Thursday, December 27, 2007
When the Tsunami swept across the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day (2004) and hundreds of thousands of people died, I was on board a cruise ship visiting the Antarctic Peninsula.
For about three days the vessel was out of contact with the world and when the news of the catastrophe filtered through it was sparce and limited.
Last night on TV I watched a documentaries about the Tsunami and through home videos taken at the time, I witnessed something of the full horror of that event.
The power of the sea, when unleashed, is a force to be seen to be believed.
I take this opportunity to spare a Christmas thought for those who lost so much, and those who still carry the mental scars of that event.
"Billy Ruffian" (The Bellerophon and the downfall of Napoleon - the biography of a ship of the line 1782-1836) by David Cordingly.
The Bellerophon's career spanned 50 years.
She was launched on the Medway in 1786, a 74 gunner which fought at The Battle of the Glorious First of June, The battle of the Nile, and at Trafalgar.
But one of her finest hours was when she transported Napoleon, with due dignity on his 'surrender', from France to England.
The Bellerophon's ignominious end, like that of so many other proud ships, was as a prison hulk, before being condemned to the breakers' yard.
This is a non-fiction, well researched account which reads like the pages of a sea story.
Billy Ruffian is the affectionate name given to the ship by the seamen who sailed on her.
For lovers of books of naval heroes, I would highly recommend the biography of the Bellorophon.
Available from Amazon UK
".....So to all of you at Christmas, I wish you Yule-tide cheer
As I read my Mr. Dickens there’s one true voice I hear
That dear old man, that Mr Scrooge, astute – no not a mug
He, only he, had got it right, Christmas is - Humbug!"
These are the last few lines of a poem I wrote and posted in December 2006.
Well, a fair bit has changed in my life since then.
My new life in Tassie is looking good.
Perhaps next year I will write a poem and leave out the 'Humbug'!
Happy Christmas to one and all.
Monday, December 03, 2007
I've never ridden a horse before (if you don't count the donkeys on Scarborough beach), so the idea of a half-day ride in the Cradle Mountain foothills appealed to me.
Having my grandson, Jake, visit me, was a great excuse to do something I had wanted to do for a long time.
It was great!
The horses were placid and walked most of the time.
I was suprised how steep the gradients were but we made it and the views were magnificent.
Haing done it once, I must do it again one day.
And it will all help if I ever get back to writing my Patagonia story.
Photo: Jacob and his mount taken when we stopped for morning tea
No, I am not in Scotland!
Ben Lomond is in the north east of Tasmania and this was my first visit.
I was told there were snowfields at the top (in winter), but didn't realise the road to the top of the mountain was a zig-zag gravel track with a sheer drop at the side.
Not being a braveheart when it comes to heights, I only made it to the first bend (you can see where I left the car).
Just as well, as the road ahead was shrouded in cloud and there had been a minor rock fall higher up.
Not to be outdone, my grandson and I climbed to the top.
Wow! what a view!
Photo: The road up Ben Lomond
Photo: "It's neither at the bottom and neither at the top..."