Archive for the ‘Media’ Category
My comments on Pesda Press’s latest publication, originally posted on UKRGB…
I’ve just flicked through it, in the bath – obviously not the most thorough reviewing technique, but it’s suited me up to now.
I like this book more than its predecessor, which wasn’t bad at all – in fact, I like this book a lot. It does what it’s supposed to do, which is explain/ suggest various strategies for coping with wind/ surf/ rocks etc. It stays away from whacky stuff (crossbows and suchlike) and isn’t afraid to explore a seemingly simple concept in depth. Hence, it takes the same somewhat eyewateringly in-depth approach of its predecessor (anyone here excited by the idea of 30+ pages on strategies for turning in wind, largely composed of small-text bullet points?) but the saving grace is that the content is pretty high quality…if you read it selectively and focus on particular skills/ strategies, there is a lot in here to work with. I’ve certainly taken a few ideas away just from my bath-time, and I really do need to re-think my use of skegs. The other big improvement on the prior book is the inclusion of numerous short pieces by various experts. I read all of these, they’re all pretty interesting/ useful.
Limitations? Very few really, as long as you understand that this is a ‘manual’ rather than something you’d sit down and read. The surfing section is slightly weird; the point is made firmly and repeatedly that you shouldn’t lean back whilst surfing, but almost every accompanying photo shows the author leaning back whilst surfing. Admittedly two of them are included to show ‘how not’ to surf, but there are many others. The photos of a paddler in a Delphin are much more helpful, showing some really good dynamic body positioning. The final sections (on physical/ psychological factors) use lots of made-up coaching language (‘attentional focus’ ‘arousal management’ ‘neutral self-talk’ etc) to make simple concepts sound impressive, but this is forgiveable as they are an engaging and useful read, finally breaking away from the bullet point structure.
As well as having a very nice pier, Cromer in Norfolk is also famous for the locally caught crab, claimed to be the best in the UK.
It’s a little known fact that one of my sisters is actually a published expert on this topic.
Why the Whales Came is a children’s book by Michael Morpurgo (previously children’s Laureate), set in the Isles of Scilly during the First World War. The plot centres around the islands of Bryher and Samson, which has been uninhabited since the mid nineteenth century. My wife reads the book with her pupils at school; the other day, she asked me to dig out some photos to help introduce it.
Must get back there soon…
Pretty well the only thing about Shetland that failed to impress us was their Tourist Office. Maybe it was just the particular staff we ran into at their Lerwick office, but they didn’t seem particularly informed or helpful regarding their home. For example, we had to practically beg on knees to view and then get a photocopy of their (very out of date) contact sheet on Camping Bods, and when we asked what events or entertainment were coming up, without irony they recommended that we head up the street to the newsagents and look in a newspaper…
The good news is that they clearly recognise good writing when they see it. They have made use of Heather’s article about Shetland in their latest promotional bulletin! We only heard about this when it was forwarded by a friend. The bulletin seems to link Heather’s article to Sea Kayak Shetland, a commercial coaching operation. We had no dealings with them and know little about them. However, the sea kayaking guidebook is written by someone from this company and is great, highly recommended if you are trying to decide whether to head north. I’ve just dug out the comments I earlier wrote about the Shetland section of this guidebook (it also covers Orkney) and here they are…
- We thought quite highly of the guidebook, it tended to give a pretty readable and recognisable flavour of each island/ region of Shetland. Info was clear and precise.
- Tidal info is a bit limited in some cases, instead the book tends to say ‘tides aren’t really an issue here’ and leave it at that. Truth is, tides really aren’t much of an issue around Shetland, not at least compared to the crazy stuff to be found in Orkney. The Admiralty pilot (and tidal atlas) have more tidal info if required.
- One thing I liked a lot was that although the book can’t cover everywhere in Shetland in 25 routes (there are 900+ miles of coast), what it does do is add a surprisingly large amount of supplementary notes alongside the formally listed routes, along the lines of, ‘If you also check out the coast south of here, you’ll find…’
- If there was a problem with the guidebook, it was one of modesty/ understatement! Time after time we completed some paddle mentioned in the guidebook and were surprised to be absolutely blown away by the quality/ scenery etc – the author doesn’t waste adjectives or hyperbole! I guess that the bar is set pretty high in Shetland, the local paddlers have seen it all before and what might amaze the rest of us is bog-standard to them…
The guidebook is probably more essential for Shetland and Orkney than any other region so far covered by Pesda – the Shetland pilot book printed by Imray is fairly useless for paddlers (just lists anchorages) and the respective Clyde Cruising Club pilots for the two archipelagos are only marginally more useful.
We’ve had two very full summers’ paddling out of our Pesda ‘Northern Isles’ guidebook – great value for £20. Yes, we would have paddled all of it anyway, but it’s entertained and informed us a great deal, made our lives a whole lot easier, and saved us from carrying a large amount of maritime-related paperwork around. Our thanks to the authors.
Robin Hardy’s 1973 film Wicker Man is my personal favourite; I’ve watched it an unhealthy number of times, loving the plot, the scenery, the music, the gratuitous nudity. If you’re not familiar with the film, simply watch it. Enough said.
Although the plot is set upon a fictional ‘Summerisle’, the filming was mostly done in and around the coast of the Machars Peninsula in Galloway, south west Scotland. It was a long overdue pleasure to spend a week based at Isle of Whithorn, the small town at the tip of the peninsula. It’s a short distance from St Ninians Cave and Burrow Head, where the shocking climax was filmed.
“Where is Rowan Morrison?”.
This is Jim Krawiecki, aka Jimski. He’s drunk, or possibly I was when I took the photo, or maybe both. I have no idea what is going on with Basil Brush in the photo, either. To be honest my memory of the entire evening is pretty vague. In fact, apologies for the somewhat leftfield image, it’s just used here as it happens to be the only photo of Jim I could find.
The occasion was the 2009(?) South West Sea Kayaking Meet. Jim came along and gave a talk entitled ‘Grim up north?’ about his research for a guidebook to the shores of northern England. Well, a couple of years on and the finished book has just dropped through my letterbox. Boringly enough, it’s simply brilliant; another top notch production from Pesda Press. Great writing, great photos, superb production quality. Wouldn’t it be so much more interesting (both for me typing and for you reading) if the book was a stinker?
Buy it. Jim will inspire you to visit all sorts of places north of Watford Gap that you never knew existed. I very much like his approach; although the book showcases many trips in predictably stunning coastal environments, he also presents many enticing-looking trips in far less obvious locales; a cross-Pennine trip is described, and the rear cover has a photo of industrial Teeside! I’ve already paddled the west (Irish Sea) coast of England which is described here, Jim’s book makes me want to get to the east coast and also the Isle of Man as soon as possible. Great stuff, Jim.
Anyway, if you buy the book through this site, then everyone wins; you’ll be able to better appreciate coast of northern England, and I will get commission, become obscenely wealthy and hence be able to move in better social circles than those inhabited by drunken northerners with stuffed toys.
Buy Jim’s book here.
Here’s the promotional bumf from Pesda Press…
From the Mersey to the Solway and the Isle of Man in the West and the Humber to Berwick in the east, ‘up north’ is described to us in the author’s own inimitable style. Industrial areas and the wilder landscapes are described with the same care and attention to detail. The result is a wealth of varied sea kayaking voyages to suit all tastes and abilities, from easy sheltered paddles to testing offshore passages and everything in between.
In addition to the usual important information needed to plan a trip recommended cafés, pubs and chip shops are strategically located to provide sustenance at the end of your trip. Detailed tidal information also allows the book to serve as a valuable inshore pilot for water users such as anglers, windsurfers and sailors.
This is Justine Curgenven. She is one of the best known British sea kayakers and is achieving some spectacular things in her spare time, not least recently paddling around New Zealand’s South Island. To my shame, I can’t recall if I’ve met Justine in the past; however the magazine cutting above is from a Chinese sports magazine that coincidentally (and bizarrely) featured articles and photos from both of us two Brits in the same issue. So either way, we’ve definitely ‘sort of’ met.
Anyway, Justine was kind enough to send me a copy of her latest film, ‘This is the Sea 4′ (no prizes for guessing what the previous films were called). It’s very strongly recommended, including several inspiring and engaging expedition films, as well as the usual short pieces featuring quirky individuals from every weird and wonderful niche of sea kayaking.
I’ve reviewed it in more depth here, but if life is too short, skip straight to buying a copy here. Well done Justine!
South West Sea Kayaking has had a plug in The Guardian newspaper. Many thanks to Jim Krakiecki who included the wonderful Isles of Scilly in his ‘Top Ten’ list of sea kayaking destinations.
Presumably the Isles will soon be over-run with sandal-wearing, muesli-eating, Labour-voting, ethnic-clothes-clad paddlers …
Incidentally, the photo above (or one pretty similar, I forget which) is being used as the cover of a new book about gardens in the south west. Splendid.
For some time now, two South West paddlers whom I know fairly well have been working on setting up the UK’s first proper sea kayaking magazine. I held back on commenting about their project up to now, because I thought it’d be best to actually see the finished product for myself, before commending it to the masses.
The first copy of ‘Ocean Paddler’ dropped through the letterbox today. What can I say? An excellent top quality publication with great photography and writing. The slick and professional magazine that I have here, looks nothing at all like a ‘first issue’! Congratulations to all involved.
I don’t usually use this blog for this sort of thing, but on this occasion I hope that you’ll indulge me … I strongly recommend that sea paddlers (UK or otherwise) subscribe and see the magazine for themselves.
Plans were unveiled this week for the creation of Marine Conservation Zones around the UK. I can’t claim to be 100% au fait with the complex interlinked ecological, environmental, economic, social and political factors involved in the management of the marine environment and which this White Paper attempts to address. However, as far as I can discern … the plans are a good thing. Here’s DEFRA’s blurb…
‘Our vision for Marine Conservation Zones
By 2020, we want a network of effectively managed sites comprising European marine sites and MCZs, including highly protected sites. We want this network to conserve enough rare, threatened and representative species and habitats to maintain and improve biodiversity and ecosystems whilst covering as small an area as necessary.’