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Duty Free – might not be a good buy!

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Another travel note.

Duty free alcohol is rarely a great buy, but it can provide for a selection that you may not get at home. So, if you intend to buy duty free alcohol on your next trip, I recommend the following steps ….

  1. Know what you want and your local price.
  2. Consider buying your alcohol on the plane, it is often cheaper on a plane than in a store in an airport.
    1. Investigate before you fly, what the airline sells it for.
  3. Think exotic, id est, an alcohol not available back home.

Lets compare, with a look at volume and price.

Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin

  • A 750ml bottle of Bombay Gin at the LCBO (Ontario) – 28 CDN$, plus taxes.
    • 1L equivalent is 35 CDN$, plus tax, so less than 40$.
  • A 1L bottle on Air Canada – 32 CDN$, if within your import limit, then no taxes.
  • A 0.7l bottle at an Heathrow, converted to 38+CDN$, and when you adjust to a later, that bottle is nearly 49 CDN$. Ouch!

Another good buy on an airline:

  • 750ml Johnnie Walker Blue at the LCBO – 299
  • On Air Canada, 229 CDN$ for the same 750ml.
  • At Heathrow, expect to pay 204 Sterling for a 1L or the equivalent of 250+ CDN$ for 750ml. At least this time it is cheaper than local.
    And scotch is not cheaper flying out of Scotland either! The only positive I will admit, there are scotches there that are NOT available elsewhere. I do recommend, highly, the Caol Ila 18yr Distiller’s Edition.

Morale of story, duty free is no assurance you are making a good purchase.

So what did I get on last trips?  I go the exotic route, which is typical for me, with Croatian Schnapp / Brandy (Aura Fig – Suha Smokva) and Australian Bundaberg Rum (smooth).

rum IMG_8856


schanpps IMG_7847


As I get older, I no longer want souvenirs. I am happy to buy something unique that I will use regularly, gift or consume.




Written by raspberryfisher

2017/11/06 at 21:30

Posted in Work Travel

Tagged with


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Continue to receive the suggestion that I continue to put up some advisory posts about my travels, so let me discuss luggage – the best things to consider.

If I travel for 4 days or less, I do travel light and do not check in bags, but as often travel in 2 week chunks and may need substantial clothing to cover extremes, I do check-in bags. So with 500,000 miles in the past 3 years under my seat, what are my recommendations and guidelines for checked-in luggage:

1. Form – Your luggage will be damaged, so reduce the risk and investment.  Make sure, it is clean in form and function, such that the handles are hidden, wheels have reduce exposure and avoid pockets-zippers.

2. Again, avoid secondary pockets, as they offer limit value by increasing risk of handling damage and add weight.

3. Weight – As airlines impose greater limits et cetera, be conscious of the weight of the bag and be aware that the largest bags are easy to go over the weight limit!  Keep to a 29″ bag, if you can.

Air Canada basic weight limit starts at 23kg, with the cost of overweight starting at 113.50 CDN$. And you should expect you will lose 5+kg (20+% of this lower limit from the bag alone!)

4. Weight the bag at the store, as often the specifications listed on the website are optimistic light (being kind!).

Lies, dammed lies and datasheets!

5. Clear identification – – For theft management of the bag – do not get black.  Make sure it stands out from a crowd.

6. Your bag’s contents are not secure. Breaking into most bags is simple and with TSA locks et cetera required with simple bypass, that if the thieves after check-in want your bag’s contents, they will get it.

Once you checked-in the bag, you must rely upon the security measure of the airlines and their employees and contractors.

For this reason, I rather use an low cost bag, versus a premium bag that says I have “money”.  Make the bag stand out, but not scream I have money!

Be humble.

7. Always take a spare duffel bag with you. Luggage may break, you may get-buy more than you expect or have an agent (last trip) that demands you to repack – check in your carry-on et cetera.

8. Moving it – 4 Wheels and make sure you can handle it with 22kg inside.

So what do I use?  Samsonite Orange F’Lite and how does it rank:

  1. Cost of Replacement – A
  2. Clean Form – A
  3. Weight – B
  4. Bag Identification – A+
  5. Humble – B+


The internet is great discount store of the world, but like shoes I would buy this at a store. Verify the weight, ensire the form is clean and make sure if moves-carries well.


Sidebar, story from my last travel. I had to repack my bags 2 days ago in Brisbane, as the Virgin Australia Agent demand I limited my Carry-On to 1 bag of 7kg. My camera bag and camera along is 3.5kg, and I was eventually force to pack my laptop, charger, et cetera into my luggage, and protected my camera and ipad

Now, as I tried to register my compliant, Virgin Australia state this was a function and limitation of my ticket from Air Canada and if I have an issue, I need to address it with Air Canada.

Air Canada says this was an incorrect interpretation of the ticket and the compliant should be with register with Virgin Australia at the orgin (which they refused to do).

In short, I had no recourse, but to respond to arbitrary rules imposed on me at Brisbane, with no mechanism to formally identify the fault.

The Qantas return flight from Brisbane to Cairns was just fine!

Morale of the story, if you come across the power tripping person Agent or Security staff, whether they are right or wrong, you just need to accept the fact and go with the flow.

All I can do, is never fly Virgin Australia nor buy a codeshare Virgin Australia flight with Air-Canada.








Written by raspberryfisher

2017/11/01 at 19:29

Posted in Work Travel

Travel Spey Rods and More

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rod 1_DSC0340

These are not my usual art pictures, but as this is more about information than illustration, I decided to sacrifice on the photography.

Many many years ago for single hand rods, I moved to “travel” versions, id est rods that were 4 pcs and could fit in a carrier that usually carry on a plane or not be charged with large baggage fees.

This change started with the GL3 9′ 7wt, at a time when there was a debate you sacrifice “capability”. Yet, when I selected this rod (American Angling in Salem NH (now long gone)) from the many I tried, it was my favourite – 2pc or 4pc.  Nearly 20 years late, it still is my goto rod for bass fishing on my local river for nearly 20 years and so far the only “similar” rod that I have liked as much is the new Scott Merdian 8wt.

Five+ years ago, I started spey (two hand) fly fishing. My first rod, as you can see on the bottom with the Red Nautilus 12S Reel is a 14′ Scott 9wt G.  Heavy rod, with a heavy reel and currently my winter skagit setup.  Rods two and three are gone (almost) – I sold my Sage 7136 Z-Axis and trying to sell my Loomis GLX 15′ 9wt, but all rods travel like skis and golf clubs in how they consume space.

As I developed, I decided my previous rods where too “big” (line weight) for what I needed – long rods were good, but a lighter line rod made more sense, and then came the Meiser 1264S, then Burkmeimer 7134 for steealhead and most recently my travel rods.

Spey travel rods, do not get much attention as they should, given they are great rods. The selection may be limited, but they are great rods.

rod 8_DSC0336

So my current limit up of double-hand rods, setup and thoughts.

  • Meiser 1264S – 12’6″ 4-piece with a SGS (from Meiser and Steve Godshall) 31′ 324g head plus 10′ Polyleaders on a Nautlus CF 10 Reel. This is my favourite rod for trout and my local river, as it just casts to my want (a natural fit).
  • Meiser 1305S-5 – 13′ 5-piece travel rod currently with Guideline 78 (417 grain) PT Scandi – 35′ + 10′ Polyleaders on a Danielsson L5W 8twelve.  The original SGS Scankit (411gr 32′) was nice, but the rod really feels well with the Guideline 3Density line. I have two heads for it FHS1 and a IS1S2. If I was going to add another, it would be new Guideline 3D FHS4 to get the fly deeper when required, but I would use the next rod in lieu of this.
  • Meiser 13668CX-6 – 13’6″ 6-piece travel travel rod with a SGS 35.7′ 502 grain head with 7wt RIO Heads (so actual shooting head weight is closer to 580 grains).  This is my newest rod, and only recently been released by Bob Meiser. It is light and responsive.
    I first started out with a lighter line and reel, (Danielsson and NextCast WA 78 520 grain (with head)), which was wrong on both accounts. Yes the rod is lighter and using a light reel may have been possible, if Bob  kept the lower handle to 4.5″ versus the actual 5.5″, so you should be thinking about a 12oz reel or ask Bob to make the lower handle shorter.  The grain weight is listed at 450-750 grain, but I felt the lighter line was under-powering the reel and the provided line was absolutely right!
    The Nautilus 12S was to heavy, but the Nautilus 12DD (having an empty weight of 12 ounces is right, and can afford a little heavier.
    I like this rod, and it is a compliment to the 1305-5 above.
  • Burkheimer 7134 – 13’4″ 4-pc with a SRO Ballistic 38′ 470 grain head with 8wt tips on a Nautilus 12S Reel  (placing the line total head weight close to 550 grains). It is a rod that requires a relax cast and will release, a rod I like using for Steelhead.  As I have gather a collection of some other lines, I still want to experiment and will consider a heavier line.  I have a Nextcast WA 520 grain 47′ line ready for it, and will try the above Guidelines later this year on it (if the rain ever stops, and the local river becomes safe).
  • The old Scott G1409 – 14′ 9wt 4pc used as a Skagit Rod to search the bottom of a river in Winter with large flies, and currently has a Airflow Skagit 570 with Medium MOW tips, but I think I prefer it with the 600 grain line or greater.  It is on the Red Nautilus 12S reel, and the handle has been modified (previously posted) to be more friendly for casting understand.
    To be honest, I have not connected this rod, so I am still playing with it, and see if I find that magic I get with the above rods.
  • Not shown, as it is a short “spey” switch rod is my 10′ 7wt 4pc (travel ready) James Green Fiberglass with the OPST 350 grain line on a Danielsson 3W reel.  Rod is designed for close in fishing conditions.
  • Not shown, is a Scott ARC 1007 – 10′ 7wt 4pc that has a 7wt multi-tip Airflo line. This is just a great single-hand spey rod that I and Judy will fight over to use. It is great trout streamer rod in normal conditions or when the river is high, and you are casting from the bank.

So what would I take with me, for travel?  Considering you usually can fit 4 rods in most carriers.  If I was going to a trout haven, where I wanted Spey Rods, such as New Zealand:

  • Meiser 1305S-5
  • Green 7wt 10′ and-or Scott 7wt ARC 10′
  • Scott G2 805 – my travel dry fly rod (Judy’s a Scott STS 905)
  • Open to my current fancy

And places where Steelhead, Salmon may also be considered

  • Meiser 1305S-5
  • Meiser 13668CX-6 – consumes space of 2 rods though
  • Open to current fancy and whatever else I might encounter.

rod 4-DSC0339

And what about travel cases.  As I do believe in using what you have, and what I have is no longer available, this may not be to helpful.

  • Abel Rod Carrier – Built like a tank and I trust my rods in them, even it is checked baggage.  Today, the option is get Harding and Sons from Oregon to make you a case.
  • DB Dun – Secure and good for carry-on for 4 rods and reels. A great carry-on case, and is closest match today is from Fishpond.

In the past few years, I have been able to carry-on my rods through Europe, Canada, United States and Bahamas.  The only area forced me to check in the rods, was in Japan.


Oh yes, I built a new rod rack too, as shown, so I have a place to leave rods for practice and dry when I get home.

rod 10_DSC0335


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/07/03 at 04:15

12 panoramas of Northern France

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Between work travel and tying many many saltwater flies, I have not posted frequently.  But on my last work trip, I used my iPhone 6 panorama feature to record my day off around St Malo, the home of Jacques Cartier, and Mont St Michel.

1 IMG_3113 1200

Beach around St Malo, with wind surfer using the wind.

2 IMG_3123 1200

Not  a warm beach day, but very beautiful

3 IMG_3129 1200

4 IMG_3144 1200

5 IMG_3169 1200


7 IMG_3204 1200

Inside the walls of St Malo

8 IMG_3212 1200

Jacques Cartier statue

9 IMG_3223 1200

My selfie amongst the chimney pots

10 IMG_3242 1200

11 IMG_3268 1200

Mont St Michel, yes, I would go back.

12 IMG_3358 1200

View from Mont St Michel looking north-west, just before you enter the cathedral.

13 IMG_3403 1200

Written by raspberryfisher

2016/05/01 at 22:37

Posted in Work Travel

My Camera Bag

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I have been using a Crumpler 6M Dollar Bag, which has been excellent (and the customer service is excellent), but has one flaw, I really cannot fit in my ipad.  So I have gotten myself a ONA Street Bag and updated it for my travels.  What is in this bag, starting from the left ….

Camera Bag IMG_2822 x700

  • ONA Waxed Cotton Messenger Bag – I do not like camera bags that look like camera bags. Good bag, but would like 2 additional features:
    • Another inch depth in the laptop sleeve for laptop + ipad
    • A loop in the front pocket to clip accessories.
  • Nikon D600 – Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2 Makro-Planar
    • + Crumpler Wrist Strap – strongly recommended
    • + 67mm B+W KSM C-Polarizer for the 50mms
    • If the polarizer is not on, then a protective clear B+W filter is on.
  • Zeiss 25mm f2 with a thin ring clear B+W protective filter.
  • Filter Case for unused filter on the 50mm lens.
  • Spare Batteries for 2 Cameras.
    • Nikon D600 + Battery Charger
    • Nikon AW100 – Waterproof. This camera get little use, so to save space, I do not include the charger.
  • Lifetrons Universal Power Adapter with 2 USB Charging Ports. No longer made, but highly recommended.  If I am going to South Africa or India, I also include my wide 2 pin adapter.
  •  Nikon AW100 – If I am worry about security or wet weather, I use this camera that is tucked in the outer side pocket.
  • Business Cards – mine Employeer’s and Mine
  • Morphie PowerStation (for iphone, ipad and local wifi adapter)
  • Ipad (purple case) and sitting on top and to the right:
    • Moleskins Notebook (small as shown or medium)
    • Passport
    • Wallet – (Backup cards are kept elsewhere)
    • Acme Pen (present from Tesla (daughter))
  • Etymotic Headset for Cell-Phone
  • Lanyard with
    • USB Memory Stock x2
    • Office Security Fob
    • Travel Charm from Kyoto Shrine (Caitlan’s (other daughter urging))
  • Purple Bag (it is Dack Shoes Bag not Crown Royal), holding a collection of important little support-backup items, including:
    • iPad file transfer connectors
    • Apple USB Cables – iPhone and iPad
    • USB Cable to D600, which also serves to recharge the Morphie
    • Power Cable for the D600 Charger
    • D600 Charge goes into the bag to.
    • D600 DK21 Eyepiece Cover – as I always knock them off.

Missing from the Picture:

  • iPhone

What else that I might add to the kit:

  • If I am going to India or South Africa, the wide 2 prong power adapter
  • Keyboard for the iPad.
  • Laptop in lieu of iPad
  • Tabletop Tripod.
  • MonoPod – also makes an effective staff (think security)
  • A local Pocket Wifi Adapter
  • A Comb!

Now the confession. I have other bag(s) that are linked to:

  • Sinar f2 4×5
  • Wista 4×5 field camera
  • Filters +  This last bad transcends all cameras and is associated with using the tripod (I have 2), which includes my Lee Filter System.

I am not sure this is progress, with have the weight being consumed by modern electronics.  But here it is.


Why no film. I retired by Nikon FM2 when I could no longer shoot Kodachrome.  For my return to Black and White, I will keep with the Sinar and Wista and go back to slow contemplative photography.



Written by raspberryfisher

2016/01/13 at 07:32

Posted in Photography, Work Travel

Tagged with

Ireland May 2015

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While I posted some pictures on facebook, I never did blog some of my pictures of Ireland from May of this year. In fact, I still need to do a final edit and select the ten best.  But rather than continual delay, here are some of the notable pictures taken in Ireland with Tesla, Scott and Judy.

My favourite panorama

ireland 1IMG_0418

Tesla and Scott on the rocks – yes, they are small

ireland 2 IMG_0436

ireland 10 IMG_0475

Clouds on the beach v

ireland 3 IMG_0431 ireland 3a DWW_2943

^ Judy walking on Clouds

ireland 5 DWW_3362

ireland 4 DWW_3332

Show those teeth!

I prefer a stout!  (I do not care what they say, A stout is always easier to down than a hairy fruit!)

ireland 6 DWW_3290

Good service! and it was!

ireland 8 IMG_0422

ireland 7 IMG_0483

Last night, watching the sunset before we take the train back into Dublin.

Written by raspberryfisher

2015/09/23 at 22:54

Small Fly Fishing Kit

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Fly-Fishing can be a bulky endeavour – rods, waders, boots, and hundreds of flies. So I have been working to reduce-reduce and reduce, so I can take a small kit with me on my travels. So here is my current answer:

  • No Waders and Boots – so I must keep to the shore and the edges of water.
  • Jacket and Hat  – my regular Gore-Tex jacket.
  • Fly-Rods + Reel: 9′ 5pc (9wt and 5wt) – will fit in my regular check in luggage.
  • Fishing Bag, as below.

travel kit fish DWW_4690

Fishpond Bag – with the large back pocket holding:

  • Maui Polarized Sunglasses
  • Waterproof Camera
  • Buff – with sunscreen and hat provides the protection I need from sun and insects
  • Flies – Either tube bunnies or one box dry flies

On the bag’s side – floatant, tippet (2x-6x) and nippers.

On the bag’s front – a rare earth magnet – as previously reported a catch all convenience to hold flies on the stream as I can things around.

travel fish kit DWW_4702

The most open pocket holds:

  • Leaders for Dry Flies – 7.5′ (4x pocket water) and 9′ in (5x flat water).
  • Leaders for Streamers – often stubby dry fly leaders, conditioned
  • Furled Leader – 12′ Leader
  • Seaguar Fluorocarbon Tippet – 3x (streamer) and 5x (nymph)
  • Maxima Chameleon Tippet – 12lb 
  • 3x Glasses and Lens Cleaning Cloth
  • Scissors, Needle with a thread loop
  • Licenses

Streamers and Nymphs on the Foam Patch:

travel fish kit DWW_4710

tracvel kit fish DWW_4692

Moving to the outer edge, the front flap, we have tools used to support me when I need to release a fish:

  • Foreceps
  • Leahterman Multitool Juice S4 that includes pliers, siccors and a knife

fish travel kit DWW_4713

Under the flap are some stream side accessories

  • Insect Repellent
  • Weight – Tin Shot and Mud to treat nymph leaders
  • Floats – either home made or “pin” style
  • note picture shows the rare earth magnet

travel fish kit DWW_4693

And in the one dry fly box, given I do not know what water I will be on, I keep soe generic, but favourite flies that span a wide range  – starting in the top left and going clockwise – in varying colours and sizes:

travel kit fish DWW_4603

Is there anything missing, yeah, but right now the only thing I am wishing to add are:


Written by raspberryfisher

2015/09/13 at 00:51