And now for the weather…

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. A quote that can be variously attributed to Sir Ranulph Finnes, Alfred Wainwright, Roald Amundsen*, and my Granny Mac. That the worst the elements can throw at you can be repelled with a good waterproof layer on the outside and some warm, cosy underlayers. And it’s true, mostly, except when the weather actually is bad.

Weather forecast for 0900 Monday 11th August 2014. From

As we left Peel on the Isle of Man, skies were clear, the sun shining and the wind was just right to take us north. Meanwhile, out in the Atlantic Ocean a weather front was moving eastward towards the British Isles, strengthened what was left of Hurricane Bertha after the storm battered into the islands of the Caribbean. A wave of strong wind and heavy rain were forecast to sweep over the UK and Ireland, with several weather warnings issued across the country. Continue reading


Worse Things Happen at Sea

Sunset over Shetland, as Draken Harald Hårfargre approaches Burray Sound.

Sometimes things just don’t go they way they’re planned. In my imagination, I see Draken bearing down toward Bressay lighthouse, flying before the wind, red sail glowing in the golden sunset, arriving in Shetland like the Viking ships of old. We make a tack to round South Ness and enter Bressay Sound. Approaching Lerwick we start to lower the sail and kai in the rå, drawing one end of the massive yard holding the top of the sail under the shrouds. As we come alongside the quay, we pack up the sail and coil sheets and lines, making ready to put up the foredeck tent. We step ashore in the simmer dim, the twilight of a northern summer.

At least we got the sunset. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

Selfie was nominated as the word of the year last year by Oxford Dictionaries, narrowly beating bitcoin and twerk.  I’m not really a selfie-taking type of person, or even someone who will ask others to take pictures of me.  In fact, I rarely take pictures with any people in them.  It has to be quite an exceptional situation for me to think about it.  Like this one.

On the side of Pen-y-Fan, Brecon Beacons.

I know, its a terrible picture.  You’d barely recognise me from it.  You’d barely recognise anyone from it.  That’s because the phone I took the picture on was in a waterproof cover, and the rain was so heavy it was running over the screen, over my hand and down the sleeve of my jacket.  But as the wind was blowing the rain down my face and neck, and down the front of my jacket, I didn’t notice it too much.

I couldn’t really see the screen either, as my eyelashes were filled with windblown rain.  And the wind was so strong, it felt like nails on my skin.  Gusts were pushing me off my feet.

I love the mountains.

The weekly photo challenge can be found here.

12 Days of Christmas #2: Dreaming of a White Christmas?

It’s been a busy day today, but I’ still no further along with my Christmas preparations.  This morning I joined a volunteer group that my boyfriend manages for their winter conservation task.  While they got stuck into coppicing, I built a fire and cooked jacket potatoes for everyone.  Then this evening I went to work, helping out at Glow in the Park, a night run event at Eton Dorney.

Standing in the dark at the finish line, in the wind and rain, I started thinking about white Christmases. Continue reading

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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Looking south from Rackwick, Orkney

The line where the sea appears to touch the sky.  To an observer of my height, standing at on the shore, the horizon lies just less than 5km away.  But sitting back on the pink sandstone cobblestones of Rackwick bay the distance drops, and the cliffs of Caithness disappear below the horizon.

The Weekly Photo Challenge can be found here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

The theme of this week’s challenge is Saturated.

Stormy Skies on the Hardangerfjord

Clouds form when the air is saturated with water vapour, which can happen in two ways.  Either the amount of water in the air is increased, such as through evaporation, and the air cannot hold anymore water, or the air is cooled to the dew point and water vapour begins to condense.