I can feel and hear the sea when I gaze at these images. Almost smell the salt of the sea and sense the shifting clouds re-creating shapes and memories. Where’s you favourite seascape? Never yet been to the sea – in for a treat when you do.
Anyone driving along the A421 near Bedford, England will wonder what are those two massive buildings that sit just off the road, but at enough distance to be near-unrecognisable. The locals know that what were once derelict giant ex-aircraft hangers are now hubs of industry. Being near enough to Bletchley Park, and with numerous active military airfields nearby, maybe there is a reluctance to let on what goes on there. But now all is revealed. It’s an airship
It is Big, And it is clever (hopefully). And apparently its not an airship, as it is not lighter than air! Watch the video for a few minutes in and you will see the giant airlander get inflated like a child’s beach toy, you can tell this is English technology! Interesting background and story. The actual company making this, have an interesting website for more information. There are some fascinating images of the Cardington Hangers and related pictures of RAF stations and equipment. And of course next door they filming Superman!
For those of us of a certain age to hear “VIKING. Southerly or southeasterly 5 to 7, occasionally variable 4 in north. Slight or moderate. Snow showers. Good occasionally poor” brings back memories of listening to the shipping forecast on the radio. What it meant nobody knows, when was it on, seemingly always. I’ve recently started reading a book about the iconic BBC shipping forecast, and first of all it’s apparent that there are people who do know exactly what the forecast means, those professional seafarers who need to know what they are heading out into. One of the attractions was the feeling that you were listening in to some private conversation, like listening to a foreign language conversation, that although you couldn’t understand it, the intonation spoke volumes and told you this was important. Something significant was happening out there. Reassuringly you were safe, and even if VIKING become “hurricane force 12 or more”, it was happening somewhere out there, to people who understood what it meant and where equipped to deal with it. More importantly it wasn’t suddenly going to come crashing through your radio loudspeaker and flood the house.
But with the advent of digital radio the shipping forecast is lost. No more four times daily broadcasts on the radio, unless you happen to be able to tune into Radio 4 Long-wave. If the latter then you can listen in to the arcane forecast and don your sou’wester. But along with digital comes web access, so actually you can listen to the shipping forecast as well as get access to it online. And if you don’t have a copy of the book you can even look up the shipping areas (Tyne, Dogger, German Bight) and find out what it all means.
To do so, would it be like Mark Twain learning to navigate the Mississippi , would it dispel the mystery and magic. No. Somehow the shipping forecast is too ingrained, too much part of our national psyche to be so easily dispelled. That, plus the fact that there is too much majesty and exotic romance in Forties, Bailey, Rockall, Fisher; and to really understand it and penetrate the mystery you would have to be a child of albion brought up on the sea. So it is fitting that the only shipping area to be named after a person is FITZROY, which replaced Finnistere in 2002. Fitzroy founded the shipping forecast, along with the MET office, so it is to him we owe our thanks. Westerly, veering thankful to moderate.
Ideas like let’s run from the top to the very bottom of New Zealand. Oh and try and do it in record breaking time…..
It’s one of those ideas that probably starts with a kid and a map of the world.
But to actually do it – well that’s something else. Jez Braggs is running from the very top to the very bottom of New Zealand. Really just on that traditional principle of because it is there. But he is also going to try and do it in the fastest time – some 50 days of running in diverse terrain of over 1,800 miles.
As well as the exhilarating run along the Te Araroa (The long Pathway) he will also be taking a canoe interlude with an 80-mile canoe trip down the Whanganui river, halfway down the North island, and a paddle across the demanding 17-mile Cook Strait expedition. It helps that Jez is one of those ultra-runners so should be fit and experienced enough to actually be able to do it. As he says “in training for the big trail races, I noticed that the parts where I had the most fun was when I was on long runs in remote places; I really enjoyed losing myself in the runs where the journey was more the point than the destination”
The greatest thing about such expeditions is just the sheer boy-hood (you can replace that with girl-hood if you prefer) adventure of it. It’s just one of those things you wish you could do yourself. Next best thing is to read Jez’s adventures about it. Enjoy!