Sunday, 26 December 2010

Top tips for travellers to Euro Disney

Some essential do's and dont's for Disneyland Paris

Do get there early to avoid the longest queues.

Do take advantage of the Fastpass where available. These are free and will help to limit waiting times for the most popular rides.

Do prepare for some disapointment if you have children under about 1.40m. The height restrictions seem quite arbitrary with similar rides having very different requirements.

Don't expect any sympathy when your offspring are refused entry, you will more likely receive a curt 'Non' as you are summarily waved away.

This brings me to another Disney mystery: who decided to site the Disney Resort adjacent to a city that prides itself on having the rudest and most sullen inhabitants in Europe? Don't expect much smiling 'Have a nice day' round these parts.

Don't forget any belongings when leaving the rides. Although other holidaymakers will likely hand them in when found, some attendants appear to see recycling other peoples possessions as a legitimate perk of the job (along with refusing children entry to rides).

Do try to avoid school holiday periods. Another consequence of being located so close to Paris, are the gangs of teenagers milling around at certain times. Queue jumping becomes rife and is tolerated by most. It is also noticable how the same ride attendants that take such pleasure in policing the height restrictions quickly absent themselves when these unpleasant groups are around.

Do enjoy yourself, there's plenty of entertainment and some great rides with most ages well catered for.

Don't let me put you off (well, maybe just a little).

Monday, 13 December 2010

Cancun: Life on the beach can't be that serious.

Another Climate Change Conference ends but this time we have the prospect of achieving something meaningful.

With a Democratic White House it should be no surprise that the US has quietly allowed things to happen, but there are another 12 months negotiating before the next shindig in Durban, and the Republican Senate may still be able to impose limits to any final treaty.

But progress is fine, however small. 

One proposition that stands out is the notion of paying countries to halt deforestation.

This sounds great but how it would be funded and policed is quite another story. The issues of illegal logging and corrupt local authorities are two of the real barriers to rainforest preservation.

At least the need for such measures has been addressed, and this despite the obvious distractions of a luxurious Mexican beach resort.

Perhaps when future conferences are held, the venue could be somewhere more in keeping with the task at hand.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Global warming and the disappearing snowmen

The snow outside is starting to recede. From being over a foot deep it is now turning to slush and ice as daytime temperatures slowly climb above freezing.

This was the fourth heavy snowfall in less than two years, and for the South of England, where these events were previously counted by the decade, it's proved quite a shock. Roads and airports have been closed, with children sent home from school, and now more severe weather is on the way.

And all this as our planet is getting warmer, which raises one important question:

Where are all the snowmen?

These cheerful fellows usually arrive with the very first snowfall.

As if by magic they appear in gardens and parks, standing motionless, sporting scarves and hats, coal black eyes staring and somehow growing daily, until the local children tire of patting and pampering them. Then that's where they remain, ready to shrink and crumble as the green grass returns around them.

But not any more.

In all my surrounding neighbourhood, I have seen just a couple of these chilly chaps, neglected and lonely, each rise in temperature drawing them closer to the ground.

Children have already learned to accept the snow as quickly as they learn to use a computer or mobile phone. Yes, they still like to play and have snowball fights, but build a snowman?

That's just a childish chore.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

WikiLeaks: the Presidents defense

And so it goes on.

More leaks and embarrassment, an ever larger stock of published material, and it has to be said, that in these days of heightened security, the amount of data being moved undetected to the WikiLeaks servers is quite astounding.

The US say they have blocked the source [a State Department database] but do not yet know who the Source is and it certainly brings into question how a single email loop between cyber-smart terrorist conspirators could ever be tracked effectively.

It's all very intriguing, and in true spook style, Julian Assange (WL founder) is now wanted on various sex charges in Sweden - which just happens to be the country which protects whistle blowers and where he hopes to reside.

You couldn't make it up?
Actually you could and plenty of film makers have... Next he wakes in a hotel room with a dead hooker in the bed beside him and no memory of how either of them got there. Just hope he remembers to check under any cars he rides in.

But what's all the fuss about?

Why don't the Government just advise everyone to adopt the Ronald Regan defence.

"What conversation?", "I don't recall writing that memo" or "I have no recollection of sending that email" should do fine.

Life was so much simpler before the Internet.