One fish, two fish, red fish, blackfish.

There’s a documentary film I’m going to watch on TV tonight.  It’s called Blackfish, and it discusses the story surrounding an orca kept in a SeaWorld theme park that gained notoriety from his involvement in the deaths of three individuals.  It’s showing tonight at 9pm (GMT) on BBC4 in the UK, or you can watch the trailer here and download the rest of the film from various sources.

blackfish As dolphin encounters are an item that often features highly on “bucket lists” and “things to do before you…” lists, I think its quite important for participants to be fully informed and aware of the wider impacts of their choices.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about the film and the issues it raises, or whether you’ve visited a SeaWorld theme park or had an encounter with cetaceans in a captive environment.  Don’t miss it!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

The theme for this week’s Photo Challenge is layers, which made me think of the shore at Hellnar, near the tip of the Snaefellsnes peninsula in Iceland.  The black basalt rocks are washed by the surf rolling in from the North Atlantic, exposing the layers created by many subsequent flows of lava from the Snaefell volcano.  Constant pounding by the sea smooths the sharp edges, leaving ribbony waves of rock.

Layers of basalt on Valasnös natural arch, Hellnar

The cliffs and natural arch of Valasnös, at the eastern end of the bay, look particularly gnarled and twisted, with sharp shards and layers that catch the light and reflections from the water.  Higher up, mosses and sea pinks take hold in tiny nooks and kittiwakes nest on narrow ledges.  Out in the green water of the bay, sleek seals watch you watching them with their deep dark eyes.

The Weekly Photo Challenge can be found here.

Travel Theme: Connections

This week’s Travel Theme suggested by Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack? is connections.

Draken’s Rigging

My photo is a rather literal interpretation, showing the connections of the styrbord vente (starboard shrouds) on Drakan Harald Hårfagre, part of the standard rigging that holds the mast in position.  Reconstructions and replica ships like Drakan allow experimental archeologists the opportunity to rediscover the skills and knowledge of ancient seafarers and navigators, make predictions and test theories.  They strengthen our connection to the past.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

I’m cheating a little with this week’s Photo Challenge theme.  Instead of showing something that is a habit, this picture is showing something I’m about to make a habit.

IMG_2068In 20 weeks time, I’m going to be lining up at the start of the 2014 London Marathon.  I received notification at the end of last week that I have a charity place running for Whizz-Kids, an organisation that provides wheelchairs and mobility vehicles for children, and campaigns on their behalf to provide access to facilities.

I’ve been going to a military-style bootcamp fitness session twice a week for a month or so, and have just started running three times a week.  I’ll build up my distances over the next few months, and try out other types of training too.  Now to make sure it becomes a habit that sticks.

How to Train your Dragon, Part 3.

Foul weather sailing.  Photo by Peder Jacobsson.

Making a tack or a gybe in Drakan is hard work for the crew involved, especially when we’re beating our way up a narrow fjord and changing direction every 10 minutes or so. The ship can’t run as close to the wind as a modern sailing ship, so we have to make tighter zigzags, taking much longer to cover the forward distance. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

This week’s Photo Challenge theme was eerie.  And I knew exactly what I wanted to show in my picture, one of the knotted old “Granny” pines on the edge of  Rushmere Country Park, just a short walk from my flat.

However, I think the eerieness of the subject depends very much on the conditions.  The park sits in a frost pocket, and temperatures are always a few degrees colder there.  Cold mist builds up in the valley between dusk and dawn, making a perfect eerie backdrop to the knurled trees sitting on the side of the hill.

Granny Tree at Dusk
Granny Tree at Dusk, Rushmere Country Park

But the weather hasn’t been favourable this week.  It’s been far too bright and sunny to feel spooky and too warm at night to create swirling icy-cold mist, so the tree just looks a tiny bit creepy rather than eerie.