Monday, 3 March 2014

The 2 Minute Beach Clean. The Movie.

Hello again. I have been wanting to make a little film about the #2minutebeachclean for ages. Finally I got the chance. This is it. Hopefully it will help to send the idea even further than it has gone already. In case you didn't know An Taisce, the Irish version of the National Trust, began their own #2minutebeachclean campaign this week. I have also been talking to Keep Wales Tidy today about them taking it on and running with it. It's very exciting.

Anyway, enjoy the movie.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Indoor Olympics - reliving the glory days of 2010.

It all began with this shot of me doing the Indoor Luge, idly posted to Facebook in February 2010. 
The weather, in case anyone doesn't remember, was appalling during the Winter Olympics of 2010. So we were housebound for a lot of it. That led to idle hands amusing themselves in idle ways - and the creation of the Indoor Olympics. The first picture was posted as the luge but it was pointed out to me that it was, in fact the skeleton bob. So I corrected the shot. And it all kind of went from there....
Skeleton bob, not the luge.

The luge, with Bob.

Maggie attempts a tricky Ski Jump. Without the use of skis. 

The Curling was one of our favourite events at the Indoor Olympics

Four Man Bob, without Bob.

Another favourite, Speed Skating.

You want to watch out for those Ice Hockey players. They'll get you.

Bob Sleigh. Not strictly an Olympic event but we had a Bob so why not?

Nice grab air from Charlotte in the snowboard half pipe.

But later she hit problems at the moguls.

And of course, it all ended in a glittering finish. Everyone wins at the Indoor Olympics.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Time and tide waits for no man, woman or child.

This weekend we're expecting some huge surf on Cornwall's north coast. So, in case you were thinking about going storm watching, take a moment to read this. It's about how tides work. Just in case you didn't know and thought that it might be a good idea to head out to the beach... 

Whatever you intend to do at the coast – storm watching, foraging, beach combing, taking part in a beach clean, surfing or just having a lazy day out – it’s vital to understand just a little about it. If you don’t, you can unwittingly get into all sorts of trouble. Whilst it might sound like fun to get a lift home in a helicopter or on a lifeboat it really isn’t. And it can cost a lot more than cold hard cash.


Understanding what the tide is doing, where it’s going and how it works is the first line of the first paragraph of the first page in the big book of hanging out at the seaside. Some people are surprised that they are different every day. They visit one week and find the tide in and then come back a week later to find the sea gone. No, really. Of course we wouldn’t think such nonsense!  But would we?


High and low tide times change every day – and with every location – so it’s always a good idea to get a copy of a local tide table. Usually the tides advance by about 30 minutes per tide on a six hour cycle. That means that if high tide is at ten o’clock in the morning on one day, the following high tide will be about half past ten in the evening and the next tide (the following day) will be at about eleven-ish. Of course it’s slightly different everywhere so consult your tide table.

The tide, like the moon which governs them, has phases. Full moon, new moon, waxing, waning. And so on and so forth. So it stands to reason that tides, seeing as they are a result of the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth, will follow that pattern.


During full and new moons - actually just after - we experience spring tides. This is when the tidal range is greatest and the sea comes in further up the beach and goes out further than at any time (a good time to go foraging for mussel). In times of big storms and heavy sea these are the tides that do the most damage because they wash further up the beach than any other and have the additional push of the wind behind them. 

Spring tides come in and go out quicker than at any other time because there is further to travel and the same amount of time to do it in. In some places, where the beaches are very flat, the tide can really rush in. Whether or not the tide could ‘overtake a galloping horse’ (as the stories go) in these places is not for me to say as I have never tested it out (no horse).


Neap tides - during the first and third quarter in moon terms - are those that have the smallest tidal range. That means that they don't come in as far and don't go out as far as spring tides. This means that you could find yourself walking along a beach at high tide one week and the next week, at high tide, the beach could be completely covered with water. Assuming you are safe from the tide ‘because that’s where it comes up to’ could easily lead you to think you won’t get cut off. If you’re in some far flung cove you could. 


The wind can also have an effect on the tides. Onshore winds can effectively push a tide in quicker and make it come further up the beach. It may not be by much but it can make a big difference if you are storm watching and assume that your position is safe. With strong onshore winds even neap tides like those we are going to experience this weekend, can travel farther up the beach than they normally might.


If you intend to walk along low tide sands then it's always vital to check your tide table and then leave well before low tide and make the furthest part of your walk coincide with an hour or so before low tide so that you won't be caught out on the way back. Don't leave it too late to get back. And always keep in mind a get out clause (emergency route out) if you get caught out.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Alternative interiors: kitchen and picnic pods

I have on my desk two - as yet - unused chopping boards made with birch ply and Formica. I like them a lot as they fit my idea of good design. They are Functional, well made and nice to look at. They also match my van quite nicely, which is also a bonus (they come in a range of colours). Our interior was remade out of birch faced ply a couple of years ago so these boards fit right in.

Whilst we loved the old Moonraker interior that came with our van, it just didn't work that well for us as a family. There were certain aspects of it that I didn't feel right about, like not having two inertia reel belts in the back for the kids and not having head rests in the front. So we installed full height T25 seats, a full width bed (for more sleeping and relaxing space on rainy days), seat belts, captain's seat (to extend the interior space) and a buddy box for the porta potti (for staying on aires or going wild) and then had a shorter but deeper kitchen unit made by our friends at Individual Campers. It has a shallow sink/drainer and uses the original cooker and fridge.  It works really well as long as nobody brings too many clothes because we now have no wardrobe!

And..... what have the chopping boards got to do with it?

Good point. They were made by another Devon-based conversion company called Cambee who make VW interiors for all kinds of campers, but mainly the T5, out of the same materials. Even in the newer vans this Formica and birch ply finish is kind of retro groovy (excuse the expression) and looks fantastic. The company also make something they call a picnic pod, the little brother of their kitchen pod. These pods are a very simple way of getting out there without having to go the whole way and converting your vehicle completely. You put them in your van (or car) when the time comes to depart and away you go. Hey presto! You have a mini camping kitchen at your disposal with chopping surface, single burner and somewhere to store your bits. I like this idea very much. Recently we've been discussing the prospect of having a day van for every day stuff (bikes, boards etc), but with the capability to turn into a camper easily and quickly and without having the interior taken up with cupboards and what not.

This 'easy camping getaway' idea has a lot of resonance with us. A few years ago, when we were 'between vans', we had a camping box by the front door which had everything in it that we needed for a weekend away: tent, sleeping bags, cooker, plates etc. It made the getaway as pain-free as possible so all we had to do was stock up on food and depart. As we all know, sometimes it's easier to stay at home and not bother, so anything you can do to get out of the house more easily has to be a good thing! Like a fully stocked camper, our camping box made us ready to take off with nothing more than a good forecast to guide us.

The picnic pod does this too. Of course it is nothing new, but it's nice to see that other people think like us and are doing their own thing with it. Anything that makes getting out of the door easier is fine by me! And the finish is great too.

Check out Cambee here.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Oi! You lot. Don't get carried away. Be sensible.

The #2minutebeachclean is gathering pace.

It's turning into something. And I, for one, am very very pleased. I was thrilled to see beach litter in the bins at Crooklets beach today that wasn't put there by me. I was thrilled to see tweets with links to pictures of the hauls people had made in their very own #2minutebeachcleans and I was even more excited to talk to two people at the beach yesterday who promised to pick up a few bits and pieces on their way.
But okay, let's not get carried away.

I like the simplicity of the #2minutebeachclean because it's easy and manageable and can be fun. It's also up to the individual so there are no restrictions, insurances, risk assessments or paperwork. This is also where its power lies because the more individuals do it and make it habit, the more we'll get done and will continue to get done.

But....we do have to do the small print from time to time. Yes, so it's onerous and against the spontaneous spirit of a #2minutebeachclean but... I'm damn well going to do it, even though I am not your mother.

So ya boo sucks. Here it is.

Staying safe on your #2minutebeachclean

  1. If you can, wear protective gloves. If you can't, wash your hands afterwards.
  2. Supervise your children and make sure they don't pick up sharps or poo.
  3. DO NOT pick up needles or glass or any other sharps unless you have somewhere safe to put them. Old needles MUST be disposed of properly. Ask your local surgery.
  4. Do not pick up anything organic that is not beach litter. We're talking dead animals and poo here. Just don't. Better to let the dog roll in it.
  5. If you find ordnance (old shells or bullets) call the Coastguard on 999.
  6. If you find what you suspect to be dangerous chemicals or substances, leave them alone and call the Coastguard on 999.
  7. Dress properly for the weather and conditions.
  8. Be careful under overhanging cliffs or below unstable areas and be VERY wary of landslips and cliff falls, especially after heavy rain.
  9. Be careful over wet rocks. Walk on the barnacles as they give better grip.
  10. If you find anything of value that is technically salvage, you must report it to the Receiver of the Wreck (seriously).
  11. Please dispose of your finds properly. Plastic bottles that have not been in the sea for long can be recycled. Everything else, currently, must go to landfill, which means you can pop it in a litter bin or put it out with your rubbish. 

Finally, have you got your vest on? If you have then please go out there and do your #2minutebeachclean with my blessing and grateful thanks. Just take care and be sensible. Don't let HSE put you off doing something great for your local environment. Every bottle removed from the beach is a bottle that won't end up in the food chain, killing a marine animal or polluting the ocean.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Flotsam and Jetsam and all that stuff...

I am off to the beach to see what the high tides and recent storms have brought. 

But before I head off I thought it might be interesting to brush up on my shipping law, just in case I find anything more interesting than cotton buds (washed down the loo - jetsam?), fishing nets (lost overboard - derelict?), bottles (thrown overboard - flotsam?) and bags of dog poo (one can only assume this is lagan).

Anyway, British law is quite clear about wrecks and salvage. Salvage is the act of saving something with the intention of returning it to its legal owner. Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, wreck material remains the property of the original owner and anyone who finds washed up goods must report it to a government official, the "Receiver of the Wreck", within 28 days. Failing to report such items could lead to a £2000 fine. The legal owner then has a year to come forward and prove ownership of the item. Legitimate salvors are entitled to a salvage award in recognition of their services. This would be a percentage of the market value to be negotiated between the owner and salvor. This means that the salvors of Branscombe (and other famous wrecks) are perfectly within the law as long as they reported their hauls and had intended to save the wrecked items for the owner.

Items that are classed according to the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 as ‘wreck’ are:

Flotsam: goods lost from a ship which has sunk or otherwise perished which are recoverable because they have floated.

Jetsam: goods cast overboard in order to lighten a vessel which is in danger of sinking, even if they ultimately perish.

Derelict: property which has been abandoned and deserted at sea by those who were in charge without any hope of recovering it. This includes vessels and cargo.

Lagan: goods cast overboard from a ship, which afterwards perish, buoyed so that they can be recovered later.

Finally, if you need a form for reporting anything interesting, HERE IT IS.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Take 2 minutes. Make a big difference.

Here I go again, spouting off about the state of the ocean. Well, yes. But this time I want to propose something really positive. A solution.

So here it is. Recently I’ve started doing mini beach cleans every time I go to the beach. I call them my #2minutebeachcleans and all I do is spend 2 minutes picking up a few bits of litter and disposing of them. It takes 2 minutes, which is actually longer than it takes me to  me to take a picture and post it to instagram @martindorey and twitter @campervanliving.

Considering the scale of the problem this really is a pathetic, meaningless gesture, isn’t it? With every tide comes more plastic that’s been dumped, lost or washed into the sea so my two minutes really makes no difference at all. Or does it?