Monday, 29 August 2016

The Royal National Lifeboat Institute - saving lives at sea.

The Headquarters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) is in Poole in Dorset. Back in the Spring I visited it and have been meaning to write a post about it ever since. With the recent sad deaths along our coastline, which have continued this week, it is an appropriate moment to appreciate the many people in the RNLI and emergency services who are willing to put their lives at risk to save others.

The lifeboats at RNLI Headquarters Poole
The islands of Britain and Ireland have always been at the mercy of the sea. In the early 19th century there were 1,800 shipwrecks a year.  It almost became an accepted occurrence and some coastal communities would try their best to help the survivors reach shore. In 1824 Sir William Hillary who had been involved in various rescues formed a  charity for the national institute for the preservation of life and property from shipwrecks. In 1854 this was renamed the National Lifeboat Institute.

Lifeboat at Weymouth Harbour
 In neighbouring Lyme Regis in 1825 a Coastguard Captain named Richard Spence altered a boat by adding airtight compartments and cork fending so that it could be used as a lifeboat.  In 1838 Grace Darling was a lighthouse keepers daughter, who at the age of 22 persuaded her father to row out in raging seas to rescue the survivors of the  wrecked paddle steamer SS Forfareshire. They managed to rescue nine survivors. For a detailed account of the rescue see here. The Darlings were both awarded the RNLI Silver medal for their gallantry.

Grace Darling rescuing the survivors.
In  February 1861 200 ships were wrecked off the East coast. The Whitby lifeboat launched five times to rescue stricken vessels. On the sixth launch a freak wave hit the lifeboat and the sole survivor was Henry Freeman. He was the only one wearing a cork life jacket, that had been recently issued by the RNLI. The design of life jackets has changed considerably since then, this one was so heavy it's not surprising that the other men on that lifeboat choose not to wear it.


 Henry Blogg (1876-1954) was the RNLI's more decorated lifeboatman. He served on the Cromer lifeboats for 53 years. He was awarded three gold medals, four silver medals and the George Cross and the British Empire Medal. During his time at Cromer lifeboats 893 lives were saved, what an amazing achievement!
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In the past the majority of the lifeboat men came were those who worked on boats, as the number of fishermen and sailors have declined it became apparent that there was a need to train those working on the lifeboats. In 2004 the RNLI college opened in Poole and has excellent training facilities. These facilities can be viewed by visitors.


 There is a lifeboat simulator which allows the trainees to experience real life experiences.  It felt very realistic as we headed out of Dover harbour and went to the aid of a stricken oil tanker. It was challenging manouvering the lifeboat in difficult sea conditions. There were many other vessels in the area which added to the difficulties of getting close to people in the water. It really made you appreciate the hazards involved and the conditions they have to work in.



We also were able to watch a practice on learning how to deal with a lifeboat that capsizes in the water. This is likely to be the only chance the trainees will have to experience this, unless it happens for real.


The lifeboat was hitched up out of the water, and then dropped back in upside down. It seem to take an age before they reappeared and managed to turn the boat back over. We had been told that there was an air pocket under the boat, but it still felt scary just watching it. The last lifeboat to be lost was the Solomon Brown in 1981 with all hands on deck, see this moving video.



I came away with so much admiration for the lifeboat men and women. It is amazing that this service is still a funded completely through charity and they receive so much support to keep the service going. They also supply over 1,000 lifeguards who patrol around 200 beaches in the UK during the summer. Some of the cost of the lifeguards is funded by local authorities and beach owners. With the cut backs in public spending over the last few years some of the service has been reduced.


RNLI at Holes Bay

A tour around the RNLI college can only be booked in advance. Their restaurant/cafe here is very popular especially for Sunday roasts and breakfast and it overlooks Holes Bay. You can also stay here (when the accommodation is not been used by the trainees) see here.

How does life saving at sea operate in other countries? There are RNLI museums for Grace Darling and Henry Blogg have you visited them?
Stay safe, until next time.
Sarah x

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Out and about

After last week it's nice to show a clean white dog even if it doesn't last long! Tavi is getting better at posing for pictures, there was one time when he was younger that you would just get a white blur or discoloured blob!


During the summer we have sought out empty places, discovering lovely new walks along the way. We recently walked from Swyre through meadows down to the Chesil beach. We had this vast landscape of sea, beach and sky all to ourselves. I subsequently discovered that part of this beach, just a little further along is for nudists!


We came across these rusted metal poles, which were placed very close together. We could only assume they must have been part of the World War II defences.


The Sea Kale was still providing a grey carpet to the shingle. Only this week while doing some research for a project that I am working on, a Merchant,  Mr H.B Way operating out of West Bay in 1812 produced detailed instructions of how to grow this plant for cultivation. It contains high levels of Vitamin C and has been used since Roman times to prevent scurvy during long voyages by sea. As mentioned in a previous post it is illegal to dig up the plants, but seeds can easily be purchased. Mr Way recommended planting the seeds in November or December. I will try and follow his instructions later in the year and see what happens. 

Over the weekend the weather turned more stormy and looking at the sea reminded us of those long forgotten winter storms. Sadly over the weekend in the UK there were six deaths caused by drowning as people underestimated the ferocity of the sea. Sometimes it is better to view the sea from afar.......





We have also experienced another cliff fall this week. It happened at 7.40 in the evening and there were still quite a few people on the beach, luckily no one was badly injured. We constantly see people ignoring all warning notices and standing on the edge of the cliffs or sitting right under the bottom of the cliffs or amongst recent rock falls.

East Cliff West Bay before the recent rock fall/
Out on another walk we saw these sunflowers. They always make me smile they look so bright and cheerful.


As usual the courgettes seem to have grown without us noticing them, does anyone have any good courgette recipes? I think we will be eating them for days!


Thank you for visiting, until next time.
Sarah 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Changing season

As the days begin to shorten many of you, like us, will have started to see signs of the summer slowly coming to an end. So it now feels even more important to make the most of these remaining summer days. We have been doing some decorating this week, both inside and out, but it hasn't stopped us from going some longer walks, enjoying the scenery and daily noticing changes.


 The fields are changing colour and tractors and combine harvesters are busy.

 
  A recent walk took us through fields of sheep, then barley and corn.


It was much easier walking through a field of clover 


 A field of newly cut grass was Tavi's favourite, he found a very wet and smelly cow pat and smothered himself in it! It really stands out on a white dog too! He usually has a shower inside and wasn't so keen on a cold shower outside!


If only we hadn't been so busy at the time, admiring the view and watching the paragliders in the distance!


The blackberries are just starting to ripen, we had our first blackberry of the year this week. Have you picked any yet? After a morning in the community orchard today raking hay and weeding I came home with a few of the first apples of the season - Beauty of Bath. They were almost falling off the tree as they were so ripe.


 On the flowering front the orange monbretia (crocosmia) grows very well in this area and this hedgerow was a spectacular sight.


Looking out to the sea the colours here have changed too, the grass on the top of the cliffs has turned to the colour of sand...



With a few days of higher temperatures forecast we will be heading to the sea to cool down.
Thank you as always for the comments you leave me I always enjoy reading them. Wishing you a happy week.
Sarah x

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Sidmouth Folk Festival

This week we took an hours journey down the coast to East Devon. It is still part of the Jurassic Coast but it feels quite different. You can walk through time, as the layers of rocks along the coastline record 185 million years of the Earth's history.  Although it feels as if you have travelled to another country, the telephone box shows clearly that this is not the case!


The Triassic red rocks in Devon were a tropical desert millions of years ago and the pebbles on the beach belonged to wide river flood plains.

Budleigh Salterton

On the beach we discovered these wonderful Jurassic pebble art creations which were created by a local resident in aid of charity. It was sad to read that some of his work had been destroyed by vandals.



The reason we had headed in this direction was to attend two evening concerts at Sidmouth Folk Festival. It is a great music festival that has been running in the town for over 50 years. Unlike many other UK music festivals the events are held within the town, which adds to the atmosphere. Tickets for the popular acts are often booked well in advance, but even if you aren't attending one of these you can still enjoy many aspects of the festival that take place in the streets. Many of the pubs have live music and this is so popular that the people often spill out into the street. It is normal to see many musicians walking by carrying their instruments or tuning their instruments in the park.



It did feel again that we had been transported aboard listening to Le Vent du Nord, a folk band from Quebec in Canada. Their songs were all in French, but for us this added to our enjoyment of listening to them. Many years ago we were on a camping holiday in France in Brittany and one evening a local folk group wandered around the camp site singing, they songs were so beautiful and like Pied Piper of Hamelin they enticed you to follow them! (As a child we often used to visit Hamelin with our visitors.)

The following evening we watched Oysters3 (a slimmed down version of the Oysterband) who are were also excellent. It is so good to travel a short distance and still experience music from other places. Have you been to any music festivals this year?


 The seafront also doesn't escape from the music either. Many dancing groups also take part. Although we didn't witness it this time. I will leave you with this clip about Things to do on a Saturday afternoon when it gets too warm!

Hope you are having fun whatever you are doing. 
Sarah x





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