A Beach Hut at Old Hunstanton

An account of the NAS West Norfolk day at the beach hut.

INTRODUCTION

I am taking a one-post break from my series about my holiday in Scotland to cover last Sunday’s NAS West Norfolk activities centred on the Mencap beach hut at Old Hunstanton which we had for the day.

GETTING THERE

Having checked on google maps to remind myself of the distance between Hunstanton and Old Hunstanton I decided to get the bus to Hunstanton and walk from there. Having a choice between Stagecoach and a local operator (Lynx) I naturally decided in favour of the local operator. This decision was rewarded with a fare that was less than I would have paid on Stagecoach:

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For a sunny Sunday in June the traffic was quite light, and the bus reached Hunstanton pretty much on schedule. I then set off on the walk to Old Hunstanton. I have stated before on this blog that the shortest route is not always the best on my reckoning, and this was another situation where my chief criterion was not shortness. For reasons that I will not insult the intelligence of my readers by elucidating my sole criterion for choosing my route was to stay as near the sea as possible.

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Old Hunstanton Beach
Old Hunstanton Beach. I initially failed to identify the correct beach hut, but after a few minutes scouting I was noticed by one of the others.

PRE-LUNCH – THE LIFEBOATS

Having got to know the beach hut some of us took the RNLI up on their kind offer of a tour as they explained about what they do, their boat and their hovercraft. This latter is one of only four in the whole country. The boat has to be towed into the water by tractor, and anyone familiar with north Norfolk beaches at low tide will therefore have little difficulty in understanding why the hovercraft which is an amphibious vehicle is sometimes necessary.

Propellers
I took these first few pictures before the initial tour – the building was open and no one attempted to stop people from looking.

PipingHovercraft frontsturdy ringsHovercraft jacketEnginesLifeboats LogoControls 2Controls 1RNLI Hovercraft1

beach friendly wheelchair
One of the bits of equipment the beach hut have – a wheelchair specially adapted for going to the beach (btw it did get used as we had someone who uses a wheelchair in our group).

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Net
Net at the beach hut

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The Beach Hut
The beach hut
Ancient Mariner1
Identifying a lunch spot.

lifeboats info2Lifeboats info 1Controls 3Controls 4Hovercraft2Boat ShedPretoursignsGuide and gear

Layer 1 - warmth
The first layer of a lifeboat person’s gear – this one is for warmth
Layer 2 - waterproofing
this wetsuit with built-in wellington boots goes on next to ensure that you don;t get absolutely soaked.

L2WHelmet modelling

The helmet and lifejacket complete the outfitting
The ensemble is completed with a helmet that has a ;protective visor and a lifejacket with a few extras.

Boat -sterntrailer frameBoatMotortractor-trailer coupling

tractor cab
The cab of the tractor – it has two steering wheels and multiple openings.

Boat unleashedboat being pulled by tractorCab openingsCab2

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This tractor has particularly large wheels – that is me standing next to one of them.

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LUNCH

I went to the Ancient Mariner for lunch, and it was quite excellent. I also had an outside table, which meant opportunities for taking photos.

BeachKitesurfing

Cliff formation from Old Hunstanton Beach
Cliff face viewed from Old Hunstanton beach

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Ghostship
A pint of Adnams Ghostship – excellent for a sunny day in June

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These are a subject of some controversy – personally I find this view, which shows humans at long last attempting to take care of their planet to be a lovely one.

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Marxism 3: Saturday

An account of the Saturday at Marxism, with lots of pictures.

INTRODUCTION

First the big news – I am writing this on my own computer. Second, for this post, the third in my series on Marxism 2016 (see here and here) I will not be writing about all the meetings I attended on the Saturday, but rather setting out a brief framework of the day before concentrating on two meetings in particular.

GETTING THERE AND THE PLAN

I had my usual smooth journey in. Here is my plan for the day:

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Thus, my selected meetings were: Engels and the origins of women’s oppression (Celia Hutchinson) in room 728, Precarity: minority condition or majority experience? (Kevin Doogan) in the Elvin Hall, The Anthropocene and the global economic crisis (John Bellamy Foster) in the Galleon Suite room A Royal National Hotel), After the elections: Ireland’s new politics? (Brid Smith and Richard Boyd Barrett), in the Galleon Suite room C Royal National Hotel) and The gene editing revolution – its promise and potential perils (John Parrington), Room 728.

It so happened that the two meetings in the above  list that were in the Royal national Hotel were the only two that I attended there and were back to back. Regular readers will recall that the entrances to the Institute of Education building are on levels 3 and 4. Room 728 as its name suggests is on level 7, while the Elvin Hall is on level 1. There are lifts, but I am not keen on lifts and I also recognized that there were others at the event whose need for lift access is greater than my own, so this program involved a lot of stairs.

The first two meetings featured one late change – Kevin Doogan had to withdraw and was replaced as speaker by Joseph Choonara. Here are some photographs…

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After the usual picnic lunch it was time for…

A VISIT TO THE ROYAL NATIONAL HOTEL

The Royal National Hotel is separated from the Institute of Education by the width of a street (albeit a central London street with all that that entails). Observation of the timetable will lead you to note that Galleon A and Galleon C but no Galleon B. This is because the Galleon Suite is divided by means of temporary partitions which are not soundproof (I have been attending incarnations of this festival since 1995, and can attest to this, as it was not always taken account of), so Galleon B (the middle of a three way partition) was used as a kind of anteroom to the other two parts of the suite, simultaneously serving as a sound-break between them. My first port of call in this building was Galleon C for…

THE ANTHROPOCENE AND THE GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

The basic thesis behind this talk is that the scale of human impact on our climate has already been such that we are no longer in the Holocene, the period which began about 10,000 years ago, but in the Anthropocene, the start of which is still not agreed on, with estimates of the exact point spanning the 19th century.

The term Anthropocene is not as new as you might think, having been used in the 1920s by Alexei Pavlov. What this terminology implies is that human influence (anthropo- is a Greek prefix meaning human) on the earth has become so great that human history is now driving geological history.

The speaker (and we were lucky enough to have noted author John Bellamy Foster in that role) presented a huge amount of data explaining the thinking, and left himself without enough time to explain what we should be doing about this situation. While I found this meeting interesting and sobering I was somewhat disappointed by this aspect of it.

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The platform with no speakers

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Abstract art at the RNH
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The platform just before the start of the meeting.

PICTURES FROM GALLEON B IN BETWEEN MEETINGS

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IRELAND’S NEW POLITICS?

I had been looking forward to this one since hearing Brid Smith speak at the opening rally (I already knew how good Richard Boyd Barrett was from previous years) and I was not to be disappointed. Richard Boyd Barrett (now in his second term as TD for Dun Laoghaire) and Brid Smith are both members of the Irish Dail as part of the People Not Profits coalition.

Before looking at Ireland’s new politics, a brief summary of Ireland’s old politics. For virtually the whole history of the Republic of Ireland the government of the country had swung between two right-wing conservative parties,  Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, depending on which of them the Labour Party in that country chose to prop up.

So what is different now? Well both of the main parties have suffered heavy electoral losses, and one election after its best ever showing the Labour party is down to seven seats. People Before Profit has six seats, and four others are held by socialists who are not members of that coalition (this would be equivalent to having 40-50 radical left MPs at Westminster).

Ireland was forced by the EU to bail out toxic banks at a cost of 68 billion, which was clawed back by inflicting cuts on the weakest in society. Then, the EU decided it had not gone far enough in immiserating Ireland and demanded that the Irish government levy a water charge. This provoked a huge backlash, including a 250,000 strong demonstration in Dublin (equivalent, given the two countries populations to 4-5 million in London), and there is simply no way that the water charge will be made to stick.

It is not just in the Republic that things are changing rapidly (the Irish Socialist Workers Party is a cross-border organisation). There are now two People Before Profit coalition members sitting in the Stormont Parliament (Eamonn McCann and Gerry Carroll), the first two people in Stormont not be signed up as either nationalist or loyalist but as socialists pure and simple,and as part of the campaigning that brought this about they managed to have a meeting in the Shankill Road, attended by 50 people – even the most entrenched sectarianism can be broken through.

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The two speakers and chair Emma Davis on the platform
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A second picture of the platform taken moments before the start of the meeting

BACK TO THE INSTITUTE

After the evening picnic it was time for the final meeting of the day. John Parrington gave an excellent introduction after which there was a variety of contributions from the floor. I was pleased to see Steve Silberman’s book Neurotribes (surely destined to become the standard work on autism) on display at this meeting. The homeward journey was uneventful as expected.

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This one is a bit blurred – a consequence of being on an escalator travelling at London Underground standard speed of 145 feet per minute.

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4,000 Miles and 4 Billion Years

A brief review of David Whitehouse’s “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”

INTRODUCTION

This post is a review of David Whitehouse’s “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, the title of which comes from the Jules Verne classic. The title of the post refers to the distance and time span covered by this small book.

TRUTH OFT IS STRANGER THAN FICTION

That certainly applies to the comparison between Verne’s “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” and David Whitehouse’s modern factual version. Whitehouse also provides a short comparison between the journey described in this book and its equivalent on other planets in our solar system.

As well as a story that holds the attention all the way through, the book contains some excellent illustrations, a few of which I now reproduce…

As the folks at Faradays Candle have it “It’s an amazing world of science…let’s go exploring!” This little book does just that and the journey is splendid.

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“Dinosaurs and the Expanding Earth”

A brief review of Stephen Hurrell’s “Dinosaurs and the Expanding Earth” accompanied by a few pictures.

INTRODUCTION

This is a book review, of a book that I have just read which has the title I have used as the title of the post. This is a standalone post with no links or unrelated pictures.

A SMALL BOOK THAT PACKS A GIANT PUNCH

The book that gave it’s title to this post is by Stephen Hurrell and it seeks to provide an explanation for the giant size of the dinosaurs.

The Front Cover
The Front Cover

Hurrell’s theory, argued very persuasively is that the Earth was smaller and hence gravity was less in the distant past. Many different sets of data fit with his argument – including the fact that in every era since the extinction of the dinosaurs the biggest land animals have been progressively smaller. The super-giant land mammals of 35-40 million years ago for example grew much larger than their counterparts today. A graphic illustration of the size difference between the largets dinosaurs and today’s largest land animals is this…

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The illustration of the difference between his theory of earth formation and the standard version (constant size earth) is shown in this graphic…

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I found the book thoroughly fascinating and absorbing and would heartily recommend it to anyone, and conclude this very brief post by passing on another recommendation of a book that I share Mr Hurrell,s opinion of, Robert Bakker’s “The Dinosaur Heresies”…

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England Take The Lead In 2015 Ashes

A bit about England’s magnificent win at Edgbaston, an infographic about an event being staged by Surrey, some quality links and infographics.

INTRODUCTION

I have some links and infographics as well as my main piece. I hope that you will enjoy this post and be encouraged to share it.

A THUMPING VICTORY

England responded to the battering they took at Lord’s in the best possible way, by storming to a three-day victory at Edgbaston to restore their lead in the series. Australia won by 405 runs at Lords, England by eight wickets here. I reckon this constitutes the most spectacular about turn in fortunes in successive ashes matches since 1965-66 when the teams traded innings victories in the second and third matches of the series.

Particularly welcome was the return to top form of Steven Finn who followed James Anderson’s first innings six-for with six wickets of his own the second. Among the scraps left by these two were enough wickets for Stuart Broad to reach 300 in tests. Ian Bell whose poor form had him in the last chance saloon with the last orders bell being sounded came up with two fifties in the match in front of his home crowd – and given the low scoring nature of the game these were easily worth centuries on a flat one.

An unfortunate injury means that for the fourth match at Trent Bridge England have the unenviable task of attempting to fill an Anderson shaped hole in their squad.

To finish this cricket related section, Surrey are putting on an event to celebrate women’s and girls cricket featuring current England captain Charlotte Edwards, head of ECB women’s cricket Clare Connor and being hosted by Surrey”s Director of women’s cricket Ebony Rainford-Brent…

Women's cricket

LINKS

My first set of links follow on from my last blog post and feature more on…

CECIL THE LION

First up an event that will probably remain unique in the history of aspiblog – a link to an article in the Daily Mail

Next, courtesy of Huffington Post, this piece by wildlife expert and occasional ballroom dancer Steve Backshall

Finally on this particular topic, this from The Age.

Lion

SCIENCE

Tonight is the second full moon in July – a rare event called a Blue Moon and best know for the cliche “once in a blue moon”. For a detailed account of the phenomenon check out this piece from discovery.com.

Next, courtesy of livescience come two dinosaur related links:

1)A new discovery of a dinosaur with an exceptional sense of smell

2)Photographs of remains of one of the largest animals ever to walk the earth.

Dinosaur bone

Ending this subsection on science, courtesy of bbc.co.uk, this piece about the Earth’s magnetic shield being older than previously thought.

ATHEISM

Just two connected pieces here:

1)A post on Patheos about an atheist suffering persecution

2)The original blog post that triggered the Patheos piece.

DISABILITY

Again, just two connected pieces:

1)An update on a change.org petition calling on Lego to positively represent disabled people

2)And a piece courtesy of themighty that connects to the above petition.

INFOGRAPHICS

I finish this post with two infographics, one from the Corbyn campaign and one on the subject of NHS pay…

Corbyn NHS