Friday, 25 December 2015

Good old fashioned Bogey

This blog is nothing to do with wildlife or what we are up to, but some good old fashioned fun.

I was cleaning the shed at the harbour when I saw an old wooden fishing box. It brought back so many memories, as my dad made me a bogey out of the fishing box for a Christmas present. 

I listen to so many people saying that the kids are glued to their  I-pads, computers and games, that they loose to sight of what is kid is supposed to be.
When I was a child I used to come home covered in cuts, bruises and scratches, but did I have fun, Hell Yeah.

Lots of the older generation will remember building dens, playing knickie knockie nine doors (where you knock on someones door and run away) and jumping of the harbour pier (in my case), all those kind of things kids are supposed to do instead of being glued to the TV.

I'm really lucky to live where I do, as I push my kids to be outside in the fresh air and I know lots of people can't let there kids play on the streets as its to dangerous, but I think that's were today's children loose out. Yes I know, I have to keep up with the times and technology, but sometimes please just let them be kids.

So that's it...... This fishing box is going to be changed into something special and the kids are going to love it, but first I will have to built it and of course I will have to give it a test drive to see if it's preforming properly. Yes you have guessed, it's not for the kids it's for me, I'm the child in my house.

First the old fishing box was cut out at one end, then I found an old pallet which I chopped up and used the long piece to go down the middle of the box and a small bit to steer with.

Then I put a threaded rod through the back of the box to hold the wheels. The I stole the wheels of my daughters old bike and then I acquired two wheels from a lawnmower for the front.
I got a bit of scrap metal bar and welded two bolts to the end to hold the front wheels on and screwed it all down.

 Bike in bits on the floor. Threaded rod through one wheel and lots of scrap to use.

There we go, one bogey nearly ready to use. Some final adjustments to do but not many.

Next step is to sand it all down and add a like of paint and then we are ready for the test run on the harbour hill. I do hope it holds my weight. I also added a back rest as I remember it dug into my back when I was a kid. Yes, I know what you are thinking, "I'm getting soft in my old age", but I'm not as I have left out the stops so the wheels don't go to far around. I remember when I was a kid and my foot got jammed below the bogey and it really hurt so I want my kids to feel the same pain. I'm just getting my own back on then for giving me sleepless nights.

A bit of  grey undercoat. 

 Now Black gloss has had two coats. She's looking good.

 Yes, the final touches are being applied with flames along the side to make it that boy races look. I had a little thought so it's not finished just yet. I'm going to fix a mount near the front to put a GoPro on and then it will be ready for Christmas Day.

I can't wait to see the kids faces and fingers crossed it good weather for them to take it on her maiden run.

So there we have it. A good old fashioned Bogey. I hope this brings lots of memories back for you all and I will let you know how we got on and hopefully I will have some footage to show you. 

Have a great Christmas everyone and thank you for reading my blogs once again. 



Thursday, 17 December 2015

Shag Sightings 2015

Throughout the season we write down all of the Shag Tags or Darvic's we see. We write down location, time and place we have located them and send them away to be recorded. This season we got a very quick and great response from the CEH.
We had 49 individuals from the Farnes, which is not really surprising. 31 were from the Isle of May, 8 from the Firth of Forth islands and 2 from Aberdeenshire.

Myself, Andy and Tony are well chuffed with this haul and hopefully we will keep it up for many more years to come and you never know we might find a bird that is from miles and miles away or the oldest one recorded. Anything is possible at the Farne Islands when it come to seabirds.

Below are our results for 2015 and hopefully we will have more during the winter.

Pulli, means a chick that was ringed on the nest.
Adult, means that it was caught and ringed as an adult. 

Darvic BTO RingingAge RingingYear RingingLocation
BAAI 1473930 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
BABA 1473937 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
BABH 1473941 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
BACU 1473959 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
BACZ 1473961 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
BASX 1483056 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
BBBS 1473879 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
BCZJ 1472040 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BDAU 1472061 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BDZB 1472253 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BFJZ 1472356 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BFNL 1472398 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BFSI 1483414 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BHAP 1472459 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BHXJ 1485114 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BHZC 1485118 Pulli 2015 Isle of May
BJPP 1443815 Pulli 2009 Isle of May
BJUF 1443524 Pulli 2009 Isle of May
BTTP 1452023 Pulli 2010 Isle of May
BZBU 1444515 Pulli 2009 Isle of May
GCAE 1465820 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
GCDR 1465818 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
GCEA 1465827 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCED 1465591 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCEN 1465873 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
GCEP 1465833 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
GCHE 1465867 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCJR 1465897 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCPE 1465864 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
GCPR 1465856 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
GCRN 1465893 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCWF 1465795 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCWN 1465792 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCWT 1465799 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCXW 1465765 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GCZR 1465766 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GDAE 1465886 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GDCW 1465906 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GDEP 1465598 Pulli 2014 Farne Islands
GEBH 1472566 Pulli 2014 Inchkeith
GECP 1472597 Pulli 2014 Inchkeith
GECZ 1472656 Pulli 2014 Inchkeith
GEJT 1478537 Pulli 2014 Inchmickery
GENF 1478568 Pulli 2014 Inchmickery
GENR 1478575 Pulli 2014 Inchmickery
GERN 1478616 Pulli 2014 Inchmickery
GERZ 1478623 Pulli 2014 Inchmickery
GFHF 1380598 Pulli 2001 Isle of May
GFPX 1380826 Pulli 2001 Isle of May
GLAW 1486016 Adult 2015 Farne Islands
GLFE 1465962 Adult 2015 Farne Islands
GLHE 1465964 Adult 2015 Farne Islands
GLPE 1486055 Adult 2015 Farne Islands
GLWL 1486096 Adult 2015 Farne Islands
GLWR 1486098 Pulli 2015 Farne Islands
GLWX 1486077 Pulli 2015 Farne Islands
GNDR 1486048 Adult 2015 Farne Islands
GNES 1465961 Adult 2015 Farne Islands
GNPC 1453141 Pulli 2011 Isle of May
RAPF 1483086 Adult 2014 Isle of May
RBBC 1461307 Pulli 2012 Isle of May
RCER 1407490 Adult 2011 Farne Islands
RLEC 1407201 Adult 2012 Farne Islands
RLFE 1465533 Adult 2012 Farne Islands
RLPE 1465549 Pulli 2012 Farne Islands
RLWI 1465556 Adult 2012 Farne Islands
RNWR 1394399 Adult 2013 Farne Islands
RPAE 1407359 Adult 2013 Farne Islands
RPEL 1465619 Pulli 2013 Farne Islands
RRZD 1465678 Pulli 2013 Farne Islands
RRZE 1465679 Pulli 2013 Farne Islands
RRZF 1465680 Adult 2013 Farne Islands
RRZT 1465688 Pulli 2013 Farne Islands
RSFB 1397496 Pulli 2009 Strahangles Point
RSSD 1428285 Pulli 2010 Bullers of Buchan
RSZP 1407137 Pulli 2009 Farne Islands
RTBJ 1377321 Adult 2009 Farne Islands
RTBT 1394460 Adult 2009 Farne Islands
RTDA 1343267 Adult 2010 Farne Islands
RWNC 1465734 Pulli 2013 Farne Islands
RWPZ 1465802 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
RWRL 1377486 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
RWRP 1465810 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
RWRW 1465805 Adult 2014 Farne Islands
WJBZ 1473499 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
WJCS 1473510 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
WLZU 1389639 Pulli 2003 Isle of May
WNCF 1473648 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
WNDH 1473664 Pulli 2014 Isle of May
WZLU 1473843 Pulli 2014 Isle of May

Monday, 7 December 2015

Longstone Lighthouse Update

The Longstone Lighthouse, or Outer Farne as it was first called, is situated on Longstone Rock, one of the Outer Staple Islands. A light was requested for these islands by Sir John Clayton in the late 17th century and by Captain J. Blackett in 1755. Unfortunately, both were rejected as the Elder Brethren of Trinity House were unable to obtain the consent of the affected parties to pay a toll for the maintenance of the light.

However, in 1826 it was found essential for the welfare of shipping off the Northumberland coast to construct a lighthouse in the Farne Group on the Longstone Rock, which lies about 6 miles from the mainland on the westernmost side of the reef.

The Lighthouse, designed and built by Joseph Nelson is a red and white circular tower built of rough stone with iron railings around the lantern gallery. The light originally came from the Argand lamps with 12 burners, parabolic reflectors 21 inches in diameter and 9 inches deep. The cost of the Lighthouse and the dwellings was approximately £4,771, the lantern alone costing £1,441.

The island was a bleak situation to endure and the isolation must have been terrible, often storms were so bad as to drive the family into the upper rooms of the tower to seek refuge, the waves being so enormous that they covered the living quarters.

Longstone Lighthouse is most famous as the scene of the Forfarshire wreck and the exploits of Grace Darling, a daughter of the keeper in charge. In September 1838 the steamer Forfarshire, bound from Hull to Dundee, went aground on Harcar Rocks, about a mile from the Lighthouse, when 43 people were drowned; the stern portion of the vessel being split off and carried away in the storm. The forepart, to which clung the survivors, remained fast on the rocks. At daybreak William Darling, the keeper, and the fishermen ashore saw the wreck, but the waves were beating against the rocks so much that the fishermen thought it impossible to attempt a rescue and even Darling hesitated. He was finally persuaded to make the attempt by his daughter, with her as the second hand in the small lighthouse boat. On reaching the wreck after a terrific struggle they brought back 4 men and 1 woman in their frail open boat and later a further four survivors; all 9 had to be accommodated and fed at the lighthouse for 2 days until the storm abated and they could be taken to the mainland. This gallant action made Grace Darling and her father famous. The Royal Human Society voted them its gold medal, the Government made them a grant and a public subscription was organized.

The lighthouse has undergone many changes over the years, and the current accommodation was built in 1951 on the former site of the fog signal house that had been destroyed during the war in 1942. It was then changed to electric in 1952 and then it was converted to automatic operation in September 1990 and is now monitored from the Trinity House Operations and Planning Centre at Harwich.

Over the last 6 months the Longstone Lighthouse has been having a major overhaul and the light has been turned off while the workmen have been been changing things around. Don't worry, passing vessels would never hit the rocks as they anchored a Lightship (floating lighthouse) just a little bit further out from the Longstone to warn all passing vessels. Saying that, I remember when the Danio hit the rocks when the light was on.

Trinity House who own the Longstone have decided to move into the 21st century and change the lightohuse into solar power. When I first heard this I thought it would change the look of the lighthouse and it would never be the same, but how wrong was I. By looking at the lighthouse you would never know it had changed at all. Only A few things have changed on the outside, with a few hand rails but on the inside its seen a huge change.

The project included a major overhaul of all the electrical equipment, which is now obsolete and this will reduce the risk of failure in the future. This will also help reduce the amount of money they spend on fuel for the generators and will also be good for the environment.

A new design of the lantern has made it possible for them to use solar power, and instead of the light being visible from 24 nautical miles away and on 24 hours a day, it has been reduced to 18 nautical miles and only comes on at night time. This makes total sense and will save them a lot of money in the mean time and everything will be controlled from their base in Harwich.

So there we have it, the Longstone Lighthouse is now solar powered and I wonder what the darling family would have thought of this new technology. We will never know, but once again the longstone has changed and I suppose in the next 50 years something else will come along and it will all be changed again.

Here are a few pictures below and the last two pictures I took when the light was turned off.  


Monday, 30 November 2015

Lifting Out

We have now lifted out Serenity and Sovereign II for the winter. Looks like its back to the painting again. You see it's not all beautiful calm seas, thousands of seabirds and topping up the tan, I do have to put on the scruffy gear and do some proper graft.

Chocks ready for when the boat gets here. 

 Inside Serenity's shelter.

 No it's not Leonardo DiCaprio on the bow on the boat but Mr Priestley giving myself and Toby a hand with the boat.

 Slowly does it.

 Everything going fine

 Half way out

 Sovereign II just about to be chocked up for the winter

 All chocked up and now it's down to the painting

Don't worry, as Serenity II is still in the water so we will be sailing.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Happy Birthday Grace Darling

It's 200 years today that Grace Horsley Darling was born in Bamburgh 'the year of the Battle of Waterloo' as she was often reminded.

I know I talk about her in my commentary nearly every day but it's hard to believe it's 200 years ago. I also feel honored to tell people about this wonderful lady and it's really nice when young children who are on the boat and tell me that they are learning about her at school. It's lovely to know, that this young women will be always remembered for what she did and will go down in history forever.

As I write this blog today, I can't help thinking about her life on the Farnes and what it must have been like. I know what it's like out there today for the Rangers, but back then it must have just been their way of life and when you hear the stories and read about the Darling family you have to take your hat off to them.

I hope the Darling family will be talked about for the next 200 years but today it's all about Grace.

Have a look at this fantastic website if you don't know much about Grace and the Darling family or if you do know a little bit then this site will teach you a lot more

Happy Birthday Grace  

 If you are in the area why not visit the Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh


Friday, 20 November 2015

Seal Season 2015

The seal season is well underway now and at the last count there was 1,227 seal pups around the islands and that's 102 more than this time last year.

On Saturday there was a gap in the weather and he seas were calm enough to get out. With a few guests on board we headed out to the islands to see what was about. I was hoping to see some Little Auks but I was out of luck.
When we arrived at the islands the seals were scattered everywhere and there were loads of seal pups for my guests to see.

We stopped the boat near Longstone Lighthouse to look at some more seals, we saw a seal that stood out like a saw thumb among all the other seals as it was as ginger as can be. This seal is from Donna Nook or Blakeney Point as all of our seals are born on the rocks, were down there they are born on the sand which sometimes colours the seals skin.

After that we steamed across to the Brownsman Island where there were more seals but this time we saw a mother with a new born pup. We must have missed the birth by seconds, but it was such a beautiful sight to see, that it did not matter that we had missed the birth. It was flat calm behind the island and the boat lay perfectly on the water as we watch the mother turn onto her side so that the pup could get some milk. As the pup moved closer to her mother, it slipped close to the water edge and then all of a sudden a bull grabbed the pup and dragged it into the water.
We all shouted "OH NO", please don't let this happen but the pup some how managed to claw itself onto the side and the rocks and pull itself out of the water.
The sigh of relief on my face and the guests was priceless. I have to admit I have never seen such a sight before and god knows why the bull decided to drag the pup into the water and I guess I will.
The pup did get away from the bull and the mother tried to encourage it further up the rocks, away from the bull and the incoming tide.
The relief around the boat was heart warming and as we left, the new born pup was enjoying some of its mother's milk, so finger crossed this little pup will grow up fit and healthy.

The pictures below show the story but the look in the pups eye shows you how scared it was. 


Thursday, 12 November 2015

North East Blogger Awards 2015

This year I was nominated for the North East Blogger Awards for Travel, which was held at Bonbar Newcastle on Tuesday 10th.
As you all know, I'm from a little village so going to the "Toon" as they call it, was a little bit different to the pubs around Seahouses and they must have known I was coming as they got the red carpet out for me. Ha ha.

It was a beautiful venue and my emotions were mixed with excitement and fear rolled into one. I was really excited to be invited but at the same time a bit nervous as I was on my own and did not know anyone.
I was greeted with open arms and given a present for being a finalist, which was lovely. I made my way to the bar to get myself a drink to calm the nerves, but before I got there, I was offered some champagne, which I had to refuse as I was driving. A Red Bull will have to do me and as I  looked around I saw Sam from  I have never met Sam before but I got to know her through twitter and now I read her blogs which are brilliant by the way.  She introduced me to Chloe from and at first she was not sure who I was but the she then said, "Are you the Puffin Man", with a big smile on my face, I automatically said yes. For me that was great, so thank you Sam and Chloe.

I also chatted to Emma from O PR who made me feel comfortable during the evening and by 8.30pm the awards were to be announced.

Just before the winners were announced they showed a short clip of every finalist and when it got to me I was very embarrassed with my short clip. Thank god it was on 30 seconds.

Anyway I never won the travel category but to come in the top 3 in the North East was something to be very proud of and to be honest the bloggers in the north east are producing today are of a high quality stuff which just goes to show what a place we live in.

Thank you for all your support and I will try again next year. 

Yes I can scrub up when I want too. 


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Rare Albino Seal

On Saturday morning I took a gang of divers out to the Farnes and diving with the seals was on top of the agenda.
We dived a place called Big Harcar where Grace Darling did her famous rescue all those years ago. Its not a deep place to dive and the seals were everywhere. The guys got their kit on and off they went. After about 45 minutes they surfaced with smiles on their faces as they had such a good time playing with the seals, that they wanted to do it again.

It had rained since the second we left the harbour but after a hot cuppa the guys were ready to go back in for some more seal action, so we decided to go to another area called the Hopper, which is beside the Longstone Lighthouse and the water was teeming with seals so it was time to get kitted up and back in for a play.

We were just about to drop the first pair in when I noticed a very pale seal. At first I thought I was seeing things, so I gave myself a slap and took another look. Bloody hell its a Albino Seal.

I ran to the wheelhouse to get my camera and once again I had left it at home. What I plonker I am. A lovely lady said that I could use her camera, so without question I grabbed her camera and snapped a couple of pictures. The pictures are not the best, but I was so excited to see such a wonderful mammal it did not really matter.

The divers jumped in and myself and Andy watched the albino seal splash around like she was having the time of her life. Albinos tend to get rejected, and find it a real struggle to survive on their own but this youngster was having none of it and the other seals seemed to embrace her with open paws.
I'm not sure how she will cope later on in life and I know she will struggle with her eyesight but for the moment she is doing fine and it was a pleasure to witness such a wonderful mammal.

A big thank you to Andrew and the gang for joining me in the pouring rain as if was not for you I don't think I would have been in this area to witness such a wonderful sight. 

Monday, 19 October 2015

Sea, Sun and Serenity

Since the beginning of October we have not had it bad at all around the Farnes. Yes there has been a few days when the weather has been dreadful and the seas were rough, but over all not bad at all. Some day's have been a pleasure and we wished we had some of this during the summer, but it was not to be.
There has been a good few Guillemots hanging around and the odd Puffling (baby puffin) too, which is always nice to see.
We have had a few Bottlenose Dolphins, the odd Basking Shark and a Minkie Whale. On the bird front we have had lots of Goldcrest, Fieldfare, Redwing, Redpoll, Little Bunting, Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones, Yellow-browed Warblers, Merlin and Short-eared Owls. This is only some of the birds that have landed on the islands so its not bad at all.

We are still waiting for that mega bird to arrive and you never know what the Farnes will produce.

Here are a few pictures of the flat calm seas, beautiful sunshine and the serenity of the farne islands.












We are now up to 14 pups with many more to come. The harbour is also starting to get the male and female Eider Ducks back after moulting and they are looking stunning too.

Thanks for reading once again.