Archive for December 2007
Above is the card that we’ve been posting out to friends in recent days. If you haven’t received one, it either means that we’ve missed the Christmas post, or that it’s one of the many unaddressed cards still sitting on the living room table, or that we’ve forgotten you, or that we don’t like you all that much.
Heather designed the card, using her photos of the Isles of Scilly. She then set up a little production line involving the printer, colourful card, various shiny spangly things and something or other called Sticky Dots. It’s great being married to a Primary School teacher.
Back in January, I set this blog up as a completely cynical marketing exercise intended to lure in potential buyers for my book. The blog primarily remains precisely that, but what has surprised me is just how engaging and pleasurable I have found running it; quite often I’ve found myself working on the blog when I should be putting time into the book. Anyway, I do hope that www.southwestseakayaking.co.uk has given you all some pleasure during 2007, thank you for looking in. Best wishes to you all, have a great Christmas and see you again in the New Year. I’m now off to Spain (family) and then Portugal (whitewater).
“Happy christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last …”
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale of New York
Given the cold weather lately, I’ve been pretty spineless and have remained ashore warm and dry. So shoot me.
Yesterday I was asked how I plan and steer this blog. The true answer is, the blog is entirely random. Lately, I just go to my (very big) directory of South West photos, close my eyes, wiggle my mouse and click on a folder. Today that process (‘photo divining?’) resurrected these photos of the Isles of Scilly from 2003(?). I have no recollection of taking them, but the warmth almost radiates out of the pics. The perfect antidote to a cold evening.
Sometimes the long boats stay in the garage! Living on Dorset’s ‘Isle of Purbeck’, we are lucky enough to have a surf break of our own …
Scotland is all lumpy and uneven.
There it is then, Cornwall wins 4-nil. Proven conclusively and scientifically.
Cornwall is a better* film location! For example, Charlestown has featured in innumerable productions, and the surf beaches around Newquay doubled for North Korea in the (otherwise risible) 007 film Die Another Day.
*If you ignore the existence of Highlander, Braveheart, Whisky Galore etc. etc. Obviously.
As a very busy 2007 draws to a close, I’ve just been sorting through the mountain of brochures, leaflets, maps and other sundry paperwork on my desk. I uncovered the postcard above, bought in the Isles of Scilly back in May. The lighthouse in the picture is the astonishing Bishop Rock, Britain’s tallest and most exposed lighthouse. A series of these puffin pictures appear on a range of ‘All Puffed Out’ products available around the Isles. The veracity of the image may be open to question; in three visits to the Isles, I haven’t yet spotted any puffins paddling kayaks. However, the large puffin population frequents the uninhabited outlying rocks, who knows what they get up to out there?
I took this photo of John Gilmour back in January, when we went to visit the very recent wreck of the MSC Napoli. The photo now adorns page 36 of the second edition of Franco Ferrero’s Sea Kayak Navigation. My photo is uncredited (dammit!) but I can easily forgive Franco, as the book is superb.
I’ve never quite understood the mythology and gobbledigook that swirls like an impenetrable fog around the subject of navigation at sea. This is because I’ve always thought it was actually pretty easy, and when it doesn’t seem easy, you look for ways to make it easy. I’m pleased to see that Franco feels the same. Not only has he given an explanation of the subject which is completely free of BS*, he and designer Peter Wood have made it super-accessible with pretty illustrations and examples to work out at the end of chapters. All for ten quid, too.
Franco is editing my own book and Peter is working on the layout. Flicking through SKN makes me very, very excited indeed, thinking about what they’ll do with my work.
Gull Rock lies just offshore of Trebarwith Strand. This beach served as a busy quarry port long before the tourists came. Evidence of this can be seen in the tall rock spires behind Hole Beach, actually the unworked remains of Lanterdan Quarry. Cutting the stone and loading it onto boats was harsh work, and could be lethal; in 1889 three men vanished into the sea when the face that they were boring sheared off the cliff.
They don’t call it Steep Holm for nothing.
“No man is an island, entire of itself” John Donne, Meditation XVII
I simply couldn’t have gotten anywhere with the book without Heather’s massive help, patience and ideas. I’ve fully repaid the debt by opening jam jars and adjusting sticky footrests.
You can leave the tent open in Cornwall …
The Swanage Lifeboat Station has saved numerous lives in recent years, and has rescued at least one canoeist. Crew member and paddler John Gilmour has been blogging about the lifesaving work and social life of the crew for two years.
John has just announced his intention to cease updating the blog. Go tell him not to.