Notes from the Green Party MEP for East of England. Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Monday, 10 November 2008

My guilty secrets

I came home from Papa Westray on the Northlink ferry from Kirkwall to Aberdeen (very comfortable, overnight with a spacious cabin). That bit was fine.

But before that, I did something terrible.

I took the plane from Papa Westray to Kirkwall (not the two minute flight to Westray that is in the Guinness book of records, but still a little flight, fifteen minutes of it).

Now this was a bad idea for more than one reason.

One was the environment (though of course the thing was flying anyway, and better full than half empty I suppose).

Second, it nearly didn't fly at all, because the pilot was being iffy about how low the cloud base was and had to be chivvied into agreeing to come and get us, which he eventually did, but only after we'd hung about in the shed at the air strip for an hour or so ringing him and trying to persuade him that it was "brightening" a bit. So we came pretty close to having to resort to plan B, or even plan C which would have been to stay longer (which would have been an attractive solution but I'd run out of clean clothes).

The third reason why it was a bad idea to take the plane was that plan B—which was to take the boat to Pierowall at 4 pm, and then the minibus or taxi across to the other end of Westray, and then the boat to Kirkwall at 6, getting there at 7.30, in time for the meal I'd booked at the Kirkwall hotel at 8 pm—was actually a great deal shorter and more efficient, as well as more immune to the bad weather. Well, more immune to the kind of bad weather we were having on that particular day.

So why did I succumb to booking a flight in the first place?

Well, partly because it seemed at the time that the flight was likely to be a safer bet than the boat, since the boats had been cancelled in the storms a week before. And it's no good waiting to see, because there are only 8 seats on the plane and you won't get on at the last minute if the boats aren't sailing. So to be on the safe side I rang for a plane ticket a few days before I knew whether the weather would be bad. It was a remedy for ignorance, not a preference for flying.

So the real problem is humanity's desperate lack of foreknowledge. How easy it would be if we knew what was going to work best before we had to take the decisions and make the plans!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea

Today I reached the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea.
This is how I got there:

First, I took a train from Cambridge to London.

Then, I took a sleeper train from London to Edinburgh and another train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen.

After staying for a while in Aberdeen, I took a bus to the Northlink ferry terminal.

Thence I took a ship from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, and stayed overnight in a B&B in Kirkwall.

The next day, I took the Orkney Ferries boat to Papa Westray.

The walk to the north part of the island was this morning's expedition.

We reached the place where the oceans encounter one another at around 11 a.m. It was rather wet and grey and there was a lot of wind, but an impressive amount of surf and large waves.

Total journey time about 23 hours, not including the overnight stops. Probably it would have taken a little longer if we hadn't cheated by driving the car a couple of miles north before starting this morning's walk.