It was three years ago, give or take a day or two, that I went down to St Abbs for the day to meet Jane and go diving. It was a beautiful day but it didn’t quite go to plan as you’ll realise if you read this. Little did I know that day that it was the start of a rather grim couple of years. A broken ankle was followed rather too swiftly for my liking by that cancer diagnosis and all that that entailed. It all seems slightly unreal now and it is with only a small amount of trepidation that I’m off to St Abbs again tomorrow to meet Jane, over for her annual visit. I’ve dusted down the diving gear and found a tank with some air in it. I suspect that this time there’ll be plenty of helping hands to steady my return to the boat. I’m looking forward to a lovely sunny day with puffins and guillemots and wolf fish and sea anemones.
And let’s hope that this really does mark the end of all that nasty stuff.
I’ve dived in one of Iceland’s active volcanoes. It wasn’t erupting at the time, you understand, and no planes were grounded for our dive, but it was most definitely active. There was snow around the edges but the water was warm and clear, chemical blue. I’ve never seen water that colour anwhere else. We swam afterwards in a pool next to the main crater lake and that was steaming yellow and smelt of sulphur, hinting of subterranean goings on. Somehow sulphur sounds better than rotten eggs, doesn’t it? The volcano was Askja, not Eyjafjallojoekull which has reawoken after almost 200 years.
Our dive was one of my highlights of an expedition to Iceland in the early 1980’s. Continue reading →
We’re back. We’ve been, we’ve done it, we’ve come home again, the inheritance and all future salaries are spent. 600+ emails, 700+ piles of laundry and millions of raindrops and I know we’re back. Singapore-Port Douglas-Sydney-Fiji-San Diego are already memories. I have pictures and posts planned but am dashing off to Shetland for 2 weeks and first have to finish the work mountain that kept me busy before we left on our Grand Tour. Although, given that I’m still waking up at 5am courtesy of jet lag, I really should make use of those early mornings. But, with the promise to myself that I really will write down some of our tales, here are a couple of photos to make you envious. Or not, as the photo uploader won’t play.
I’ve been shaking out the piggy banks and flexing the credit cards for the past few weeks, eyes screwed up and fingers firmly in my ears. The BBC series South Pacific has become compulsory Sunday night viewing in the Guineapig household. We’re going on holiday. Had I mentioned that? A BIG holiday. The sort of holiday that consumes the boys’ inheritance. We’re off to the other side of the world.
I wasn’t much older than GP1 when I first decided I wanted to dive. We lived in Jamaica at the time and I had already spent many hours snorkelling over the coral reefs. Diving was the obvious next step. Being one of six children, though, nothing came on a plate Continue reading →
I’m sure we all have friends hovering on the periphery of our consciousness. Friends who have been important in a particular stage of our life but with whom we may have lost touch. Even so, we think about them often and know that if we were to meet up, we would pick up just where we left off all those years ago. Julia was one of those friends. We were at University together in Durham, mainstays of the diving club. Every weekend we all piled into the university minibus and headed off up the old A1 to St Abbs where we dived off the shore, either at Petticowick or outside the Harbour. Petticowick was a slog; a steep, grassy slope down with the gear and, of course, back up at the end of the dive.
My first dive in Britain was at Petticowick, after learning to dive during a gap year in Jamaica. I vividly remember my introduction to the cold, greenish murk of a November kelp forest, shivering in a too big borrowed wetsuit with a piece of orange canvas that purported to be a life jacket around my neck. “Wasn’t that wonderful!” proclaimed my buddy, Tim, later of Eden Project fame, as we staggered out of the water. “Drifting down through the kelp, in that beautiful clear water!” He clearly hadn’t been on the same dive as me. Still, I perservered and learned to like, if not love, kelp forests. The following year Julia and Chas arrived in Durham and joined me in the diving club while I switched subjects and joined them in Zoology lectures. We became firm friends within a wider group Continue reading →
I’ve been tagged by Lynne to tell you seven things. I’m not sure there’s much you don’t know about me, as I’ve already dumped a large proportion of my life into these blog pages. However, prompted by some old photographs I came across the other day, here goes (and apologies if you’re heard most of this already):
1 The first alcohol I ever drank was Red Stripe beer. It was in Daphne’s bar, a roadside shack with reggae blaring out, somewhere by the road between Cow Bay and Kingston on the Jamaican south coast. We used to dive at Cow Bay every Saturday morning and stop on the way home at Daphne’s for escoveitched fish, sourdough bread and ice cold Red Stripe beer.
2 I was the 2nd woman to land on Rockall – by 5 minutes. The first woman went on Woman’s Hour to talk about it! But GPD and I are pretty sure we were the first people to dive with sharks at Rockall.
3 I did the Nevis River race in 1979 or 80, with a crazy bunch of mountaineering friends. We had to hurl ourselves into a raging torrent clutching a lilo, shoot the rapids and jump over the waterfall Continue reading →
A week or so ago I was on the Menai Straits in Wales inspecting the underside of boulders. As you do. More of that another time, I hope. I came home to find, amongst the usual glut of emails, one telling us that Ken Farrow, a fellow diver and long time friend, had died suddenly, probably whilst I was wandering the Zostera beds of Foryd Bay. He had surfaced from a dive with his wife Alison, off the wild and spectacular Noup Head on Orkney, climbed onto the rocks nearby and simply gone to sleep. It may be the way to go, but what a gap he has left behind.