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20 of the most surreal natural phenomena – explained

<p><strong>Behold</strong><br />I don’t know about you, but being cooped up in the house has made me yearn for the majesty of nature like I’ve never quite yearned in the past. Sure, prior to quarantine I might’ve gone weeks without seeing moss and not thought twice about it, but now that I cannot venture out of my home to see salt flats or rainbow eucalyptus trees, I am simply beside myself. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use this time to educate myself about them – I dare you to try to stop me from marvelling at Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland and other natural phenomena. Take a look at some of nature’s most dream-like creations, and maybe they’ll earn a spot at the top of your bucket list.</p> <p><strong>Moonbows</strong><br />Much like rainbows, these colourful nocturnal arches occur when light (from the moon, in this case) reflects and refracts off water droplets in the sky. But moonbows are much more rare than rainbows – the natural phenomenon happens only when the moon is very low, the sky is dark, and rain is falling opposite the moon.</p> <p><strong>Sun halos</strong><br />Similar to moonbows, sun halos, or a circle rainbow, form much higher in the sky when light reflects through ice crystals forming a perfect circle. They appear as a large circle of white or coloured light around the sun.</p> <p><strong>Brinicles</strong><br />What Alec Baldwin describes on Frozen Planet as “icy fingers of death,” brinicles are underwater stalactites, or hollow icicles, that form when cold salt water freezes. In the right conditions, brinicles can reach and pool on the ocean floor, eventually freezing slow-moving bottom-dwelling creatures like starfish.</p> <p><strong>Shooting stars</strong><br />Shooting stars are actually meteors, or small rocks that have entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The light you see is the particles heating up and burning. Stargazers can expect to see a shooting star every ten to 15 minutes.</p> <p><strong>Sinkholes</strong><br />A perfect example of how a natural phenomenon can be dangerous is the Florida man who was swallowed by a sinkhole under his bedroom. Sinkholes most commonly occur when water, made acidic by contact with plants or carbon dioxide in the air, erodes soft rock such as limestone, gypsum or dolomite underground, forming a deep cavern.</p> <p><strong>Whirlpools</strong><br />Formed at the meeting of opposing currents, whirlpools are often much more ominous in fiction than in real life. The most powerful whirlpools, called maelstroms, are formed in narrow, shallow straits with fast flowing water, or at the base of waterfalls, but the speed of the swirl rarely exceeds 30km/ph.</p> <p><strong>Glowing beaches</strong><br />Some beaches around the world glow at night. This natural phenomenon is caused by phytoplankton in the water that gives off light when agitated by the movement of waves and currents. These microorganisms can be seen at beaches in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and many more around the world. The image above is a long exposure shot of a blue fluorescent wave of bioluminescent plankton in Thailand.</p> <p><strong>Light pillars</strong><br />Light pillars are colourful beams of light that shine down from the sky, typically during sunrise. They are sometimes also referred to as solar pillars or sun pillars. Light pillars occur in colder climates when light reflects off ice crystals in the air.</p> <p><strong>Waterspouts</strong><br />Some might mistake a waterspout for a tornado moving over a body of water, but in reality, a waterspout is a type of cloud. Waterspouts are rotating columns of air over water and are much weaker than tornados. They mainly occur in tropical and subtropical climates.</p> <p><strong>Volcanic lightning</strong><br />Thunderstorm lightning has nothing on volcanic lightning which appears during a volcano explosion. This lightning forms in the volcanic plume – the cylinder-shaped column of volcanic ash – after it erupts, according to National Geographic. The particles that make up the plume compress underground. Once these particles eject above ground the density changes. Plus, the friction between particles charges them. They separate as they go up, creating space for electricity or lightning to flow between particles, per National Geographic.</p> <p><strong>Blood falls</strong><br />In Antarctica, the famous Blood Falls – a blood-red waterfall pouring out of the Taylor Glacier, are found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Scientists and geologists first thought that the water was the colour red because of algae, according to Atlas Obscura. Research by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, however, found the red colour is thanks to oxidised iron in the brine saltwater. We see the falls thanks to a fissure allowing the water to flow from the small, trapped body.</p> <p><strong>Frozen lake bubbles</strong><br />Lake Abraham in Alberta, Canada, features some beautiful frozen, trapped, bubbles of methane. Methane bubbles form in water when bacteria feasts on leaves and animals in the water. The bacteria eat the matter and ‘poops’ out methane, which turn into floating bubbles in frozen water, according to Smithsonian Magazine.</p> <p><strong>Salt flats</strong><br />There are some well-known and beautiful salt flats, also known as salt lakes in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria. No matter their location, salt flats are all thanks to the evaporation of water and the concentration and precipitation of salts and other minerals dissolved in it, according to the New York Times. They can differ in their water source which could be a lake, groundwater, or one of many other water sources.</p> <p><strong>Glow-worm caves</strong><br />Even worms, although small and slimy, are a natural phenomenon – especially glow-worms and their caves. Most of these caves are in New Zealand and Australia. The Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are the most well-known, having formed more than 30 million years ago. The science behind the glow-worm caves is interesting. In fact, they technically aren’t ‘glowing worms’ at all. According to the New York Times, fungus gnat eggs hatch, their larva constructing mucus. That mucus coughs up silk strings collecting droplets of more mucus. This is the net that illuminates and attracts flies or other victims for the worms.</p> <p><strong>Rainbow eucalyptus trees</strong><br />Rainbow eucalyptus or rainbow gum trees hails from the Philippines and Indonesia. The colourful tree stripes are actually strips of old and new bark. As the thin bark layers peel away, they reveal younger ones with brighter colours. The youngest bark is green then purple, red and brown as the tree ages and loses chlorophyll. Eventually, the bark becomes totally brown again before repeating the shedding cycle, according to nature.com.</p> <p><strong>Travertine terraces</strong><br />Travertine forms as a result of calcium carbonate precipitation from geothermal waters, according to New Zealand’s University of Waikato. The travertine builds up forming terraces over time. When hot water full of carbon dioxide flows through limestone, it dissolves. It carries calcium carbonate to the surface of the travertine, per Atlas Obscura. Still, more research shows there might be other reasons for their formation. Bacteria in the water could catalyse the minerals, forming the terraces, according to Science Magazine.</p> <p><strong>Sandstone waves</strong><br />These sandstone waves were originally dunes in Arizona, USA. Dating back more than 190 million years, the ‘waves’ are made up of intersecting troughs of sandstone turned to rock. According to Atlas Obscura, the dunes form vertically and horizontally, and slow erosion, thanks to wind and rain over time, reveals their wave-like look. Sandstone waves are a must for avid hikers in the American Southwest.</p> <p><strong>Desert roses</strong><br />Desert roses are a special crystal group formed by rain or flooding in desert regions where there are trapped sand particles. Switching between wet and dry conditions forms the crystals while trapping grains of sand. Although most form from gypsum, baryte and celestite roses exist, too.</p> <p><strong>Nacreous clouds</strong><br />Nacreous clouds look like light waves of various colours. They are rare since they’re only visible within two hours after sunset or before dawn. However, they’re more common during winter time in places with high altitudes, like in Antarctica, Scandinavia, Iceland and Canada.</p> <p><strong>Permafrost explosions</strong><br />This natural phenomenon is thanks to frozen, trapped methane, similar to the bubbles seen here in Lake Abraham, Canada. Heating these larger-scale bubbles results in huge bursts, according to Business Insider. The warming temperatures in Arctic zones thaw the ice, releasing the gas and creating permafrost explosions.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Beth Dreher. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/20-of-the-most-surreal-natural-phenomena-explained?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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17 things you didn’t know about Prince George

<p><strong>He missed out on a royal birthday tradition this year</strong><br />Like many youngsters in 2020, Prince George had a low-key birthday during the coronavirus pandemic. And there’s one royal honour he didn’t receiving this year: the tradition of the ringing of the bells at London’s Westminster Abbey was a no-go, as the Abbey was closed until August. But the young prince might not even have noticed, as he’s currently spending time with his family away from London at their country estate, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk. His mum, Duchess Catherine, revealed in a podcast that the family enjoys the “simple things” like being “outside in the countryside and we’re all filthy dirty.” A recent pic taken by the Duchess is proof, showing Prince George and his siblings, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte, roughhousing in the grass with their dad, Prince William.</p> <p><strong>He has sibling rivalry with Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte</strong><br />As with any family, there are squabbles between Prince George and his younger siblings. Duchess Kate recently revealed at a gardening event that the siblings are having a sunflower-growing competition – and Prince George hasn’t exactly been happy with the results. “The children are really enjoying growing their sunflowers – Louis’s is winning so George is a little grumpy about that!” she said. And in typical older-brother fashion, he has also wanted to take over his sister’s school assignments. “George gets very upset because he just wants to do all of Charlotte’s projects,” Duchess Kate told ITV. “Spider sandwiches are far cooler than literacy work!” We’re not sure what spider sandwiches entail, although they do sound enticing for a little boy.</p> <p><strong>He volunteers</strong><br />Duchess Catherine and Prince William strive to teach the future king of England about the importance of giving back to those in need. Not even a spring rainstorm could stop Prince George and his family from delivering homemade pasta to the elderly and vulnerable near their Norfolk home, in a photo released for Britain’s Volunteers Week in early June. The young prince had even helped prepare the packages himself, along with his siblings. “They got drenched as it was pouring with the rain but I think they just wanted to do their bit,” one onlooker told The Daily Mail.</p> <p><strong>He’s a normal schoolboy</strong><br />At the school Prince George attends, Thomas’s Battersea in London, the young prince is just like any other student, which is exactly how his parents want it – Prince William and Duchess Catherine haven’t even told Prince George yet he’ll be king one day. “George is really happy at school, [and] his nickname is P.G.,” a classmate’s parent told Vanity Fair. “He’s very popular and has lots of friends, and there’s very little fuss made about who he is,” the parent said. “Either William or Kate do drop-off, and they are always very friendly.” Prince George’s little sister, Princess Charlotte, joined him at the school last year.</p> <p><strong>He loves the British cartoon Fireman Sam</strong><br />Although Prince George is not allowed to have an iPad, he still gets in screen time while he watches his favourite show, Fireman Sam, as his parents revealed in a BBC radio interview. “Fireman Sam is taking an awful lot of interest,” Prince William said, noting that he has to watch along with his son. “You have to pretend you’re really into [his shows] because George gets very upset if you’re not showing due diligence to the characters.” The creators of Fireman Sam even gave a nod to the young prince in their 30th-anniversary episode, “The Prince of Pontypandy,” in which an unnamed royal family makes an appearance.</p> <p><strong>He’s started wearing long pants</strong><br />Royal watchers know that following tradition, Prince George had always appeared in public in shorts, even in winter. But the youngster is growing up and has begun breaking this protocol. His first public appearance in long pants was at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Last December’s Christmas card also featured the young prince in laid-back jeans, described by one British newspaper as a ‘royal shock’. Then again, Prince William and Kate’s Christmas cards are always fantastic, regardless of what the young prince is wearing.</p> <p><strong>His sister wears his hand-me-downs</strong><br />Like any good big brother, Prince George has passed on his clothes to his little sister, Princess Charlotte. In that same Christmas card, Princess Charlotte is wearing a sweater Prince George wore in a 2016 photo with his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Charlotte also wore the same hand-me-down sweater in a photo with their newest sibling, Prince Louis, following his birth in 2018. And this spring, Princess Charlotte was spotted wearing the exact same sneakers Prince George wore the year before, both without socks, no less – although whether she inherited his stinky shoes or is simply wearing a new pair of the same style has not been revealed.</p> <p><strong>He can be ‘naughty’</strong><br />As a toddler, Prince George was something of a handful – so much so that his parents decided to leave him at home when they went on a 2016 trip to India. When asked why the young prince was not with them, Duchess Catherine reportedly replied, “Because George is too naughty. He would be running all over the place.” Maybe now that he’s older, he can accompany them on their next trip there. “The next time we come we will definitely bring them,” the Duchess said.</p> <p><strong>He has seven godparents</strong><br />There are some ways Prince George is just like any other ‘normal’ boy – and some ways his Royal life is very, very different. For example, at his christening, he received not one, not two, but seven godparents to assist, counsel, and support him in his very important royal role. According to the Prince’s official royal biography, they are: Mr Oliver Baker, Mrs David Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Mr Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, The Hon. Mrs Michael Samuel, Mrs Michael Tindall, and Mr William van Cutsem. Just who are these people? They range from childhood and college friends of Prince William and Duchess Catherine to family and other members of the aristocracy. No Royals, though, made the cut, possibly so that the young prince will have others to turn to outside ‘the firm’ as he grows up.</p> <p><strong>He loves dancing, like his late grandmother</strong><br />Prince George’s grandmother, the late Princess Diana, was known for her dancing, such as when she took to the floor with John Travolta at the White House. And the grandson she never got to meet has apparently inherited her skills. “George is doing dancing as well, he loves it,” Prince William shared. “My mother always used to dance, she loved dancing.” Prince George’s school, Thomas’s Battersea, includes ballet class for young students, so he can enhance his natural talent.</p> <p><strong>He tailgates</strong><br />At a polo match last year, with his siblings and new cousin, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince George looked like any boy having a fun outing. (Even though Harry and Meghan’s baby is being raised differently form the Cambridge children). While his dad and uncle, Prince Harry, played, Prince George decided he’d rather kick around a soccer ball than watch the game. At one point, his mother, Duchess Catherine, had to take away a polo mallet he was dangerously wielding near Princess Charlotte. Then, he and his sister had an impromptu tailgate, complete with snacks out of the cooler. They hopped up into the back of their SUV as their mum and brother, Prince Louis, lounged on the grass below.</p> <p><strong>He’s a picture-posing pro</strong><br />From a young age, Prince George was a natural in front of the camera. According to a photographer who took his picture for a special postage stamp when the Prince was only two years old, “he was absolutely charming, as you can see from the picture. You only have a short window of opportunity with small children, but Prince George was on good form and everyone seemed to enjoy seeing him enjoy the day.” Duchess Catherine, an avid photographer herself, also recently revealed her son loves having his picture taken. “Get outside with your camera as well – George and Charlotte love it when we do that,” she advised budding photographers at an event.</p> <p><strong>He goes on spider hunts</strong><br />Speaking of getting outside, Prince George loves being in nature, as his mother recently opened up about during a visit to a ‘forest school’. According to the head of the school, the Duchess “said she often takes her children on spider hunts in their garden, which they love. They can spend hours out there.” At another garden visit, Duchess Catherine talked about how much her children love to learn by exploring the outdoors. “That’s where George and Charlotte would love to be is learning outside of the classroom, not inside,” she said. And Prince George’s grandfather, Prince Charles, has said the youngster is “one of those characters who naturally, instinctively likes to be outside.”<br /><br /><strong>He helped design his mum’s garden</strong><br />With his love of nature, it’s not surprising Prince George actually helped Duchess Catherine design her woodland-themed, play-and-learn garden for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) this year. “We made the stepping stones because Prince George wanted them,” the landscaper the Duchess worked with told Hello!. “The kids loved jumping across [the stream].” Plus, the official Kensington Palace Instagram revealed, “over the past months, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis have helped the Duchess gather moss, leaves, and twigs to help decorate the RHS Back to Nature Garden. Hazel sticks collected by the family were also used to make the garden’s den.” The Duchess said her kids “played [in the garden] last night in a way I hadn’t imagined. They were throwing stones. I hadn’t actually thought that that was what they would be doing. They kicked their shoes off, and wanted to paddle in the stream…using it in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.”</p> <p><strong>He makes pizza dough</strong><br />What kid doesn’t like pizza? Prince George is no exception and even likes making his own personal pies. At a community centre lunch, Duchess Catherine said, “I’ve done that with George and Charlotte, making pizza dough. They love it because they can get their hands messy.” At a recent event where she actually made pizzas with children, Kate said of her own kids, “they would love to come and do this with you. They’ll be very sad that I’ve been out here making pizzas with all you and they haven’t been!” The budding chef also likes to make cookies, although the Duchess has said, “when I try to do this with George at home, chocolate and the golden syrup goes everywhere. He makes so much mess. It’s chaos.” So relatable!</p> <p><strong>He plays tennis – with Roger Federer</strong><br />Another of the sporty Prince’s interests is playing tennis – but not too many seven-year-olds get to take lessons from one of its top stars. At Wimbledon, Duchess Catherine said that Prince George has actually played with his favourite player, Roger Federer, according to the tournament’s Wimbledon Morning Coffee. And as reported in The Daily Star, Federer is also a fan of Prince George, “He’s a cute boy. I love to see they’re into tennis or into sport,” noting that George has “a good swing.” The tennis champ also said about being the Prince’s favourite, “I think I have a little advantage that I actually spent some time with him, so maybe I’m the only player he’s ever met. Then you have a little head start into who is your favourite player!”</p> <p><strong>He gets totally bored at formal events</strong><br />The future king may lead an extraordinary life, but he sure exhibits some pretty ordinary – if adorable – kid behaviour. At last year’s Trooping the Colour, which celebrates the Queen’s birthday, his priceless expressions, including a scrunched-up nose and facepalm, were just like any other bored little boy at a grownup event. Never mind the Royal Air Force fly-by: George is totally over it. This (almost) tops when his cousin, Savannah Phillips, shushed the giggling Prince and even covered his mouth. Whether smiling or scowling, Prince George steals the show!</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Tina Donvito. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/17-things-you-didnt-know-about-prince-george?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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The stories behind 12 abandoned mansions

<p>While we all love a good scary story, few of us are brave enough to live in a scary story. Sometimes home is where the heart is, but for some of the people on this list, home was exactly where the troubled started.</p> <p>The unbelievable stories of these mansions are chock full of strange histories, mysteries and even scandal. The owners of the once-lavish and magnificent mansions below knew that the price of the house was just one small part of the story. Of course, mansions are usually thought of as large, extravagant homes that convey wealth and status to all who behold them. Usually, mansions are sold or passed down in families for years, each loving and updating the sprawling property in a new way. So what happens to make someone run away from their dream home? These abandoned mansions have some incredible and almost unbelievable stories to tell.</p> <p><strong>Mínxíong Ghost House — Mínxíong, Taiwan<br /></strong>Ranked as the spookiest haunted house in 2019, the Minxiong Ghost House naturally lives up to its reputation. The stories surrounding this mansion run the gauntlet from affairs to suicide to simple relocation, but whatever you believe, this mansion definitely fits the creepy bill. Built in 1929 by Liu Rongyu, this baroque rival style mansion (sometimes called the Old Liu House) is hidden between overgrown greenery. One of the most popular tales states that a housemaid had an affair with the homeowner, leading to the wrath of the wife and eventual death of the maid by jumping down a nearby well. If the maid story was not enough, another story claims a soldier committed suicide in the home after hearing strange voices. Regardless of the truth long lost to time, the large mansion has some wild history within its beautiful, yet decaying walls.</p> <p>Halcyon Hall at the Bennett School for Girls — New York, USA<br />This creepy, gothic mansion was once the site of higher education for New York women. Founded in 1890 in Irvington, the school later changed its name to Bennett College. Originally, before becoming solely a junior college, the school was a six-year, woman-only institution. The school closed and declared bankruptcy in the wave of co-ed education, a few weeks after welcoming an entire class of freshman to campus. Halcyon Hall, a 200-room structure that functioned as a hotel before becoming an academic building in 1907, remains standing to this day. The abandoned property fell to decay and changed hands many times, somehow surviving multiple threats of tear-down. Imposing and overrun with greenery, the halls seem content to continue into disrepair without crumbling completely.</p> <p><strong>Villa de Vecchi — Cortenova, Italy<br /></strong>This beautiful mansion sits among the trees in the mountains of Cortenova, beside Lake Como. Known by many nicknames, including the “Red House, Ghost Mansion, and Casa Delle Streghe (The House of Witches),” this mansion touts a tragic history. In the late 19th century, Count Felix De Vecchi commissioned architect Alessandro Sidoli to build this Baroque-style behemoth. Unfortunately for the Count, Sidoli died a year before the top-of-the-line villa was completed.</p> <p>The Vecchi family spent very little time in the villa before tragedy struck—the Count’s wife was murdered and daughter kidnapped. After a number of search attempts, the Count himself succumbed to suicide. After passing hands around the Vecchi family for a few decades, the house fell to disrepair, nature intrusion, and vandalism. Still, the mansion lives on in lore to this day. Alongside the rumors of occult activities and sacrifices, locals still say the long-ago smashed piano still floats music outside of the house and down the countryside.</p> <p><strong>Lennox Castle — East Dunbartonshire, Scotland<br /></strong>Just north of Glasgow, this mansion and castle were built somewhere around the early 1840s. Initially, the castle was built for John Lennox Kincaid of the familial line of the Earl of Lennox. In 1927, the castle was purchased by the Glasgow Corporation and converted into a “hospital for the mentally ill.” Buildings cropped up around the main castle structure to eventually hold over 1,200 patients. Toward the middle of the century, however, fights, unrest, and riots began to break out among the patients. One such fight in 1956 resulted in some of the male patients attacking the nursing staff and being locked inside a small hut. In 2002, the Lennox Castle Hospital was officially retired and all other buildings on the property knocked down. In their stead, the Celtic Football Club attempted to make training facilities. Today, the castle has fallen to fire and nature and remains a beautiful, eerie ruin.</p> <p><strong>Chaonei No. 81 — Beijing, China<br /></strong>Built in the early 20th century, this mansion has a much darker past. Constructed in the baroque style by the Qing imperial family, this three-story mansion has been abandoned since 1949. The story goes that after the Nationalists’ defeat by the Communists, the Kuomintang official who owned the property abandoned his wife in the mansion. According to legend, she was so wrought with anguish and heartache that she hanged herself in the home. Some say that her spirit still haunts the house, as explorers and local children alike dare to take a peek inside the once elegant and now-decaying home.</p> <p><strong>Los Feliz Mansion — Los Angeles, California, USA</strong><br />The story goes that this hilltop mansion was the home of Dr Harold Perelson, his wife and his three children. As a respected doctor in the late 1950s, Perelson shocked the city and, to an extent, the world when he suddenly brutally murdered his wife with a ball-peen hammer in her sleep. After attempting the same cruel act with his young daughter, he ended his own life by drinking acid and taking tranquiliser pills. Many have speculated about his causes and the “hauntings” of the mansion thereafter, though it was purchased and sold multiple times over the next 60 years. What’s more spooky? Up until 2016, the owners let the house remain largely the same as it was in 1959 – same dust-coated decor and same eerie emptiness.</p> <p><strong>Lynnewood Hall — Pennsylvania, USA</strong><br />Built in the late 19th century, Lynnewood Hall is a Neo-classical, Gilded Age mansion with a regretful past. The unfathomably rich art collector and tycoon Peter A.B. Widener commissioned the 110 room mansion with 55 bedrooms from famous architect Horace Trumbauer. This lavish, limestone mansion was build shortly after the death of Widener’s wife and filled with famous pieces and paintings (some by El Greco, Rembrandt, and Donatello). Tragically, the eldest son meant to inherit the property was on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. George Widener and his son lost their lives while his wife, Eleanor, survived on a lifeboat. Ironically, the Wideners were a large investor in the RMS Titanic. The younger son, Joseph, managed the property until his death in 1943 left the house unclaimed, abandoned, and stripped of its valuable decor.</p> <p><strong>Odd Fellows Home — Liberty, Missouri</strong><br />This mansion was built for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, founded in 1819, as a central hub for the organization in Missouri. The fraternal organization resembled the Masons with the goals of promoting brotherhood, loyalty, and community outreach. The IOOF was also known for “secret rituals,” many of which were performed in the Odd Fellow Home throughout the 19th century. That is, of course, when they weren’t taking care of the at-risk members of their community at their 200+ acre complex with a school, nursing home, hospital, and orphanage, according to Atlas Obscura. While the complex fell to disrepair (aside from one building that now holds a functioning winery), the Odd Fellows left a skeleton of one of their members behind, “George,” which was said to be used in the strange initiation rituals.</p> <p><strong>Bannerman Castle — New York, USA</strong><br />This castle doesn’t have a morbid history so much as a historically interesting one. According to Jane Bannerman, granddaughter-in-law of the builder Frank Bannerman VI, the mansion was built on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River as a place to store arms for sale. A bit of folklore from the Native American tribes of the island survives, including the legend of naming the island after the story of a girl named Pell who was rescued and swept to safety on the island by her heroic sweetheart. The American Revolution saw the island and its surrounding waters outfitted with booby traps called “chevaux de frise” to block British ships.</p> <p>In 1900, once the Bannermans owned the island, they built the Scottish-style mansion (or armory!) and even allowed various charity groups to visit the beautiful island in the summer. Frank Bannerman’s wife maintained beautiful grounds on the island, some of which still exist even after the famous 1969 fire. Today, The Bannerman Castle Trust works to restore the building, promote tourism, and preserve the history of the island and structure.</p> <p><strong>Dundas Castle — New York, USA</strong><br />Sometimes called the Craig-E-Claire Castle, this eventual mansion was first a small lodge structure built by Bradford Lee Gilbert around 1880. In 1915, new owner Ralph Wurts-Dundas decided to construct a more castle-like structure, though he passed away only a year shy of its competition. His wife, Josephine Wurst-Dundas, was shortly thereafter committed to a mental institution against her will, also never living in the completed castle. Their daughter Muriel became the owner, but her due inheritance was said to be stripped and stolen from her by greedy castle care-takers. Sometime after, the daughter was married and left the property to be sold a few times before landing in the hands of a local Masonic chapter. Now, while still under Masonic-ownership, the castle is abandoned and falling apart. The lore implies that the ghost of Josephine still haunts the structure.</p> <p><strong>Wyckoff Villa (Carleton Villa) — New York, USA</strong><br />Predictably, of course, the Wyckoff Villa (located on Carleton Island in the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York) is yet another example of a tragic story. In what many call one of the first Gilded Age mansions along the Thousand Islands, the villa was commissioned of architect William H. Miller for William Wyckoff. Wyckoff, a Remington typewriter magnate, lived in the home for only one day after its 1895 completion. Why? Well, unfortunately, Mr Wyckoff suffered a heart attack that night on July 11th, only a month after his wife, Ives Wyckoff, passed away. After 30 years within the family, the villa was sold to General Electric. Though originally planning to tear down the villa to construct a golf course and retreat in its place, GE eventually stripped the house of all useful (and necessary) parts and left it in disrepair.</p> <p><strong>The Craig House Hospital — New York, USA</strong><br />This odd, gothic “mansion” was originally built as a part of the Tioronda Estate by Frederick Clarke Withers in 1859 for Joseph Howland. After Howland’s death, Dr. Clarence Slocum converted the mansion into one of the first licensed private psychiatric hospitals in 1915. The hospital treated big names in private, extreme luxury for a pretty penny, including Rosemary Kennedy, Zelda Fitzgerald and Jackie Gleason. However, toward the turn of the century, the reputation of the once highly-regarded Craig House Hospital became clouded by untimely deaths and suicides, a series of fires, and general disrepair to close completely in 1999. Once abandoned, the Craig House Estate (and the surrounding property) is now planning to be made into a luxury hotel and spa.</p> <p><em>Written by Johanna Neeson</em><em>. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/the-stories-behind-12-abandoned-mansions"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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French Open rocked by match-fixing allegations

<p>French prosecutors have come forward to confirm that an investigation into suspected match-fixing at the French Open has begun. </p> <p>On Wednesday, reports claimed the allegations involve a women’s doubles match.</p> <p>“It’s a first-round match featuring players that are not well-known,” a source within France’s National Gaming Authority (ANJ) explained to AFP. </p> <p>French sports daily L’Equipe and German newspaper Die Welt have said that the match that is suspected is the first-round encounter on September 30 between Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig and opponents Yana Sizikova of Russia playing with US player Madison Brengle.</p> <p>Suspicion surrounds the fifth game of the second set. </p> <p>The Romanian duo won by love after Sizikova served two double faults.</p> <p>L’Equipe reported that large sums of money were bet on the Romanians winning that game and that the wagers were placed in several countries. </p> <p>The Romanians went on to win the match 7-6, 6-4.</p> <p>Prosecutors said they were probing possible “fraud in an organised group” and “active and passive corruption in sport”.</p> <p>A source within the investigation said that the bets that had been placed on the match were “abnormally large” and amounted to “tens of thousands of euros”. </p> <p>“They must have been afraid to bet in France. They tried to spread the bets around other markets but the betting industry bodies know how to do their sums,” the source said.</p>

International Travel

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Top national parks in the US

<p>Feeling a bit caught up in the bright city lights and chaos? Nothing sounds more grounding than turning off the devices and heading on a family trip to a US national park.</p> <p>But with 58 beautiful parks to choose from, this magical outdoor vacation needs some planning.<br /><br /><strong>Grand Canyon National Park</strong></p> <p>Majority of the Grand Canyon’s six million yearly visitors flood to the central lookout. But the national park hosts a further 4926 km² of sublime beauty to explore.</p> <p>From gentle day walks to the arduous RIM2RIM, the park has a large variety of trails. Even better, under 16s stay free at all Grand Canyon lodgings.</p> <p>Kids can become Junior Rangers by completing the activity book and taking a pledge at the visitor centre – it’s free. Interactive drawing and writing activities encourage the little ones to learn about nature, history and preservation.</p> <p>While the North Rim does have an abundance of trails, the South Rim is recommended for travelling with kids. There’s more to do on this side, and day tours run from Phoenix and Las Vegas.</p> <p>The Rim Trail offers spectacular views of the inner canyon, and shuttle buses can help manage the length of your hike. For an easier trek, Cape Royal is a gentle yet rewarding hike on the South Rim, perfect for sunset picnics.</p> <p>The park has plenty more to do than hiking. Try horseback riding, white water rafting or hire bikes and ride the greenway trail.</p> <p>For those driving, 4×4’s can descent the bottom of the Canyon and stay at the Bright Angel Campground. It takes about five hours to drive around the national park.</p> <p>Size: 4,926 km²<br />Average accomodation: $350<br />Recommended Time: Three days<br />High Season: May – Sep<br />Best time to go: April, September – October<br />Great for: 6 and up</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Olympic National Park</strong></p> <p>How did mum ever expect you to conquer a national park without a Discovery Backpack? At Olympic, little adventurers are equipped with binoculars, a whistle and a torch to explore the one million acres of diverse wilderness.</p> <p>Nestled in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, two hours from Seattle, the national park is great for overnight trips or a full week of adventure.</p> <p>Most of the parks campsites don’t take reservations so there’s no need to commit to a certain route. It is one of the cheaper and easier parks to get a permit, making it perfect for the more spontaneous of planners.</p> <p>A coastal cycle is a great way to tour the beautiful beaches, or explore the rainforest and mountains trails on foot.</p> <p>Hurricane Ridge is one of the most scenic climbs in the US. There are varied routes for different hiking abilities, so you’ll have no trouble getting there.</p> <p>Rialto Beach and Hall of the Mosses are both great day walks for confident hikers. For something more gentle, the Ruby Beach trail rewards a well deserved dip in the water.</p> <p>Size: 3,734 km²<br />Average accomodation: $191<br />Recommended time: A week<br />High season: May – Oct<br />Best time to go: April – May, July – Sept<br />Great for: All ages</p> <p><br /><strong>Yosemite National Park</strong></p> <p>With some of America’s most beautiful alpine tree views and rainbow skies, Yosemite is perfect for families who don’t want to travel too far off the beaten track. Nestled in the Western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, the National park covers 3027 km² and is accessible from San Francisco and Los Angeles.</p> <p>There are plenty of short hikes for families with younger kids, meaning less blisters and less grumbling.</p> <p>The Lower Yosemite Falls Trail is a magical (but wet) 1.6km round trip that rewards sensational views. It can be tackled easily in a day, with plenty of time to stop at the many exhibits and learn more about the natural and cultural history of the area.</p> <p>Head to the Swinging bridge after a long day of walking for a much deserved cool off in the swimming hole.</p> <p>For a more difficult hike, the Mist Trail continues to the Nevada falls and on a clear day boasts double rainbows. The hike is mostly stairs though, so bring plenty of water and a good pair of boots.</p> <p>If you’re driving, it’s worth getting up before sunrise for the 62 kilometres of scenic alpine views on Tioga Road.</p> <p>Size: 3027 km²<br />Average accomodation: $357<br />Recommended time: Three days is enough to do everything, but a week is great for those who want to take it slow.<br />High season: May – Sept<br />Best time to go: March – May, Sept – Oct<br />Great for: ages 7 and up</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Arches National Park</strong></p> <p>Arches, true to its name, is a mystical oasis of red rock formations. While you can take several days to see the park, it is perfect for those who have 2 or 3 hours to detour.</p> <p>The national park is located in Eastern Utah and stretches 310 square kilometres. The 29km drive through Arches is one of the most scenic in the US and can be done in about three hours. This allows for multiple stops throughout the journey with short walks to popular attractions along the way.</p> <p>Arches is great for beginners, or those who aren’t up for long and strenuous hikes.</p> <p>Stops such as Balanced Rock provide great half kilometre round trips that let you gauge how far the little ones can go. For a more difficult hike, Delicate Arch is a 4.6km back trail that features beautiful wild flowers and scenic views.</p> <p>If you are staying for longer, you can also try mountain biking, rafting or horseback riding.</p> <p>On the way home be sure to stop at Cisco for some creepy photos of the ghost town featured in Thelma &amp; Louise and Vanishing Point.</p> <p>Abandoned house in the ghost town of Cisco. Picture: Elizabethmaher / Shutterstock.<br />Size: 310.3 km²<br />Average accomodation: $121<br />Recommended time: A day<br />High season: May – Sept<br />Best time to go: April, Sept – November<br />Great for: Toddlers and young kids. Aches beginner trails are perfect for parents that may need to carry the little ones.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Zion National Park</strong></p> <p>Utah’s first national park is adored by little adventurers for it’s supernatural rock formations and vibrant mazes of water. Hike through 150 million years of history – Zion’s hanging valleys and canyons full of wildlife mean I spy with my little eye isn’t limited to the same three things.</p> <p>Zion is not a drive through park, but the Canyon Scenic Route provides spectacular sunset views on the way in and out.</p> <p>The parks free shuttle system loops Zion Canyon and drops you to the most popular areas, including Checkerboard Mesa and Weeping Rock.</p> <p>Family ranger programs are also free and specially designed to teach kids about wildlife and human history.</p> <p>The Emerald Pools trail guides you through three kilometres of fairytale forests, and as the name suggests, leads to caves full of glittering mermaid pools. For a more adventurous trail, The Narrows is a rewarding maze of rocky gorges and pink sandstone walls.</p> <p>Size: 593.3 km²<br />Average accomodation: $229<br />Recommended time: 5 – 7 days. Avid hikers may wish to stay longer and try the more strenuous hikes.<br />High season: April – October<br />Best time to go: April, Oct<br />Great for: ages 7 and up</p> <p><br /><strong>Yellowstone National Park</strong></p> <p>Yellowstone has always be known as the home of Yogi Bear. But America’s oldest national park is also brimming with hiking trails, heavenly waterfalls and forests full of natural wonders.</p> <p>The park is a diverse 8,991 km² spread of volcanic and alpine wilderness that stretches across three states. It’s scale means there is plenty to do with kids of all ages.</p> <p>Natural hot springs and thermal features fill the park, a great way to relax after a long day of walking or cycling. The Boiling River is a popular spot for bathing, or for something a little colder; you can try brave the Firehole River further upstream.</p> <p>The Grand Prismatic Springs are a must-do in Yellowstone. It’s well worth the wait for a parking spot at midday when the colours shine the brightest. The Upper Geyser Basin Trail is flat trail accessible for strollers, and you’re guaranteed to see geyser eruptions. See how many Byson you can spot in large range of wildlife at Lamar Valley, just outside of Yellowstone.</p>

International Travel

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Top things to do in Dubai with your grandkids

<p>We asked a few Dubai locals what they think kids will love in their city. It turns out, Dubai has loads for them to do. You may need a whole week here to see it all.</p> <p><strong>The Big Bus Tour</strong></p> <p>If you’re after a fun but super easy way to get around the city, a Big Bus Tour is top of the list. Families can pick one of three routes through Dubai’s most famous landmarks and attractions. The red tour takes you through the city, the blue tour through the Marina and the green tour goes past the beaches. The red has English-speaking guides. On the blue and green tours, you will get a pre-recorded commentary in 12 languages.</p> <p>Choose red to see the Dubai Mall, the City Walk, the old Souk and the Dubai museum. Choose blue to see the Mall of the Emirates, the Marina Walk, Atlantis the Palm and Al Ittihad Park. Choose green to see Jumeirah Public Beach, Burj Al Arab, the Souk and the Mall of the Emirates, home to Ski Dubai.</p> <p>With a big bus ticket you can hop on and hop off at any attraction you like. The tickets also include various museum admissions, night tours and a dhow cruise.</p> <p><strong>Aquaventure</strong></p> <p>Just when we thought the Atlantis Dubai couldn’t get any better – we remembered there’s a waterpark. And it’s just about as insane as they get.</p> <p>The vertical drop slide Leap of Faith sees daredevils slide nine stories to floor. And because that just wasn’t scary enough, the slide plummets through an enclosure of sharks and rays. You can also try your luck on the ultimate Zoomerango, or on the Slitherine.</p> <p>And there’s no need to worry if waterslides aren’t your cup of tea. Aquaventure has over 700 metres of pristine private beach. Splashers Play Area is the perfect place for little madcaps, filled with mini slides, climbing frames and plenty of other water games and activities. There’s also a gentle wave pool and lazy river for those who would rather chill out.</p> <p><strong>Wild Wadi Waterpark</strong></p> <p>For those who can’t get enough of the waterpark madness, Wild Wadi is a similar but smaller – and slightly more relaxed – waterpark in Jumeirah. It’s the perfect place to escape the Dubai heat, this water extravaganza home to 17 water slides and three pools.</p> <p>The waterpark has over 100 kids rides, including inflatable raft slides and water rollercoasters. Splash in the man made beach and enjoy spectacular views of the Burj Al Arab. At Wild Wadi, you can try stand up or lie down surfing at the Wipeout Flowrider, currently one of few indoor surf experiences in the world.</p> <p>You can also chill out at Juha’s Dhow, a whopping 360 metres of lazy river for those after something more relaxed. Face the rapids at Flood River, or head to Dubai’s highest ride. Jumeirah Sceirah is a 33-metre vertical drop beginning in a launch chamber with a trap door fall.</p> <p><strong>Ski Dubai</strong></p> <p>At Ski Dubai, there’s always snow much to do.</p> <p>Transport from city chaos to winter wonderland in this replica world of European chalet style grounds and snowy pine tries. This indoor ski resort is a 22,500 metre snow paradise of jumps, slopes and chairlifts.</p> <p>Situated in Dubai’s Mall of Emirates, the ski area has fully functioning chairlifts and is set to a permanent -1 degree. Ski and snowboard instructors and slopes cater for all ages and abilities, so anyone can have a go. For little ski devils there are plenty of jumps, and beginners can enjoy multiple snow plow areas.</p> <p>There’s an ice train maze, a donut spin ride, snow bumpers and wall climbing. Join in the fun with bobsledding, tubing, tobogganing and even zorbing. There's also a penguin march at Ski Dubai every single day.</p> <p><strong>IFly Dubai</strong></p> <p>It’s 2019 and apparently, human flight is a reality. Dubai’s ultimate indoor skydiving experience IFly Dubai hovers you four metres in the air of a vertical glass tunnel.</p> <p>Indoor skydiving is said to be similar to bungee jumping, skydiving and base jumping. Instructors are there to guide you during the process, but it shouldn’t take you long to get the gist. The trick is to be gentle with your manoeuvres, as any movement is amplified in the tunnel.</p> <p>The unique design of IFly Dubai stands 10 metres tall and is surrounded by acrylic glass walls. IFly Dubai takes all flyers: beginners and pros.</p> <p><strong>Kidzania</strong></p> <p>Fast track your way into the exciting adult world in this child-sized city. With realistic uniform dress ups and guided tasks, the little ones can participate in fun activities and earn their wage.</p> <p>Kids aged 4 to 16 can learn all about jobs, money and the real world in this 7,000m2 scaled replica of a city. The mini world has over 40 role play activities to choose from.</p> <p>At Kidzania Dubai there’s a kid-sized hospital, bank and radio station, as well as a mini dental clinic and hospital. Star FM Radio Station produce radio shows and report news bulletins that play on the airwaves throughout the city for everyone to hear. Little ones can join in the fun and become a radio host. There’s also options to build a house on a construction site, do the weekly shopping or become a cashier at the supermarket. You can even ride safely home on the public bus. Become a dentists or healthcare practitioner, learn to bake at the Tiffany Cookie Station, or even get your driver’s license at the Emirates Driving Institute.</p> <p><strong>The Burj Khalifa</strong></p> <p>The Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure and building in the world. Also known as The Vertical City, the magnificent building stands at 828 metres tall. And you can visit the top.</p> <p>Conquer the 160 storeys to the Sky Lounge by elevator. Feel as if you’re flying across global landmarks with the specially designed projections inside. And when you reach the top, the projections become a reality.</p> <p>Spectacular 360 degree views of the magical city of Dubai can be seen from the top. You can enjoy a meal, or just sit back and take in the view.</p> <p>Packages begin at $38/child and $51/adult for a sunrise breakfast.</p> <p><strong>Arabian Adventures: Sandboarding</strong></p> <p>It’s time to attempt the ultimate Arabian survival challenge: sandboarding. Just like snowboarding – but on sand – this desert adventure activity is a 30 minute drive from the city. Feel the wind in your hair as you fly down the slopes; starting as a beginner and finishing as an absolute pro.</p> <p>Fly over sand dunes and hurtle down steep hills: strap in your feet and you’re set to go. For the less daring, sitting and lying on your board are still great fun.</p> <p>Sandboarding takes place in the morning, so there’s always a spectacular view as the sun rises across the rolling dunes. Packages also include camel strolls and 4-wheel-drive bashes through the Arabian desert.</p> <p><strong>Visit Old Dubai</strong></p> <p>Dubai is known for its modern architecture, skyscrapers and activity. But the prosperous city that we see today didn’t come from nowhere. The historic district known as Old Dubai is located on the Western side of the Dubai Creek and is covered in winding walkways, classical buildings and traditional eateries.</p> <p>It’s worth wandering the streets of the Al Bastakiya Quarter and admiring the traditional buildings of Dubai. You can also visit the XVA Gallery for some contemporary Middle Eastern art, or stop for lunch in a traditional Arabic Tea house.</p> <p>Old Dubai is also home to the Gold Souk; a traditional Arabian marketplace spread through covered walkways. Whether you’re trying to barter the price of gold jewellery or you’re just there to join the hustle and bustle – it’s well worth a visit. It’s also famous for the resident Guinness World Record holder, the largest gold ring in the world.</p> <p>Old’s Dubai’s spice marketplace the Spice Souk is still popular with the locals. Wander the lanes to find colourful spices and other souvenirs.</p> <p><strong>Visit a souk</strong></p> <p>Even if you don’t make it to Old Dubai, it is worth visiting a souk at some point on your trip. The traditional marketplaces are a great place to search for gold, spices, perfumes, textiles and more.</p> <p>The Dubai government legally assures the quality of all jewellery pieces, so shopping in comfort is a no brainer.</p> <p><strong>Take a water taxi</strong></p> <p>Dubai’s popularity comes at a cost – it’s hard to get around. Why not escape the traffic and catch a Water Taxi? With 43 stations spread across the city, it’s one of the easiest and most popular ways to travel.</p> <p>And it’s more than just a mode of transport. Speeding through the heart of the city by water offers sweeping skyline views and the opportunity to see landmarks up-close.</p> <p>The taxis also have reclining seats and LCD monitors, so there’s really no reason to say no.</p> <p><strong>Shopping at Dubai Mall</strong></p> <p>The world’s largest and most visited mall is located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa and is home to 1,200 retail stores, two anchor department stores and hundreds of food and beverage outlets. If shopping isn’t your thing, there is also an abundance of leisure and entertainment venues such as the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. In fact, there’s not much you can’t do.</p> <p>The 5.9 million square foot mall hosts fashion names such as Valentino, Gucci, Chanel and Ralph Lauren.</p> <p>The world’s largest aquarium and aquatic zoo live here, complete with a 270-degree fish tank tunnel to walk through.</p> <p>The mall is also home to the indoor Dubai fountain – the most photographed spot in the mall. Stop by The Village, which features an open roof in the winter months to offer an outdoor shopping experience.</p> <p>Don’t miss the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink, the mini world ‘edutainment’ concept Kidzania, and the giant indoor cinema complex.</p> <p class="p1"><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://familytravel.com.au/kids-dubai-tips/"><span class="s1">Family Travel</span></a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Which Australian destinations lose, and which may win, without international tourism

<p>But it seems increasingly likely international borders will remain largely closed until at least mid-2021. The mothballing plans of airlines such as Qantas further suggest international travel will take years to recover to pre-pandemic levels.</p> <p>For any tourist attraction primarily geared to international visitors, and for the hotels, restaurants and shops that cater to that tourist traffic, this spells trouble.</p> <p>In 2019 more than 9 million international tourists injected an estimated A$47 billion into the Australian economy.</p> <p>On the other hand, local destinations that primarily attract local tourists could be in for boom times, attracting those who might otherwise have gone overseas. (In 2018-19, more than 10 million did so, spending A$65 billion in the process.)</p> <p>Tourism, though, is not a zero-sum game. Not all of the money that might have been spent overseas will necessarily be spent on a local holiday. Even if it was, and the boom in domestic tourism more than made up for the loss of international tourists, the impact would be different across cities and locations.</p> <p>That’s because local and foreign tourists tend to opt for different holiday experiences. International visitors are more attracted to the sights of Sydney and Melbourne, and the tourist hot spots of Queensland. Locals disproportionately want to get away from the city and avoid the tourist traps, relaxing in the country or on the coast.</p> <p><strong>Measuring international attraction</strong></p> <p>To get a better sense of how closed international borders will affect local economies, we calculated locations’ reliance on international tourists using data distilled from TripAdvisor, a popular travel booking and review website.</p> <p>As a proxy for how many foreigners visit (and then review) a location relative to the number of domestic visitors, we looked at the number of reviews written in English relative to other languages.</p> <p>Obviously this is an imperfect measure. A lot of foreign visitors come from New Zealand, Britain and Ireland, for example. Non-English speakers might use a different platform entirely. Nonetheless the results give us a basis to see where the absence of international tourists will likely be felt the hardest.</p> <p>Using the data from TripAdvisor, the following chart shows the relative importance of tourism to local economies as well as the relative importance of international tourists.</p> <p>At a glance, Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, stands out as the having the most to lose, due the relative importance of tourism, and international tourists, to its economy.</p> <p>Sydney attracts the greatest proportion of foreign visitors, but is less dependent on tourism.</p> <p>Regional towns like Tamworth in NSW and Bendigo in Victoria (bottom left) should be least affected.</p> <p><strong>The biggest losers</strong></p> <p>About two-thirds of all international passengers touch down in Sydney and Melbourne. Our data from Tripadvisor also suggests this is where foreign visitors spend most of their time and money.</p> <p>In Sydney the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach are magnets for foreign tourists. Melbourne has the Eureka Skydeck and its Royal Botantic Gardens. Any business attached to the traffic for these attractions will face a tough year ahead.</p> <p>The only upside is the big cities have more diverse labour markets. So those losing tourism jobs in these areas have a slightly better chance of finding work elsewhere.</p> <p>The bigger risk comes to Cairns and other smaller tourist hubs with star attractions that attract a large flow of international tourists. For many businesses in these local economies a closed border could be an existential challenge.</p> <p><strong>The potential winners</strong></p> <p>While our results are more robust for predicting where lost international tourism will hurt most, we can also see some possibilities of boom times for destinations that provide the experience local tourists are seeking.</p> <p>Two examples are Echuca in Victoria and Busselton in Western Australia. These are very different towns. Echuca is an historic inland town on the Murray River often associated with paddle steamers. Busselton is a fishing town south of Perth long associated with lazy beach holidays.</p> <p>Locations offering the more relaxed “getaway” experience might find their bookings overflowing this holiday season as Australians unable to visit Barcelona or Bali look to holiday closer to home.</p> <p><em>Written by Misha Ketchell. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/which-australian-destinations-lose-and-which-may-win-without-international-tourism-146395">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Meghan Markle hits out: "It's not controversial"

<p>Meghan Markle has gracefully responded to criticism over her political views, and said she is no stranger to online misinformation.</p> <p>The royal, 39, spoke at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit via video link, where she explained that her focus lately had been her family and trying to block out “the noise”.</p> <p>“For me, it’s been amazing to spend time with my husband and watch our little one (son Archie) grow, and that’s where our attention has been,” she said.</p> <p>“In addition to, of course, how we can be a part of the change of energy that so many people are craving right now and whatever we can do to help in that capacity.”</p> <p>The Duchess of Sussex responded to the cutting criticism on her public support for the Black Lives Matter movement and her calls for people to vote in the US election.</p> <p>The royal family have a strict rule of not involving themselves in politics and government elections, although royal members do not always follow that guideline.</p> <p>“If you look back at anything that I’ve said, it’s really interesting because what ends up being inflammatory it seems is people’s interpretations of it,” Meghan said.</p> <p>“But if you listen to what I actually say, it’s not controversial.</p> <p>“And actually some of it is just reactive to things that haven’t happened, which – in some ways – I think you have to have a sense of humour about it, even though there is quite a lot of gravity and there can be a lot of danger in a misinterpretation of something that was never there to begin with.”</p> <p>The duchess advised those watching the summit to “focus on living a purpose-driven life”.</p> <p><span>She said: “Don’t listen to the noise.”</span></p> <p>The ex-<em>Suits</em> star spoke at the summit in a 15-minute slot with journalist Ellen McGirt.</p> <p>The exclusive online-only conference costs $A18,000 to attend.</p> <p>Meghan also spoke about the Sussexes’ non-profit organisation Archewell, which she says aims to “ensure that we are helping foster healthy positive communities – online and off”.</p> <p>“To see how you are propagating hate, whether passively or actively; to see how you are clicking on things that are contributing to an industry that is really toxic for so many of us, especially as parents,” the royal explained.</p> <p>“We have got to all put our stock in something that is true. And we all need to have reliable media and news sources that are telling us the truth. Without that, I don’t know where it leaves us.”</p> <p>Meghan said people should not contribute to or “click on” misinformation online.</p> <p>“And when you know something is wrong, reporting it, talking about it, ensuring that the facts are getting out there … I think that is one clear tangible thing that everyone could be doing,” she said.</p>

International Travel

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Six free (or super cheap) things to do in Paris with your grandkids

<p><strong>Jardin Du Luxembourg – Luxembourg Gardens</strong></p> <p>At face value Jardin du Luxembourg seems like another one of mum’s boring ideas of fun. But hidden deep in its many gardens is a kids wonderland. The perfect place to let off some steam. And it’s free.</p> <p>The park is in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, a ten-minute walk from the <strong>Pantheon</strong>. It's adored all year round by Parisian kids for its endless activities and bustle. Puppet shows, toy boats and its very own lolly shop – this park has it all.</p> <p>Keep exploring to find the forgotten apple orchard and <strong>Orangerie</strong>. Hours of fun can be had at one of the six chess tables, or on the carousel. If you’re there in summer you might even score a real pony ride.</p> <p><strong>Parc De Jeux</strong> is Jardin du Luxembourg’s ultimate kids play park, and it has perimeter fences so there’s no fear of runaway toddlers. The multi-level forts, giant tunnel slides and climbing nets are all colour coded for different age groups. But no adult slides – sorry Dad.</p> <p>Older kids flock to the park after school hours to play basketball, martial arts and tennis. You can try your luck at <strong>Jeu de paume</strong>, a 250-year-old version of tennis played without racquets. The former Olympic sport is still played competitively, and the French championships are held right here.</p> <p>The parents might even be able to escape long enough for a coffee and romantic walk around the forgotten apple orchard. But strictly no kissing. Gross.</p> <p>They can even catch a puppet show at the mini-theatre next door. Oh, wait – that’s for kids too.</p> <p><strong>Great for:</strong> Ages 3 to 15<br /><strong>Price:</strong> Free. The play park is $3. Pony rides are $8.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Métropolitain de Paris – The Metro</strong></p> <p>The Paris Metro is one of the oldest, largest and most efficient subways in the world. It still maintains its original Art Nouveau entrances and architecture and is a great example of Paris’ original aesthetics. It’s also a great chance to people watch, and get around the city.</p> <p>Every corner of Paris is full of quaint French bistros and winding cobbled streets, and all of the 303 stations will get you there. The trains have clear signage, giving the kids an opportunity to navigate.</p> <p>Many of the larger stations are covered in art and elaborate tiling, so it helps to plan your route beforehand. Louvre-Rivoli, Concorde, Varenne, and Cluny-La Sorbonne are a couple of the stations worth checking out.</p> <p>Be careful not to get caught up in rush hour. The Paris Metro is also one of the busiest.</p> <p><strong>Great for:</strong> Ages 4 and up. Limited access for strollers.<br /><strong>Price:</strong> $3/ticket. A carnet (ten tickets) is $23.<br />You can also purchase unlimited metro travel passes that also include buses and trains to airports, Disneyland and Château de Versailles at all stations. More information on the RATP website.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Champs De Mars – Field of Mars</strong></p> <p>The Eiffel Tour is beautiful from the top – but when you’re on it, you can’t see it. The Champs de Mars gardens below are the perfect place for a picnic with a view. It’s free, and you don’t have to stand in a queue.</p> <p>These sunny gardens are delightful on summer days, and at night you can rug up and sit under the stars. Each night, for 5 minutes on the hour, the <strong>Eiffel Tower</strong> is lit up with sparkles that beam over Paris.</p> <p>Why not head to one of Paris’ many fresh food markets and make your own French meal? Fresh baguettes and cheese cost next to nothing for an easy lunch. The kids can have a go at reading all the French labels to find their favourite foods in the supermarché.</p> <p><strong>Great for:</strong> All ages<br /><strong>Price:</strong> Free</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Le Marais – The Marsh</strong></p> <p>Le Marais is constantly reinventing itself. Originally the aristocratic district, this area is now home to the vibrant youth culture in Paris. It’s cobblestone streets are covered in ivy and lined with funky boutiques, galleries and bistros.</p> <p>You can get lost in groovy second-hand stores <strong>Free P Star</strong> and <strong>Kilo Shop</strong>, where leather jackets can be found for as little as $2. Stop for some coffee and cake at <strong>Lily of the Valley</strong>, or even give baking a go with their pastry lessons.</p> <p>One of Le Marais’ hidden gems is <strong>59 Rivoli</strong>. The creative art space stands out as a unique bubble of creativity in the area’s traditional streets. The staircase connecting the galleries multiple levels is painted from floor to ceiling: each floor a maze of sketches and canvas. You can usually catch the 20 permanent artists at work in the studio space, surrounded by their own creations.</p> <p><strong>Great for: Teens<br />Price: Free</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Musee D’Art Moderne – The Paris Museum of Modern Art</strong></p> <p>While Paris is full of classic art galleries and museums, traditional portraits and landscapes may not be number one for kids. The Musee d’Art Moderne offers a welcome change.</p> <p>The gallery is constantly changing its exhibitions, so there is something for everyone. Especially under 18s, who get in free. The museum also offers visual creation workshops for families, and yoga and wutao classes for something more calming. There’s even a variation for parents with bubs under 8 months.</p> <p>It might be worth checking which artworks the kids are looking at in school because chances are; they’re in Paris. The city has plenty of galleries and museums, and on the first Sunday of every month, they are all free.</p> <p><strong>Great for:</strong> Ages 7 and up<br /><strong>Price:</strong> All museums are are free on the first Sunday of every month. Musee d’Art Moderne’s permanent exhibitions are free. Temporary exhibitions are free for kids and $8 – 20 for adults.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Shakespeare &amp; Company – Bookstore</strong></p> <p>If you hop off the Metro at <strong>Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame</strong>, this stretch of the <strong>Steine</strong> in the 4th arrondissement has plenty of hustle and bustle. Shakespeare &amp; Company is an enchanting, independent bookstore on the banks of the river, and all the books are written in English.</p> <p>When it opened in the 17th Century, writers and artists were welcomed to sleep among the bookshelves in exchange for a couple of hours work in the shop. It’s estimated that over 30,000 of the named ‘tumbleweeds’ have stayed a night.</p> <p>The bookstore offers a great variety, including picture books and kids novels. See if you can find <strong>Aggie</strong>, the friendly bookshop cat who is usually in her chair on the second floor.</p> <p>The store hosts one free literary event a week. Baked treats, fresh juices and coffee can all be found at the <strong>Shakespeare and Company Cafe</strong>, located next door.</p> <p>Remember to head over the <strong>Seine</strong> and tick off the <strong>Notre-Dame</strong> when you have a moment – it’s free. When you’re finished, wander through the gardens of <strong>City Park</strong> and head towards the <strong>Maubert Mutualité</strong> market for some fresh food.</p>

International Travel

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Trump's vicious take on Meghan Markle

<p>US President Donald Trump has slammed the Duchess of Sussex for rallying behind Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.</p> <p>“I’m not a fan of hers,” Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing.</p> <p>“And I would say this — and she probably has heard that — but I wish a lot of luck to Harry, because he’s gonna need it.”</p> <p>Meghan, who was born in Los Angeles, married Harry in 2018 before receiving extreme amounts of backlash for the January #MegExit, in which the couple decided to step back from their royal duties to move to Canada, and then to the US.</p> <p>The power duo effectively endorsed Joe Biden in a recent video clip filmed for Time magazine.</p> <p>Harry said, “it’s time to not only reflect, but act.”</p> <p>“This election I’m not going to be able to vote here in the US, but many of you may not know that I haven’t been able to vote in the UK my entire life. As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity,” Harry said.</p> <p>Meghan was far more blunt, saying: “We’re six weeks out from the election, and today is voter registration day. Every four years, we’re told the same thing, ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime.’ But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard.”</p> <p>“Your voice is a reminder that you matter,” she said. “Because you do and you deserve to be heard.”</p> <p>British royals traditionally do not vote in their own county’s elections to demonstrate neutrality.</p> <p>Trump has met with Queen Elizabeth II three times during his presidency, and often praises the monarch.</p> <p>But this year, he took to Twitter to declare Prince Harry would not be getting taxpayer-funded security in the US.</p> <p>“I am a great friend and admirer of the Queen &amp; the United Kingdom,” Trump tweeted in March. “It was reported that Harry and Meghan, who left the Kingdom, would reside permanently in Canada. Now they have left Canada for the U.S. however, the US will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”</p>

International Travel

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Sale into the sunset: Aussie cruises cancelled as Sun Princess and Sea Princess go under the hammer

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Cruise fans are heartbroken after all sailings of the Princess Cruise ships Sun Princess and Sea Princess for this summer and next year have been cancelled.</p> <p>Carnival Corp, parent company of Princess Cruises, Costa and Carnival cruise lines announced that the ships are just two of 18 to be sold.</p> <p>The company did not disclose the buyer for the two ships, but 55 cruises from Australia are now cancelled along with 14 international sailings.</p> <p>Princess said that passengers booked on the ships would be notified and offered refunds or alternative cruises if they prefer.</p> <p>"Sun Princess and Sea Princess contributed to significant growth in Australian cruising," said Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz.</p> <p>"Both ships defined the premium cruise experience with Australians and New Zealanders spending close to 14 million nights aboard these ships. </p> <p>While it is never easy to say goodbye to any ship in our fleet, this will allow us to deploy newer ships, enhancing our offerings for Australia cruisers and focus on bringing into service exciting new builds like the upcoming delivery of Enchanted Princess."</p> <p>Sun Princess launched in 1995 and had the capacity for 2,000 passengers, making it the world's largest cruise ship at the time.</p> <p>Carnival Corp is the world's largest cruise company and makes up 45 per cent of the market worldwide.</p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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How the decline in Chinese tourists around the world has hit the luxury sector

<p>Large groups of Chinese visitors have become a pillar of the global tourism industry. Coronavirus has not only put paid to this enormous source of income for major cities and sights around the world, it is having a massive knock-on effect for the luxury goods business.</p> <p>For any tourist, buying souvenirs is a key part of the holiday experience. They might be trinkets such as key rings or fridge magnets, a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “I ❤ NY” or a Russian matryoshka doll. But a significant number of Chinese tourists prefer to spend large sums on luxury items, such as designer clothes and accessories, when they travel overseas.</p> <p>Roughly one-third of global spending on luxury goods was credited <a href="https://www.voguebusiness.com/consumers/chinese-consumers-luxury-purchases-growth-bain">to Chinese consumers in 2018</a>. Consultants at Bain predict this <a href="https://jingdaily.com/bain-company-chinese-consumers-will-make-up-half-of-global-luxury-purchases-by-2025/">to rise to 50% by 2025</a>. Before the coronavirus pandemic, nearly all of this £85 billion worth of spending (92%) was done <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/featured%20insights/china/how%20young%20chinese%20consumers%20are%20reshaping%20global%20luxury/mckinsey-china-luxury-report-2019-how-young-chinese-consumers-are-reshaping-global-luxury.ashx">outside the Chinese mainland</a> .</p> <p>What’s more, most of this overseas shopping is done by women between the ages of 19 and 29, according to a 2018 survey of <a href="http://223.27.21.115/~allegiantmediaco/wp-content/uploads/Documents/CN-Travel-Shopper-White-Paper-Final.pdf">over 750 million Chinese people</a>. From our interviews <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/TR-08-2019-0335/full/html">with many of these women</a>, it seems clear that as the Chinese economy recovers from coronavirus they will return to spending. Where they are able to travel and spend will have a big impact on economic recoveries from the pandemic.</p> <p><strong>The awakened generation</strong></p> <p>In China, demographic cohorts are defined by decades. Rather than millennials or generation Z, in China it is the post-90s generation (those born in the 1990s) that have become the core driver of growth for many industries, including luxury, leisure and travel retail.</p> <p>China’s post-90s generation are the direct beneficiaries of the country’s economic reform that began in the 1980s, which opened up the Chinese market to the rest of the world and spurred enormous economic growth through the 1990s to today. Girls, in particular, benefited from growing up at a time when China was more connected with the rest of the world and experienced significant cultural changes, including a decline in the <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10834-011-9277-9">historic preference for sons</a>. The one-child policy played a part in this, too.</p> <p>Compared with previous generations, which are more family-centred and self-effacing, post-90s Chinese women are self-confident, independent and well-educated. They are also keen to express themselves through consumerism. This was evident in the conversations we had with high-spending young women. For them, buying luxury goods was a key part of their identity and self-expression. When travelling, it was one of the most important parts of their holiday, if not the actual purpose for their trip.</p> <p>Around the world, people buy and display luxury goods – from fancy cars to expensive watches and handbags – as status symbols. This is especially the case for the post-90s Chinese woman who seeks to distinguish herself from others in various ways. Vivian*, who’s 30, has a master’s degree and works in finance, told us:</p> <p><em>Buying luxury branded products is very personal. It’s my handbag. I do not want to look like everyone else.</em></p> <p>Travelling further afield to Europe is a way to buy luxury goods that distinguish themselves from their peers, as different designs are available to those in China. As well as the premium shopping experience, the people we spoke to repeatedly talked about the importance of having unique items. Ava, a 23-year-old student, said:</p> <p><em>Those special designs somehow are much more beautiful than those basic items that are available everywhere [in China]. They also reflect my lifestyle as a well-travelled person. When I carry it around, people know I am special.</em></p> <p>We also found that for the post-90s Chinese woman who travels abroad, buying designer items in the country where they originated from was seen as part of the authentic experience. As Emma, who is 23 and works in fashion, put it:</p> <p><em>Buying handbags in Paris makes me feel like a French lady. It’s a fun and authentic experience. It is a very different experience to purchasing them in Shenzhen.</em></p> <p><strong>‘Revenge spending’</strong></p> <p>The coronavirus pandemic has not reduced this appetite among China’s wealthy post-90s generation to travel and spend. A survey from <a href="https://blog.globalwebindex.com/chart-of-the-week/coronavirus-reshaping-the-luxury-market/">April this year found</a> that almost 60% of this group who had delayed their purchase plans would return to spending once the outbreak was over in China. And a number of luxury businesses reported a <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/11/business/global-luxury-sales-china-coronavirus-intl-hnk/index.html">big rise in spending</a> following the easing of lockdown restrictions in China, including jewellery brand Tiffany and fashion house Burberry.</p> <p>While overseas travel restrictions will significantly reduce the outbound tourist market for the time being, many brands will be hoping for a similar bout of so-called <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/13/revenge-spending-by-the-rich-could-drive-luxury-recovery.html">“revenge spending”</a>, as people make up for the time spent cooped up in lockdown.</p> <p>Having been the first to be hit by coronavirus, China is the first major economy to show a recovery. And as the world’s largest (and still growing) source of travellers and luxury shoppers, China will be the engine of the post-pandemic recovery for both these sectors. Both should be aware of what motivates this younger generation to spend in order to tap into it. Growing tension between the west and China, along with struggles to contain the pandemic in the west, may see other Asian countries as the first to benefit from outbound Chinese tourists.</p> <p>*<em>Names have been changed.</em></p> <p><em>Written by Misha Ketchell</em><em>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-decline-in-chinese-tourists-around-the-world-has-hit-the-luxury-sector-145267">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

International Travel

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Five ways to make your holidays more sustainable

<p>COVID-19 has resulted in the most severe disruption to the global tourism industry in modern times. And although many countries have now reopened to visitors from overseas, the economic impact is likely to be felt for many years.</p> <p>Prior to the pandemic, awareness had been growing regarding the environmental sustainability of tourism. From over-consumption of precious resources to the destructive impact on natural habitats, tourism can put enormous strains on destination communities.</p> <p>Over-tourism has also been highlighted as an issue in many places. The Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Mount Everest, Majorca, Barcelona and Venice have all felt the affects.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg’s climate-change activism has added the term “flight shame” to our vocabulary. Her work has encouraged airlines to engage in tree planting or invest in wind farms to offset their carbon emissions, and travellers to think before they fly.</p> <p>As global restrictions begin to ease, now is a good time to think radically about the purpose of tourism and the way we all travel. This is a chance to reset everything we know – and not simply return to business as usual.</p> <p>Obviously, one of the difficulties is that many of us are used to going wherever we want, whenever we want – which is not sustainable. But a few changes to our travel plans can play a key role in shaping the future of the travel industry.</p> <p>Below are five suggestions to help you travel in a more purposeful way.</p> <p> </p> <ol> <li><strong> Choose carefully</strong></li> </ol> <p>Carefully consider your desired destination and avoid places impacted by over-tourism. Visiting during off-peak seasons will likely save you money and enhance your overall experience - and let you skip the queues.</p> <p>It’s also worth thinking about a different type of “holiday” or travel experience. You could volunteer for a local NGO or consider travel opportunities that support marginalised groups, for example.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong> Travel slowly</strong></li> </ol> <p>Travel like Greta to minimise your environmental impact. Travel less for longer, swapping the quantity of experiences for quality. Instead of taking three separate long weekends, why not take just one two-week holiday.</p> <p>Slow travel is a mindset. Rather than pursuing Instagram-worthy photos and trying to squeeze as many attractions into your trip as possible, leave your phone at home and explore each destination at your own pace.</p> <p>Keeping sustainability in mind, it’s also worth considering opportunities that allow you to slowly experience a certain city, country or region while supporting local projects. Try a walking tour that supports previously marginalised locals or rent a bike with purpose and help to fund educational programmes for local students.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong> Plan how you spend</strong></li> </ol> <p>Wherever you go, make sure you seek out local initiatives including local guides and local accommodation providers. This will make sure your money goes directly to people who will benefit from your support.</p> <p>Sites such as Good Travel list businesses that prioritise environmental action and support local communities. You can also find out about locally made products sold at local businesses employing local people. This helps to ensure positive impacts remain in the community.</p> <p>And if you’re thinking of heading to Africa, Fair trade tourism is also a great resource to find out about businesses recognised for promoting responsible practices. Certified businesses range from eco-lodges, resorts, safaris, educational centres, township tours, golf clubs and cruises – so there are a lot of different options to choose from.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong> Eat like a local</strong></li> </ol> <p>Food accounts for over a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, so it lies at the heart of tackling climate change, reducing water stress, pollution and restoring land.</p> <p>There are many ways to minimise your food miles when you travel. For a start, avoid eating at restaurant chains and instead, try to eat like a local. Visit markets, local neighbourhoods or local vendors for your foodie needs.</p> <p>You could even check out a food tour or meal-sharing host. Traveling Spoon has a whole host of online and in-person cooking classes with locals from around the world. Eating locally supports local jobs and can also teach you about new cuisines.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong> Immerse yourself</strong></li> </ol> <p>An immersive type of travel prioritises people over places and avoids overcrowded spaces. This allows you to make real connections and can also help you gain insights about local traditions, cultures and history. For example, you could go trekking with a local guide, enrol in a language course or attend a local festival or event.</p> <p>Ultimately, the pandemic has presented an opportunity to rethink and act radically and really consider the actual purpose of tourism. This is not only important from an environmental perspective, but travelling in a more purposeful way is more likely to help support local people in destination communities. And it also helps to contribute to a future where tourism is less harmful to people, places and the planet.</p> <p><em>Written by Misha Ketchell</em><em>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-ways-to-make-your-holidays-more-sustainable-143379">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Islands that will disappear in the next 80 years

<p>Sadly, rising sea levels present a serious danger to all sorts of natural features – including islands. And though it may seem like a slow process, it could very well cause several islands throughout the world to be completely gone before the 21st century is over. And rising water is just one of many scary things that could happen if the glaciers continue to melt.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Solomon Islands</strong></p> <p>The Solomon Islands, a group of nearly 1,000 islands and atolls in the South Pacific, are slowly being taken over by the sea. In fact, the sea level has risen by around 8 millimetres per year since 1993. It is rising so fast that the provincial capital of Choiseul is just over two metres about sea level, and a new town is being built for residents to relocate. According to a 2016 paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, five reef islands have already disappeared, and several villages that had stood since 1935 were destroyed on other islands with receding shorelines.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Maldives</strong></p> <p>The popular and beautiful Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean that’s home to many lush resorts and even a variety of underwater hotels, are also slowly being covered by the ocean. According to the CIA, the low elevation of the islands makes them sensitive to the sea level rising. The World Bank says that at the current projections of sea level rise, the entire country could be underwater by the year 2100. In 2009, the country’s president held a meeting under water in an attempt to bring attention to the impending disaster.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Palau</strong></p> <p>A paper published in collaboration between the Palau National Weather Service Office and the Pacific Climate Change Science Program says that the sea level has risen in Palau, located in the South Pacific, by about 9mm per year since 1993, about three times the global average. It is expected to continue to rise by up to 61cm by the year 2090. Public Radio International reports that residents say their yards are flooding during some full moon high tides and are considering moving to a new country. The island’s famous non-stinging jellyfish are even disappearing, which may also be due to climate change.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Micronesia</strong></p> <p>Micronesia is a country made up of 607 islands located 4025 kilometres southwest of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Its mere 435 square kilometres of land are filled with mountains, mangroves, lagoons and beaches. Due to increasing sea levels, the nation has seen several islands disappear within recent memory, while others have been severely reduced in size, according to the Journal of Coastal Conservation.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Fiji</strong></p> <p>The Pacific Islands of Fiji are also low-lying and vulnerable to changes in ocean levels. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says that the village of Vunidogoloa was the first to begin relocating because of the rapid sea level rise, which is continuing to worsen. A World Bank report says over the last few decades, some villages have reported a loss of 15-20 metres of shoreline due to loss of mangroves. Sea levels are expected to rise up to 43 centimetres by 2050, according to the report. Rises in ocean temperatures also affect the coral reefs, resulting in coral bleaching that turns the coral white and vulnerable to disease.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Tuvalu</strong></p> <p>The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, a remote South Pacific nation, has stated that “sea level rise and more severe weather events loom as a growing threat to our entire population.” The Tuvalu government says it’s one of the most vulnerable places on Earth to the impact of rising sea levels, which could bring complete disaster to its 10,000 residents.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Seychelles</strong></p> <p>Off the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles are experiencing an unprecedented rise in sea levels compared to the last 6,000 years, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. With around 85 percent of the country’s development sitting on coastlines, rising sea levels can be catastrophic. The Seychelles News Agency reports that just a one-metre rise could cover many of its low-lying islands and inhabited coastal areas, which would be a 70 percent loss of its land mass. Mangrove forests and coral reefs are also at severe risk.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Kiribati</strong></p> <p>There’s a plan to move everyone who lives on this island in the central Pacific completely off due to increasing water levels. The president of Kiribati, an independent republic, looked to buy land in Fiji in 2012 as “climate change insurance” for the island’s population. The president was quoted as saying, “moving won’t be a matter of choice. It’s basically going to be a matter of survival.” He has said his country will become uninhabitable by 2050.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Cook Islands</strong></p> <p>Described by its tourism board as “like Hawaii was 50 years ago,” the Cook Islands off of New Zealand are another set of islands affected by rising sea levels. With a predicted increase in ocean levels of up to 55 centimetres by the year 2090, the rising waters are expected to damage roads, bridges, ports and runways, which will affect residents and tourism.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>French Polynesia</strong></p> <p>Made up of popular tropical retreats like Bora Bora, Tahiti and the Society Islands, French Polynesia is on many a traveller’s bucket list. But in the next hundred years, it may no longer be an option. A paper published in Nature Conservation predicted that 30 percent of its islands will be overtaken by water by the end of the century. As an alternative to moving to a new country, the government is considering building “floating islands” for residents near Tahiti with the hopes of attracting tech companies to the concept.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Tangier Island, Virginia</strong></p> <p>Tangier Island, about 20 kilometres off the US east coast in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, is only accessible by boat or plane. Bikes and golf carts are main modes of transportation in this “soft crab capital of the nation,” and the island is made up of narrow streets, natural beaches, charming gift shops and ice cream stores. However, more than 60 percent of the island has been lost to the sea since 1850, according to Nature.com, with the remaining expected to be submerged within the next 25 to 50 years.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Marshall Islands</strong></p> <p>Water levels are rising on the Marshall Islands, a group of islands halfway between Hawaii and Australia known for their friendly locals and coral reefs, as well. Increasing at a rate of 7 millimetres per year, according to a brochure produced by the Marshall Islands National Weather Service Office and the Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program, the rise is about double the global average. The project estimates that water levels will continue to rise by almost 20 centimetres by 2030, increasing storm surge and coastal flooding.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Shishmaref, Alaska</strong></p> <p>This small island with a population of just 650 has slowly been disappearing into the sea over the last 50 years, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), losing 30 metres since 1997. The DOI says the entire island will be gone within the next 20 years. One resident, Esau Sinnok, says he’s had to move in and out of 13 houses due to the loss of land. Though residents voted to relocate from this island accessible only by plane, a lack of funding makes these efforts difficult.</p> <p> </p> <p>It all may seem scary and overwhelming, but luckily there are plenty of little things you can do every day to help the environment.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Written by Lyn Mettler. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/13-islands-that-will-disappear-in-the-next-80-years?pages=1"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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Bizarre things that have been banned around the world

<p><strong>Baby walkers</strong></p> <p>Baby walkers are banned in Canada in an effort to keep children safe. They were banned in 2004, meaning babies can only crawl until they learn to walk on their own. If you’re caught with a baby walker in your possession (or you’re selling one), you can be fined up to $100,000.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Too much ketchup, mayo and vinaigrette</strong></p> <p>In France, these three condiments are limited in public schools. The rule was put in place in an effort to improve the dietary quality of the schools’ meals for the students. The rule states that, “all sauces (mayonnaise, ketchup and vinaigrette) must not be in free access but served according to the dish.”</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Valentine’s Day</strong></p> <p>Citizens of Pakistan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are banned from celebrating Valentine’s Day. Pakistan banned the holiday in 2017 because it is not a Muslim tradition and it focuses on love that isn’t directed towards God.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Obesity</strong></p> <p>If you live in Japan and are in between the ages of 40 and 74, there’s a law that mandates the company you work for measure your waistline. If your waistline is larger than the government-mandated limits, you’re given “dietary guidance” and your company could be fined.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Mullets and ponytails</strong></p> <p>Men are not allowed to sport a mullet, ponytail or any long hair in Iran.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Lacy underwear</strong></p> <p>Lacy underwear is banned from being sold in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. In 2013, regulations were passed that require clothing that touches your skin to contain at least 6 percent cotton. This was put in place for health concerns that lace isn’t breathable fabric for the skin.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Reincarnation</strong></p> <p>Buddhist monks in Tibet can only be reincarnated with permission from the Chinese government. The law, which was passed in 2007, is pretty hard to enforce. Many people think the only reason it was put in place was to insult the Dalai Lama and have the public not think as highly of him.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Chewing gum</strong></p> <p>It’s illegal to import chewing gum into Singapore, with only certain gums allowed for medical reasons. The country takes it very seriously too – you can get fined up to $100,000 (SGD) and be put in prison.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Noise</strong></p> <p>In Victoria, Australia, you’re restricted from making any loud noises during certain times. More specifically, noise is banned at night, when people are most likely trying to fall asleep. On Good Friday, loud noises are banned all day long.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Goldfish</strong></p> <p>In Rome, while you are allowed to have goldfish, you’re not allowed to keep them in a glass bowl. It’s considered cruel since the bowl limits their oxygen flow and can cause them to go blind. A subsection of the law prohibits people from giving away goldfish, or any other animal, as a prize.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Not taking Fido for a walk</strong></p> <p>Rome has some strict animal rules: walking your dog is a requirement by law. If you don’t, you could be fined $700.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Running out of petrol</strong></p> <p>In Germany, you’re banned from stopping your vehicle on the Autobahn, so running out of petrol is a big no-no. You’re also not allowed to walk on the Autobahn. If you do, you can be fined $100 for putting other drivers in danger.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Chocolate eggs</strong></p> <p>In the United States, Kinder Surprise Candy Eggs are banned. Since these chocolate treats come with a little toy inside, they have been deemed a choking hazard. People have been detained in airports trying to smuggle in this confectionery from Canada.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>High heels</strong></p> <p>Ever since 2009, people in Greece have been banned from wearing heels at all historical sites. The point on high-heeled shoes puts too much pressure on the ground and it can chisel away at the architectural sites.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Coins</strong></p> <p>In Canada, you’re not allowed to use more than 25 pennies per transaction. This was one of the country’s laws to phase out the coin, which started in 2013.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Lip-syncing</strong></p> <p>In 2005, the president of Turkmenistan banned lip-syncing to preserve “true culture.” He also banned opera and ballet, saying that they were unnecessary.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Memes</strong></p> <p>Due to Australia’s strict copyright rules, it’s illegal to create and share memes. Section 132A part 2 of the Copyright Act says, “distributing an infringing article that prejudicially affects the copyright owner” is against the law.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Blue jeans</strong></p> <p>In North Korea, you aren’t allowed to wear blue jeans – but don’t worry, black jeans are still OK. The colour blue is associated with the United States, so North Korea doesn’t let their citizens wear them.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Written by M</em><em>organ Cutolo</em><em>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/18-bizarre-things-that-have-been-banned-around-the-world?pages=1">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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COVID travel: Why some people are allowed to leave the country

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Thousands of Aussies are seeking travel exemptions to travel overseas. Under the current federal government travel ban, Australian citizens and permanent residents are able to leave the country for six reasons.</p> <p>The six reasons that Australians and permanent residents are able to leave the country are:</p> <ul> <li>Travel is part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak</li> <li>Travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business</li> <li>To receive urgent medical treatment not available in Australia</li> <li>Urgent and unavoidable personal business</li> <li>Compassionate or humanitarian grounds</li> <li>Travel in the national interest</li> </ul> <p>One Australian couple flew back to the UK as they have work visas until January.</p> <p>They're among the 6,451 people who have been granted travel exemptions by Border Force officials in the last two weeks, with a total of 40,830 exemptions given since the beginning of March.</p> <p>The Ratu couple first moved to London in January 2019 and had a plan to fly back to the UK in April this year, which was hindered due to COVID-19.</p> <p>"We are excited," Mr Ratu said. "It seems that most of Europe is open for business and the UK is starting to get back to normal."</p> <p>Their Border Force exemption was granted in just two hours.</p> <p>"We found the approval process pretty straightforward and easy to navigate. As long as you have the correct documentation and evidence of moving overseas for an extended period of time, you get the exemption," Mr Ratu said.</p> <p>"Our families are supportive and excited for our move overseas but also a little anxious about the current situation overseas with the pandemic and Brexit," he said.</p> <p>A Border Force spokesperson said the top three categories with the most applications are: compassionate or humanitarian grounds; urgent and unavoidable personal business; and conduct of critical industries and business, including exports and imports.</p> </div> </div> </div>

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12 amazing swimming pools from around the world

<p>These pools aren’t your average run-of-the-mill rectangular hotel pools. With jaw-dropping views, unique concepts, and even terrifying experiences, curiosity will definitely get the better of you when it comes to pool time. Here are some of the most unique pools our world has to offer.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa</strong></p> <p>In Grindavik, Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous spots in the country because of its transcendent geothermal features. Heated water is vented naturally from the ground and remains at around 37 degrees Celsius. Some say that the water has healing powers for various skin diseases.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>San Alfonso del Mar</strong></p> <p>Chile’s San Alfonso del Mar is a private resort in the beachside city of Algarrobo, and boasts one of the world’s largest man-made swimming pools. Spanning over 1000 metres, the deep end plunges to 35 metres. The annual maintenance fee is said to be over US$3 million.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Ubud Hanging Gardens</strong></p> <p>Sharing its name with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens swimming pool in Ubud is located in a luxurious Balinese resort. The pool clings to a precipitous edge of the densely forested valley, allowing swimmers to overlook the trees from the elevated waters above.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>SkyPark, Singapore</strong></p> <p>Skypark at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore boasts an infinity pool 55 stories above ground. At the world’s most expensive hotel, the water flows over the edge of the building giving swimmers a jaw-dropping view of the city.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Africa</strong></p> <p>At the top of Victoria Falls in Africa, one of the largest waterfalls in the world, this natural formation called Devil’s Pool can safely hold swimmers and give them an amazing view of the natural wonder. A rock wall sits at the edge of the pool preventing the water from pulling swimmers over the side.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Pamukkale Pools, Turkey</strong></p> <p>The white calcium and limestone deposits of the Pamukkale Pools in Turkey serve as shelves in the water. The pools are known for their abundance of minerals, with many visitors believing they have healing powers.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Huvafen Fushi, Maldives</strong></p> <p>This resort in the Maldives is known as ‘sensory heaven’. The pool mimics the clear night sky and fireflies, making this a truly romantic spot.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Mona Vale Beach Rock Pool, Sydney</strong></p> <p>This pool on Sydney’s northern beaches is located at the tip of a sand spit at the northern end of Mona Vale Beach. At high tide the pool becomes surrounded by water, creating the illusion for swimmers of floating in the middle of the ocean.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Cave pools, Santorini</strong></p> <p>Carved into the mountains slopes of the Greek island of Santorini are villas and hotel suites – or ‘caves’. The cave hotels come in numerous shapes and sizes, many with their own stunning lagoons that provide jaw-dropping views across the Aegean Sea.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Gellert Baths, Budapest</strong></p> <p>Founded over 100 years ago and located in the Gellert Hotel in Budapest, the Gellert Baths has 10 pools of different sizes and temperatures, all in an Art Nouveau setting. With mosaic floors and stained-glass windows, this is one of Hungary’s most photogenic spots.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Ik Kil Cenote, Mexico</strong></p> <p>This stunning natural pool is in Ik Kil Archeological Park in Mexico. About 30 metres wide and 40 metres deep, the pool has waterfalls and wild jungle plants. And it only costs US$6 to swim here!</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Written by Emma Taubenfeld. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/12-amazing-swimming-pools-from-around-the-world"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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These are the official residences of the British royal family

<p>We’ll start at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s London home. Situated by St. James’s Park, Buckingham Palace has been the monarch’s official London residence since 1837. It has 775 rooms, including 52 bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.</p> <p>The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh live here, along with The Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex. Highlights at Buckingham Palace include the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place most days at 11am, and the State Rooms that are open to the public every summer. Plus, there’s a rumour that the ghost of a monk in a brown cloak haunts the back terrace!</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Windsor Castle</strong></p> <p>Windsor Castle, situated just outside London, is the Queen’s weekend retreat. It’s the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Over 39 monarchs have used Windsor Castle as their residence. St George’s Chapel is part of the castle and is the venue for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018. The castle is open all year round – it has a world-famous Royal dollhouse! – and there are also talks, performances, and activities for kids. In 1992, a fire at the castle caused close to $75,000,000 in damage.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Sandringham House</strong></p> <p>Sandringham House in Norfolk is one of the Queen’s private residences. It was brought into the family in 1862 by the future Edward VII, although a fire in 1891 destroyed much of the original building. It’s been passed down through the family into the Queen’s ownership. The house itself stands within nearly 8000 hectares, with 25 hectares of gardens. The rest is a park and uncultivated land, which is freely open to the public every day of the year.</p> <p>The British royal family spends Christmas at Sandringham, traditionally walking to church on Christmas morning and meeting the local people. Anmer Hall, a private residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is also part of the Sandringham estate.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Balmoral Castle</strong></p> <p>Who wouldn’t love to live in their own Scottish castle? Balmoral Castle is another of the Queen’s private residences, situated in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Bought by Prince Albert as a gift for Queen Victoria in 1852, they built a new castle before demolishing the old one. Other royal residences on the grounds are: Birkhall (a residence of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall), Craigowan Lodge, and Delnadamph Lodge.</p> <p>There are holiday cottages to rent on the estate, which also boasts a golf course and offers Land Rover safaris of the surrounding countryside. But watch out for the ghost of John Brown, Queen Victoria’s personal attendant, who is said to roam the grounds at night wearing a kilt.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Clarence House</strong></p> <p>Owned by the Crown, Clarence House was home to The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth for more 50 years. Designed by John Nash in 1825-27, it was built for George III’s son Clarence, hence its name. But it has since undergone extensive remodelling to make it suitable for modern living.</p> <p>Clarence House is attached to St James’s Palace and the two residences share the same gardens. Although other members of the British royal family visit, Clarence House is the official London residence of the Prince of Wales.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Kensington Palace</strong></p> <p>Originally bought by William III in 1689, Kensington Palace was the main residence for the British royal family until Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria was born and grew up here, and it was also Princess Diana’s home.</p> <p>Kensington Palace belongs to the Crown Estate, and is currently the official home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (along with Princes George and Louis, and Princess Charlotte of course!). Historic parts of the building are open to the public, and the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is housed here.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>St James's Palace</strong></p> <p>St James’s Palace also belongs to the Crown, and has been a residence for the British royal family for more than 300 years. It was originally built by Henry VIII in 1531-36 and has been used continuously since then. Queen Victoria’s wedding took place here.</p> <p>On the death of a monarch, the Accession Council meets at St James’s Palace, and the official announcement of the new sovereign is also made from here. It’s currently home to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra, when she’s in London. The Princess Royal and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence also live here – their country residence is Gatcombe Park.</p> <p>St James’s Palace also hosts more than 100 charity events every year.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Palace of Holyrood House</strong></p> <p>Balmoral Castle is the Queen’s private residence, but when she’s in Scotland on an official visit, she stays at the Palace of Holyrood House. Situated at the end of Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile, it was founded first as a monastery in 1128. Rebuilt as a palace by James IV in 1501, this building has been the official residence of the monarchy in Scotland ever since.</p> <p>Mary Queen of Scots lived most of her life here and it was the scene of the famous murder of David Rizzio, her private secretary, in her bedroom. Seven months pregnant, Mary witnessed the murder, and it’s said that to this day, the blood stains can’t be removed from the floor.</p> <p>The Queen hosts around 4000 visitors during the annual Holyrood Week in June, and the palace is open to the public all year round.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Hillsborough Castle</strong></p> <p>When visiting Northern Ireland, the British royal family stays at Hillsborough Castle in County Down. It’s also the residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. But its name is misleading as the building is actually a Georgian country house built in the 18th century – the British government only bought it in 1922. Hillsborough Castle was the venue for several important negotiations during The Troubles, and it was here that the historic Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed, leading eventually to peace in Northern Ireland after decades of conflict.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Highgrove House</strong></p> <p>Prince Charles is also Duke of Cornwall, so properties owned by the Duchy of Cornwall are currently used by him. He first moved into Highgrove House in Gloucestershire in 1980, and has transformed the house and gardens into a model of sustainability. The gardens are open to the public on selected dates.</p> <p>There’s a reed bed sewage system, a collection of rare trees and plants, and also a heritage seed project on site to preserve rare seeds for future generations. There are solar lights, energy-saving bulbs, a composting system, and the house is warmed using heat pumps.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Tamarisk and Llewynywermod</strong></p> <p>The Duchy of Cornwall also owns two other properties for Prince Charles to use. Tamarisk is on the beautiful island of St Mary’s, one of the five inhabited islands in the Isles of Scilly. There are over 200 islands in the Scillies chain altogether, and the Duchy of Cornwall owns most of the land and around one-third of the houses. Tamarisk House is Prince Charles’ official residence when he’s in the Scillies, and when in Wales, the Prince of Wales’ residence is Llewynywermod in Carmarthenshire.</p> <p>The Scilly Isles are famous for their natural beauty and rare bird life. The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust manages the wildlife on the island. Their annual rent to the Duchy of Cornwall is one daffodil!</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Birkhall</strong></p> <p>Birkhall, situated within the grounds of Balmoral Castle, is a private residence of the Prince of Wales. Built in 1715, it became Queen Victoria’s when Prince Albert gifted her the Balmoral estate in 1849. It’s since been passed through the family to the Queen Mother and then Queen Elizabeth in 2002.</p> <p>The estate is famous for its beautiful scenery and country walks, as well as fishing and hunting. It’s a popular holiday haunt for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.</p> <p>Within the grounds, there’s a beautiful thatched playhouse, built for Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose when they were small, and since enjoyed by all the royal children.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Royal Lodge Windsor</strong></p> <p>Royal Lodge, Windsor (situated in Windsor Great Park), is leased by the Duke of York from the Crown, and was also home to the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie before they moved into St James’s Palace. This property also has a playhouse, built for Queen Elizabeth when she was six years old. Created by Welsh craftsmen, and given a Welsh name (Y Bwthyn Bach or The Little Cottage), the house has electricity and running water, as well as a gas stove.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Wren House</strong></p> <p>Wren House is part of Kensington Palace. It stands a little to the north of the main palace and overlooks a beautiful walled garden. It’s currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Kent.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Bagshot Park</strong></p> <p>Bagshot Park was built within Windsor Great Park, and is leased from the Crown. It was built in 1879 as the main residence of Prince Arthur, Queen Victoria’s son, and the design was influenced by Indian culture. Queen Victoria was also Empress of India at the time. Since 1998, the Earl of Wessex has leased Bagshot Park and has overseen extensive renovations on the property. It’s now the official residence of the Earl and Countess of Wessex.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Thatched House Lodge</strong></p> <p>Thatched House Lodge, in Richmond Park, is the residence of the Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra. It’s situated in one of the royal parks famous for its beautiful surroundings including wild deer, like those in this picture, taken in Richmond Park. Built in the 17th century, it also has a thatched summerhouse, a gardener’s cottage, stables, and gardens.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Written by the editors of The Family Handyman. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/these-are-the-official-residences-of-the-british-royal-family"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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World in shock as man catches COVID twice

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>The world is in shock as researchers in Hong Kong say they have "proved" the world's first known documented case of a human catching coronavirus twice despite a successful recovery.</p> <p>The case involved a 33-year-old man who was initially infected in April and recovered with only mild symptoms. Researchers from the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong said that he has been reinfected within just under five months.</p> <p>The man's second infection was detected after an airport screening after his return to Hong Kong from Spain earlier this month.</p> <p>Researchers described the strains as "clearly different".</p> <p>The scientists hypothesised the asymptomatic symptom might indicate "subsequent infections may be milder".</p> <p>"An apparently young and healthy patient had a second case of COVID-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode," University of Hong Kong researchers said in a statement.</p> <p>The findings are equally alarming because it suggests the threat of reinfection to coronavirus exists "even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection or via vaccination," they said.</p> <p>"Many believe that recovered COVID-19 patients have immunity against reinfection because most developed a serum neutralising antibody response.</p> <p>"However, there is evidence that some patients have waning antibody level after a few months.</p> <p>"Our findings suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 may persist in the global human population as is the case for other common cold-associated human coronaviruses, even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection," they said.</p> <p>"Since the immunity can be short-lasting after natural infection, vaccination should also be considered for those with one episode of infection," they said.</p> <p>The IT worker was asymptomatic initially but genomic sequencing shows that he has been infected by two virus strains.</p> <p>The second strain was a close match to the one travelling across Europes in July and August.</p> <p>What the findings mean for potential vaccines is yet to be seen, but the World Health Organisation's technical lead on COVID-19 Maria von Kerkhove said that there isn't enough data to understand the implications and urged people to not "jump to any conclusions".</p> <p>"It's very important that we document this and that any countries that do this, if sequencing can be done, that would be very, very, helpful," she said.</p> <p>"But we need to not jump to any conclusions, to say even if this is the first documented case of reinfection, it is possible, of course."</p> <p>More than 24 million people have been infected worldwide with coronavirus.</p> </div> </div> </div>

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