise once tricked late night talk show host Jay Leno into using a very crude Aussie slang term countless times on his show, as he had no idea what the word meant.</span></p> <p><span>Many were surprised the term was in Kidman’s vocabulary.</span></p> <p><span>Kidman was left giggling after she had convinced the host that “crack a fat” meant something far more innocent that its true meaning (relating to male arousal).</span></p> <p><span>Leno then casually dropped the phrase every chance he got according to the star’s close friend, Russell Crowe.</span></p> <p><span>Speaking to </span><em>Vanity Fair,</em><span> Crowe recalled the hilarious incident which happened a few years ago.</span></p> <p><span>“She said it (‘crack a fat’) and Jay kept repeating it over and over again, and Nicole realised the hole she’d dug herself into,” Crowe explained.</span></p> <p><span>“Jay kept saying things like, ‘We’ll be right back after this break to crack a fat with Nicole Kidman!’ And that sent Nicole into giggles.”</span></p> <p><span>Crowe and Kidman have been close friends for years, after they met in Sydney many years ago. </span></p> <p><span>Crowe apparently did a “shoey” (the act of drinking an alcoholic beverage out of someone's shoe) at a party that Kidman had thrown.</span></p> <p><span>“It was at a house party that I threw in Darlinghurst with my then-boyfriend,” Kidman, 53, told </span><em>News Corp</em><span> in 2018 of meeting Crowe.</span></p> <p><span>She went on to say their friendship blossomed when they both began working in the US.</span></p> <p><span>“I have an enormous amount of love and affection for him because we have been friends literally our whole life. It’s an admirable thing when you forge your way through, decade after decade.”</span></p>

International Travel

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“Don’t touch the bag”: Former Obama staff member reprimanded by Queen’s aid

<p>Barack Obama’s former Chief of Protocol has revealed the extreme lengths Queen’s staff go to in order to protect her privacy.</p> <p>Capricia Penavic Marshall worked for former President Obama from 2009 to 2013 and her role meant she advised him on all matters of national and international diplomatic protocol.</p> <p>She also recalled to <strong><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://people.com/politics/capricia-penavic-marshall-new-book-remembers-trying-take-queen-elizabeth-purse/" target="_blank">People</a> </em></strong>the embarrassing moment she was scolded for trying to help the royal with her purse during an official visit to Buckingham Palace in 2011. </p> <p>After stepping forward to assist the Queen with her bag so that she could greet the Obamas without it, Marshall, 56, says her British counterpart quickly pushed her back and told her simply: “We do not touch the bag.”</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7836673/queen.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/79d44520f5384eb18817bb6ddbc449b6" /></p> <p><em>Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth. </em></p> <p>“As Her Majesty walked out, I made a comment to my counterpart. I said, ‘Oh, my goodness, Her Majesty has her bag.’ And I made an ever so slight move with my left foot,” she recalled. </p> <p>“He, with both of his hands, pushed me back against the wall and said, ‘Do not touch the bag,’ and I said, ‘Oh, my goodness. I'm so sorry.’” </p> <p>The unnamed royal staffer reiterated his point again, saying no one was to ever touch the Queen’s bag.</p> <p>“He goes, ‘We do not touch the bag.’ And I said, ‘Okay, I apologize. I would never. But do we know what's in the bag?’ And he said, ‘We don't know what's in the bag. But we never touch the bag,'” she revealed. </p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7836672/queen-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/fb25d221d26e4870a22bd919086447da" /></p> <p><em>Capricia Penavic Marshall</em></p> <p>In Marshall’s new book, <em>Protocol: The Power of Diplomacy and How to Make It Work for You</em>, she said she actually learned Her Majesty actually uses her bag as a means of signalling to her staff.</p> <p>“If it's on one part of her arm, it means the meeting is going fine, leave me alone. But if she lowers it, it means, ‘End this now. I want to go,'” Marshall explained.</p> <p>Despite the awkward moment that could have gone terrible wrong, Marshall says the visit was a huge success and noted that the former President Obama and his wife Michelle were “so, so very fond” of the royal.</p>

International Travel

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Michael Schumacher’s former manager reveals F1 driver’s “stupidest decision”

<p><span>When Michael Schumacher retired from Formula 1, he was untouchable as the greatest champion in the sport’s history.</span></p> <p><span>Five straight championships and seven all up, Schumacher was in a league of his own.</span></p> <p><span>In the 250 races he took part in between 198 and 2006, Schumacher had 68 pole positions, 154 podiums and an astounding 91 wins.</span></p> <p><span>Schumacher was breaking records left right and centre – until he signed on to a three-year deal with Mercedes in 2010.</span></p> <p><span>In his last 58 races over three years, Schumacher claimed just one podium, finishing third behind Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso at the 2012 European Grand Prix, where he was the oldest driver to make a podium since Jack Brabham at the 1970 Grand Prix at the age of 43.</span></p> <p><span>While the end of his career left some of his records under pressure from a driver such as Hamilton, Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber revealed that he tried to talk Schumacher out of a return in 2010.</span></p> <p><span>“Let’s say, this was, even in hindsight, the stupidest thing he could do,” Weber told Motorsport-Total.com.</span></p> <p><span>“He told me he was bored, he had to drive. Then I say, ‘Michael, what do you want? You can only lose. You can’t win anymore. You won everything. You are the best racer in the world. You stand on the highest pedestal that exists. You can only lose now’.</span></p> <p><span>“But, he just didn’t want to hear it.”</span></p> <p><span>Schumacher ended up sticking to his decision and the two ended their professional relationship.</span></p> <p><span>But despite his comeback wasn’t what many expected, he’s still considered one of the greatest drivers of all time. </span></p> <p><span>After sustaining a head injury in 2013 during a skiing accident, Schumacher is now rarely sighted as his family has remained notoriously tight lipped about his condition.</span></p>

International Travel

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12 things you won’t see in hotels anymore

<p>Travel and tourism were among the sectors hardest hit by the stay-at-home measures put in place in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. By some estimates, the industry worldwide is projected to lose $1.2 trillion. With some countries and states relaxing guidelines about which businesses can open, hotels are looking forward to welcoming guests once again, though your next stay may look a bit different than the last time you checked in. “We are living in a new age, with COVID-19 front and centre for our guests and our associates,” Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, the parent company of Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, Sheraton, and more, said in a press release.</p> <p><strong>1. Front desk check-ins</strong></p> <p>The more people you come into contact with, the greater the potential for exchanging germs, so you can expect to see fewer points of contact in hotels. That includes the traditional check-ins at a front desk with a living and breathing hotel employee, where you’re handed a map of the property and other promotional materials. In its place, more and more hotels will be promoting mobile check-ins via smartphones. Mobile check-ins are already available at 3200 Marriott hotels around the world, as well as at select IHG and Hyatt properties. You can expect to see that number climb in the near future. If and when you do a check-in at the front desk, there may be a partition between you and the hotel representative, similar to the ones at banks.</p> <p><strong>2. Key cards</strong></p> <p>You won’t just be checking in with your phone – you’ll be able to use it as your key to open your door. These ‘smart keys’ are already in place at some Disney resorts, Marriotts, IHG hotels, and Hyatt properties via their respective apps.</p> <p><strong>3. Sold out hotels</strong></p> <p>Like restaurants in the post-coronavirus age, hotels will be limiting their capacity for quite some time. The Eden Roc at cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, for example, now caps off its guest occupancy rate at 30 per cent.</p> <p><strong>4. Bulk-size shampoo and conditioner</strong></p> <p>Once you get into your room, you may notice it looks a little different, too, like items that would normally be used by a guest who stays in the room after you will now be removed or replaced. For one, those bulk-size shampoos and conditioners that many hotels swapped over to in an effort to be eco-friendly may be phased out. In its place, you may see those mini shampoo bottles, an amenity that was slowly disappearing from hotels, make a resurgence.</p> <p><strong>5. In-room coffee machines and minibars</strong></p> <p>As hotels aim to reduce the number of ‘high-touch points,’ aka items that guests frequently touch, in-room coffee machines and minibars are likely to be removed from rooms, reports The Points Guy. Besides, minibars were already on their way out.</p> <p><strong>6. Complimentary lobby coffee</strong></p> <p>More bad news for those who need to be perked up before they wake up: that early morning complimentary self-serve coffee station in the lobby will likely no longer be commonplace. It creates an opportunity for too much touching of the same items by different people – the lever on the dispenser as you fill your cup and the handle of the carafe as you pour in the milk, to name a few. The same goes for coolers of water or lemonade where you fill your own cups.</p> <p><strong>7. Free happy hours</strong></p> <p>Kimpton Hotels, in particular, are famous for their nightly happy hours, where guests are encouraged to enjoy a free glass of wine or a cocktail and mingle in the lounge. In the age of social distancing, this type of congregating in hotels’ public spaces won’t be encouraged.</p> <p><strong>8. Buffets</strong></p> <p>Buffets with shared utensils guests use to self-serve are questionably clean on the best of days; now with COVID-19, they are verboten. What you may see instead is a masked and gloved server standing behind the buffet waiting to serve you those scrambled eggs and cut-up fruit.</p> <p><strong>9. Crowded pools</strong></p> <p>The good news is, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there’s no evidence COVID-19 can be spread to others in a pool that is properly maintained. The area around it is another story, which is why hotels may be limiting access to its pools or, as The Palms Turks and Caicos is doing, reducing the number of lounge chairs at its pools and spreading out umbrellas and chairs more on the beach. “I anticipate an increased desire in our pool cabanas, which offer privacy for families or small groups and will keep them guarded from others,” Karen Whitt, vice president of marketing for The Palms, tells <em>Reader’s Digest</em>.</p> <p><strong>10. Paper bills at checkout</strong></p> <p>As hotels aim to reduce interaction between employees and guests, you’ll likely be encouraged to self-checkout online or via the hotel’s app. And that means no more paper bills at checkout for you to review, though copies will be available online and via email.</p> <p><strong>11. Will see: hospital-grade disinfectants</strong></p> <p>While you won’t see the above items, you will see a few new things, including increased cleaning measures. Marriott, for one, reports, ‘In public spaces, the company has added to its already rigorous cleaning protocols, requiring that surfaces are thoroughly treated with hospital-grade disinfectants and that this cleaning is done with increased frequency.’ Those same hospital-grade disinfectants will be used to clean inside guest rooms, as well. Hyatt is working with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) on an accreditation process to ensure its properties are clean and safe.</p> <p><strong>12. Will see: high-tech cleaning measures</strong></p> <p>You can expect to see more germ-zapping robots, like the one at The Westin Houston Medical Center, the first and only hotel in the US that currently has the technology, according to The Points Guy.  The robots zap germs via UV light technology. Marriott is also experimenting with electrostatic spraying technology to rapidly clean guest rooms, lobbies, fitness centres, and more with CDC-recommended disinfectants.</p> <p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.rd.com/advice/travel/things-you-wont-see-in-hotels-anymore/">RD.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Anne L. Fritz</span>. This article first appeared in <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/12-things-you-wont-see-in-hotels-anymore" target="_blank">Reader’s Digest</a>. </em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

International Travel

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Traversing the coastline of the Catlins

<p><em>Justine Tyerman has an encounter with some feisty sea lions in the Catlins.</em></p> <p>The sign said to stay well clear of the sea lions at Cannibal Bay in the Catlins, but the sea lions clearly could not read. We were standing at a safe distance from a cluster of these magnificent creatures, watching them cavorting in the surf. They were engaged in some sort of territorial dispute and were creating a heck of a ruckus. So fascinated were we with their behaviour, we were completely taken by surprise when two more large sea lions suddenly appeared from the sand dunes behind us and came lolloping towards us at great speed.</p> <p>After scaring the living daylights out of us, the pair joined the noisy fray among the other sea lions which had escalated into a full-on battle between two huge bulls with shaggy manes.</p> <p>Cannibal Bay, on the wild south-east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is a favourite habitat of these critically endangered mammals, known in Maori as rapoka. A remote, windswept bay with a huge rock standing sentinel at the northern end and a long curve of sand stretching south, the place-name conjures up all sorts of macabre visions. Long ago, a surveyor found human bones on the beach but there was never any evidence of foul play so one wonders why he leapt to the conclusion that the deceased had been eaten.</p> <p>Earlier in the day, just along the coast at Kaka Point, hubby Chris and I had embarked upon our much-anticipated Catlins adventure, all new territory for us.</p> <p>An information board overlooking the silvery sea and white sands of Molyneux Bay told us we were standing where the Clutha River used to flow to sea until a massive flood in 1878 moved the river mouth to the north.</p> <p>Maori settled here about 900AD living on moa and seal meat, and Captain James Cook sailed by in 1770 but did not make landfall. He named the bay Molyneux after the ship’s master who died on the journey.</p> <p>Whalers and sealers from England and Europe came to hunt in the abundant coastal waters of the southern coast in the early 19th century and European settlers arrived in the mid-1850s to mill timber. The name Catlins was bestowed upon the region in honour of a whaling captain, Edward Catlin, who bought a block of land beside the river from Kāi Tahu chief Hone Tūhawaiki in 1840.</p> <p>Ten minutes down the coast, the headland at Nugget Point looks as though it has thrust itself into the Pacific Ocean with such force that fragments have broken off. Captain Cook decided the rocky outcrops scattered at the tip of the long, deeply-weathered finger looked like gold nuggets — hence the name.</p> <p>A lighthouse, one of the oldest in the country, was built on the promontory at the far end of the point in 1869-70 at the height of the coastal shipping era. The 600-metre walk to the impressive white beacon runs along a narrow ridge allowing breath-taking views of the coastline to the north and south. Vertiginous cliffs rise almost vertically in both directions.</p> <p>Built from locally-quarried stone, the Tokata Lighthouse stands an impressive 9.5 metres high and is 76 metres above the sea.</p> <p>Watching the surge of the waves pummelling the rocks far below, even on a calm day, was a lesson in the awesome power of the sea to shape and fashion the face of Aotearoa. I’d love to return at the height of a storm and witness the winds that force all the trees there to grow horizontal to the land.</p> <p>A hotspot for marine diversity, over 40 species of seabird inhabit or visit the headland, and fur seals and sea lions are a common sight. Orca, southern right whales, humpbacks and dolphins are occasionally spotted off the point... but not that day. We did, however, see fur seal pups frolicking far below in sheltered rock pools.</p> <p>Roaring Bay, just south of Nugget Point, is a breeding ground of the yellow-eyed penguin or hoiho, the world’s rarest penguin. Standing 65cm tall and weighing about 5kg, they are the fourth largest penguin.</p> <p>Hoiho means noise shouter, a name given to them because of their shrill call. We spent a good half hour scouring the seashore from a hide above the beach but there was no sign of the creatures coming ashore. Reading about their life cycle on information boards in the hide, visitors are unlikely to see the penguins in March and April because they are moulting and confined to land until their new feather coats grow. They are not waterproof during the moult so they cannot forage at sea, relying on their fat stores to survive.</p> <p>According to the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, despite efforts to protect this critically endangered species, there are only 225 breeding pairs left on mainland New Zealand, the lowest level since 1990-91. This is indeed sad news.</p> <p>As the light began to fade, we found an excellent overnight camp site called Newhaven Holiday Park at Surat Bay named after the sailing vessel Surat that was wrecked there in 1874.</p> <p>We got there just in time to set up our comfy, cosy double bed in the back of the JUCY campervan and stroll down to the beach with a bubbly and beer to watch a stunning sunset.</p> <p>Our campsite was on beautiful Pounawea Estuary, fed by the Owaka and Catlins rivers, a place rich in birdlife and virgin podocarp forest.</p> <p>It was so mild, we cooked outdoors in our little ‘kitchen’... very convenient, like an upmarket tent on wheels. Far from ‘freezing to death’, as our Wanaka friends had warned us when we left their centrally-heated house early that day — the campervan was so warm, we had to open the windows wide during the night. </p> <p>Young ones camping in tents around us thought it was pretty cool (or crazy?) to see a couple of ‘oldies’ sleeping in the back of a bright purple and green station wagon. It brought back memories of the carefree roadies of our youth.</p> <p><em>To be continued…</em></p> <p><em>See part <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/exploring-our-own-backyard">one</a> and <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/driving-along-central-otago-highway">two</a> of Justine’s road trip.</em></p>

International Travel

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Prince Harry wants to “return” to role after resigning as senior royal

<p>Prince Harry is reportedly interested in returning to a role he had to relinquish after stepping down as a senior member of the British royal family.</p> <p>The Duke of Sussex wanted to return to his role as the Captain General Royal Marines, a former soldier and friend has claimed.</p> <p>“He simply said he misses his role with the Marines and would like one day to return to the appointment,” the unnamed former Invictus Games soldier told <em><a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/prince-harry-misses-role-ceremonial-22128440">The Mirror</a></em>.</p> <p>The conversation took place shortly after lockdown began, the outlet reported.</p> <p>Another military source said Harry’s departure was a “shock” to his colleagues.</p> <p>“Harry was a breath of fresh air, the lads could relate to him and he was a very popular figure who took a keen interest in his job,” the source said.</p> <p>Harry, who took over the ceremonial head role from Prince Philip in December 2017, left the appointment on March 31, his final day as a working member of the royal family.</p> <p>He also lost his positions as Honorary Air Commandant Royal Air Force Honington and Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving, while retaining his rank of Major and honorary ranks of Lieutenant Commander and Squadron Leader.</p> <p>The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new roles would be reviewed in 12 months’ time.</p> <p>The Sussexes’ website stated: “During this 12-month period of review, The Duke’s official military appointments will not be used as they are in the gift of the Sovereign. No new appointments will be made to fill these roles before the 12-month review of the new arrangements is completed.”</p> <p>Harry’s military service began in 2005. He attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for training before being commissioned into the Blues and Royals cavalry regiment.</p> <p>He also completed two tours in Afghanistan, for which he was awarded an Operational Service Medal.</p> <p>Harry and Meghan are now residing in California in the US.</p>

International Travel

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Four countries offering incredible coronavirus travel deals

<p>With many industries being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that the tourism industry is no exception. Although non-essential travel is currently prohibited, countries around the world are getting ready for visitors to appear on their shores this summer.</p> <p>In an impressive effort to entice tourists, some countries are offering discount vouchers for spas, museums and theme parks. Others are offering free hotel stays. Here are four countries that are offering incentives to travel there.</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/CA4YKXAnewW/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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/CA4YKXAnewW/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Discover our Sicily (@_discoveringsicily_)</a> on May 31, 2020 at 10:34pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>1.</strong><span> </span><strong>Sicily, Italy</strong></p> <p>The small southern Italian island has announced that the country is offering to pay half of visitors’ flight costs and a third of hotel expenses to entice tourists to return after the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>There are also free tickets being offered to many of the museums on the island as well as free tickets to archaeological sites.</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/B7rZVtnJpFK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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/B7rZVtnJpFK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Iceland Naturally (@icelandnatural)</a> on Jan 23, 2020 at 1:57pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>2.</strong><span> </span><strong>Iceland</strong></p> <p>Iceland has a plan to entice tourists by offering travellers free COVID-19 tests upon arrival at the airport. If you test negative, you’re free to enjoy your time in the country. If not, you’re required to self-isolate for 14 days.</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.insider.com/all-places-offering-discounts-freebies-incentives-entice-tourists-post-coronavirus-2020-6#iceland-free-coronavirus-tests-5" target="_blank"><em>Insider</em></a><span> </span>is aware that the new border process is still being finalised, so it’s not known whether the tests will remain free for an initial two week trial period or beyond that.</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/B_qKxMqJu6p/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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/B_qKxMqJu6p/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Cancun (@cancun)</a> on May 1, 2020 at 1:36pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>3.</strong><span> </span><strong>Cancun, Mexico</strong></p> <p>Mexico is very keen to welcome back tourists from mid-June, as a new tourism campaign called #Come2MexicanCaribbean or #VenAlCaribeMexicanoX2 has been launched. The campaign boasts a lot of perks for tourists.</p> <p>Some of these perks include two free nights for every two nights paid by guests, two free days of car rentals for every two days paid for, free stays for up to two children when two adults book as well as 20 per cent off at participating theme parks, golf courses and spas.</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/B_6oFguD4Rk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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/B_6oFguD4Rk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Visit Cyprus (@visitcypruscom)</a> on May 7, 2020 at 11:00pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>4.</strong><span> </span><strong>Cyprus</strong></p> <p>Cyprus is also being generous with their highly anticipated tourists, as the country has promised to cover the costs of tourists who fall ill with COVID-19 while visiting.</p> <p>Authorities of the island have said that they will pay for any accommodation, food and medicine used by patients and their families if any tourists test positive for the virus.</p>

International Travel

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To Vietnam and back: Asian seafood journey dubbed "crazy"

<p>A surprised Coles customer has taken her voice to Facebook after discovering something interesting about her seafood. Avid shopper Bronwyn read the small print on a packet of Coles Australian Whiting Mini Fillets, only to discover that the fish was “filleted in Vietnam” despite being made in Australia from at least 95% Australian ingredients.</p> <p>She questioned why Australian fish is sent all the way to Vietnam to be prepared, only to be sent back to Australia.</p> <p>“Could someone please explain why this is necessary, to transport Australian fish thousands of kilometres to Vietnam to be filleted?” asked Bronwyn.</p> <p>“I bought these yesterday noting the Australian Whiting and 95% Aussie ingredients ... Then have just noticed the filleting in Vietnam.</p> <p>“Not so keen to eat them now. Fresh, I think maybe not. No way of knowing how old they might actually be!”</p> <p>A Coles spokesperson explained to<span> </span>7News<span> </span>that the fish has met its “country of origin” obligations with the products packaging.</p> <p>“All Coles Own Brand seafood including seafood available at the deli, canned Own Brand tuna in the grocery aisle and frozen Own Brand products such as fish fingers have been responsibly sourced since 2015,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>“This product uses Australian whiting, which is filleted overseas, but is then crumbed and processed back in Australia.</p> <p>“In line with our Country of Origin obligations, this is clearly labelled on the front of the pack.</p> <p>“As always, customers who are unhappy with a Coles Brand product can return it to any store for a full refund.”</p> <p>Learning this information has put Bronwyn off, saying that the realisation was “crazy”.</p> <p>“Crazy isn’t it?” responded Bronwyn to Facebook users in disbelief at the new information.</p> <p>“But how old is the fish now, lol? And how many times has it been frozen?”</p> <p>Photo credits: <a rel="noopener" href="https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/food/its-crazy-coles-shoppers-outrage-over-new-asian-seafood-scandal-c-1071915" target="_blank">7news</a></p>

International Travel

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Hidden talents of the British royal family

<p>You'll never guess which members of the British royal family possess these surprising hidden talents!</p> <p><strong>Guess who can change a spark plug?</strong></p> <p>Queen Elizabeth II got her hands dirty working on cars during World War II. After months of begging her father, King George VI, the 18-year-old then-Princess Elizabeth joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. Known as “Elizabeth Windsor,” she trained not only as a mechanic but also as a truck driver.</p> <p><strong>Guess who can toot a flute?</strong></p> <p>When Kate Middleton was in college with her future husband, Prince William, she was playing flute in the St Andrews Inaugural Chamber Orchestra, as well as with a group known as the “Tootie Flooties.” Other musically inclined royals include:</p> <p>King Henry VIII – lute, organ, recorder, flute, harp and his own singing voice.</p> <p>Queen Elizabeth I – lute and harpsichord, which were also mastered by Queen Mary (also known as Bloody Mary) and Mary, Queen of Scots.</p> <p>Queen Victoria – piano, an instrument also played by her husband, Prince Albert.</p> <p>Prince Charles – cello, which he played in the Trinity College Orchestra.</p> <p><strong>Guess whose penmanship has no "Blurred Lines"?</strong></p> <p>Meghan Markle is a foodie and was an avid food blogger. But what might come as a surprise is Meghan’s talent for calligraphy, at which she became so proficient in the early 2000s that she was hired by Robin Thicke (performer of the song “Blurred Lines”), to address his wedding invitations.</p> <p><strong>Guess who's a talented children's book author?</strong></p> <p>Sarah, Duchess of York, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is an accomplished and prolific children’s book author. Her works include <em>Ballerina Rosie</em>, <em>Tea for Ruby</em>, and the Little Red series. She also wrote a memoir, <em>Finding Sarah</em>.</p> <p><strong>Guess who's a long-distance runner?</strong></p> <p>Princess Beatrice of York is the first member of the royal family to complete the London Marathon, which she did in 2010. The then-21-year-old princess ran the 42.2-kms race through London’s streets as part of a 34-person “human caterpillar” tied together with bungee cords. And she did it for charity.</p> <p><strong>Guess who does impressive impressions?</strong></p> <p>She has been played by many on screen, but if Queen Elizabeth were to meet you, she’d probably be able to do an astonishingly accurate impression of you and your accent. That’s right, Queen Elizabeth is an accomplished mimic. For that matter, so is her eldest son Prince Charles.</p> <p><strong>Guess who grows his own black truffles?</strong></p> <p>Only one person’s ever succeeded in cultivating black truffles on English soil, and that’s Prince Philip. A passionate and patient gardener, after toiling at truffle-coaxing since 2006, the Prince Consort has finally succeeded in producing the French Perigord black truffle, a rare and now highly-sought-after delicacy. That said, there are many gardening aficionados in the royal family, including Philip’s eldest son, Prince Charles.</p> <p><strong>Guess who's an Olympic athlete?</strong></p> <p>Princess Anne competed in the three-day equestrian event during the 1976 Montreal Olympics, making her the first royal to compete in the Olympics. Her daughter, Zara Phillips, competed in the same equestrian three-day event at the 2012 Olympics in London, in which Great Britain won the silver medal. Of course, many in the royal family are accomplished equestrians, including the Queen, Prince Philip and Princes William and Harry, both of whom are accomplished polo payers.</p> <p><strong>Guess who's a secret videographer?</strong></p> <p>Among her many talents, the Queen is an accomplished videographer, having received her first Box Brownie as a gift from her father, King George VI, before the start of World War II. Keeping pace with advancing technology, Queen Elizabeth II has become known for her “effortless knack of capturing her family at their most informal and most relaxed,” according to the <em>Daily Mail</em>.</p> <p><strong>Guess the royal with the diving skills?</strong></p> <p>In the more than two decades since the tragic, untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales, lots of little-known facts about the People’s Princess have turned up. But what remains little-known about Diana is that she was an accomplished diver. Her “Spencer Special” was a dive into a pool that barely left a ripple, according to biographer Andrew Morton in <em>Diana: Her True Story</em>.</p> <p><strong>Guess who has a pilot's licence?</strong></p> <p>This one shouldn’t be that tough considering there are at least five that come to mind, right off the top of our heads. These include Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Philip.</p> <p><strong>Can you name the many talented royal painters?</strong></p> <p>We’re not talking about artists who painted members of the royal family, but members of the royal family who were actually quite good with a paintbrush. These include:</p> <ul> <li>King George III</li> <li>Queen Victoria</li> <li>Prince Albert</li> <li>King Edward VII</li> <li>Queen Alexandra (the Queen Consort of King Edward VII)</li> <li>Queen Elizabeth II</li> <li>Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh </li> </ul> <p><strong>Can you name the renowned royal sculptor?</strong></p> <p>The fourth daughter and sixth child of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise is widely considered Victoria’s most “unconventional” child. From an early age, Louise showed considerable talent in drawing and painting, but what she really wanted to do was sculpt. And she was incredibly talented at that as well, with her 1893 sculpture of her mother Queen Victoria on display in front of Kensington Palace.</p> <p><strong>Guess which royals were polyglots?</strong></p> <p>Both Prince George and Prince Charlotte are showing a knack for speaking French, but if they want to compete with the most accomplished royal polyglots (masters of many languages), they’ll need to study these as well:</p> <p>German – Queen Victoria’s first language (although she spoke English at Court and mastered many other languages).</p> <p>French – traditional “royal court” language in Europe, spoken now by the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.</p> <p>Hindustani – After Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1877, she grew fond of Indian culture and languages, which she learned through her many Indian servants.</p> <p>Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese (which Charles and William have studied).</p> <p><em>Written by Lauren Cahn. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/hidden-habits-of-the-british-royal-family?pages=2">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best <a href="https://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">subscription offer.</a> </em></p> <p><a href="https://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"></a><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

International Travel

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The pure magic of Cardrona

<p>The first snow of the winter creates a kind of mass lunacy in a community like Wanaka in the deep south of New Zealand’s South Island. At the mere mention of those magical words, ‘snow-to-low-levels’, people’s behaviour changes. They gather in groups (socially-distanced this year) to sniff the air and study the cloud formations, making wise prognostications about how much of the precious white stuff will fall, from which direction, what field will get the most, whether it will suit skis or snowboards best, and how early to hit the slopes — before heading home to tune their gear.<br /><br />Far away in the North Island, I too sense a change in the air and start to study weather forecasts in great detail, wondering when the first snows will arrive. I look longingly at my ski gear and can't wait to pile on layers of merino wool and down, and head south to the place of my birth.<br /><br />This year, there’s been the added suspense of not knowing if New Zealand’s ski resorts would actually be able to operate due to the Covid-19 restrictions on social distancing and travel.<br /><br />But the great news is that now the country is at Alert Level 2, most fields are planning to open, including Cardrona Alpine Resorts which owns Cardrona and Treble Cone near Wanaka. By the time the season gets under way in late June, New Zealand will hopefully be at Alert Level 1 which should make life easier for ski field operators.<br /><br />There’s a high level of excitement at Cardrona this winter because the resort is due to celebrate its 40th anniversary. I’ve skied there almost every year since 1980 and have witnessed the field grow from a rope-tow and a tin shed to an internationally-renowned alpine resort. It’s my favourite winter playground. Everyone’s treated like a VIP at Cardrona — whether you’re a first-time skier or snowboarder, there on a ski holiday with your family, or training for the Olympics. No matter who you are, you’re welcomed with genuine Kiwi hospitality, like one of the family.<br /><br />The 40th will be a scaled-down version of the grand event they had planned before Covid-19 threw a giant spanner in the works but the milestone will not slip by unmarked. We’ll definitely be there to help them celebrate. Hopefully our Aussie mates will be able to join us too when our bubbles finally merge.<br /><br />This is also a landmark season for neighbouring resort Treble Cone which was purchased by Cardrona five months ago. The two fields are vastly different, “yin to each other's yang”, as Cardrona general manager Bridget Legnavsky said when the sale was announced in January this year. Trebles’s terrain is steep and challenging while Cardrona’s wide bowls are gentle and cruisy.<br /><br />In a few years, Soho Basin, a private field which adjoins Cardrona’s southern boundary, will also be added to the mix, effectively more than doubling the skiable terrain, creating New Zealand’s largest alpine resort. I had a fantastic day’s skiing at Soho last year. When development is complete, a network of lifts will unite the two fields but in the meantime, skiers are transported up the mountain by snowcat.<br /><br />While I wait for the snow to arrive, I’m tuning my skis and dreaming of my last day at Cardrona in 2019, a pristine blue-bird day after a massive spring dump. The day was pure magic, the stuff of legends.<br /><br />The mountain had a huge smile on its face — the sun was beaming down from a cloudless sky on slopes sparkling with late-season powder snow that squeaked underfoot. It was a week day outside of any holidays so the queues were non-existent and there was no wind, not even a zephyr, which is unusual for Cardrona. My new Dynastar skis, which just happened to match my jacket, were humming. There’s nothing to equal the euphoria of swishing through powder, silent except for the rhythmic whoosh of your skis floating lightly through weightless snow.<br /><br />The Eagles’ ‘Take it Easy’ was blasting from the PA system at Captain’s Express and the lifties were dancing while dispensing sunblock to skiers and boarders, in between sneaking off for a run or two.<br /><br />At Captains Café, a fancy-dress lunch was in full-swing. We sat in the sun drinking ice-cold cider, watching the shenanigans. They sure know how to party at Cardy.<br /><br />Super-relaxed, we skied better than ever in the afternoon, and kept going until the lifts stopped and there were only a handful of people left on the mountain. Our last run of the season, as always, was Queenstown Return — a scenic glide along the cat-track on Cardrona’s southern boundary, with breath-taking panoramas of row-upon-row of the Southern Alps, the entire Wakatipu Basin . . . and the vast untouched slopes of Soho Basin where we’ll be skiing in a few years’ time.<br /><br />Born a Southerner, I took lungfuls of pure mountain air and eyefuls of alps to sustain me in the tame, green North Island landscape I now call home.<br /><br />On the way back to Wanaka, we stopped off at the iconic Cardrona Hotel for glühwein beside the roaring outside fire. Wispy snowflakes began to fall from the darkening sky.<br /><br />"Snow-to-low-levels," the forecast said.<br /><br />"Let it snow so hard the airport will be closed for days and we’ll have to stay on," I prayed.<br /><br />No such luck...</p> <p><strong>If you go:</strong></p> <p><span>Everything you need to know is on the <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.cardrona.com/winter/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">Cardrona</a> website.</span></p> <p><span>Pick up a rental vehicle from <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.jucy.com/nz/en/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">JUCY</a> at Queenstown Airport.</span><span> </span></p> <p><span>Fly <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">Air NZ</a> direct to Queenstown. Check the latest timetable here: <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/</a></span></p>

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Irish locals "protecting Matt Damon like a glorious gem"

<p>Matt Damon has been quarantining in a tiny Irish village with his wife and children, and it seems everyone including the locals are loving it.</p> <p>The Hollywood heavyweight has become one of the world’s “nicest” celebrities and while living in Ireland to wait out the coronavirus, the star says it has been a “fairy-tale”.</p> <p>The US-based actor has been renting out a home in Dalkey, Ireland, on the outskirts of Dublin, since early March when he arrived with his family to finish shooting <em>The Last Duel</em> with Ridley Scott.</p> <p>However, the star, his wife and his three younger daughters chose to stay put rather than rush home on a private jet when the world plunged into a pandemic.</p> <p>While his presence in the small town was a tightly-kept secret, he was pictured taking a swim with his towel in a supermarket bag.</p> <p>The sight was quickly reported to a local radio station.</p> <p>“I honestly feel like I’m about to throw up … this doesn’t seem real,” said Nathan, of the <em>Fully Charged with Graham and Nathan</em> show.</p> <p>“I don’t know if you are aware but the Dalkey people are protecting you like a glorious gem,” he said. </p> <p><span>Damon laughed at the news and said he had “no idea” but it made him “realise how great this place was.”</span></p> <p>“It’s incredible, this is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been. Obviously what’s going on in the world is horrible but for my family it timed out.”</p> <p>The star explained that he moved there for what the family thought would be just eight weeks to shoot the movie.</p> <p>He and his wife also brought teachers for their three younger children as they would be out of school.</p> <p>“We’ve got what nobody else has which is actual live human beings teaching our kids. We feel guilty. We’ve got this kind of incredible set up in this place.”</p> <p>“It feels a little like a fairytale here.”</p> <p>The woman behind the photo of Damon explained excitedly what happened the day she bumped into him having a swim at a local beach.</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/CAIKcAKnBIY/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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/CAIKcAKnBIY/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Siobhan Berry (@mummycooks)</a> on May 13, 2020 at 5:10am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“We were out for a family swim and we bumped into Matt and his family. It was all very cool – no one else around … just his (and my family) enjoying the freezing cold water and having a laugh!” Siobhan Berry of Mummy Cooks wrote on Instagram.</p> <p>“As we were all leaving, he very politely obliged for a photo, leaning in with his @supervalu_irl bag keeping the social distance!”</p> <p>“As he confirmed on the radio, he was holding a bag of swim gear and towels – not cans!!”</p> <p>She said the pair had initially agreed not to share the photo, but it leaked out via a family WhatsApp group.</p> <p>“We felt awful and really sorry about the whole situation; we wrote an apology letter to him but never got to deliver it. After hearing him on radio today, he obviously sees the funny side and the fact that the photo ultimately turned into one of the feel-good stories of the early summer.”</p>

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Passengers “break every rule” in flight amid pandemic

<p><span>After two months of strict social distancing and quarantine measures, a number of impatient passengers flying on an Air New Zealand flight have been photographed completely disregarding the rules set in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.</span><br /><br /><span>A passenger who sat in on the flight going from Auckland to Queenstown showed other flyers purposefully breaking social distancing rules.</span><br /><br /><span>The man told the NZ Herald that while he remained firmly sat in his seat after landing, other passengers on flight NZ369 were caught on camera shoulder to shoulder in the aisle.</span><br /><br /><span>“I felt vulnerable, really unsafe,” the passenger admitted.</span><br /><br /><span>“Everyone got up and stood in the aisle while we waited for the bridge to be attached.</span><br /><br /><span>“That disembarkment ruined everything I’ve been doing for the last two months. The whole thing flew out the window, it’s been so difficult these past two months.</span><br /><br /><span>“Every rule has been broken in this five minutes of disembarking the plane. That one process could restart the whole thing.”</span><br /><br /><span>An Air New Zealand spokesman says the flight must not have followed the disembarkation process in this particular circumstance.</span><br /><br /><span>He said the airline has amended its boarding and disembarkation procedures to introduce social distancing during these stages of the journey.</span><br /><br /><span>“Air New Zealand is following Ministry of Health and WHO guidance to ensure flights are safe for crew and our customers. This includes supporting physical distancing on-board by allocating seating where we can to allow for extra space between passengers,” he said.</span><br /><br /><span>“Blocks are currently in place for the middle seats on our domestic jets and aisle seats on turboprop services. We're allowing groups of people or families travelling together to be seated together, but if they wish to be seated separately, we will provide for this.”</span><br /><br /><span>The brazen act by passengers on flight NZ369 follows as the Ministry of Health confirmed on Saturday there were 28 active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.</span><br /><br /><span>One person is in the hospital with COVID.</span><br /><br /><span>There were also no new cases or deaths announced yesterday.</span><br /><br /><span>"This is a pretty unique situation where we're not meant to be close to people," the man who shot the picture of passengers shoulder to shoulder on the Air New Zealand flight said.</span><br /><br /><span>"That was the first time I've travelled since lockdown and I felt like we were so exposed. It didn't feel any different from before (COVID-19)."</span></p>

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New Zealand’s COVID-19 Tracer app won’t help open a ‘travel bubble’ with Australia anytime soon

<p>New Zealanders finally have access to the government’s new tracing app to help people monitor their movements as lockdown continues to ease.</p> <p>As businesses can now open, the <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-general-public/contact-tracing-covid-19/nz-covid-tracer-app">NZ COVID Tracer app</a> allows people to keep a register of the places they visit. This “digital diary” can be used to contact people if it finds they have been in the same place as someone infected with COVID-19.</p> <p>But the app has some significant shortcomings. These won’t be addressed until at least June, which raises questions about whether it has been released too soon.</p> <p><strong>How do you set up and use the app?</strong></p> <p>Registering for the app is a four-step process. When you sign up for an account you are presented with a privacy statement. This tells you your personal information is securely stored by the Ministry of Health.</p> <p>The app then asks you to enter your email address and pick a password.</p> <p>Some may find the password requirements too difficult to meet, especially if you struggle to remember a password of at least ten characters of mixed lower and uppercase letters and numbers.</p> <p>After entering your email, you will receive a verification code via email to complete the registration.</p> <p>In step 4, the app asks you to enter your name and a phone number. The phone number is not mandatory as I was able to create an account using just my first and last names.</p> <p>An “Account created” message will then appear before you get to a home page with three navigational items:</p> <ul> <li>dashboard (this is the current home page)</li> <li>scan (where you can scan the QR code, I’ll explain why in a moment)</li> <li>my profile (where you can log off, update your contact details and address, provide feedback and access a range of other general services such as privacy and security statements).</li> </ul> <p>By scrolling down the dashboard page, you are presented with features to register your details, update your address and “do a daily self-isolation checking” – this last feature is labelled as coming soon.</p> <p><strong>Two types of registrations?</strong></p> <p>The register option asks you to enter your first name, any middle name, last name, phone number, date of birth, gender and ethnicity.</p> <p>This seems confusing as you must go through two forms of registration. First when registering for an account, as we saw earlier, and second when registering your details here.</p> <p>These two processes should have been streamlined into one. The app also asks for gender and ethnicity details, but the justification provided is too generic, saying this “helps us confirm we are serving all New Zealanders”.</p> <p><strong>So how does the app work?</strong></p> <p>The app helps you keep track of the places you visit, like checking in to a restaurant on Facebook. But this process is not done automatically.</p> <p>To add a place you visit to your digital diary, you must scan a QR code available at that location. It should be in the form of a poster advertised at the entrance of a business.</p> <p>But this means businesses must register for a QR code, via <a href="https://www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/contact-tracing">Business Connect</a>, and have it clearly advertised at their premises.</p> <p>By scanning the QR code, the app will then log the location, date and time you visit this business. You can’t manually enter the details of places you visit.</p> <p><strong>How will authorities contact you?</strong></p> <p>The information provided during registration will be sent to a National Close Contact Service (NCCS) so it can contact you if you are identified as having been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.</p> <p>An update is expected in June, to allow you to transmit your digital diary of the locations you have visited to the NCCS.</p> <p>Until this function is implemented, if the NCCS contacts you, you will have to read out the locations you have signed into with the app.</p> <p>How will they know if you have been in contact with someone infected? Not via the app but through <a href="https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE2005/S00123/nz-covid-tracer-app-released-to-support-contact-tracing.htm">contact tracing procedures</a> already in place. Until the auto upload is implemented, I don’t believe they should have released the app.</p> <p>This approach is a workaround for not using GPS to log your locations, as in the Facebook restaurant check-in scenario. This could be to avoid issues pertaining to location privacy.</p> <p>But this approach has shortcomings.</p> <p>It is not reliable to use in commonly used or open spaces, such as food courts, school entrances, airports, train stations or any other places where you could come in contact with other people. This will require the use of lots of QR codes and lots of scanning.</p> <p>The app is not useful when visiting friends and family. You don’t expect them to have QR codes at their houses, and they can’t actually get one.</p> <p><strong>Comparing the NZ and Australian apps</strong></p> <p>So how does the New Zealand app compare to Australia’s <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqJCL0-XB6QIViw4rCh0XKAWfEAAYASAAEgJyOfD_BwE">COVIDSafe</a> app?</p> <p>The New Zealand app is not scalable to use in Australia as it would require Australian businesses to register for a Business Connect QR code, which they can’t. Likewise, Australia’s app is not for New Zealand.</p> <p>Visitors to either country would need to use the app specific to that country.</p> <p>Countries such as Iceland, Italy and Norway have not shied away from using GPS to track their citizens’ whereabouts. Australia and Singapore opted to use Bluetooth technology for contact tracing without accessing people’s location information.</p> <p>New Zealand has opted for a softer approach to COVID-19 contact tracing by using only a digital diary. But the director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, <a href="https://www.hinz.org.nz/news/508335/Bluetooth-functionality-to-be-added-to-contact-tracing-app.htm">told Radio NZ Bluetooth technology</a> should be added as an optional extra feature in June.</p> <p>So, at this stage, the NZ COVID Tracer app seems to be a work in progress. It tries to balance or makes some trade-offs between privacy and usability. But this adds to the burden on businesses (the need to set up QR codes) and limits scope when visiting friends or relatives in New Zealand.</p> <p>On May 5 this year, the New Zealand and Australian prime ministers released a <a href="https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/prime-ministers-jacinda-ardern-and-scott-morrison-announce-plans-trans-tasman-covid-safe">joint statement</a> to say they had:</p> <p><em>[…] agreed to commence work on a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone – easing travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand. Such an arrangement would be put in place once it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met.</em></p> <p>If the Australian COVIDSafe and NZ COVID Tracer apps are to be part of the solution in opening up travel between the nations, much more work will be needed to make the two apps far more compatible with each other.</p> <p><em>Written by Mahmoud Elkhodr. Republished with permission of </em><a href="/New%20Zealanders%20finally%20have%20access%20to%20the%20government’s%20new%20tracing%20app%20to%20help%20people%20monitor%20their%20movements%20as%20lockdown%20continues%20to%20ease."><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p>

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Why weather forecasts could become more challenging during the coronavirus storm

<p>The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted several sectors and meteorology is no exception. The quality and quantity of the observational data that feed into weather forecasting models could well be affected by the pandemic, according to the <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-concerned-about-impact-of-covid-19-observing-system">World Meteorological Organization (WMO)</a>.</p> <p>Knowing the state of the atmosphere is essential for good weather forecasting. In addition to announcing rain or sunshine, weather forecasts allow us to better prepare for risks and other weather hazards such as <a href="https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-communities-across-canada-prepare-for-doubled-crises-of-flooding-in-a/">spring flooding</a> and hurricanes.</p> <p>The pandemic has curtailed a number of these observations in a variety of ways. But scientists around the world are finding ways to fill some of those gaps.</p> <p><strong>International collaboration</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/programmes/global-observing-system">WMO Global Observing System</a> provides observations of the atmosphere, such as wind speed, and the ocean surface, namely sea surface temperature. The system comes from the close collaboration between national and international agencies that provide measurements from different observing instruments.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/330858/original/file-20200427-145566-1ccwtmw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Global Observing System is composed of a large number of <em>in situ</em> and satellite observing systems.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(World Meteorological Organization)</span></span></p> <p>The <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/what-we-do/observations">WMO Global Observing System</a> relies on observations taken on land, in the air, on the ocean and from space. More than 10,000 surface-based stations, 1,000 weather balloon stations, 3,000 commercial aircraft, 7,000 ships, 100 moored buoys, 1,000 drifting buoys, 30 meteorological satellites and 200 research satellites gather information about the Earth.</p> <p>The frequency and spatial distribution of these measurements vary enormously depending on the type of observation. For example, a surface weather station can collect precipitation measurements every five minutes, while the <a href="https://cloudsat.atmos.colostate.edu/education/faq">CloudSat</a> satellite, dedicated to global cloud observation, takes measurements covering the same geographical area every 16 days.</p> <p><strong>How forecasts are made</strong></p> <p>Atmospheric models are a set of equations that describe the changing state of the atmosphere. They require information about the initial state of the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface (land and ocean) in order to provide weather forecasts.</p> <p>Unfortunately, observational data alone are not sufficient to provide a complete picture of the state of the atmosphere because they are distributed irregularly over space and time, and sometimes contain errors.</p> <p>This is where a technique known as “<a href="https://research.reading.ac.uk/met-darc/aboutus/what-is-data-assimilation/">data assimilation</a>” comes into play. It involves combining observational data with data obtained from an atmospheric model to get the best estimate of the state of the atmosphere. In other words, one starts from a weather forecast made with the model and corrects it with the observational data.</p> <p>The result of the data assimilation is a coherent complete image of the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface at a given time. Once the initial state of the atmosphere and Earth’s surface is known, an atmospheric model can be applied to predict its evolution.</p> <p><strong>The impact of the pandemic</strong></p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-concerned-about-impact-of-covid-19-observing-system">decrease in observations</a> made by commercial aircraft, due to the decrease in air traffic. In Europe, for example, there has been a <a href="https://www.eurocontrol.int/Economics/DailyTrafficVariation-States.html">90 per cent</a> decline in the daily number of flights.</p> <p>There has also been a drop in manual observations at surface weather stations in several developing countries, which have not switched to fully automated measurements. In the long term, other components of the observing system could be negatively affected if maintenance, repair and replenishment work cannot be done.</p> <p>Each type of observation has a different impact on the quality of forecasts. <a href="https://www.ecmwf.int/en/about/media-centre/news/2020/drop-aircraft-observations-could-have-impact-weather-forecasts">Studies</a> conducted by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) have shown that in the absence of aircraft meteorological data, the quality of short-term wind and temperature forecasts at cruising altitude decreases by 15 per cent, which can affect the prediction of the jet stream and, consequently, forecasts of winter storms and heat waves. The quality of near-surface forecasts also decreases, but not as much.</p> <p>Ironically, the importance of aircraft observation data was highlighted in mid-February 2020 at an ECMWF <a href="https://www.ecmwf.int/en/learning/workshops/workshop-aircraft-weather-observations-and-their-use">workshop on the state of aircraft observations</a>. Fortunately, the impact of satellite observations on forecast quality is greater than that of aircraft meteorological data.</p> <p><strong>Mobilizing scientists</strong></p> <p>The scientific community is trying to ease the impact of the decrease in observational data collected by aircraft. As a result, European national meteorological services are <a href="https://www.ecmwf.int/en/newsletter/163/editorial/ecmwf-and-covid-19">launching more weather balloons</a>.</p> <p>Observations from recently launched satellites can also help to fill the gap left by declining observations. This is the case of the <a href="https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Aeolus/COVID-19_Aeolus_and_weather_forecasts">European Space Agency’s Aeolus satellite</a>, which provides wind data at different altitudes.</p> <p>The declining quality of weather forecasts adds to the many challenges posed by the pandemic. With the <a href="https://tropical.colostate.edu/media/sites/111/2020/04/2020-04.pdf">Atlantic hurricane season</a> expected to be more active than usual, it is even more important to correctly forecast the trajectory and intensity of hurricanes. Indeed, for <a href="https://www.undrr.org/news/covid-19-risks-complicating-caribbean-hurricane-season">Caribbean countries</a>, where the peak of COVID-19 cases is expected just before the start of the hurricane season, the pandemic is a major obstacle in preparing for this meteorological hazard.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/137585/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/marta-moreno-ibanez-819679">Marta Moreno Ibáñez</a>, PhD candidate in Earth and atmospheric sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-du-quebec-a-montreal-uqam-2410">Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/weather-forecasts-could-become-more-challenging-during-the-coronavirus-storm-137585">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How plane cabins can clean up their act

<p>Qantas has <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-19/qantas-social-distancing-coronavirus-covid19-measures/12263242">unveiled a range of precautions</a> to guard passengers against COVID-19. The safety measures expected to be rolled out on June 12 include contactless check-in, hand sanitiser at departure gates, and optional masks and sanitising wipes on board.</p> <p>Controversially, however, there will be no physical distancing on board, because Qantas claims it is too expensive to run half-empty flights.</p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing airlines to look closely at their hygiene practices. But aircraft cabins were havens for germs long before the coronavirus came along. The good news is there are some simple ways on-board hygiene can be improved.</p> <p><strong>Common sense precautions</strong></p> <p>As an environmental microbiologist I have observed, in general, a gradual loss of quality in hygiene globally.</p> <p>Airports and aircrafts have <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/WNN/video/overcrowding-concerns-planes-70616212">crammed ever larger numbers</a> of passengers into <a href="https://time.com/5636154/airplane-legroom-shrinking-asia/">ever smaller economy-class seats</a>.</p> <p>Although social distancing can’t do much in a confined cabin space – as the virus is reported to be able to travel <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/infdis/jiaa189/5820886">eight metres</a> — wearing face masks (viral ones in particular) and practising hand hygiene remain crucial.</p> <p>Since microorganisms are invisible, it is hard to combat such a powerful enemy. During flights, I have observed a vast array of unwitting mistakes made by flight crew and passengers.</p> <p>Some crew staff would go to the bathroom to push overflowing paper towels down into the bins, exit without washing their hands and continue to serve food and drinks.</p> <p>We have the technology for manufacturers to install waste bins where paper towels can be shredded, disinfected and disposed of via suction, as is used in the toilets. Moreover, all aircraft waste bins should operate with pedals to prevent hand contamination.</p> <p>Also, pilots should not share bathrooms with passengers, as is often the case. Imagine the consequences if pilots became infected and severely ill during a long flight, to the point of not being able to fly. Who would land the plane?</p> <p>For instance, the highly transmissible <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/symptoms.html">norovirus</a>, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, can manifest within 12 hours of exposure. So for everyone’s safety, pilots should have their own bathroom.</p> <p><strong>Food and the kitchen</strong></p> <p>Aircraft kitchen areas should be as far as possible from toilets.</p> <p>Male and female toilets should be separated because, due to the way men and women use the bathroom, male bathrooms are more likely to have droplets of urine splash outside the toilet bowl. Child toilets and change rooms should be separate as well.</p> <p>Food trolleys should be covered with a sterile plastic sheet during service as they come close to seated passengers who could be infected.</p> <p>And to allow traffic flow in the corridor, trolleys should not be placed near toilets. At times I have seen bread rolls in a basket with a nice white napkin, with the napkin touching the toilet door.</p> <p>Also, blankets should not be used if the bags have been opened, and pillows should have their own sterile bags.</p> <p><strong>Mind your luggage</strong></p> <p>In March, luggage handlers <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-31/qantas-baggage-handlers-test-positive-to-coronavirus-in-sa/12107258">were infected</a> with COVID-19 at Adelaide Airport.</p> <p>As a passenger, you should avoid placing your hand luggage on the seats while reaching into overhead lockers. There’s a chance your luggage was placed on a contaminated surface before you entered the plane, such as on a public bathroom floor.</p> <p>Be wary of using the seat pocket in front of you. Previous passengers may have placed dirty (or infected) tissues there. So keep this in mind when using one to hold items such as your passport, or glasses, which come close to your eyes (through which SARS-CoV-2 <a href="https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-how-it-spreads-transmission-infection-prevention-protection">can enter the body</a>).</p> <p>Also, safety cards in seat pockets should be disposable and should be replaced after each flight.</p> <p>In facing the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important to remember that unless an antiviral drug or a vaccine is found, this virus could come back every year.</p> <p>On many occasions, microbiologists have warned of the need for more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30912268/">microbiology literacy</a> among the public. Yet, too often their calls are dismissed as paranoia, or being overly cautious.</p> <p>But now’s the time to listen, and to start taking precaution. For all we know, there may be even more dangerous <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-pandemic-is-paving-the-way-for-an-increase-in-superbugs-135389">superbugs</a> breeding around us – ones we’ve simply yet to encounter.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/134552/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ipek-kurtboke-1006582"><em>Ipek Kurtböke</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Microbiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-sunshine-coast-1068">University of the Sunshine Coast</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/plane-cabins-are-havens-for-germs-heres-how-they-can-clean-up-their-act-134552">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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The countries with no coronavirus cases and how they did it

<p>Cambodia’s last coronavirus patient was discharged from a hospital in Phnom Penh over the weekend, meaning the country now officially has zero active patients with the disease.</p> <p>The Southeast Asian country has reported a total of 122 coronavirus cases but has officially recorded no deaths from the virus.</p> <p>Cambodia is one of the very few countries around the world who are coronavirus free – most of them in the Pacific Islands – but senior lecturer at Griffith University, Lee Morgenbesser who studies Cambodia, is sceptical about the government’s figures.</p> <p>“The government there has a documented history of lying and deception over a very long period of time,” he told<span> </span><em>SBS News</em>.</p> <p>“They have passed laws that make it a jailable offence to disprove the government when it comes to COVID-19. You aren’t going to get people coming out and saying the government is lying,” he added.</p> <p>He revealed the due to government restrictions on free press and opposition parties that were put in place recently, there was no alternative source of information coming out of the country to challenge the government’s narrative.</p> <p>“There is a long history of lying to outside audiences and to other organisations. There are no checks and balances anymore, so there is no one to come out and challenge the lies,” he said.</p> <p>He also noted the county had done an “insufficient” number of tests given the size of its population and cautioned against declaring the country COVID-free.</p> <p>According to the health ministry in Cambodia, 14,684 tests had been conducted since January among the country’s 16 million people. In Australia, with a population of 25 million, over one million tests have been conducted.</p> <p>But disputing those claims is Associate Professor Peter Annear from Melbourne University, saying the stats coming out of Cambodia were just as believable as any other country’s.</p> <p>He says the country likely owes its success to the fast and dramatic measures put in place by the government early in the pandemic.</p> <p>"They shut down the borders to international tourists early, even though it is a large part of the economy. They also cancelled new year celebrations and limited travel between provinces," he said. </p> <p>He also noted that 80 per cent of its population lived in rural areas so it was a lot less dense than many of the urban countries that had experienced major outbreaks.</p> <p>Other places with zero cases include Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mauru, Palau, Samoa, Soloman Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.</p>

International Travel

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Man makes “cuddle blanket” to hug his gran amid coronavirus pandemic

<p><span>A man in the United Kingdom has shown he will go to great lengths to make sure his loved ones still get their daily dose of happiness despite the strict social distancing measures in place due to coronavirus.</span><br /><br /><span>29-year-old plasterer Antony Cauvin’s came up with an innovative method to maintain social distancing rules by placing a humble shower curtain between him and his granny.</span><br /><br /><span>Antony altered the curtain to have arms so he could still hug his nana without touching her.</span><br /><br /><span>He dubbed his ingenious invention as the “Cuddle Curtain” with his wife posting a video of it in use on Facebook on the weekend.</span><br /><br /><span>Since then the clip has gone viral, with over 68,000 likes.</span><br /><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmiriam.butt.92%2Fvideos%2F10163787073690551%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=267" width="267" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe> <br /><span>Cauvin explained to Sky News that he first tested the idea with his parents.</span><br /><br /><span>“We giggled about it but thought, “this could actually work”,” he said.</span><br /><br /><span>In the touching video, Cauvin gets to hug his gran Lily for the first time in months.</span><br /><br /><span>Cauvin disinfects the sleeves after every hug and requires that he and his grandma wear gloves for hygiene purposes.</span><br /><br /><span>“We never touched any part of Grannan at all – I’m a believer in social distancing and don’t want to put anyone at risk,” he said.</span><br /><br /><span>“When you’ve known someone all your life, to be able to hug that person again… it brought a tear to everybody’s eye.”</span></p>

International Travel