Insignificant Us

15 04 2013

It seems that mother nature has dominated my Florida based weekend somewhat…

It began with a very poor decision on my part. Having been faced with a cold and never ending winter, I thought it would be a good idea to receive some sun. To give a healthier glow to my pasty skin. The sun worship was to be combined with another passion of mine, fishing. So me and a colleague set off in a canoe on the Indian River towards a sand bar island. Gliding through the water so quiet we were almost spectral. Especially against the legions of high powered jet skis and motor boats screaming past.

Reaching the island we disembarked and began to set up. Feeling the warmth of the sun beating down on us, reflecting upon the water it was a picture postcard scene. Wading into the warm water we began to fish using lobster sized shrimp as bait. Letting my eyes wander, I observed a fish eagle dive down to claim it’s lunch. Then majestically soaring up and away. I had no bites so moved down to an emerging arm of the island. Moving into the water again, it’s warm waves lapping around my thighs I saw a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins within 3 meters of me. As they came to the surface I saw their silky skin catching the sunlight. Awestruck I observed them moving away. Now the sun was affecting me somewhat because at that point I became a little paranoid. I kept imagining a shark based shape rushing toward me. It’s beady little eyes fixated on my meaty (muscle of course) thighs. Luckily I remained in one piece for the remainder of the ‘expedition’.

Moving to the next part of this story, my colleague mentioned casually ‘You got some sun there‘. Ahh yes, that would explain the burning sensation on my arms and neck. Let me tell you, even a cold shower after sunburn is painful. Also I will answer the question you are dying to ask. I see you raising your hand, patiently waiting to interject. No, I did bloody not put suncream on. Consequently I both look and feel like a lobster. Admittedly a lobster that has been half cooked with a t shirt tan. The pain is incredible and I think I will have a bath in Aloe Vera gel.

Cue the next day…

It seems that Mother Nature was not quite finished with me. I have recently set up Google Cards on my phone and tablet. Whilst mostly annoying today they proved to be of interest. My devices started to go a little crazy as various weather warnings got issued. Not only severe thunderstorms but also a tornado watch. Wait a second, aren’t they the spinney things that destroy entire towns in Oklahoma? So began a mental preparation cycle in my head. The first thought was…WTF do I do in a tornado? I have almost seen one in the UK, but it fizzled out before hitting the ground. I think it was strong enough to ruffle feathers on a bird. Consequently the concept of a giant twister tearing it’s way through the hotel car park is alien to me. How should I handle this? WWMcGD (What Would McGyver Do) ? Well I thought hiding in the corner and crying like a girl was an option. However common sense kicked in and my thoughts were directed towards the stair well. Secure, no windows and a way to get the f–k out if I needed.

Luckily the threat of twister based carnage has now passed. I did however enjoy some amazing lightning shows as the storm rolled past to the north. I considered how weak we are. This strong dominant race of the Earth. Burnt to pain by our life-giver. Swept away in an instant by our necessary winds. Anyway I recommend just having a plan in mind if you become faced with the possibility of an extreme weather scenario. Allow your plan to be flexible and change with the situation.

Mother nature simply reminds us sometimes, you are not in charge…I am.



Message in a bottle

14 08 2012

We live in an increasingly complex world. Technology invades virtually every aspect of our lives. Gone are the days when you can “switch off”, disconnecting yourself from the hubbub and the chaos. If I choose not to answer an email, text message, or a phone call it’s like the world is ending! Now in a wonderfully ironic twist of fate, I am very “techy”. I enjoy my tech, I enjoy hacking, I enjoy playing on my PS3. Technology really does bring a new dimension into my life. Incidentally I refuse to even acknowledge the term “Geeky” as it seems to have been adopted by the media, and is used ad nauseum to describe anyone wearing glasses who likes computers !

Despite being a self confessed technophile, I enjoy the disconnection. There is a wholesome feeling in doing a manual task, building something, repairing something or even creating something. During my last visit to Florida I was discussing (for some unknown reason) casting notes into the sea with a dear friend. This seemed like such a cool thing to do…and I vowed to do it with my daughter upon my return.

So upon the aforementioned return, under the glare of a rare Summer sight (the British sun) the little one and I began to furiously scribble our notes to a stranger. My daughter is 6, and was super-excited at the prospect of a stranger and their little girl opening the bottle and finding her note. I explained carefully how it could be years before someone finds it and replies to the email address. Yes Tech even invaded this escapade ! She was unperturbed by this and wanted to do it regardless.

We wrote our notes on the rear of photocopied recipes. I figured that someone could read the notes, be inspired, then make a nice cheesecake ! Notes written, rolled and gently placed inside our wine bottles I screwed the cap on as tight as possible. We made our way towards the River Mersey in Liverpool (Albert Dock). The sun was beating down, it was glorious. People were relaxing in the sun, watching the world drift on by. Soon they would be watching our bottles drift along on the outgoing tide.

I must have looked like a really irresponsible parent, wandering along…6 year old in tow…carrying a plastic bag containing two empty wine bottles ! What tickled me the most was my daughter’s complete apprehension regarding our exploits. She was really concerned about littering and getting into trouble. I had quite the cavalier attitude and simply said “Nawww, just hoike it in hun” ! I accosted someone who looked in danger of relaxing too much to take a picture of us both.

The moment had come. Like I was hurling a Molotov cocktail into a bunch of marauding zombies, I hefted my bottle into the sky. My daughter followed suit, with a suitably satisfying grunt as she threw it. Both landed on the water with a very apologetic and quiet English “SPLAT”.

Our destiny was cast into the water. We watched our bottles slowly make their way towards the river mouth. Out into the Irish Sea, perhaps further afield than the Atlantic Ocean. Who knows where the bottles will end up ? Will they stay together, will they drift apart ? Will they be smashed against the rocks of some far off shore ? Will a child find it in 10 years time and be inspired to write about, as I was…who knows ?

Strikes me as ironic how a simple act of putting a note in a bottle, and throwing it into water can be compared to path that we weave through life.

Who knows…

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Incidentally for obvious reasons names and faces of the innocent have been removed !

Going Native

19 05 2012

Firstly, if there are spelling mistakes in this post that even a moribund frog would be ashamed of…let me apologize in advance. I am writing this from my phone, and this is the first post from said phone. So, if the phone makes it through this in one piece…its a good day indeed.

My location is a little different from my last series of entries. In fact, I would say a world away. I am sat in a busy bar in Palm Bay, Florida. Two week ago I was in Vietnam, also sat in a bar. Well, several as I recall…I think !

The difference between the locations is light years apart…

I come out to my employers HQ here roughly every two months. Each time I try to think of something to blog about here. Each time I draw a blank. It just isn’t very inspiring here. I started a blog entry called “A Cliché On Every Corner”, and that’s what America represents to me.

Let me explain my rationale some more. If I blindfolded you and took you to a busy road in the US. Removed the blindfold and let you observe the vista, then replaced it. Transported you 500 miles away and repeated the experiment…you would believe that you were in the same town. This is due to the proliferation of the same brands and corporate logos everywhere. I know that this is similar to the rest of the world..but it is sensory overload here.

Walk/drive/meander down any road and your senses are bombarded with neon signs, billboards or even people spinning sale signs. After the low key adverts in ‘Nam, it leaves me breathless.

So, sitting in a generic bar drinking generic beer..anywhere in America I ponder upon a question. Why do I find America so endearing ? Why do I enjoy coming here, and then wonder why I enjoy it ?

It’s the people.

The world views American’s in a unique way. Almost like the petulant spolit child stamping it’s feet to get it’s own way. However I think you need to dig a little deeper, scratch beneath the brash exterior to discover the soft underbelly of the populace.

We all have the same worries, we all care for our families and worry about where the next pound, dollar, sheckle is coming from. American’s just do it in a different way to everyone else. Admittedly in a much more noisy ‘high fiving’ kind of way.

They are brash, they are childish and by God they are noisy…but I enjoy the company of American’s.

Incidentally, I think my next motorcycle tour will be Route 66.


PS I can really recommend The Broken Barrel Tavern in Palm Bay. They are ‘educated’ in quality beers. A rare breed indeed !

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