Closer to the edge – 1

It is almost embarrassing to admit but here we are again, aboard hospital ship Arcadia, this time heading for the western Mediterranean.  I should not tempt fate but unlike sister ships Adonia and Azura, this vessel has not yet succumbed to norovirus.  There is however something called the Arcadia Cough which I can only assume is a collective reaction to the gallons of hand gel being dispensed to ward off the aforementioned bug.

These are a few photos taken before we left Southampton – a gin clear day which turned to a heavy swell and later a turbulent voyage across the Bay of Biscay.

SouthamptonSouthamptonDespite the length of time we have been at sea this year, I am not really a ship person, I prefer four wheels (and now two) firmly attached to dry land.  My school exercise books were covered with drawings of competition cars, some real, some futuristic.  The latter were, for the most part, my unique vision of the future F1 single-seater; none of my design concepts have come to pass but for sheer ugliness I was way ahead of my time.  The 21st Century grand prix car is rarely a thing of beauty, turning the old engineering adage, ”if it looks right, it probably is right”, on its head.

The other morning I attended the first of seven talks on Concorde, this one trying to define its ‘magic’ – an interesting analysis by Pete Finlay, an ex BA Senior Flight Engineer.  In my view the ‘magic’ is simply down to the way it looked – no plane, before or since, has ever looked more right.

For years I was a Motor Sport and Denis Jenkinson boy, eagerly devouring Continental Notes and his Grand Prix reports, an obsession only surpassed by my passion for Pete Lyons’ writings in Road & Track.  Somehow L J K Setright  passed me by, so discovering him later in life has been a surprise and a joy.  This is his analysis of the Jaguar E Type, another piece of engineering which unquestionably looked right:

…they (the brakes) did not work effectively when cold because Sir William Lyons flatly refused to spend an extra three farthings per wheel on superior pads which would have solved the problem. He also drove a hard bargain on dampers at fifteen shillings each.  All Jaguars, so long as the business was in the grim Lyons grip, were like that.  Costly-looking leather was cheaply held in place by stationer’s staples where they would not show.  Electrics were made by Lucas with the same cynicism as Lyons employed in ordering them.  Yet the E-Type could not help but seem special.

An extract from Setright’s Long Lane with Turnings.


  1. pam2626 · December 21, 2012

    Hello, you are nominated by So, hear me for the One Lovely Blog Award. You can see your nomination here: If you wish to accept this nomination the rules are to: 1. Thank the blogger who offered the nomination; 2. Post the One Lovely Blog emblem on your blog; 3. List seven random facts about yourself; 4. Nominate fifteen other bloggers for the award. Send a message to those nominees informing them of their nomination.
    If this isn’t something you wish to do then please just think of this as a compliment to your blog!

    • northumbrianlight · December 21, 2012

      Many thanks, much appreciated. Forgive me if I take some time doing this but I am at sea at the moment and internet minutes are precious and expensive. I will follow up on my return.

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