Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 24, 2020

Japan Launches Worlds Most Powerful Supercomputer To Find Cure

Japan’s new so-called ‘Fugaku’ supercomputer, which has this week been declared the most powerful in the world, is to be used to search for a potential cure for the coronavirus.

The machine is capable of performing 513 quadrillion complicated mathematical operations every second. Fugaku requires 28 megawatts to run – more than two Eurostar trains!

Although it won’t be fully operational until next year, the team leading the project have already used it to run simulations on how cough and sneeze droplets spread through office spaces and public transport.

The White House’s expert on infectious diseases has warned the US is experiencing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases.

Infectious diseases specialist Dr Fauci has highlighted recent spikes in states such as Florida and Texas, which are largely reopening businesses despite reporting thousands of cases per day.

Dr Fauci’s comments come following President Trump’s apparent desire to slow testing in order to slow the reporting of new cases.

Speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday, the President remarked: “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” the president said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • IMF expects global economic activity to decline by 5% in 2020, owing to the damage caused by large scale economic shut downs and the compromises that must be made by surviving businesses away from efficiency and in favour of heightened workplace safety and hygiene measures.
  • Pubs, cafes and restaurants in England will be allowed to reopen on 4 July.The government and the industry hope that gyms can reopen in mid-July, subject to health guidance.
  • A sharp increase in cases in Latin America in the second half of May led the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the Americas were the new centre of the pandemic. But there have also been new spikes in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Discover Supercomputer 3, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 17, 2020

The Results Are In: Oxford Team Discover Existing Medication Capable of Helping COVID-19 Patients

In the quest to find a drug that can be used to treat the most unwell coronavirus patients, Oxford researchers have discovered that a cheap and widely available corticosteroid medicine called Dexamethasone cuts the risk of death by a third. Dexamethasone is used in the treatment of various illnesses involving inflammation in the body.

Chief investigator Prof Peter Horby said: “This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough.”

Brits Bring the Virus Back to New Zealand

Two travellers from the UK arrived in New Zealand and have subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. This follows a period of no-new-cases which last week meant that New Zealand could ease restrictions within their own borders. New Zealand’s Prime Minister has requested that the army keep a tighter control on the quarantine measures at the border.

Beijing Prepares to Contain Potential Second Outbreak

This week, Beijing has once again returned to a state of lockdown following 106 new cases which appear to have spread within the city’s largest wholesale market. City officials have contacted over 200,000 people in order to test them to help get the the bottom of how the virus has spiked again.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • US Airlines have threatened to ban passengers who refuse to wear a face mask in a bid to encourage people to comply with government advice and to slow the spread of the virus. Figures suggest that more than a quarter of confirmed global cases have occurred in the USA.
  • France’s phased removal of lockdown restrictions was unexpectedly extended to Paris on Sunday, allowing cafes and restaurants in the capital to open their doors for trade so long as workers and patrons follow WHO guidelines of keeping a 1m distance from each other.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Close-up of a solution in a dropper, Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 9, 2020

New Zealand Declares Itself COVID-Free

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has declared that there have been no new coronavirus cases in New Zealand for 17 days and has subsequently embarked on lifting restrictions previously placed on the country. In interviews with press, Ms Arden said that she ‘did a little dance’ with her daughter in joy and in relief that the virus appears to have been defeated.

The country will remove all coronavirus-related curbs on shops, restaurants and offices and physical distancing will no longer be mandatory, although it will remain encouraged.

Other COVID-Free nations include Australia & Fiji.

On your bike

Cycling Oxford, Tejvan Pettinger, Flickr Creative Commons

Cycling Oxford, Tejvan Pettinger, Flickr Creative Commons

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Tourism operator Kuoni said it has seen a “clear upturn” in demand for holidays in 2021, with the Maldives, Mauritius, Thailand, Spain and India high on the wish list for many customers.
  • The longest economic expansion in American history is officially over; The National Bureau of Economic Research declared Monday that a recession began in February.
  • Museums and cinemas have begun reopening in Denmark.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

More information:

Watch: Adventure Golf – New Zealand

Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel

Phobic Traveller: Challenges and Innovation in the Travel Industry

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Bravo! New show “Ultimate Blitzkrieg” praised by Australian media

Bravo! New show "Ultimate Blitzkrieg" praised by Australian media

Following the broadcast of our new 3-part miniseries Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WWII Battle of Crete, the show has caught the attention of many, including both the Foxtel Insider team and Weekend Australian!

In their review of Ultimate Blitzkrieg, Foxtel Insider called the show both powerful and gripping, and describe Executive Producer Ian Cross’ fascination with the events of May 1941.

Our show also made an appearance in the Weekend Australian newspaper, who described the show as Riveting!

We are excited to announce that the Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WW2 Battle of Crete DVD is coming soon! To register your interest for the DVD please use this Contact Form!

 

 

Forgotten Seafarers

Forgotten Seafarers

According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea and are unable to go home, while relief crews cannot be brought in.

The UK Chamber of Shipping said up to 2,000 – or around one in 13 – of the UK’s 25,750 seafarers were among the stranded.

In a letter written to Shipping Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the trade association has asked the UK government to sign up to and acknowledge the International Maritime Organisation COVID-19 guidance for personal protective equipment and for interactions between ship and shore-based personnel to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Getting them home is “increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension”, it adds.

Working at sea often entails consecutive shifts over weeks or even months with few days off, followed by a rest period of weeks or months between trips. While these seafarers are unable to return, work will resume even for those in need of a break.

Discover the seafarer way of life with our series Tough Boats

Mark Dickinson, general secretary of seafarer union Nautilus International, said many UK seafarers were working 90-hour weeks.

In an interview with the BBC, he said: “It’s a confined workplace – not the Hilton Hotel – for three, four or five months. The accommodation is fairly basic and you’re with a small group of people.

“You get into a situation where you think, ‘I’ve got six weeks to go,’ ‘I’ve got four weeks to go,’ and even when this is extended by 24 hours it’s pretty awful. It’s worse when it’s so open-ended.”

Despite uncertainty, seafarers have been honoured for their hard work and professionalism throughout the global pandemic by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

More information:

Watch: Tough Boats – The Arctic

Download: Tough Boats – Great Lakes

Read: Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Read: Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel

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

Main image: Container ship leaving bay area, Derell Licht, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Oktoberfest Becomes Latest Travel Industry Victim

Oktoberfest Becomes Latest Travel Industry Victim
April 22, 2020

The world-famous 210 year old Bavarian beer festival has been cancelled this year due to concerns over the continued spread of coronavirus.

It is the biggest annual tourist attraction in Germany, drawing 6 million global visitors a year, and employing some 13,000 staff.

Read: Oom-pah and Ale: The Oktoberfest Beer Festival

While some lockdown restrictions have been slightly relaxed in parts of the country this week, German authorities have banned all large events until at least August 31 in a bid to avoid a second wave of infections towards the end of the summer. Due to the nature of the event – festival goers are seated in very close proximity and the consumption of alcohol is thought to cause diminished regard for social distancing — the organisers had already indicated that the event might not go ahead.

Bavarian officials, have expressed regret that the businesses who take part in the festivities will lose out financially. It is reported that last year’s revenue amounted to around 1 billion euros.

The Oktoberfest started in 1810 on 12 October, as a celebration of the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, and was due to take place from 19 September to 4 October this year.

Read: Top 5 things to see and do in Munich

Meanwhile, in the UK, Home Sercretary Michael Gove has warned that the hospitality industry, most notably pubs and bars, will be of the last to see restrictions lifted levaing some businesses attempting to prepare for closures lasting until Christmas.

In the USA, of the states where lockdown rules are being relaxed, bars, nightclubs and restaurants will also be among the last businesses to see restrictions lifted.

More information:

Study Guide: A Short History Of Beer

Watch: The Story of Beer

Read: Wine Sales Are Booming

Read: Tips For Coping During Lockdown

 Main image: Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest, Polybert49, Flickr Creative Commons

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

It would be fair to say that more of us than usual are facing stress and/or anxiety this month, and with looming uncertainty as to when we will return to normal, it is important to look after your wellbeing. The good news is that most of us have got plenty of time on our hands to take proper care of ourselves, but if you’re struggling for ideas we’ve put together a list of tips and resources for remaining calm and staving off Coronavirus anxiety – and dare we say – using this awkward time wisely!

Mood Boosters

Positive news

John Krasinski of The Office has launched a YouTube channel aptly named “Some Good News“, covering any and all positive news that the world has to offer. Spare 30 minutes from your week (preferably minutes which you may have been spending ‘terror scrolling’), and check in with John every Monday for his mood boosting show.

Online therapy

The mental health tech sector has experienced a boom in the past month, with more and more people seeking help from online and app-based sources. App based services such as Better Help offer an affordable and easy way to access a professional ear to chew on. If you’d prefer to deal with your stressors on your own, services such as Headspace use meditation to build awareness alongside a healthy sense of perspective.

Watch something inspiring

Head over to the Pilot Guides Store and download any number of our shows. We’re currently loving our Pocket Guides (currently half price!) for planning our next city break, and Travelling in the 70’s for some good old fashioned nostalgia!

70's cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70's by Pilot Productions

70’s cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70’s by Pilot Productions

Schedule video calls with loved ones

Whether its a quiz night, a cup of coffee and a chin-wag or a shared takeaway, utilise video calling to maintain meaningful connections with people you care about. Aside from the obvious boost this will provide to your mood, it will also give you the opportunity to take your mind off your own problems and check in with everyone else.

A screen-ban

Set an allocated time every day where you turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet and close your laptop. Use this time to read, practice journalling, meditate or some other activity aside from your chores. Actively unwinding can help your frantic thoughts to slow down, inspire creativity and help you let go of factors which are beyond your control. Aside from the benefits of the activities themselves, less screen time will help slow down your consumption of negative information, give your eyes a break from harmful blue-light and help you recognise when you are simply scrolling because you are bored.

Sleep

Physical exercise

In most places, lockdown laws enable individuals to partake in an hour of physical activity each day. This is for good reason – exercise generates feel-good hormones! It’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air, vitamin D, and connect with nature. Don’t forget that walking counts as exercise too, and now would be a great time to take in some of your local sights!

Historic Walks Hollywood - Justine in the Hollywood Hills

If you cant go out, ensure to do something physical at home. Yoga is a great way to relax your body and mind. Isometric (such as a plank) and isotonic exercises (such as squats and push-ups) are great if you do not have much space and are confined to home.

DVD: Historic Walks

Sleep hygiene

Preparing and preserving your bedroom as a place for sleep can be very important when trying to minimise disruption to sleep! In the morning, make your bed and air your bedroom; and in the evening light a candle or spray some calming linen spray. Stay away from your bedroom until it is time for bed. Also, Mr. Sandman is not a fan of the blue-light from your phone either, so make sure to leave it aside for a restful nights’ kip!

Routine

Set a time for bed each night and stick to it, set an alarm each morning and avoid sleeping-in. Is your sleep pattern already busted? Try to move your bedtime and wake-up back by 10 minutes each day. Even so much as paying attention to your sleep pattern and making a concerted effort towards maintaining a routine will help you feel more in control.

Sleeping in a yurt... Pilot Productions

Sleeping in a yurt… Pilot Productions

Finances

Cash KingMake a zero-sum budget

Do you know where your money goes each month? Knowing where every penny has gone, and where every penny should be will help restore a sense of control in these financially stressful period. There are some fantastic online tools to help you draw up this budget, and many computers come with a pre-loaded budget templates!

Seek help

If things aren’t looking too rosy, then don’t bury your head in the sand. As well as finding out if there are any state benefits which you may be entitled to receive, you should look to temporarily reduce your obligations where possible. Many lenders are offering payment holidays as well as adjustments to repayment schedules, so call your lenders and discuss ways to ease your situation. Remember, it is in their interest for you not to default! Institutions such as Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK can provide some clarity on where to find help, and help you seek it. In the US, assistance generally varies from state to state, so do some digging and find out if there is anything you can do to ease the burden for even a short period.

Home

Spring clean

It is that time of year, after all. What better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning your house from top to bottom, and ‘putting winter away’. Having a clean and tidy environment in the spring time is important, especially when you’re spending so much time at home.

Clean out your closet

Take inventory of your closet! Set aside anything you no longer wear ready to donate it to a charity shop or a clothes bank. Alternatively, to generate some cash, you could sell them online! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”. Apply this principle to other cupboards, too. Perhaps you have a pile of paperwork stashed away that you’ve been meaning to sort through, old electronics which have been sat in a box collecting dust, or a bathroom cabinet full of lotions and potions – get rid of what you no longer want and organise what you do!

Get creative in the kitchen

Empty out your food cupboard and fridge and get creative! Not only will this help with efforts to cut down on your spending, but cooking can also be a great way to release some stress. There is a plethora of recipes using just about any ingredients on the internet, but we would recommend checking out our Ten Great Global Recipes for inspiration!

A spicy pudding soup with fresh fruit. So wrong, but so delicious.

spicy pudding soup with fresh fruit. So wrong, but so delicious. And more or less exactly what you’ll get when you combine the contents of your cupboard…

Work

We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you're done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons

We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you’re done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons

Working from home

Pilot HQ’s tried and tested tips:

  • Stick to a routine: Clock in and out at roughly the same time each day where your role permits!
  • Make the most of not commuting: Go for a walk and/or eat a good breakfast!
  • Keep your work area as separate from your living area as possible: As tempting as it might be, taking your laptop to bed is not as productive as you think it is!
  • Take a lunch break!
  • Get dressed properly: Not just for that ever impending surprise video call, but getting dressed for work will help you focus on work, and keep work and home tasks separate.

Furloughed or on leave

Devote work-time to professional development or other activities which will help to enrich your career and and add value to your employers or your business. This is not limited to simply seeking out online courses; a more holistic approach to enrichment will enhance your life and your career. We love activities such as learning a language, or exploring the plethora of lessons that history has to offer. Why not check out our Study Guides to get a taste for what you might be interested in pursuing.

Unemployed

As much as finding gainful employment is your priority here, it may also be useful to take this time to reflect on your career so far to help determine what your next move might be. If you were already looking to make a change in your career, then there is literally no time like the present. Those who have lost their jobs could also engage in enriching activities to keep the mind as sharp as possible for when that interview finally comes your way.


Have you already engaged in any of the above, or do you have your own coping strategies? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Main Image: Ned Kelly‘s First Home in Beveridge, Pilot Productions

Wine Sales Are Booming

Wine Sales Are Booming

Following the closure of many on-trade bars, pubs and restaurants across the world, shops which sell wine and other alcoholic beverages are seeing a dramatic uplift in sales as consumers seek to enjoy a drink at home.

One alcohol delivery service, Drizly, based in Boston MA, have stated that earlier this month the announcement of a lock-down led to the biggest day of sales on record, outstripping otherwise busy periods such as New Years Eve and Halloween.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government specifically added provision for shops selling alcohol to stay open within the coronavirus lock-down rules.

Kent based winemaker and drinks company Chapel Down have seen sales in supermarkets and off licences grow substantially and direct online sales multiply dramatically as their customers seek to continue to enjoy their brands at home. Chapel Down report that on the current sales trajectory, their sales to consumers enjoying the drinks at home could more than make up for their loss of trade to licenced venues.

However, some nations have taken their lock-down further, effectively introducing a period of prohibition. South Africa, although continuing to harvest and produce wine, have introduced a ban on the purchase of both alcohol and tobacco in a bid to curtail incidence of domestic violence and to improve personal hygiene, adherence to social distancing measures and to mass-protect the nation’s immune systems.

The department of Aisne in northern France began with a similar approach but faced huge backlash from residents, forcing them to lift the ban and allow the purchase and consumption of alcohol.

Current trends suggest that widespread abstinence is unlikely. The wine market has been described in the past as recession-resistant — people like to enjoy a glass as much in good times as they do in bad times.

With many large-scale businesses rapidly adapting to this shift in demand, we hope that smaller, artisan and local producers do not neglect this opportunity to shield their businesses from the impacts of the virus. After all, when this is over, we are all going to need a drink to celebrate!

More information:

Watch: Globe Guides – Wine Trails: France, Italy & Iberia

Download: Globe Guides – Wine Trails: The New World

Read: Châteauneuf du Pape Wine Festival

Read: Vinotherapy – the Glass of Wine Cure

Main image: Malbec Wines from Mendoza’s Vineyards, Pilot Productions

By Sofi Summers

Consumer Brands Save the Day Amid Hand Sanitiser Shortages

Consumer Brands Save the Day Amid Hand Sanitiser Shortages

As stocks of hand sanitiser gel begin to run dangerously low across the world amid the COVID-19 outbreak and spread, many alcohol producing companies and companies with denatured-alcohol licences and supplies of alcohol have pivoted their businesses to try to help close the gap – especially for health professionals and those most at risk. This mixture of small and large businesses show us all how lending a helping hand can make a huge difference.

Alcohol Brands

BrewDog

BrewDog is a beer and spirits manufacturer based in Ellon in Scotland, and have switched their production lines to produce alcohol hand-gel totally free of charge to ‘those who need it’ across local charities and the community. The first batch of hand sanitiser was delivered to Aberdeen hospital to help the hard working staff stay safe.

Punk Sanitiser by BrewDog

Punk Sanitiser by BrewDog

Psychopomp Microdistillery

Psychopomp is an artisan gin distillery based in Bristol, England, who have also begun to produce hand sanitiser gel to distribute among the community free-of-charge, but in exchange for a charitable donation to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

Warner’s Distillery

Warner’s Distillery in Northamptonshire usually prides themselves on saving the world from mediocre gin, but in light of the sanitiser shortages they have turned their production efforts to saving the world a little more generally.

Leith Spirits

Edinburgh based Leith Spirits have received much deserved praise in the press for their efforts. Having begun production of hand gel rather as opposed to their usual selection of gin, the company issued a plea on social media for plastic bottles to package the hand gel in order to keep production moving.

Pernot Ricard

Jameson Distillery, Sean O'Neill, Flickr Creative Commons

Jameson Distillery, Sean O’Neill, Flickr Creative Commons

Pernot Ricard, producers of drinks brands including Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey have put their Arkansas factory to good use by producing hand sanitiser instead of booze as the company reports a 20% hit to their operating profit due to the coronavirus. The French company hope to utilise some of their other USA factories to further increase their supply to help combat the empty shelves and dwindling hospital stores of hand sanitiser.

Diageo

Diageo, the makers of Smirnoff Vodka and Johnnie Walker Whiskies have pledged to produce enough denatured alcohol to make 8 million bottles of sanitiser, to be distributed among the front line staff treating coronavirus patients in the UK, Ireland, Italy, USA, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia.

Cosmetics and Fragrance Brands

LVMH

Dior Midnight Charm, an LVMH perfume, Wesley Vieira Fonseca, Flickr Creative Commons

Dior Midnight Charm by LVMH, Wesley Vieira Fonseca, Flickr Creative Commons

Luxury fashion, cosmetics, fragrance and drinks conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) have turned their fragrance laboratories into hand-gel powerhouses, providing free-of-charge supplies of the sanitisers to overstretched hospitals. It has also been reported that the company has ordered 40 million face masks to distribute among the French health services, with the first 10 million masks paid for out of LVMH coffers, amounting to 5.4 million Euros. Bravo!

 

 

Pai Skincare

Our neighbours, West London based organic skincare brand Pai have launched their new ‘Acton Spirit’ Hand Sanitizer, named as such as the team believed that it summed up the amazing resilience and community spirit we have all seen here in West London. Pai sent out the initial batch to key-workers and is working on a second batch to make available for the public to purchase. For every tube purchased, Pai have pledged to provide key-workers and health professionals with one, too.

Pai's "Acton Spirit" hand sanitiser in makeshift packaging

Pai’s “Acton Spirit” hand sanitiser in makeshift packaging

BeYou

BeYou is a bit of an anomaly among this list, for its products mostly seek to provide women relief from period pain. BeYou impressively shifted their production to help beat the shortage of hand sanitisers within a week, and have been giving them away free with orders.

Ormonde Jayne

London-based luxury fragrance company Ormonde Jayne initially began manufacturing small amounts of hand gel to ensure the safety and hygiene of all of its staff members, and now they have begun distributing it among customers who purchase any of their delightful fragrances in-store or online.

More information:

Read: World’s Deadliest Plagues

Read: Where in the Wild has the Coronavirus Come From?

Worldometer: Live COVID-19 Updates

GOV.UK Guidance

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance

Australian Department of Health Guidance

Main image: The Old Jameson Distillery, Neil Turner, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

75 Years Since Auschwitz Liberated

75 Years Since Auschwitz Liberated
January 27, 2020

Every year on January 27,  International Holocaust Remembrance Day comes around, and we remember the horrors of Genocide that approximately 17 million people faced.

It is estimated that 6 million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust, along with a further 11 million ‘undesirables’ such as ‘Gypsies’, the disabled, Polish people, and political opponents of the Nazi regime during the Holocaust era.

2020 marks an important year for the day, because it marks 75 years since the liberation of the prisoners at Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps. Towards the end of the war, USSR troops swept through German occupied Poland, freeing all of the remaining concentration camp survivors, some of whom still live today.

With a death toll of 1.1 million, it is important to never forget Auschwitz and its victims, as a way to ensure that history never repeats itself.

More information:

Read: Auschwitz and the Holocaust

Study Guide: The Nazi’s & The Holocaust


Main Image: Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Fred Romero, Flickr Creative Commons