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Category Archives: In The News

Fair Winds Following Seas – Farewell Friend

I’m saying good bye to another old friend, a tangible piece of my life’s adventure.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust operates two tall ships that are designed to accommodate many forms of disability, not only things like deafness and sight impaired, but also stroke victims, amputees, wheelchair users and mental health sufferers. We are all involved within the watch rota to sail the ships and keep them shipshape. Across her thirty year history STS Lord Nelson known as “Nellie”, has circumnavigated the globe, chased icebergs, clipped the Bermuda Triangle, tamed the China Seas, she has raced as part of the tall ship fleets and been the floating ambassador and has touched hundreds of thousands of mixed ability lives for the better.

A family friend passed a brochure to me in the eighties and I had toyed with the idea of running away to sea, so when Nellie visited my home port I secretly took myself off, explored her and spoke to a volunteer crew member, over a mug of hot tea and freshly baked cake we chatted, mused, discussed and laughed. After that I made up my mind to throw myself fully into this once-in-a-lifetime-never-to-repeat adventure and booked a four-week passage from Southampton to Gran Canaria via Lisbon.

The experience was nerve wracking, exhilarating, daunting, engaging, challenging, educational, but filled with hilarity, congeniality, and above all else, equality. We were just a bunch of people sailing together. I enjoyed myself so much that I repeated the experience another two times on Nellie before my last voyage on the sister ship Tenacious. The atmosphere and camaraderie onboard is indescribable and so special. It’s where I learnt to tie a bona fide hangman’s noose, take down the shipping forecast, complete obs for the Met Office. I’ve hauled ropes, peeled potatoes, polished brass, coiled ropes, swabbed decks, scrubbed toilets, pulled ropes, brewed tea, repaired flags, and messed about with ropes. I’ve been man handled, hauled, shoved, shifted, and tied down, I’ve laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed; I’ve helmed, watched, hauled, radioed, taught navigation rhymes, learnt a bewildering language of terms and created a few specific to Nellie and many other such useful/less life skills. I even have a qualification, the Department of Transport Steering Competency (sailing) Certificate from time at the helm before the mast. I’ve made friends I still keep in touch with. I’ve had conversations and shared experiences (like being at the helm when we were struck by lightning, playing with dolphins, counting shooting stars). There are anecdotes galore, not all repeatable in polite company.

Recently the Trust has been forced to look hard at its future running. A promised significant donation from a business source failed to materialise resulting in the Trust nearly folding (we raised £1 million in a week to save it). Subsequently the decision has been sadly made to decommission Nellie.

I kept a detailed diary, my (dis)abled seapersons twig (as opposed to captains log) for two of my voyages are on my website www.amgroves.com It’s on my list to add the others.

It is unknown what her next adventure will be, but I wish her fair winds and following seas, as we salty dog types say; and another piece of my heart is broken and another tear will fall.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in In The News, Life, people, Projects, Website

 

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Reporting Menacing Phish


Well, it’s not exactly what I had planned for my afternoon.  Firstly, I am fine, these things don’t bother me.

Today I was intending to do a spot of cyber housework (it’s easier than off screen house work). I logged into the server and headed to the emails, a mixed bunch of fan query, fan fawning and spam, but there was one that caught attention.  I knew it was phishing for personal details, financial fraud, general trickery but it was the manner and topic that was a little different.  It threatened to release to all my contacts a video of me that was sexually explicit, as well as pornographic images and spread rumour of deviancy with children unless I sent x-thousand via Bitcoin to a specified account.  The hacker generously explained how the deadline could be extended and even bragged about being able to hide his identity, seek sanctuary from all laws because they were not in my country, and that any ‘federal’ involvement would mean the stuff would be circulated immediately.

As this particular webmail client is tricky to manage, junk wise, I get regular emails from phishing fake accounts trying to get me to click a link, rearrange courier delivery, download court non-payment papers, etc.  Apart from being quite a savvy person, I know these are scams as the email address isn’t really used for anything other than web site business, so they get deleted and a new junk filter created to redirect others.

However, the particularly articulate, menacing, intimidating language of this email made me stop and think, hmmm I can fully see why the more nervy would fall for this, panic and stress over this, maybe send funds, even if they are completely innocent of all allegations (mud sticks and all that), so I decided to file a report with the Cyber Crimes people.  It was very straight forward, we shall see what occurs (if anything).

Well, well, hmm, there ya go!

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2019 in General, In The News, Tech, Website

 

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Remembrance


As per my tradition, I always watch the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph.  It is important to remember and reflect the sacrifices, trials and hardships of these two most gruesome of wars.  Whilst I am humbled and thankful to all those men and women who chose and still choose our amazing armed forces as a career path, I always specifically think about the hundreds and thousands of people who were conscripted to join the war effort, those who during war time volunteered to join, ordinary people who didn’t have a tantrum of ‘it’s not fair’, who didn’t have the modern day selfish, I’m owed privilege, but with pride, patriotism and sense of duty went to defend their way of life, and our future.

As I watch ‘the old guard’ march past the Cenotaph, I remember the remembrance service I stood at in November 1994.  I cannot tell you where I was, because I was standing at the bow of STS Lord Nelson as Captain John Fisher led us.  My voyage was in its second week, so likely just off the coast of Portugal.  As we sailed the Atlantic Coast with the sun shining around the white clouds, as we crested the rolling waves, my buddy and I trying not to burst into giggles at the thought of a crashing wave washing the foredeck at the bowsprit.  Trying to keep to the tune and timing of “those in peril on the sea” hymn without any accompaniment.  Quite poignant and moving to be so isolated on the vest ocean, yet knowing such services were taking part all over the globe.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2018 in General, In The News, Life, people

 

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Plastics Parasitical Paradox


The plastics industry does not want you to stop needing plastic products, it stands to simple basic business reason. Until such time as scrap waste has a commercial value, on a global scale, there will be no drive or strive for improvement.  Also, the reliance on plastic is a global issue, we may be doing our bit by putting our empty bottles in the recycling bin at home, but what about when you are out and about? Do you bring your empty bottle home to put in your recycle bin or bung it in the first available everything and anything trash unit?  Whilst we in the UK are ‘doing our but’, what about some of these emerging, growing, economic countries, we’ve seen the photos of the Mayan river choked with discarded rubbish.

Think it’s not such a big deal? Back about a couple of decades or so ago, before home recycling really took off, many charities would collect old newspapers, when they had a car full off they’d drive to a centre who would weigh it and give them a cheque – it became a highly lucrative income stream. Paper had a commercial value, it was worth collecting. Then all of a sudden it became worthless, a happenstance that could be attributed to the following. American was in an economic depression (what’s that to do with me dog eared copy of Pigeon Fanciers Gazette). Well you see folks, because the jolly US of A peeps weren’t out spending, there was less being imported, significant quantities coming from China, therefore less cartons, boxes and packaging were produced which were made from recycled paper. Old paper and cardboard was exported to China from many corners of the globe, for recycling and then used to produce more boxes and packaging.  

So you see, so much of things are commercially driven.  Currently there is a commendable movement to reduce ‘single use plastics’, there is hardly a product in our home now that doesn’t have a plastic element. It will take decades, a lot of joined up thinking and action before anything will change.  The general public consumer is being told to choose the non-plastic version, take your own country cup to the coffee shop, recycle your old/used items, but unless those items are readily available at a comparable price, it will be slow going, and incredibly minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

Many more of our daily use items (I’m envisioning toothbrushes, food containers, picnic sets, children’s toys, garment hangers etc) are made of an un-recyclable plastic. This is where business needs to do its part, research and develop a recycling method for that plastic, find the market for the recycled plastic to be used or switch to a recyclable plastic version. All this is beyond the realm of we mere consumers. 
Until everybody, everywhere, gets onboard, we will still continue choking.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2018 in In The News

 

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She’s Wrong/He’s Right


Ain’t social media fun!  Recently Kirstie Allsopp was lambasted in the media, which the Twitterarty then jumped on the bandwagon and went fully armed negative, because she has replied to a question. But as ever the media and rwitterees only cherry picked the tiny bit that they objected to and bashed away madly.  In a nut shell Kirstie said she flew “Premium Economy” (that’s not first class nor business class) but her tweenie and teenage children went economy because they needed to understand that a privilege should be earned.  Okay, what wasn’t taken onboard, well, often the distance between the rows may have been about 4/6 roes, the kiddos were accompanied with adult step children, when boarding Kirstie introduces herself to the cabin crew and adults seated near children and let them know where she is, during the flight she regulars walks down to check on them.  Her children are not annoyed by the seating arrangements, infact they prefer it as Mum isn’t constantly overseeing everything they do. She’s never been called back because of unruly behaviour.

As for people’s comments, you’d have thought she’d let them play on the motorway, swigging vodka, juggling razor blades! They were truly rude, condemning and highly critical of her parenting ability, I’m sure threats to call Social Services were made.

Her tv presenter partner Pip on the other hand remarked “We leave the kids at home to look after the dogs!” … Has he been called the demon of dads? Has he been bombarded with comments of how disgusting he is? Nope.

To me, it’s yet another example of gender hypocrisy.  Mum’s are wrong, Dad’s are applauded.

It’s the ‘men sow ya oats, women be pure and virtuous’, double standard.

There never will be equality across the sexes.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2018 in In The News, people

 

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United Diversity

What a fabulous photograph! Three beautiful young ladies engaging in the celebrations of a Royal event, coordinating their patriotic red, white and blue with their modesty ethos and headscarves. Three young Islamic followers sharing the joy of a Christian wedding.  I truly hope their experiences of the day was solely positive and affirming.

It’s a sad dark shadow on our society that there are those who will view this casual image so negatively. There are those who will snear and cry that these ‘types’ should go back from where they came (little realising that it’s likely somewhere like Bishop Stortford, or a country village, not some distant land; nor realising Islamists have lived, worked and died in the UK for a few thousand years).  There are also some who will genuinely believe these ladies have demeaned themselves, because they are not wearing black and they have their faces exposed.

Whilst there will always be those who favour an opposite negative opinion, and I hope they are a shrinking minority, can we please try and enjoy the positive, happy, inclusive, non-pigeon-holing of life.  It seems as society is trying to become inclusive and tolerant (detest that word), it is also becoming more focused on tagging and highlighting differences.  

I was reluctant to post this, you never quite know whether on such an explosive subject, readers will understand what I mean, and who will take offence. Fingers crossed.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2018 in In The News, Life

 

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The March Lion Did Roar


It’s not very often I feel vulnerable when at home, but when I am in bed in the dead of night, seeking sleep, and outside the wind is whipping and cracking, rocking and moving the wheelie bins, whistling at high pitch across the overflow pipes and window vent, I have visions of airborne debris catapulting into my bedroom window.  I don’t have a mental plan of action, who do you call when a roof tile shatters the glass or half a tree branch shifts the sturdy bricks at stupid ‘O’ clock.  Maybe it is something that creeps up on you as you age, experience erodes invincibility perhaps. 

Storm Emma raged and roared unabashed, shifting the inches of powdered snow and freezing it to where it landed, pushing through the merest cranny to turn a whisper into a palpable icy draft.  A  couple of streets from me, a tree which has proudly stood at the corner of a bank car park for decades (if not a century) succumbed to the battering assault. Thankfully no person was hurt but a couple of cars were damaged (pictured above).

Today the world beyond my windows looks a picture of frosted innocence, just waiting for a moment of complacency to turn on you and test your resolve.

It’s March, in three weeks I reach a golden mile stone, where is Spring or the milder days of sunshine.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2018 in General, In The News, Life

 

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