Sunday, 3 June 2012

Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Breathe, breathe in the air, don't be afraid to care
Leave but don't leave me, look around and chose your own ground
For long you live and high you fly, and smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be
Run, run rabbit run, dig that hole forget the sun
 And when at last the work is done, don't sit down it's time to dig another one
For long you live and high you fly, but only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave, you race toward an early grave.
Home, home again, I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field, tolling of the iron bell
  Calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spell
While Pink Floyd's BREATHE sums up my travels and safe return, the Skynyrd classic better describes how I feel.
Well, that's 100 days on the road completed, with mixed feeling about being back. While it is always a treat to be on 'home turf' I'm going to miss that uncertainty of the day ahead, and those new experiences. That said, it was fantastic to enjoy the hospitality at Parley Court once again (even though initially mis-spelling Daryl's name) and the certainty of a number of lunches and a pint or two to come with many of you out there. Along with today's photographs and text I will punctuate with a few 'trip statistics'.

Looking at the local birding websites, it would seem that most of the inbound migration is over but I was just as keen to wander the Borough to note what changes have been made during my absence. Starting with the now completed and open
 Rodwell Trail Foot/Cycle Bridge,
just around the corner from my home, the footpath is now uninterrupted from Abbotsbury Road to Ferrybridge - a fine job!
A total of 11 countries were touched upon during the journey,
A treat on a day to day basis let alone on such a long trip, Portland Harbour with the Magic Isle in the background.
As an added bonus there were a number of SANDWICH TERNs active mid-water but nowhere near enough for photographs (archive) but an addition to the Year List nonetheless. 
with 3 of these, TAIWAN, PHILIPPINES and LAOS being additions to the World List.
This puts me just 4 behind HM The Queen and still well ahead of both the US President and the Pope!
 Luckily my return was before the blooming THRIFT at Ferrybridge had gone completely over,
giving me a chance of at least part of this annual floral spectacular.
A total of 9 currencies were used including GB Pound, US Dollar, South Korean Won, Taiwanese New Dollar, Filipino Peso, Malay Ringgit, Thai Baht, Lao Kip and Australian Dollar.
 Work progresses at the Fleet/Chesil Beach Visitor's Centre, although for some reason I had expected that also to have been completed.
A total distance, front door to front door, of 30,700 miles were covered (part estimated),
Low Tide at Ferrybridge my have enticed a
 LITTLE TERN or 2 into camera range, but that also was not to be,
 with only c3 being seen close to the colony.
My informant suggests there could be as many as 18 occupied nests
so likely most birds are sitting
so there was no way I was going any closer.
with 21,000 of these being by air.
I'll reserve my judgement on this structure crossing the 'flood flats' at Ferrybridge, but it sure as hell ain't pretty and is it really necessary? Continuing the walk along the western shore of Portland Harbour, there was a 'rare sight' indeed a Royal Fleet Auxiliary Vessel putting to sea?
It's OK you can relax, I won't torment you any further, the RFA MOUNTS BAY LSD (Landing Ship Dock) was only 'cold moving' (with tug assistance only) from Outer Coaling Pier to Queen's Pier Berth 11.
A further 4,027 miles were driven in Australia, which equates to almost 3 'return' trips Weymouth to John o' Groats, likely a far more pleasant and relaxing endeavour than a single run up north.
As most of the work on the WandPNSA was completed well before I left England, it was doubtful there would be much in the way of change
A total of 491 bird species were recorded (with closer scrutiny of list and photographs surely we can get that to a magic 500?),
but the flags of the competing nations were flapping in the breeze and there was a pleasant surprise to come.
Suddenly, out of the blue, my mate Jack Cottle appeared and after a 3 year absence it was more than good to see him. A part of the Gerry Cottle's Circus family, Jack was until its disbandment a few years ago a fully paid up member of the Dorset Chapter of The Hell's Angel. Perhaps needless to say I met a few most colourful characters while sharing hours of his company, some no longer with us - here's to WHIZZ!
The Academy Building
of which 86 were additions to the World List.
and next door The Portland Marina Building where works the Secret Lemonade Drinker's son. I mention this as Robert reaches the grand young age of 18 tomorrow and shortly after embarks on his final school exams. I wish him the Very Best with both, and look forward to a celebratory drink at a later date. CHEERS BERT.
25 'new' Mammals were also spotted, the highlight being undoubtedly ASIAN TAPIR.
A most interesting artifact, not seen before, was this Mark 8 Torpedo
accompanied by this enlightening information board. I know from 'close encounters' that the Mk8 was superseded by the Mk9** which during service in HMS/S's Tiptoe and Alcide formed the base of my bunk in the fore-ends.
A quick look round the Sunseekers Yard showed the order book to be a little thin on the ground if they are reduced to producing these 'tiny' Gin Palaces? Imagine having that as a 'toy'!
Another 'eye-opener' was this baulk of timber fished out of the Oggin
by the above. This reminded me of a similar encounter when as Chief Officer of the Ocean Salvage Tug Confiance, we were rounding St Alban's Head on a rescue mission and in the eye of a gale. A sharp eyed 'lookout' reported a large object in the water followed by 'slow ahead both' and a discernible alteration of course to starboard. On closer inspection, what turned out to be a full deck cargo of telegraph poles was broadcasted immediately as a Navigation Warning to all ships.
Further along is the Boat That Rocked cafe and restaurant,
along with neighbouring shops, mostly of a nautical nature.
The southerly backdrop to the Olympic Games Sailing Events, to be staged in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour, is something of a game of 2 halves.
While the recently refurbished and modernised Officer Mess, ex-HMS Osprey, now private apartments, are not totally displeasing to the eye
Portland Castle remains a historical gem. Completely intact since its construction as part of King Henry VIII sea defences in the 16th century any visitor or competitor would do well to visit if time allows.
Then of course there's always a fly in the ointment which is also ex-HMS Osprey Senior Rates Mess. To be fair, I have seen better buildings down backstreets in Tirana, the Albanian capital and feel Max Factor himself couldn't produce enough cosmetic effect to solve this one!
An overflying OYSTERCATCHER provided brief diversion before continuing on to the construction site of 
the OUTBUILDINGS of the new
PORTLAND SCHOOL, which I'm told will serve as an Olympic Platform of sorts before being handed over to the Education Department, and
the OLYMPIC VILLAGE itself. On the whole everything seems well done and well underway, but to listen to conversations on the bus you'd think we had been NUKED rather than RENEWED, my own feeling is there is an Olympic Legacy here for those who want to see it.
"The Only Way Is Up"
I love the STOCK DOVE at any time, but this one just showed at the right moment to end my first and very interesting day back in W&P. 
Many Thanks to ALL Readers during my Travels.
Irons are already in the fire for another Extended Away-Day, with a trip to Cork, Republic of Ireland already booked. Watch This Space!
If I leave here tomorrow would you still remember me?
For I'll be travelling on now, to many places I've got to see. 
Fly high FREEBIRD yeah!

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