SpaceX Falcon 9 Es’hail-2 Mission – Launched 15:46 EST 15th November 2018


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SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Es’hail-2 satellite, from the Kennedy Space Centre Florida today (Thursday November 15th 2018).

I watched the launch from Max Brewer Bridge and Parrish Park, Titusville. I recorded a video on my phone – the video isn’t that good as I wanted to actually watch the rocket and not on my screen. You may also be disappointed at how far the rocket is away from my viewpoint, despite this being the best location outside the space centre.

I used this site to discover places where I could view

The Falcon 9 rocket is re-usable – in December 2015, Falcon 9 became the first rocket to land propulsively after delivering a payload to orbit. Today, 16th November 2018, following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 landed perfectly on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has a long and storied history dating back to the early 1960s. Originally built to support the Apollo program, LC-39A supported the first Saturn V launch (Apollo 4), and many subsequent Apollo missions, including Apollo 11 in July 1969. Beginning in the late 1970s, LC-39A was modified to support Space Shuttle launches, hosting the first and last shuttle missions to orbit in 1981 and 2011 respectively.

In 2014, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease with NASA for the use of historic LC-39A. Since then, the company has made significant upgrades to modernize the pad’s structures and ground systems, while also preserving its important heritage. Extensive modifications to LC-39A have been made to support launches of both commercial and crew missions on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.


Here is a replay of the launch webcast.

Here is the official mission patch:

Arby’s Fast Food Restaurant Chain


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Arby’s was founded in Boardman, Ohio, on July 23, 1964, by Forrest and Leroy Raffel, owners of a restaurant equipment business who thought there was a market opportunity for a fast food franchise based on a food other than hamburgers. The  name ‘Arby’s’ is based on RB (Raffel Brothers). There are now 3,342 outlets almost all in the USA.

I’ve been visiting the USA since 1978 but only tried Arby’s this last week while in Florida – specifically the Arby’s on 6296 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy. Celebration, FL 34747.

Arby’s sell a variety of meat sandwiches – their slogan is ‘We Have The Meats’® . In 2015 they opened a support line for Vegetarians who were tempted to go to Arby’s – 1-855-MEAT-HLP.

There is a bell by the door and Arbys encourage customers to ring the bell when they have experienced good food and service.

We tried a classic Beef and Cheddar sandwich

and a Greek Gyro

Both really delicious and pretty good value compared to the other fast food chains. I’m amazed how the market outside the USA is dominated by McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and Subway, whereas the best fast food is In-N-Out Burger, Wendy’s, Taco Bell and now I’ve found Arby’s. Don’t forget to ring the bell!

95 Years of CSA Czech Airlines Cabin Crew Uniforms


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Czech Airlines is the World’s fifth oldest airline still in operation. The airline was founded on October 6th 1923 – it was originally called ČSA Československé státní aerolinie (Czechoslovak State Airlines).

Just in case you wondered about the older airlines: KLM (1919), Aviatica (1919), Qantas (1920) and Aeroflot (1923).

To celebrate their 95th birthday, Czech Airlines produced a video that shows changes in cabin crew uniforms over the last 95 years. The Czech Republic doesn’t suffer from unnecessary political correctness and so you’ll find only female cabin crew featured.

Models used in the video are real Czech Airlines cabin crew members.

Flying during a firework display


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On November 5th 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested while guarding explosives that were placed beneath the UK House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London. Since the UK has celebrated Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night with bonfires and fireworks.

When I was young, we would made a fill-size ‘Guy’ effigy from old clothes stuffed with newspaper. We’d then wheel him around the streets in an old pram begging change ‘Penny for the Guy Mister?’ from passers by. Come the 5th we’d sit him atop the bonfire – not surprisingly that doesn’t happen much these days.

You may have wondered what it’s like to fly on a commercial jet flight during a firework display. Is there any danger? Would you see fireworks whizzing past the window? The answer is probably not.

Most store-bought fireworks only reach 400 feet/121 metres, display-grade fireworks can reach at most 1400 feet/426 metres. A typical cruising altitude of a commercial aircraft is 35,000 feet/10km. Obviously as they come into land, they get lower and for that reason, there aren’t major firework displays close to airports.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority asks display organisers to register their displays and pilots are notified. Nonetheless, since 2000, fireworks have struck at least eight aircraft as they landed at UK airports. The pilots of a further 28 passenger jets reported fireworks exploding in close proximity, often dazzling flight crew during critical phases of flight. All reported incidents happened in late October and early November.

Endangering an aircraft with fireworks can lead to criminal charges. In 2006, a 20-year-old man was convicted by the Scottish Crown Office after setting off fireworks in his garden under the approach to Edinburgh Airport.

I’ve flown before on around the 5th November and have seen some dazzling displays beneath me – usually the top of the mushroom. I’m flying British Airways to London this evening and have a window seat reserved. I’m going to attempt to film the fireworks from above and post here afterwards. It may be that it’s too cloudy or I just don’t see any – I’ll update the post either way.

Post-flight update: The sky was quite clear but there weren’t many fireworks. This first video shows some fireworks a long way below.

I then waited until we were much lower but there were even less fireworks – still you may enjoy watching the flight land.

Crispin Glover’s Chateau (Zámek), Konárovice, Czech Republic


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Crispin Glover is an American actor known for playing eccentric roles such as George McFly in Back to the Future and the Thin Man in Charlie’s Angels. Here is a classic scene from Back to the Future where George tries to tell Lorraine that he is her destiny.

I found Crispin’s chateau (zámek in Czech) on AirBnB and decided to book two nights there end of June 2018. The Airbnb account is managed by someone called Anna-Michaela, she advised that all the double rooms were under reconstruction but could offer two singles with a connecting door – we decided to take them. It was quite expensive considering the location:

$121.47 × 2 nights $242.94
Cleaning fees $42.51
Airbnb service fee (includes VAT) $43.60
Total: $329.05

That’s the sort of price you’d pay for two nights in a five-star hotel in Prague. But we thought, hey, this is a chateau and probably pretty nice if Crispin Glover owns the place.

The day of our booking arrived and we took the train from Prague to Kolín – journey less than an hour. A taxi from Kolín to the chateau in Konárovice was 150/200Kc and took about 15 minutes before we found ourselves outside the electric gates just before 4pm.

The path led to the main chateau building which looked impressive. Anna-Michaela met us and pressed a button to open the main doors.

The building is on two floors, surrounding a square courtyard. Anna-Michaela was friendly but a little bit ‘away with the fairies’. She explained that her and her Mother often spend several of the Summer months at the chateau, although there is someone else who manages the place and it’s maintenance/reconstruction full time.

We were taken on a small tour. The kitchen was a little more rustic than we had anticipated. We’d brought some food and put that in the fridge.

Our rooms were odd; weird furniture, dusty floor with some dead bugs, cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. I should have said something about cleanliness at that point but we didn’t want to make a fuss. The first room had a narrow single bed within a wooden unit.

A connecting door led to the second room; more weird furniture, narrow bed, dust and cobwebs. Both rooms had their windows wide open and so there were a number of flies circling. Luckily I’d brought my electric bug zapper racquet so I knew I’d be able to dispatch them later.

Another connecting door led to a huge black bathroom, with several washbasins, showers and toilet cubicles. Imagine a black toilet basin and seat in a black cubicle.  Even the light switches were black.

It felt like we’d arrived the Addams Family house.

I asked about the odd furniture and all black bathrooms. Anna-Michaela said that the ‘owner’ went to local auctions and bought unusual furniture. The ‘owner’ also wanted all the bathrooms black. There was never any mention of Crispin Glover and so we didn’t mention him either.

The tour had lasted almost an hour and we were keen to pick up some provisions, especially wine and beer. Anna-Michaela directed us to the local mini-market. We went out through the electric doors….

…through the electric gates…

…only to find that the mini-market had closed five minutes earlier. The shop closes at 5pm weekdays and noon on Saturday. If you decide to stay here, bring provisions or ensure you make it to the shop in time.

We closed the windows in our rooms and spent 30 minutes with the electric bug racquet taking out the flies. Then took a walk around the grounds.

There are quite a few peacocks wandering around.

An old church that looks un-used is next door.

There’s obviously a regular gardener maintaining the grounds.

Steps lead down to a small lake with swans.

It is a really unusual and interesting place.

We went back inside and explored the corridors and upper floors before heating up some food in the grubby kitchen oven. Wherever we found ourselves in the chateau, Anna-Michaela would magically appear – it was a little disconcerting and I decided that she must be using a secret network of corridors and paintings with moving eyes!

We took a stroll through the village and discovered that there was a celebration at the local sports ground. There was a barbeque, country-music band and best of all Czech beer.

The evening sky was amazing.

Back in our spooky room, we pulled back the bedding of the first bed to find at least 15 moths and killed them. We then tried to take a shower but there was no hot water. I messaged Anna-Michaela about the moths and hot water and she came very quickly. After first initially offering the use of her shower, which we declined, she realised that the hot water had been turned off and resolved the issue – she also replaced the bedding. I decided to discuss the overall cleanliness – Anna-Michaela observed that perhaps she should be stricter with the cleaning lady.

We both slept badly. The beds were uncomfortable. I was already creeped out about the moths and other bugs, then I was buzzed by a mosquito. It took 15 minutes to find it and zap it with the racquet. Back to bed. Another buzzing in my ear. Another 15 minutes. This happened three times. I was getting so desperate that I was thinking to call a friend in Prague and ask if they would come and get us. At first light we were woken to sound of peacocks.

We decided to leave the next morning after the breakfast we’d brought with us. Anna-Michaela, with her flower-child demeanour, was mystified by our desire to leave – she said that she wore earplugs so the mosquitoes didn’t disturb her. I asked if she was bitten and she said ‘Oh yes, all the time!’.

We were worried about importing the moths back to our home and had tried to keep all our clothes locked in our case – nonetheless we found some when we arrived home and put everything we had with us in the washing machine.

I realise that this is an old chateau and not a modern five-star hotel, but the prices charged should mean at least a clean room, working shower and absence of insect infestation. Finding the moths among our clothes at home was the final straw and I requested a refund via AirBnB. In the end we agreed to a two-thirds refund.

Obviously, I’d never stay again. But, if you want to stay somewhere really unusual or you’re a fan of Crispin Glover and you don’t mind paying hotel prices to rough it, this chateau may be of interest to you.

Anna-Michaela’s Airbnb page:

Crispin Glover’s website: – it’s an odd website that looks like it was made in the early days of HTML, but maybe that’s the look he was after?

Lime Electric Scooters arrive in Prague, Czech Republic


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26th October 2018 update: Lime Scooters ‘temporarily’ banned by Prague 2. Apparently, Lime didn’t ask Prague 2 before deploying the scooters also Prague 2 residents have been complaining about riding on pavements and leaving scooters in a random places. The Prague 2 website (in Czech) has the announcement

I checked the Lime app this morning and found that Prague 2 is now shown in pink (see below) – still quite a few scooters are parked there, but I guess these will be swept up by the Lime ‘juicers’ – those paid by Lime to pick up and recharge scooters. I’m not sure what happens if you drive a scooter into the ‘red’ zone – it would be very sci-fi if the thing refused to move into the zone eh?

Original Post from 17th October 2018:

Lime green electric scooters have appeared in Prague over the last few weeks. People whizz past on them. You can spot them parked unattended in the streets and nobody seems to steal them. I decided to find out what the deal is with these scooters.

I found – quite smart to use the .me extension to make the word lime as I’m sure would cost a lot more. It turns out that this US company has placed electric scooters across the US and now Europe.

I downloaded the Lime app from the app store, entered my details and looked for a scooter.

I’m amazed at how many scooters I could find, although several looked a bit low on battery.

I found a scooter and clicked ‘scan to ride’ – there was a QR code on the scooter. The Lime app linked with Apple Pay and took 25Kc. The app also warned that I needed to obey local regulations, be over 18 and have a full driving licence. It’s a bit surprising that I was able to get so far without anyone actually verifying my age or driver status. I also have no idea what the local regulations are for riding an electric scooter in Prague.

I decided to take the scooter to a quiet side street – it started beeping and I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong. Then some guy appeared and asked if I’d rented the scooter and did I need some help. I was initially amazed that they had people around to assist – but then it turned out he was just some guy who wanted to rent the scooter and had pressed the bell button in the app in order to find it.

First issue with Lime: It doesn’t look like you can reserve a nearby scooter so it’s still there when you find it. You could see one on the map, walk to it, only to find that it’s been rented.

I rode the scooter – controls were quite easy, just accelerate and brake. The cobbled streets of Prague made the journey a bone-shaking experience.

Second issue with Lime: I don’t think they’ve considered the terrain in Prague.

I decided to park the scooter. This ‘How to Park’ Matrix-inspired video is pretty good, although it talks about cycles rather than scooters:

I left the scooter on a wide pavement and clicked ‘lock’ and ‘end ride’ in the app.

Within seconds, a couple, one on a Lime scooter, one running, had rented the scooter. They drove off and didn’t seem to mind being shaken about.

Well I have the Lime app now and I assume it works for any Lime scooter in any city. I’m not sure if I’d bother renting another scooter in Prague, unless it was to ride around a park that had smooth paths. But if I found myself somewhere else, I might use Lime for sightseeing.

The Documentation Centre, Nuremberg, Germany


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Our visit to the Documentation Centre was part of our German Road trip (that page has links to all the hotels, restaurants and places visited).

I would say by far the most interesting places to the visit in Nuremberg are the old Nazi rally grounds (Zeppelinfeld) and the Documentation Centre. We were staying at the Hilton Nuremberg, which is walking distance to both – we visited the rally grounds first. If you are travelling from the centre, there is a tram that stops just outside the Documentation Centre – you then need to walk around the lake to the rally grounds.

The Documentation Centre has a modern entrance.

Admission is 6.00 € and that includes an audio guide – you enter the number shown on the area you are viewing for audio description in multiple languages.

The centre contains some harrowing historical scenes, some posters and memorabilia and a record of war crimes.

I thought this first picture was interesting as there was a small child calmly sitting next to it,  This despite the Documentation Center website advice: The exhibition at the Documentation Center is not suitable for children under the age of 14.

I suppose the history can’t be considered complete without this reference.

This art installation that shows the names (on cards) of those sent to concentration camps

All the installations are presented really well.

There is also a terrace where you can look out to the Congress Hall.

You exit the centre via a long sloping walkway.

We stumbled into a room behind the café with supporting columns and an alternate view of the sloping walkway.

But someone from the museum appeared and made it clear that this wasn’t open to the public. I’d love to take a tour of the hidden spaces.

If you turn left at the exit, you can walk around to the Congress Hall entrance – there isn’t any signposting and you find yourself walking along a deserted portico.

That leads to the entrance.

Inside the place is vast – the plan was to add a roof, but the war was over before that happened.

Here is a 360 video that I took while there:

We retraced our steps and returned to our hotel.

I would definitely recommend a visit but make sure you visit the parts that are unpackaged; Congress Hall and Rally Grounds.

Documentation Center
Bayernstraße 110
90478 Nuremberg

Admission 6.00 Euro

Monday to Friday: 9 am – 6 pm
Saturday, Sunday, holidays: 10 am – 6 pm
Last admission 5 pm

The Former Nazi Rally Grounds (Zeppelinfeld), Nuremberg, Germany


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Our visit to the Rally Grounds and Documentation Centre was part of our German Road trip (that page has links to all the hotels, restaurants and places visited).

I would say by far the most interesting places to the visit in Nuremberg are the old Nazi rally grounds (Zeppelinfeld)and the Documentation Centre. We were staying at the Hilton Nuremberg, which is walking distance to both. If you are travelling from the centre, there is a tram that stops just outside the Documentation Centre – you then need to walk around the lake to the rally grounds.

What is interesting, although understandable, is how the rally grounds aren’t part of any tour, nor are they signposted when you visit the Documentation Centre. Equally, the huge Congress Hall, that the Documentation Centre is attached to, is something you need to find by yourself.

From the Hilton Nuremberg, we turned right, under a railway bridge, then right again to reach the rally grounds.

At the front of the building, there was a sign that said ‘Enter at your own risk’. I suppose because the steps have been left to deteriorate and some are now broken and uneven.

The place was pretty deserted. The old rally grounds now sports fields.


It’s amazing how accessible the place is – you can easily stand on the main plinth and imagine looking out on the rallies.

There was a small information poster at the top of the steps.

An image on glass allows you to look back in history.

The building used to have a large swastika at the top – this was blown up by the allied forces.

On either side of the parade grounds are building that provided toilets and a place for the large lights that shone upwards.

Having past the rally grounds, we followed a path around a lake. The Documentation Centre and Colosseum on the other side.

The Documentation Centre review is here.

Valzner Weiher Restaurant (Nuremberg)


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Our visit to the Valzner Weiher Restaurant was part of our German Road trip (that page has links to all the hotels, restaurants and places visited).

We were staying at the Hilton Nuremberg – a hotel way outside the centre of Nuremberg and not many nearby restaurants to choose from. The Valzner Weiher looked like a good place, set in the middle of a picturesque park with a lake.


Inside was a classic German restaurant.

And outside was a great terrace, although we sat inside as the whole of Germany seemed to be plagued by wasps (August 2018) and we also wondered about mosquitoes from the lake.

The staff were friendly. A Bier Herrnbrau was 3.80 €. A Wiener schnitzel was 16.80 €.

Salmon 16.20 €.

The food was okay, nothing amazing – during our week’s road trip, I learned that German food is still trapped in the 1980s. It’s sort of quaint in a way.

If you happen to find yourself at the Hilton Nuremberg, then it’s worth a walk round to Valzner Weiher – but there’s no reason to travel from Nuremberg centre unless you’re desperate to dine by a lake.

Valzner Weiher
Valznerweiherstr. 111
90480 Nürnberg

Tel: +49 09 11 40 44 24

Open daily: 11:30 – 22:00


Hilton Hotel, Nuremberg, Germany


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Our stay at the Hilton Nuremberg was part of our German Road trip (that page has links to all the hotels, restaurants and places visited).

The Hilton Nuremberg is one those classic out-of-the-centre, middle-of-nowhere, Hiltons – ideal when you are driving as the car park was large and parking free.

Let’s start by saying that this hotel shouldn’t be a Hilton – maybe a Hilton Garden Inn at best. If it had a twin, then it would be the Hilton Watford, England. However, the rates are very cheap – you can get around 75 € per night. For HHonors Gold/Diamond members, a snack, a drink and breakfast are free, making that 75 € good value.

The hotel is walking distance to the old rally grounds and what is called ‘The Documentation Centre’, but is 20 minutes by bus from the city centre.

Next door was a local football stadium and I could see their pitch from the windows at the rear of the hotel.

The check-in desk staff were friendly, helpful and spoke English. They gave us vouchers to redeem at the bar and the help-yourself snack bar. The snack bar was almost empty, with hardly anything left from the menu to choose from.

Our ‘upgraded'(!) bedroom was okay for one night. The bathroom was hot, tiny, drains a bit smelly with a noisy extractor fan.

The hotel bar/restaurant was mostly empty. The bar staff really inattentive – obviously bored to be there, but not bored enough to serve customers.

We ate at the nearby Valzner Weiher Restaurant. There’s also a Burger King (turn right out of the hotel to the next traffic junction) which is housed in an old generator building used to power the floodlights at the nearby rally grounds.

Breakfast was better, with fresh orange juice, sparkling wine, all the usual pastries and hot food, including local sausages. For those whose rate didn’t include breakfast, the price was 24 € – at that price, you’d be better walking to Burger King.

There is no direct bus connection from the hotel to the Documentation Centre – you’d need to head back into the centre and then back out again. It’s about 30 minutes walk, but halfway there you can see the old rally grounds and then walk around a nice lake.

If you are on driving to Nuremberg and your main focus is to visit the Documentation Centre then this hotel will be okay – otherwise choose something in the city centre.


TEL: +49-911-4029 0