The girl showed True Grit!
Posted Feb 8, 2005
8th February 2005
Yesterday evening at 10.29pm GMT Ellen MacArthur became the fastest round the world single handed sailor ever, and a girl and British to boot
Having taken time out from other things to watch on TV as Ellen MacArthur brought her trimaran triumphantly in to Falmouth, I am stunned at her courage and endurance, indeed True Grit. This was such a massive undertaking for such a tiny human being and I am delighted she has had such spectacular success.
To break a record only a year old, which looked to stand for years to come, is some achievement. I didn't follow her on the Internet because my computer is too slow on a heavily overloaded web site, but I caught up with her progress on TV.
Now (almost )a Dame, I find it rather pathetic that some people say she didn't do it on her own - she had all this technology at her disposal, and a huge support team back home. But they were exactly that - Back Home
None of that was any use when she had to climb up the damaged mast in atrocious conditions, when the generator broke down, when she hit her head, or burned herself. None of them were there to her when she was utterly drained and exhausted, or to help with the sail changes, or fight the storms.
None of them helped her avoid a collision with an iceberg or a whale. She did all that, and 27,000 miles of sailing ALONE. All that technology entailed a lot of extra work, gave her virtually no privacy and would have been little help if things had really gone wrong.
Nothing should be allowed to take away from the sheer grit, physical and mental strength, dedication and determination she has shown over the last two and a half months. Yes, she does it because she wants to, but I am sure it has advanced the science of boatbuilding, given valuable information about the need for sleep and a very good idea of just what a healthy human body CAN do.
Like thousands of others both in Falmouth and round the world, and via the Internet, I felt very, very proud of her and for her parents. The relief for them must be enormous.
Frogs, litter and fly tipping!
Posted Feb 6, 2005
6th February 2005
Yesterday, I spent the morning on a Litter Pick. Except it was rather more than litter WHY oh, why do people think that because a lane has no traffic through it they can drop their rubbish, or worse, dump their rubbish at will
While helping clear two lorry loads of rubbish (don't ask!) we tried to remove five plastic dustbin bags full of rubbish which had become embedded in the soil, only to find two families of frogs, with dozens of froglets, in residence.
As they were obviously cosy and thriving we put the bags back to be cleared later in the year when the frogs depart. Strange how some wildlife adapts to gain advantage from human waste!
However, many others suffer dreadfully from rubber bands, taken as worms by the birds , the plastic bands round drink cans which strangle small mammals. Yoghurt pots, cans and bottles etc. which offer enticing tasty morsels, trapping them inside etc.
Hadn't got a hedgehog smiley, but they suffer dreadfully. Not to mention that plastic, metal and glass does not break down and in the case of the first two, they poison the soil. Glass can cause fires in hot dry weather too. In addition this is close to and alongside a river and the rubbish causes blockages and subsequent flooding.
Following the Save the Albatross voyage I came across disturbing information about the effects on seabirds, of plastic floating in the sea. It really is quite an eye opener:
Many people think that we should not do voluntary litter picks as we pay the Council to do that, but they have an insurmountable job to do, and in view of the effects on wildlife, I think we should all take some responsibility for clearing it.
Of course, it would be so much better if people, grown up, not just young people, didn't dump the rubbish in the first place. I felt quite ashamed to find a bidet, car tyres, toilets, garden rubbish, building waste etc. dumped among the cans, bottles and crisp packets. Now, children aren't doing that - so what an example to set to our children
for the rant, but I had to get it off my chest, and oddly enough we enjoyed it. Several members of the local community came out to help the Council Wardens etc. and we had a laugh. It looked so much better when we finished and once the Spring growth comes up it will look as it should - a lovely oasis of calm riverside habitat on the edge of a big city.
We hope to keep it that way, but we shouldn't have to do it.
Two English Roses bring Joy!
Posted Jan 26, 2005
26th January 2005
Today snail mail brought me much joy (instead of bills) in the form of TWO English Roses. Two beautiful ladies in quite different ways
My first English Rose - came in the form of a singer from the 60s. My CDs of Kathy Kirby songs arrived (such speed) and I have spent all day trying to ignore them as I SHOULD be doing other things However I have finally given in, and I am listening now .
To hear her voice again is lovely, and there are many songs I had almost forgotten. Isn't it brilliant how the brain stores all the words and tunes of songs "absorbed" ( not learnt) long ago. There are also a number I had not heard before. Some are very joyful, others sad, but reflections of such an innocent age For the uninitiated http://www.kathykirby.co.uk and the other thread F19585 Any comments about KK on the other thread please
My second English Rose - came in the form of a yacht called English Rose Vl. She returned to Scotland from a world voyage, to "Save the Albatross", in July 2004. This morning I received a lovely handwritten card from her skipper, veteran sailor John Ridgway, to whom I had written.
Again for the uninitiated: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A1127062
The card shows a lovely photo of English Rose Vl as she passed under the specially raised Tower Bridge in London on her return to the UK in June 2004. She looks so tiny, it really makes you realise what a feat this round the world voyage was! John and his wife Marie Christine are in the process of writing a book about their voyage and I am looking forward to that very much.
I felt so privileged to receive a handwritten message from a man I admire so much and I shall treasure it always.
So here's to my two English and for giving me a great day. Long may both prosper.
Words are Not Enough
Posted Jan 2, 2005
I have just watched an hour long programme on TV, updating what is happening in the Indian Ocean and showing snapshots of the reality of the situation. Many problems were raised which had not even occurred to me.
It struck me forcibly that there are no words left to describe adequately what is happening. Over the last few years we have made free use of of words that would now begin to describe the situation.
Disaster, horrific, trauma, tragedy, devastation, heroes and heroines have been exhaustively used. How can a football team being relegated be a tragedy, or a footballer or sportsperson be a hero or heroine(excluding the paralympians). Everyday miseries are described as traumas, everyone requires "closure" and must "move on". Who is going to be able to "counsel" returning families, having no real idea of what they have been through?
The real heroes and heroines are those working out there, many of them volunteers, living themselves in appalling conditions, seeing unimaginable sights 24/7. Some of them are holidaymakers who have stayed on to help. Many of them are just local people doing what they can - an 18 year old student helping to find and move hundreds of bodies - the list is endless.
How on earth do people involved in this ever find "closure" and "move on". I listened this evening to something that hadn't even occurred to me among all the emotional stuff. It will be hard enough to cope with not having found their loved ones, but once all hope is gone, there are the legal aspects of proving death, with no body.
Insurance, property issues, money, wills. In the UK will they have to wait seven years to declare someone missing believed dead, or has that changed in recent years? How do you move on in those circumstances?
I remember after losing family members I would occasionally "see" them in the street and my heart flipped, only to realise it was someone who looked or dressed like them. It passed because I knew the truth. For these people.............?
Amongst all that to read that two UK Government departments have delayed the sending of urgently needed equipment because neither can agree who will pay for it makes me
They are clearly very good at words and "spin" but when it comes to action they are
To Give or Not to Give, that is the question?!
Posted Dec 30, 2004
Like many HooToo posters, I have been horrified and upset by the scale of the disaster caused by the Tsunami in S.E. Asia. It is the biggest disaster in living memory and appears to be growing by the day.
Many of us want to give whatever we can, but I have been surprised and upset by the callous apathy among some of my acquaintances. Not because they cannot afford to give anything but because they just do not care!
I can understand not being able to afford anything. I can understand not being sure where to send money. We all choose what we support in general. After all we have seen the fiasco here in the UK with a Fund hurriedly set up to handle well meaning donations in a previous tragedy. It is natural to be wary. But this time there is surely no question that we must help in whatever way we can. The repercussions if we don't will affect us all.
What I cannot understand is that some people cannot put themselves in the shoes (if they have any!) of some of the poorest people in the world, or feel for those who have lost loved ones. Those who have identified and found their dead loved ones, those who have lost them, they know not where, and those waiting in agony at home, for news, any news! That is just the emotional trauma, with no mention of loss of income, home, business and belongings.
If you have anyone you care about it doesn't take much imagination to have an idea of how they feel, does it? Are the cynics just in denial? After all it is an astronomical thing to get your head around.
By denying or ignoring it, surely, it is a betrayal of all those people who died, and make no mistake, it has touched every region of the UK and almost every country in the world.
Aid rushed out to disasters willy nilly in the past has resulted in some spectacular like sending a container load of shoes, which when opened held shoes for one foot only, including some high heels!!! Perhaps it is best to leave it to organisations that have worked out there for years, know their way around, and know exactly what is needed. If that involves administration costs and overheads, then I would say that is unavoidable and a small price to pay to get the job done. They are also accountable in their country of origin and internationally.
Three other things occur to me. Those who were lucky enough to go home in one piece, or even with family members missing, must be shocked that the rest of the world carries on as if nothing has happened. Media wise will it be a nine day wonder relegated to page 48 of the papers? I hope not.
The second thing came to mind as a result of today's papers. Many, many children have lost parents either temporarily, or permanently and are orphans wandering the streets searching the rubble in the hope of finding them. They will be susceptible to any little kindness. PLEASE I hope there are charities who can round up these little ones and take care of them before the area become a magnet for those with an unhealthy interest in children, who will be only too willing to *befriend* them. I shudder to think.
The third thing is this - spare a thought for all the aid workers who have a monumental task ahead of them. Without the funding they will not be able to help. They will need support too. The horrors are surely more than flesh and blood can bear and they have a mountain to climb.
I am sorry if this has turned into a rant, but I have no-one else to talk to, who appears to have the least understanding of what I feel, or the desire to listen. I can't stand the indifference so I keep my mouth shut.
Thanks for "listening".
I am in no mood for smileys today except
Thursday 30th December 2004