Two weekends ago, we sat in our hotel in London, waiting for a phone call that thankfully, never came.
Our house sitter had rung earlier in the day to tell us that a runaway veld (bush) fire and the seasonal southeasterly wind had teamed-up to produce a conflagration that was threatening our entire ocean-side village.
So much so, that she was being evacuated as the wind had made the blaze uncontrollable and several homes were now at risk. And as if that wasn’t enough, the gale force wind was keeping the helicopters of the local firefighting teams on the ground.
There we were, eight thousand kilometres away, powerless, just waiting to hear the worst of news.
Well, someone smiled on us and the wind kept the fire up on the mountains behind our home, until eventually, it made its way down into the other end of the village and there razed two homes to the ground.
We arrived home to find the local fynbos reduced to ash, a fearsome mess everywhere and most villagers still shell shocked at the experience.
One local photographer has posted an incredible set of the most moving images on Facebook – I’d definitely suggest you take a look.
I’ve written about the fynbos before. It is one of only six Floral Kingdoms on the planet – Wikipedia covers it thus.
One overriding fact about this extraordinary genus is it’s need for fire to germinate and kick start new growth. So much so, that less than a fortnight after the conflagration swept through the area, bright green shoots are already beginning to peep from the ash and in just a few short months, the scarred land will be well on the way to being healed.
A long introduction. On Friday, the weather socked-in and promised some much needed rain. It never arrived, but a thick wet mist settled over the area and afforded me the opportunity to photograph some of the fire’s aftermath in what seems a most appropriate light.
I’d guess that many DearSusan readers will have seen the recent announcements from the US and UK governments regarding inbound air passengers on flights originating in various airports in the Middle East. In a nutshell, anything electronic that is larger than a cell phone, must now be packed into one’s check-in luggage and may not be used on the flight.
In these uncertain times, that’s not altogether a surprise. Nor is the Australian government’s decision to implement a similar ban. What is a hassle is the inevitable in concern for one’s valuables and the almost inevitable uptick in from-luggage theft.
The airlines are responding, with Emirates offering on-plane use into Dubai and then on affected flights, boarding gate stowage in containers which will be stowed in the hold immediately prior to take off. Qatar are offering free laptops for passengers to use when their own equipment is stowed. Neither is optimal, but much better than being blown-up by some variety of religious extremist, or arriving to find one’s kit has flown elsewhere.
#1163. Expect the Unexpected
845. Losing Notre-Dame
#808. Monday Post (14 Jan 2019) – Just one thoughtless person…
#272. Forest on fire – again
#981. Friday Post (20 March 2020) – The Write of Spring
#958. Monday Post (27 Jan 2020) – Galleries, projets, pics of the month, challenges and a few thoughts following comments
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It’s probably important to be clear that the ban on electronic devices only covers flights from a designated list of locations. I read (though didn’t check to confirm) that the ban on flights into the USA only affects certain airlines. I only mention as many people have become very touchy about the idea that they cannot take their devices on board – on most flights you can, just check the local rules for your flight.
Important to note that most insurance policies don’t cover valuables in checked luggage and airline compensation would never cover replacement costs. Important to know for camera equipment too!
Great images – very glad you mentioned the fact that many fynbos species need fire to germinate and to make room for the new plants. Always sorry for those who have lost their homes and angry that so many fires are deliberately started.
Sad to hear of your fire – is it a major risk over your side of the Indian Ocean? – it certainly is in OZ, most summers. I feel dreadfully sorry for the wildlife, which really has little possibility of evacuating and beating the flames.
In relation to flight restrictions, what is not clear is how the travel ban affects cameras, Paul. Are they regarded as “electronic equipment”? Because I’m damned if I’m putting mine in the hold – they either come with me in the cabin, or the airline can go stuff itself.
In the UK, the ban is on devices larger than phones (laptops and tablets, essentially), from direct in-coming flights from Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE.
It is reported to be a result of a credible threat from ISIS attempting to place explosives inside computers. It is reported to cover any device larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep, which I assume is computed as being large enough cubic capacity to pose a threat.
Obviously, cameras and lenses are larger than those dimensions, but the ban specifically covers computers and tablets, not other types of device – so don’t to ask to loudly!
Here is a link to a BBC news item, which I would regard as “credible”:
I cannot stress enough that valuables including computers and camera equipment should not be put in hold luggage as it will not be covered by travel insurance. I’m not clear if this restriction applies to possessions covered by household insurance policies (personal possessions outside the home type cover). If you do check in baggage with valuables, the airline industry guidance is to inform check in staff – I have no idea why.
It’s encouraging that some of the airlines affected have started schemes where you take your item to the gate and then have it stowed in the hold and retrieved when you disembark the plane, which feels more secure than simply putting something in a suitcase – though may still fall foul of insurance rules should anything unfortunate happen.
When travelling with camera equipment I cannot stress enough the importance of adequate insurance. Most travel policies apply quite low limits on “valuables”, often of little more than a few hundred pounds sterling (euros, US dollars). If you travel with expensive cameras and lenses the cheapest way to insure them is often to add personal possessions cover to your home contents insurance policy, which tends to cover anything and everything up to a declared total value, sometimes with a single item value limit. Do check your policy to ensure you are adequately covered.
Personally I am more than happy to try and adhere to whatever security arrangements are necessary to allow me, and everyone else, to travel safely – but it is a sad indictment of the times in which we live that we must be so fearful for our safety.
I love the images. Well done.
Mark, I used my X-Pro2 and the 56mm f1.2.