Mike Vickers' Blog

May 31, 2019

Knoydart: una comunità con un futuro.

Filed under: Knoydart, Land Ownership, Scotland, Sustainability, Travel — derryvickers @ 2:41 pm

Archiviato in: Knoydart, proprietà fondiaria, ferrovie, realtà, sostenibilità — derryvickers @ 11:46 am modifica questo

Abbiamo trascorso tre giorni a Knoydart soggiornando nella Bunkhouse della Knoydart Foundation a Inverie. Inverie è il villaggio principale, anzi l’unico villaggio.

The Village

Il villaggio

Ci sono alcune case sparse in tutta la peninsulare.

Abbiamo fatto due buone passeggiate da Inverie, a Doune dove c’è un buon ristorante vicino alla riva (anche se a 200 metri in discesa ci siamo astenuti dal campionamento) e alla cascata su una bruciatura sotto Ladhar Beinn (un Munro), ciascuno circa 20 km.

The Waterfall

La cascata

 

Vedi mappa semplice

Map of the peninsula

A Simple Map of Knoydart

Una semplice mappa di Knoydart

Un piccolo background: Knoydart fu uno dei primi acquisti della Comunità dal proprietario terriero della penisola di Knoydart. La metà è ora di proprietà della Comunità, mentre l’altra metà è di proprietà del John Muir Trust. Knoydart non è un’isola, anche se in realtà è come non vi è alcun collegamento stradale alla comunità. Si può raggiungere a piedi da Loch Hourn, ma ci vogliono due giorni oltre brughiera. Si può anche camminare da Glenfinnan ma al momento c’è un ponte vitale sostituito.

Cito “la Fondazione Knoydart è stata istituita nel 1997 per lavorare per conto della Comunità nel prendere la proprietà della zona di terra coperta da Knoydart estate in quel momento. La penisola di Knoydart, che non è collegata alla rete stradale continentale, fa parte di un’ area panoramica nazionale (Clicca per scaricare il foglio informativo). ”

Per un po’ più di dettaglio vedere https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoydart con un sacco di foto.

Ma l’essenza di Knoydart è la sua comunità che ha costruito fino a circa 100 persone. Knoydart fu efficacemente cancellato durante le Highland Clearances. Le persone naturalmente lasciano, ma più arrivano. C’è ora una scuola primaria attiva, mentre i bambini delle scuole secondarie sono boarder settimanali a Mallaig.

Boats at Mallaig Pier

Mallaig – a busy port

Mallaig – un porto occupato

la città più vicina con un collegamento stradale continentale. _ la Comunità deve essere autoportante e c’è il negozio del villaggio, il caffè gestito da due eccellenti sorelle da forno, l’ufficio della Fondazione e il local pub che afferma di essere il più lontano ovest sulla terraferma di qualsiasi pub in nel Regno Unito. L’elettricità è alimentata da un sistema idroelettrico degnato e costruito a livello locale, fornito da un vicino lago e TV e Internet da un ricevitore/trasmettitore, alto sopra il villaggio; anche, casa progettato e costruito. Lo schema è comune collegamento in Mallaig e South Skye pure.

Un’attività principale è la registrazione per l’esportazione

The Timber Yard

Il cantiere del legname

; case sono sorprendentemente costruite in legno e ci sono alcune belle nuove nel villaggio. La terra viene reimpiantata per il futuro, anche se le piantature semplici abbondano ancora.

The Waterfall

Un boschetto di betulla incontaminata sulla strada per la cascata

. Mentre lo stalking del cervo può essere considerato uno sport dei ricchi, su Knoydart è una necessità come i cervi devono essere abbattuta per controllare il loro numero; nuova scherma abbonda. La Fondazione sta per iniziare a raddoppiare le dimensioni della sala del villaggio; è il centro della Comunità, ma ha bisogno di espandersi per fornire una casa per tutto ciò che va avanti. Un nostro amico è Davie Newton che intraprende e dirige la gestione operativa. C’è sempre molto da fare e mentre eravamo lì, c’era un gruppo di volontari ‘ jolly ‘ dal John Muir Trust rifacendo i fossati; l’acqua piovana è sempre un problema.

John Muir Volunteers

The John Muir Team of Volunteers

Il team di volontari di John Muir

Anche se non c’è alcun collegamento stradale al mondo esterno Knoydart ha la propria rete stradale e auto e 4by4s sono traghettato e molto apprezzato! Il traghetto è naturalmente un collegamento essenziale per le persone e il cibo e per sottoscrivere come c’è fiducia nella Comunità la compagnia di traghetti, Western Isles Cruises, ha recentemente acquisito una nuova barca veloce che si strati tra Mallaig e Inverie e il tempo di attraversamento è ridotto da tre quarti di un’ora a meno di mezz’ora con la più antica barca tradizionale (che è ancora in servizio).

The big boat with Rhum in the distance

La grande barca con rhum in lontananza

Una caratteristica fondamentale dello sviluppo è la gestione della terra e c’è un Ranger dedicato e molto attivo, Amie, che gestisce la terra e si concentra sulla “sostenibilità” in particolare piantando nuovi alberi. Sottolinea che le foreste più vecchie non possono essere facilmente raccolte perché sono state piantate con l’estrazione di cavalli e non ci sono più cavalli su Knoydart; un cambiamento non facilmente reversibile dove i trattori ora dominano.  Amie organizza viaggi organizzati intorno alla sua Land Rover; La Land Rover Defender è la dominante 4 per 4 non sorprende e non sono chiaro che cosa accadrà a pezzi di ricambio ora la Land Rover non li stanno facendo più. Naturalmente, i turisti sono una fonte di ricchezza e Inverie è un centro per escursionisti appassionati che arrivano in barca o in da Loch Hourn e Glenfinnan.

Per inciso, per i tifosi di Stuart Glenfinnan è dove Bonny Prince Charlie alzò il suo standard nel 1745. Più recentemente per i fan di Harry Potter, il ruscello Jacobite scorre tra Fort William e Mallaig via Glenfinnan sul viadotto di cemento Bob. Il treno e gli allenatori erano a Mallaig stazione quando siamo arrivati

The Jacobite waiting to depart from Mallaig

Il Jacobite in attesa di partire da Mallaig

A mio modo di vedere, la comunità di Knoydart deve essere lodata; hanno acquistato e istituito la Fondazione e nel corso dei pochi anni siamo stati andando a Knoydart la Comunità sta crescendo in forza e resilienza e forse, soprattutto, la vita sta assumendo una “normalità”. Apprezzo che la vita in estate sembra facile (a parte i moscerini)

Sunset looking towards Rhum

Tramonto guardando verso rhum

ma poi ci sono i lunghi inverni bui, anche se alcuni della comunità ci hanno detto che questi sono giorni migliori in quanto possono rilassarsi e fare ciò che non possono in estate. La Scozia ha bisogno di tali comunità, sostituzioni per i villaggi rimossi dai Clearances, ed è bello vedere Knoydart fiorente e il New Village Hall è un segno per il futuro positivo.

Knoydart: A Community with a future.

Filed under: Knoydart, Land Ownership, Railways, Reality, Sustainability — derryvickers @ 11:46 am

We spend three days at Knoydart staying in the Knoydart Foundation’s bunkhouse at Inverie. Inverie is the main village, indeed the only village.

The Village

There are a few scattered houses across the peninsular.

We did two good walks from Inverie, to Doune where there is a good restaurant near the shore (although at 200 meters downhill we refrained from sampling) and to the Waterfall on a burn below Ladhar Beinn (a Munro), each around 20 kms.

The Waterfall

 

See simple map

Map of the peninsula

A Simple Map of Knoydart

A little background: Knoydart was one of the early buys out by the Community from the landowner of the Knoydart Peninsular. Half is now owned by the Community while the other half is owned by the John Muir Trust. Knoydart is not an island although effectively it is as there is no road connection to the Community. You can walk there from Loch Hourn, but it takes two days over moorland. You can also walk from Glenfinnan but at present there is a vital bridge being replaced.

I quote ‘The Knoydart Foundation was established in 1997 to work on behalf of the community in taking ownership of the area of land covered by Knoydart Estate at the time. The Knoydart peninsula, which is not connected to the mainland road network, is part of a National Scenic Area (click to download information leaflet).’

For a little more detail see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoydart with plenty of photos.

But the essence of Knoydart is its community which has built up to around 100 people. Knoydart was effectively cleared during the Highland Clearances. People do of course leave but more arrive. There is now an active primary school while secondary school children are weekly boarders at Mallaig

Boats at Mallaig Pier

Mallaig – a busy port

the nearest town with a mainland road connection._ The community must be self-supporting and there is the village shop, the cafe run by two excellent baking sisters, the Foundation Office and the Local Pub which claims to be the furthest west on the mainland of any pub in the UK. Electricity is powered by a locally deigned and built hydro scheme supplied from a nearby loch and TV and Internet from a receiver / transmitter, high above the village; also, home designed and built. The scheme is communal linking in Mallaig and South Skye as well.

A main activity is logging for export

The Timber Yard

; houses are unsurprisingly built from wood and there are some lovely new ones in the village. Land is being replanted for the future although simple plantings still abound

An untouched birch grove on the way to the Waterfall

. While deer stalking may be considered a sport of the wealthy, on Knoydart it is a necessity as the deer need to be culled to control their numbers; new fencing abounds. The Foundation is about to start doubling size of the Village Hall; it is the centre of the Community but needs expanding to provide a home for all that goes on.
A friend of ours is Davie Newton who undertakes and directs the operational management. There is always plenty to do and while we were there, there was a group of ‘jolly’ volunteers from the John Muir Trust redoing the ditches; rainwater is always a problem.

John Muir Volunteers

The John Muir Team of Volunteers

Although there is no road connection to the outside world Knoydart has its own road network and cars and 4by4s are ferried in and much appreciated! The ferry is of course an essential connection for people and food and to underwrite how there is faith in the community the Ferry Company, Western Isles Cruises, has recently acquired a new fast boat which plies between Mallaig and Inverie and the crossing time has reduced from three quarters of an hour to less than half an hour with the older more traditional boat (which is still in service).

The big boat with Rhum in the distance

A key feature of development is managing the land and there is a dedicated and very active Ranger, Amie, who manages the land and concentrates on ‘Sustainability’ particularly planting new trees. She points out that the older forests can’t be easily harvested because they were planted with horse extraction and there are no horses on Knoydart anymore; a not easily reversible change where tractors now dominate.  Amie provides organized trips round her Land Rover; The Land Rover Defender is the dominant 4 by 4 not surprisingly and I am unclear what will happen to spares now the Land Rover are not making them anymore.
Of course, tourists are a source of wealth and Inverie is a centre for keen walkers coming by boat or in from Loch Hourn and Glenfinnan.

As an aside, for Stuart fans Glenfinnan is where Bonny Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745. More recently for Harry Potter fans the Jacobite Stream hauled train runs between Fort William and Mallaig via Glenfinnan over Concrete Bob’s viaduct. The train and coaches were in Mallaig Station when we arrived

The Jacobite waiting to depart from Mallaig

As I see it the Knoydart community is to be lauded; they have bought out and set up the foundation and over the few years we have been going to Knoydart the community is growing in strength and resilience and perhaps more importantly life is taking on a ‘normality’. I appreciate that life in the Summer looks easy (apart from the midges)

Sunset looking towards Rhum

but then there are the long dark winters, although some of the community have told us these are better days as they can relax and do what they can’t in the summer. Scotland needs such communities, replacements for the villages removed by the Clearances, and it is good to see Knoydart flourishing and the New Village Hall is a sign for the positive future.

April 27, 2019

New Sleeper – forget Brexit and arrive refreshed

Filed under: Brexit, Personal, Railways, Scotland, Travel — derryvickers @ 8:28 pm

This post is purely personal.

Scotrail, after months of work, have now got their Sleeper Fleet together and the first journey north is from Euston tomorrow evening.

The Sleeper is the way to travel for that full day’s meeting in London or Edinburgh or Glasgow. Forget the Red Eye flight where you have to turn up at the airport at 6 am. The sleeper gets you there in comfort by 8am in plenty of time for the 9am meeting. Some may say the journey is uncomfortable and I admit I occasional wake up going through Rugby when the train slows; sometimes it has even stopped for ½ hour so as not to arrive too early but that has been the exception. But the real benefit to me is that you can board the train at 11 pm and the new service offers 10am and just go to sleep and just sleep knowing that you will be at your destination on time effortlessly.

The new service offers full Scottish Breakfast rather than the current ‘packed breakfast’.

The service is extended to Fort William and Inverness during the Summer months; which means that you can enjoy crossing Rannoch Moor from the comfort of the buffet car and even an early dram ; and if you want you can travel on from Fort William to Mallaig and Skye on the steam hauled Jacobite. Alternatively, you can go to Skye via Kyle of Lochalsh via Inverness; not so, glamourous but beautiful scenery all the same, and over the highest mainline railway at Drumochter.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-pty-pty_extension&hsimp=yhs-pty_extension&hspart=pty&p=fort+william+to+mallaig+by+steam+train#id=1&vid=9dfef8efa0bf7896e073328f8d515555&action=click

Anyway, just get a flavour of the benefits of the new sleepers at:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/27/london-scotland-revamped-train-sleeper-romance-revival

End of Personal Blog – Brexit free

April 16, 2019

Notre Dame

Filed under: Europe, In Our Time, Italian, Notre Dame, Sustainability, Travel, World Class — derryvickers @ 3:17 pm

Molti anni fa, ben circa dieci anni, noi, come una famiglia, abbiamo visitato Parigi per il fine settimana con Ryan Air. Siamo andati in giro, siamo passati SacréCoeur, abbiamo visitato il Louvre, visto il Mona visto da lontano e siamo andati al centro Pompidou con tutte le sue tubazioni esterne, e abbiamo salito la Torre Eiffel. Abbiamo apprezzato molto la cucina francese.

E, naturalmente, abbiamo accodato per andare in giro per la Notre Dame.

Non sarà aperto di nuovo nella mia vita, ma speriamo che nostri figli  saranno in grado di farlo. Anche così non può essere proprio come prima del fuoco. Capisco che ora non ci sono alberi abbastanza alti almeno in Francia per sostituire i legni del tetto.

I giornali sono pieni di bruciato, ma non catturerà la tragedia di essere solo sul Seine e guardare il tetto crollare.

April 11, 2019

Scozzese Giornale: 11 aprile 2019

Filed under: Black Holes, Brexit, Italian, Knoydart, Land Ownership, Scotland, Travel, World Class — derryvickers @ 10:23 pm

Nello scozzese Giornale di oggi: 11 aprile 2019

  1. Naturalmente,, Le Simulato foto of il buco nero in galassia M87.
  2. Macron infelice con la Brexit ritardata rischiando il Rinascimento dell’UE.
  3.  Varadkar (EIRE President) si collega al Regno Unito per rimanere nell’Unione doganale con l’UE.
  4. Traffico legato all’asma.
  5. Il volto di Bonnie Prince Charlie (non sembra che Bonnie a me).
  6. Borders Rail treni sovraffollati e spesso cancellati (sono un appassionato di treno).
  7. Un’altra storia sulle ragazze di Derry e quanto è fedele alla vita dei tempi. Buona TV ma un paio di volte è sufficiente.
  8. E in Real Homes una tenuta in Kilchoan Knoydart è in vendita per £ 5m.

Numero 8 mi interessa soprattutto perché è adiacente a/a sud della Fondazione Knoydart dove abbiamo buoni amici.

Per il blurb sulla tenuta di Kilchoan si veda https://www.onthemarket.com/details/6572192/

Ma per saperne di più della Fondazione Knoydart andare a http://www.knoydart-foundation.com/.

Il villaggio principale della Fondazione può essere ottenuto solo in barca da Mallaig.

La tenuta di Kilchoan è una tenuta sportiva; Io non sono un fan di Sporting Estates ma mi rendo conto cervo bisogno di essere colti, ma preferirei che fosse per il pasto non per lo sport.

Sarebbe eccellente se la Fondazione potesse acquistare la tenuta. Non posso che sperare.

 

BTW oggi è ancora un altro giorno in cui non abbiamo lasciato l’UE; Spero che ci saranno molti di più.

Scotsman: 11 April 2019

Filed under: Black Holes, Brexit, Knoydart, Land Ownership, Personal, Scotland, Travel — derryvickers @ 10:14 pm

In today’s Scotsman: 11 April 2019

  1. Of course, the simulated photo of the Black Hole in galaxy M87.
  2. Macron unhappy with Brexit being delayed risking EU Renaissance.
  3. Varadkar (Eire President) plugs for UK to remain in Customs Union with EU.
  4. Traffic linked to Asthma.
  5. The face of Bonnie Prince Charlie (doesn’t look that bonnie to me).
  6. Borders Rail trains overcrowded and often cancelled (I’m a train buff).
  7. Another story on the Derry Girls and how true to the life of the times they are. Good TV but a few times is enough.
  8. And in Real Homes an estate in Kilchoan Knoydart is up for sale for £5m.

Number 8 particularly interests me because it is adjacent to/ south of the Knoydart Foundation where we have good friends.

For the sales blurb on the Kilchoan Estate see https://www.onthemarket.com/details/6572192/

But to know more of the Knoydart Foundation go to http://www.knoydart-foundation.com/.  The main village of the Foundation can only be got to by boat from Mallaig.

The Kilchoan Estate is a Sporting Estate; I’m not a fan of Sporting Estates but I realise red deer need to be culled but I would rather it was for meal not for sport.

It would excellent if the Foundation could buy the Estate. I can but hope.

 

BTW today is yet another day when we didn’t leave the EU; I hope there will be many more.

April 9, 2019

Linlithgow Arts Guild – Final show for this season

Filed under: Linlithgow, Linlithgow Academy, Linlithgow Arts Guild, Travel — derryvickers @ 6:19 pm

Two delightful ladies playing at the last event in the Linlithgow Arts Guild in this year’s season.

  • Lana Trotovsek – violin from Slovenia
  • Maria Canyigueral – piano from Spain

Their CVs are impeccable, and their playing lived up their CVs.

They played music by Bach, Beethoven, Clara Schumann and Prokofiev

The Bach probably should have been for harpsicord therefore somewhat miscast for piano; the Beethoven was great as Beethoven always is, for me; the Schumann sweet and the Prokofiev Sonata No 1 for violin and piano was breath-taking.

Two delightful days of music and talk.

Lana was off at crack of dawn on Sunday to Shanghai while Maria to London to tutor her 4 students, then home to Spain.

World travellers both. But this is the life of the groups who play for the Linlithgow Arts Guild.
Most are a class act.

Maria has now acquired a Steinway.  Excellent news!

February 28, 2019

Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Community Council

Filed under: Communications, Linlithgow, Personal, Planning, Scotland, Travel — derryvickers @ 12:10 pm

As a member of the Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Community Council I have tried to set out what I see as our role in the following Mind Map.

Double click map to bring up as full screen.

I welcome comments from other Community Councillors in Scotland and the UK more generally.

BTW Linlithgow is a lovely place between Edinburgh and Glasgow from where you can visit Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. And we are only 20 kms from Edinburgh Airport.

Find more about us @ MyLinlithgow

November 29, 2016

An Impression of St Petersburg

Filed under: Europe, Music, St Petersburg, Travel, World Class — derryvickers @ 10:07 pm

The immediate impression on driving from the airport to the city centre is how many shop signs you recognise. This is buoyed up as soon as you start to walk round the centre; you might have confused St Petersburg for any Western City. On flying out you are required to go through the usual array of booths selling perfume, biscuits and booze.

But of course St Petersburg is not only a western city; it is a living museum to a great Russian Past; first established when Peter The Great wished for a seaport on the Baltic from where he could attach the then Swedish Empire which had plagued the North Western Russian Baltic coast. Peter also was an avid travel within Europe and wished to ‘westernise’ Russia. He built the city and then required his state officials to move from Moscow. Which of course they did, after all Peter was a Tsar, but moving into the outback was unthinkable; they brought their mansions with them and so you have the magnificent heritage which is St Petersburg. Of course St Petersburg was not built in a day; St Petersburg was taken forward by Catherine the Great, who had married a grandson of Peter and looks to have usurped the throne from him. You can find much more about St Petersburg on Wiki including the transfer of power from the Romanovs to the short lived Democratic Government to the Bolsheviks.

Tomb of Peter The Great. Peter Paul Cathedral

Tomb of Peter The Great. Peter Paul Cathedral

Short-lived Democratic Government

Short-lived Democratic Government

Catherine The Great

Catherine The Great

But one point worth bring up is that the area occupied by St Petersburg was a swamp, cut into two by the Neva River, a great wide navigable river; the swampland was drained by canals and these together make a splendid feature of walking around the city; the canals and palazzi reminder one of Venice though all a lot colder.

Neva River

Neva River

Canals

Canals

To the glamour buildings and there plenty of them:

The Hermitage – a truly enormous set of rooms spread over three buildings: The Winter Palace, the Little Hermitage and the Large Hermitage, all sumptuously furnished that the guide books says will take three days to do justice to. We spent just 1/2 day

The Hermitage

The Hermitage

The Clockwork Peacock

The Clockwork Peacock

The General Service Building across the Palace Square– now an art gallery containing art from the world over: more Rembrandts than the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, more French Impressionists and Post Impressionists than Pompidou Centre in Paris

The Palace Square

The Palace Square

The General Service BuildingThe General Service Building

 

 

The Church of the Spilt Blood – plastered from doom to floor in mosaics – no longer a Greek Orthodox Church, but the church is excellently preserved.

The Church of The Spilt Blood

The Church of The Spilt Blood

 A Church Tower Dome

A Church Tower Dome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Marble Palace – Marble Rooms with immaculate parquet  and mosaics floors and near the top the most modern of modern art.

A Mosaic Floor

A Mosaic Floor

Just One of the other Churches

Just One of the other Churches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Russian Museum

The Russian Museum

The Citizens

The Citizens

A Sculpture

A Sculpture

The Russian Museum – set to rival the British Museum

Puskin in from of the Russian Museum

Puskin in from of the Russian Museum

All well attended but we were there on a public holiday weekend – Celebration of The October Revolution and it seems clear to me that Russians are proud of their history; history even prior to the Communist Revolution. On The Peter and Paul Fortress, an island in the Neva River near the city centre is the Peter and Paul Cathedral where all the Tsars are buried; even Nicholas 2 who was assassinated by the Bolsheviks: he and this family were exhumed from their grave at Ekaterinburg.

Peter and Paul's Cathedral

Peter and Paul’s Cathedral

 

But to us, as splendidly glamorous as the main buildings are we were as interested to the Museum of Politics: it provides a history of the period up to the Communist revolution and from then up to the passing of power to Putin on January 2000. Yes, the displays do contain some propaganda but not all ‘sunny side up’. And this to me was a feature of St Petersburg itself striving to be a western city, but glorying in its Tsarist past and little sign of overarching or even any Government power. Yes, you do go through careful passport control at the airport but even that scrutiny is exercised more in acquiring a passport in the Edinburgh Visa office in Edinburgh. BTW if you do want to go to St Petersburg (other than on a cruise ship) you do need a visa and the easiest way to get one is to have your St Petersburg hotel to invite you with dates of residence.

Two of the Tomes the Czars

Two of the Tombs of the Czars

To other things:

The available music is great.

First night to see Puccini’s Tosca – as well a dressed performance as you would get anywhere in a western opera house and at less money.

The Opera House

The Opera House and Royal Box

A string concert in one of the rooms in the Large Hermitage – you need to get there early as the seats are unmarked and it is difficult to find the entrance – not the main one. One of the caretakers was very helpful in telling us the way

And finally the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra: three pieces finishing with Schubert’s Great C Major played with all the gusto of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 to the delight of the audience.

Just a couple more comments

  • Eating is cheap – we were set up when we found the Market Place – packed with students and great food
  • A café in the main street Nevsky Prospect which is up to any café in Vienna

    Café in Nevsky Prospect

    Café in Nevsky Prospect

  • Alexander Nevsky – the Russian hero who’s relics are buried in St Petersburg
  • The Singer Building – used to make sowing machine but now a book shop – that took me back what Foyles used thirty years ago before its splendid face lift
  • Pushka Inn where we stayed. Staff speak impeccable English – but so do most Russians who have anything to do with the tourists: English is the lingua franca – will it remain so after Brexit and Trump?

    Our hotel was on the right

    Our hotel was on the right

  • Is there any effect of Western Financial Clampdown.  Well some of the arcades are half finished but that could have started before the clampdown.

In Summary St Petersburg is an excellent place to visit even in November with an outside temperature of around -1 C in the daytime and a lot cold in the evening with winds blowing around the canals!

September 8, 2016

Putting the Camera aside in the Mediterranean

Filed under: Europe, In Our Time, Politics, Travel, War — derryvickers @ 8:46 am

How’s this for a business model? The smugglers of Libya cram as many people as possible aboard ramshackle dinghies and send them off across the Mediterranean. There’s virtually no chance that the boats will make the 300-mile journey to Europe; they will either sink, drowning all on board, or be intercepted by a rescue ship or naval vessel on patrol. But the outcome makes little difference to the smugglers, who are part of a more than $5 billion industry; either way, they get paid, and new passengers keep coming.

This is the very definition of a death-defying journey, which TIME correspondent Aryn Baker and photographer Lynsey Addario set out to tell for this issue and an ongoing multimedia project. Now that the refugee route from Turkey to Greece has all but closed down, more and more migrants are braving the far more dangerous Libya-to-Italy corridor. Aryn and Lynsey embedded with a rescue team from the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières on the MV Aquarius. It took their 77-metre., steel-clad, multi-engine surveying vessel 36 hours to reach Sicily from Libya. “The thought that these tiny, 40-horsepower-engine [migrant] boats, loaded with one tank of fuel, could make it anywhere would be laughable but for the number of lives at stake,” Aryn says, and indeed the death toll on the route has risen sharply this year, to 2,726 people.

These refugees came not just from the nightmare war zones of Syria and Sudan but from all across Africa. As dangerous as the sea journey is, Lynsey observes, “This is the least harrowing of their months- and years-long journey to date. They have been tortured, bound, gang-raped, trafficked, humiliated, starved and thrust into the open seas, and we come upon them often as the first ally since they left home.” At one point after intercepting a sinking trawler, there were 551 people aboard the Aquarius; Aryn handed out emergency rations, while Lynsey deployed her rudimentary Arabic to help calm frightened passengers.

“After almost two decades of covering people at their most vulnerable, I am often asked when is the appropriate time to put my cameras down and intervene in any given situation,” Lynsey says. Normally, her response is that she is not a doctor, and her mission is to tell the story to the larger world. But as the rescuers scrambled to pull some 400 people from one sinking boat, babies, toddlers and children were thrust from the crowd, one after another, passed along a chain of rescue workers. “When I pulled my camera away from my face, I realized everyone’s hands were full but mine,” Lynsey says, “and there was a startled boy at my feet–no more than 3 years old. The boat was jostling to the left and right, the sea splashing around us, and I thought of my son. I instinctively picked up the boy, letting my cameras dangle at my side, and undoubtedly missed some of the most important images of the day. But the situation was tense and precarious, and I knew what I needed to do then and there.”

This was Lynsey’s fourth journey on a search-and-rescue boat. She knows already it won’t be her last.

Nancy Gibbs, EDITOR: TIME Magazine September 12, 2016

PS If this doesn’t bring tears to your eyes

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.