In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Naked rambler in the land of the Green Hairstreak
Naturist Nigel Keer kept a scorecard of reactions, but its findings didn’t help him avoid a £315 fine.
Naked rambling sounds like a complete no-no to me but it has a long tradition in the UK. The latest upholder of its supposed virtues is Nigel Keer who has just been fined for the practice on Otley Chevin, a place which Penny and I frequent, although always fully-clothed.
Keer has been convicted of an offence against public order after tramping around the steep hillside wearing boots, a backpack and a baseball cap.
He is a naturist of seven years’ standing and has developed an interesting twist on previous attempts by ramblers to uphold this form of freedom, which have always been squashed by the courts. On his Chevin sortie, he kept a scorecard of reactions from passers-by, and claimed to have 15-0 approval when unfortunately he met an off-duty police officer.
Leeds magistrates heard an hour or so of enjoyable evidence, including PC Mark Buxton’s description of the “disgusted frown” on the face of a woman dog walker who was also nearby. He told the court that initially he had had carried on with his daily run but then did a doubletake.
“I was so shocked and surprised and to some degree alarmed by what I had just seen.”
After arresting Keer, he told him to get dressed, which the rambler did among the bracken and bilberry plants overlooking a distractingly lovely stretch of lower Wharfedale. He had his clothes in the backpack.
Keer was fined £315 for what prosecutor Catherine Dowson called “an exercise in pure attention-seeking and self-indulgence.” Judge Christopher Darnton, passing sentence, said:
“I do accept that Mr Keer is a naturist but I note with some interest that he would not walk with his clothes off in the city centre of Leeds. On this occasion, a lady was clearly distressed by what she had seen going on.”
Insurance warning for off-piste skiers
Off-piste skiers and snowboarders have been warned they could face medical bills of £16,000 if they are hurt on the slopes and haven’t purchased suitable travel insurance.
That is the average cost of calling out a search and rescue team in a European ski resort, according to research by Complete Ski, the insurer.
Skiers who venture off-piste and simply get lost could face bills of a similar magnitude.
Greg Lawson of Complete Ski said: “Most people would expect emergency services, the local government or even the Foreign Office to cover you if you had to be rescued but, as our research shows, in most places this is not the case.”
The cost of helicopter evacuation in European ski resorts can be as high as £9,000, while in North America it is £2,600. An airlift to hospital costs up to £2,500 in Europe and up to £12,000 in North America.
The best weather apps for travellers
When it comes to weather apps, hype springs eternal.
Many promise to deliver weather reports relevant to a smartphone user’s precise location, but the advertised “refresh” doesn’t always mean a new forecast. Others claim to have easy-to-read interfaces, enabling users to make travel plans at a glance – but don’t. In reality, the most popular apps perform a few functions well — not all of them.
And the quality of weather apps seems to range greatly by region. For example, Canada’s local leader in weather data, The Weather Network, provides forecasted snow accumulations on its free iPhone and Androidapps, something that neither the Weather Channel nor AccuWeather do for their United States apps. North American-centric apps also tend to lack access to the nitty-gritty data gathered by the official meteorology organisations in foreign countries. Australia’s Android Pocket Weather AU uses Bureau of Meteorology data, including (so-far-unique) access to the official agency’s detailed rain radar (about $2, Android, iPhone). Similarly, Britain’s new Metropolitan Weather Service app (free, Android, iPhone) delivers much more precise rain forecasts than its US-centric rivals. Bottom line: if precision matters, download the app from the official weather service at your destination, where available.
But if your holiday plans are still unclear, here are the apps most likely to appeal to a global traveller who decides itineraries on the fly. All of these apps offer optional alerts for major weather events, such as approaching rainstorms.
Blind judges to size up samba at Sao Paulo Carnival
Giovanna Maira shakes her hips and waves her cane to the sultry samba beat: the 25-year-old singer lost her sight as a baby, but will judge next week’s drum-off at Sao Paulo’s Carnival festival.
Maira is on the first panel of five specially-trained blind judges, who will officiate the eagerly-awaited percussion contest of the city’s famed samba schools on February 16 and 17.
Samba schools, which practice year-round for the showy pre-Lenten extravaganza, are major social and cultural players around Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival has long garnered the most international attention, but the festival in Sao Paulo – a city of 20 million – has grown in recent years and is increasingly seen as a blowout to rival Rio’s.
The panel of blind judges – who have taken both theoretical and practical percussion courses under the supervision of the samba schools federation and the mayor’s office – is intended to celebrate diversity.
“Everybody, whether they are handicapped or not, can live together harmoniously and with rhythm – just like in a samba school,” Ms Maira said.
But officials also hope the blind judges will give the most objective rating of the samba schools’ musical prowess, unswayed by the competitors’ costumes, decorative floats and dance moves.
Camilo Augusto Neto, who has helped train the judges, said it was best to have a blind jury award scores in the highly competitive tournament.