The Big Screen: 1917

The Big Screen: 1917

Co-written, directed and produced by Sam Mendes, 1917 is an epic war tale based on an account told to Mendes by his grandfather, Alfred Mendes, a decorated veteran who fought in Flanders in the 1st Rifle Brigade.

It chronicles the story of two young British soldiers during the First World War tasked with delivering a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldiers’ brothers, from walking straight into a deadly ambush.

The movie is scheduled for release across the UK on January 10, and received favourable reviews upon it’s premiere and release in North America. 1917 received the Best Picture award in the 77th Golden Globe Awards, despite it’s incomplete release!

World War I, the Great War, the War to End all Wars, no matter what you call it, it was a game changer. Lasting from 1914 to 1918, this war was the first to encompass almost every major power from across the globe. The Central Powers of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and the dying Ottoman Empire fought against the Allied Powers of France, Great Britain, Russia, and eventually the United States, all over a desire for power and territory. WWI also saw a clash between the old style of 19th century warfare and newly developed 20th century technologies that would change the face of war forever. By the time the Armistice was signed on November 11 1918, both sides had lost over 37 million soldiers and civilians.

More on WWI:

Study Guide: What Caused World War I?

Watch: Globe Trekker – World War I Special

Read: The Somme Valley Battlefields

Read: In Flanders Field

Watch: Adventure Golf – Northern France

Main Image: Gassed, Sargent John Singer, Wikipedia Commons

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.

The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.

Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.

The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.

This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.

The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.

More information:

Read: Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Read: IMO 2020 – cleaner shipping for cleaner air

By Sofi Summers

Main Image: Emma Maersk, Roy, Flickr Creative Commons

British Identity, Brexit and the End of the Empire

British Identity, Brexit and the End of the Empire

As the pre-election debates heats up in Britain, one thing is certain — that the country’s collective identity as either British or as citizens of wider Europe is still seriously polarized, and even the outcome of the election is unlikely to unite a divided nation or provide an answer to this complicated identity crisis.

Contrary to the simplistic view that this is as a result of immigration, some historians believe that it is borne out of a subconscious desire to return to the days of greatness that the British empire had prior to the beginning of their demise.

In the context of other large scale empires, Britain’s demise has been short-lived thus far. The Roman Empire spent 300 years falling from its pinnacle moment of greatness, clinging on to its powers by any means necessary and never submitting to other powers which may dilute their influence. Hindsight provides us the luxury of analysing the Roman Empire over the course of several hundred years and makes it easy for historians and political analysts to draw parallels between certain behaviors, such as rejecting large supranational powers and trying to retain sovereignty and power — much of the basis of the bubbling eurosceptic movement which resulted in the national referendum in 2016.

A desire to enter into new trade deals with commonwealth nations could signify a nostalgia for the past. Nations such as India and Singapore also happen to be widely emerging economies with successful, innovative and deeply competitive tertiary sectors. Some of the systems left behind by colonialism lend themselves to future partnerships, based on free-market principles and de jure democratic processes. Whether this is a tangible reality or a misplaced confidence is a matter for history to decide, but the kinship and shared sensibility between ex-colonial nations with such historical relationships is not to be ignored.

Whatever the outcome, history tells us it is difficult to reclaim the glory days of the past. Will Britain thrive as an independent nation in a global world, or is her position within a greater European superstate still the best option for economic prosperity and social harmony?

More information:

Read: Important Historical Sites of the British Empire

Read: Brexit and the British Empire

Watch: Empire Builders – British Empire

Buy: Globe Trekker – Rise & Fall of the British Raj DVD

Study Guide: The Lost World of Joseph Banks

Watch: The Grassroots Tour – Colonial Relics of the Raj

Watch: Historic Walks – Albertopolis, London: Age of Empire

Main Image: The Natural History Museum, Albertopolis, London. Pilot Productions ©

By Sofi Summers

 

 

 

All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

All-Female Sailing Team 'eXXpedeition' on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

10 eager members of the public have set off on the first leg of an around the world journey to research and assess the extent of the plastic pollution in our oceans, and to explore creative solutions to clean it up. The team hope to build knowledge to inform scientists, legislators and the public alike on how the problem can be tackled for generations to come.

The all-female and multidisciplinary crew departed from Plymouth, UK – the same port that 18th century explorer Captain Cook set sail from on his round the world journey – and will sail for a planned 11 days to the Azores before their first stop. The Azores are a group of 9 islands, which are volcanic in origin and a famed north-east Atlantic deep-sea coral hotspot.

eXXpedition ©

eXXpedition ©

Each of the 13 legs around the world will see a new set of women set sail for the cause, and in total over 300 women will participate in the project which is expected to take 2 years to complete.

Mission Director Emily Penn’s motivations don’t stop there – eXXpedition also hopes to raise awareness of a lack of female participation in STEM professions, to research female-specific diseases caused by plastic and chemical pollution in greater depth, and to encourage female participation and positive coverage in all-female sailing and the wider sporting community.

The UK registered Community Interest Company have been sailing for these causes since 2014, though this is their first journey of such scale. The team are supported by multiple sponsors from environment companies to firms in the technology and legal sector. Many of the ladies on board are also sponsored personally by smaller community groups and businesses local to their homes.

eXXpedition ©

eXXpedition ©

Each stop along the voyage will not only involve research, but also talks, panel discussions, community clean-ups and send-off parties in hope of bringing together passionate individuals who are all working towards solving the plastic pollution crisis.

You can follow the progress of the boat, S.V. TravelEdge, and all of the fantastic ladies on their regular blog which they are completing at sea, no matter how perilous the conditions!

All images courtesy of eXXpedition 

By Sofi Pickering

 

 

 

Submerging Turkey’s History: The Ilisu Dam

Submerging Turkey's History: The Ilisu Dam

The ancient town of Hasankeyf, Turkey faces submersion in just a few short months following the construction of a new hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river which will harness the flow of the the river to generate electricity at the expense of the areas surrounding the dam upstream.

Hasankeyf is currently inhabited by some 3000 residents, whom have a deadline of October 8th to vacate the town to their new dwellings on higher ground the opposite side of the river in the new development of ‘New Hasankeyf’. This is not an unfamiliar story of displacement; much of the world have trialed and succeeded in generating energy from renewable sources at the expense of people’s settlements. But what makes this case truly remarkable is that Hasankeyf has been continuously inhabited for the past 12,000 years and has been home to some of the worlds earliest civilisations.

Study Guide: The Turkish Diaspora

A monument to these civilisations, ancient relics are found scattered across the town; Neolithic caves, Byzantine ruins and Ayyubid mosques among many others. Some of the monuments from the ancient city have been moved to the new town, but the human history that goes along with them will be left to drown. The citizens fear for the loss of their ancestry as it provides a large part of their economy through both tourism and animal husbandry.

The plans for the development of the dam have been in the making for decades, and constriction began in 2006. The Turkish government’s plans to develop the poverty-stricken Kurdish south-eastern region have been undeterred by the national and international protests, and withdrawal of support from key European banks providing funding. The government expects that the dam will contribute a much-needed $412 million to the economy on an annual basis. However, the dam is also something of a diplomatic issue too – the Tigris flows through neighbouring Iran who have expressed concerns that the new, restricted flow of the river downstream could cause water shortages in their country.

The town does not have the special protection of global schemes designed to protect such relics. UNESCO status, for example, can only be achieved if nominated by the national government. Where this national government has already condemned this citadel to extinction, it seems unlikely that protections will be awarded.

Visit Hasankayf with us in our episode Globe Trekker – Turkey 2, available to buy on DVD at the Pilot Guides Store now!

 

DNA Evidence Suggests That Nessie Might Be A Very Real Eel!

DNA Evidence Suggests That Nessie Might Be A Very Real Eel!

New scientific research has discovered DNA in the water of Loch Ness that suggests that it may be home to Giant Eels. This kind of discovery isn’t unusual in itself, however in the Scottish Highlands the news has been received with much excitement. You see, since the 6th Century, the whole world has been trying – and failing – to find solid evidence that a ‘monster’ exists in this lake. A monster called Nessie.

Loch Ness Monster, rjp, Flickr Creative Commons

Loch Ness Monster, rjp, Flickr Creative Commons

The Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie’,  is in folklore a large lake-monster which has been allegedly sighted over many years. It is described as being a large creature with a long neck that protrudes from the water in several places. She has also, interestingly, been described as being “serpent-like”.

Generally speaking, the scientific community has always regarded the Loch Ness Monster as a phenomenon without a biological basis and has explained sightings as hoaxes and incorrect identification of other objects.

However, scientist from the University of Otago have this week discovered the DNA of Eels which could explain the both the origin and the subsequent sightings of the Lock Ness Monster. Professor Neil Gemmell, who led the team, has said (of the discovery) that it is not impossible that the lake contains mutant giant Eels which occasionally surface and are sighted as ‘Nessie’.

Fresh Water Eels, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr Creative Commons

Fresh Water Eels, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr Creative Commons

Professor Gemmell explained that: “There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness. Our data doesn’t reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness.”

Loch Ness is the largest lake by volume in the British Isles, and is 230 metres deep at its deepest point. The Loch Ness legend is big business for the Scottish Highlands, with some estimates suggesting that Nessie is worth $54 million to the Scottish economy each year. Looking out for the infamous lake monster also made it into the top 20 bucket list items of Brits.

Other similar Lake Monster phenomena such as Nessie include the ‘Ogopogo’ in Okanagan Lake, Canada; and ‘Champ’ of Lake Champlain which straddles the border of Vermont and New York State.

More information:

Read: In Search of Nessie: Scotland’s Elusive Loch Ness Monster

Watch: Globe Trekker – Scotland

Download: Adventure Golf – Scotland

Main Image: Loch Ness from Fort Augustus Scotland, Dave Conner, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Rome Bans Tourists From Sitting On Spanish Steps

Rome Bans Tourists From Sitting On Spanish Steps

It came to public attention last week that the City of Rome is clamping down on tourists yet again, this time by banning visitors from sitting on the ever famous and ‘insta-worthy’ Spanish Steps.

Tourists who decide to stop here and who do not move along when requested – by the new specially employed police task-force – will be faced with a fine of up to €400.

The law came into effect at the beginning of July, however only last week did the police appear with their whistles to start moving people along.

The somewhat controversial move is part of a greater effort to improve Rome’s appearance and protect its heritage. The city is concerned by the amounts of litter left by tourists who stop to enjoy refreshments on the steps, and wished to discourage this kind of anti-social behaviour.

The Spanish Steps themselves are a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, and recently underwent a costly restoration project in 2016.

Rome has become one of the world’s busiest tourist destinations and its historical monuments are increasingly at risk from the perils of over-tourism. The city’s officials have become known for introducing rules and regulations such as banning bathing in any of the city’s fountains, and penalising “messy eating” near the monuments.

The move comes amid a greater concerns for many of Italy’s major tourist destinations. Officials have expressed concerns for the welfare of the environment, the important historical landmarks and the future of Italy’s tourism sector.

More information

Article: Important Historical Sites Of The Roman Empire

Article: Italy: Locations In Rome

Article: Ancient Rome

Article:  Italian Island Of Capri Bans Single Use Plastics

Article: The Past, Present & Future of Alberobello’s Iconic Trulli

 

Main Image: Spanish Steps, Ronald Tagra, Flickr Creative Commons

Tectonic: Italian Volcanic Island Of Stromboli is Erupting

Tectonic: Italian Volcanic Island Of Stromboli is Erupting

A volcano has erupted on the Italian island of Stromboli, killing one hiker and injuring a second. Lava streams and rocks have been slowly making their way down the volcano’s slopes following the eruption yesterday afternoon.

WATCH ON DVD: Volcanoes & Extreme Landscapes

Stromboli has a population of around 500, and its volcano is very active with frequent minor eruptions, making for an adrenaline junky’s paradise. As many as 7000 tourists flock to the island every summer to take in its incredible natural beauty, challenging landscape and Italian Island charm.

READ: Fireworks Night: Trekking Mount Stromboli

Yesterday’s eruption is described as a ‘major eruption’ with two major explosive events occurring. Tourist’s and locals alike have described scenes of people fleeing hotels and restaurants and jumping into the sea in a state of panic.

READ: Study Guide: Volcanoes

The Aeolian Islands, where Stromboli is situated, are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for providing “an outstanding record of volcanic island building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena”. Stromboli has been in a state of almost continuous eruption for the past 2000 years, its eruptions characterised as short and mild blasts of lava and rock and a slow and viscous flow of lava.

WATCH ON DVD: Globe Trekker – Cosica, Sicily & Sardinia where traveller Ian Wright visits the spitting summit of stromboli

 

Main Image: Flrnt, Stromboli, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Decommissioned Turkish Plane Becomes A Diving Attraction

Decommissioned Turkish Plane Becomes A Diving Attraction

A decommissioned Airbus A330 has been sunk in the Gulf of Saros, Erdine, Turkey in order to attract diving tourism.

The operation, which involved slowly submerging the 90 Ton aircraft with deflatable flotation devices, took 4 hours to complete, and saw the plane reach the Aegean seabed at a depth of 30m.

The Gulf of Saros is located in northern Turkey close to the border with Bulgaria and provides a great location for a new diving attraction due to its close proximity to Istanbul. The plane was sunk by a local tourism board and under the sponsorship of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project in a bid to promote tourism to the area.

The plane at 65m long is the worlds largest object yet to be sunk on purpose. Local officials believe that the site will not only bring tourism, but that it will also be of great benefit to local aquatic life.

This monumental effort is part of a greater artificial reef project which hopes to boost Turkey’s aquatic population, and has already seen very positive results.

Don’t miss our episode on Istanbul, where we travel to Erdine, and discover some of the other great tourism that Turkey has to offer!

Main Image: Caleb Maclennan, The Aegean, Flickr Creative Commons

 

The Queen’s Former Malta Home Is Up For Sale

The Queen's Former Malta Home Is Up For Sale

Despite the fact that she has travelled the world extensively during her reign, one fact little known about Queen Elizabeth II is that before she became Queen, she actually lived overseas. Her and her husband, Prince Phillip, lived on the Mediterranean island of Malta while he dutifully served in the Royal Navy from 1949-1951 .

The grand neoclassical Villa Guardamangia is the only place outside of the UK that a British Monarch has ever called ‘home’. Excitingly, it is currently privately owned and up for sale!

Currently listed for just under €6 Million by Maltese luxury estate agents Homes Of Quality, the listing describes the property as “an amazing grand Palazzo style property (…) with documented great historical value (…) complimented with sea views over Marsamxett Harbour (…) crying out for a great conversion and will make a superb residence or possibly a commercial venue.”

Located in Pieta, just outside the capital city of Malta, Valetta, the Maltese government have previously displayed interest in buying the property to renovate it as a tourist attraction. It is currently in a state of disrepair. It is reported that the Queen asked to visit the house, of which she holds fond memories, when on a state visit in 2012 but that the current owners refused.

Malta has a long and colourful history, gaining independence from British Rule in only 1964, and declaring itself a Republic in 1974. Prior to then, due to its desirable central Mediterranean location it had also been ruled by the French, Knights of St. John, Greeks, Arabs, Romans and more! The marks left by these ancient rulers make for a wonderful culture filled visit!

To learn more about the history of Malta, why not order our 6 part series Ottomans vs Christians Battle For The Mediterranean, or watch part 3 of the series on Vimeo!

By Sofi Pickering