Having served a short time in the Canadian Army I left and joined the British Army (Queen’s Regiment).
This is me in Portugal. We spent a huge amount of time in the eucalyptus forests. I remember that we were always short of water. I was so thirsty once that I filled an old pop can that I had found with stinking water from a tire rut. In plugging the end with plastic I had saved it for a treat later in the day. It turned out that there was an orchard near there and the people who were picking oranges gave us fresh water and lots of fruit.
Most of the time we moved at night and I honed my map and compass skills to perfection.
Looks like our M113 is broken down again. That’s me sitting with my feet on the edge.We are somewhere in Hohenfels (Germany)
Behind me is a 50 cal. I can’t recall the exact issue with the APC, but I believe it was something to do with the track tension which seemed to be an on-going thing.
What I later came to regard as quite odd was that not everyone in the section knew how to use the 50 cal. I believe you needed a special course. In the British Infantry (as I later joined the British Army), if there was a weapon in your section – you knew how to use it.
Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.
We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).
So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on
1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.
8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).
9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.
In addition to the regular guards foot soldiers outside Buckingham Palace, the uninvited guest would be dealing with this. I’m not sure exactly what he’s carrying but it brings to mind a less security conscious time when I was sent on an exercise during a potential officer course (Sandhurst). My task was to obtain the signature of the officer of the guard at Buckingham Palace – others had all sorts of odd and diverse tasks. The idea was to show what could be done with initiative.
I had no free entry into the palace but managed to talk my way into the guard room where I learned that the officer of the guard had left for his residence at St. James Palace. I managed to intercept him en-route – he wouldn’t talk but his bat man who followed along behind carrying the squash shoes of the marching, sword-bearing anachronism explained that I could see him later.
Later, in St. James Palace I got an imperious note (with signature) “Please desist from disturbing my afternoon slumbers”. Mission accomplished.
No visit to London is complete without some pomp and ceremony. I took this picture outside the building known as “Horse Guards”. These fellows in red are the life Guards – not the swimming kind (their cuirasses would drag them down). As one tourist in the know explained, “They stand there facing each other (blues and Royals vs Life Guards) for about half an hour and then they have changed the guard.”
As you can see it was a good picture taking opportunity.
The life Guards (in red and the blues and Royals in blue) both comprise regiments in the Household Cavalry, an actual functioning light armored formation of the British Army. When not on ceremonial duty, the Household Cavalry performs a reconnaissance function in a combat brigade; dress uniform is replaced by camouflage, swords by assault rifles.
Here is an interesting little discovery in a market in Marrakesh some time in the early 1980s. Many of these sacks were labeled something to the effect, “Gift from Canada – Canadian grain for Ethiopia”. I cant remember the exact wording but it was something like that.
Any thoughts as to the confusion between Morocco and Ethiopia? Admittedly they are both in North Africa, but one was on the eastern edge of the continent in the midst of a terrible famine and the other is on the western edge with no such kind of problem. Do you suppose there is a deficiency in the geographical education of the pilots or ships captains who got the product here? Maybe in the interests of conservation the Ethiopians decided to send product from their own country to Morocco in those same sacks in which they’d received their aid supplies.
I had this picture taken as discretely as possible so as not to create a stir. As you can see nobody seems too bothered. If I could have got closer without a problem I would have.
So much has been said of Hendrix’s song “Castles in the Sand” – undoubtably one of the more lyrical of pieces ever written.
In the ocean not far from here there is an island that had an ancient fort of some type on it. As you could see it some 15 years after Hendrix’s visit, it is crumbling into the ocean, its foundations eaten away by the waves. Behind Bev and I are the more sturdy walls of Essaouira – a nearby town.
Well several relevant thoughts can evolve from the appearance of the crumbling structure in the ocean, but none that might be all that applicable to Hendrix as his song was supposedly written 2 years prior to his visit to Essaouira.
Hendrix was hesitant to speak of his past and his difficult upbringing. The common interpretation of “Castles in the Sand is that nothing lasts forever and in his song most speculate that he is applying the impermanence to his family. If you were to hear the song/verse and look around the town you would certainly be tempted to suggest that he was here when he wrote it.
There are verses like, “Drew her wheel chair to the edge of shore” and “A golden winged ship is passing my way” which are seen quite vividly as images, though undoubtedly interpreted together in the context of the song as a young girl, bound to her wheel chair drowning herself. There is some talk of the golden winged ship being inspired by Moroccan sunsets. And a sun-set at the edge of the Atlas Range, looking out across the ocean is an unforgettable thing. It is as though you are transported away from that Aladdin’s land into somewhere else even more mysterious and exotic. And as night comes on there is the cry from the Mosque, the groaning of a camel and the burnt-tire smell of red Moroccan hash that is transported shore-ward from the mountains.
Me teaching the use of the GPMG – the student not listening all that well
Well – You might wonder what any of these topics have to do with caving – not much I guess except its on my caving blog.
I’ve been on a train the trainer course for the last few days in Etobicoke at the THSAO, now amalgamated with several other companies under a larger company that is somehow linked to both the Government and the construction industry.
The quality of instruction is outstanding (thanks Ivan!) and the end result is that I will have completed a course in principles of instruction (POET). Being in health and safety for a living, I would suggest the course to anyone who teaches for a living. After this initial 3 day course I am then taking their reach truck instructors course.
I did my practical presentation today – that went OK, glad to get it done with as it’s always a little stressful when you are being judged. I taught on the 4 basic principles of a safety culture.
As you can see by the above picture (me kneeling in the foreground, I think I’ve got instruction in my blood. This was 25 years ago when I was a British soldier. As you can see, I am teaching the use of the GPMG to the soldier of another country (guess which one). This guy just couldn’t grasp the concept of 3-4 round bursts – then again it was hard to explain as neither one of us spoke the same language. I remember that I physically grabbed the belt and broke it off when he went Rambo on me. The rounds were going everywhere.
If you are wondering who Col is, he is the guy with the sandbag in the middle – full name is Colin.
The Queen’s Regiment (1st batallion) was big on FIBUA and DIBUA, and we spent some time in Portugal instructing those practices to the Portuguese military. I can’t say it was all that effective as we didn’t speak Portuguese.
What we were doing here was fortifying an old abandoned farmhouse (an exercise) and if I recall correctly, it was quite a mess inside (hence the name).
The usual deal with DIBUA (defence in built up areas) is to make it real costly for the opposing force to try and take your position. There were many ways to make the battle a little slice of hell for your opponents. Walls, windows and stairways all needed to take their toll. (remember the lessons of Stalingrad). Think how can I arrange this house to kill whoever might want to visit? The defender needs to be the ultimate malicious host.
And guests, they arrive not by a polite tapping at the door, but in an unexpected showering of bricks as their mouse hole charge opens a crawl way through the wall. And don’t expect a bottle of chardonnay – it’s grenades that are coming next!
Success for the aggressor is based on, speed, momentum and a solid supply line to keep the ammunition coming and efficiency to keep the dead and wounded flowing back to where they came from.
I took this picture in a place called Warminster during a training exercise. Two Harriers came over head unexpectedly – one after the other and they fired missiles into the hillside in front. You will notice the one missile has hit and the other is still en-route (dark streak).
It took some effort to concentrate and focus – fortunately my camera was out and in hand. I wasn’t sure whether to duck or take a picture as the noise with a low level flight like that is real scary, its just like a flash of shadow overhead and everything is shaking (or seems to be). I can’t imagine being on the receiving end. I was friendly with an Iraqi guy who survived many days bombing from the Americans in the first Gulf war. You wouldn’t be completely sane after that, the stress would be incredible. There was some kind of lull in the fighting and he escaped on a bus, driving over people who were lying in the road – both dead and alive. Ahmed said that he had been conscripted and all he ever wanted was to be a hair dresser. When people see so much stuff on TV and in the movies they loose track of reality and what the images represent.
There is a very disturbing video on utube that shows something of the reality – see “news reporter bombed on camera” – I choose not to link here as its a very unpleasant scene that just keeps getting worse until I had to switch it off – but you can see it if you type that search term in. There is also some kind of up-beat video that you can see (1990 – 1991 Gulf War – also on utube) with music and little funny scenes on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Obviously two different perspectives from people who have been on two different ends of the process.
In the above picture, the jets have already streaked out of sight (Harriers hug the hills), but you can see the spot from where the second missile was fired(just starts as a black streak in the sky).
Following the release some time ago of my book "Rockwatching; Adventures above and below Ontario", I am pleased to announce the release of my new book "Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica". It is a story of opportunity. Edgehill Press is the publisher. (www.edgehillpress.com)