Monday 26 July 2021

Stella Maris

That morning we’d been anchored up, round in Mount’s Bay;
Fuel filters had been on the blink, and Knut and Ove looked none too bright
Hunched over coffee in the mess, after an all-nighter.
The forecast by now was looking grim, but we got under way;
Sheltering’s all very well, but you don’t get paid
For fannying around. Beyond Wolf Rock the swells
flung into scudding spindrift. By dusk the wind was off the scale
And us hove to against it. Boy never left the helm, and laid
The bows into the waves that boiled around us.
Below, the crash of crockery and crew came from the mess;
Up here, the groaning in the rigging was the only sound,
A crazy sort of calm in the storm's eye, but calm of sorts it was.
Crackling on Channel 16. Hans, his face lit by the radar
Murmured “Freighter. They're in trouble back there.”

I wrote this about my first trip at sea, on seismic survey vessel Karen Bravo. We were transiting from Germany to Fleetwood in Lancashire, and the evening of 19th December 1981 found us off Land's End in the ferocious storm that saw the destruction of freighter Union Star and the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne, and their crews and passengers.

I was thinking about that night, yesterday when I heard that RNLI crews have been attacked after being criticised by the likes of Nigel Farage for saving the lives of migrants rescued from the Channel. 

The painting at the top is a night view off Fraserburgh, from when we used to run in to shelter there during filthy weather in North Sea winters.

Sunday 25 July 2021

the launch of the Archangel's Way at Belstone, 31st July

The Archangel's Way is a new pilgrim route that winds round the north side of Dartmoor from Brentor to Chagford, I've been doing lots of drawing for the folk down there, and this picture of St Mary's church at Belstone is the latest. And it's at Belstone that the route is being officially launched, on 31st July, with all sorts of activities on offer. Here's the link to some more info on it.

Sunday 4 July 2021

putting the Grand Western Canal on the map

Maps are potent things in modelling our view of the world. We see it chiefly through the lens of the Mercator's Projection we had on the classroom wall at school. Britain centre top, northern hemisphere uppermost. 

Some folk don't quite get that a map is a model and not the thing itself. Its purpose is to transfer information. The London shown in the Underground map is famously different to the actual terrain. But it does an excellent job of getting you onto the right train.

I knew that when I published my map of the canal network, I'd get the mutterers-into-pewter-tankards, of whom there is absolutely no shortage on the cut, cavilling and carping about things they thought I'd missed out.

This is all very much par for the course. And such cavillings and carpings were made and responded to, if not to the satisfaction of the cavillers and carpers, at least to my own.

More bothersome was an organised pile-on on my Facebook page from enraged Tivertonians, for whom Fridays are obviously not a busy day. They quite rightly pointed out that the Great Western Canal, a short stretch of which remains extant in the vicinity of that Devon town, was not only missing from the map, but hidden under the title.  

I in turn pointed out that I'd omitted lots of small and unconnected canals and waterways in the interests of clarity and relevance.

They did get quite hostile, not just about my map but my personal qualities.

So I have obliged them with a map of their very own.

I'm sure the Grand Western Canal is lovely.  And the Angry People in Local Newspapers Syndrome is not peculiar to Tiverton.