In just over two weeks time I will begin my journey to Krakow, Poland, to attend Steemfest3. After a small hiccup in securing my Steemfest ticket, I bought my flights this week. I shall be flying from Birmingham, my local airport, to Amsterdam, before continuing to Poland. I booked into the INX Design Hotel, one of the two ‘official’ Steemfest hotels, as soon as the event was announced.
Not only am I looking to catch up with some awesome steemians I met at last year’s event in Lisbon, and new attendees, but I am listed as a speaker at Steemfest. I will be joined by fellow co-admin and co-creator of @thewritersblock @rhondak to discuss our community, Steemhouse Fiction publishing company, and our new frontend called Wordrow.
Fellow TWB member @jayna will also be in attendance. I had the pleasure of meeting both Jayna and Rhonda earlier this year in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Me and @jayna in Tennessee
Since that trip I also met up with Rhonda once more when we attended @steemcafe’s Steem Creators Conference in Toronto.
@Jasonbu and @rhondak in Toronto
By the time I return from Krakow, I will have taken an unbelievable 19 different Steem related flights during the past twelve months, visiting eight different countries along the way. To keep my costs down I try to find the cheapest flights, which inevitably leads to more indirect routes and layovers.
Since setting out for Steemfest2 last year I have discovered a love for travel. Originally I was to travel to Lisbon with my best friend, but with Monarch Airlines going bust last year, we both lost money on our flights and he could not afford to get another one. Thanks to @roelandp I still made it to Lisbon, traveling solo for the first time in my life. Although quite apprehensive at making the trek on my own, I soon found I rather enjoyed it.
This will be my first time in Poland and I’m very much looking forward to it. Not only for the event itself, but also to discover some of the country and its rich history. I am quite looking forward to visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp, just over an hour away from Krakow.
No, I am not about to claim that cephalopods originate from outer space, or that they were bioengineered by space aliens – although, who really knows, right? What I do know is that this class of animal is entirely alien to anything else on Earth, and they have always held quite a fascination for me. For those not familiar with the term cephalopod, these include octopuses, squid, nautilae and cuttlefish. Cephalopod literally means ‘feet around the head’. Cephalopods are part of the mollusc family.
So why am I talking about these fantastic creatures? During my recent family vacation in Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, I took part in one of my favorite pastimes: snorkeling. There’s nothing better than laying atop the ocean, weightless, the gentle waves lapping at my sun-kissed back as I peer down at the sea life below. As somebody with Multiple Sclerosis, this is a gentle exercise requiring little physical effort – my flippers do most of the work for me. Although, having said that, an hour or so swimming around took it out of me.
The beach at our resort was between two sea walls, making the water within very calm and suitable for families with small children. Inside the walls, there were still many fish that came really close to the shore, from where holidaymakers would feed them bread.
Pixie feeding fish
I started gently with snorkeling as it’s been a while since I did it last. At first, I kept within the sea walls, swimming around within easy reach of the shore, just in case my legs muscles gave out on me. Eventually, I swam alongside the sea walls, made up of massive concrete blocks. Within and around the walls lived many hundreds, possibly thousands of fish. Here’s a short video I took with a cheap underwater camera I bought.
I wish I could name all of the different species of fish, but it was a real kick to be sharing the water with them. As I crossed from the end of one seawall to the other, I felt the change in temperature of the water flowing inside from the ocean – it was noticeably cooler.
Clicky for Biggie
It is slightly unnerving to feel such a drastic temperature change, and it makes the wider ocean feel somewhat unwelcoming. Nonetheless, I decided that I would swim out from the bay and follow the sea walls down their outsides. I thought that maybe I might see different species of sea life there, and sure enough, I was right. Outside the bay, the sea was teeming with life!
A lot of scuba diving happens in Lanzarote, and as much as I would have loved to take part once more – I very much enjoyed a scuba diving in Greece many years ago – time and money didn’t allow me to. From the beach, I watched on with envy as groups of divers assembled at the shore and went under. As they left from the beach, often I would catch sight of them from the surface of the water while out snorkeling.
Ok, what about the alien?
I’m getting to that. One day, while following a couple of divers, I swam out much further than I expected. “Ok, this isn’t too bad” I thought to myself, despite the slightly choppier water, and I relaxed into exploring further. Whole shoals of fish, big and small, appeared beneath and all around me.
Looking down at the seabed I noticed a strange American football shape moving, totally unlike anything I had seen up until then. Suddenly it occurred to me that along the body of the thing, were undulating waves rippling up and down. And were those small tentacles I saw at the front of it? Yes, they were! The colors on the body seemed to change slowly from time to time, but there was a mostly zebra-like pattern. Yes, I had caught sight of a cuttlefish! From my vantage point, I estimate it was just over a foot long. I was around 15 ft above the seafloor.
Luckily my camera was running. Unfortunately I had not yet bought an extendable stick to mount the camera on, otherwise the footage would have been so much better. Here, take a look for yourself.
At first, you see the creature swim backward, along with the current, then it starts swimming forward, stop a while, then continue. If you watch closely, as it approaches a rock, it changes color – possibly in response to the proximity of the fish. It seems to have a quick think about the situation and then reverses and moves away from the fish.
If this is the common cuttlefish, which happens to be abundant in the area, I consider myself extremely lucky as they are nocturnal creatures, hunting by night. By day they usually lie buried in the sand. Perhaps it had been disturbed from its slumber, as the sea was rougher than usual that day.
The next day I bought an extendable camera mount and swam out to the same general area. I hoped to be able to catch another glimpse of this fascinating creature so that I could capture better footage. Unfortunately, I never saw one again, despite swimming around for a few hours.
Before my next vacation, I am going to buy a decent Go Pro so that I can capture better video of my snorkeling adventures. Who knows, perhaps next time I’ll be able to take it scuba diving with me…
My family and I returned to the UK from our vacation in Lanzarote in the early hours of yesterday morning. As we boarded our flight my other half asked if the kids would be able to go see the captain and cockpit. I wasn’t sure it was still allowed. I remember my own father taking me to visit the captain during a flight in my youth, but obviously since 9-11 security has been stepped up tremendously.
Nonetheless, as a flight attendant called Julie walked past, we asked if it was possible. In flight is a definite nono, and that makes sense. But she did say that it was at the captain’s descretion either before take off or after landing. She asked the children’s names and got on the phone to the captain.
Within minutes she returned to say yes, the captain would gladly show them the cockpit. As we would not land until after 3am he decided that the kids would be too tired by then, and to bring them forward. Excited, they both rushed down the aisle.
Captain Mark Weaver led them inside and Harley took the captain’s chair, Pixie perched on the copilot’s seat. They were shown the basics of the controls and got to push a few buttons.
Harley was shown how to engage a systems report from the talking in flight computer.
Pixie disengaged the autopilot whereupon an alarm started beeping.
After thanking the captain profusely for his time and kindness we returned to our seats. Although both were very excited after having visited the flight deck, Pixie decided there and then that when she grows up, she wants to be a pilot! So much for wanting to be a vet.
Julie the flight attendant later returned with certificates for the children to show at school, along with a sticker proclaiming them future pilots.
This was a great end to an awesome holiday for the kids.
My last vlog from this beautiful island in The Canaries. I speak about my time reconnecting with the family, getting closer to my other half and enjoying my sea adventures snorkeling.
Back full time on Steem in a few days, I also talk about steemfest in Poland next month and put out a call to help get @Rhondak there too. I will be speaking at Steemfest about @thewritersblock, Steemhouse Publishing, and Wordrow, our forthcoming creator’s focused front end, and would love for Rhonda to share the stage with me.
Apart from my own selfish reasons – I’m not much of a talker – Rhonda is working herself to death at her animal shelter, @tarc here on steem, under extreme circumstances without any help from her openly hostile community. A break in Poland would do her the world of good, and if anybody can help get her there, please get in touch with her.
Last week when I arrived in Lanzarote for my family vacation, I discovered that sea lover and water sports enthusiast @surfermarly lives here, one of the Canary Islands. I got in touch with her via Discord and we organised a mini Steem meetup at my hotel resort. @surfermarly lives an hour north from here and drove down to see me today to chat and share a drink or two.
I have long maintained that the universe has some kind of plan in play. The meetings and coincidences that have occurred during my Steem life continue to amaze me: not only does Marly live on this island, but her home is actually where we spent our vacation last year! We may well have walked past each other and not known.
I saw Marly in Lisbon at last year’s Steemfest, but didn’t get around to chatting with her, unfortunately. At that time I was still new to the platform and a bit starry eyed at all the ‘Steem famous’ personalities there, and I considered Marly a Steem veteran,having joined in 2016.
Today’s mini meetup was an intimate occasion and we talked about our backgrounds and lives over drinks. The subject soon drew to Steem and Steemit. Dodging a ball, as we had inadvertently sat next to the pool while a water polo game was in session, we spoke about the current state of Steem, its direction,and the communities built up around it. We both agreed there is so much potential here but things could be better managed, particularly for newcomers to the platform.
Moving a safe distance away from flying polo balls, we made our way to another bar and sat with another drink as I learned that @surfermarly, water sport fanatic, actually used to be scared of water. Yes, truly.
The two hours flew by and before I knew it, Marly had to return to the family business. We both remarked how weird it is to meet people from Steem, already having a connection with them as though we’d been friends for years. Marly is such a cool and awesome lady, and it was an absolute pleasure to meet and share a few drinks and conversation.
Thank you so much for travelling down south to spend a few hours chatting. Good times.