Paris last time

It was 2012 when we took the kids to Disneyland Paris. Not really my scene, but you adjust your expectations and you have a great time (see my recent Sun City review to see what I mean).

We were there for a few days, and what surprised me more than anything else on that trip was my 6-year-old son’s desire to spend a day in Paris. One would imagine that an entire amusement park literally on his doorstep would have been more than enough entertainment, but no, apparently not.

And so we (just he and I – his sister wanted to go and meet Cinderella) caught the train into Paris and we went up the Eiffel Tower.

The lifts were fully booked, and so we had to walk up the stairs to the 2ème étage. Despite the dreary conditions, it was a lot more fun that you’d likely imagine. It was the first time that the boy had requested “a big thing” and we’d gone and done it, solely because he wanted to.

You can see a few more photos in this album.

Anyway. This all happened on the 26th June 2012. Exactly 6 years ago today.
I’m not planning to get into a regular June 26th trip to Paris every six years: this was entirely a chance occurrence.

Still, who knows where we’ll be on June 26th 2024?

We’ve all done it…

Well, I know I have, anyway.

So, just what is “it”?
Well, “it” is climbing the Eiffel Tower. Without ropes.

Of course, I happened to take the stairs – it seemed the sensible option, if I’m honest. James Kingston? No, he took the girders to get up there.
Less sensible, more viral video-friendly.

How are those palms doing, hey? Mildly moist? Don’t lose your grip, now.

Says James (in the video description here):

After a few more hours playing around on the tower workers & tourists started coming up in the lifts. We were spotted again around 9AM so we climbed down & met with security. We were handcuffed & taken to the local police station where we were held & questioned for around 6 hours before being released without charges (I also had to promise them I wouldn’t climb it again for 3 years).

The rest of his Youtube account is equally nuts.

I’ve still yet to understand why people do stuff like this. I get the argument for the immediate adrenaline rush of a skydive or a bungee jump, but where’s the appeal in several hours trespassing in the dark, with the threat of arrest or (near) immediate death should something go awry?

I don’t need that sort of stress in my life, and thus I shall continue to live vicariously through people like James Kingston.

World’s Biggest Windmill

Not really, but still – nice story: they’ve put a couple of VAWTs on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Well, they couldn’t really put them on the Eiffel Tower anywhere else, could they?

If you’ve ever seen the Eiffel Tower in real life, you’ll know that it’s not small. Here it is with its head in the clouds in the height of summer, 2012 with the boy wonder in the foreground, and a handy indicator of where the turbines have been fitted just above the 2eme étage:


Amazingly, despite their hugely elevated position, they’re not even at the height of the wind turbines in Caledon just up the road from Cape Town. Suddenly, Gustav’s big project doesn’t seem quite so huge. Or maybe wind turbines are just generally horribly invasive. Hey, you decide.

The 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity they’ll produce each year is about enough to self-sustain the commercial section on the tower’s first floor, but not much else.

Look, it’s something. And I do understand that this is really all just about visibility. To be honest, short of putting a set of huge blades on the top of the tower itself, it’s probably about as good as it’s going to get. Especially in a country which produces around 80% of its electricity from nuclear. But while wind is good because it’s renewable, it’s may not be quite as green as you think. Here’s an interesting “back-of-the-envelope calculation” by Popular Science magazine on which are the nastiest forms of electricity generation if you happen to be, say… a bird (as one of the endangered Blue Cranes near Caledon might self-identify, for example).


You can read more here, but the gist of it is that Coal is downright evil (we knew this), solar plants fry birds:

Rewire reports that during the test, operators fired up a third of the 110-megawatt facility’s mirrors, concentrating sunlight on a spot 1,200 feet off the ground. Over a six-hour period, biologists counted 130 “streamers,” or trails of smoke and water left behind as birds ignited and plummeted to their deaths. Rewire’s anonymous source said that at least one of the birds “turned white hot and vaporized completely.”

and we already knew that wind turbines kill birds and bats.

Sadly, despite our current (no pun intended) electricity woes, it seems like nuclear isn’t the er… cleanest option for SA either (although not necessarily for environmental reasons).

So we have the choice of evil coal (which we’re going to use), the horribly inefficient and not-ever-so-nice-after-all solar and wind, or the allegedly dangerously corrupt nuclear.

Or we could do fracking… Now there’s a good idea.

More Parisian flickritude

Paris again

It’s been a busy old weekend full of previously avoided household chores and beer making. Alex has been playing on Google Earth with his Google Earth book and his explorations have centred mainly around Paris, due to his continuing fascination with the Eiffel Tower. Since I have very little time, impetus or energy to write reams on any particular subject, herewith a quota photo from the day he and I spent in Paris earlier this year.

There are, as ever, more here.

First pics

I’ve taken a bit of time out to sift through the [MILLION] photos we’ve taken so far on our Heading North 2012 trip and have popped about 100 onto Flickr.

For friends, family or anyone else that has shown an interest, the London pics are here, the first lot of Disneyland Paris ones here and Alex and my day out in Paris here. There will probably be more added to each of the sets in good time, but I’m tired of playing on Flickr now and I’m going for a beer.

Deal with it.