Thursday July 7, 2016

Only two sleeps to go – and a week’s worth of things still to do! Aarrgghh! But the excitement is mounting. All over the country, bags are being packed, and unpacked, and repacked again. Phonecalls are being made, lists are being consulted, e-tickets are being checked, departure forms are being filled out, currency’s being counted, neighbours are being informed, mail’s being stopped, pets are being relocated, and people are lying awake in the wee small hours worrying … “WHAT HAVE WE FORGOTTEN?”

But, come Saturday afternoon, it won’t really matter, and what hasn’t got done won’t get done. Because our group of adventurous Kiwis will meet under the pink balloons at Auckland’s International Airport … and we’ll be up-up-and-away!

MIDLIFE MADNESS IN ALASKA – that’s what we’ve got planned! Plus some add-on madness in Canada. Our North American odyssey will begin with a day at the popular Calgary Stampede … followed by two eye-popping days on one of the most spectacular rail-routes in the world, aboard the Rocky Mountaineer scenic train – YEEHAA! And then the elegant ms Zaandam will take us on the next leg – up the Alaskan coast, through the Inside Passage, to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Anchorage and Denali National Park.

There, at the top of the world, we’ll find atmospheric townships, fishing villages, thrilling histories, drop-dead-gorgeous scenery, icebergs and glaciers and wildlife galore (including grizzly-bears fishing for salmon). And we Kiwis are gonna get amongst it all – from the decks of our floating hotel. We’ll be going ashore and packing in as much sightseeing as possible … without getting bored or exhausted … and with heaps of time in-between to kick back and relax and have fun.

In short, we’re gonna have a BALL! But more of that later – because Robyn and I still have things to do, places to go, people to hug, stuff to pick up, stuff to drop off, and last-minute items to cram into our already-overweight suitcases. So we’ve gotta run.

We’ll add more blog entries once this journey’s actually underway … let you know what our fellow-travellers get up to … and include some award-winning pix. So, whatever you do, stay tuned …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.)


Packing1Only four more sleeps and then we’re off – aarrgghh!

We’ve taken groups overseas so often you’d think it would be a breeze. You’d think we’d have these final few days down to a fine art. You’d think we’d be relaxing now in front of a roaring television – all last-minute jobs done, all boxes ticked off on our to-do list, all bags packed, all teeth cleaned and all long-distance flying clothes laid out on the bed.

Well, no, actually. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Mrs Cooney and I are last-minute experts. And while some of our fellow-travellers were bragging weeks ago that they were packed and ready-to-fly, we’re still flapping around like chookless heads.

Oh, sure, we’ve been busy. We’ve got piles of clothes and shoes and medicines and cameras and Important Stuff-We-Might-Need spread out all over the spare room. Enough to fill 10 suitcases, I reckon. But the hard decisions won’t be made until Sunday … when we’ll do a test-closing-of-the-luggage … and all the items we can’t squeeze in will be shoved back in their drawers and cupboards and wardrobes.Packing2

We’ve been dreaming, scheming, reading, Googling and swotting up on the Baltic for over a year now. And we know we’re in for a treat – a glorious bunch of new experiences and a scenic feast for sore eyeballs. But it won’t be till we’ve counted everybody, checked in, gone through customs and are packed like sardines into our seats on that big Singapore Airlines jumbo that we’ll FEEL this new adventure is REALLY underway.

Only four more sleeps and then we’re off – to Singapore, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and destinations beyond – aboard the lovely ‘Marco Polo’

So stay tuned …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN


Subcribe to feed, RSS, Google Reader… What the?

If you’re a computer illiterate like me, you probably know almost nothing about BLOGS … and find it hard enough to find your way around, let alone “subscribe to an RSS Feed” (whatever that is) – right? Well, I’ve asked my son Mike (who takes care of my blog and is a bit of a legend with all this technical stuff) to explain it for you. If it’s not your cup of tea, read no further. But if you like learning and experimenting with new online tools, then what follows is for you . (Be sure to check out the video at the end!)

Cheers – John

What is a feed:

A feed, also known as RSS feed, XML feed, syndicated content, or web feed, is frequently updated content published by a website. It is usually used for news and blog websites, but can also be used for distributing other types of digital content, including pictures, audio or video.

They allow you to see when websites have added new content. You can get the latest headlines and video in one place, as soon as its published, without having to visit the websites you have taken the feed from. Feeds can also be used to deliver audio content (usually in MP3 format) which you can listen to on your computer or MP3 player. This is referred to as podcasting.

How do I start using feeds?

In general, the first thing you need is something called a news reader. This is a piece of software that checks the feeds and lets you read any new articles that have been added. There are many different versions, some of which are accessed using a browser, and some of which are downloadable applications.

Browser-based news readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store them on your main computer, in the same way that you either download your e-mail using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.

Once you have chosen a news reader, all you have to do is to decide what content you want it to receive. For example, if you would like the latest BBC News Entertainment stories, simply visit the Entertainment section and you will notice an orange button on the left hand side.

RSS button

If you would like the latest BBC News World video stories, visit the Video and Audio section of the BBC News Website ( ) and click on the button at the bottom of the World section.

RSS button

If you click on the RSS button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news reader. Most sites that offer feeds use a similar orange button, but some may just have a normal web link.

Some browsers, including Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox, automatically check for feeds for you when you visit a website, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to feeds much easier. For more details on these, please check their websites.

How do I get a news reader?

There is a range of different news readers available and new versions are appearing all the time.

Different news readers work on different operating systems, so you will need to choose one that will work with your computer.

News Reader Examples:


Newz Crawler



Mac OS X







Microsoft Live

My Yahoo!



Windows Internet Explorer

Mozilla Firefox

(Thanks to BBC for providing parts of the above information)

Phew! Hopefully that wasn’t too confusing for you! If it’s still a little hard to understand, here’s a link to a brilliant video explaining it all in simple, lay-mans language …

RSS in Plain English