Winter arrived in Perthshire last week or it felt like winter as the air temperature plummeted with a high pressure system bringing sun and winds from the north. Fortunately there was no rain to speak of and the water temperature lags behind the air, so spending several hours a day snorkelling around freshwater lochs was not as uncomfortable as it might have been. The water was quiet and still and searching the loch floor for rare plants was like looking through a muffling brown fog. It was a case of breathe in, hold it, dive down fighting the buoyancy in the dry suit but helped by lots of lead, catch a glimpse of a small patch of vegetation, swim as far as the breath allowed, shoot back to the surface, repeat. We would each do this for an hour or so and then take a turn in the boat, putting in markers for each other around the edge of the loch and continuing around the perimeter until we reached the beginning. In this high tec world in which we live, we used bamboo canes and balloons to mark out 100m sections – tempered by the use of GPS to record their positions. Simple but effective.
The plant we were searching, Continue reading
I’m off into the wilds of Perthshire for a week or so, looking for Slender Naiads – no, not water nymphs but a rare species of plant that grows in some of the freshwater lochs up there. After that, I’m off to Wales, weather and engineers permitting, to dive on the only Welsh maerl bed, conveniently located right in the centre of a major engineering project. It should therefore be very quiet in this corner for the next couple of weeks. I have a list of things to do as long as my arm and really should not be sitting here blogging. Must go. But first…
GP2 said the other day, in a very accusing tone of voice, “You are going to be here for my birthday this year, aren’t you?” “Well yes, but it looks like I’ll miss GP1’s.” “You’ve missed mine for the past two years.” I’m not sure that’s strictly true, personally, as I think I only missed last year’s, but the guilt strings have been suitably twanged. Poor neglected children. There’s a post over on Mother at Large all about the evils of leaving your child with a minder (she’s reporting the opinion of others, I must point out). What would they say about missing your child’s birthday? Will I be struck down by a bolt from the heavens? And what age are children when they stop minding that you’re not there for their birthday? When do they stop counting down the days? I’ve a feeling I’ve got some way to go on that front.
It may or may not be an urban myth that the Eskimos have a huge number of words for snow. After a week walking the sands of the Dyfi estuary in mid Wales, I am sure that the Welsh should have at least as many words for sand. Fine sand, medium sand, coarse sand – this doesn’t do justice to the wide expanses of the stuff that fill this beautiful estuary. We stood on the dunes at the estuary entrance on Day 1, looked across the flats towards the far distant head and gulped at the prospect of visiting tens of grid points between here and there over the next few days.
There were small ripples that were hard underfoot, soft underfoot, dry, wet. Mega-ripples Continue reading
I went on a skive masquerading as my own CPD last Tuesday – diving at St Abbs, ostensibly to break my duck and get in the water for the first time this year. In fact, to meet Jane who was over from Belfast for a few days. It was a lovely day and we had two great dives. Good visibility, several wolf fish and lobsters, the cave at West Hurkar, all the anemones and soft corals out to play. Sunshine, puffins, guillemots and razor bills on the surface. Fantastic! And I could remember how everything worked and it didn’t seem so hard after all.
But – why is there always a but? – getting back up the ladder and into the boat for the second time, I missed my footing and crashed to the floor. I knew before I hit the deck that this was the bad one so when I was aked politely to move out of the way so that the others could get in, I replied, equally politely (if you believe that), “No!”
That was Tuesday pm. The ambulance met us at the slipway and took me to the Royal. Saturday pm I finally arrived home with some unsolicited metalwork in my leg and firm instructions that there is to be no weight bearing on that leg for 6 weeks. Hence my long silence.
ps. There are now 3 of us in (or perhaps just out of) plaster in the family. My brother in law broke his leg in Ireland at Easter and his wife, my sister, was knocked off her bike by a lorry in London about 3 weeks ago and broke her foot. Apparently mine’s the best though. Who’s next?