Our New Baby is Grey

She's big.  Or she certainly seems big compared to the others in the playground.  Sorry, car park.

She's thirsty too.  Again, that's compared to the one we had before.  But she was much smaller, normal size really, and very economical.

She came with her own rattle.  It's on the roof. KariTek's finest.  

Sadly, Liz is down south looking after her Mum and it'll be next weekend before she sees our new baby.

2 Year Kayak Expedition to Photograph Wildlife

This astonishing image is taken by Daniel Belanger.  

He's embarking on a two-year expedition to snap shots of rarely photographed wildlife.  Much of the trip will be done by kayak.

The first phase will include paddling from Argentina to the Falkland Islands.  

The second phase takes in the Bonin Islands, Japan, Kuril islands and the Aleutian Islands.  

The third phase ambitiously plans to visit South Georgia, Tristin Da Cuna, Prince Edward Island, Crozet, Kerguelen, Heard, Macquarie and Aukland.  (He may well have made up some of those place names.  I've never heard of most.

Read more about the expedition and take a look at his photos.  And if you'd like to hear him speak, there's a rather clever video here.  Click the left hand "ball".

Andy Jackson - The Book of the Life

Tall StoriesNow here's a book not to miss.  (Why am I writing so much about books just now?)

The biography of Scottish kayaker Andy Jackson.  Click on the image to buy.    Here's what the publisher says about the book.

Andy Jackson’s death in December 2004 robbed the Scottish outdoor scene of an extraordinary personality. In this celebration of a truly inspirational life we follow Andy on kayaking adventures in Norway, Nepal, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Iceland, Turkey, Chile and of course his native Scotland.

Stories and articles from Andy himself, his friends and family recount his adventures with all the joie de vivre he showed; as a campaigner, kayaker, skier and paraglider. From his scrapes with the ‘Polis’ and authorities to his worldwide catalogue of first descents. Above all Andy will be remembered for his ability to befriend and inspire everyone he met.

The royalties from this book are to be divided equally between the Andy Jackson Fund for Access and the IcFEM (providing education, healthcare, agriculture and social support in Kenya).

Specialist Kayak Bookstore

Kayaking and sea kayaking titles, all in one place.

Seems like a good idea.You'll find it at 

Of course there are other books stores, such as my own humble offering and the store run through the UK Sea Kayak Guidebook website.

Savage Shores

Mark and Heather Rainsley are at it again.  

Having produced an excellent sea kayaking guide to the south west coast, they're working on a new book called Savage Shores also for Pesda Press.

The book aims to explain the climate, geology, landforms, natural history and human history of the coastal environment.  It's aimed at walkers, sea kayakers and others.   

Mark told me about the project at the weekend, and my first thought was to compare it to Hostile Habitats, a very popular book but one I found somewhat impenetrable.  

Mark reassured me, while their book will be based on sound research it is not going to be a dusty academic tome.   "The intended focus is to assist the 'layman' visitor to the coast - especially walkers and users of watercraft - to achieve greater understanding of and appreciation for the places they visit, and of the complex links existing between geology, natural history and human impact."

I'd buy it.

Pssst. Wanna rent a Glasgow Flat?

Our flat is up for rent.

Not immediately, but we hope to have someone in there soon. When they move in, I'll move out and join Liz in Strontian in Argyll.

Cost - £895pm.

UK Sharks Endangered

My friend Gavin isn't too keen on sharks.  But even he would be worried by this report in todays Guardian newspaper.

Overfishing, it is claimed, has seriously disturbed the marine ecosystem.  Populations of basking sharks are vulnerable as are many others.  Photo and more info BaskingShark.info

Cairngorm Mountain Railway Investigation

On his excellent blog and in the Sunday Herald, Rob Edwards reveals Audit Scotland is to investigate the funding of the Cairngorm Mountain Railway.

Few mountaineers wanted it built. We were assured it would be a tourism money spinner.  

Instead it has struggled to make money.  Rather than let it go bust, it was taken into public ownership.  Estimates are it'll cost taxpayers £50m and perhaps another £50m to remove from the hill.  

Read the full story on Rob's site.  The photo is courtesy of Rob's site.

Is This Sick?

We had dinner in Glasgow on Thursday with friends, one of whom is working in the USA.  At his place of work, they're considering running a book, taking bets, on when Obama will be assassinated.

The waitress overheard our discussion.  "Oh we've already started a sweep on that here", she said.  That's right.  The staff in a small, nice restaurant in Scotland are having some harmless fun, placing bets on how long America's new president will live.  

So how many other people are doing the same?

We cynical journalists are also running a sweep - on the name of the first puppy.  And I thought we were meant to be hard-boiled!

Most Popular Podcast - Ever

The Podcast with Justine Curgenven and Barry Shaw looks like attracting the highest number of downloads I've recorded. I think.

I can't monitor the actual number, just the bandwidth that flows through my account each month. This podcast is half the length of most, so the file is half the size, yet more than double the bandwidth has been used.

Justine has promoted it on her blog ahead of her North America tour. I mentioned it in a comment on Quixotica. So it has had publicity.

Of course, it might also be because new listeners have now found SeaKayakRoutes.com and started downloading lots of interviews from the Podcast Library.
Justine and Barry will be in San Francisco on Sunday. 
Presented by Golden Gate Kayaking www.ggkayak.com the event will begin with a day paddle with Justine and Barry, ending back at Half Moon Bay for a meal. The Main presentation will be held at the Half Moon Brewing Company from 6pm to 9pm. Contact Golden Gate Kayaking for details.

Bryan Smith Requests Sponsorship. Please.

Will you make an (American) tax deductable $25 donation to the man behind the Pacific Horizons film?

Bryan Smith and 5 other kayakers are travelling to Eastern Siberia to explore and document 3 rivers on the Kamchatka Peninsular, surveying them for protection by the Russian government.

But he adds, "The cost of this trip exceedes my personal budget and I am asking for your support..." Learn more here or donate here. Looks like his younger brother Ethan is going too.

Shoulder Exercise

Sorry. That photo should come with a warning.

I'm being worked over by a physiotherapist. My shoulder injury is over a year old and I've been worried.

After summer on the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail it was sore, which is why I have hardly been in the kayak since.

It seems my left shoulder doesn't work correctly. The shoulder blade rises of its own accord. The 'timing' is off. The answer, I'm told, is to get the smaller muscles underneath to stabilise the joint before the big ones kick in.

So I have a routine of nightly exercises with elastic bands, towels and small weights. Imagine how this delights Liz. Not.

WiFi Radio

I have been known to moan on this website. Rarely, but... well, there we are. But I also like to praise.

This is a Roberts WM202 radio and I like it. (And I'm not being paid to write this!) It has regular FM and newer DAB but what I like is that it links to our home WiFi and gives access to a world of internet radio.

This is not a stable technology yet.

It's meant to link to my computer's media player so any music files can be played through the radio - it doesn't.

It has occasional fits when it produces 'Network Error' messages. And when it plays Podcasts it can't pause or rewind them.

But it can play podcasts just as if they were regular radio programmes, including the BBC's listen again programmes, and a load of sea kayak podcasts. Even for a broadcaster like me, it's quite freaky to sit in the kitchen and 'tune in' a normal-looking radio to my own podcasts and then hear my voice coming out the speakers.

You set all this up through a website, effectively programming favourites into the radio, and then those favourites appear in the radio's memory. The radio also has five preset stations.

We live in an area with a poor signal area, but on this Radio 4 and Radio 2 come through clear. Best of all, so does one of my favourite music stations, Radio Paradise based in California. And since it runs on batteries, we can play it anywhere in the house.

I'm sure there are other models out there which might be better. Please tell me if you use one.

Redundancy Help

One of the good things about being made redundant (in my case highly voluntary) from a large organisation like the BBC is the support given.

I feel very fortunate as I know others are not so lucky.

I can choose up to four 'workshops' to advise me on the way ahead. Since I plan to set up a business shooting video for business, the workshop "Setting Up As A Sole Trader" proved extremely useful. Although being in London again for it felt rather odd.

It's run by an ex-BBC journalist who also took voluntary redundancy, then set up David Thomas Media. I'd recommend his one day course to anyone in a similar situation.

Oh, and work is already coming in, before I have actually left.

Early Winter

We might be in for a good winter.  We walked out of our door and up into this wonderful landscape today.  The mountain we're on is Sgurr Dhomhnuill and Liz is just visible down to the left.

A friend e-mailed from the Cairngorm area of Scotland to say, "I am just down from an awesome days skiing - we were getting fresh tracks right up to the end of the day when we could ski to the car."