These are a few more aerial photos that I have taken recently whilst flying to various destinations. I am never certain why people request an aisle seat when the best entertainment is often looking out of the window. What I have noticed though is that more and more you are requested to lower the window blinds when in flight. At least on British Airways you are told to have them open on take off and landing.
I booked a window seat on a flight towards the end of last year. I settled into my seat and prepared for some great views, camera at the ready. To my amazement a passenger in the row behind reached over my seat and closed the window blind next to where I was sitting. I expressed my disquiet, opened the window blind and thankfully enjoyed some great views. Sadly accompanied by some grumbling from behind. Below are a few more aerial photos taken, mainly during in the last 12 months.
A couple of days ago I looked at the Jersey Weather forecast, for Jersey for today, 48 hours in advance. The differences from a number of weather sites were pretty significant. Ranging from conditions which would have been fairly manageable for intermediate level kayakers to ones where it would have been difficult to keep the kayak on the roof of the car.
As would be expected those forecasts, which were at the upper end of the scale are indicating a significant reduction in the wind speed, whereas the Jersey Met forecast, which I find is usually the most accurate is indicating an increase as the day progresses.
I suppose the main thing to take away from this is to check the forecasts regularly, be prepared to modify your plans as the day approaches and keep an eye on any changing weather during the course of the day.
The great thing about flying is the opportunity, even on commercial passenger flights, is the opportunity to get so interesting aerial photos of some classic sea kayaking areas. Photographs which will either re-kindle memories of great days spent on the water or stimulate thoughts of future trips.
So next time you find yourself next to the window on a flight, keep your fingers crossed for clear skies and sit back and enjoy one of the best free shows available.
As I sat on the beach this afternoon at St Brelade’s I watched the build up of cumulo-nimbus towards the French coast both to the south and the east. The concerns about the possibility of lightning were confirmed with the occasional rumbles of thunder. A check on the phone on the live lightning website indicated that storms were nearby.
Lightning is a major hazard for all sea paddlers and at the first hint of a storm it is important to get off the water, if at all possible. Seek shelter in a building and if that is not possible seek an area of dry ground. Avoid high ground as lightning normally joins the cloud with the closest point of land, ie. the highest part. For the same reason avoid sitting directly underneath a tree. Don’t sit under boulders or in bunkers, these are particularly dangerous areas unless there is at least 5 metres of head room. Several years ago a sea kayaker in Maine was killed whilst sheltering in a bunker during a lightening storm.
The fickle nature of lightning was frighteningly illustrated to me whilst paddling in the French Alps about 20 years ago. We were preparing to launch and without any warning of an impending storm, there was a huge flash and a strange tingling sensation running through our bodies. Looking up we could see that all the windsurfers on the lake had been blown off their boards. It was with horror that we look around and saw that the two people who had been standing closest to us had been struck by lightning, one had died immediately and the other person died later. We managed to shelter in a building for the remainder of the storm and gather our thoughts as to how close our escape had been.
So what are the key points that we need to be aware of? Firstly check the weather forecast. If thunder is forecast keep close to land and look out for the build up of cumulo-nimbus. Be prepared to get off the water quickly and try to find a building in which to shelter. If you are on the water make sure that you are wearing your buoyancy aid, if you are struck by lightning and go unconscious there is no chance of being saved if you sink. If you are on land and there are no buildings try to get into an open space, crouch on the balls of your feet and cover your ears with your forearms by grasping your hands together behind your head.
With the development of Apps and smart phones its so much easier to monitor the position of any approaching storms. Live Lightning is a great website for up to the minute information about the location of lightning strikes. Whilst paddling in the United States we used the Storm App from Weather Underground, which proved to be great for keeping us up to date about approaching severe weather. I also like looking at some aviation weather sites, so for example this afternoon as I saw the clouds building I looked at the Jersey Met Aviation pages, which showed that the largest clouds could reach up to 30,000 feet. That is a pretty big cloud!
It is important to keep up to date with your First Aid practice. A lightning strike does not necessarily mean death, but be prepared to resuscitate quickly and effectively. In addition when it appears that the storm has passed you are potentially still at risk so wait at least 30 minutes after lightning ceases before starting paddling again.
Knowledge and up to date weather information will help ensure your safety but remember to treat and potential storm with the utmost respect.
Jersey has some great cycle routes but not that many which are exclusively dedicated to two wheels. There is the classic St Helier to Corbiere cycle path whilst from St Helier heading east the coverage is very patchy. In the last few months there is a new kid on the block, in the form of St Peter’s Valley Cycle Path.
Completed at a cost of approximately £1.77 million it is clear that there would be a degree of disquiet from certain sections of the Island community. The usual statements that the money could be better spent elsewhere with very little consideration given to the benefits, to both residents and visitors, provided by such a facility.
It has taken some time for all the pieces to be joined together but we have now is an excellent facility for locals and visitors alike. Providing a fast and safe way from from the south coast to the north west parishes.
You leave the cycle path along the front from St Helier to St Aubins just before Beaumont, if you are heading west. There is a small car park (actually known as Le Perquage car park) and a pelican crossing, which gives access to the start of the cycle route.
The first section follows the long established Perquage path, which can be rather damp at times. At Sandybrook there is a couple of hundred metres along the road before reaching the new cycle path as it comes down St Peter’s Valley, close to Tesson Mill. This is one of the few remaining mills on the island and there has probably been a mill at this site since the 11th century. the present building was built in 1831 and it was purchased by the Jersey National Trust in 1996. Although part of the building has been converted into residential properties some of the main industrial elements have been retained and are open to the public in summer on Monday and Tuesday 10.00-4.00.
The red tarmac route starts to wind its way through the valley, following the route of the stream, which in the summer is barely noticeable but can become quite a torrent during the winter months. Pretty quickly you arrive at the only working mill which is left on the island, Le Moulin de Quetivel, also owned by the National Trust for Jersey. The mill was briefly brought back into use during the German occupation, after which it fell into disrepair, it was restored in 1976 and now is open to visitors during the summer months.
Ahead lies the Vic in the Valley pub where refreshments and and drinks are available, a small link route takes you from the main cycle track to the pub.
The path continues its way up the valley, with a number of interesting footpaths leading off to the west. A potential activity for exercising your legs in a different way to cycling. Eventually the path comes to a stop at the main St Peter’s Valley road. It is necessary to cross the road and drop down a small road to the left before reaching one of the most interesting sections of the whole route.
It is largely an elevated section with lovely views across the small reservoir, on which there are normally a number of interesting birds.
The cycle route comes to an end but a little bit of searching will lead to a small isolated valley, which will allow you to continue cycling towards St Mary’s Church. From here there are numerous options where to go next. Following one of the excellent numbered cycle routes from Visit Jersey, or designing your own journey along the numerous small lanes, which are found in the area.
During my ride through the February sunshine I was amazed at the variety of birds I encountered en route. The Brent Geese, were grazing on Goose Green Marsh and as I cycled up the valley I saw a grey heron, buzzard, marsh harrier, little grebe and little egret, whilst heard a water rail calling close the northern reservoir. These were just a few of the many species I saw in just a few miles.
The St Peter’s Valley cycle route is a valuable asset to the cycling portfolio in Jersey, a lovely surface to ride on, taking you through some of the finest scenery in Jersey’s heartland.
It has been said that the best in-flight entertainment system is the window seat. I can never understand the person who selects the aisle seat when there is the option of observing the world passing by.
Below is a selection of some aerial photographs of potentially interesting sea kayaking destinations seen out of the aircraft window over the last couple of years. Whenever I get in an aircraft it always stimulates ideas of where else to go paddling. The to do list, regarding kayaking destinations, continues to grow.
Today was just a perfect day spent on the cliffs near Corbiere, with a local primary school. It was the first day of the John Muir Award, which I think is just a great way of involving people of all ages in exploring and helping to improve their local environment. I was fortunate enough to be able to introduce the Award as part of my work for about 18 months but now I am retired I seem to have lost the opportunity to be involved in this worthwhile project. So when a opportunity arose for some voluntary work in conjunction with Absolute Adventures, I jumped at the chance.
Each Award involves four separate challenges, Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share. To achieve the Discovery Award, the first Level, participants must commit for at least 4 days ( or time equivalent). There are two higher levels, which longer time commitments. Upon completion of each Level the participants receive really attractive certificate.
The John Muir Trust was formed in 1983 with their mission to “To conserve and protect wild places with their indigenous animals, plants and soils for the benefit of present and future generations”. The John Muir Award was launched on the 26th February 1997, from its base in Scotland and has now spread throughout the UK. As it approaches its 21st birthday around 300,000 Awards have been presented. Representing a significant involvement by a large number of people in environmental projects.
Our “little” project was to explore the headlands between Corbiere and Pt La Moye whilst removing some of the hottentot fig, an invasive species, which is taking over the cliffs and killing the natural vegetation. Although the headlands have a wild and natural feel to them there is some fascinating industrial archaeology, the remnants of the active quarrying industry, which actually only finished in 1957.
After the storms at the start of the year today was just a perfect day to be on the cliffs, non stop sunshine and warm enough not to need a coat whilst pulling up the hottentot fig. I am always amazed how enthusiastic the young people are and how they wish to become involved. I feel certain that if we asked them to pull up weeds in somebodies back garden we would get a far less positive response.
Buzzards soaring overhead, a peregrine hunting along the edge of the cliff and fishing boats offshore provided a perfect backdrop to the days activities. Next week we continue with the hottentot fig clearance before using kelly kettles to produce hot chocolate on the cliffs and heading out for lunch at the world’s most beautiful lighthouse! Not that I am biased. The John Muir Award really is great way to encourage people of all ages to engage with their local environment.
It has been a while since I have posted some aerial photos taken from commercial flights so here are a few from the last few years. They show some potentially great kayaking destinations from above. With views like these it is hard to understand why anybody would book an aisle seat!
Passing over Calshot when heading south towards Jersey. The site of the BCU Sea Touring Committee Symposiums in the early 1990’s.
Greenland West Coast. The island on the right is Uummannaq and the larger Salliaruseq to the left. The cliffs and the larger islands are over 1,000 metres high. This post documents the day we paddled between the two islands. This was taken whilst flying from Heathrow to Seattle, some years ago.
Final approach into Stockholm. It looked like a kayaking paradise. Little did we realize the frustration which was to follow after we landed
Take off from Jersey on a beautiful summers day. The aircraft is banking north over St Ouen’s Bay.
Sunrise over the Thames estuary. The south coast of Essex is clearly visible, just minutes after leaving Heathrow.
A few hours later the Essex coast had been replaced by the Turkish coast to the west of Istanbul.
Approaching Heathrow. The rectangular shaped water directly in front of the engine is the location of Tower Hamlets Canoe Club, an area we have visited regularly over the years as members of the Jersey Canoe Club paddling with kayakers from London.
It was another day cycling various routes around the Island, mainly on routes 1 and 3, with a few other lanes thrown in as well. Often when we are out and about we focus on the big picture, looking at the dramatic seascapes or photographing towering cumulus clouds whilst missing out on some of the small features. Bikes are the perfect vehicles to allow us to view these smaller features, which are often missed whilst driving.
We headed into St Helier and whilst cycling around the harbour my eye was caught by a riot of colour at the base of a wall. It was a plaque to commemorate those Islanders who served in Burma from 1941 to 1945, and had been unveiled the day before. Amazingly as we stood and considered the information that it contained we were joined by two other people, one of whom was the son of the first named person on the plaque.
After a stop in Gorey for coffee and cake we decided to head back west on the Cycle Route 3. This is one of a number of cycle routes, which cross the the Island, further information about the routes is available from Visit Jersey. Cycle Route 3 is one of the hardest options as it goes straight across the Island, up and down numerous valleys. Just over 14 miles in length with nearly 2,000 feet of ascent.
As you follow the route you come across some features, which are almost unique to Jersey. Many of these would be missed if driving or they are in places where it would be difficult to stop and examine them in greater detail. We came upon this Parish Boundary Stone at a road junction.
This toad made me stop and look in Waterworks Valley. It has been developed by Michelle Caine and Alcindo Pinto, working with the National Trust for Jersey. I had been away from the Island when the project was launched therefore it came as a complete surprise, and I thought I knew may way around the Island pretty well.
The final surprise was a rather old everyday object. A Victorian Post Box! Post Box No. 45 was made between 1861 and 1871 and still has a collection at 09.00 Monday to Friday, although I do wonder how many letters are posted here each day.
These are just a sample of the interesting features that can be encountered when cycling around Jersey. We are already planning a different route for next week.
It has been a couple of weeks since I had been out on the bike and I was keen to get a few miles in the legs. A quick circuit of some of the western parishes, with lunch thrown in for good measure seemed like a good idea. It is interesting just how many good cycling routes on Jersey, particularly if you know where to look. We started along the Railway Walk, surprised how many people were out walking. It appears that the Island is managing to attract a reasonable number of active visitors during the autumn months . The Railway Walk is such a great resource for visitors and locals alike.
The cycle route turns north at Les Quennevais and skirts around the Airport, where there was still some activity after yesterday’s Battle of Britain Air Display. From there we cycled through St Peter’s and down the narrow lanes into St Peter’s Valley so that we could ride on the recently opened cycle track.
The track has come in for some criticism from some people in the media but it is a valuable addition to the islands network of cycle routes. Hopefully there will be many more developments to come.
One of the great things about cycling in Jersey are the number of narrow, virtually traffic free roads, which are available to be explored including the Green Lanes. Around the Island there are about 50 miles of roads where the maximum speed limit is 15 mph and priority is given to cyclists and walkers. They were designated from 1994 onwards, and are perfect for cycling along.
Once we had cycled up La Dimerie we had regained the higher land of St Mary and passed through the village with its lovely parish church.
Our destination was a little know feature alongside one of the roads in the parish of St Ouen. There aren’t that many places on the island where it is possible to see whale bones.
After the excitement of whale ribs we were in need of some food and chose the delights of Plemont Cafe, with its extensive views of the other Channel Islands. Features were particularly clear as we were under the influence of Polar Maritime air.
From here it was a particularly easy run along the west coast of the Island, passing the St Ouen Millenium Stone on the way. 25 miles of varied cycling, mostly on designated cycle routes or virtually traffic free lanes.