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Atlantic Rising talk at the Royal Geographical Society


Posted by Lynn on 18 August, 2011

Everyone is welcome to our talk at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The date for your diaries is Friday, November 18th 2011. It starts at 6.30pm.

We will talk about our 28,000 mile expedition around the edge of the Atlantic, our climate change research and our education project. We might also mention what it is like to live in a Land Rover with two other people for 15 months, what really happens on a crossing the line ceremony on a containership and how to charm a Mexican policeman. Find out why you really shouldn't let Lynn drive, Tim cook or Will over-exaggerate.

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Categorised Under: Sponsors and Fundraising | Lynn's blogs
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Atlantic Rising speaking dates


Posted by Lynn on 2 February, 2011

Atlantic Rising has some speaking opportunities lined up over the next few months so please come along and find out about our project first hand.

The first public talk is on April 1st at Queen's College in Taunton, Somerset. The talk is in aid of the Musgrove Park Hospital scanner appeal and tickets cost £12.50 and include a glass of wine and some nibbles. Tickets are available from Anne Bartoby on 01823 461166.

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Sponsors and Fundraising | Lynn's blogs
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Atlantic Rising talks


Posted by Tim on 25 January, 2011

Over the last couple of years we have given talks to audiences around the Atlantic Ocean. We have spoken to salty shipping crews and Rotary Clubs, in Liberian villages and celebrated venues like the Nantucket Atheneum. Our travellers’ tales have distracted the most persistent policemen and tickled drunken Prime Ministers. And we have spoken to thousands of pupils in schools across four continents around the Atlantic.

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Sea Level Change | Tim's blogs
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Aclimatising to the UK


Posted by Lynn on 19 December, 2010

Atlantic Rising is slowly getting used to life in the very chilly UK. I have spent most of the last week eating cheese, telling people the best and worst things about life on the road and walking my dog (not always simultaneously). And we have all been busy talking to journalists, selling kit and thinking about what’s next. I took our precious Beatrice back to Land Rover HQ in Gaydon yesterday and bid her a fond farewell in the snow. So the expedition side of things is definitely over.

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Categorised Under: Lynn's blogs
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Venturing beyond my doorstep


Posted by Tim on 8 December, 2010

So we’re back and as we slowly catch up with friends and family we are being asked a lot of questions: What was our favourite place? What did we miss the most? How long until the next big adventure? Doesn’t life at home seem very... pedestrian?
Finding something coherent to say in response has generally eluded me over the last few days and I suspect a survey of our answers would reveal a total lack of consistency and an underlying tone of bemusement. London has been overwhelming. I struggled through the London Underground on my way home from the Eurostar terminal at Kings Cross without an Oyster Card, sharing condolences with people up from the country suffering a similar bewilderment.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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At home at last!


Posted by Lynn on 7 December, 2010

Fifteen months, 21 countries and 28,000 miles later Atlantic Rising has returned to the UK. Many thanks to the captain and crew of MV Taiko who carried us safely across the Atlantic and entertained us along the way with strange Norwegian films, lengthy games of darts and Bloody Mary cocktails. We jumped ship in Zeebrugge, Belgium on Friday to take a Eurostar back to London but hadn’t bargained for the amount of snow in Europe.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Bernie takes the plunge - AGAIN


Posted by Will on 23 November, 2010

After a rest, a tracker re-charge and some minor repairs to his shell, Bernie the buoy is preparing to take the plunge again. Ten months to the day after he was thrown off MV Safmarine Bayete, he will be loaded up into the enormous MV TAIKO, for a three thousand mile journey into the mid Atlantic. And then a quiet plop into the water.

But five weeks at the Equator had taken its toll on Bernie’s shell. When we picked him up in Fortaleza he had a chipped bottom, a loose lid and a strong accompanying smell of fish. The tracker had also worn dangerously low on battery. So over the last few weeks he has been in a spa, getting scrubbed and polished and re-glued ready for his next mission.
 

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Will's blogs
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A place so nice they named it twice


Posted by Tim on 23 November, 2010

The bus from the Bronx into Manhatten arrived on the dot of time. I stepped up out of the lashing rain and swirling leaves into the cold stare of the Puerto Rican driver who took one look at the twenty dollar bill I proffered and told me I could not “pay cash”. If I didn’t have a Metrocard I’d have to get off.
I protested lamely and was granted clemency to sit and await someone nice enough to pay the fare for me. I fell into a seat behind an old Jewish man in a crumpled black fedora and great flourishes of grey beard. He looked at me through thick glasses so completely scratched that it was a wonder he could see me at all. 

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Baltimore and back


Posted by Lynn on 22 November, 2010

For the last week Atlantic Rising has been living The Wire. Anyone who has had the pleasure of watching the very brilliant, highly addictive HBO series will have a vivid idea of what life on the corners of Baltimore is like.

Although there are boarded up row houses and CCTV on many corners we have discovered the city is not all drug deals and corrupt cops. Rather than wire tapping and drug running we spent our time in batting cages and smart restaurants, at gigs and on futile treasure hunts in parks around town. We visited the grave of Edgar Allen Poe, Fort McHenry and walked around the Inner Harbour.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Is Al Gore more useful than God?


Posted by Will on 17 November, 2010

Much of America’s southern coastal regions shouldn’t be densely populated. Florida is a mosquito infested swamp, the Mississippi delta is below sea level, and the Chesapeake bay is still sinking as a result of a meteorite strike 35 million years ago.  But technical ingenuity, stubbornness, and a strong desire for waterfront property has led to the colonisation of America’s vulnerable coastal areas. And many of these areas – Nantucket, Miami Beach, Cape Cod – now have the most expensive real estate in the USA.

As these areas come under increasing threat from rising seas, we have found Americans very reluctant to discuss WHY climate change is happening.  Is it because Al Gore has split up from his wife?  Is it because he travels around in a private plane?  This blog questions whether celebrity culture is doing more harm than good in engaging people in the issues of climate change.  And what does God have to say on the issue?

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Will's blogs
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Photo competition results


Posted by Lynn on 16 November, 2010

At long last we are delighted to announce the results of our photo competition. Thank you all very much for your patience – the problem with having a famous Arctic explorer for a judge is that they are always in the Arctic – so in the end we decided to judge the competition ourselves.

There were lots of great photos from all over the world to choose from and it was tricky to whittle down the final selection. We judged not just the photo but also the words accompanying it.

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Lynn's blogs
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The shrimp boat captain


Posted by Will on 10 November, 2010

The lack of recent blogs can partly be explained by the frantic nature of our travels over the last month. Tim’s post about snow birds positioned us in northern Florida. Since then we have covered more than 1000 miles, slinking up the east coast and exploring the nooks and crannies of the shoreline. Blogs over the next week will pick out the highlights of this time. Starting with the shrimp boat captains of South Carolina.

Heading north through South Carolina, we found ourselves at a loose end for a place to stay. Spotting a campsite sign, we headed off road for a mile into a clearing sprinkled with RVs. Each RV towed a small boat with a much larger outboard engine attached to the back. New arrivals still had a husband perched in the boat, fiddling with engines and tackle. We set up camp, battled with mosquitoes and minded our own business whilst all around us watched the local college football match on TV screens. The temperature dropped, the match finished and people emerged from their trailers. One lady came over to talk to us.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Will's blogs
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Flight of the snow birds


Posted by Tim on 24 October, 2010

As we have driven north through the Carolinas and Virginia we have been on a collision course with the fall colours that descend from the forests of Canada and New England. With the turning of the leaves comes the migration of the snow birds seeking the warmth and longer days of the southern states that winter passes by.
The snow birds are a new phenomena to me. They are typically retirees from the northern states who migrate south in their mobile homes at the start of the winter months in search of sunnier climes. They shelter in camp grounds along the way, in National Parks deep in forests, along marshlands where they can fish by day, and in all the other landscapes of the great American outdoors.  

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Postcard from the Atlantic


Posted by Tim on 23 October, 2010

Since we set out from the UK we have been recording occasional radio pieces with people we have met along our journey for the World Today programme on the BBC World Service. The postcards provide a glimpse of different lives around the Atlantic.
Two of these have already been aired and you can listen to them here by clicking on the photographs below.

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Categorised Under: Tim's blogs | On the road blog
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The Big Interview


Posted by Will on 22 October, 2010

 Nine days to go before we have one of our biggest interviews.  On Monday 1st November we are meeting with four experts from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.  These guys advise the government and American people on things they can do to improve their own lives and also reduce the impact we have on the environment. 

So the interview is on the topic of What can I do about Climate Change?  But it is not our questions they are answering.  Instead students from around the Atlantic Ocean are sending their questions to us, and we will film the experts responding the curve balls and conundrums the teenagers throw at them.  Here are the interviewees:

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Will's blogs
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The Grandfather Syndrome - a poem about climate change


Posted by Will on 21 October, 2010

When we arrived in western Florida, we were lucky enough to meet Paul Holmes, a fellow Brit who has been leading an environmental charge in sleepy Punta Gorda.  Paul has been putting his considerable energy into launching an eco-network between the environmental groups of West Florida.

Not satisfied with this, he has also been writing poetry.  And he wrote this poem about The Grandfather Syndrome - the moment he realised he needed to care about the environment.

Paul also has a great voice, so we recorded him reading the poem.  Click on the photo below to listen.

 

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Will's blogs
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Greasing the wheels


Posted by Will on 20 October, 2010

After 25 000 miles, our Land Rover has lost its shiny orange sheen, its clean smelling interior, and its bump free bumper. We have driven it across rivers, bumped across potholes and reversed into several lamp-posts. It now has a ‘lived-in’ look. But it is still running as smoothly today as it did on the day we picked it up.

However, when we arrived in Tampa we had a kind invitation to stay with Pete Sweetser. There are four things you need to know about Pete. Firstly, he is English and has tea in his house. Secondly, he is a Land Rover nut and understands everything you need to about replacing intake pipes, loosening sprockets and cleaning filters. Third, he and his wife spent over a year driving around the world in a Defender, so realised we would have a bundle of very dirty washing on arrival. Fourth, he runs Dimmit Land Rover in Clearwater and could have a team of mechanics look over the car.

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Categorised Under: Expedition Preparation | Will's blogs
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Coping with Katrina


Posted by Tim on 7 October, 2010

It was a Thursday night and a lively crowd was crammed into the dark back room of Le Bon Temps Roule in New Orleans. A brass band was playing its heart out to an appreciative audience but the lyrics were largely lost on me. I had to shout into our friend Morgan’s ear to get the translation. “Who dat? Who dat?” I didn’t understand. 

“Who dat sayin dey gonna beat dem Saints?” is the battle cry of supporters of New Orleans American Football Team, the Saints, who unexpectedly won the Super Bowl in February of this year. It was a moment of great catharsis for the city, allowing the re-appropriation of the Superdome stadium as a place of regeneration rather than one of painful memories. Banners still flutter across the city today bearing words of gratitude: “God bless you boys”. 

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Categorised Under: Tim's blogs | On the road blog | Climate Change
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Linking up schools in Nantucket and Scotland


Posted by Will on 6 October, 2010

I am writing this in the middle of a long journey from Nantucket to New Orleans. For the last week we have been up in New England attending the Living on the Edge Coastal Communities conference and working with the island’s schools. It has been a thrilling, exhausting and mind-bending experience.

The island of Nantucket sits at the bottom of Massachusetts, poking out into the Atlantic Ocean like a stubborn child refusing to fall into line. But the forces of nature have been mounting a sustained attack on the coast. The southern shores have erosion rates of 3ft per year, with storm surges eating away up to 9ft in a matter of weeks.

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Will's blogs
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How do you show a 1m sea level rise to children?


Posted by Will on 28 September, 2010

One of the problems we face in schools is how to make a 1m sea level rise seem local and immediate to the places we are at. It is dead easy to draw a line on a map or measure a child in a classroom. But this rarely conveys the implications for the communities in which they live. While on Nantucket we started doing a new activity with kids, which goes someway to overcome this problem.

The simple solution was the brainchild of Janet Schulte at the Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket. Way back in May she suggested to us ‘find a building on Nantucket which people care about and show what will happen to it if sea levels keep going up’. She even chose the building for us: Brant Point Lighthouse in downtown Nantucket. But who cares about a lighthouse?

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Will's blogs
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Culture Shock - first impressions from America


Posted by Tim on 16 September, 2010

“Everything is bigger in Texas” they say. With food portions to make the eyes boggle, seven lane highways with roaring juggernauts and aggressive advertising which verges on vulgarity I’m inclined to agree.   Texas is so big it makes you gawp.
 
We arrived by night along highways stalked by totemic signs for McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Chilis on steady rotation. It is a landscape straight from the cinema with drive-thrus and factory outlets that look like cardboard film sets and on the open road a sign placing us firmly in the realm of Hollywood horror: “Prison area. Do not pick up hitch-hikers”.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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From Mexico to the US


Posted by Lynn on 12 September, 2010

A 17 hour drive yesterday took us from bullet holed buildings in Tampico, Mexico to suburbia in Austin, Texas. We extracted our car from Veracruz port and Tim and I drove to Tampico to pick up Will and meet some of the students the American School.

Science teacher Lula treated us to the best of Tampico, her parents’ seafood restaurant, the Country Club’s infinity swimming pool and the bar of the Spanish Club so we were disappointed we had to get back in the car at 7am to hit the dangerous roads to the border.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Life under Tampico's drug cartels


Posted by Will on 10 September, 2010

As we leave her house, Mercedes points to the corner of the street, “Two months ago six bad guys were arrested there,” she says. We stop off at the local bakery to pick up some biscuits for the school break. Three hours later, armed men storm the building and kidnap the ex-mayor, leaving with a loaf of bread. This is Tampico. Another Mexican city caught up in the battle between rival drug cartels and the army.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Will's blogs
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The American School of Tampico


Posted by Will on 9 September, 2010

On Thursday 3rd September the wide hallways of the American School of Tampico rang to the sounds of 200 footsteps heading towards the presentation hall. A rather diminished Atlantic Rising (consisting of Will) had arrived to start two days of workshops with students from 5th-12th Grade.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a wee bit nervous. Usually there is the comforting sight of Tim hunched over his laptop and Lynn fixing the projector when we start preparing for these workshops. But this time it was just little me, and an army of helpful teachers facing 100 middle school pupils. Lula Garcia was the lead teacher from Tampico and she had done a fantastic job at organising everything at her end. Projectors, laptops, board markers, even a little laser pointer to shine at the board were available. Let battle commence.

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Will's blogs
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Back on the road


Posted by Lynn on 8 September, 2010

Yesterday we went to the port for the customs officers to inspect our car. Step one was finding the car – Veracruz is a massive port and all we knew was that Beatrice was next to a white container. You can see in the photo the agent Karim can’t see her. But luckily Tim has a keen eye for a corner of orange Land Rover.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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The Harpie Eagle - a poem


Posted by Will on 6 September, 2010

What follows below is a poetic transcript of a conversation between Gil Serique (renowned Amazonian ecologist) and Atlantic Rising (very amateur naturalists), as Gil tried to both inspire and direct us towards a Harpie Eagle he had spotted.

Stop! And for a moment let
Your busy mind forget
All other thoughts.
For up there is a harpie eagle.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Will's blogs
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Mexican Customs


Posted by Lynn on 4 September, 2010

Atlantic Rising has been stalled by customs again. We are currently stuck in Veracruz, Mexico while officials fiddle with bits of paper. We arrived last week by ship from Cartagena, Colombia but our car has not made it out of the port yet. We are desperately trying to avoid flash backs to Guarujá in Brazil where we waited six weeks for the customs people to compile a 300 page dossier on our belongings.
 

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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One year on the road


Posted by Lynn on 1 September, 2010

So it’s our birthday, Atlantic Rising is celebrating one year on the road. And we would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported us, encouraged us or laughed at us over the last year. Without our sponsors, friends and the multitudes of generous strangers we meet along the way we would not have got as far as Mexico. More accurately we would never have escaped the M25.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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The Good Ship Tasco


Posted by Tim on 30 August, 2010

The good ship Tasco is the perfect time machine. A brass bell hangs in the officer’s lounge announcing its vintage, MV Tasco 1984. The walls are wood veneer, video cassettes adorn the library shelves like hard back books and the tannoy crackles through speakers of which my Dad would say “you can’t buy them like that today”.

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The Vice Squad


Posted by Tim on 29 August, 2010

American intervention in Colombia is perhaps most apparent in the drive to police the cocaine trade, a curious attempt to cure an American social problem by waging war on the streets of a foreign land. Military checkpoints, manned by polite Colombian soldiers line the rural roads and the occasional helicopter hovers in the skies over Cartagena.
 
On our last day in Colombia I had a brush with the antinarcotics police who wanted to inspect our vehicle prior to departure.

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Shipping Colombia to Mexico


Posted by Lynn on 22 August, 2010

Today is the sixth day of attempting to export our car from Colombia and, as our ship comes in tonight, we hope the last. If you like filling in forms and waiting for officials to find stamps then this process is for you – if not you are going to find this very tedious.

We are generously sponsored by shipping line Wallenius Wilhelmsen and their Cartagena office has been guiding us through the process of getting permission to export the car. Without their help we would still be struggling in limited Spanish with an uncooperative officious official lost somewhere in a back office of the Kafka-esque bureaucracy that surrounds the port.

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Good ol' Providence


Posted by Tim on 16 August, 2010

We arrived in Providencia wondering if it was all going to be worth it. We’d spent the previous three hours on a catamaran tossed over turbulent seas. Half the passengers had been sick, one package holidaymaker returned to port suffering a panic attack and the immediate intentions of two young lovers put on hold.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Mud glorious mud


Posted by Lynn on 15 August, 2010

Imagine floating in a giant tiramisu accompanied by several American tourists and you will have some concept of our trip to the mud volcano. Colombia is an excellent country with much to recommend it, more of which later, but wallowing in a volcano full of mud was definitely the oddest experiences of our trip so far.

We were informed by our ancient guide book that it was possible to bathe in a volcano and with the promise of various health benefits we swung by on our way from Cartagena to visit a climate change project in Santa Marta.

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Lynn gets Dengue fever


Posted by Lynn on 10 August, 2010

Dengue fever might be topical but it is not really that fun.
 
We have escaped serious illness so far and it was about time someone got ill, if only to entertain our expedition doctor. So I contracted Dengue somewhere between the Amazon and the Orinoco and consequently spent most of Venezuela in bed - definitely not the best way to see the country. 

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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360 degrees in Caracas


Posted by Tim on 28 July, 2010

At the top of the Altamira Suites in Caracas there is a bar where well-heeled Venezuelans sip cocktails while their Blackberries flicker on glass tabletops. From the roof there is a view across the city, a landscape of skyscrapers branded with the names of western corporations. The Four Seasons Hotel designed in the style of a boat, floats across a sea of lights that twinkle amiably from the distant hillsides of Petare, one of Latin America’s largest slums.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Conserving Liberia's forest - PLEASE READ


Posted by Will on 22 July, 2010

Its not often that Atlantic Rising plugs a cause other than its own.  However, the time has come to get behind a project that can make a real difference to the troubled country of Liberia.  And we need a tiny bit of your time to make it possible.

A close friend of Atlantic Rising - Catriona Forbes - works for an architectural NGO called Article 25. As a qualified architect, Catriona has been offered the chance to lead a project to design vital infrastructure and buildings in the Gola Forest - West Africa's last virgin rainforest.  This project will provide employment opportunities in conservation and eco-tourism for people who otherwise have little incentive to conserve the forest.  For more information click here.

We cannot miss out on this opportunity.

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Will's blogs
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Now that's what I call adventure - an encounter with Charles Brewer-Carias


Posted by Tim on 16 July, 2010

“Let me tell you a story”, Charles Brewer-Carias fixes me with cool eyes and an enigmatic smile disguised by a moustache which looks like it has fought its way off the pages of The Dangerous Book for Boys.
With 27 species of flora and fauna bearing his name and over 200 expeditions to the Venezuelan jungle under his no-nonsense belt, Charles is something of a legend in the world of exploration.  He speaks six languages, holds the world record for making fire with sticks (2.7 seconds), has his own brand of hunting knife, has discovered the world’s largest quartzite cave and the world’s oldest living organism, he’s a national swimming champion, former Minister for Youth and Sport and a qualified dentist to boot. To compare him to Indiana Jones is to do him a disservice.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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A very Victorian expedition


Posted by Tim on 15 July, 2010

Birthday presents on Atlantic Rising are given and earned through a careful process of negotiation.  For a long time I had wanted to climb Mount Roraima, a tabletop mountain or tepui, in southern Venezuela and after much arm twisting Will agreed to indulge me.
It was to be a great Victorian adventure.  Roraima has such steep cliffs that for many centuries it was considered insurmountable. Explorers failed to return from expeditions to its foothills, inspiring Conan Doyle to write a tale of a Lost World nestling on its summit, inhabited by pterodactyls and the missing link between man and ape.

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Four vignettes of Guyana


Posted by Will on 14 July, 2010

 

It is 5.30am in the morning. The sun is creeping over the horizon. I am driving along the coast road back from the airport. Early morning joggers pad along the sea wall, silhouetted against the grey dawn. Otherwise Georgetown is still. I turn the car onto Camp Street and cross the fetid canals latticing the city. A low mist hangs over the water. At the junction of Camp and Barrack Street the stillness is broken by a moment of conversation. A hundred people have gathered in a crowd. Young and old stand together, white and blue shirts standing out in the early light. They talk in low voices, a quiet murmur hanging in the air. All are dressed smartly for work. Breakfast bags gripped next to their sides. Umbrellas hanging limply from wrist. They stand patiently. As if they have been standing for days. Waiting. This is the passport office. It opens at 9am.

 

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Amazonia's opera house


Posted by Will on 3 July, 2010

This should have been on the site several weeks ago...as it refers to events in Brazil.  But it got lost in my computer.

Manaus is not a pretty city. It groans with assembly plants – Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Hyundai – crowding the outskirts after the government made Manaus a free trade zone. Very little is actually made here; components are mostly shipped from India and China, but a lot is assembled and companies benefit from the low taxes. However, it is a city with attitude.

And standing at its centre is a building which exemplifies Manaus’ somewhat quirky relationship with international trade. The Manaus Opera House looks a little like a forgotten slice of Neapolitan ice cream. As children, we hungered for this exotic dessert, only to demolish the vanilla and chocolate sections leaving the strawberry forlornly melting on the plate. Jorge dos Santos’s design has distinct similarities.

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Live-linking with schools


Posted by Will on 3 July, 2010

We are not at our best at 6am. An injection of caffeine, a spray of deet and a chance to exorcise hammock induced back spasms are usually required before we engage with the world. However, last week was different.

Our days began with sleepy calls to the UK, where 25 students were ready to pounce with clever questions and thoughtful comments about the expedition and climate change. A double espresso is no match for Hazel's question, "how do you reconcile the differences between local and global sea level rise?", in terms of wiping sleep from your eyes.

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Happy Birthday Your Majesty


Posted by Lynn on 30 June, 2010

The oddest social function of the trip so far has got to be the Queen’s birthday party we attended in Georgetown, Guyana.

We received hand delivered invitations on pristine white card. The High Commissioner and his wife requested the pleasure of our company at a party to celebrate the queen’s official birthday. Dress code: elegant. This was tricky because dirty, scruffy and pretty-much-see-through I can manage but elegant is definitely not a word that could be reliably applied to anything that comes out of our car. Luckily, we were staying with the lovely Darshana and Marcello and so Will and I borrowed elegant clothes from Darshana and Tim wore his missionary/teaching outfit.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Cowboys and Indians


Posted by Lynn on 28 June, 2010

Atlantic Rising has been playing at being cowboys on a spectacular ranch in southern Guyana called Dadanawa. It was once the largest cattle ranch in the world and to get there you have to drive for about 50miles on pretty bad roads.

We were guided from Lethem by Trevor who works at the ranch. He insisted on stopping at every roadside shop along the route for a beer or three. By the time we got to the last and most tricky part of the road I was the only person sober enough to be anywhere near a wheel - much to Trevor’s disappointment as he was clearly very nervous of my driving.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Ford's forgotten jungle city


Posted by Tim on 27 June, 2010

This blog should have been published a couple of weeks ago but we have been rushing around Guyana and I have only just had time to put it up.

Dona Olinda was approaching her 100th birthday and as she sat on the veranda of her American-built home in Fordlandia in the Brazilian state of Amazonas her family cleared up around her in preparation for the party.

Fordlandia is a sleepy community nestled on the misty banks of the Tapajos River where Henry Ford tried to establish a rubber plantation to bypass the British stranglehold on the white gold of the early twentieth century. He hoped to gain control over every step in the production process of his Model -T.

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Choose your own adventure


Posted by Lynn on 22 June, 2010

One of the best things about Atlantic Rising is that it allows us to meet (either in real life or via the internet) some really interesting people doing some properly amazing things. One of these people is Tim Moss - there are few places he hasn't cycled, swum or run. He is  currently running every tube line in London and recently has been cycling around the UK in a rickshaw. His mission is to encourage others to achieve their own challenges and he has kindly written a piece about adventure especially for our website. You can read it here.

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Goodbye Guyana


Posted by Lynn on 17 June, 2010

Residents of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, live their lives below sea level. The rising sea is an immediate threat and the city only survives thanks to a sea wall.

Luckily, the President sees climate change as a business opportunity and is busy persuading Norway to hand over millions of dollars in return for promises to halt deforestation. This is not a popular strategy among gold and diamond miners and logging companies worried about the future of their industries. But it might mean the forest, which covers much of the country, managed in a sustainable way.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Climate Change | Lynn's blogs
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Windsurfing the Amazon


Posted by Will on 14 June, 2010

There are certain activities which we do, not because they are fun, but because the bragging rights are just reward for the pain of enduring them: swimming in Scotland, reading Penguin classics, visiting Hadrian’s wall.  All of them tick boxes and fill the awkward dinner party silences, but the actual time you spend doing these activities is sweaty and painful.  Sometimes you think it will never end (Tale of Two Cities), sometimes you think you might die in the process (Cumbria in January).  All of them are much cheerier in retrospect.  Onto this list I will add windsurfing on the Amazon.

We arrived in Santarem six days ago. It is a city that has convulsed in a series of ambitious industrial endeavours: gold, rubber and now soya.  We have been lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Gil Serique, an ecologist, guide and local celebrity.  Gil is an anthropomorphism of popping candy.  As our boat pulled into Santarem harbour, Gil was gliding along on his windsurf. We waved.  Gil howled like a mad dog. And we have been lodging at his house ever since.

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Into the Amazon


Posted by Will on 5 June, 2010

Life in a hammock is a cross between speed dating and a trade fair.  People look at your wares – your hammock, your bags, your clothing and the knot you tie to affix your hammock.  You are judged according to all of these things.  We scored high on bags, but low on knots.  And s soon as your hammock is up you start to scout.  Who is next to me? Are they drunk?  Will they vomit on my face in the night?  Are they hiding a screaming child in that fold?  Will they mind when I fart? All of these things require snap judgements and have far reaching consequences.  These people will be within inches of you for the next 72 hours. If they have stashed a pet cockerel in their pillow and you fail to notice, there go your lazy mornings.

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Sao Luis


Posted by Tim on 28 May, 2010

Sao Luis was once at the centre of the Portuguese empire. Its streets are paved with stones used as ballast in Portuguese ships and it proudly boasted a telephone just three years after its invention. The neighbouring town of Alcantara was home to the rich plantation owners of the era, so affluent that they could afford to build two palaces fit for a visit by the Brazilian ruler. 
But he never showed up and the non-event is still celebrated today during the Festa do Divino.  Unfortunately, we arrived about as fit for a party as the decrepit colonial architecture of the city and opted for a guided tour.

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Sand dunes and swimming


Posted by Lynn on 22 May, 2010

After picking up our buoy in Fortaleza we headed for backpackers’ mecca Jericoaracoa, full of dune buggies, kite boarders and swanky looking pousadas. We availed ourselves of none of these and instead broke our camping duck for Brazil by setting up our tents in a hostel’s courtyard.
Our sleep was persistently interrupted by a whining dog and some musical, drunk Frenchmen. Will solved both problems by letting the dog off her rope, she immediately went to the bbq and stole the Frenchmen’s steak who went to bed angrily without any supper.

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Reunited with Bernie the Buoy


Posted by Tim on 16 May, 2010

The Golden Tulip hotel casts a long shadow along the beach where Fortaleza’s fishermen have landed their morning catch.  The crowd assembles in circles around the fish to haggle over prices as leathery-skinned men place weights on scales like opponents moving pieces in a game of chess.

The market is a raucous celebration of arrival and return.  Fishmongers work at wooden stalls on the sand, scraping, chopping and slicing while maintaining a steady banter with their customers.  Women sit at plastic tables selling coffee from thermos flasks, tapioca biscuits and shots of cachaca to fisherman tired after days at sea.  A fish flung through the air noisily collides with a man’s cheek and he turns drunkenly to berate the uninterested crowd. 

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Schools blog | Tim's blogs
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An idiot's guide to painkillers


Posted by Will on 15 May, 2010

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I will have this tattooed on my pill popping finger. For the last 24 hours I have lived in a fuzzy world, suspended over a toilet bowl, with fate’s thumb firmly pressed on the vomit button. An ear infection had turned into a hospitalisation and I had nobody to blame but myself.

 
The day had started normally. It was a bit more difficult to balance at lunchtime, but I thought no more of it. The fireworks started after an afternoon run and an hour of Dolly Parton. Pain. So much pain. Like a small man was open-cast-mining in my ear. Every noise was another scrape of his shovel against my eardrum.

Lynn – the voice of reason on occasions like this – suggested contacting medical friends for advice. Soon we had three diagnoses – all recommending different drugs. In a moment of intense pain and impatience I took them all.

Darkness descended.

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Of birthdays and brothels


Posted by Lynn on 9 May, 2010

Waking up in a brothel at a truck stop was not how I hoped to be spending my 30th birthday. To be fair, there is some debate about whether the establishment was a brothel. All I know is that the proprietress was very unwilling to let us stay, in a way that made me suspect she had other plans for the room.

Will was quick to opt for the single bed with very suspicious stains on the mattress. Leaving Tim and me sleeping under the weirdest mosquito net contraption the world has ever seen. Incidentally, there was also raw meat hanging from a washing line just outside the door to our room. There is a Brazilian dish called ‘carne de sol’ but this looked just as likely to be the ears of previous guests. 

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Gaga in Guaruja


Posted by Tim on 30 April, 2010

After a tortuous wait we have finally been united with Beatrice. Atlantic Rising is back on the road.

It was an emotional reunion on Thursday night in a wet container park in Santos. Will and I dressed down for the occasion in flip flops and shorts, looking out of place among a small army of men in hard hats. Beatrice was a little reluctant to start at first, but after a tow (she’s too heavy to push) she spluttered into life and is now recovering in a garage in Sao Paulo.

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Atlantic Rising on BBC World Service


Posted by Will on 21 April, 2010

I am a bit slow off the mark in notifying people about work we have produced. This should have been penned on Sunday.

Over the past five months, we have been producing a mini-series for the BBC World Service. The series focuses on people in West Africa, whose work tackles issues and arguments around climate change. Some of them are experts, others are ordinary citizens. All of them believe passionately in what they are doing.

The series appears in the Outlook strand and airs four times on the day of broadcast. Two have already aired, and another two are coming up on 26th April 2010 and 3rd May 2010. A summary of each programme is included below.

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Brazilian beach life


Posted by Tim on 18 April, 2010

One of the great advantages of travelling along the one metre contour line (or thereabouts) is that we are never far from the beach. And while seven months on the road has turned us into beach snobs, as beaches go, Brazil scores pretty highly.
 
But it is not the fineness of the sand or the clarity of the water that grabs me, but the carnival of life which is acted out upon them. Brazilian beach culture explains why England won’t win the World Cup and why there’s no treatment on the beautician’s menu called ‘The British’.

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Why are we waiting?


Posted by Lynn on 15 April, 2010

Brazilian customs officials do not move fast. We have now been waiting for our car since March 9 which seems like a very long time ago.

The news from our freight forwarders at the port rotates on a daily basis - we are told we might be getting the car next week, that sometimes it takes two months to import a car, that the customs officials are happy with our paperwork, that the customs officials have some questions or that Tim needs to sign another form.

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Seeing the world through a teenager's eye


Posted by Will on 14 April, 2010

Today we are launching the Atlantic Rising photo competition. It is called My Coastal Life and the challenge to students is to take ONE photo of a coastal scene that is important to them, write fifty words explaining why it is so important, and send it to us at competition@atlanticrising.org.

We will be plotting these photos on our website as part of a giant online map. Students can then log on and explore how their contemporaries experience and relate to this vast ocean. After the competition has finished we will be launching a lesson plan encouraging schools to develop this idea of a shared coastline, and our mutual responsibilities to look after it.

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What are we doing in 2010?


Posted by Will on 14 April, 2010

So this blog is a more focussed on the education dimension of the project.  Anybody wanting to know the latest status of Tim's beard or what we are eating for dinner...you won't find it here.  However I wanted to write to let everybody know what the education wing of Atlantic Rising is planning for the rest of the expedition and how we see the next few months panning out.

Still interested?  Then read on.

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Fleeing the rain in Rio


Posted by Tim on 8 April, 2010

Taking advantage of our vehicle’s incarceration in a container somewhere in Santos I took a few days off from Atlantic Rising to go on holiday with my sister, Bryony. On Monday, our last morning in Rio we looked out across leaden skies as the rain fell on Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela.

“Top of the hills, great views, come on, it’s an excellent zip code”, our guide Colin enthused like an estate agent. 

Perched on the steep slopes above the affluent communities of Sao Conrado and Gávea, Rocinha is far from des-res. Where Rocinha’s roofs are flat to accommodate unplanned extensions, Sao Conrado’s roofs are home to turquoise swimming pools. In Rocinha tiny alleyways squeeze between honeycomb brick walls, seen from below, the favela is so crammed it looks like a wall of houses.

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How did a belly dancing fisherman find our buoy?


Posted by Will on 1 April, 2010

Photos have just arrived in our hands showing our buoy being picked out of the sea and taken to dry land by a large fisherman, who then enacts a small belly dance around his trophy.  Men from the Golden Tulip arrive, tell him to grow up and relieve him of the buoy. 

Nothing surprises us anymore in Brazil. 

Photo gallery of this weirdness is here

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LATEST NEWS! The man who rescued the buoy


Posted by Will on 30 March, 2010

He ran from his desk when he heard the call.  He jumped the fence to get to the beach.  He battled drunkards to protect the buoy.  And single handedly carried it to the Golden Tulip to ensure its safety.  Rarely has one man done so much for the sake of a message in a bottle.

And now we have pictures of him.

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STOP PRESS! Message in a Bottle found


Posted by Will on 28 March, 2010

The buoy has been found!

After travelling for five weeks and covering a distance of nearly a thousand miles, our buoy has been picked up.  It did not wash up on the sand, or find its way to a quiet pebble beach, instead it was plucked from the sea by some curious fishermen.  And it happened in dramatic circumstances.

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Ready steady subscribe


Posted by Tim on 25 March, 2010

There’s a clever little orange button on our website called an RSS feed. By clicking on it you can subscribe to receive updates from our blog emailed directly to you. So rather than wandering blindly to our site every so often, our RSS feed can let you know when we’ve added new articles and blogs as soon as we publish them. You can even see a summary of them to decide whether they’re worth reading.

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What local factors will affect sea level change?


Posted by Will on 23 March, 2010

It might not come as a surprise to many people, but future projections of sea level change are dependent on a large number of regional factors other than the amount of water in the ocean or its temperature.  In an insightful article in Yale Environment 360, Michael Lemonick explores the other factors which will contribute to regional shifts.  Ocean currents, sinking land masses and the gravitational pull of ice caps all feature heavily.  What's the conclusion.....don't buy a house in South Carolina and forget your holiday in Hawaii.  Read the full article here

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The end is nigh


Posted by Tim on 20 March, 2010

I spent yesterday walking back and forth across Santos trying to complete the paperwork to unlock our car, Beatrice, from her container.
 
Santos is the largest port in Latin America – its streets dissected by a series of canals the colour of crude oil, devoid of life or barges. I walked hurriedly weighed down by bags, whilst drops of water bombarded me from unseen air conditioning units in the sky and rolled down the lenses of my glasses to complete my disorientation.

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Goooooooooal!


Posted by Lynn on 11 March, 2010

Yesterday we had our first real introduction to Brazil with a football match.

We went to see Santos (Pele’s former club – we saw his son but not him sadly) playing an inconsequential team wearing orange. I say inconsequential because Santos won 10-0 and the other team didn’t get much of a look in.

We watched the first half from the stands then spent half time visiting various VIP areas picking up free food and drink. Ice lollies seem to be big at Brazilian football matches. The second half we watched from right by the side of the pitch. I am no footballing expert but the quality was very impressive. There were a couple of players likely to go to the world cup Robinho (currently on loan from Manchester City, I believe) and an 18-year-old wunderkid with a mohawk called Neymar Da Silva. Both of which scored many goals.

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Tim on the telly!


Posted by Tim on 11 March, 2010

Today thousands of children across the UK are reporting the news as part of the BBC’s annual School Report. I was lucky enough to take part because Cardinal Newman School in Hove – one of the schools we visited before leaving the UK – decided to focus their report on climate change and Atlantic Rising.

We provided the BBC with some footage of our ‘message in a bottle’ project and whilst we were in transit to Brazil, Kitty and Louis, two of the pupils at Cardinal Newman rang me up for an interview. They had clearly been taught a few tricks of the trade from the BBC and gave me a thorough grilling on the expedition.

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Crossing the line


Posted by Lynn on 8 March, 2010

In Churchill’s view naval tradition was “nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash”.

We found none of those on board Safmarine container ships while crossing the Atlantic but we did encounter handcuffs, kitchen slops and the fire hose. These we experienced in quick and nasty succession during the crossing the line ceremony.

Being seafaring novices, not even equipped with seaman discharge books causing the captain no end of complicated paperwork, we had never heard of the crossing the line ceremony. Therefore we had not had the forethought to procure a certificate saying we had already undergone said ceremony before boarding.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Help!


Posted by Lynn on 6 March, 2010

Atlantic Rising has been on the road for six months now. We have had lots of adventures, visited great schools and seen several interesting projects.

We are currently plotting and planning by a pool in Brazil and really hoping that the next half of the project is going to be even more exciting.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the places we have passed through, the projects have visited and people we have met. Now we are trying to spread the word. If you know anyone who might be interested in Atlantic Rising - geography teachers, Brazilian rainforest guides, Columbian cocktail waiters, climate scientists or armchair explorers - please forward them a link to our site.

Likewise, suggestions for places to go, people to meet or projects to visit in the Americas are very much appreciated.

And if you like reading about environmental issues you might be interested in the Best Green Blogs Directory which lists good websites.

We are going to try and update the website more regularly when we are not stuck in the mud in the Amazon, so hopefully there will be more stories, photos and videos to come. Watch this space people.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Expedition Preparation
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How is sea level rise poisoning Ghana?


Posted by Will on 27 February, 2010

Popular images of sea level change are flooded houses, displaced people and eroded landscapes.  In Western Ghana, a sinister new picture is emerging: salt water poisoning.  Rising sea levels have polluted the water sources of thousands of inhabitants, infecting their drinking water and creating an unprecedented rise in salt-related health problems.

The head of water quality at the Ghana Water Company has admitted providing drinking water with almost twice the recommended salt levels, whilst the medical director of the regional hospital has reported a 70% increase in strokes, hypertension and heart problems.

Largely ignored in the Ghanaian press, this is a candid portrait of environmental abuse and political mismanagement set to mushroom if current climatic trends continue. 

Read more of Will's case study here

 

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How our bottle was made


Posted by Lynn on 26 February, 2010

How do you design a vessel to ride the ocean's waves for years carrying a precious cargo of letters and a tracking device? We had no idea, but luckily we knew some experts and asked them nicely.

This explains how our 'Message in a Bottle' buoy was cleverly designed by round the world yachtsman James Clarke and expertly made by engineer John McIntyre.

The design was for a spar buoy – long and deep so it would not get rocked about too much by waves. It has extra buoyancy at the top to allow for the weight of any sea creatures that might try and live on it. There is space for the tracker and then below that a space for the letters. John made several 100 mile round trips from his home to Inverness to buy parts from a building supplier selling water pipes.

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Categorised Under: Lynn's blogs | Schools blog | Climate Change
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A message from the bottle's builder


Posted by Lynn on 26 February, 2010

This is a letter by John MacIntyre who built our 'Message in a Bottle' buoy.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing because I want those people who will be alive a hundred from now to inherit the rich hospitable sun lit leaf shaded and life tangled world that I grew up in. I hope that our literature and art can be saved and that our children will have time to write and tell more stories. I hope that they will be able to wander and dance and to fall in love in the moss deep northern forests still filled with the flight of birds. I hope that whales, tigers and the great apes will not have disappeared and become mythological.

I am also writing because I have spent my entire adult life working as a scientist and owe it to those people yet to live to speak.

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Message in a Bottle


Posted by Lynn on 26 February, 2010

Last week we threw hundreds of letters from school children into the ocean in a giant bottle. Perhaps you will find it washed up on a beach, if so please get in touch. In the meanwhile here are some of the highlights. The spelling is mostly original.

“To a person who hopefully does not know me,

Hopefully I may not be dead when you get this, if the world hasn’t already been destroyed my name is Bryn. I am from Scotland, a great country where people get the wrong impression. Not everyone wears a kilt and has a sword.

I will like to informed you that I am a school boy and my first priority is education. My eyes are big and dark, my nose is neither big nor small, and I have a big ears, my head is neither big nor small, with a small hair on it.

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All at sea


Posted by Tim on 11 February, 2010

Up on the ship’s bridge high above the containers and the waves which crash like gentle thunder, Mr Isaacs is on watch. Neatly arranged before him are two packets of cigarettes. He cradles a pair of binoculars in one hand which he brings intermittently to his eyes. Stars float in the sky overhead as the ship bears us away from the shores of Africa.

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More films on the website


Posted by Will on 11 February, 2010

We are about to jump on a ship, so I will be brief.  After a lot of hard work, make-up, takes, re-takes, and cups of coffee we have sent off our first videos to schools.  The idea behind these is to try and take a bit of climate change study out of the classroom and into the field. 

The two types of film we have produced are very different.  One is very interview based, getting students to send in questions which we then pose to a climate change expert.  The other is much more focussed on the expedition, squeezing a bit of geography in and around us getting stuck in sand and picking our way through forests.

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Hello Sailor!


Posted by Lynn on 20 January, 2010

Atlantic Rising is in a state of high excitement having just been shown around Safmarine Nuba, currently alongside the port in Abidjan.
Readers, I can assure you that containerships really are very big. Although, according to her captain Nuba is actually relatively small, at a mere 210metres long.

We got our passports stamped out of Cote d’Ivoire at the immigration office in the port earlier today. My appearance at their grubby door occasioned many ‘we don’t get a lot of women around here’ comments.

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All aboard a container ship


Posted by Lynn on 19 January, 2010

Yesterday we put our car in a container ready for the ship and tomorrow we should be heading up the gangplank ourselves. I drove the Land Rover nervously into its smart blue Safmarine branded container. Then two men armed with packing tape and a stepladder spent a long time lashing various bits of the car to eyes in the container. Will boldly disconnected the battery – a dangerous job when you are phenomenally sweaty. I passed spanners, offered encouragement and stood well back. Pausing only to take receipt of yards of cloth – a present from Ibrahima our very smooth, freight forwarder.

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How we miss the simple luxuries in life


Posted by Will on 19 January, 2010

A fortnightly encounter with a washing machine, a fridge or a sink has the same restorative affect as a mini-break.  A chance to avoid a day of hand-washing, the possibility of ice cold water, the option of not washing up in a blue bucket. In Accra we even stayed in a house with a coffee machine. Like moths to a flame our unblinking eyes had fixed on the thick brown liquid dribbling into our cups, dirty eyebrows dripping with the steam that spiralled up from the caffeine pond.

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Sodom and Gomorrah - where Britain's rubbish ends up.


Posted by Tim on 12 January, 2010

The sound of pounding metal peals like funereal bells across the landscape. An acrid black smoke drifts above the earth, dyed bright yellow and cyan by ink spewed from fractured printer cartridges. We step across a wasteland of rusting car parts, jaundiced computer shells and the entrails of refrigerators bought decades ago in a country other than Ghana.

This is Sodom and Gomorrah, the local name for the Agbogbloshie district of Accra in Ghana. Named after the fated cities of the Bible, synonymous with impenitent sin, and destroyed by God with brimstone and fire.

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Christmas day with Atlantic Rising


Posted by Lynn on 11 January, 2010

Sorry for the break in communication but Atlantic Rising has been to the beach. Many beaches in fact. We celebrated Will’s birthday and Christmas at a place called Ko Sa Beach Resort near Cape Coast in Ghana.

Father Christmas even made it to the roof tent and I was delighted to find the pillow case from Tim’s very smelly travel pillow stuffed with books, second hand t-shirts supporting various American football teams and a water pistol. Tim is now the proud owner of a volley ball which Will has been playing with incessantly ever since and Will is looking increasingly preppy in his new wardrobe, as styled by Lynn and Tim.

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When the bullets stopped: child soldiers in post-war Liberia


Posted by Will on 28 December, 2009

It is impossible for us to understand the affect of civil war on Liberia.  With enough time we could have measured its impact on the economy, upon the distribution and demography of the population, perhaps even upon the future development of the country.

What we will never be able understand is the effect it had upon the children caught up as witnesses, victims and perpetrators of the violence that raged in the country for fourteen years.  A generation of Liberians who were chased from their homes, hunted in the forest and denied access to schooling between 1989 – 2003.  In the fourteen years of war, it has been estimated that average child received two months of formal education.  This generation is now trying to survive outside of refugee camps, support their own families, and rebuild the fragile state that is post-war Liberia.  What hope do they have?

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Liberia's divided society


Posted by Lynn on 28 December, 2009

Liberia is a country in quite a lot of trouble thanks to 14 years of brutal civil war. According to the government’s poverty reduction strategy more than half of Liberian children are out of school, there are only 51 Liberian doctors – that’s one for every 70,000 people and 64 percent of the population live below the poverty line.

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Shipwrecked in Guinea Bissau


Posted by Will on 27 December, 2009

We were not expecting to have to swim ashore.  This was not in our game plan.  We had far too much equipment, were suffering from mild sunstroke and I had only brought one pair of shorts.  ‘Shipwrecked’ was not in our risk assessment.

But here we were 500m of the coast of Orango, stuck on a sand bar, and the woman next to me muttering about shark-infested waters.  The wind was picking up, the sun sinking in the sky and one man was already in the water with a pig wrapped around his shoulders. 

It was time to swallow pride, vanity and any sense of self preservation.... and jump ship.

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Getting kidnapped in Cote D'Ivoire


Posted by Tim on 21 December, 2009

Entering Cote d’Ivoire we were greeted at the border by three men describing themselves as rebels. There was nothing particularly rebellious about them. They were, if anything, a little bashful and apologised because they could not find a stamp to mark our passports. 

The road up until this point had already provided us with ample adventure. By the time we reached the border it had narrowed to a single track the width of a footpath. Forest and path blended into one and soon we were crawling and hopping along with the ants and the crickets. 

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Coping with the tropical heat


Posted by Tim on 15 December, 2009

Several months ago we were sitting in the dappled shade of St Christopher’s Place in London talking to Oliver Steeds. As he swaggered off into the sunset he left us with his eggshell-hued business card. It said simply: Explorer.

Around this single word I constructed a swashbuckling persona for myself, of designer stubble, Stetson hats and stories of derring-do told across bars in exotic locations. Tim Bromfield… Explorer.

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Being on TV in Sierra Leone


Posted by Will on 12 December, 2009

Arriving in Sierra Leone involved an interview.  Not with customs or the police, but with a group of porters, hawkers, street vendors and students.  They stood there in the gloaming and showered questions on us.  What is your mission? Are you army? How is your body?

My body?  I shifted uneasily in my muddy shorts.  We had just crossed Guinea is two days. I had not showered for four and my beard had finally awoken after ten years of no growth.  Guinea had amazed us with its beauty.  A giant pick n mix of mountains, rivers and forests.  And dust.  Red dust.  It had infused the deepest corners of the car. My shorts were covered in it, my eyebrows clogged with it and my hairy plum beard infused with it. I looked like a dwarf Viking who had fallen asleep on a sunbed.

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Playing football in Sierra Leone


Posted by Will on 12 December, 2009

The invitation was hand written: 

Dear Sir,
You are co-dialy (sic) invited with pleasure to our iniversary (sic) disco jam and football match.  Please make it a point of duty to come.
Thankyou your fitfulay (sic) youths leader
Midewa Koroma


It was 4pm.  Humity was at 85%.  We had just arrived on the uninhabited island of Tiwai to track by hippos, monkeys and snakes.  We were a touch surprised.  And scared.

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Why Sierra Leone will get screwed at Copenhagen


Posted by Will on 9 December, 2009

For ten days delegates will meet in Copenhagen.  Ideas will be thrashed around, meetings will be held in public, behind closed doors, in doorways between other meetings.  The world will watch with baited breath, panting at press conferences and analysing every utterance, silence and gesture to piece together a picture of an outcome.  All of this is to be expected.  But behind the smart suits, tinted windows and Swiss fountain pens there are delegates from poorer countries who struggle to attend the conference, struggle to  fund themselves whilst at the conference, and struggle to have a voice amongst the well polished rhetoric of the EU and American delegation.  One such country is Sierra Leone.

Read the full case study here.

 

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Living it up in Freetown


Posted by Lynn on 8 December, 2009

In the first of a very occasional series of lifestyle blogs we will tell you what’s fun to do in Sierra Leone. First, hire the services of a reliable guide – after some discussion we opted for girl-about-Freetown Faye Melly. Make sure you negotiate a full retinue – we had the benefit of dedicated assistant guide Justin and the invaluable help of Doris, Spencer, Abdul and some excellent drivers.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs | Sponsors and Fundraising
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A visit to Educaid


Posted by Lynn on 3 December, 2009

This week we visited the most inspirational school, Educaid in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It is run by a British woman, Miriam, who I am rather pleased to say I am some how distantly related to. Her school is the only free school in Freetown and it serves about 700 students, ranging in age from about 12 to about 30. Students tend to be older here because the war disrupted many people’s schooling.

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Lynn's blogs
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Corruption in Sierra Leone


Posted by Lynn on 3 December, 2009

Everyone we meet in Sierra Leone is talking about corruption. It seems to be the scourge of the country and everyone is affected. Two ministers are currently under house arrest for corruption and young people in slums complain the elders are more interested in lining their pockets than helping the community.

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Crossing Guinea - on the brink of war


Posted by Tim on 26 November, 2009

To enter Guinea we first had to cross the river that runs along its frontier with Guinea Bissau.
 
By dawn wisps of mist clung to the cool waters, creating an ethereal, other-worldly impression of the land beyond shrouded in myth. With elections approaching and an erratic military ruler in power Guinea is more volatile than normal and our plan was to get across it as quickly and discreetly as possible. 

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Hunting for hippos in Guinea Bissau


Posted by Lynn on 13 November, 2009

Hunting for salt water hippos didn’t turn out quite as we planned. We took a floating farm to a remote island in the Bijaogs Archipelago in Guinea Bissau. Sitting in the small wooden pirogue populated with goats, pigs, cows and lots of chickens (one of which we purchased and later ate) I felt slightly sea sick mostly from the smell of palm wine all other people on the boat were enthusiastically drinking.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Getting stuck in the Sahara desert


Posted by All on 12 November, 2009

Lynn: It is pretty impressive to get stuck in the mud in the Sahara – sand you would expect but mud was a surprise.

After hours of driving effortlessly along the Mauritanian beach and over dunes we came off the tracks of the car we were following and fell in a hole when least expecting it. 

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Expedition Preparation
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Last TANGO in Banjul


Posted by Tim on 5 November, 2009

The car park at the TANGO office in Banjul was beginning to feel like home. There was a reassuring familiarity to the minaret dawn chorus, the security guards who we fed by night and the school children who caught us showering by morning.  So it was wistfully that we plunged south into Senegal once again.

But first we paid a courtesy call to the Libyan consul who had inexplicably picked up our restaurant bill earlier that week and wanted to talk. Intrigued by this opening diplomatic gambit we were keen to try our hand in the great game and presented ourselves earnestly at the embassy.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Gambia - the smiling coast of Africa!


Posted by Lynn on 29 October, 2009

We are now in Gambia, which is great for various reasons. Firstly, people speak English which means I no longer have to rely on Will and Tim’s sometimes dubious translations from French. Secondly the people are very friendly.

Possibly even too friendly – before I even had my passport stamped to arrive in the country the nice man at immigration proposed to me. I said I needed to think about it for a bit so he kindly gave me his phone number so I could give him a call when I made up my mind. I am not sure if he has a house with an indoor shower, but if so I am hours away from agreeing.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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The letter W - stuck for words.


Posted by Will on 26 October, 2009

started writing this blog at 2pm on 27th September in Mauritania. It was 106∞F.  I had no thermometer, but my flip flops always melt at 100∞F. So I found myself in a small shaded corner of a courtyard playing Scrabble with the National Park guides in the Banc D’Arguin.

I faced a problem.  This was French Scrabble and I had picked a W.  It was worth 10. GCSE French did not equip me for this.  I ran through vegetables, directions and professions but come up with nothing.  The W sat there eyeballing me.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Will's blogs
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Yes we can


Posted by Tim on 21 October, 2009

Dakar is rising. The sun climbs slowly out of the smog, forlorn horses wrestle the last crumbs from their nose bags and the traffic splutters and sneezes its way into town.

Despite almost 50% unemployment, more amongst young people, there is palpable optimism on the streets. It is evident in the flourishing trade of Obama products; market stalls adorned with Obama t-shirts, Obama kangas, Obama pants even. The US President vies with an array of West African football stars for celebrity status whilst Bin Laden watches neglected from the sidelines.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Desert breaks computers after only 6 weeks


Posted by Will on 16 October, 2009

It is a sad state of affairs.  We have travelled 6000 miles through some of the world's most beautiful landscapes and we have spent a large proportion of it sitting in front of our computers, tapping away, staring at the small screen in front of us.  If we had spent as much time 'out in the field' as we have done at a desk we would already have enough material for several books and our own TV channel.  However, the reality of our project means that we have to have a quick turn around of material, or else you end up writing about Morocco from Monrovia.  Now more than ever the expectation of instant communication, from where ever you are, makes us dependent - nay wedded - to these little machines - our portal to the wider world.

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Categorised Under: Expedition Preparation | Will's blogs
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Photographing Mauritania from the sky


Posted by Will on 16 October, 2009

The trouble with the desert is that it’s flat.  For all the beautiful sunsets and swirling dunes, we never had a gob-smacking view that burned itself into our memories.  Lots of pebbles, shells, hot sand and sea.  That was until we met up with Marion Broquere and Simon Nancy.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Will's blogs
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Our first school visit in Senegal


Posted by Will on 13 October, 2009

Last week Tim and I were lucky enough to spend a couple of days at Cheikh Omar Foutiyou Tall High School in St. Louis, Senegal.  This was the first school we were adding to the network since leaving the UK, so we were a bit nervous, but we had such a fantastic response from the pupils that we are thinking of moving here.

St Louis is located in a precarious position at the mouth of the Senegal river.  The old colonial town is built on a low lying island in the middle of this estuary, connected to the mainland by a long metal bridge.  Flooding, tidal inundations and coastal erosion are all big problems here and the government has undertaken a number of unsuccessful projects to remedy the situation.

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Will's blogs
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Terrible sea defences in Dakar


Posted by Lynn on 11 October, 2009

Dakar’s sprawling suburbs stretch along the coastline of the Cape Vert peninsula. Hundreds of thousands of people have moved to Senegal’s capital in search of work and they have made their homes wherever possible, often along the seashore.

Co-ordinator for UNESCO's adaptation to climate and coastal change project in West Africa, Professor Isabelle Niang, took us to her home town, Rufisque a fishing community and dormitory town for Dakar to show us how the sea is invading the suburb. You can see her sitting on the sea wall in the picture on the left.

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Categorised Under: Sea Level Change | Lynn's blogs
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Life in the desert


Posted by Tim on 11 October, 2009

This is what the end of the world might look like. A wasteland of nothingness and desolation, of shifting sands blown by the wind and seen by nobody. Where human bones are perennially exhumed and buried, and shreds of black plastic bags flutter in the gorse like crows.

The desert appears bleak and inhospitable to my eyes as I squint against the glare. All colour is drained and muted by the brilliance of the sun. In places the land is so flat I imagine I can see the curvature of Earth and the road extends straight to the horizon where it topples off the edge of the world.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Mauritanian adventures


Posted by Lynn on 1 October, 2009

Atlantic Rising has been having adventures in the Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania.

This national park, along the northern third of the Mauritanian coastline, is home in winter to masses of migratory birds coming from Europe. Some stay for the whole winter and others use the mud flats as a stop off point on their journey further south.

Driving into the park involved a night time race against the tide. The Atlantic was on our left, the Sahara on our right, stars above and sand below us as we sped along the beach.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs | Climate Change
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Can you sleep three people in a small tent?


Posted by Tim on 29 September, 2009

I am trying to make my bed for the evening in Western Sahara. The awning and canvas arrangement that I am wrestling with is rigged like a well-slung sail and every few minutes the roof takes off and lands with a scrape that penetrates the inner tranquillity that I am trying so hard to cultivate.

I accept defeat and venture upstairs to the roof tent where Will and Lynn are already tucked up. If they were asleep they are definitely awake by the time I have unzipped and zipped the tent, wrestled with my sleeping bag and assumed the middle lane in the swimming pool arrangement that is our roof tent.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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The difficulty of driving in a foreign country


Posted by Lynn on 21 September, 2009

Driving along Moroccan roads that seem to disappear over the edge of the earth has taught us a few things.

Sand can be a lot harder than it looks.

Secondly 60kph speed limits on suspiciously straight stretches of road usually mean a police road block.

And thirdly when a police sign says stop it means stop. Stop right there. Not stop a couple of metres beyond the sign and furthermore don’t argue.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Camping in the desert


Posted by on 20 September, 2009

I am writing this from the back seat of the car as we drive down the coast of Western Sahara.  Its 8.45am and the sand swirling across the road has already picked up the sun’s heat.  This quintiessential desert scene bears little resemblence to our experience last night, which was anything but ‘deserted’.

For a start it was raining.  Not the torrential, ‘Noah and the flood’ kind of rain, but more of a gentle Scottish drizzle.  It felt strangely homely, in a dreech kind of way.  We had decided to camp on the beach, protected from the wind that whipped off the sea by a giant bush twice the size of the car.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Will's blogs
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Driving through France


Posted by Tim on 17 September, 2009

The journey through Europe gave us an opportunity to acquaint ourselves with our car, or ‘Beatrice’ as we like to call her.

Pitching camp for the first time within the safe confines of a farmer’s field near La Rochelle allowed us to fumble around the vehicle unobserved.  It was an unacknowledged ceremony as we clambered over the vehicle like children taking their first faltering steps on a new climbing frame. Items that could easily be passed between one another – keys, penknives, gaffer tape – were thrown jubilantly from ground to roof or boot to bonnet. Muscles, unused within the car, rejoiced as they applied themselves to lifting, hauling and climbing.  It was a celebration of the new outdoor life that beckoned and we imagined roles for ourselves within this daily ritual growing stronger through the exercise.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Tim's blogs
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Morocco's unique vulnerability to climate change


Posted by Lynn on 17 September, 2009

Morocco's 3,500km of coastline makes it particularly vulnerable to sea level rise.

With most of its economic activity near the coast, no legislation preventing building in the coastal zone and the government reportedly selling coastal land to developers at notional prices, climate change is a real threat. Small scale farmers increasingly find themselves competing for water with thirsty golf courses and hotel swimming pools. While in other parts of the country flooding causes devastation.

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Categorised Under: Lynn's blogs | Climate Change | Sea Level Change
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Trouble with technology


Posted by Will on 16 September, 2009

A second computer has succumbed to the Saharan dust.  We have taken brief refuge in the foyer of a posh hotel before heading further south into the desert.  Hoping DHL can ferry us out a spare part to keep us (technologically) afloat.

Once again we are writing from the foyer of an extremely posh hotel.  Snuffling a coffee and trying to look like we fit in, we hide our umkemp hair and dirty feet beneath the mahogany table.  Its been cooler today, but we had a long drive down from Rabat yesterday afternoon, so there was a lot of hand-washing going on this morning to keep enough clean clothes on the go.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog
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Ramadan in Rabat


Posted by Lynn on 15 September, 2009

A quick update from the ice cold Golden Tulip hotel in Rabat – possibly the most expensive internet connection thus far.
Work has finally begun for Atlantic Rising and we spent the last few days meeting several interesting people doing climate change research in Morocco.
Yesterday, we were so busy with a meeting in the Ministry of Environment we accidentally observed Ramadan.
However, this just made breaking the fast with a couple of friends all the better. We followed this with a walk around the souk in Rabat where you can buy everything from black soap to use in the hammam to unidentifiable animals whose blood is said to cure asthma but all we bought was some delicious dried fruit.
We are heading south now and will post more when we have better internet facilities. When we will also post some photos from the trip through Europe.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs
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Presalted Lamb


Posted by Tim on 8 September, 2009

Lambs gambling in meadows around Mont Saint-Michel have a hard life.  Grazed on the bay’s low-lying salt marshes, periodically drenched by seawater and then blown dry by the salty winds whipping off the Channel they are considered salted long before they reach the chef’s pot.  The lamb’s high consumption of salt results in tender and juicy meat, served up as a delicacy in local restaurants.  However, the French government has drawn ranks to fight against the conditions that produce this dish.

Mont St Michel is France’s most popular tourist attraction outside Paris.  Tourists flock to admire its ethereal beauty, shrouded in sea mist and cut off from the mainland by the sea.  However, it is threatened by the very industry that champions it. 

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Categorised Under: Tim's blogs | Climate Change | Sea Level Change
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Learning to sleep in a tent


Posted by Will on 7 September, 2009

How prepared can you be for an Atlantic storm hitting your homemade tent?

I am writing this after limited sleep.  At 4 am I awoke next to my old friend the right wheel.  As a bed companion it is a fine find with a friendly white face spotted with nuts and bolts.  However, last night there was a look of derision on its metallic visage.   I was wet.  Very wet. A fishing rod jabbed me in the ribs as I sat up.  It had happened again.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Will's blogs
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Atlantic Rising leaves the UK!


Posted by Lynn on 2 September, 2009

Atlantic Rising has (finally) left the UK in not so much of a storm of publicity but an actual storm.
 
Yesterday we were up at 5am to pose for photos on the slip road for the Sandbanks ferry in Poole. Very tricky to take a picture where we all look normal, particularly at that time in the morning.

After a few last minute trips to the bank (Tim) and the fishing shop (Will) we were on the ferry.

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Categorised Under: On the road blog | Lynn's blogs | Sponsors and Fundraising
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Message in a Bottle letters


Posted by Tim on 22 July, 2009

Amongst the flotsam and jetsam of my office is a pile of scruffy leaves of A4 paper. Contained on these pages are several hundred letters written by the 11 to 14 year olds that we have met along our route through the UK.

These letters are part of our ‘message in a bottle’ project and will be placed in sturdy capsules to be cast over the side of our container ship as it transports us across the Atlantic. The bottles will have satellite transceivers attached to them so that they can be tracked on our website as they bob above the ocean waves, left to the whim of the currents and destined for distant unknown recipients.

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Tim's blogs
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Plots and Pans


Posted by Lynn on 13 July, 2009

We are now full time expedition planning since visiting the last school in our UK network on Thursday.

I spend my days touring camping shops, plaguing their hapless employees with questions about the precise battery life in various head torches, the exact weight of a frying pan and the dangers of chaffing when wearing trousers which zip off to make shorts.

Using my extensive albeit 20-year-old experience of setting up dolls’ houses I have become fixated on how small things are and how neatly they can pack into tiny spaces.

 

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Categorised Under: Expedition Preparation | Lynn's blogs
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Back to school


Posted by Lynn on 7 July, 2009

Apologies for radio silence blog fans. Atlantic Rising has been very busy over the last couple of weeks visiting schools all over the country.

It’s exciting now the first stage of our expedition has begun and we have already been to 10 of the 11 UK schools in our network.

Visiting schools is a disconcerting experience. Having never willingly set foot in a school in my life and certainly not frequented such establishments since 1998 it was very strange to be back in the classroom. And even odder to be allowed into the haven of the staffroom.

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Categorised Under: Schools blog | Lynn's blogs
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America loses ground to salinisation


Posted by Will on 4 June, 2009

American conservationists have been putting a lot of energy into publicising the plight of North Carolina’s coastline. Low lying, swampy and sprinkled with well managed conservation areas, it hosts numerous endangered species including the red wolf and red cockaded woodpecker, as well as a splinter group of black bears. It was here that early settlers drained bogs and built dykes, carving a new landscape from the peaty myre that greeted them off their boats.

However, rapid sea level change is threatening this unique ecosystem. In a long article in The New York Times yesterday, Jessica Leber visited Alligator River Wildlife refuge to report on the slow farewell to a coastal refuge:

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Categorised Under: Uncategorised | Will's blogs
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How will the oceans change in a warmer world?


Posted by Will on 13 May, 2009

A useful, if slightly simplistic, overview of how the oceans will be affected by increased atmospheric temperatures has just been published on Al Jazeera’s website.  It is a good introduction to some of the issues we will be exploring later this year.

For those of us who live near the coast, the oceans have a clear and direct impact on our everyday lives; storms, varying sea levels, fishing and recreation.  However, if we live inland, what possible influence can the oceans have on us?  For those of us who live in the developed world climate change is our problem, our fault, and we have to act now to prevent the situation from worsening.  A sceptic would argue that climate change is not the problem of the developing world.

If only life on our planet was that simple.

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How will sea level rise affect inland America?


Posted by Will on 13 May, 2009

So sea level change will profoundly change the geography of our coastlines, but what are the knock on effects for inland areas. Population migration and increased competition for agricultural and water resources will lead to inland areas being put under profound stress.  A group of scientists in U.S.A are currently researching these impacts on the Lake Wales Ridge area of Florida.  The consequences look pretty frightening.

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Sea Level Change | Will's blogs
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How fast are sea levels rising?


Posted by Tim on 11 May, 2009

The climate change discourse is awash with facts but since 2007 there has been scientific consensus around an important one that ‘most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities’.  This was the statement issued by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001 from which no national scientific body of national or international standing now maintains a dissenting position.

Here we look at some important figures and answer one of the questions we are asked repeatedly - how far have sea levels risen already?

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Categorised Under: Sea Level Change | Climate Change | Tim's blogs
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Gambia takes action against sea level rise


Posted by Will on 4 May, 2009

Two weeks ago in Banjul, a sea level change adaptation project involving five countries – The Gambia, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal – was launched in Banjul.

The goal of this project is to develop and pilot a range of effective coping mechanisms for reducing the impact of climate change induced by coastal erosion in vulnerable regions in the five participating countries. Acquired and implemented by the National Environment Agency (NEA), the adaptation to Climate Change and Coastal (ACCC) project is funded through the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Sea Level Change
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Sierra Leone: time running out for coastal slums


Posted by Will on 2 May, 2009

The three big climate change challenges facing the International Community are commonly recognised as:

  • How to stop and reverse further global warming (mitigation).
  • How to live with a certain amount of global warming (adaptation).
  • How to design a new model for human progress and development that is climate proof and climate friendly and gives everybody a fair share of the natural resources on which we all depend.

Whilst governments and corporations are wrangling over different ways to confront these challenges, one thing is abundantly clear: it is the richer countries who will have greatest responsibility for mitigation, and the poorer countries – often most under threat due to sea level rise – who will be under greatest pressure to adapt.

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Categorised Under: Sea Level Change | Climate Change
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Lonely who…?


Posted by Will on 21 April, 2009

Another donation!  The fantastic people of Rough Guide have swooped to our rescue and provided us with free guide books to every country that we are visiting.  Thankyou very much indeed!

This does mean we are jettisoning spare tyres, water, fuel and Tim’s washbag to make way for our new library – but these are small sacrifices to make.

More about Rough Guide can be found on their website http://www.roughguides.com/

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Categorised Under: Climate Change
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Tooling Up


Posted by Lynn on 21 April, 2009

I’m in Crouch End surrounded by architectural models and CDs and watching Grace the goldfish who seems to have a problem with her swim bladder.

It couldn’t be further removed from waking up in a tent on top of a Land Rover in Mauritania.

Last night over supper in a pub we created a list of ‘potential problems’ and ‘actual problems’ with our project. The actual-have-already-definitely-happened problems list was reassuringly short but potentially a hell of a lot could go wrong.

So I am staving off an anxiety attack with another visit to the Land Rover garage in Herne Hill.

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Lynn's blogs
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Separating the men from the boys (and girl)


Posted by Tim on 14 April, 2009

I’m pretty good at driving. I’m a man. What more can I say? Not much the Land Rover Experience centre in Herefordshire could teach me then.

We had come to learn to drive the Defender, that box-like brute that you associate with the words ‘Land Rover’, and the model we have been leant to initiate Atlantic Rising.

Herefordshire is Land Rover country and Eastnor is its stable, paddock and exercise ground. Here, immaculately groomed cars, in showroom silver (it disguises the scratches best), line the Land Rover Experience yard like Grand National thoroughbreds.

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Categorised Under: Expedition Preparation | Sea Level Change | Tim's blogs
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Thanks Ecometrica!


Posted by Will on 14 April, 2009

A huge thanks to Gary and his team, who have offered to conduct a carbon footprint of our project for us….for free!

They are also advising us on local projects that we can invest in with the money used to offset our carbon. This includes a scheme called Plan Vivo in Mexico at http://www.planvivo.org………watch this space.

More info about Ecometrica can be found at their website www.ecometrica.co.uk

More news later when footprint has been measured.

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Categorised Under: Climate Change | Climate Change | Will's blogs
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Seeing the world through a teenager's eye


Posted by Will on 14 April, 2009

Today we are launching the Atlantic Rising photo competition. It is called My Coastal Life and the challenge to students is to take ONE photo of a coastal scene that is important to them, write fifty words explaining why it is so important, and send it to us at competition@atlanticrising.org

We will be plotting these photos on our website as part of a giant online map. Students can then log on and explore how their contemporaries experience and relate to this vast ocean. After the competition has finished we will be launching a lesson plan encouraging schools to develop this idea of a shared coastline, and our mutual responsibilities to look after it.

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Categorised Under: Schools blog
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Wilderness Medical Training


Posted by Will on 13 April, 2009

We are sitting in some very comfortable theatre seats at the RGS. On the screen in front of us is a man who packed badly for a mountain climb. His thumb is black and shrivelled, his forefinger red and puffy, and the other digits are all missing. ‘Now this isn’t as bad as it looks, but can anyone tell me what the problem is?’ says the smirking lecturer. We check the route to the toilets is clear and stifle a retch. Day 1 of Wilderness Medical Training.

The RGS have paid for a two day medical taster course, preparing us for everything from Lynn choking on her breakfast and Tim developing a bee allergy, to us all being involved in a serious car accident. It is a sobering, enlightening and terrifying experience.

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Categorised Under: Expedition Preparation | Will's blogs | Sponsors and Fundraising
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