I'm getting a bit of a belly on me.
A combination of a sedentary job, followed by evenings spent surfing the net, and an unhealthy diet are causing me to gain weight. Or to be more precise, mass.
The diet never used to be a problem (at least not to my body mass index. I'm sure my arteries are furring up nicely.) because I used to cycle and walk everywhere.
I've always enjoyed the great outdoors. I love wildernesses as long as theyr'e relatively free of tigers, mosquitoes and nettles. And wasps. So today, being a day without any work to do, I went for a walk.
I was going to go to the Deeside marshes and walk down to Burton Point, but that's dodgy ground these days. Has been for quite a few years in fact. You used to be able to drive along this narrow, rutted little road. Covered in weeds and sheep shit, it was. But it ran right next to an army firing range. They closed the road off about 15 years ago, although I suppose you could climb over the fence and walk along it. I suspect there's even more weeds and sheepshit now. When I first got wheels, in my mid 20's, I'd be down there regularly, whizzing along over the cattle grids, listening to mix tapes and getting stoned.
Back to the present day though, and rather than risk getting shot or told off or arrested, I looked for somewhere better, on Google Earth, and found the old fun ship near Mostyn on the Flintshire coast. That lies next to a public footpath that runs alongside the Dee estuary.
The path has to leave the riverside after a mile or so, because industry intervenes. There's a wind turbine factory, and there's a dock that takes Airbus A380 wings from the barges that brought them from Broughton, and takes them to Toulouse in France. So that's as far as we went.
This is the "Fun Ship". It's as much fun as standing on a rake. It used to be a ferry, then it got dragged up onto the beach here and turned into an amusement arcade. Now it's used as storage space and it's closed to the public. They are warned of dogs and landmines and the threat of prosecution. Probably best not to try to get in. Fair enough. I can see the vandals would have a field day with it. It's looking more and more decrepit as the years go by, but I'm told it's quite nice inside.
When I took this picture, the late afternoon sunshine was reflecting off the water, and making pretty patterns on the wall. It doesn't show up too well on a still picture though. Never mind. It does give an accurate picture of what the banks of the Dee Estuary are like. The brown stuff is soft thick mud. Ideal for oystercatchers and herons. Not so good for drunks.
This is what the West coast of the Wirral looks like from the Welsh side of the Dee. The line of white buildings towards the right of the picture is a place called Parkgate. They're famous for their icecream.
Sheep. Eating gravel and sawdust. There was a perfectly green and grassy field just a few hundred yards away, but they chose, of their own volition to graze here.
A sewage treatment plant. There are quite a few of these along both banks of the Dee. It didn't smell at all. Birds were feeding off insects on the filter beds, although they kept getting disturbed by the rotary sprayer thing.
In the distance, you can see Hilbre island. It's pronounced "Hill-Bree" and it lies about a mile off the coast of Wirral. My Mum got stranded on it once. She made the BBC news! Behind Hilbre, there's a big load of wind turbines. They're Burbo Bank wind farm and they generate enough energy to power 80,000 homes, although I suppose if everyone plugged their car into a wall socket, this number would shrink somewhat.
The ship that takes the wings of the worlds largest passenger plane to France. And this is as far as we went.
Coming back we saw an incredible sight. There was a huge white cloud boiling up from beyond Wirral. It was coming from Fiddler's Ferry power station. This generates a little over twice what the wind farm generates, but nowhere near as cleanly. Water vapour is itself a greenhouse gas. Putting bloody great clouds into the sky can't be good. I say bollocks to the nimbies. Build turbines. Lots of them.
Sadly, my camera stopped taking pictures. I tried several times but it just wouldn't click it's shutter. I blamed the battery and gave up in disgust.
I found later that I'd somehow moved the dial to video. So here's a short video of the cloud generated by a coal fired power station about 20 miles away.