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Puffin Island
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

This bank holiday weekend in the UK was not the best weather, but Alun and I still managed some respectable and fun climbing in the nearby slate quarries, and on Monday Gemma and I went on a little jaunt to the very pretty Puffin Island. Gemma and I disagree as to who is the bad omen, but the fact remains that whenever we go paddling together, the wind howls! Monday was no exception, but we didn't actually mind because it kicked up a few fun waves in the race between the island and the mainland.

Puffin Island, off the NW tip of Anglsey, doesn't contain so many puffins after rats were released onto this very special refuge, but a few years ago the rats were exterminated and the odd pair of puffins has been seen since. There are also lots of other nesting birds, like shags and kitiwakes, and it's a fantastic place to see seals. They are very curious here and will come right up to the kayak and even play with your paddle. I've already got some good underwater shots of Trys there with my minicam, but this time I carted my big camera with it's bulky housing to the island in the hope of some top quality underwater shots. I should have known that with Gemma there, it would be a bit too rough, and the rocks that the seals usually laze on were being bombarded by waves. Still, we made a quick circuit of the very cute island and made our way back to the 0.5km race which separates it from the mainland. It was a challenge surfing with the housing rattling around in my cockpit, but also a lot of fun! Just what the doctor ordered to clear away the cobwebs.

V.I.Ps at Silverstone GP Masters!!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006


They say that variety is the spice of life, and Gemma and I certainly did something a bit different last weekend! My father managed to get us V.I.P. tickets for the 'GP Masters' race at Silverstone ( thank you dad) . I don't know much about motor racing, but I now know that this event is a new concept where every driver has exactly the same car and tyres - so it's a level playing field for once. It was also a wet playing field on Sunday when former grand prix winners and legends like Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi, Eddie Cheever, Riccardo Patrese & Derek Warwick did 30 laps of the track with plenty of spins, collisions and overtaking to keep even a seakayaker like me entertained! I have always dismissively walked past a TV showing motor racing but I found that being at Silverstone, soaking in the atmosphere was pretty special. We also got to go and stand on the track just before the race when the drivers first come onto the track in their grid formation. I'm not sure what the drivers think to about 100 people crowding around their cars just before the race, but we certainly enjoyed being there. I felt sorry for the 'GP masters girls' though, who had to stand there in high heels and very little else holding up a sign as the British weather decided to deliver a sharp shower. They also weren't allowed to flinch as the cars drove to within inches of their stilletos. I was quite smug and comfortable in my waterproof North Face shoes and coat!!

Gemma and I started to watch the race from the media room which had a great view of the startline, and a TV screen showing the race. Then after just 1 lap Nigel Mansell drove his car back into the pit right underneath us, so we went down into the pit and watched the mechanics try to sort it out. Nigel just sat in his car looking serious ( as you would!) although Gemma reckons he looked at us once!! He finally went back out, but his car spun around wildly about 3 times and looked really out of control at which point he realised that the differential had gone ( at least I think that's what he said as I don't know much about cars either!). He came back into the pit and this time, walked away from the car. We watched the second half of the race from the VIP tent with my dad over a delicious lunch. We happened to be on a table with 'Roger Cook' and his wife. Roger stars in an investigative TV series, and is known for door-stepping slippery characters and giving them a hard time. I'm proud to say that as I brought back my 4th and final plate of food (exotic fruit this time!), he congratulated me on how much I could eat!! Also eating in the 'posh tent' were some of the drivers, the commentator Murray Walker, the singer Beverley Knight, one of the band members from Faithless and probably lots of other well-known people that I didn't recognise. The day ended with a concert by Katie Melua, the biggest selling female artist in Britain. Again I couldn't believe that we were standing right below the stage, no more than 10 metres away from her and her band playing some really great music. And we didn't have to fight to be there ( I'm getting old and prefer not to have to use my elbows to preserve my place!)

I hope I don't sound too much like I'm gloating! The whole day was a pretty amazing experience and I suppose I am gloating a bit! I'd still chose my trusty seakayak over a racing car though.

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More Faroe Photos
Tuesday, August 08, 2006

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