Ooh, but it’s been hard to get back into this writing lark. I don’t know if it’s the anger at the current state of the UK as we stumble along towards a No Deal Brexit or the frustration that more UK-based travel bloggers don’t seem to care when this will affect what they allegedly love doing but my heart’s really not in a promoting, chatting, or helping place very much at the moment. Still, some updates have trickled through and maybe forcing myself to write here will help. Maybe.

Site Updates

Dusk View From Balcony

At time of writing we’re up to four – yes, count ’em! Four! – updates from our Asian cruise aboard Diamond Princess so click that link if you’re interested in seeing how our flight to Tokyo was, what sort of send-off we got from Yokohama, what unique features were on Diamond Princess and what our first sea day was like, or some of the sights we saw in Kagoshima including a couple of volcanoes and a formal garden overrun with spiders. Who wouldn’t want to read about that? That’s right! Everyone!

Social Updates

Most traffic to this site comes from general internet traffic and not social media posts. Sure, social media posts tend to send a spike of traffic when they’re made but unless you’re prepared to litter your social media outlet with spammy reposts of the same thing over and over and over again (and, waaaaay in the minority here, I’m not) then this is borderline pointless as far as I’m concerned. I’ve seen too many social networks shrivel and die to trust any of them as a long-term dependent source but search engines still provide a trickle of visitors and I only really write for me and whomever might find the information useful in the future so that’s the main driver. I’ll still fire an update to the usual suspects when there’s something new on the site.

Of course, that won’t stop me from signing up for any new social network that comes along and while this one isn’t new it’s new to me: MeWe. I’ve registered, I’ve posted a few things in groups, I’ll see what it’s like. First impressions are that it’s got a lot of good features and seems to take privacy seriously but it clearly doesn’t have the numbers to make it truly worthwhile spending time with. I mean, it’s got far more than FriendFeed did towards the end and that was an awesome place but that’s mostly because of the people who joined up and today’s broad stroke of social media people are more transient, more easily distracted, less interesting. It can’t hurt to hang out there for a bit every now and then, though.

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I did a bit of spring-cleaning on some of my social media accounts recently including changing our joint travel-related Twitter account username and some permanent blocking of some travel bloggers who have just got far too annoying. You know the sort: prominent video bloggers with big following and followed numbers suddenly follow you; you don’t follow back; a week later they follow you again so you know they’re just using a tool to unfollow anyone not following them and follow people who tick certain boxes in the profiles/content; a week later they follow again; then again… Blocked.

I also periodically bounce-block a few people on Twitter just to keep my numbers sensible and not let it all get so swamped that it drowns out anything of interest. During this I accidentally blocked a large swathe of people I hadn’t meant to. I tried to make a mental note, unblocked, then refollowed them. However, I still think I missed some so there are probably some people who were following me/being followed by me who aren’t now. The thing is, if I can’t work out who it is and those people don’t notice either then chances are it wasn’t a very strong social relationship anyway so I can live with the fallout.

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Speaking of Brexit, I think I managed to piss off one of the P&O Cruises presidents recently when I quote-tweeted an assurance he’d made that cruising would just fine in the event of No Deal. I questioned the trustworthiness of the government’s vague assurances and track record of competence and got a verbatim quote from the government and a public retweet of that quote for my trouble. What I didn’t get was any response to some of the points I then raised. And I saw other people rightly asking questions like “What about fly-cruises?” (since insurance and licence to fly between countries may be hit hard at first) which, again, were roundly ignored in favour of follow up promotions of “It’ll all be fine.” What this all smells of is companies seeing hits to bookings from sensible people who haven’t got legally-binding and financially-protected insurance against delays, disruptions, missed connections, missed ports, etc.

On The TV

A couple of cruise-related programmes have made a return to UK TV screens in the form of The Cruise and Cruising With Jane McDonald (Cruising Down Under, really). They’ve both been a bit disappointing.

The Cruise feels like it’s run out of ideas and as a promotional tool it looks like it’s missing a lot of markers. Why would anyone feel like a cruise was a good thing when every week there’s something wrong with the ship, some item that’s low in stock and needs to be loaded at the dockside (if you’ve never seen the programme then just picture the excitement that comes from looking at pallets being forklifted into a storage area! Thrilling!), and a member of staff who’s trying to get promoted or missing their family. There has been much ridicule on the internet about it all, a lot of it derivative and unoriginal ridicule but most of it arguably justifiable. What would I suggest? More sea, more sunsets, more cocktails, more upmarket entertainment (balls in cups!?), more emphasising the unique things you can see and do on the ship and in each port, less daily routine made up to look like a crisis.

Cruising Down Under suffers from trying to take a programme that has featured a lot of cruising information in the past and stretching it out to incorporate a land-travel section because of the distance involved thereby diluting the cruising to the point it makes a mockery of the show’s title. Not only that but the things being experienced in each of the land stops in Australia have been decidedly underwhelming. This would have worked better as two connected programmes: Travelling Down Under and Cruising Down Under.

Disclaimer: I don’t make TV shows and maybe these are ridiculously successful at whatever it is they’re trying to achieve.

On The Internet

As I’ve already said I’ve got a bit of travel fatigue right now. Not tired of travelling, oh no! Just finding the social side of things a bit less captivating than it was. But I must have read one or two things, surely.

Do you want to live in an Italian village for three months and learn local skills for free? Well, if that sounds appealing then check this out.

This cruise down the Ganges is being listed here simply because we got talking to my wife’s aunt and uncle recently and they’d just come back from doing this. They said it was fabulous. Staff outnumbered the passengers. Everyone in India really friendly. TV crews came out to meet and interview them in spots. And really good value for money. We are seriously considering it.

This post about exploring the Chernobyl exclusion zone is fascinating and it’s certainly a place we’d love to go visit. Bleak, dystopian, brutalist. All the things I love to see in a city’s buildings and to incorporate that into some dark tourism too! Wonderful!

This post about introvert travelling by Hannah could almost be written about us. Want to understand us a bit more psychologically? No, I know you don’t. Read it anyway.

This post covering a tour of Iceland’s south coast, other than being by car when we did it by coach, pretty much covers everything we recently did on one of our long weekend days in the country at the start of December. My own posts about the trip will appear in the next month or two. If I pick up the writing pace. Big if.

Fianlly, here’s a holiday travel hotlist from the Guardian. It’s good to not just get ideas but also see the places we’ve been there. And Portsmouth makes an appearance too!

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