Sunday, January 20, 2013



Boeing is in big trouble.

"The one issue that does give me pause, and about which I should want to know more, is the cracked windscreen, because that could indicate unusual stress in the airframe.

"Then you could be talking about a fundamental design flaw."

Dreamliner: will it live up to its name?

Friday, December 14, 2012



When one wanted to arrive at the incomparable, the fabulous, the like nothing-else-in-the-world, where was it one went?

Back in time to that smouldering treasure island of dark intrigue, cheap wine, overcrowded churches and lyrical youth. 

Back to Malta!

Gozo, sister island.

Malta used to be (twenty years ago) a quaint little island, the unique selling point of which was friendliness.

Now Malta has become a trifle less friendly.

But, go into a Labour Party club; and start talking.

"What do you think of that escape from the jail?" I asked the burly worker at the bar, who was drinking a Cisk beer.

"It's the Nationalist Party I blame," he said.

"Why's that?"

"Crime's gone up since they came in."

"Are you suggesting corruption?"


"Read a book called IL-HBIEB TAL-HBIEB by Glen Bedingfield. It's about the connections between drug smugglers and the relatives of certain politicians.

"Look at some of these PN people. Nice cars and big villas. How come a drug trafficker and attempted murderer gets a pardon and walks free?"

"Don't know. What about the Church?"

"The Nationalists mix religion and politics. Which is wrong."

"You're anti-clerical? Not keen on the influence of the Church?"

"That's right."

"The Church is against divorce, abortion, and so on."

"But doesn't the Church defend against wicked Western ways? Drugs and so on?"

Friendly? We got on like a flat roofed house on fire.


Go into a Nationalist Party Club.

"What do you think of the General Workers Union?" I asked the middle class businessman at the bar.

"It's like Britain before Thatcher," he said. "The GWU are resisting necessary change."

"Change?" I asked.

"We need the European Community. To get the investment and the jobs. We need to upgrade everything. Eddie supported change. Sant only wanted to put up taxes."

Friendly? He invited me to his house.


The BEST thing about any holiday to Malta is meeting the Maltese.

Invite yourself into one of their homes.

In Rose Marie's home, in a tenement in the dark back streets of Marsa, I supped Hopleaf, admired the plastic flowers and the photos of the Liverpool team, and chatted to the family.

The water had been cut off for several days and so washing the baby was a problem.

The baby had been to London for treatment for a heart condition.

Rose Marie was a sweet Maltese girl.

Rose Marie's family took me to their wooden hut in a dark fishing harbour beneath some cliffs. By the light of an oil lamp we dined off pesce spada and local wine.

"One of my brothers distrusts the Labour Party," said Rose Marie, "and the other distrusts all priests."

"All the money is in Swiss bank accounts," said one brother.....


In a gloomy flat in dockland I visited an elderly gent called Joseph, a heavy character who claims he once helped to break into the headquarters of a certain political party.

Joseph told tales of alleged murders committed by supporters of one party.

"I will always support Labour," said Joseph, who was sitting on an old iron bed beneath a picture of Christ.

Over thirty years ago, Joseph's Labour comrades suggested he was gay.

A nervous breakdown was followed by shock treatment and strong drugs.

Joseph was out of work and sick for twenty years.....


Did you read about the high-up clergy man and the catamite?


The landscape (apart from Valletta) is not necessarily world class. It is not in the same league as Capri or Amalfi in nearby Southern Italy.

But, Valletta and the Three Cities are rather special. I know of nowhere else in the world to compare with the Grand Harbour in terms of harbours. Rio de Janeiro? Monte Carlo?

Then there are the walks and cycle rides along bosky lanes in Spring : poppies, geraniums, anemones, meadow saffron, tamarisks, wild orchids, narcissus... and then a glass of Maltese wine in a little bar called 'England Forever.'

There are dreamlike waterfronts, medieval hill top towns, giant red and golden flags, tall cacti....

There are cafes and bars hidden down back streets in remote villages; and there you may find antique juke boxes and cute Catanian girls playing pool.


The hotels are often scruffy (although some have been updated and there are some big new ones). 

But, the scruffy ones are cheap! I don't recommend Bugibba as a place to stay, unless you like Margate.

You might like to try one of Valetta's hotels, such as THE OSBORNE.


1. Try freshly caught Lampuka and a bottle of Special Reserve.

2. At Dingli, up among the winswept stone walls and the windpumps, I met a jolly Maltese family, the grinning Galeas.

In their garden was a hutch containing cute furry pet rabbits.

The Galea children were most proud of these rabbits with their shining eyes.

I was invited to dinner.

While listening to bawdy folk music on a record player, we dined on farm wine and stew.

I noted that the youngest child was a vegetarian.

I supposed we had just eaten one of his pets.

3. The CASTILLE in Castille Square in Valletta has a wonderfully old-fashioned restaurant with interesting views.

4. Malata, opposite the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta, is favoured by politicians. Try the ravioli. Few tourists.

The beaches tend to be covered in litter. But, there are some super beaches on Gozo.


AIR MALTA is excellent! Much better than flights by BA.


Malta has some of the fattest people in the world.

The bus drivers are the rudest in the world and can ruin anyone's day.

But, you can walk most places, or hire a bike.

If you must take a bus, the main bus station is at the gates of Valletta.

The Maltese were lucky enough to get rid of the British/Nato bases, which makes them less of a target.

To make up for the loss of the British naval base, Malta has developed industry and tourism.

Industry contributes 40% of the GDP and employs 27% of the workforce.

Industry includes Malta Drydocks, Malta Shipbuilding, the container terminal at Marsaxlokk/Birzebuggia, textiles, leatherworking...

Wages tend to be low, but so are prices, and the GWU and Labour have tried hard to ensure a comfortable standard of living for workers.

Tourism brings in about 40% of Malta's national income.

Agriculture is hindered by lack of soil and water. But there is production, part of the year, of tomatoes, cabbages, onions, strawberries, cut flowers, potatoes, vines....

The biggest landowner is the Church.

Drugs, murder and rape have come to Malta.

And nastiness on imported TV.

Malta is becoming grumpy like Italy and Britain. But, Malta's still one of the safest places in Europe!

% of the population who are victims of crime in one year (International Crime Victims Survey 1995)

Austria 18%

Belgium 19%

Finland 18%

USA 24%

Malta 23%

Friendly people of Gozo.

It is not unknown to come across islanders, old and young, who will be abusive to tourists.

On my last visit a number of tourists commented on their shock at the lack of manners of some of the islanders.

It can be a bad-tempered little place with frequent strikes.

BUT, there are still lots and lots of nice people who will go out of their way to give directions to lost visitors.


Religion is on the decline. Sadly.

But, the churches still get crowded with people of all ages.

The youthful choirs are lyrical!

And, there are still some interesting religious festivals.

Go to GHAXAQ on Festa night, when all the little hobbity creatures with their white faces and bent backs, and all the beautiful girls in their best dresses, pack the square in front of the baroque church.

It grows dark.

Suddenly she appears.

Mary! Cheers are followed by wild clapping and singing; and deafening fireworks as the statue progresses through the narrow streets.


Coal fired power stations and the exhausts from buses and cars have meant lots of lead in the air and the soil. The concentration of lead in the blood of the Maltese is three times higher than in the blood of the Swedes. But, if you come from London or Athens or Los Angeles, you won't notice the difference.



The excellent had an article by David Sandhu from which I quote: "Compared to, say, Sardinia or Corsica, there isn't much glamour in Malta: it's cheap, mass market....even in the relatively upmarket resorts such as St Julians, the beaches are unimpressive, the luxury hotels rather impersonal.

"You certainly wouldn't go for the nightlife - Valletta shuts down after dark and Paceville (patchy-ville)...lives up to its pronunciation. It's little wonder that the local press is feverishly speculating about whether David Beckham is about to follow his fellow Manchester United team mate, Pil Neville, in buying one of the new luxury penthouses at Portomaso, near St Julians...."

The night life has improved in recent times!


The Maltese love to shoot birds. Or, put them in cages.

My friend Angelo showed me his pigeons which fly regularly from Sicily and win lots of cups which are displayed in a room full of marble and copies of French Rococo paintings.

Angelo's son goes to a private school, but he votes Labour.

"Didn't Labour used to be best friends with North Korea and Libya?" I asked.

Maltese girls?

There are no nude beaches, according to Baedeker.

In fact toplessness is frowned upon.

But, actually there are places.... If you want to see nude cherubs, look up at the ceilings in the churches.


My advice would be to give Malta a try.

Sunday, November 11, 2012



Pelabuhan Ratu, Java.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization, tourist numbers may reach 1 billion by December 2012.

Tourist numbers have grown 5 percent in emerging economies and 4 percent rise in advanced economies.

The only region with a decline in tourist numbers was the Middle East.

Spending on travel abroad rose 30 percent in China, by 22 percent in Poland, 15 percent in Russia, 16 percent in Argentina, 18 percent in Malaysia and 11 percent in India.

Italy and France showed a decline in spending on travel abroad.

Earnings from tourism grew 48 percent in Japan, 26 percent in Sweden, South Korea and South Africa and 17 percent in Hong Kong.

In 2011, total earnings from international tourism receipts reached $1.2 trillion or 6 percent of the world's exports.

Global tourist arrivals close in on 1 billion - UN

Monday, October 08, 2012



Tourism in Egypt is pretty dead.

Occupancy rates are about 45 per cent for hotels in Cairo.

"It's still very, very quiet," said Magdi Bochra, who manages Elegant Voyage, a Cairo-based tourism company.

Mr Bochra said he was being forced to look for another job to make ends meet. "I have a lot of colleagues either leaving the industry or even leaving the country."

The industry employs about 12 per cent of Egypt's workforce, and is the largest source of foreign currency on average.

At the height of Egypt's tourism boom in 2010, the industry earned US$11.5 billion (Dh42.6bn), before crashing back down again in the proceeding years. 

The long road back for Egypt tourism - The National - 4 Oct 2012

Tharwat Agami, head of the chamber of tourist agencies in Luxor, home to the Valley of the Kings tombs in southern Egypt, reported up to one-quarter of tourist cancellations through October. 

His own company guided 17 American tourists last week, half of the group's expected number.

Prophet-film protests bite into Egypt tourism - The Seattle Times-29 Sep 2012

Sunday, September 09, 2012



Tijuana byNatu®e //Matt Jalbert

In June 2012, CNN produced its list of the World's 10 most hated cities

If CNN was being honest, all of the ten would be either cities in the USA, or cities occupied by the USA?

Here is the CNN list:

1. In the number one position is Tijuana in Mexico

The negative attitude of much of the public to Tjuana is somewhat unfair, as CNN points out!

According to, Tijuana had a lower murder rate and fewer carjackings than Philadelphia, in spite of having a police force a third the size.

And, as CNN fails to point out, it is the CIA which has given Mexico its big problem with drugs.

Mexican official: CIA 'manages' drug trade - Aljazeera

Citizens of Sydney 1880sWebsite for this image

2. Sydney and Melbourne.

CNN makes clear that it is mainly the people of Melbourne who hate Sydney, and vice versa.

The Economist ranked Melbourne the “World’s Most Livable City” with 97.5 points. Sydney came in sixth in this same survey with 96.1 points.

3. Paris, France

The waiters are rude, the prices are high, there was no support from France for the invasion of Iraq, and the USA tried to topple De Gaulle... (OUR SECRET GOVERNMENT)

De l'autre côté, Sarkozy and Hollande supported the CIA's Arab Spring.

As CNN relates, the public have mixed reactions to gay Paris.

4. Timbuktu in Mali

CNN sees Timbuktu as "a stifling, sand-strewn cluster of shabby buildings staving off desertification."

CNN fails to mention THE CIA IN MALI

Mali now has a CIA-al-Qaeda-controlled north.

5. Los Angeles, United States

"This center-less megalopolis sloppily carved into about 90 sub-cities, over 20 ailing freeways, countless area codes and a half-million strip malls with mediocre Thai food...

"Tourist traps like Hollywood are a total bummer.

"So are earthquakes, race riots, traffic pileups, smog reports, constant sirens..."

Did anyone mention the CIA-Pentagon influence in Hollywood?


Rimac district - Lima - Peru
Lima By jerome92

6. Lima, Peru

CNN admits that Lima, like most Third World cities, can be interesting on the edges.

“If you’re prepared to delve into the nooks and crannies of this massive city, then you can find plenty to admire,” blogs one Lima supporter...

According to Time Out, in its defense of Lima, it’s no wonder people overlook “Latin America’s best-kept secret.”

Jakarta is the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere, and is much more fun than Bangkok.

7. Jakarta, Indonesia

CNN refers to "this sprawling city choked with traffic, pollution, poverty and tourist 'draws' largely revolving around random street adventures and an epidemic of malls."

Don't stay in the centre of Jakarta.

Jakarta is a series of villages, most of which are never seen by the tourists.

CNN refers to one TripAdvisor expat who says of Jakarta: “Once you get to know it, you can’t have enough of it.”

Jakarta, away from the Americanised centre, is fabulous. And your best bet is to stay in Bogor, part of Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor-Tangerang-Bekasi).


Delhi, not as friendly as the cities further south.

8. New Delhi, India

Delhi has some dishonest people.

According to, “the chances are really high that you will be scammed.”

On the other hand, Delhi is more fun that Detroit.

Egypt has turned violent.

9. Cairo, Egypt

CNN does not tell us that Mubarak was toppled by the CIA-NATO as part of its Arab Spring.

CNN does mention a recent World Health Organization report that equates breathing in Cairo with smoking a pack a day.

Thanks to the Arab Spring, Egypt is near to bankruptcy, and crime has rocketed.


Stay away from Egypt, and the whole of North Africa.

aangirfan: THE END OF EGYPT

10. Belize City, Belize

CNN refers to "Crime. Drugs. Dilapidation."

It fails to mention the US military presence in Belize.


World's 10 most loved cities |

World's most underrated cities

Friday, August 10, 2012




On 9 August 2012, it was reported that Tui Travel's profits have fallen 73%

Tui Travel is the world's biggest tour operator.

The BA and Iberia group has reported a loss and fuel costs have dragged Virgin into a loss and Cathay Pacific has suffered losses

Tui said its pre-tax profit fell to £3m in the three months to 30 June, down from £11m last year.

"Leisure companies and airlines in Europe have posted losses, or seen profits fall sharply this year, as people travel less amid gloomy economic conditions...

"According to a recent French survey, four out of 10 people in France will not go on vacation this year, one of the lowest readings ever recorded."

Thomas Cook slumps after reporting loss

Shares in Thomas Cook fell on 2 August 2012 after the tour operator released a trading update.

Thomas Cook revealed that it posted an underlying operating loss of £26.5 million in the three months to June 30, which is the third quarter of its financial year, from a profit of £20.1 million a year earlier.


Visitors stay away from London.

Angela Skelly, director of hotel room provider JacTravel, said: 'Compared with the same period last year, bookings for London are very substantially down...'

Some two-star establishments have slashed prices from £200 to £50.

Tom Jenkins, chief executive of the European Tour Operators Association, said visitor numbers to London are 'dramatically down' on a year ago.


Number of tourists from Iran visiting Turkey drop by 41 percent

Avoid Turkey.

Turkey has emerged as a nasty country, which exports terrorism.

A rebel fighter falls in Aleppo - but this one was from Istanbul

Don't say you were not warned.

And avoid Tunisia and Egypt, which are in total chaos.


Tunisia's New Government Confronts Rising Discontent.

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Monday, July 09, 2012



How about indonesia for your holiday?