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March 2012

  
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26 March 2012 - Downton Abbey on Virgin Atlantic

Posted by: Alan

Virgin Atlantic is giving premium passengers the chance to feel like characters from hit TV series ‘Downton Abbey’ by offering inflight high teas.

The airline says it decided to begin serving finger sandwiches, scones and cakes after foreign travellers began asking for afternoon tea - a trend the carrier attributes to the popularity of period dramas such as ‘Downton Abbey’.

Virgin Atlantic’s Janine Doy said: "We want our Upper Class passengers to be able to have the same civilized experience as the Queen recently did at Fortnum and Masons (London department store), or indeed to be able to imagine that they are a character in Downton Abbey."

Incidentally, afternoon tea sales in London hotels are said to be up 50% this year.

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23 March 2012 - Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport

Posted by: Alan

Former US president Bill Clinton and his Secretary of State wife Hillary are going to have an airport named after them.

Authorities in the state of Arkansas, in America’s Deep South, have voted unanimously to change the name of Little Rock National Airport to Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Bill Clinton told media that the coupled are "humbled" and "grateful" and they look forward to "many happy landings" there in the future.

The ex president grew up in Arkansas and became governor of the state in 1978.

The airport serves about 2.2 million travellers a year.

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23 March 2012 - Ashton Kutcher Space Flight

Posted by: Alan

Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher has become the 500th person to sign on for a space flight with the Virgin Galactic company of billionaire adventurer Sir Richard Branson.

The estranged husband of actress Demi Moore and star of TV series ‘Two And A Half Men’ got a congratulatory phone call from Sir Richard, who in turn tweeted: "He is as thrilled as we are at the prospect of being among the first to cross the final frontier (and back!) with us and to experience the magic of space for himself".

Sir Richard opened the world’s first commercial spaceport in the New Mexico desert last October, having said the previous month that he hoped to launch the first flight within 12 months.

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21 March 2012 - Russian Aircraft Maintenance

Posted by: Alan

Passengers about to take off from a Moscow airport abandoned the plane after they noticed what they believed was a hole in the engine, Russian news website Press-Line reported yesterday.

The Transaero flight from Moscow to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk was about to depart from Domodedovo airport when a passenger spotted a missing inspection panel and reported it to the crew, believing it to be a hole in the engine.

The pilot thanked the traveller, but after a two-hour delay the crew resumed preparations for the takeoff with the hole still uncovered.

Some 27 frightened passengers then abandoned the plane, which took off anyway and reached its destination safely.

The airline confirmed that the panel was missing, but said that regulations allowed planes to fly without it.

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19 March 2012 - GPS Sends Car into the Sea

Posted by: Alan

Three Japanese touring Queensland by car last week found that a GPS system can determine the shortest route between two points - but not necessarily the driest.

The visitors were trying to get from Moreton Bay near Brisbane to North Stradbroke Island, some 12kms away when the navigation system apparently lured them into the bay at a place called Oyster Point.

A gravel surface soon gave way to mangrove swamp and their Hyundai car became bogged to its axles.

Then the tide started coming in and the group was forced to abandon the vehicle.

Tokyo student Tomonari Saeki, 22, joked that the car had got stuck because it was built in Korea.

"Maybe if it was Japanese it would be OK", he said.

The misadventure proved costly, with the tourists reportedly facing some $1500 in car rental excess charges.

Reports don’t say how the vehicle was retrieved.

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16 March 2012 - Queenstown Upgrades

Posted by: Alan

Work on much-needed expansion of terminal facilities at NZ’s Queenstown airport will get under way before Easter, resulting in fewer baggage hassles for the thousands of Australian holidaymakers who head to South Island skifields each winter.

The work will include adding two over-sized baggage belts to handle a growing number of skis, snowboards and bikes.

International and domestic departure areas will be expanded, too.

The existing terminal was built to handle only 700,000 travellers a year, but has been operating well beyond that.

The work is due to be completed by September.

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14 March 2012 - Kensington Palace to Re-open Next Week

Posted by: Alan

Visitors have been promised a unique glimpse into history when Kensington Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, re-opens to the public next week after a £12 million ($15.5m) revamp, London’s Evening Standard newspaper reports.

Historic Royal Palaces expects 100,000 people a year to tour areas which shine a light on the private lives of four centuries of the monarchy, from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the death of Princess Diana.

TV historian Dr Lucy Worsley, chief curator, said: "It won’t be all sweetness and light. There are dark stories here, including the tragic death of the 32-year-old Mary II from smallpox in 1694, an event marked by an outpouring of grief to rival that following Princess Diana’s death in 1997."

The palace reopens on 26 March and the Evening Standard says newly-uncovered exhibits include a "sexy" portrait of Queen Victoria commissioned for Prince Albert’s private viewing, royal wedding dresses through the ages and a painting of ‘Peter the Wild Boy’, a feral child brought to court as a human pet.

Front-of-house staff at the palace have new Jaeger uniforms of red blazers and black trousers or skirts.

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13 March 2012 - The Moon Responsible for Titanic Sinking

Posted by: Alan

Was it all in the moon?
Scientists have posited that there may have been more than an iceberg to the sinking of the Titanic, and that in fact the moon may have been responsible for the tragedy.

“The lunar connection may explain how an unusually large number of icebergs got into the path of the Titanic,” said Donald Olson, a Texas State University physicist.

According to the researchers, a once-inmany- lifetimes astronomical event where the moon and sun lined up at an angle which increased their gravitational pulls occurred on 04 January 1912, an event which was compounded by the moon’s closest proximity to earth in 1,400 years on 04 January 2012, and the earth’s closest approach to the sun on 03 January 2012.

“This configuration maximised the moon's tide-raising forces on the Earth's oceans,” said Olsen.

This in turn may have altered the normal process of the icebergs, which usually get stuck and melt to smaller sizes before they reach the shipping lanes, by providing conditions whereby more icebergs than usual were able to dislodge from Greenland and float fully grown into the shipping lanes, by the time Titanic was passing in April.

This freak occurrence may explain why the most experienced captain in the White Star Line fleet, who was also known for his cautious ways, chose to react casually to warnings of icebergs in Titanic’s path, as he may have thought they were much smaller and fewer in number than what they actually were

 

Source: Cruise Weekly Magazine

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12 March 2012 - The Ritz to Change Tea Menu After 100 Years

Posted by: Alan

After more than 100 years, posh London hotel The Ritz is changing the menu for its famous afternoon tea.

For the first time since it opened in 1906 the hotel is ditching "foreign" features such as French pastries for "best of British" items ahead of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, the Evening Standard newspaper reports.

Victoria sponge, lemon meringue pie, custard tarts and strawberry creams are among the sweets on offer, while the savoury ingredients have also undergone a revamp to give a contemporary British twist, with caraway seed bread, shallots and horseradish.

Hotel bosses said tea at The Ritz - costing £42 (about $55) per person for traditional and £54 (about $70) with a glass of Champagne - remains one of the most "quintessentially British" pastimes.

Ritz manager Guillaume Marly said the change is part of a move to act as "guardians" of British traditions which will carry through to other parts of the hotel and its cuisine.

"I love French pastries, but there are so many wonderful British cakes and pastries," he said. "I want the food to bring back memories of a British childhood.

"We’re very passionate about bringing that Britishness back to The Ritz.

"We are deciding now that we are the guardians of these traditions. The Britishness has always been there, we are just talking about it now."

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12 March 2012 - The End of the Love Boat

Posted by: Alan

The cruise liner that became a Hollywood star is heading to the scrapyard. An Italian news outlet says the original Pacific Princess, known to millions of TV viewers around the world as the ‘The Love Boat’, has been sold to a Turkish demolition company for about $3 million.

The 40-year-old, 600-passenger vessel has been languishing at a dock in Genoa, Italy for more than a year.

It last sailed for Spanish-based Quail Cruises after changing hands a couple times since sailing for Princess Cruises from 1975 until 2002.

Built in 1971 for Flagship Cruises as the Sea Venture, the vessel was renamed Pacific Princess in 1975 after joining the Princess fleet.

It gained worldwide fame over the subsequent decade as the backdrop for the US television series ‘The Love Boat’, which aired from 1977 to 1986.

Cruise industry executives often credit the top-rating show for sparking an ongoing boom in cruise bookings.

Starring Gavin MacLeod as Captain Stubing and Fred Grandy as Gopher, the hour-long comedy depicted fictional passengers and crew involved in adventures and romances at sea.

A new Pacific Princess joined the Princess fleet in 2002 and was in Australian waters recently.

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09 March 2012 - Bored in Vegas

Posted by: Alan

Want something different to do in Las Vegas?
Tired of gambling, shows and glittering nightlife? Why not fire a gun?
Machine Guns Vegas is the latest attraction to open in the celebrated ‘City of Sin’, located within 1km of the Strip.

With an arsenal ranging from M-16 semi-automatic’s to Uzi’s to vintage machine guns, the range comes complete with another Las Vegas staple - scantily-clad women.

Also available for patrons wishing to add fantasy to their shooting experience are lifelike targets for patrons to fire at, such as Osama Bin Laden.

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08 March 2012 - Queen Mary 2 in Sydney

Posted by: Alan

Weighing in at a healthy 151,400-tons, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 has made history this week, becoming the largest vessel to berth at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Arriving yesterday, QM2 turned the heads of Sydneysiders as she stretched 345 metres along the waterfront of Circular Quay and rose 62 metres above the water line (just five metres short of the Sydney Opera House’s highest point, and ten metres above the 52- metre navigational clearance for the Sydney Harbour Bridge road deck).

The call also marks the first time QM2 has stayed overnight in Sydney, and is the final stop on her monumental 30-day Royal Circumnavigation of Australia.

QM2’s overnight call was also a huge boon to Sydney, generating an estimated $1m to the economy, with 1,900 guests pouring out into the city in the morning, followed by a further 1,900 in the afternoon.

Her stay at the Overseas Passenger Terminal was made possible by the installation of a new anchoring point by the Sydney Ports Authority, which allow the catering of larger ships at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

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06 March 2012 - Westminster Abbey Visits Up

Posted by: Alan

Last April’s Westminster Abbey wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton has led to a huge increase in visits to the abbey. Nearly 1.9 million people visited the 700-year-old building last year, an increase of 36% on the 2010 figure, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

The abbey is also where royalty, poets and leaders are buried or have their work recognised in memorial plaques.

In contrast to Westminster’s success, the Occupy London anti-capitalism camp at St Paul’s Cathedral appears to have deterred visitors, where visitor numbers dipped by 4% to just under 1.82 million.

The Tower of London welcomed nearly 6% more visitors last year - up to 2.55 million - while National Portrait Gallery numbers rose 3% to 1.88 million.

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05 March 2012 - Easter Eggs at the Hyatt

Posted by: Alan

The Hyatt Regency Coolum - still a Hyatt despite efforts to cancel the hotelier’s management contract by owner Clive Palmer - is pressing on regardless, this week promoting a range of Easter specials.

As well as specially priced family accommodation ($575 per night over the Easter weekend for a two bedroom villa), the resort’s Easter activities include a workshop to make Easter bonnets, a celebrity appearance by the Easter Bunny, and also of course there’s an egg hunt.

But it’s not just any Easter egg hunt - older children and teenagers can participate in a high-tech adventure where they use GPS coordinates to locate the tasty chocolate treasures.

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