Monday, August 31, 2009

iPhone App: Rules & Signals

Another iPhone Application that might be of interest to those who want to revise / remind themselves of the navigation shapes, lights and sounds.

The "Rules & Signals" does just that - tells you what they all do in very clear graphics and sounds. There's even a random mode so you can test yourself like those flip cards you get when doing the sailing theory courses. It covers both the buoys system A and B, and there are animated examples of lights on approaches to a harbour (Salcombe).

Not much else to say - it does what it's designed to do in way that is clear and easy to, er, navigate!

And if one early evening you see the lights below coming out of the rain showers you'll know what they are.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A good sail

It was a good sail, down river in the morning, back up in the afternoon in a RS something (Vision I think).

Not because of the frankly curmudgeonly wind, that made it possible to do a 360 without the sails being set once (how is that possible?), and not because it was a warm sunny day (there was no sun).

But it had three good ingredients:
1) destination was a rather good pub
2) two good crew
3) despite the best efforts of wind didn't go for a swim

And tomorrow is a Bank Holiday so have another day off!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Group Writing Challenge - Updated

Update on the group writing competition set a couple of days ago.

Background here, but basic exercise is as follows: imagine you had to create the ultimate YourBlog Experience! that captures the essence of what your blog is about and which your audience might possibly be convinced to pay to do.

My contribution can be found here and Carol Anne's over on Five O'Clock Somewhere.

Any more out there?

Update: yes! Tillerman's great entry (count me in!) called "The Laser Experience" as well as promising us:
  • Proper Course: The Dating Agency!
  • Proper Course: The Haiku Composition Weekend!
  • Proper Course: Pole Dancing for Beginners!

Flying a Kite

Bonnie over on frogma posted a lovely kite flying photo so here is one in exchange.

It's from that brief trip to Ankara, and on the last evening got a taxi driver to give me a tour of the small old part of the city. He knew only a few words of English and I only had the Turkish for "thank you" to communicate.

Luckily there were some universal words that need no translation, like "football" and "Arsenal".

Actually scratch that, I think "football" does need translation in some countries!

13 is too young to circumnavigate solo

Well I think so anyhow. There's time enough in life to circumnavigate later, but childhood and school can only happen once. And if it was my niece I wouldn't want her out in those stormy waters, alone.

Click above to see another story on junior circumnavigators from Alex Thomson on the excellent Channel 4 News.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Brit Boy's Record Circumnavigation

Nice video news report of Mike Perham's circumavigation - you also find out Robin Knox-Johnston's favourite song to sing when doing his record breaking voyage!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The JP Blog Experience - on Dragon's Den!

Dragon's Den logo and post advert music

INT: Dragon's Den set. The five dragon's are seated, staring at JP who is standing in front of them with various props such as a mast and sail, paddle, bike and flip chart with rough map of the Thames as it runs through central London.

Voice over: Welcome back. And before the break JP presented to the dragon's his plan for a business called the JP Blog Experience. He is looking for an investment of £ 100,000 - but how will the dragons react? Are there stormy waters ahead or will it be plain sailing? First up is straight talking dragon man (STDM)

STDM: Let me get this straight, you want £ 100,000 for 0.25% of the company. How on earth did you get to a valuation of forty million pounds?

JP looks alarmed, starts to sweat, counting numbers on his fingers and mouthing silently.

JP: Er, hmm, lets think, don't rush me,


JP: Oh I know, that should be 25% not 0.25%. Sorry!

STDM: I'm not interested in putting my money in a business that can't spot when something is wrong by a factor of one hundred, so I'm out.

Voice over: That not a good start, lets see what scary looking dragon woman (SLDW) has to say.

SLDW: I'm worried about the health and safety angle. There's been alarming stories about tragic accidents in water sports recently: what did your risk assessment come up with and what sort of insurance cover are your planning for?

JP: Ah, yes, those are good points, must remember to do something about that

JP turns over a page on the flip board and on a clean sheet writes down "To do (more): health and safety, risk assessment, insurance".

SLDW throws up her hands in disbelief.

SLDW: How can you possibly not have these critical issues under control! I'm out!

Voice over: two down, some serious questions being asked by the dragons. I wonder what cheaky chappy dragon man (CCDM) has to say:

CCDM: JP, like the idea, want to know some more about how the money will be spent, the marketing plan and staffing.

JP: Well I was thinking of getting some great dinghies, nice kayaks, good bikes, somewhere to store them err..... what was the next? Oh yes, marketing, well the blog of course, and staffing, no idea - hadn't got that far.

CCDM: So you have no serious marketing plan just a shopping list. And as for staffing - it sounds like you don't even have a single Australian who says "hey guys" on your team do you?

JP: er... no....

CCDM: What are you thinking? Everyone knows that a water sport business must have an Australian who says "hey guys" on the team! I'm out!

Voice over: That's a serious blunder. JP really shouldn't have been prepared to be questioned about the Australian team member who says "hey guys". Now its the turn of Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback Dragon (NNRD) to give JP some feedback.


NNRD waves his wings and then blows a wave of fire at JP who hides behind the flip chart which bursts into flames taking with it the sail, mast and one of the paddles.

Voice over: Torching the presention - that's never a good sign! Looks like a serious thumbs down from Norbert! Just one to go, can JP pull anything out of this hat. What does the Tall Techy Dragon Man (TTDM) have to say.

TTDM: JP, like the idea, always enjoy paddling or sailing and London's a great, great city. But got a question for you. The Wandle tour up to, what did you say? "meadows" I think you said?

JP nods.

TTDM: I've been up the Wandle and this is what I remember: muddy smelly start, long dark pipe, then too shallow to paddle industrial zone. Have you personally paddled up to these "meadows".

JP: Ah.... yes, maybe the Wandle isn't the best river to choose.


TTDM: JP, I like the idea but you really haven't done your homework here. Sorry, I'm out.

JP gathers up the smoldering remains of his props and flip chart and walks despondently off set.

Where next for the JP Blog Experience?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The JP Blog Experience: 5 London Adventures

Welcome to the JP Blog Experience - outdoor adventures in the heart of London!

Choose your tour from one of the following:

1: Code ADV-01: Bike ride from Putney to Richmond
2: Code ADV-02: Kayak up the Wandle
3: Code ADV-03: Sail into Central London
4: Code ADV-04: Walkers Thames Tour
5: Code ADV-05: Running the South Bank

See description below for more information - contact us to make a booking!

ADV-01: Bike ride from Putney to Richmond

Do you want to breathe a bit of fresh air and see green trees rather than dense urban development? If so join us on a bike ride along the famous Thames path, 184 miles from source to sea.

Fear not, we won't be covering all of it in the tour, just the part between the London south west villages of Putney and Richmond. Here the Thames path is green and rural, and easy riding with a wide and near level track.

Both start and end points can be reached by train and tube for convenient access, and helmets are provided for all guests.

Code ADV-02: Kayak up the Wandle

You may have heard of the main river of London, the Thames, but do you know about some of the others, such as the Wandle?

On this tour you'll join our group exploring this historic river as it is meant to be discovered - from water level. From the mouth at the Thames, once a centre of industry up into the sprawling suburbs and the meadows beyond.

You will start from our Putney base where kayaks and all necessary safety gear will be provided. Our instructors are happy to guide you though basic kayaking skills are an advantage.

Bring change of clothes just in case!

3: Code ADV-03: Sail into Central London

The Thames that runs through the centre of London is an excellent way to see the majority of sights in a unique way. Join us as we glide silently by sail, remembering the famous Thames Barges that navigated this river in years gone by.

We run a fleet of stable and secure Enterprise dinghies that can take our guide / skipper as well up to two or three guests. A typical voyage starts at our base in West London and sails down river to the centre and back again, though we can provide customised itineraries that start / end at the Westminster pier.

Note that this tour is only available at low tide so contact our sales office for departure times.

4: Code ADV-04: Walkers Thames Tour

We are justly proud of our river bank tour of London, described by one online review as the "ultimate" walking tour. We even offer a number of routes, starting and ending at one of the following tube stations:
  • Westminster
  • Embankment
  • London Bridge
  • Tower Hill
Along the way our knowledgeable guide will point out some of the world famous landmarks, and provide colourful stories from London's long history. From Westminster to the Tower of London, from St Paul's Cathedral to the Tate Modern gallery, you'll be amazed and surprised by what you will discover.

Note that due to London's changeable weather, it's best to be prepared with an umbrella - just in case!

5: Code ADV-05: Running the South Bank

For the fit and energetic of you, we also offer running guides to London and the Thames.

Following the same route as ADV-04 we cover the top 50 sights of this amazing city while getting a good aerobic work out.

The South Bank of the Thames is well suited for jogging and running, being pedestrianised and conveniently level.

Fear not - we allow frequent stops to take photographs and have a breather!

Guests should be able to run 5 km and bring suitable footwear.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Punt Wars!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away....

No, I tell a lie, it was in Cambridge earlier this month. This weekend was due to visit friends in Cambridge and go punting but alas was unable to make it. Luckily Griff Rhys Jones was punting his way down the backs (above) for the last of his TV programs about Rivers.

But maybe it's just as well didn't visit Cambridge this time, as it turns out the idylic looking drift through the centre of that city is less plain song and more like The Sopranos.

The competition between punt operators has reached epic levels, with fights between touts, knives used, hips broken, punts cut loose and now even cut in two lengthwise by an electric saw!

The problem is that the river ain't big enough for all of them, what economists call "the tragedy of the commons".

Basically that theory says that if something is of value and free everyone will try and get some and the net result is over exploitation and no one gets anything. There is a lot of money to be made selling punt trips down the Cam, but its turning it into a traffic jam.

There is a documentary film being made of this story, and the trailer ends with lots of talk of regulation required - but what form should it take?

Clearly numbers of punts on the Cam must be limited, but how are the lucky ones with permits going to get them - should it be beauty contests, first come first serve or a yearly auction?

Well I know what the economists would say - auction the rights and then the council gets a bit of lovely money and the punting rights go to the organisation that can utilise the resource the most efficiently.

Already those with auction theory experience will possibly be muttering about simultaneous multi round ascending auctions or combinatory clock auctions with second stage assignment of landing rights and maximum holdings to ensure competition - no doubt earning their company huge consultancy fees.

But lets not stop there - consider the needs of a business to plan ahead. A single year's licence isn't that useful, as there's be a risk that the price of a punt slot would increase the following year to a level not covered by the business plan. And what happens if a company goes bust.

Yes thats right - what we'll have to do is create a market to trade punt rights, and to protect against future price rises a futures market.

So there you go, the solution to the Cam wars: punt futures.

You read it here first!

Navionics Charts V3.0

Oh, the excitment, its another full point release of the Navionics iPhone Mediterranian charts going up to V3. And that is a number full of geeky significance, as it is usually the third release that finally an application hits its stride.

But, oh no! What is this? Are there the waypoint editors? Is there SOG or VMG?

Alas no, none of those features can be found: all can see that is new is the little padlock on the bottom left of the screen that can be used to lock the screen, so it updates but has battery friendly lower screen brightness.

I am underwelmed, and really must post my ideas on to add lots of lovely new features while at the same time cleaning up a user interface.

Another time...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Would you want one?

Today this mini hovercraft was zooming up and down the Thames.

It looked rather cool as it was at home on the mud flats as well as the water, was seriously moving and a neat two person craft.

At first there was this Top Gear more speed! "I want one" moment, but on second thoughts it was a "no thanks" as its just too noisy.

One of the joys of paddling or sailing is the peace, to be gliding across mirror like water, and you don't get that with a craft that roars so loud that head phones are required.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Two Group Writing Projects

I've been wondering if its time to set one of those oh-so-fun blog group writing projects.

But how? I checked Blogger and WordPress online help, and there was nothing. So in the immortal words of a certain shoe making company, I guess the secret is to just do it.

And in this case not just once, but twice!

1) Celebrate World Rivers Day

This is one for your diaries: on 27th September it is World Rivers Day, so prepare for then a post about a river. It can be any river, from the little Piddle to the mighty Mississippi, the choice is yours. Just say why you've selected it, what it means to you, and why it should be celebrated.

2) The YourBlog Experience!

And this is one for now. It goes back to the debate previously about how the internet in general and bloggers specifically are harming the poor old newspaper industry. All that free news online means fewer and fewer are paying for good old ink and paper.

I'm pretty convinced the answer must be an open standard of micropayments that allows all news (and other) sites to charge a few cents or pennies per page.

But in this article in the Guardian newspaper they suggest another - create the Newspaper Experience.

The idea comes from the music industry, where income from music sales is threatened by illegal pirate downloads (boo! hiss! etc) and the one source of income that seems unthreatened is the live performance. As more and more is digitised and virtualised the real becomes more and more attractive.

And why stop at music, why not create the newspaper experience? The Guardian reader can hug a tree, the FT reader can attend Make Me A Millionaire! seminars, and the current bun can host wet t-shirt competitions. The key point is that the brand means they can charge for these experiences, which connect to what the paper stands for.

So, finally, the writing project. Imagine you had to create the ultimate YourBlog Experience! that captures the essence of what your blog is about and which your audience might possibly be convinced to pay to do.

Alas the last bit is the inner businessman in me coming out. Think of it as a Dragon Den's pitch, but without the awkward questions.

Write it up and post a comment here when done.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Paddling again

It's been a bad summer for getting out on the water. If it hasn't been broken toes or sea urchin spines its been work committments or horrid weather.

But yesterday was a good day, with two working feet, and was able to get out the office just in time to yell out "don't lock up yet!" as biked at full speed to our store of kayaks.

It was a lovely evening, sun twinkling on the water which was noticably warmer than it was last time was out - way back in spring.

But already the evenings are getting darker and the way back was seriously thinking about putting those head lights on. And the bike ride back the lights were vital and dodging in between the trees were a pair of bats.

Autumn is coming.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Power to the Paddlers - part 2

After the previous post "Power to the Paddlers!!" Bonnie asked the very good question what does the British Canoe Union have to say about the issue of gaining access to rivers in England that are currently inaccessible as privately owned?

The answer is that of course they feel very strongly about it and are part of the River Acccess campaign, which have their web site here.

At this point Scottish paddlers feel smug as the law there permits kayakers and canoeists access to all navigatable rivers. And it is interesting to note that the River Access campaign is formally funded by Canoe England, one of the constituent bodies of the BCU.

We seem to get back to the strange fact that the United Kingdom is not always as united as some might like. It reminds me of the strange tale of how the UK's football team at the next Olympics - held of course in London - will be an English team without representation from the other constituent "nations".

The 2012 games are however one reason I will accept for denying access to our waterways. Apparently parts of the River Lea, which feeds into the Thames in docklands opposite the Dome, go through the Olympic site, and so for security reason are closed to all traffic from now until 3 years hence.

Except of course Gryff Rhys Jones who with the power of the BBC behind him got a guided tour (above), though he wasn't allowed to take his canoe or even his faithful friendly dog, Cadbury.

Another thing I learnt at the River Access site was that September 27th is World Rivers Day!

Put it in your blog post diary now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I want one.....

ps: note to Yachting World - the video is from Lake Geneva not Valencia! There is a clue in the intro titles.

Power to the Paddlers!!

While the TV program "Rivers" (as in yesterdays post) is itself a mild drift down Britain's pleasant rivers, it hasn't stopped its presenter Griff Rhys Jones from getting angry again. And you know I think he does have a point.

For while in Scotland there are rights that allow canoers and kayakers to use rivers as long as they are navigatable, in England the vast majority of rivers are privately owned and hence out of bounds.

Indeed the statistic he quotes is that 97% of rivers over 3m wide are closed off so that navigation is not permitted, and that does seem pretty outrageous.

The argument that land owners apparently give is that canoeists and kayakers disturb the fish - and given that a short stretch of river bank can earn a million pounds from eager salmon fishermen that can result in quite a loss.

However the one part of Britain that is famous for its salmon is Scotland, where of course paddling is not restricted.

The angry sailor canoeist (below, with his faithful dog Cadbury) at this point started a bit of a rumpus by calling on canoeists to "disturb as many fishermen as possible".

That does seem a bit undiplomatic to say the least, but his heart is in the right place.

There are wide ranging rights for walkers (hikers) to roam across the countryside and those rights should be extended to paddlers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Angry Sailor goes Down River with a Paddle

It's Sunday evening here, and for once the weather gods have smiled on London.

The afternoon has been warm and sunny, and Londoners everywhere have been out in the fresh air, kayaking, sailing, walking and biking along the river Thames.

And before the angst of Monday morning we have the Sunday evening, when the TV schedules traditionally give us something undemanding yet well shot to close the weekend.

Recently the Beeb has filled this slot with Rivers with Griff Rys Jones, in which he travels down some of Britain's great rivers by various forms of transport.

Previously Rys Jones has been on the screen sailing, and on at least one occaision getting pretty angy when his classic yacht comes 2nd (which in this case meant last) in a race around the cans off Cowes.

This time its a lot more mellow, with Griff kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and even swimming his way down the likes of the Tay, Derwent, Wye, and Severn, all shot with the most beautiful photography that licence payers money can buy.

The picture below was from two weeks ago and shows him sailing the classic yacht that won gold in the 1920 Olympics.

In all episodes apart from this one Gryff was accompanied by his labrador Cadbury (after the dog's milk chocolate colouring). Which was a shame, as the animal shamelessly stole most scenes - but why the exclusion?

Apparently there was a dispute with the BBC about whether dog food could be billed. Fortunately the conflict has been resolved and Man and Dog will be paddling down the Lee and Thames tonight.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two days in Ankara

I rather liked Ankara - or at least the little of it I saw.

It was a very last minute type of journey. My client was unable to get UK visas from our Foreign Office and so we offered to come to him, as Brits can get into Turkey by simply paying £10.

I was hoping to see more of the country but unfortunately the flight from Expedia turned out to be one of those no changes what so ever under any circumstances, tough, that's how it is, sort of tickets.

So moon-like Cappodocia will have to wait.

However my client did take me to a fantastically good sea food restaurant called Trilye, where palettes were cleansed between starter and main by lemon sorbet, produced at the table with a steaming bowel of liquid nitrogen, and we ended with a lemon tree brought to the table to waft its pungent scent over us.

The owner came over to say hello and when he heard I was a Brit he got one of the waiters to bring out a photo of him and someone I recognised - our Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Someone should have taken the opportunity to take him to task about our visa policy!

The professionalism and high quality of the restaurant was a good example of how Turkey has shown how a modern, secular, market based, democratic and Islamic country can work and thrive.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Watch this...

I'm off travelling so until back blogging as per normal suggest have a watch of the Fastnet race on the excellent web site instead.

Monday, August 10, 2009

At Lands End

I am very much enjoying following the Fastnet on the web. If you haven't played around with the fab-tastic fleet tracker go on over and check it out by clicking here.

Partly its thrill the overwelming flood of little boat symbols as they pop out of the Solent like a cork. Then of course they ground to a halt, most just before Portland Bill, as the wind died last night.

The tracker means you can try to fathom the various tactics used. For example in the IRC 1 class one of the leading boats is Philippe Falle's Puma Logic, who was one of our class rivals when I did it and who gave tactics talk at a local sailing club. He went offshore after Portland and then back in for Start Head. Aha! thinks I, there was a plan there. But then the boats either side went right close in by Portland so its not a clear picture. Some seem to have gone all over the place - Quokka VII headed 90 degrees to the rhumb line for half the night.

But now they are getting on their way again and the big crush is about to get to Land's End which is where the picture above was taken. Actually its just before looking along the coast by Penzance, and in the distance you can see St. Michael's Mount emerging from the mist.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Tillerman and the rug salesman

Last week Tillerman posted the picture above of two Star sailors for a caption competition. Oh yes, thinks I, what would really work would be bla bla bla.

Fortunately before hitting the "Publish" button realised that no one would get why that caption made sense apart from me and (maybe) one other.

It was the result of one of those random chances. Waking up one Sunday morning with the usual pre coffee more asleep than awake brain, without thinking I grabbed the first t-shirt that came to hand.

What was important and worth thinking about over that first and most important latte was how I was to get to a rug shop by bike. This years big flat purchase is a rug for my living room and as they cost about the same as a decent dinghy it's worth spending some time looking for the right one.

This particular rug shop is in a very posh part of west London and while doable by bike meant a smart bit of navigation around the black hole known as Earls Court. However I made it and was soon helping the young salesman to go through a pile of 3 metre by 2 metre rugs.

All of a sudden he asked "So which Fastnet did you do then?"

For a moment I was amazed - they talk about knowing your customer but this was ridiculous! However then I noticed that the random t-shirt picked out that morning was indeed my Fastnet t-shirt, which sort of gave the game away.

We got chatting and it turned out my rug salesman was a bit more than your average weekend sailor, and had done not just a Fastnet but several. Indeed he had done a season or two of the Star sailing circuit, and when I got home I Googled his name, and yup there he was (and no, he wasn't one of those in the photo).

So when I saw Tillerman's picture my suggestion for a caption was going to have been: "Would you buy a new rug from this sailor?"

Hopefully you now know why it (sort of) would have made sense.

But also why that particular comment was never posted.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The 2009 Fastnet

Tomorrow is the start of the 2009 Fastnet race, and I'm going to sit this one out.

Not by choice - there was a very tempting last minute offer but my next week is already looking very busy. But if I could, I would be out there.

This surprised a friend of mine, who had just seen the video below and associated blog on Channel 4 News about the horrific events of 30 years ago when a storm blew through the fleet leading to many deaths.

If you want to know more then recommend reading the excellent Fastnet Force 10.

One thing I am looking forward to is following the fleet on the great RORC site. Last Fastnet it was fantastic to see where all the boats were - even though most of them were in port, sheltering from yet another blast of bad weather.

But the last couple of months been suffering a weird web anxiety. After I've checked the usual news sites and blogs there's this feeling that something is missing. Have I forgotten to check the status of the Volvo or Vende Globe fleet maybe?

Then I remember that both have finished, and with a sigh its been back to work. May next week I'll find a few gaps between meetings to see where the boats I recognise have got to.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Wrecked on the Isles of Scilly

The picture above is the figure head of an old sailing ship. I don't know much about her except one thing - while she survives her ship was lost.

For this figure head and many others can be found in a corner of the Tresco Abbey Gardens called Valhalla after the old Norse mythical hall for slain warriors. In it are mementos of some of the many, many boats that have foundered off the Isles of Scilly.

Some of the wrecks that were lost in these treacherous waters can be found in this Wikipedia article. While there will have others that have been forgotten in years gone by, the list includes some wrecks of historical note.

One such was the loss of Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell's fleet on the 22nd October, 1707. As graphically re-told in Dava Sobel's Longitude, the Admiral had been warned of the danger by an unnamed seaman. Unfortunately for all Admiral Shovell rather than taking the man's advice had him hung for mutiny on the spot.

Sir Clowdisley nearly made it to safety, being one of just two washed ashore. But it really wasn't to be his day, as he was found and drowned by a local woman who took a fancy to his emerald ring.

From this disaster the Board of Longitude was formed, to solve once and for the tricky question of calculating the other coordinate in addition to Latitude that is required to fix the position of a boat.

With so many wrecks there are many possible stories to tell, but in this post will give just one more, the loss of the greatest ever pure sailing ship.

The Thomas W Lawson was a seven masted steel hulled schooner built in 1902 and was powered purely by the wind, having no auxiliary engine. While there were other sailing ships that were larger, they all had an engine.

Alas the Thomas W Lawson only sailed the seas for five years as it was wrecked on the Isles of Scilly in 1907. Amongst the relics in Valhalla on the island of Tresco is this, one of its lifebelts. The seas were so rough and rocks so perilous that even some of the sailors with them drowned.

We forget the dangers of the sea at our peril.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wildlife in the Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly are a good place to go for wild-life.

Its been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, home to seals and lots of birds including puffins.

Coming back from sailing the wayfarer the instructors at the sailing school (Australian of course, said "guys" a lot) asked if we had seen the seal?

Alas the answer was no.

In the evening as we discussed the events of our days my eldest niece was thrilled to report that she too had seen a seal.

Alas again, must have been looking in the wrong direction.

From this point on of course kept a good look out but was not to be rewarded by anything more exciting than one of the huge and hungry sea gulls (above).

Maybe it was the wrong time of year as October is meant to be peak for twitchers or maybe should have gone to another of the many islands.

No, I'm wrong, did see something else! A rabbit!

.... ok, maybe that isn't exactly ground breaking. Next time maybe.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sailing in the Scillies

While over in the Scilly Isles we hired a Wayfarer for a day, and it was a lovely place to sail.

On the more sheltered north-east side of the islands you are protected from the Atlantic swell that can be seen breaking on the reefs further out. And on the Saturday the weather was just right - a gentle 15 knots of wind under blue skies turning the sea a translucent turquoise.

In the picture above you can see the "we're on holiday we'll de-rig the boat later" approach we took around lunch time. In fact there was a half a plan to sail again in the afternoon but was put off having soaked one set of clothes diving for a missing shackle and the key crewing nephew had other plans.

But in the morning we had a lot of fun!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Stuck on the Isles of Scilly

I've just got back from a long weekend in the Scilly Isles that ended up being a bit longer than expected.

It was a family get together on Tresco, one of the main islands in the archipelago, and we were due to fly back Monday lunch time. Alas conditions at the destination airport of Land's End were far from ideal, in fact best described as a thick pea-souper (see above)

So after many hours waiting in a very crowded and rather small airport on St Mary's we were sent back down to the harbour to get the ferry to Penzance.

Alas it got us there about an hour and a half after the last train to London, so my return home was delayed until today. However a lucky few were packed onto the helicopter that also goes to Penzance - but getting there a lot quicker.

It's a shame was unable to add my first trip on a 'copter to the long list of forms of transport for what was otherwise a rather good weekend!