Thursday, November 30, 2017

Turning young people onto good stories

School holidays in my neighbourhood - and probably over most of the UK - are heralded by the parental cry, 'What to do with the kids?'
Those lucky enough to have retired parents who dote on the little ones are truly
blessed. But for most, the answer from Dover to Durness seems to be to turn on the telly. The negative effect, the waste, of hours and hours before the box doesn't seem to be considered.
It's about easy answers, about parental escape.
However, a far better idea comes from a library 11,800 miles from London.
The Summer Reading Challenge, sponsored by Southland District Libraries, almost as far south as you can go in New Zealand, well, in the inhabited world, is a marvellous alternative to wasting away the holiday lives of young people.

Explore stories

The library's new competition which begins now has enormous appeal. It's such a great idea. Read! Limit screen time!
What children in Invercargill and the Southland province are being encouraged to do is to get reading, to get exploring books.
And the library offers an enormous number of them, and in a great variety of forms.
Readers can download e-books and e-audiobooks, or pop into one of their eight libraries, or mobile book bus, and borrow great books.

The library says, 'Enter as a family and share the reading - a great idea for families wanting to limit screen time these holidays!'

The great pleasure of reading

I live in a wealthy metropolis that has been closing its libraries. And yet this far away part of the world is not bowing to the attraction of IT gadgets and the box, but encouraging the use of its libraries, and the great pleasure of reading.
Continues on the blogs for my 8,000-mile adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, here at

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Smoke gets in your eyes ... hopefully

It’s not easy being in government. You want people to support the Brexit plan. (Blimey, they voted for it, didn't they?) Well, they must know that the plans you have in mind will be good for them. Full stop.
Why on earth would voters need to know anything about what might be in the plans?
Wanting answers all the time surely goes against the principles of democracy. After all, you are the government, a v e r y busy government without the time to tell everyone about everything.
And the government deserves to be trusted to do the right thing for them, or us, or somebody.
Smokescreens are an excellent way to divert unnecessary curiosity. So, as befits a good government, there’ve been enough of them recently to challenge oxygen breathers in most electorates. Importantly, they’ve kept the newspapers happy.
There have been those torrid boys-will-be-boys shocks, when males in important, er, roles in public life dared to respond to modern misses in modern little-for-the-imagination styles.

Touched a knee!

One outrage sent up a very dark bellow of smoke – it involved a dreadful fellow who actually touched the knee of one of the innocent gender.
Others expressed signs to maidens of an interest in mating. Filthy brutes.
The smoke was clearing but the Irish helped with some little Gaelic smoke emissions culminating in an important resignation by … well, who remembers yesterday’s news today.
A cry went up for more smoke and the royals came to the rescue ...
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventure sailing book, Sailing to Purgatory, here at

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sane men are racing to reach a true Hell on Earth

As a friend set off in the ARC ocean race the other day, it was odd to imagine a fleet of racing boats brimful with yachtsmen dead keen to arrive in St Lucia's hellish nightmare bay.
The Admiralty chart names it Rodney Bay. It's the finish line of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, under way at this very moment.
Yachts of a huge variety take part, including really pricey, honed-up jobs like Gavin's and the Sparkman and Steven's sloop, Altair, skippered by Clinton Bolton, which arrived as the clear winner yesterday.
Gavin's yacht, Clarelsa, an Oyster 72, skippered by Nigel Martin, is running second, but at the time of writing still had 265 miles to go.
If the finish line is how I knew it on my 'swallowing the anchor' voyage, I'd say turn away while you are still 265 miles from insanity.

Awash with hospitality

Gavin and the fleet is heading to the bay because it is the finish line, and even now is probably awash with hospitality, hospitality introduced by the visiting support teams, and sufficient of it hopefully to soften the aggression of the most vicious team of Customs I experienced in many a long year at sea.
However, it's true that the ruthlessness of the people who prosecuted me in UK would certainly take some matching.
Here's some of the welcome that awaited me, taken from my ocean adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, out now and available - pretty please - for Christmas. In this extract, the customs' gang climbs on board in Rodney Bay... Continues on

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

You really must go down to the sea

A friend said this afternoon, 'You reckon we'd all be doing ourselves a favour by going to sea and enjoying the world from a different perspective. But look at the number of people swallowed up by the ocean recently.
'There's the yacht sailor who was swept into the sea in a round the world race,
which you'd put on your blog site.
'And what about the Argentinian submariners, dying somewhere down on the ocean bottom?' He offered a link to the Sun newspaper site where the latest news of the tragedy is posted.
The newspaper reports, 'Ships, including the Royal Navy's HMS Protector, are said to have been sent to the area to see if signals came from the (Argentinian Navy sub) San Juan.

False alarms

'But they have now reportedly confirmed the signals were false alarms.'
And as I reported, Brit sailor Simon Speirs in the current Clipper Round the World Race went by the board and sadly didn't survive.
Yes, the ocean, even the seas around our shores, can be dangerous places, no less swimming pools if you leap into the deep end if you can't swim. However, prepare to discover the magic of the world out beyond the beach and I suggest that it will be rather more interesting and exciting than the screens of mobile phones and tablets offers.
However, no reason why you shouldn't take the gadgetry with you, when the pleasure of both aspects of our lives can be enjoyed.
Continues of the blogs for my oceanic adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, here >>>> at