The No. 1 Trans-Atlantic Dating Agency

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.

The letters provide a flavour of teenage life today.  Lovingly folded into tiny rectangles and handed over surreptitiously at the end of lessons they offer up personal confidences.  “I am popular in some way but not in the in-group with that kind of person. I bet whoever in the world is reading this, you know what I mean”.

Some make bold pronouncements about the times. “This is the age of swine flu”. Whilst others are more philosophical, “Imagine if someone finds this in 50 years. I will be 64, wow. I will be old. I wonder how the world will have changed, the things the older me will have seen”. Occasionally, they even display a vague comprehension of the lessons we have been teaching “I especially hope that our beautiful earth will not die and will be mending and getting better”.

But the most consistent theme is love. Love has conquered our project and our bottles have been appropriated as vessels of trans-Atlantic affection. Pen-friends turned suitors state their credentials in bold uninhibited terms “I have a six pack and huge muscles”. Others are meekly reflective “I think I have been in love but I am not sure anymore” or harbour homely desires “I am looking for a nice looking girl with blue eyes”.

One letter proclaims as unequivocally as a foghorn heard through a sea mist “I love Christiano Ronaldo so much. I just love him. If you are not Christiano Ronaldo please put this letter back in the water. Thank you, love x”.


America loses ground to salinisation

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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How will the oceans change in a warmer world?

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.

The full article can be found here

Lonely who…?

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