Letter from Europe

Seaplanes make a comeback

Issue no. 2008/12

Summary

Loch Lomond Seaplanes last week launched a new seaplane service from Glasgow to Tobermory on the Hebridean island of Mull. Predictable media frenzy of course, with hyped accounts in English newspapers of how islanders can now eat 'seaweed muesli' at home for breakfast and be in Glasgow in time for mid-morning coffee.

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Seaplanes make a comeback

Loch Lomond Seaplanes last week launched a new seaplane service from Glasgow to Tobermory on the Hebridean island of Mull. Predictable media frenzy of course, with hyped accounts in English newspapers of how islanders can now eat 'seaweed muesli' at home for breakfast and be in Glasgow in time for mid-morning coffee. With that peculiarly British myopia about all matters appertaining to Le Continent, there were many claims about the Tobermory flights being Europe's first regular scheduled seaplane service.

Not so, as it happens, for if Loch Lomond Seaplanes had combed the timetables they would have found many other interesting examples. For some years now AirSea Lines has operated a network of five routes from its Corfu hub, while since 2007 Harbour Air Malta has run thrice daily services between Valletta harbour and the island of Gozo. With the number of services on the Gozo link just upped to four per day for summer 2008, Harbour Air Malta is now discussing a Malta to Sicily service.

There was a time when seaplanes were the norm. Flying boats once served both Corfu and Sicily en route from Britain, France and northern Italy to Egypt, East Africa and Asia. Now it seems that marine aviation is making a comeback, and perhaps offering a lifeline to many island communities around Europe that might not otherwise warrant a regular air service.

hidden europe 20

The best yet? Who are we to say. The twentieth issue of hidden europe is published next week. We have features on the North Sea island of Helgoland, South Ossetia, the Pennine village of Heptonstall in northern England and the mountains of Montenegro. We take time out to look at local markets in Pécs in southern Hungary, unravel a Kaliningrad conundrum, and ponder the architectural legacies of Expos in Brussels, Barcelona and elsewhere across Europe.

And of course, as well as lots of first rate articles on places across Europe, we explore other aspects of European life and culture. So we review charity stamps (often called semi-postals by philatelists). Did you know that the proceeds from sales of such stamps have been used to feed Russian orphans, clothe naked Swedish soldiers and support French intellectuals? And we ponder the knotty matter of gentilics - a minefield for the unwary! How is one meant to remember that folk from the Isle of Man are Manx, while citizens of Liverpool are Liverpudlians? Not easy. And never forget that lesbians don't necessarily come from Lesbos, not everyone from Bohemia is bohemian, while Alsatians are generally dogs.

Click herefor the full table of contents of hidden europe 20.

Meet and hear hidden europe

hidden europe is not written by anonymous pixies who live in the forests of Pomerania (well, sometimes the Pomeranian pixies help out). On the contrary, we are real living human beings. And, if you happen to be in southeast England, you can meet and hear hidden europe next week at Kingston Readers' Festival. This well established landmark in London's literary calendar runs from 23 April to 23 May. Our event is on 1 May at 7.30 pm at Kingston Museum. Under the title "Faces of Europe: The Hidden Continent" expect an evening of evocative words and images.

Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
(editors, hidden europe magazine)

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