Sunday, 27 May 2007

Glaciers are cool (and blue!)

Guest writer: Clare de Mowbray

Returning from 3 weeks in Patagonia, the above words seem to be continually flowing from my mouth. Will I have any friends left if I carry on blethering about these monster ice cubes?

Trekking on a hot, sunny day looking up at craggy, black mountains we got to a high point and were met with an enormous glacier sliding down towards us. The width and height of it was awe inspiring and a completely new visual experience for me. So what were we looking at? The glacier in question was Glacier Grey situated in one of Patagonia's most well know National Parks, Torres del Paine.

The glaciers found in Patagonia are valley glaciers which are located in temperate glacial settings. There is little sea ice, no ice shelves, and no ice sheets. The minimum average temperatures are above 0°C and summer temperatures are higher than 10°C. Anyway enough of the science and onto the colour. Seems that it's all about light - The blue colour is caused by the absorption of red and yellow light, leaving the blue to shine through. The longer the path light travels in ice, the more blue it appears.

The colour of ice can be used to estimate its strength and even how long it has been frozen. Ice is white during its first year because it is full of bubbles. Light will travel only a short distance before it is scattered by the bubbles and reflected back out. As a result, little absorption occurs, and the light leaves with the same colour it had when it went in.

During the summer, the ice surface melts and new overlying ice layers compress the remaining air bubbles. Now, any light that enters travels a longer distance within the ice before it emerges. This gives the red end of the spectrum space enough to be absorbed, and the light returned at the surface is blue.

Arctic explorers and mountain climbers know that old, blue ice with fewer bubbles is safer and stronger than white ice. An added bonus for explorers is knowing that floating camps built on blue ice will last longer. And most importantly glacier ice does last longer in drinks because the ice crystals are larger, which means they melt more slowly.
Salud amigo,


Friday, 25 May 2007

25th Anniversary of the attack on MV Atlantic Conveyor

An extract from the RN history on the Falklands War
The Cunard Roll-on/Roll-off container ship Atlantic Conveyor was taken up from trade and converted to serve as an aircraft transport. To do so containers were used to provide the necessary services for embarked aircraft and their attached personnel. A particular feature was the use of containers to create a sheltered area to protect the aircraft from the worst of the weather. The ship embarked 8 Sea Harriers, 6 Harriers GR3s, 8 Wessex 5 helicopters and 5 Chinook helicopters.

On 25 May Atlantic Conveyor was with the task group east of the Falklands. A pair of Argentine Super Etendard aircraft carrying Exocet missiles attacked the British ships. One missile was directed at one of the frigates which deployed distracting metal strips (Chaff). The Chaff did its job and the missile flew on having lost its original target. It then acquired Atlantic Conveyor which was hit on the port quarter, starting huge fires. This led to the eventual abandonment of the ship and 12 men were lost. The loss of 3 Wessex and 3 Chinooks was very significant as they reduced greatly the intended mobility of British land forces in the planned campaign to move from San Carlos to Stanley.

By Colin de Mowbray
HMS ALACRITY was just a few miles away when Atlantic Conveyor was hit. We made straight for her to give assistance. Mercifully the sea was calm but the large swell remained. The fire quickly became well established and it soon became evident that it could not be contained. My memory was of the paint blistering and the dull thump of the internal explosions; we were all aware that she was full of explosives.

When the order was given to abandon ship one of the main problems was the height of the ships side. With two, and then one, jumping ladder (a kind of rope ladder) getting into the water was a real problem for the survivors. The life rafts were all bunched up by the ladder and so some were overfull while others were empty. In all over 70 people climbed on board HMS ALACRITY, some unscathed and others not so lucky. It was evident how the aircrew, in their proper survival equipment, had fared so much better. The lessons on survival were all too evident but have we learnt from this?

The 25th May is the biggest date in the Argentinean’s calendar and they were always going to launch a major push on that day. The sinking of both HMS COVENTRY and the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR made this a dark day for the British forces.

Sunday, 20 May 2007


SPECIAL REPORT By Thumper de Mowbray

Well this IS Thumping good news! Here we see Lexie Elliott at the age of 93.25 surfing the web on her wireless broadband lap top. Lexie is busy keeping up with her large family and huge fan club around the world from her home in the beautiful town of Kynsna, South Africa. Now none of the oldies – or the not so oldies - have any excuses not to get connected.

For the techies of this world Lexie, chose an Acer 2483 with a Celeron M, 1.73GHz CPU: 1024MB RAM (1GB) memory: 80GB Hard Disk Drive: 14.1 inch TFT display: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950: DVD Supermulti optical drive; Wireless LAN 802.11bg up to 54Mbps.

When she was asked how it worked she replied ‘I was worried the processor would not be fast enough for my needs but it seems to be coping. I definitely glad I went for the upgraded Graphics Media Accelerator. Overall I would recommend this as a good entry level.’

And an Editorial word, if I may…..

I know the site has not been updated as often as it should be but we do need more people to write in. I can’t tell you how difficult all this keyboard work is for a rabbit. Let’s be having you then!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Falklands' War - 25 Years On

On Sunday 5 May the Ship’s Company from HMS ALACRITY’s celebrated their 25th Anniversary of the Falklands' War. As before this was combined with the crew from the container ship ATLANTIC CONVEYOR that was sunk by an Exocet missile with the loss of 12 of their ship’s company. Over 70 survivors were picked up by HMS ALACRITY while the ship burnt.

It appears to be a popular time for reunions and I confess to having mixed feelings about them. HMS ALACRITY’s reunion however stands separate from all others as it is a ships’ company that saw war together and, thankfully all returned safely.

As can be seen in the pictures 25 years has seen changes in some of us. For every member of HMS ALACRITY any such gathering is made by the presence of the charismatic and much loved Captain, Commodore Chris Craig CB DSC who continues to recover steadily from his long draw out illness. On balance the Ship’s Company have now all forgiven him for his over eagerness to volunteer the ship for every piece of action around.

An extract from a period during the Falklands War is copied below which illustrates the extent of the action:

In the build-up to the landings at San Carlos, Admiral Woodward's destroyers and frigates continue to wear down the invaders and D Sqdn SAS makes an important contribution with its Pebble Island raid.
On Monday 10th, as submarine "San Luis" makes her last reported and equally unsuccessful attack on ships of the Task Force and "Sheffield" finally sinks. "
Glasgow" (Sea Dart) and "Brilliant" (Sea Wolf) have taken over as type 42/22 combination from "Coventry" and "Broadsword" and continue their radar picket and bombardment duties off Stanley.
That night as "Arrow" moves to the north end of Falkland Sound, sister ship "Alacrity" prepares to sail right through from the south for the first time to flush out any supply ships. As she passes up the Sound, "Alacrity" detects a ship apparently heading for Port Howard, and using her single 4.5 inch, illuminates with star shell. Refusing to stop, the target is engaged in the only surface action of the war and after a number of hits, explodes and sinks with heavy casualties. Reportedly there are only two survivors from what turns out to be the naval transport "ISLA DE LOS ESTADOS" carrying fuel and military supplies. "Alacrity" carries on through to meet "Arrow", and now in to Tuesday morning, both ships head back to the carriers.

Monday, 30 April 2007

93.25 ... not an FM Radio Station

Sadly not everyone has the opportunity to know my favourite Aunt, Lexie Elliott, but there are a great deal of people who do. I publish this collage as an illustration of how we should all be at 93.25 ….. not a Radio station but Lexie’s age.

She lives in the lovely town on Knysna in South Africa where she drives (a senior VW Golf), rides her bicycle (Sir Jasper), swims (in the Hippo Pool), plays her squeeze box at concerts and generally looks after the old people.

The top right picture shows Lexie making adjustments on her flying pig, ‘Piggles’ before he sets off on another death defying mission against ‘Miss Daisy-Moo’ the flying cow from Jersey.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Tin Cans Cars

The picture shows a model car made out of a beer can in Madagascar.

By Guest Writer Ryan Walker (Alias Quiche)

When ever I've been in Africa, Latin America or SE Asia I've been amazed at the skill and resourcefulness of the general population in their ability to reuse everything and make the most useless items that we would throw away into valuable useful objects, such as old car tires made into sandals in Madagascar and the Philippines and buckets in Indonesia.

On a few occasions wandering round towns in developing counties and seeing this transformation of rubbish into some other completely useful form, I started thinking that this would be worth documenting, possibly in the form of a small picture book. For it to ever work I need to collect good quality pictures and stories of the sorts of objects mentioned. Knowing a good amount of people who work in conservation and development and either live or spend lots of time in less developed areas of the world I thought I may have a reasonable chance of collecting the material needed.

So if you come across anything you think maybe useful, get a few good pictures, let me know a story behind it and if I get enough material I will put something together and see if I can find a publisher interested it.
Thanks a lot and hope everyone is ok where ever you are.

By Thumper:
Please also forward them to me ad I will punblish them!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Corrupting the Cookie

Whilst visiting The Great Wall Chinese Restaurant in downtown Gosport in some excellent company last week we concluded with the (now) traditional Fortune Cookies. No surprise here, but what is their origin? Thanks to Wikipedia I can tell you.

The Fortune Cookie is a thin, crisp cookie baked around a piece of paper with words of faux wisdom or vague prophecy, usually served with Chinese food as a dessert. The message inside may also include a list of lucky numbers (used by some as lottery numbers) and a Chinese phrase with translation. Despite the conventional wisdom, they were actually invented in California, not China.

The paper slips are always good for a laugh but James Allen, Clipper’s new Training Supremo added a new dimension. After each proverb you add the two words as below:

  • Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve …. In bed

  • Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world …. In bed!

  • Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length …. In bed!

  • Learning is lifelong ….. in bed!

  • A rich man is not one who has the most, but the one who needs the least ….in bed!

  • Your talents will be recognised and suddenly rewarded …. In bed!

  • Happiness is a butterfly that may alight upon you ….. in bed!

Thank you James, and is it true you have introduced a new Part D training Course …. In bed?

Monday, 16 April 2007

Anna's Ultimate Booze Cruise

I have just had word with Anna Wardley and her plan to swim the Channel. When I asked her why she is swimming to France and not back she gave me the simplest expalation. 'Colin, I can bring more wine back on the ferry than I can while I am swimming'.


By Anna Wardley
Between 6-10 August 2007 I plan to swim solo across the English Channel. I know it is going to be exceptionally tough, but I am determined to give it my very best shot. I have been training since October 2006 and am building up my distance in preparation for my attempt at the ultimate marathon open water swim.

The English Channel is approximately 19 nautical miles (38000 yards) or 35 kilometres (35000 mtrs) - wide at its narrowest point (Shakespeare Beach, Dover to Cap Gris Nez, France). Every day there are approximately 600 traffic movements in the Dover Straits, and next August I plan to make it 601!

I will be raising money for the Samaritans (, who offer around the clock confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, and the Philip Green Memorial Trust (, a UK based charity that helps less fortunate children both in the UK and overseas. As JustGiving is only able to administer single-charity campaigns, I have an arrangement with PGMT that they will pass on half of al monies raised to the Samaritans, who have also cleared this agreement.

I'll do the getting cold, wet and tired bit and take on the Cross Channel ferries and jellyfish - I hope you will do the generous bit and donate to these two special causes. With your help, I aim to make the pain worthwhile and raise a significant amount for both worthy causes.

Donating is very simple. Click onto The site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to sponsor me: Samaritans will receive your money faster and, if you are a UK taxpayer, an extra 28% in tax will be added to your gift at no cost to you.

So please sponsor me now! Many thanks for your support.


Saturday, 14 April 2007

Tim Hedges leaving spoof

After it was publicly announced that Clipper Race Director Tim Hedges would be leaving after 9 years with Clipper all his work mates had the customary whip round. As Tim was so well known and respected, and in recognition to his long service, everyone dug deep into their pockets and found the odd coppers, foreign coins and a few old buttons that were really being reserved for the next church offering. The result was a spectacular success and there was a surplus of funds, even after buying his discount farewell card.

As I had known Tim for longest I was asked to say a few words. I mentioned his time Skippering Chrysolite in the 1998 race and his subsequent time assisting me with the 2000 and 2002 race so ably, and how I had greatly appreciated his never ending support, wise council and company.

We need to go back to 1996 when a certain Becca Aird ended up as one of four finalists in a Mail on Sunday competition for a place on Clipper. Her training skipper was none other than a certain Tim Hedges. After a total of 70,000 miles of ocean racing between them, several of us found ourselves at a church in Wiltshire to witness what can happen to nice girls who enter strange newspaper competitions.

After his farewell drinks for the office at The Clarence Tim announced that the news of his departure had been greatly exaggerated and he was not really leaving after all! In fact the whole evening was nothing else than a rehearsal for when he does finally leave at the end of May when Joff bailey (ex- New York Clipper) takes over.

I will keep my final farewell until after the next collection and he really does leave!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Liverpool Transport Vision

There have been worries expressed due to the expected high demands on the Liverpool transport framework during the 2008 – the year the city celebrates their turn as European City of Culture. With the shelving of the much needed metro tram system a well known Merseyside civil engineer has been looking for alternatives further a field.

‘I think I have found a practical answer’ said Mr Alastair Soane-Smugly (ASS).
'I have invested my own resources to follow up my new scheme of Jumbo Elephant Transport –or JET-ASS for short. My wife and I have carried out initial trials of the scheme and the picture shows us on the number 6 JET which is the express from Meols to Hoylake, a distance of over 1.5 miles.'

‘The joy of JET’ stated Mr S-S, ‘is that it is not affected by traffic as any cars are merely brushed aside or simple trodden on. Also, as road works now represent the permanent state of all the roads in the city centre, we see these will not be a problem as they represent the normal terrain for the prime movers of this revolutionary system.’

When asked if the JETs would be required to be routed round the streets when they were empty like the Liverpool buses Mr S-S answered ‘Absolutely not! They come with very experienced Mahouts who will be able to direct them in assisting with the many building projects underway in the city. In addition the Parks Department are also keen to be involved in an attempt to improve the quality of their roses.’

Mr S-S did not see that the capacity of JET-ASS would be a problem. 'We are looking at adding capacity to existing systems so this must be a bonus.' He confirmed they would be intergrated into the Park and Ride system to to get traffic off the Trunk routes.
The trial continues.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Happy Easter from Thumper!

On behalf of all the loyal followers, HAPPY EASTER.
Try this link for to celebrate with me
...and have a thumping good holiday!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Marina (nearly) at Keppel Bay

One of the interesting sites I enjoy in Singapore is seeing the building progressing at Keppel Bay where new marina is taking shape. When the Clipper visited last January they were based in a temporary purpose built marina in front of the Caribbean development (on the right of the picture). This prestigious residential development is built around the old dry docks of the famous Keppel shipyard. The largest dock, capable of talking a battleship, is in the foreground.

The fantastic new marina will be on Keppel Island and accessed by the new bridge. It will be ready at the end of 2007 and officially opened during the visit of the Clipper Fleet in January 2008.

The latest project, just announced, is another vast residential complex with striking architecture to be know as Reflections.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Dr Juma joins the NHS

An exciting new dimension on providing a whole range of medical services by one specialist has recently been introduced by the NHS. Due to the probability of being overcome by the demand, Dr Juma’s surgery address remains a secret at present.

In Case you can not read his services they are:

  • Bewitched people
  • Swollen body
  • Lost Lover
  • Insanity
  • Diarrhoea
  • Madness
  • To make men’s pennis strong
  • Women with pregnancy problems (By TdeM: Probably as a result of above)
  • Vomiting at all times
  • Misfortunes
  • Demand debts
  • Remove misunderstanding with anybody
  • Court cases
  • Casino specialist
  • Bad luck
  • Customer attraction etc

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Bugis Street re-visited

The name Bugis Street brings backs memories to those who were in Singapore many years ago. For those in the forces serving in Singapore Bugis Street was always the last call on a run ashore. Wherever one was in town on the way home there was always some annoying person in a group who would insist in a final beer at Bugis. What was the attraction?

In the ‘good old days’ the street was full of colourful street bars with beautiful transvestites, known as kaitais out to trick visiting over tired sailors and others. In fairness to those who were fooled the Kaitais were identified by their superficial beauty. The story went that you could tell them from the genuine women by their Adam’s Apple or the size of their hands. The classic call by those tricked was ‘Bloody Hell – it’s got a meat and two veg!

World adventurer Martin Read, a former Royal Marine who served in Singapore, asks ‘Are the Kaitais and three legged dogs scavenging in the monsoon drains still there? Is Fatties now really a five story posh restaurant?!’

Well Martin I am afraid Bugis Street is a respectable street market now and even has a MRT (Tube) station named after it. The Kaitais have to moved out of town but I am told are very much in existence. Lack of time has precluded further research.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Excuses, Excuses

By Thumper de Mowbray
Great News! A real grumpy complaint has just come in from a dedicated Colin’s Place fan, called Queenie. This is my first proper complaint and therefore I will enjoy handling it with the diligence, respect and the utter contempt that it deserves ……

Dear Thumper
I am extremely concerned that your Master is not updating his Blog as often as he should, thus not taking care of those poor unfortunate people who have actually fallen to the addiction of such a site.

If for some reason - and it ought to be a good one - this has just been an oversight, that can be accepted - as long as it is not due to bone idleness or total disregard for those that have supported him so loyally up to now.

I therefore trust you, Thumper, to get things sorted forthwith and accept only the strongest and most plausible excuses from the Master himself. I shall be patient and await your reply with great anticipation – but little expectation of satisfaction.

Warmest regards - and bunches of carrots
Queen of Grumps

Colin‘s Reply
Thumper, thanks for passing on the note from the Queen of Grumps (QOGs). The explanation is simple. I placed one entry on the Blogsite in China and then the authorities swooped and closed me down. I was unable to get onto the site on any computer – I was totally ‘Shanghaied’ even though I was in Qingdao. I quickly moved hotels and then changed my flight and hid in Beijing. What a shame as I was about to tell the story about my new Dinner Jacket and suit (cost £70 total) which were supplied without buttons - I had to go to anther stall to get these! So much to tell, so little time to blog. I am now in Singapore and getting back to normal.

Please pass on my apologies to QOGs, and I will find a way to beat the 1,313,973,713 Chinese who seemed to get one over me this time.


Gambi Benromach

Location: Qingdao
Occasion: Signing of Qingdao Clipper
Guests: Vice Mayor Ms Zang
Toast: Benromach Single malt

As we have come to expect in Qingdao when the hosts here stage a function they do it well, extremely well. After the official meeting and speeches Madam Zang, the Vice Mayor of Qingdao, hosted a superb banquet to celebrate the event.

The banquets hosted by the City and the Olympic Sailing Committee are not only grand affairs but also fun. I took the opportunity to present Madam Zang with a bottle of Benromack malt whiskey from Glasgow's sponsors Gordon MacPhail. The bottle was duly passed around and enjoyed with various cries of ‘Gambi’ – or bottoms up …. one of the few Chinese words in my vocabulary.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Knuckling down to it

Sir Robin, now just over 2,000 miles from Norfolk, Va. would be the first to agree when Ian Burns said he was going to ‘roll up his sleeves and get stuck in’. Ian, runs the Red Star and Red Sail magazines in Qingdao and played a major part in the last Clipper visit to Qingdao in March 2006.

His current project is a groundbreaking Arts and Music Festival in Qingdao due to open in an old warehouse in ten days time. While setting up the exhibition space he was using an electric plane without a proper safety guard and badly injured the knuckle on one finger. He is now in Qingdao General Hospital making a good recovery although ‘Excused guitar playing’ for a while. As can be seen he is receiving visitors, in this case the famous Julia from the Olympic Sailing Committee and Colin de Mowbray, who is currently visiting Qingdao.

Ian took part in the final part of the last Clipper race. All his many friends in Clipper wish him a speedy recovery and suggest that next time he employs one of the 330 million carpenters in China to shorten the bit of wood.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Junk Sailing

This picture needs little explanation. It is Hong Kong Clipper departing from Hong Kong in April 2003. Up until the 2000 race the Clipper yachts were named after famous Clipper ships such as Arial, Serica, Thermopile, Mermerus, Chrysolite and so on, which meant a lot to nautical historians, but little to most other people. These names were in general quite difficult to spell correctly and almost impossible to pass over radio circuits to Chinese radio operators … and many others!

In 2000 the boats were named after UK cities as part of The Times millennium project. In 2002 three of the boat become international, namely Cape Town, New York and Hong Kong. This has set the stamp on the current race format.

Here Hong Kong Clipper’s local supporters club had got together and chartered one of the few traditional junks remaining in Hong Kong. Even today racing round the world in a relatively small yacht is still a great achievement. To think that the Chinese sailed their junks everywhere is an amazing thought, especially on the windward legs!

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

T-Shirt Dirty Nelly’s

This is one of my rarest and most treasured T-shirts modelled here by Nurse Lucy. Fullers, known as Dirty Nelly’s, was a wonderful example of a true ‘All American Diner’ in Phoebus which is in Newport News, Occasionally we would go there from the US Naval Air Station at just across the water in Norfolk, Virginia. The portions at Fullers were enormous (as were the staff and all the diners) and it was extremely reasonable – hence the logo on the back ‘EAT DIRT CHEAP AT FULLERS’

The main reason why I am so attached to this T-shirt is because it became one of my main cycling shirts and so has seen gallant service and many thousands of miles in France, Spain and New Zealand …. a true friend that has absorbed gallons of sweat in its time.

The VELUX 5 OCEANS yachts are in the process of arriving in Norfolk Virginia at present and I am sure all those involved will be sampling some American Dinners, but none will come close to matching Fullers. As my experience is now 25 years old I suspect that, if food poisoning did not get Dirty Nelly, then the cholesterol will have. My money is on the T-shirt being the sole survivor!

Sunday, 11 March 2007

SARS Scare Patient Catches GDL*

This picture was a real scoop! In April 2003 the Clipper Race arrived in Hong Kong at the start of the SARS crisis. For those with short memories this stood for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. In the end there were 8,096 known cases reported of the disease and 774 deaths (a mortality rate of 9.6%). See:

The acronym in this context was new to me, and I think everyone else. SAR of course is Search and Rescue but I had worked in Hong Kong before the turn over to China where it was agreed the ex-colony would be known as an SAR, or Special Administrative Region of the PRC. If you live in South Africa you know SARS as the SA Revenue Service, in other words the Tax Man. Conversely surgeons would think of the Society of Academic & Research Surgery.

Back to the photo ….. Just before dawn on the day the Clipper Race was finally going to depart from Hong Kong for Singapore I received a report that one crew member was suffering from a high temperature and a fever. Immediately the affected crew member was taken to a local hospital for all the thorough checks. The all clear was finally given but not before the South China Morning Post hit the street with a front page exclusive of ‘Clipper Race Crew Contracts SARS’. It then went on to say that the crew member was in fact their special correspondent, Anna Wardley who was now quarantined in her room at the Excelsior Hotel.

Before the paper was published there were only five of the 450 rooms occupied. Immediately the paper was published the other four guests checked out. Anna was the sole guest and forbidden to leave her room. The staff, who drew the short straw to look after her, wore masks and full protective clothing. They pushed trays of room service along the floor to her from the door with long bamboo poles.

The effect of SARS during this visit was that all tourists left and the relations and friends of the crew members at home imagined it was like the Great Plague in London in 1665 with everyone stepping over dead bodies in the street. For us, we were annoyed that the Rolling Stone Concert was cancelled but the Rugby 7s were not and enjoyed even more.

I would not pretend it was not a challenging time but all was finally overcome and Anna eventually re-joined the race in Singapore once her Bronchitis was better!

Anna Wardley finished the Clipper Race and after running the PR for the RNLI joined Clipper Ventures before the last race. She is currently Head of Communications and presently recovering from a nasty dose of GDL* which, we trust, is not as serious as her previous deceases. We hope she will be better soon.
* Gosport Dreaded Lurgi …..