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November 15, 2001

Tropical Storm

I've just posted the above, and as I'm sitting here at the dock, the waves are coming right into the marina, throwing all the boats around and splashing up to where I'm sitting with the pc. The wind has carried on rising and is now gusting at over 50knots (67+ is a hurricane). I've just been around the boat tightening up all the supports that we're resting on so we should be ok, but there are people here standing on the dock because it's too rough to get out to their boats or it's just too uncomfortable on board. This is some of the worst weather I've seen here in Titusville.

May 15, 2002

As I said, the weather

As I said, the weather last week in Mallorca was awful, with gale force winds and rain for four days. I'd sailed the boat up to another anchorage which was more sheltered a few days earlier but even still Zamindar was rolling so much that I had to hold on to the bed when I went to sleep at night. It gets really tiring when you're moving non-stop like that for days on end and it was too rough to even get ashore, so it was something of a relief when the weather improved and I got to stand on solid ground again.

Just before I left Mallorca, I'd gone for a walk, and after wandering through olive groves with old men sitting in the sun, I returned to town where I passed a group of people, one of whom was lying on the pavement. They were all shouting, but I couldn't understand what language they were talking or guess where they could have been from. Then I recognised the football tops they were wearing... Scotland. One of the girls was on her back on the pavement and appeared to be incredibly pissed while the others tried to drag her to the next bar by her arms, shoes dragging along the ground. It's so good to see Scottish culture being taken to other countries.

August 9, 2002

Gale forecast

I've just seen that there's a gale forecast for Mallorca and the wind has already begun to rise steadily. It's quite a strange mixture of apprehension and excitement to be onboard a boat knowing that a storm is on its way, as you wonder how bad it's going to be. Every so often the sky is being flashed by lightning and you can feel that the humidity in the air is increasing. I've just gone around the boat checking our mooring lines and fastening things down, so I'm off to bed now, though I know that it might be a fairly sleepless night.

August 10, 2002

Huge lightning storm

We managed to get about an hour's sleep last night before one of the most
impressive thunderstorms we'd seen in a while started. Lightning was
striking all around the harbour so much that you could easily see what you
were doing without any lights on, and we counted 22 ground strikes within a
minute at the height of the storm. Apart from some rain today the weather
hasn't been too bad, but the forecast is still predicting more storms for
the weekend and although it's dead calm here right now there are frequent
flashes of lightning on the horizon. Today's been a fairly lazy day onboard,
and Nina & I have done little apart from a bit of reading and sitting around
in the cockpit discussing where to sail to next.

December 10, 2003

Global Warming in Finland

It's been an unusually warm winter so far in Finland with hardly any snow and temperatures hovering above freezing much of the time. Over the last years lots of native species have died out due to the climate getting gradually warmer and many foreign species have established themselves here, further affecting the ecosystem. People are also worried that if snow doesn't come soon it'll do a lot of harm to the country's winter sports events and tourism. Worst of all, however, is that if there isn't a white Christmas people just won't be able to handle it and a lot of Finns will hang themselves.

May 12, 2004

Mediterranean Spring

The weather here has been truly appalling over the last few days. A front appeared over the Balearics and treated us to cold, torrential rain and gale force winds. Thankfully, we're still in Formentera marina so we don't have to worry about dragging anchors and the boat going off sailing on it's own but still it was unpleasant enough that our drinks were sliding off the table and the boat was jumping in her berth. Hopefully, the summer weather will appear soon.

December 21, 2004

Snowfall

In what was beginning to be yet another unusually warm winter, enough snow fell on southern Finland this weekend that it would have brought Britain to a standstill. Everyone here was delighted to see it. It seems to be something of a national crisis if there isn't a white Christmas in Finland, but I understand as everything now looks so much more beautiful and it really brightens things up on these short, dark, winter days.

My body seems to desire to be in the cold these days as well. Whereas a few years ago I just wanted to stay in hot, sunny places, I now find I need more of a balance and more seasons in my year and I enjoy being in arctic conditions as much as in the tropics. Shame I can't feel my feet anymore though.

Study showing length of the snow season in southern Sweden has decreased by 40% since 1960 (2.3Mb pdf)

April 1, 2005

The Big Thaw

Finally, it looks as if the big thaw has arrived here in Finland. The temperature's been gradually creeping above freezing, and the snow and pack ice are slowly melting away. Maybe I can put my thermal underwear away and stop feeling like my ears are going to freeze off when I take Ira out for walks at midnight now.

One of the surprisingly nice things about winter here is that most days the skies have been blue and the sun's been shining - compared to Britain where it's normally grey, damp and overcast. Suddenly now the days are growing longer and it isn't getting dark until 2100 - I guess by the time I get back from Japan it'll hardly be getting dark at all.

Here's a wonderful set of photographs that gives you an idea just how hard the winter can be here, taken from one of the ice-breakers as it worked to keep Finland's sea lanes open this winter.

September 18, 2005

Winter Arrives

When I was over in Stockholm it felt like the middle of summer - it was warm, sunny, and full of tourists. Here in Finland it's a different story and everyone's been acting as if the summer's been over for the last month or two. A favourite saying here after Midsummer is that, "It's all downhill now" - and the winter depression seems to set in.

Unfortunately, over the last month it has been getting colder and colder, and last night for the first time the temperature went sub-zero (I know, I had to take the dog out in it). That, coupled with the fact that you can see the hours of daylight getting shorter every day means that winter does seem to have announced itself.

November 20, 2006

Back in Ceylon

After a few days in Colombo we caught the charity's van down to the house on Saturday - a three hour journey just to cover 100km due to Sri Lankan driving and the amount of traffic on the road. What was once a nerve racking trip down the coast against suicide drivers has now become a mundane weekly occurrence for me, occasionally livened by police roadblocks (looking for terrorists) or sometimes an elephant on the back of a truck.

Faye and I were quite worried about what we might find in the house after being away for two weeks. Monsoon season has gone on longer than anyone can remember this year, with the rain still falling in torrents every afternoon, and this seems to have caused a small mudslide in the back garden. With visions of snakes, spiders and families of cockroaches living happily in the house, we entered cautiously, not knowing quite what to expect, but things turned out to be all right with only a collection of dead bugs lying around on the floor, and our family of geckos on the ceilings. The garden's still full of wildlife, however, and not long after opening the back door a huge snake appeared, looking like it wanted to come in, before thankfully changing it's mind and disappearing away into the jungle.