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A lament

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004

I am in shock. I do not believe that I did not last more than a week. You have no idea what this has meant to me. Nobody could possibly have.

I am sitting in front of the computer, typing in a daze. I have spent the better part of two days in bed, but it is time to lay off the valium. It is not the solution. I have to try to face the enormity of what just happened, although I cannot take it in yet — just in tiny little bits. At least there are no more secrets in this blog. I have nothing to lose by talking freely.
[read on]


Thursday, July 8th, 2004

And so it remained until now — no sightings. Last year no whales were seen until mid-July but after that there were several hundred sightings so all is not lost.

I have to vacate Ard’s sole internet computer quickly, I’m not the only user. Some other German wants on-line, so this has got to be quick. No time for stories.

I can’t say that I am not stressed. The wind is wearing us down and chills us to the bone. The software we use, a beta version of CYCLOPES, is full of quirks and designed for real time data entry which makes entry from the forms difficult. Entry from forms is necessary because the labtop is not practical in the field and has a battery life of 1h (we watch for 10h each day).

There are problems. But there are also solutions. We are acclimatising. I feel less tired. The whales will come.

So long.

Minks and seals – but no minkes

Sunday, July 4th, 2004

The first day in the field. Everybody is still fast asleep but it doesn’t matter as the visibility is bad. The sea is topped with white foam caps. I watch a wall of cloud roll in from the South. By 8:30, the sea has disappeared in a rainy mist. The foghorn sounds its wake-up call.
[read on]

Journey to Adrnamurchan

Saturday, July 3rd, 2004

We are roasting nicely in the sun while waiting for the ferry from Tobermory to Ard.
[read on]

Access in Ard

Saturday, July 3rd, 2004

I was right, access in Ard is difficult. There is a little computer in the community centre which we can use, but it is a good hour by bicycle and time will be short. Hence, this blog will be updated erratically and Africa stories will have to wait a while.

Expect updates on the lighthouse blog about once a week-ten days.


Friday, July 2nd, 2004

The Great Scottish Lightshow here on Mull is even better than in Stirling!
The golden evening sun picks up spots of green on the hills or islets in the bay. Wherever there is a dusting of rain or a balling of clouds, it paints it in pastel rainbows which look georgeous but the diffraction is probably going to play buggery with our theodolite readings.

Tobermory Bay is lined with colourful houses painted red, blue, pink and yellow. From the window in the YHA I can see across a forest of sailing boat masts reflected in the ripples of sky and woody hills to the pub where I will meet the other volunteers. After a short briefing in the office, it is now time for some bonding.

We have to sort out provisions. When I said that the clunking of glass in my rucksack were jars of spices, the others looked a little surprised. Fresh fruit and veg are a little scarce on the ground — garlic is nearly a quid a head — but there is a local butcher offering home-cured bacon, highland beef and venison, so we’ll be OK if the others aren’t all vegetarians. Else, it is going to be pulses, rice and seaweed curry!

Access on Ard truly is limited. I am currently typing against a clock in the Tobermory youth hostel’s internet setup and it won’t let me upload any pictures to show you how beautiful it is here.

Bye for the next few days!


Wednesday, May 5th, 2004

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is a charity monitoring whales and dolphins around the Hebrides in Scotland, educating the public about marine life and conversation in general and cetaceans in particular. Much of the monitoring work is carried out by volunteers, backed by a small staff of education- and project officers.

I was thrilled to secure a volunteer position on a land-based minke whale survey project for four weeks, starting at the end of August. No sooner had I said “yes” to this that an e-mail arrived with a proposal to spend the entire three months survey period as a volunteer project-supervisor!

I said yes, so with luck I will be ensconced in a lighthouse in Ardnamurchan at the western-most point of the British mainland from July to September.
[read on]