Aquatic Appleby’s Sea-Swim Blog!....Because…. Where Do We Go From Here?

by Bernie Bell - 09:51 on 20 May 2023

Aquatic Appleby’s Sea-Swim Blog!...


From the John Rae Society….

President’s Sea Swim Blog # 3

  Sigrid and I are preparing to go to France for a month soon. I will miss the open Orkney Ocean for something a little more tranquil in French South West, dans Le Lot.

It was a jolly good swim on Sunday 16th at Birsay. Nobody else there, just me and the scenery. As I swam, I thought how vital the access road down to The Hall of Clestrain is. We can’t restore our Hall without this Road to The Arctic’ There don’t seem to be grants available for it either just now. It is such a relief that we have had generous donations amounting to well over £20k. Another £530 came in only yesterday. I am hoping that my personal target of £1,111 will be surpassed.

24th April… Birsay Bay. Swimming here is so beautiful. You feel all the stresses of life depart into the cool of the ocean. You get the sense of history and antiquity there, especially if there is nobody about. There is usually a group of dunter ducks and their ducklings paddling in the seaweed for feathered company.

The sand between the toes is a great feeling. It certainly refreshes one’s feet, ready for a day’s hard potting. As we were about to leave, I took the opportunity to throw around 507 mugs. That will keep Nicky and Thomas busy whilst we are off.

Back to Firth Bay for a quick 159 strokes. The Burger Van there is always a temptation. I’m usually out, dried and home before they start serving though. Never mind…

Now we are actually in France! We are staying with Sigrid’s daughter, Ingrid and Son-in-Law, Gilles at Puycalvel. They finished their pool just before our arrival. Wasn’t that good of them.

I swim every day, if I can. The locals say it is far too cold and I must be mad… I don’t mind being mad, I don’t notice. It just feels normal to me.

One evening, whilst swimming in the garden pool, I heard lots of bird-song. It went on and on so beautifully for stroke after stroke. I completely lost count of my tally as the warbling and chirruping continued. Another bird joined in from a tree across the garden. It was the 8th of May as I swam listening.

The joyous sounds continued as Sigrid and I sipped a glass of wine on the terrace. We realised that this could have been nightingales, or maybe one throwing its voice somewhere to the distance? Anyway, it was a wonderful experience. As my tally was lost, I only put down 111 just to be fair.

I am hoping to get into the river Lot by Chateaux Caix. We might even meet Queen Margaretha of Denmark there. If I do, I shall ask for a donation towards our Road to The Arctic. However, she might be at King Charles and Queen Camilla’s Coronation.

Up to the 11th May in six swims, I managed another 1,129 strokes. By my addition the tally is now 4,645 strokes, representing 4,645 miles. Just over half the challenge.

– President of The John Rae Society, Andrew Appleby”

Please donate if you can…. https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/JohnRaeChallengeSwim?success=true



I like food…and, in some ways, I like humanity…



In Some Ways…

I don’t…

From ‘Whale & Dolphin Conservation’….

You have the chance to stop whale hunting in Iceland.

"The future of whaling in Iceland is at a tipping point. A new report from the Icelandic government has revealed the true horror of its whale hunts. But they seem to think that the lack of protest about these shocking revelations means that the world doesn't care."

'There has been little discussion of the report in the world press and on social media ... embassies have not received any calls or e-mails from the public.' 

Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs

We need to change this! Let's make sure they hear us loud and clear.

It's easy to help. Just click/tap the button below and send our pre-prepared email to the Icelandic embassy. Tell them the world is watching and now is the time to stop whaling for good. It's all set up for you so it'll take no time at all but really could save lives.

Thank you, your support does make a difference.

Julia Pix, WDC


These shocking findings could help stop the slaughter for good:

  • Some whales had to be harpooned three or four times before they died
  • One of the whales took 58 minutes to die and another suffered for two hours
  • One whale was lactating, so her death left a young fin whale without a mother


Where Do We Go From Here?

Mike has just finished reading ‘Upheaval’ by Jared Diamond, in which the author writes that the population of Japan is declining and that one reason for this is understood to be that Japanese Society is becoming such that young people no longer know how to get together, or react with each other when they do get together.

The use of technology has taken over from personal contact and young couples can be seen sitting across the table from each other in a restaurant  - messaging each other.  Not massaging – messaging.  Massaging each other in public might not be socially acceptable behaviour - but it would be making real contact!

I’ve seen people sitting in restaurants, eyes fixed on their Smartphones and presumed that they were browsing the Internet.  I don’t think much of that as a way of spending time together, but it’s a step further when folk start to message each other when the other person in right there, in front of them.

I’m generally not in favour of the present obsession with Smartphones and all that they provide, but I hadn’t realised that it had got so bad.

It’s one thing to choose not to have ‘real’ contact – it’s something else to have lost the ability to do so.

It’s one of the many things that I like about living in Orkney - people still like to stop for a chat, have a yarn, tell the tale, make a real connection.

It’s possible that Covid plays a part in this – folk couldn’t meet up, young ones learnt that as a way of being, and now it might be hard to adapt.

But I wonder – where do we go from here?  The increasing  domination of the machine is a cause for concern. They are useful as a tool – but they are now working us, as well as us working them. There’s more than one way for robots to turn on their masters.  Isaac Asimov would have had a field day if he was around now.



This does not look promising…


You have been warned.


Here’s one I made earlier…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/03/24/following-the-arrers-at-obbister/


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