Touch down A380-2017/12/12

What landing the world’s biggest passen-ger plane looks like – a view from the cockpit

A British Airways A380 over Cape Town, South Africa

A British Airways pilot has filmed himself landing the world’s largest passenger jet in South Africa to help demystify what can be the scariest part of a flight for nervous passengers. Captain Dave Wallsworth and his crew used dashboard and windscreen cameras to capture the Airbus A380’s final approach into Johannesburgon a sunny day in July this year. The film, published on the British Airways YouTube channel, begins with the plane around 14 minutes from landing, as the flight crew – Wallsworth and senior first officers Jeremy Goodson and Phil Gillespie – begin their approach checks. See the full unedited video below or an abridged version above. The video shows the team manoeuvre the aircraft, which has the callsign Speedbird 55K, over northern South Africa as it approaches the city’s airport. At the beginning of the short film the ground below is a patchwork of unidentifiable fields and towns, with the horizon looming in the distance. Captain Wallsworth handles the aircraft until it is 1,000 feet away from the runway, when SFO Goodwin takes over and turns the autopilot off. The video says nearly all landings are done manually. Over the course of the approach the crew adjusts the A380’s speed, “slats” and “flaps” to “change the shape of the wings” and ready the plane, which carried 469 passengers, for landing. The aircraft also intercepts the “localiser radio beam” that helps it line up with the runway. At one point, a member of the cabin crew joins the flightdeck “as it was such a beautiful morning”. With the A380 nearing Johannesburg O R Tambo International, after a little over 10 hours in the air, the crew reduce its speed to 137 knots (about 158mph) and lower all 22 wheels of its landing gear. With autopilot disabled, the runway soon becomes visible. The team then execute a “lovely landing”.


You have nearly 1M miles, Sir-2017/12/07

I got a mail from Flying Blue: “You have nearly 1,000,000 frequent flyer miles”. I know the problem, and last February Pierre and I went to Buenas Aires, World business class, 300,000 miles for a return ticket (p. person 🙂 ) and last September to Valencia, European business class, 131,250 miles for a return ticket (p. person).

There was a tempting destination to find: Athens, 90,000 miles for a return ticket European business class.


Ticket value € 1,310 / £ 1,160 / CA$ 1,980


Sunset over Thessaloniki




Jewelry for Lady Mary and Belinda Stewart-Wilson

Investing in bitcoins-2017/12/04-US

Investing in Bitcoin is not idiocy but perfectly rational – it’s called ‘the greater fool’ theory

You know it’s time to sell, according to Wall Street folklore, when the shoeshine boy starts giving you share tips. Stock markets may not have reached such a feverish state quite yet. But Bitcoin, the virtual currency, very obviously has. Attending a lunch party the other day with non financial types, the apparent magic money tree of Bitcoin was one of the chief subjects of conversation. Seemingly everyone had some part of the action. “I’ve just made $500 in two days,” said one, “and I’m buying more.” The godson of a colleague, meanwhile, sold recently at an £18,000 profit, enough to pay for his first year at uni. Few of those caught up in this latest financial mania have any more than the Afbeeldingsresultaat voor bitcoinfoggiest of notions what Bitcoin really is, or how it works, but that doesn’t make their behaviour irrational or stupid. In his pioneering book on crowd psychology, Extra-ordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, the Scottish journalist Charles Mackay chronicled three separate financial manias – the South Sea Bubble of 1711-20, the Mississippi Company bubble of 1719-20, and the Dutch tulip mania of the early 17th century. I’m not sure Bitcoin exactly mirrors any of these historical precedents; it’s actually much more like a giant Ponzi scheme, or chain letter, than a classic financial speculation. Indeed, at more than three times the size of Bernie Madoff, it’s very probably already the biggest such racket in history.

The thing all manias have in common, however, is that they are based on the “greater fool” theory, the belief that the price of a commodity is determined not by its intrinsic value – which in Bitcoin’s case is zero – but by the expectations of market participants. It is therefore perfectly rational to buy at what seems a ridiculously high price if you think there will always be an even “greater fool” willing to pay more. Virtually everyone who buys Bitcoin does so using this principle. They are not naive idiots; they are taking a Afbeeldingsresultaat voor bitcoincalculated gamble. Obviously, you don’t want to be there when the music stops, but the global nature of Bitcoin, with hundreds of thousands of new accounts being opened by the day, means the supply of fools is almost boundless. At this stage, moreover, the phenomenon is not generally regarded as “systemically significant”. If the price collapses, it is very unlikely to cause wider economic damage, except perhaps as the spark for a more broadly based asset sell-off. This might change as Bitcoin goes mainstream; the Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans to start trading Bitcoin futures by the end of the year, a key step in opening up the market to institutional investors. Yet for the moment it’s not big enough in itself to cause extensive damage.

What’s more, there’s very little evidence of “leverage” in Bitcoin trading; things only get really dangerous when investors start borrowing to buy. Bitcoin is also far too volatile – on Thursday, it was down more than 10 per cent at one point – to act as a credible alternative means of exchange. As such, it is not really a currency at all, but no more than a mechanism by which wealth is transferred from the many (the new fools) to the few (the older ones). But nor can it be lightly dismissed as just another passing fad. Bitcoin is very much part of one of the great defining characteristics of our age – loss of trust in established institutions, or in this case, fiat currencies. Crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin are what Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, has called Afbeeldingsresultaat voor bitcoin“digital gold”; they appeal to those who distrust governments and banks to manage the supply of money soundly. The financial crisis taught us that banks are not to be trusted to keep our money safe; subsequent money printing by central banks has further undermined faith in its intrinsic value, distorting capital allocation and driving an indiscriminate surge in asset prices, including, ironically, Bitcoin. So intrigued is the Bank of England by the Bitcoin phenomenon that as part of its “One Bank Research Agenda” it has commissioned an in-depth study on the practicalities and consequences of launching its own e-money system, in competition to Bitcoin but using the same “blockchain”, distributed ledger technology. Already, it might be said, we are well on the way to purely digital money. For many of us, cash is fast becoming redundant. The advent of central bank digital currencies would be a further leap into the future, potentially rendering the traditional bank account obsolete, and making money free transactions – essentially barter – perfectly possible. This might in turn upend the established role played by commercial banks in money creation and the provision of credit. In any case, technology is likely to prove just as disruptive of conventional money systems as it is of everything else, perhaps more so. Bitcoin is the outrider; we know not where it might lead us.


How Winklevoss twins used $11m Face-book payout to become world’s first Bitcoin billionaires

The twin brothers who sued Mark Zuckerberg claiming he stole the idea for Facebook are worth more than $1bn after capitalising on the astonishing rise in Bitcoin. An $11m (£8m) bet on Bitcoin made by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss over four years ago has ballooned by almost 10,000pc after last week’s price surge. It is believed to be the first billion-dollar return made by a cryptocurrency investor, a landmark moment for the controversial asset. Bitcoin hit $11,395 last week, capping a boom that started a year ago and accelerated dramatically in recent days, despite a chorus of warnings about its threat to financial stability and potential for criminal exploitation. The rise has made millionaires out of many of its early backers but the Winklevoss twins are believed to be the first public figures to have turned an investment into more than $1bn. The pair, who attended Harvard with Mr Zuckerberg, won a $65m payout from Facebook in 2008, claiming he had stolen their idea. In March 2013, they used $11m of the settlement to buy roughly 1pc of the world’s supply of Bitcoin in March 2013, when one coin was worth around $120.

The hoard has not been disclosed but is estimated to be around 100,000 Bitcoins – worth over $1bn at the cryptocurrency’s peak last week. Since their clash with Facebook, the twins – who rowed for the US at the Beijing Olympics – have re-styled themselves as Bitcoin entrepreneurs, launching their own online exchange and venture capital fund.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor bitcoinThe pair are believed to have held onto their Bitcoin investments in the hope of launching an exchange-traded fund in New York, although they have struggled to gain approval from financial regulators. “We’ve never sold a bitcoin, we’re in it for the long haul,” Cameron Winklevoss said two years ago. Tyler Winklevoss, who has said the total value of the currency could be trillions, told The Telegraph last year that bitcoin was “like a better version of gold”. A spokesman for the twins did not respond to requests for comment. Only a handful of Bitcoin wallets have holdings worth more than $1bn, inclu-ding the cryptocurrency’s mysterious inventor, who has never been unmasked and is known only by the online pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The Winklevoss twins are among the most high-profile of its big backers.

Bitcoin, which is not backed by any central bank but maintained by a network of its users, hit an all-time high last week despite Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, joining other financial heavyweights in dismissing it as a fraud. The Federal Reserve also issued a warning that it could pose a risk to financial stability. “While these digital currencies may not pose major concerns at their current levels of use, more serious financial stability issues may result if they achieve wide-scale usage,” Fed governor Randal Quarles said. Last week the Chicago Mercantile Exchange won approval to launch Bitcoin futures trading and plans to offer contracts later this month. The move is seen as a mark of legitimacy that could boost institutional interest in the virtual currency and boosted its price. However, the cryptocurrency is still largely unregulated. The Government is seeking to bring virtual currency exchanges into money-laundering regulation under proposed amendments to EU legislation in the coming weeks.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor bitcoin

FAQ | Bitcoin

What is it?

A digital currency, used to make payments of any value without fees. It runs on the blockchain, a decentralised ledger kept running by “miners” whose powerful computers crunch transactions and are rewarded in bitcoins

Who invented it?

Satoshi Nakamoto, a secretive internet user, invented bitcoin in 2008 before it went online in 2009. Many attempts to identify Satoshi have been made without conclusive proof

What’s it for?

People see value in money free from government control and the fees banks charge; as well as the blockchain, to verify transactions. Bitcoin has been seen as a tool for private, anonymous transactions, and it’s the payment of choice for drug deals and other illegal purchases

Is it worth anything?

Yes. As of November 2017, there were around 16.7m bitcoins in circulation. Each was worth around $10,700 resulting in a total value of $180 billion.


Irish border – Brexit-2017/12/03-UK

Brexit timetable in jeopardy as Theresa May fails to reach deal on Irish border ahead of EU deadline

Theresa May will go into a crunch meeting with EU leaders on Monday admitting she is yet to find a solution to the Irish border problem, as a Cabinet minister suggested for the first time that Brexit might not happen. Mrs May has until Monday night to meet an EU deadline for Britain to make “satisfactory progress” on the issues of money, citizens’ rights and the border in order to trigger trade talks this month. She had hoped the meetings in Brussels with Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk would be the moment when trade talks would be unlocked, but Government sources were highly pessimistic about the prospect of a breakthrough, leaving the entire Brexit timetable in jeopardy.

It came as Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, told Tory rebels that if they did not back Mrs May in the negotiations “we will have no Brexit”. With just 10 days to go until next week’s European Council summit, when EU leaders will decide whether trade talks can begin, Mrs May is rapidly running out of time to keep Brexit on track. With no agreement in sight between London, Dublin and Belfast on the border issue, the Prime Minister is now likely to ask for a last-minute extension to the Monday deadline. Whitehall sources bitterly complained that Leo Varadkar, the Irish premier, had “moved the goalposts” by insisting on guarantees over the future border arrangements now, having earlier said the issue could be thrashed out once trade talks were underway.

Ireland is holding out for an assurance that it will have “regulatory convergence” with Northern Ireland, effectively meaning the border would move to the Irish Sea. But the DUP, on which Mrs May relies for her Parliamentary majority, says it will not accept anything that is similar to staying in the customs union or the single market. One Government source said there was “absolutely no prospect” of ministers going against the DUP’s wishes, adding: “The things that the Irish government wants us to sign up to are things that no British government could sign up to.”

theresa may

Mr Hunt’s warning is aimed at Tory backbenchers who have hinted that they would vote against a deal that involved paying £40 billion or more for the Brexit bill or gave the European Court of Justice any powers in British law after Brexit. Such a scenario would risk ousting Mrs May from Downing Street and triggering a general election that could, if Jeremy Corbyn emerged as the victor, result in Labour calling a halt to Brexit. Mr Corbyn said over the weekend that he has not yet decided whether Labour would hold a second referendum on Brexit if it won power. Mr Hunt is the first Cabinet minister to raise the prospect that Brexit might not happen, and his comments reflected nervousness within Conservative ranks as today’s crucial meeting approached. Mrs May will travel to Brussels with David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, who will meet the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Mr Barnier will compile a report on Wednesday on whether “sufficient progress” has been made, which will be sent to the leaders of the other 27 EU member states before they meet at the EU Council on December 14 and 15. Mrs May is desperate for the EU Council to agree for trade talks to begin, as any further delay would mean talks being unlikely to start before March, when the council next meets – a full year after Article 50 was triggered and only 12 months before Britain formally leaves the EU. She may now ask Mr Barnier to delay today’s deadline by 24 hours, though Whitehall sources said they believed they had until the date of the EU Council meeting to solve the Irish border issue. Ireland is threatening to veto trade talks unless Britain guarantees there will be no hard border, but Nigel Dodds, the DUP leader in Parliament, said any solution that involved an all-Ireland customs regime would force Northern Ireland “further and further away” from its main market, the UK.

He said the Irish government had adopted an “aggressive stance” on Brexit which was “causing real damage to Anglo-Irish relations”. He added: “They can’t impose what is a good solution for the Irish Republic on the rest of us.” Asked if the DUP might threaten to withdraw its support for Mrs May’s Government, he said: “The DUP doesn’t need to issue any threats whatsoever, because we’re very very clear that the Goverment understands that anything that results in the undermining of the Union… we wouldn’t go with that.” Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister and deputy prime minister, was equally firm, telling the BBC: “We cannot allow some kind of collateral damage or unintended consequence of Brexit to have the recreation of a border.”

Golden ticket-2017/11/30-UK

The Golden Ticket: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could hold ballot for public to join Windsor wedding

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could see thousands of members of the public invited into the grounds of Windsor Castle, as they promise to explore ways to make British people feel “part of the celebrations”. The Prince and Ms Markle, who will marry at St George’s Chapel in May, said they would like their big day to include members of the public, and are “working through ideas for how this might be achieved”. One option, which would see them follow in the footsteps of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, could see a ballot system to invite people inside the walls of Windsor Castle, or a carriage ride through the town. Both ideas were adopted by Prince Edward and the then Sophie Rhys-Jones for their wedding in 1999, when wedding organisers ran a ballot for 8,000 lucky people to come closer to the action. At the time, the idea of the ticketed system was praised as a “unique twist” on the grand wedding ceremonies enjoyed by Prince Edward’s three siblings, leading it to be called the “People’s Wedding”. Prince Harry and Ms Markle are to plan their own wedding, eschewing formal help to choose every element of their day. Speaking on Tuesday, the Prince’s communications secretary Jason Knauf said it had been important to the couple to signal that they “will be keeping the public in mind as they put plans for the wedding in place.” Afbeeldingsresultaat voor windsor castle“Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are extremely grateful for the warm public response following yesterday’s an-nouncement of their enga-gement,” he said, speaking on Tuesday. “In a happy moment in their lives, it means a great deal to them that so many people throughout the UK, the Commonwealth, and around the world are celebrating with them. “Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are delighted that the beautiful grounds of Windsor Castle will be where they begin their lives together as a married couple. “The couple of course want the day to be a special, celebratory moment for their friends and family. “They also want the day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too and are currently working through ideas for how this might be achieved. “This wedding, like all weddings, will be a moment of fun and joy that will reflect the characters of the bride and groom.” The Earl and Countess of Wessex had around 560 guests at their June wedding, with around 30,000 members of the public turning out onto the streets of Windsor to see them and millions more watched on television. The couple did not kiss on the steps of the castle, but took an open-topped carriage ride through the town to greet wellwishers. Other Royal couple who have married at St George’s include Peter Phillips, son of the Princess Royal, and Autumn Kelly, who caused a scandal in 2008 after they sold photographs of the wedding to Hello! magazine.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will bring a sense of 'fun' to their wedding, their spokesman said

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall also held their wedding blessing at the chapel in 2005. Prince Harry attended all three ceremonies, and has considerable experience of 21st century Royal weddings after acting as best man for his brother Prince William in 2011. Mr Knauf said: “Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are leading the planning process for all aspects of the wedding. “We look forward to sharing these details with you in the months ahead as decisions are made.”


‘He’s an extension of my soul’: Meet Verlin the adorable Labrador who trans-formed one teacher’s life

It is 6.30am on a frosty Monday in November and Verlin the black Labrador is pottering around the bedroom of Fiona Airey’s cosy barn conversion near Ashford, Kent, helping her to get dressed. ‘Socks, Verlin,’ she says. ‘Now that,’ she points to a T-shirt, and he passes them to her, then lets Fiona lean on him as she hauls herself to her feet. He has been on the go since 6am when, after a cuddle with Fiona, he helped her make a cup of coffee (picking up a tea towel when she dropped it) and dug out her winter boots from the stair cupboard. Later, while Fiona, who works as a primary school teacher, explains long division to her year six class, Verlin will lie in the corner under a fluffy red blanket – barely glancing at the 30 children, nor they at him – but emerging now and then to open the storeroom door for her (there is a tennis ball attached to the handle so he can tug it with his teeth). He also tidies away marker pens and  pencils when she drops them, nimble and unobtrusive as a Wimbledon ballboy.

Fiona Airey with Verlin

How much does Verlin mean to you? I ask her. Without pausing to consider the question, she says, ‘Verlin is my absolute, he’s my everything. He just knows what I need, I don’t have to ask. Sometimes I look at him and think he’s an extension of my soul…  Last Sunday morning I wanted to give him a break, so I left him at home to play and went to Waitrose to meet my dad. But without him I feel so vulnerable. I look for this missing part of me.’ Fiona, who is 45, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic connective-tissue disorder that affects her internal organs as well as her movement, which means she often drops things, stumbles easily and is in chronic pain. She was diagnosed at 38, but has had the symptoms most of her life, and before Verlin came to live with her and her son Jake, now 20, she dislocated her shoulder or wrist most days – often while doing simple chores like pulling back her duvet or turning a door handle. Her pain level was, she recalls, a steady seven-and-a-half out of 10. These days, it is a more manageable five, and she estimates that the number of times she dislocates a limb has been reduced by 95 per cent, thanks mainly to Verlin, who fetches, carries, tidies up and protects her by walking on her left, her weaker side, shielding her from children charging around the playground and from commuters jostling her on the Tube when she travels to London for hospital appointments.

‘He can open the washing machine door with his mouth and pass the wet laundry up to me,’ she says. ‘I’ve just got to be careful that he doesn’t drag the clean sheets over the lawn.’ Verlin and Fiona were introduced three years ago by the charity Canine Partners, a human-to-animal matchmaking service that has paired 750 assistance dogs (mostly Labradors and golden retrievers) with people suffering from all sorts of disabilities, including cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, and has 180 people on its waiting list. The dogs are trained from a young age, initially at the home of a ‘puppy parent’ (a volunteer trainer), usually for just over a year, and later are given advanced training for four months at one of the charity’s two training centres. Then they work until their retirement age of 12. Fiona first heard about the charity in 2012 after watching a report on the BBC’s The One Show. ‘My friend phoned me and said, “There’s a lady on TV with your condition and she’s got a dog to help her.”’

Deep down, though, she dismissed the idea because she considered herself ‘not disabled enough’. She walked with a stick, rather than using a wheelchair, she had only been officially diagnosed two years earlier, and she was struggling to come to terms with thinking of herself as disabled, especially having been active all her life. Raised in the Oxfordshire town of Banbury and later in Zimbabwe, where she moved with her parents, sister and brother for her father’s work shortly after it became independent, Fiona knew early on that her body was more flexible than others. ‘I’d freak people out by bending my elbows backwards or touching my thumb against the back of my arm,’ she recalls. ‘They would say, “Oh you’re just double-jointed.”’  As a result of this flexibility and partly because her mother had dreamed of becoming a dancer, Fiona began taking ballet lessons when she was just two, and excelled. She returned to the UK and boarded for a spell at Elmhurst School for Dance, a prestigious classical ballet school, and later joined The National Ballet of Zimbabwe, dancing through her many injuries, spine problems and hip pain.

Verlin opening a store-cupboard door in Fiona’s classroom


‘With ballet the discipline is phenomenal. They train you almost like mini soldiers,’ she says. ‘I remember a consultant in Zimbabwe looking at my spine and saying, “If you don’t stop you might end up in a wheelchair when you’re older.” But I said, “I’ll be fine.” I thought I was doing it for my art.’ Looking back, she suspects the intense training exacerbated her condition. At 19 her career was cut short when she stepped awkwardly off a pavement and felt a shooting pain up her spine. ‘It was so terrible I couldn’t walk. [The doctors] said, “It’s muscle strain.” I kept saying, “I’ve danced for long enough I know the difference between a muscle strain and something being seriously wrong.” I remembered that doctor’s warning from years earlier and I thought, “Actually, walking is more important.” So I quit ballet.’ Yet, throughout her 20s and 30s, she continued to endure injury after injury; before one could heal, another would emerge. ‘Even if I was standing up talking to someone for five minutes, the pain levels would start going up,’ she recalls. ‘I was shuffling around, I could never pick my feet up. My confidence just nosedived. It got to the point where I stopped going out, unless my sister Karen was with me, and I withdrew more and more.’

Fiona performing with The National Ballet of Zimbabwe

By then she had trained as a teacher and was worried she might be forced to give up the career she loved, so she looked to Canine Partners for help. The process was a rigorous one: after  sharing her medical history and an occupational health assessment, she travelled to a training centre in Heyshott, West Sussex, to work with four assistance dogs for 10-minute spells each, so they could identify the sort of skills the dog would need. ‘I needed a tall dog, as I’m 5ft 9in. And then there was my job being with children, and the practicalities of grooming with my wrist being weak. Golden retrievers have long coats.’ But 18 months later, the charity found a match. ‘Everyone wants that magic call,’ recalls Fiona. ‘I was so excited. Then I went to meet him, and he came bounding in and… I knew straight away.’ She turns to Verlin, who gazes adoringly at her while she speaks. ‘Didn’t I, Verly? He came straight up to me and put his head under my armpit, and was like, “Love me, love me, love me.” But Rebekah [his advanced trainer] turned to me and said, “Don’t be fooled. When he works he is so sensible.”’

‘He needs three walks a day, so he is like my physical therapist,’ says Fiona

Verlin’s on- and off-duty personalities remain utterly different. One moment he is leaping around Fiona’s kitchen, jumping up to greet me, licking my hand, mauling a slipper and chewing my Dictaphone with a cheeky look in his eye – ‘He’s a real jester sometimes,’ says Fiona – and the next he is wearing his uniform, a Canine Partners jacket, and is dutiful, level-headed, barely wagging his tail. ‘It’s lovely that his work doesn’t squish out his bouncy personality,’ says Fiona. Fiona says that he can now sense exactly when he is on-duty without prompting. During her weekly staff meeting, for example, he often detects when the 60 minutes is up. ‘At 4.55pm he’ll have a big yawn and a stretch and start being silly. Everyone thinks it’s hilarious and it means meetings never overrun. ‘He tidies up my classroom too and if I go to another, messier class, he is hot-wired to say, “I need to tidy here!” Sometimes, I have to stop him. And when we go to hospital in London he’s fantastic. He’ll trot over and press the button to call the lift. I haven’t taught him the buttons for different floors yet but I’m sure I could.’

Verlin sits quietly as Fiona teaches

Then there is the independence he allows her – these days she is less reliant on Jake, something that had made her uncomfortable having helped to care for her own mother, who suffered from a similar (though undiagnosed) condition. ‘I know what it’s like to be a child to somebody who is constantly ill. I never wanted that for my son. Now he  can head off to London and see his girlfriend,  and knows that I’m safe and that if I fell over and couldn’t reach the phone to call for help, Verlin would get it.’ As for the future, Fiona hopes to train to become a deputy headteacher; something she says she probably couldn’t do without him. ‘Before, the world was getting smaller, but now he pushes barriers back.’ After a pause she adds, ‘It [her body] will degenerate, and my spine will get worse. I try not to think about those things because the more I can ignore it and think it’s  not happening… ‘Given the level of pain I’m constantly in, there is no reason I would want to get up and go for a walk around a field in the morning. But I have to go for Verlin. He needs three walks a day, so he’s like my physical therapist. He keeps me healthy, and gives me a purpose.’  With that, the lunchtime bell rings and Verlin switches to off-duty mode – he leaps up, rests his paws softly in Fiona’s lap and plants a wet kiss  on her face.

Taking poison in court-2017/11/29-NL

Croatian Prime Minister confirms: Pral-jak dies after taking poison


Slobodan Praljak (72) died this afternoon after he had taken poison when he heard his sentence in the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague, as confirmed by the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. The Public Prosecution Service in The Hague is investigating the case. Plenković has conveyed his condolences to the family. Praljak received his sentence on appeal this morning, but took a sip of some substance after hearing his sentence. Then he said: “Mr. Judge, I took poison,” after which the session was suspended. A spokesperson for the tribunal also confirmed that the ex-army leader died in a hospital in the Hofstad. He did not go into detail about the criminal investigation and could not answer the question of how Praljak came up with the means he was drinking before the judge’s eyes. In the first instance, the research focuses on assistance with suicide and violation of the Medicines Act, according to the Public Prosecution Service, which does not want to make any further announcements.

‘Crime scene’

The follow-up of the session was continued after the incident in another room, because room 1 was closed by the Dutch authorities. ,, It is now a crime scene ”, the judge explained. The police performed on-site investi-gations. The UN court is scheduled to give its final verdict today against a handful of suspects: Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic and Valentin Coric. But when he heard his sentence, Praljak said to the judge: “Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. That’s why I reject your statement. “After taking the poison and his remark, the livestream from the courtroom jumped on black.


The Bosnian Croat Praljak was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2013 for crimes he committed in and around Mostar. Praljak was a high soldier who commanded the Hague International Court of Appeal. He was responsible for the war crimes against the Bosnian Muslims in about thirty places in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Praljak was also in charge of the police force in the early 1990s. He has completed several studies including one at the technical university, but he also studied philosophy. Besides Praljak, the accused are four other former political and military leaders of Herceg-Bosna, a mini-state that was proclaimed at the time of the civil war in Bosnia. Among them, the then Prime Minister Prlic. Last week, the former Bosnian commander Ratko Mladic was sentenced to a life sentence by the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague. Mladic shouted during the statement: “Lies, you must be ashamed!”

Attorney complains checks Criminal court: Bringing poisons is easy


How could the 72-year-old Slobodan Praljak commit suicide in the Hague before the eyes of the Yugoslavia Tribunal? The fact that the suspect could casually take poison to the courtroom gives rise to bewilderment all over the world. Justice could not yet answer the question of how Praljak came up with the drug and how he managed to bring it into court. The Public Prosecution Service in The Hague first of all checks whether the convicted person had assistance with suicide and to what extent there was an infringement of the Medicines Act. “Mr. Justice, I took poison,” Praljak said, after taking a sip of the substance. Shortly before his act, the Bosnian Croat was sentenced to 20 years on appeal. The prominent Serbian lawyer Toma Fila, who regularly defends suspects of war crimes before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, does not react surprised. He says it is ‘absolutely possible’ and ‘simple’ to bring poison into the courtroom.

‘Liquid not registered’

Opposite news agency AP, Fila says that the security check at the tribunal resembles that of an airport. ,, They check for metal objects, such as belts, loose change and shoes. They also take out mobile phones. “Pills and small amounts of liquid are not recorded according to counsel. A spokesperson for the tribunal confirms that the former army leader died in a hospital in The Hague after drinking the poison. He could not answer the question of how Praljak arrived at the waist, which he drank in the eyes of the judge. He could not give details of the criminal investigation either. Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus does not want to react to the event in substance and awaits the investigation of the Public Prosecution Service. Grapperhaus does not believe that the Netherlands, as the host country of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, is damaged by the suicide of Praljak and by the fact that he saw the chance to bring poison into the courtroom. “The Netherlands still has an excellent reputation,” the minister told the NOS. ,, And has done very well. ”

Ethnic cleansing

The elderly Praljak was one of six Bosnian Croatian leaders who, with the support of neighboring Croatia, turned against the Bosnian army during the war in former Yugoslavia. Their aim was to establish an independent Croatian region within Bosnia, just as the Bosnian Serbs did with the help of Serbia. Praljak was found guilty of involvement in crimes against the Muslim population, who had to clear the field in the mini-state in formation through ethnic cleansing. Before he took the poison to himself, the convict exclaimed: “Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. That is why I reject your statement. ”

Trudeau & LGBT-27/11/29-CA

Trudeau apologises for Canada’s discri-mination against LGBT people

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau issues an apology to LGBT people who were discriminated against by the Canadian government

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologised for historical injustices against the LGBT community. During the Cold War, hundreds of gay men and women were fired from their government jobs and the military. The government has earmarked C$100m ($78m, £58m) to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by LGBT victims. Mr Trudeau has also proposed a bill in parliament that would allow the courts to expunge the records of people criminalised for their sexuality.

“It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong. We apologise. I am sorry. We are sorry,” he said in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Mr Trudeau’s words were greeted by a warm round of applause from all parties. The prime minister also spoke out about past discrimination against gay marriage and gay works of art, which were often banned as “obscene”.  “While we may regard modern Canada as a forward-thinking and progressive nation, we cannot forget our past,” he said.

During the Cold War, the Canadian government and military regarded gay employees as more vulnerable to blackmail by Soviet agents. They were interrogated about their sex life and forced to inform on their friends. Mr Trudeau called it “nothing short of a witch-hunt.”

The Canadian military ended discriminatory policies against gay men and women in 1992 after Michelle Douglas, a former Army officer, sued the government. Four years later, the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to include sexual orientation. Gender identity and gender orientation were added in 2017. Mr Trudeau also said Canada must do more to end homophobia and discrimination, such as bans on gay men giving blood and the continued criminalisation of people who do not disclose their HIV status. “We are all worthy of love. Whether you discover who you are at six, 16 or 60, we are all valid,” he said. This is not Mr Trudeau’s first state apology as prime minister. On Friday, he apologised to indigenous victims of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2016, he apologised for the Komagata Maru incident of 1914, when Canada turned away hundreds of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim passengers trying to emigrate from British-ruled India.


Dutch advise for Meghan-2017/11/28-NL

How is Meghan becoming a British royal? Etiquette that she should not forget.

It takes some getting used to: as an American girl, raised in Los Angeles, suddenly finds herself between the upper class of the upper classes. The British royals. You will not get more on stand. Where should the 36-year-old Meghan Markle as a brand new princess in the making all be taken into account, if Prince Harry had not taught her endlessly? We put a few in order:

1. With dot on one: the eating habits

Anyone who has ever been in the United States knows: many Americans have different eating habits than many Europeans. After all, the majority of Americans are very happy to first cut all the food on the plate, put the left hand on the lap and then push the food in with the right hand. Preferably in a flowing creative movement, while varying from specifications. Tasty! Unfortunately. The British (and many others too) will look at it disapprovingly. You do eat with a knife and fork. You eat from the spoon from the side. You do not completely put the device in the mouth. Of course it is not done to cut all your food first as if it were a stew in the making. Also: elbows from the table, looking at someone when you talk to them, not pouring whole wine glasses and you only start eating when everyone has something. Multiple knives, forks and spoons? Work in from the outside. Your sign for bread is on the side of your plate. A soup bowl? It was not to lift him. Meghan probably will have already learned it all.

Op de tribune bij the US Open. Mét de benen over elkaar.2. Cross the legs

It may sound strange, but as a chic woman it is not classy to throw your legs over each other while sitting, with your knees crossed. Meghan should only cross her legs at the ankles, and the upper legs should logically stay together. For a fatal attraction moment there is no place in the royal house, and those legs next to each other are neatly under a skirt. New to Meghan? It appears so. During her very first interview with the BBC she sat with her knees on top of each other next to her new love. Foei.

3. When do you introduce yourself?

We Dutch do not know otherwise. If you come to a party, you go around the circle to congratulate everyone with the birthday party, before you throw yourself on the pieces of cheese and slices of sausage. Americans do not do that anyway (‘why on earth would you congratulate the mother of the birthday if she does not have a birthday?’) Americans do introduce themselves to everyone when they come in. And they do not do that in England. That is what you imagine in chic parties for one person and that is up to the hostess. He then decides which other guests she wants to introduce to you. Who are the lucky ones who can shake your hand, that depends on your social status, age, whether you are looking for a partner, and whether you are a man or a woman. Just stepping on someone before you are presented does not really belong to fancy parties. Cozy is different.

Buckingham Palace4. The conversation topic

For the British tabloids it is a subject that is not shunned: money. What does the dress cost? And the shoes? And where do the British royals buy their earrings, bags, scarves and other gadgets? However, talking about money is nicht im Frage for the royals. It is simply not to say that you are happy that you have scored that expensive dress in the maximum discount. Luckily for Meghan, she no longer has to pay attention to the little ones, if she ever did that at all. The British are extremely polite when they talk. Do you order something in a restaurant? Then ask ‘Please may I have ..’ and do not start with a compelling ‘Can I have …’ or ‘For me the pasta’. The woman orders first. Thank you sir!

5. What do you do!

Meghan has the potential to grow into a true style icon, just like her sister-in-law Kate. With her character Rachel in Suits she has already shown that all kinds of different clothes are beautiful. In England, however, you have to be careful that you do not arrive under- or overdressed somewhere. A simple cocktail dress to a wedding? That is not possible. And when do you wear a hat? And how big is that hat? The most important thing is that you do not steal the show from the bride or the hostess. That will be difficult, as a royal couple.

6. Presents

Christmas is around the corner, so it’s time for Meghan to have her first royal christmas. But what do you give as a gift under the tree? For many Britons it is customary to give both family and good friends a present. The price and the multiplicity of the gift does not matter, contrary to perhaps in the United States. The story behind the gift is, certainly in the higher circles, a lot more important. The first edition of a special book, for example. That would be nice for The Queen. We wish her success, because just go on.

7. In England drink you tea!

Meghan can wave to her ‘pumkin spiced latte’ In England they drink tea. Preferably in the afternoon. The origin of afternoon tea stems from the fact that people used to eat late in the evening, and people got hungry around 17.00 hours. Of nobility or not, you are hungry anyway. An ideal moment for a snack to last for a while. In the past you were invited for a cup of afternoon tea by handwritten letter. The hostess pours in the tea herself. Snacks (small cookies, cakes and chocolates) are on large bowls where you can take one off. In addition: tea you drink with a cloud of milk.

UK engagement from NL-2017/11/28-NL

Prince Harry: “Meghan would have been close friends with my mother”.

Prins Harry en Meghan tijdens het interview.

After months of silence, the British Prince Harry (33) and actress Meghan Markle (36) have given some more details about their relationship for the first time tonight. During an interview with the BBC they gave a glimpse into their love life. ,,Our relationship is always in first place.”
It was the question that burned everyone’s tongue: how did Harry ask Meghan in marriage? That question was therefore answered immediately at the beginning of the interview. In their home in Kensington, Harry went to his knees while they were roasting chicken. The American could hardly wait until he asked the question. ,, Shall I give you the ring? “, Harry added.

Today the couple announced to marry next spring. Until now, the two were very secretive about their relationship, but tonight they told in smells and colors how their love grew. “When I saw her, I knew I had a bit more trouble,” laughed Harry, Meghan: “We were talking about what we wanted to do for this world right away, and we have so much in common.”


The blossoming love created a long-distance relationship in which Meghan continuously flew back and forth between America, her homeland, and London. “You did not know what the time was,” says Harry Meghan: ,,It was a choice, but we wanted to invest time in this relationship.”
Because their relationship soon came to lie under a magnifying glass, the dates were held at Harry’s home. Harry: ,, We turned the whole process around. That offers other possibilities, which made us much closer. I can recommend all couples to leave the dates and just turn it around. ”

Harry en Meghan na de aankondiging van hun verloving.

Not used to

Although Meghan was already in the publicity as an actress, the amount of attention she got from her relationship with Harry surprised her. ,, I was surprised by what happened to me after six months of relationship. It is a misunderstanding that I would be used to this. As an actress, I was not really part of the tabloid culture. I had a fairly quiet life, I could fully focus on my work. So many untruths were published, so I decided not to read too much, especially to focus on our relationship. That is in the first place. “


Diana also discussed during the conversation. In the engagement ring of Meghan diamonds were processed that belonged to Harry’s mother. Meghan: “I got to know her a little bit through Harry and other acquaintances,” Harry said, “They would have been big friends. “I miss her on these days, because I know that she would jump back and forth through the room with joy, but she is now doing it somewhere else.”

The relationship between Harry and Meghan began in June last year. At that time the son of Charles and Diana had already acquired a considerable fame. He was initially considered a true rebel for whom the British had a weakness. He was caught at the age of seventeen while he was drinking and smoking alcohol. In 2005 he adorned the front page of the British tabloids after he had walked around in a Nazi uniform at a fancy dress party. Harry attended the Sandhurst military academy and was twice as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan. That is a completely different world from that of his fiancée. Meghan is from Los Angeles and visited the university where she studied performing arts and international relations. She chose a career as an actress and was seen in several well-known TV series and films. She was married from 2011 to 2013 with the American producer Trevor Engelson. That marriage remained childless.

Love nest Harry and Meghan counts only three rooms

After their wedding in the spring of 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be staying at the seventeenth-century Kensington Palace estate. It is the cute building Nottingham Cottage, which is located next to the house of Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton. According to British media, Nottingham Cottage is known as a cozy place to stay, because it is the smallest building on London’s royal territory. With two bedrooms, a small living room, kitchen and bathroom it looks a bit like a starter apartment. There is a garden in which the 33-year-old prince installed a hammock.

Pied-a-terre ‘Nott Cott’ once belonged to brigadier Sir Miles Hunt-Davis, the secretary of Prince Philip. Before it became Harry’s bachelor’s house in 2013, his two-year-older brother and Kate lived there. Then they moved to a 20-room apartment within the palace walls, with a value of 4.5 million pounds. According to the latest rumors, Harry and his American bride bobbed at a larger property; an apartment further with no fewer than 21 rooms. Why that has not gone through is not known.

For the Los Angeles-born Meghan, her new home is not unknown territory. She visited her world-famous friend several times in London last year. Undoubtedly she will add her personal style to the house, as Duchess Kate gave the walls a lick of paint when she moved in.

From the local newspaper “De Gelderlander”

13 things to do-2017/11/28-UK

Royal wedding planners get to work: 13 things on the to-do list before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day

1. The date

Royal-watchers are waiting for Kensington Palace to confirm the date of the royal nuptials. Courtiers synced their diaries a while ago to fix a suitable day and make sure the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other royals could all attend. It is unlikely to be April when the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting her baby, more likely is March, or even May, after the third Cambridge sibling has been born.

2. The venue

St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle is a good bet. The 15th century church is still grand, but will allow for a smaller scale royal wedding compared with Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral.

St George's Chapel

3. The size of the guest list

More than 2,000 people attended William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, whereas around 800 went to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall’s religious blessing in St George’s Chapel. The Queen’s grandson Peter Philips had around 300 guests at his St George’s wedding. The guest list will have to be finalised, including which dignitaries have to be invited. The Duke of Cambridge revealed how the Queen helped him. “I went to (the Queen) and said ‘Listen, I’ve got this list, not one person I know. What do I do?”‘ he said. “And she went ‘Get rid of it. Start from your friends and then we’ll add those we need to in due course. It’s your day.”‘

4. The best man and bridesmaids

The Duke of Cambridge is expected to be Harry’s best man, or perhaps jointly take on the task with one of Harry’s childhood friends. Prince George and Princess Charlotte are likely to be page boy and flower girl, but Ms Markle is also expected to choose some grown up bridesmaids from her close set of friends. She could make the wedding thoroughly modern by having a best woman.

5. Who will foot the bill?

For William and Kate’s wedding, the costs including the church service, music, flowers, decorations, reception and honeymoon were split between the Queen, the Prince of Wales and Kate Middleton’s millionaire parents. But the taxpayer picked up the bill for security at the event, including the 5,000 police officers, and the clear-up operation on the streets afterwards, with reports suggesting the total cost to the taxpayer came to between £10 million and £20 million.

6: Citizenship

Will Ms Markle become a British citizen? Perhaps, but not necessarily. When Canadian Autumn Phillips married the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips, she said: “I’m happy being Canadian and I’m proud of where I come from. So I’ll keep my passport.” Their children, Savannah and Isla Phillips, are said to hold dual British and Canadian citizenship, which would pave the way for dual citizenship for any children Harry and his bride might have.

7. Will Ms Markle have to get a visa?

Technically yes. The rule is that all non-European nationals must obtain a visa if they want to come to the UK in order to marry. Ms Markle could apply for a Family Visa if she wants to live with fiance Harry in the UK for more than six months. Fees range from £993 to £1,583. Decisions by the Home Office can be made on the same day via the premium service or sometimes take up to 12 weeks. There is unlikely to be any hold-up for the future HRH.

8. The dress designer

 Jessica Mulroney and actress Meghan MarkleBridal-wear designers around the world will be hoping to get the call for this royal wedding. Actress Ms Markle appeared in an Anne Barge ballgown wedding dress for her role as Rachel Zane in Suits, and her own first wedding to TV producer Trevor Engleson saw her wear a sleek, strapless, floor-length white dress with diamante detail. Her stylist and close friend Jessica Mulroney runs the bridal store Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay in Toronto, so it is likely Ms Mulroney will be Ms Markle’s first port of call for help picking out dress amid great secrecy. Bookmakers Coral currently have Erdem Moralioglu as the favourite at 1-3. Sarah Burton who designed Kate’s dress is at 2-1 and Vera Wang at 5 -1.

9. The invites

The Lord Chamberlain’s Office at Buckingham Palace is responsible for organising royal weddings. Under the guidance of Harry’s private secretary, Edward Lane Fox, they will deal with the ceremonial aspects of the day. From the sending of the usually gold embossed invitations, to arranging any royal carriages, the nuptials and the schedule of the day, the Royal Household staff, with their meticulous planning and tried and trusted procedures – are skilled at executing smooth-running ceremonies and celebrations for royal VIPs. Ms Markle is an expert calligrapher, who used to craft invitations for celebrity weddings, so will be heavily involved in the arrangements. The day-to-day running of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office falls to the Comptroller, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Andrew Ford.

10. Cake and flowers

From choosing the wedding cake to picking the flowers, Harry and Ms Markle will be busy as they prepare for their big day. The wedding bouquet is likely to have myrtle in it, a tradition for royal brides.

11. Honeymoon

A honeymoon will be booked, perhaps to Africa, a continent much loved by Harry and Ms Markle and the couple will be hoping to keep the destination a secret. They could return to Botswana, the scene of their first holiday where they camped out under the stars, or adventurous Ms Markle and Harry may head elsewhere for their post-wedding break.

Prince Harry during his visit to southern Africa as he helps sedate a Rhino in Botswana

12. Coat of Arms

The royal bride and groom will also have to approve Royal Collection wedding souvenirs, decide on a design for their cyphers and look at their Conjugal Coat of Arms.

13. Joint website

A new official website will be launched for the royals after their wedding, as well as, most likely, one celebrating the day. After their wedding, Harry and Meghan will also have to decide whether to split off from William and Kate and create their own foundation, or rebrand the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to include Ms Markle.


Reactions worldwide-2017/11/28-UK

Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced on Monday they were getting married next year, saying their relationship had blossomed “incredibly quickly” after meeting on a blind date. Harry, 33, the Queen’s grandson and fifth-in-line to the throne, and Markle, 36, best known for her role in the U.S. TV legal drama “Suits”, said they had got engaged in London this month and will wed in the spring next year. The news was welcomed around the world – here is how newspapers in the UK and beyond reacted:









Maestro – Meet the jury-2017/11/26-NL

Vincent de Kort (jury president)

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor vincent de kort

studied cello with Dmitri Ferschtman at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. He was a member of the European Community Youth Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado and the European Baroque Orchestra led by, among others, William Christie, who invited him to join his famous baroque orchestra Les Arts Florissants in Paris. With them he made many international tours, played annually at major festivals such as Aix-en-Provence and participated in numerous CD recordings. It was William Christie who encouraged him to conduct and who asked him to become his assistant in various opera productions. At the same time, the short orchestra conducting with Ed Spanjaard studied at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and continued his studies with Mariss Jansons in Oslo. De Kort also gained experience at the University of Amsterdam Orchestra J. Pzn Sweelinck, which he led from 1989 to 1997 and underwent a major growth in quality and size under his leadership. In 1995 De Kort made his debut with the Oslo Filharmoniske Orkester and in 1997 he was invited by Professor Ilya Musin, the pedagogue who trained prominent conductors such as Valery Gergiev and Semyon Bychkov, to come and study with him at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. In 1997 Bernard Haitink also asked him to become his assistant at the European Union Youth Orchestra. Besides working with Bernard Haitink, he also worked as an assistant with Gennadi Rozjdestvenski. His breakthrough came in 1997 when he had to fall in at the last minute for Gennady Rozhdestvensky at the European Union Youth Orchestra (soloist Radu Lupu) in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

De Kort has been a member of the television program Maestro since 2016.

Isabelle van Keulen (jury member)

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor isabelle van keulen

is a Dutch violinist and viola player. Van Keulen followed her education at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam where she attended classes with Davina van Wely and then in Salzburg at the Mozarteum where her teacher Sandor Vegh was. In 1983 she won silver medal at the ‘Yehudi Menuhin Concours’ in Folkestone, in May 1984 she won the Eurovision Competition for Young Musicians (Concours Eurovision des Jeunes Musiciens), which took place in Geneva. Since then she has collaborated with conductors such as Riccardo Chailly, Colin Davis, Neville Mariner, Valery Gergiev and Marcello Viotti. She was artistic director of the Delft Chamber Music Festival from 1997 to 2006. In February 2007, Van Keulen joined the Leopold String Trio. From 2009 to 2012 she was artistic director of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. Since September 2012 she is professor at the Hochschule Luzern, Switzerland, for violin, viola and chamber music. Van Keulen plays a Guarneri del Gesù violin from 1734, the ex-Novello.

Van Keulen has been a jury member in the AVROTROS program Maestro since 2012, in which well-known Dutch conduct an orchestra.

Dominic Seldis (jury member)

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor dominic seldis

is a British double bass player. He is captain of the double basses in the Royal Concert-gebouw Orchestra. Seldis was educated at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester and later at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 1992 he went to Salzburg to study at the Mozarteum. As a soloist he played with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Orchestra of St. Johns Smith Square and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He is also active as a chamber music player.  In his own words, his career is determined by only 2 notes. He was referring to the four tones he plays on the intro of the James Bondfilm ‘GoldenEye, sung by Tina Turner, when he was only 21 years old. In 1998 he was appointed captain of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and currently holds this position in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. He occasionally teaches (visiting professor) at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

In 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 he was a jury member for the AVRO television program Maestro.


Dominic Seldis-2017/11/26-UK/NL

On stage, Dominic is not only an extraordinarily talented and virtuosic bass player, but a raconteur and world class musician. Either as principal Double Bass of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, per-forming his one man show, or on stage with his long standing musical partner James Pearson, he is a captivating personality.

On screen, Dominic is fast becoming a well known face of classical music television both in the UK and in The Netherlands. His down to earth and witty style is appealing to not only established audiences but reaches out to new ones of all generations.

Me and THE boss at the office. Photo used on the front page of Preludium magazine Dec. 2012 Photo by Anne Dokter

BASS PLAYER – Dominic is the 1st Solo Double Bass with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, The Netherlands since October 2008. Voted ‘The world’s greatest orchestra’ by Gramophone magazine, he travels the world with some of the greatest soloists and conductors as well as regular concerts in the wonderful Concertgebouw (concert building) in Amsterdam. Dominic was previously the principal bass with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and freelances with many other symphony/chamber orchestras throughout the world. Dominic is also a very proud member of the John Wilson Orchestra.

SOLO AND CHAMBER MUSICIAN – with his long term musical partner James Pearson at the piano Dominic has performed numerous recitals in notable music festivals and concert halls. He has also performed as a concerto soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra, The Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and  Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra amongst others. In great demand as a chamber musician, he has played all over the world with some of the world’s finest musicians.

November 2011 - Photo by Roland Kramer

TEACHER – Dominic is a professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He gives many master classes in such cities as Amsterdam, London, Sydney, New York, Helsinki, Beijing, Dusseldorf and Zurich. Dominic also has many regular private students and has been a tutor for The National Youth of Orchestra of Great Britain and The Youth Orchestra of the Americas.

TV AND RADIO – Dominic is one of the regular faces seen on classical music television. He is a jury on “Maestro” both for the BBC and for AVRO in Holland, and co hosting “Het Orkest van Nederland” for RTL 4 in Holland. He has appeared many times as a personality on the BBC Proms, BBC Young Musician of the year and various national, commercial and local radio and television programmes in both Holland and the UK.

ARRANGER/DIRECTOR – although a ‘serious’ classical musician, Dominic also has a great passion for pop/jazz/light music. He has played on many film and TV soundtracks (Harry Potter, James Bond, English Patient, Dr. Who.) and performed/recorded with various pop musicians (Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Seal, Spice Girls, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Wouter Hamel, Giovanca), and is in growing demand as an arranger and musical director. He has his own pop orchestra The Love Philharmonic which is made up of musicians mainly from the RCO.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor dominic seldis

And via Wikipedia the background information about Dominic:

Dominic Seldis (born 1971, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk) is a British double bass soloist and principal (1st solo) double bass of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Seldis attended Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, from 1979 to 1989. He began as a violinist and changed to the double bass aged 14, studying with Duncan McTier. In 1989, he attended the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying the double bass with Robin McGee. In 1992 he moved to Salzburg to study with Klaus Stoll at the Mozarteum. As a soloist he has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Orchestra of St. Johns Smith Square and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and is an active chamber music player and performs many recitals with James Pearson. He is also a regular member of the John Wilson Orchestra. He has appeared many times on Dutch television as soloist including playing at the Gouden Televizierring Gala in October 2017. In 1998 he was appointed principal player of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and in 2008 moved to the Netherlands (Weesp) to become principal (1st solo) double bass of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. He is a professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and gives regular master classes throughout the world. In 2008, Seldis was a judge on the BBC 2 television series Maestro. In 2012 he appeared again as a judge on Maestro at the Opera, a three-part series which opened on BBC2 on 4 May 2012. In December 2012, Seldis is a judge on the Dutch series of Maestro, returning in 2014, 2016 and 2017. He also appeared on ‘Het Orkest van Nederland’, as a co-host, on Dutch TV station RTL4 in winter 2014. In 2017 he hosted his own show ‘de Nieuwe Stradivarius‘ for NPO 2.

Sources: Dominic Seldis’ website and Wikipedia

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor maestro 2017

First snow-2017/11/26-NL

First snow of the season has fallen, slip-pery on the road


At 03.00AM the first snowflakes of this autumn have fallen. For example, wet snow was reported in, among others, the counties Friesland, Utrecht, Drenthe and South-Limbourg. In the northern half of the country it can be locally slippery today due to short fierce hailstorms.

According to the ANWB (Road control service), several accidents have already happened on the Dutch motorways. On the A6 between Almere and Lelystad, the A7 Wieringerwerf in the direction of Medemblik and on the A28 Ermelo in the direction of Elspeet, traffic is hindered by accidents.

Rijkswaterstaat (Governamental surveillance of all infra-structure) warns to take account of local slipperiness. “Adjust your driving style to the conditions on the road.” The KNMI (Governamental weather information service) also warned about this last night and therefore issued code yellow, which has since been withdrawn.

According to Weerplaza (website for weather information), a bit of wet snow belongs to the last days of November. That is because of the cold air. Also a degree of frost in the night is not uncommon. During the daytime it will be 5 or 6 degrees in the course of next week and in the night the mercury will soon be around zero again.


‘Air hostesses Ryanair punished if they do not sell enough scratch cards on board’

Ryanair threatens to take measures against staff that sells too little scratch cards and perfume on board their aircraft. That writes the British newspaper The Guardian. Employees who achieve too low turnover run the risk of losing their fixed working hours.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ryanairThe Irish low-cost airline previously denied that it put pressure on its staff to achieve high sales figures after it leaked that employees would receive bonuses for high sales figures. Letters in the hands of the British newspaper now show that Ryanair warns the staff about ‘serious consequences’ if the crew does not make enough money. The company sees this as proof that the employee ‘does not really do his job’ and that he or she ‘underperforms’.

Ten articles are mentioned in the letters, of which too few are sold. These include drinks, sweets, cosmetics and scratch cards.

Crew members were also told that their sales figures are being monitored closely and that further action is taken if no improvement is noticeable. If the company believes that turnover is too low, there is a risk of losing its fixed working hours and being used more frequently as a substitute. In 2015, Ryanair agreed to a new salary and scheduling deal with temporary workers, with the staff working five days each and having three days off.

Members of a facebook group for Ryanair staff called the company’s board “a group of bullies”. They fear coming redundancies.

1.6 billion euros
The sale of food, drinks, perfume and other items such as scratch cards is an important part of Ryanair’s income and generated 1.5 billion pounds (approximately 1.6 billion euros) of additional income last year. That is 27 percent of the airline’s total income, but that should go up to 30 percent.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ryanair