Sunday, 29 April 2012

Come and wave us off at Brampton Road on Tuesday 11am...

Transylvanian Wildlife Project 4x4

Check out our 'wee runaround' when we get to our destination :-) The Transylvanian Wildlife Project have this on loan for our visit so that we can get to the more inaccessible places...

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Made the papers again...

Our latest donation has come from the Chief Constable of Cumbria no less, also with an offer of his contacts within the Police Force in Bucharest!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Cornwall day 11 and last day!

Snooker 5 - 0, making it 17 - 0 for me personally, but when I watch the guys on TV, I realise I'm still in the lower league!!

Short blog today, it has to be. We have been finishing off our presentations this morning and they start at 3pm. I have decided to tell the story of the rock pool but as from the mouth of a 3 year old limpet. I know it sounds crazy but the worse thing is when people start to fall asleep listening to you and this should be weirdly different. I've been pretending to be a limpet for the last 24 hours, but failed this morning when I had a shave and then ate a snickers bar.

I've had to research limpets and now know more about them than I do my own sister! It wasn't known how limpets ejaculate at the same time in their cluster groups, until an experiment was performed in an aquarium. The water was slowly heated and when it reached 75 they all came together, if you know what I mean. This proves nothing to me, they might have though that with rising temperatures they would shortly boil to death, and what else would you do under those circumstances? There's lots of other interesting things that I'll put on here after the presentation.
Carly and J at St Michael's Mount
So we leave at 6 a.m. tomorrow for the 8 hour journey back to beautiful Cumbria, and I'm told that the windscreen wipers will be working full time! It's been a very good trip, I've learnt plenty, had some good laughs with some really nice people and now it's the weekend off before we head to Romania!!!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Cornwall day 10

Snooker 3 - 0 to the Yorkshire / Irish and 3 to play!!

Down to the rocks at that funny sounding place again this morning, so easy to climb when they are dry. After about an hour, the heavens opened and there was no getting shelter fast enough. I had the feeling that every living thing on the reef was laughing at me as I slipped and stumbled, finally slithering down the final slope on my arse, hoping nobody was looking. 

Good news in that we can present our projects tomorrow and then we can all disappear home on Friday morning. I love Cornwall, I really do, but I love Beverley's cooking better! 

Once a predator now a victim



Lone limpet

Anemone mouth (the white bits are grains of sand)

 Just had Thai fishcake for dinner, I think that they are the far eastern equivalent of our sausages. Any tails, eyes, skin, bone gut, etc. left over from the fish gets put through a massive grinder, then under pressure, out pops a load of fish cakes. Neat trick, made all the more authentic by the chinese looking chef who says, "I make myself", which I'm sure he does! Probably won't eat seafood for a while after this week, I've become almost related to it in a strange sort of way.

So the 'giver of life' continues to hurtle down from the sky, as we continue our editing, looking forward to 9 p.m. when we can justify a game of snooker or two before bed time.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Cornwall day 9

Snooker 1 - 0 to the Yorkshire / Irish. I feel as if I have to lose a game soon, even by chance!

Our media guy Rob arrived last night, what a guy, he knows his stuff. Went through all our projects and gave us all a different perspective on things. I was making a film and now I'm writing a magazine article, how's that for change?

More shots from the pool...

I've been on the shore so long now that the seagulls don't fly away anymore. They just wave with one wing and squawk at me, knowing I always share my lunch. The fun you can have with a bag of chips on the beach, throwing them into the air as the gulls dog fight to get biggest share.

Went with J today, good to have someone to chat with. We've all got to know each other very well on this trip, that's been one of the best things about it. Spent a couple of hours at Gwithean before walking the beach to Godrevy. What a treat to find an ice-cream van at the top of the cliff path, I could have had another but I was already regurgitating it!

Back at base again now, editing and editing and editing!!!

What will tomorrow bring? You've got as much idea as me right now, but the forecast looks on the wet side.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Cornwall day 8

Snooker 6 - 0, so tonight we start the last possible combination of pairs...
 The Yorkshire  Irish Alliance v The Anglo French Crusaders.

I've shot loads of film today and it's all completely useless, because the light was crap. I'm calling it a rehearsal for tomorrow, when the sun may shine.

Some photos...
The rock pool!

Many mussels.

On the edge.

Rock pool location.

Not sure :-)
Our Scientist Helen went back today, flew from Newquay to Manchester (in a plane), that's as near as you can get to Cumbria.  Now our media lecturer Rob arrives this evening to see how our filming is coming along. He's with us until Friday but I'm hoping we might be able to leave a bit earlier with the Romanian trip so close. Plan is I finish all by Wednesday p.m.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cornwall day 7

 Snooker? 4 - 0 to the 'Room Upstairs'.

Just to torture you I'm posting my assignment on here today, after all, you'd want to know what it was, wouldn't you?

Mid tidal rock pool disturbance between tides

It is planned to map the changes and activities caused by the tide to a typical mid tidal rock pool on the north Cornish coast. Also to measure how stable this small ecosystem is and compare this to nearby, low tidal and high tidal rock pools.

Several sites were visited and an ideal location found in front of the lifeguard station at Gwithian.

Having surveyed the site, a granite rock pool was located at (50˚ 13’ 28” N, 5˚ 23’ 47” W) approximately 1.8m x 0.9m x 0.6m deep, and 50m from the cliff edge. At low tide this pool is 4.4m above the sea level and at high tide the sea is 2.1m above the rock pool. There are high tidal rock pools nearer the cliff edge with very little signs of life apart from algae, and at the lower level, pools that are unsettled by the constant battering of waves.

On Monday 23rd April at 7.03 a.m. the tide will be at a high of 6.5m. A time-lapse film will be taken as the tide goes out until its lowest point of 0.9m at 1.07p.m.
Then for the purpose of comparison, film will be taken of both a lower and higher tidal rock pool in the same area. In the selected mid tidal rock pool, notes and photographs will be used to identify and record the location of limpets, muscle groups, rocks, sea weed, sea snails and any other slow moving or static rock pool dwellers. The same method will be used where possible, to record other faster moving organisms.

Time-lapse film will record a group of limpets over 2 hours to measure their activity and movement patterns. Time lapse will then be used to view the tide as it returns to a high of 6.5m at 19.16p.m. On Tuesday 24th April at low-tide 1352p.m. It is planned to return to the selected mid tidal pool to assess, measure and record the changes that have taken place after the passing of two tides. Again, film, photographs, notes and sketches will be used to record the information.

The finished media will be presented on film to show the results and present the conclusions. All data will be collected and all film footage taken by Tuesday 24th April. However, due to other academic commitments, including a field trip to Romania, the final editing of the film will take place in June.

If you made it this far, well done!
A thought occurred to me today, they often do. Some of our year are out in the Gambia just now and sending back photos on Facebook holding little black babies. 

That kind of seems normal, but if we posted photos from Cornwall of us all holding babies, would that be seen the same? I suppose it's the same when we see dozens of dead bodies in the streets of Syria on our TV that's cool, but when a footballer breaks his leg, they won't show that 'out of respect'! What the hell is going on in barking mad Britain?

Here's a link to Cumbria Crack, I'd never heard of it until today. We got a little write up which is nice before our big journey starts a week on Tuesday.

Then there's the write up in the News & Star with that terrible photo again...

And the University have given us a spot also...

I did something today that I've never done before. I smuggled a tin of beans into a restaurant! The cost of food on site is reasonable BUT if you want a portion of beans it's an extra £1.95, and that's a tiny portion! I think they've cottoned on to the idea that us Brits eat beans with everything when we are out, just to moisten up the tasteless, bland dry food. So reduce the menu prices on main items because we are going to have to have those beans at any cost anyway. OK I have to have them cold and hide the can under the mock rubber plant, but that's cool.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Cornwall day 6

So with a 6-0 victory for the French/Belgians over the English we all swapped around last night. Now it's the upstairs room against the downstairs room, and we are winning 2-0. First one to 6!

A day to catch up at last. No set times for anything, just a chance to do the laundry, tidy up a bit, watch the footie results coming in and get some shopping done. Arsenal v Chelsea today, after losing to Wigan I'm not sure how that will turn out. Low tide at 1231 so off down to do a quick hour on the rock pool when it's at it's clearest. Hope I can remember which one it is. Then before Monday I have to submit my production plan. What am I doing and why? You could apply that to any stage of your life, couldn't you? What are you doing this year and (really) why?

Some really eventful stuff going on with my children right now but I can't talk about all that as we have this agreement to keep their lives off the blog. Fair enough I think because we are not all the same. Some people are very private, and I come from a family who were brought up in a 'secret service' mentality, where everything was a secret. The name of the milkman, the day of the week or your co-op share number..."It's a secret"! I only found out  when I was 6 that my name was 'Daniel', when my father used it by accident one day instead of 'imbecile'. 
That's why as an adult now I have no secrets and my life is how I tell it. I laugh when I see people outside the bank covering the cash machine with their coat before putting in their pin number. When it's my turn, I stand to one side and make the key pad clearly visible to all behind me, reciting "4 6 1 9" as I tap my number in. Everyone behind me turns their heads and covers their eyes as if they were vampires who had just been shown a flaming crucifix. Why? It's nuts! I think I'll write a book one day on the 'barking mad society' that we live in.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Cornwall day 5

Snooker 6-0 :-) Can we lose I ask?

Today we all headed down to 'Le Mont St Michel', a little island with a big house on it run by the National Trust. 

I'd been here last year with Beverley and it wasn't quite the same without her, but had a good laugh going round with Carly and J. He'd still not got over the shock of being greeted with us all singing happy birthday to him (not a pretty sound!) and presenting him with a cake for breakfast. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway and today it was as busy as the M25. A constant flow of vehicles ferried apparently 'disabled' people to and from the island. Watching them get off at the other side they all appeared to be just overweight to me, the walk would have done them the world of good. I treated myself to a 'Cornish Cream Tea', 2 scones, a pot of tea, small jar of jam and a whole tub of double cream. I now had all the best ingredients for a heart attack, I had joined the fat people, but I managed it back to the car.

Then it was off to the coast again to carry on with my project. What is it, you ask in anticipation? I am measuring the changes in a mid tidal rock pool, between tides. Hey it's more interesting than it sounds, I've never had the chance before in my life to form a relationship with a family of limpets, a cluster of muscles and a hermit crab. I imagine them all looking up at me out of the rock-pool and discussing what I might be!

I saw an adder today, the first one I'd ever seen. Made my day because they are fairly rare but Carly managed to track this one down and we can now go back and film it later in the week. 

The weekend brings a mixture of things and I might have time to have a wash again and clean my teeth. If the weather is good we stay out and film, if not we can edit or eat. All in all at the end of the first week it's been great and I feel fitter than I have for years. If someone shot me with a tranquillising dart it wouldn't make me feel any more tired than I am now. Zzzzzzzz    

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cornwall day 4

We are now winning 4 - 0 at snooker!
Yeeessss we made it to the Lizard today! Well worth the 20 mile trip. Heavy rain greeted us as we walked from the car park down to the coast but nothing like the day before. We came across a stressed guy trying to look really calm, always a worry. He explained that he was trying to round up 4 ponies who had a mind of their own and only a 'cunning plan' would succeed. Apparently the head pony was a bright spark and not to be messed with. Their weapons to catch these ponies were a bucket of oats, an ambush and enough electric fencing to go round auschwitz twice. He slowly coaxed the ponies with the oats towards the narrow channel of fencing and then broke into a jog as the ponies thought it was play time and started to trot after him, and that's where the ambush came in. Two other guys jumped out behind the shocked animals blocking of their retreat. What would they do now? They looked at the guy with the bucket and then the two guys behind waving their arms, and without hesitation charged through the electric fence like a scene from Ben Hur. It didn't even tickle them and if horses could smile, these were dying of laughter. They charged up the field towards where we were standing, up until then just cautiously observing. I knew that Helen was familiar with horses, so it was no surprise that she sprinted up the hill to try and cut them off. J tried to help, waving his arms frantically and the rest of us thought it best to stand back incase first aid needed to be administered. The ponies were last seen heading around the coastal path and judging from their speed, I guess they will be in North Wales by the time you read this.

The weather stayed great all day and we all got some good photos and film footage along with a mine of information from Fiona and Helen. Ash was our bird guide as always, there's nothing he doesn't know about birds. We came across a guy with a telephoto lens so long that he must have been taking shot of butterflies in the Scilly Isles. Having said that, most of my lenses are worth more than my car, which is worth very little. 

Lunch time was a special occasion, mainly because I didn't have fish and chips. I saw crab sandwiches for sale, it didn't show the price, but hey, how much can a sandwich cost? I ordered one to take away and the very nice cornish woman said, "That'll be £9 please". I immediately looked behind me, she couldn't be talking to me, someone must be trying to pay their family bill, I thought.
She was talking to me! Decision time! She explained that the crab was hand picked! At that price it should be able to play the piano. I went for it on the basis that it was a nice day, I was by the sea, it was fresh crab and I didn't want to look like a tight git. Fair dos, there was enough crab in that sandwich to feed a colony of seagulls and my breath still smells like a sea-lion. Best butty I've ever had, but £9 :-(

We got back early today, and we must have been knackered because we turned down a visit to a local brewery on the way back. Tomorrow we are heading to St Michaels Mount, a small Island reached by a causeway at low tied or you can wait for high tide and pay a local fisherman about £4. For that price you don't expect good service and you don't get it. Last time I went he set off when I had one foot on the boat and it was the same at the other side as he pushed everyone off the boat onto the slippery steps in his eagerness to go back and make the next trawl of tourists.

Nathalie, a big hello to you in Edinburgh and great to hear from you yesterday. You would love it down here and there's lots for your 3 boys to do.

J's birthday tomorrow, not sure what we will do for that but it may involve drink. Wish I could get Beverley to come down a cook tonight, but instead it's frozen pizza. But hey, I'm still full of crab!
Love you Beverley and can't wait for next Friday, unless we can somehow escape before then :-)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Cornwall day 3

What was it like at the Lizard today? I don't know, we didn't go. It was wet and very windy in the morning so the days were reshuffled and the Lizard is now tomorrow. 
We are winning 3 - 0 at snooker now by the way!

So the day started with a drive to an ancient woodland site (Steeple Woods). The rain held off as we explored the area and I now have a strong dislike of rhododendrons! Some amazing old trees, and there used to be many more until the human rats came along. We headed down to Newquay after that to see if any Grey Seals were hanging around the harbour as they often do. Newquay is the 'chav magnet' of Cornwall, every county needs one and in Cumbria, Carlisle serves that purpose. Without these key points full of bars, betting shops, amusement arcades and fast food outlets, the chavs would roam out into the more beautiful areas of these counties. 
Alas we only saw one seal who popped it's head up and then dived as we all aimed our cameras on him at the same time. As far as he was concerned we had six loaded shotguns. Goodbye!
We had fish and chips for lunch, what else? 
We decided to drive back along the coast road as a few of us needed to get film footage of some rough seas breaking on the rocks. 

We weren't to be disappointed, after 2 miles there was a formation that gave us everything we needed. Giant waves boomed into the enormous rocks, throwing thousands of gallons of water high into the sky. It was as if it were pouring with rain. 

That is where Josh decided to become one with nature, and he almost succeeded! (film on facebook)
So it's off to the Lizard tomorrow and see what the day brings. More fish and chips for sure! I'm knackered! 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cornwall day 2

Today it was a visit to the Eden Project, but before that some important news. Josh and I are one ahead in a snooker contest against Rob and Ash, which will go on for the next two weeks!
The Eden Project was OK. Obviously designed to maximise the money it screwed out of you as you first paid the entrance fee of £23, then you could buy the guide book for £6 and after that the only thing you didn't pay for was the air that you were breathing, but only because they couldn't figure out how to do that yet! We got in for £12.50 because firstly we are students and secondly we lied and said we had walked there. You get a green discount for doing that, so dozens of people jump out of cars just before the entrance and muddy there shoes up before walking through the gate pretending to be out of breath. It is educational but is a complete rip off aimed at the working middle class. In 200 years time it will be the only way for the public in this country to see what a rain forest looks like, because travel will be too expensive and there won't be any rain forests for real anymore.

Found a great fish and chip shop in town so there's the food problem solved for 2 weeks, only down side is, it's closed on Sundays :-( 
So what about tomorrow? We are going to the Lizard... 
Down the bottom there. 
We are looking at more rock pools and I hope to try out the GoPro under water for the first time. Just the camera, not me :-) Weather holding out, not too bad for the time of year. 56 hits on the blog yesterday, great to have so many following our journey as we get nearer to leaving for Romania.

Monday, 16 April 2012


Drove down yesterday, what a slog, 460 miles, my butt cheeks were numb all evening! Rob and Josh came with me, had a good laugh with Rob but Josh slept most the time :-) Cumbria to Cornwall, two of the most beautiful places in the world. The accommodation is great, we're staked out in a holiday camp with some very eccentric features. The bar sells Guinness and if you want food you press the button at the bar. A waitress comes out, takes your order, you pay her, she goes away and gets your change, gives it to you then takes your order to the kitchen. She won't come back again unless you press the button, even if there is a queue! They don't accept Scottish money!! Mad or what?? There's a pool and snooker table, and a swimming pool. I'm in the lounge bar now, nice and peaceful, but next door is the 'entertainment bar'. Sounds good yea, until you experience it. The adults are mainly all pissed, singing and dancing with the kids roaming around like lost sheep, except sheep don't smoke. At 12 midnight the 'adult entertainment' starts. That has to be better you'd think? No! The only difference by then is that all the adults can't walk anymore and are vomiting over the kids who have fallen asleep around the inside and outside of the building. It's like Centre Parcs without rules, but hey, we're not on holiday!

First day out today, great fun. Carly, J, Rob, Ash and Josh, along with me, all such different characters but the mix seems to work well and everyone really getting along. Our course leader Fiona and Helen our scientist are leading us into ideas for our projects which we have to have decided on by Wednesday pm. They are lovely people and determined to make this a great field trip. I'm looking forward to the next 2 weeks and curious as to what we will all produce. So far I'm drawn to tidal rock pools, not through suicidal tendencies, more of a link to my childhood. Carly and J photographed an adder today and found the skin of another...
A cornish pastie just had to be on the lunch time menu and it didn't dissapoint, though I suspect they are a bit like kebabs and contain bits of almost any animal with added magic 'taste good powder'!!  
We went to Liddle's and topped up on food on the way back. It's amazing what we all differently identify as food. A mixture from chocolate to pizza and fruit to sausages made from eyelids and toenails! We duplicated so many items and gradually started to throw out the duplicates as we got nearer the till. There was no way we needed 16 onions or 4 tubs of butter, though the softer toilet paper was a treat!
Tomorrow we are off to the Eden Project which I've always wanted to visit. The weather forecast is plenty of rain, so perhaps a good choice   :-)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Cornwall then Romania

A Blog a day...

That's what I'm hoping to do through the Cornwall and Romania adventure. It will be easier in Cornwall but let's see how it goes. If I don't manage it in Romania then don't worry, I will still write the Blog daily and post whenever I can hook up to the world.

I am in Cornwall from 15th to 28th April on a university field trip. A field trip, you ask? Well it involves a week touring the western tip of England followed by researching and measuring in the 2nd week, something that mesmerised me in the first week. An animal, a plant, a weather system, who knows. I am favouring plant at the moment, after all they don't move very fast and are easy to sit and talk to.

After a short break of 2 days I then head of on the drive to the Carpathian mountains in Romania. A four day drive across Europe, camping on route and hopefully taking the occasional shower! When we get there, the idea is we make a wildlife documentary or two, and I make a video diary of the trip. We had our bear training last week so I now know what to do if a bear charges me at 40mph. I've brought plenty of spare underpants with me!

When I return, I have just one week to prepare for an exam on 'animal behaviour', but that seems a long way off right now. I've had all my vaccinations, Hep A, Hep B, Rabies etc. but I'm still worried that many of the expedition group decided on cost grounds alone, that they would risk it and not have any. Life's a gamble I suppose, you make choices all the way through and hope that the wrong choices cause you as little grief as possible.

Who's going? Ryan Deal (20), Rob Brumfitt (21), Paul Mitchell (36), Ashley Howe (20) and me (60). I'm guessing at the ages but I'm sure the lads will put me right. It's been a roller coaster of personalities since we all decided to get together, a not unfamiliar experience for me at this age, having seen group interactions both in the military and in Industry over the last 45 years, I could see it all coming around again. It should be a great adventure and I'm sure we will all gain in some way from it.

I have a PSA test the week that I return, it will be the first time I have gone from 3 monthly to 6 monthly testing, so if that is clear, I will have a fantastic summer. 

Please check in every day to see how we are doing and it's not too late if you fancy making a small donation. Again a huge thanks to all those who have donated to a fund that has helped us to raise a total of nearly £4,000 towards what will be an epic adventure for the whole team.