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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Beijing

Olympic Glory

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If you haven’t been moved by our outstanding success in Beijing then you have a heart of stone.  The commitment, dedication, pride and intensity demonstrated by our sportsmen and women is an example to us all – and that, of course, is the purpose of sport.

The most incisive fact behind all this is that in 1996 in Atlanta, Team GB won just one gold medal.  In 1997 lottery funding started.  Now, 11 years on, that investment has started to pay off and it seems self evident doesn’t it?  Our superstars who are now leading the world, were then just beginning their interest in sport.  We have provided  proper funding and they are repaying us in gold.

If international sport can replace war and if sporting success can inspire individual success in business, in education, in science and in society then we have a  model that deserves even greater support.  In itself it justifies the lottery whatever concerns one may have about government sponsored gambling.  Our sportsmen and women must now be guaranteed proper funding in future whatever source it comes from.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

August 18, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Walking The Dog 5

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Our climate seems to be playing many tricks on us these days. Or at least, so the media frenzy about global warming would have us believe. With my personal experience and memory stretching back only about 40 years it’s difficult to know whether what seems unusual in that context is merely just the ebb and flow of nature. This spring and summer certainly seems to have been missing our normal south-westerly winds. Instead they’ve been coming from the east and closer to due south.

It was the return of a more familiar wind direction that gave rise to another rather embarrassing confrontation with the local wildlife and another failure to capture the event with my camera.

As Capone and I pass by Warblington Church, I suppose it’s my many repeated commands to walk to heel in case of any traffic which means that it has become a habit and, try as I might, I cannot encourage him to “get on” and quarter the ground in front as his half-pointer breeding should favour. He just prefers to walk by my side.

As we swing round past the old vicarage and turn south again down the Pook Lane path to the sea, he changes and forges ahead, often unseen, even on the brightest day, in the dark and dappled tunnel of hedgerow. To both sides there are ditches, thick with nettles and to my right, the west, a field of pasture, foot high with grasses. About a third of a way down we pass two great cedar trees. If you look seaward from the Havant junction on the A27 you can’t miss them. They appear to be three but, in fact, one splits right near the base of its trunk.

Right there, with wind in my face, a russet shape with a great bushy tail wanders along the edge of the field, casual, calm and blissfully unaware, my scent blown behind me before any chance of reaching him.

He is less than six feet from me. His feet at my eye level. Even fumbling for my camera does not alarm him. The wind is strong enough to blow away the noise too. My clumsy camera work continues and he walks right past paying me no notice.

Now I have to turn back slightly and towards the ditch. At last my viewfinder is on but I can’t see him anymore. So I part the nettles with my leg and edge gently into the ditch – until I begin to slide.

Arms and face tingling with nettle stings, I have discovered that the ditch is six feet deep and as I try to scramble back up, who should be there looking down at me with bemusement? Capone, of course, complete bafflement on his face as to what these human beings get up to and why!

The other “environmental” issue that has been concerning me are the vast carpets of glutinous seaweed that have been smothering the beaches. Sid, the Emsworth harbourmaster and fount of all knowledge on such matters, tells me that it is caused by nitrates washed down into the sea from the farmland.

It is revolting stuff, perhaps six inches deep, slippery and treacherous to walk over. In bright sunlight it bleaches quickly and dries to a crispy underlay over which the next tide deposits another layer. I was lucky enough to enjoy a day’s sailing in a 45 foot yacht out of Northney Marina and saw great swathes of the stuff as far out as the Isle of Wight. Then suddenly, with no mention of our local problem, “mutant seaweed” choking the Olympic Games sailing venue in Beijing has become a stick with which to beat the Chinese.

I hold no brief for the Far East at all but surely this is just more media befuddlement, cheap sensationalism (even in The Times!). We love to paint them as the great polluters, as incompetent to manage this great sporting occasion. Look closer to home first, skip the all expenses paid trip to China and please, can someone give us some honesty, some straightforwardness and some real information?

Capone agrees too. “Now get on and throw that stick!”

 

Mutant Seaweed

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An article in Friday’s Times tells of the difficulties facing sailors competing in the Beijing Olympics due to an invasion of mutant seaweed described as “thick as a carpet”.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4221527.ece

We are suffering from the same problem in Chichester Harbour and I can personally testify to the deep pile quality of this very unpleasant weed.  I consulted the authority on such matters, Sid, the Emsworth harbourmaster.  He tells me it is caused by nitrates seeping down into the harbour from farmland.  I have seen great swathes of it as far as 10 miles out and around the Isle of Wight.  The tide brings it up to the beach and deposits it in layers four to six inches thick.  It is difficult and slippery to walk over and is bleached almost bright white and crispy by the sun in the space of a day.  Then the tide brings another layer up and massive areas of the foreshore become clogged with it.

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 28, 2008 at 11:32 am