I've recently had a couple of nights of not sleeping at all well, being awake until after 0200hrs. I though this might be due to drinking hot chocolate before bed, so cut that out and things improved, but I had it again the night before last, and there were no effects at all. So, I'm just putting it down to not being mentally tired.
A few days ago, after a particularly bad night's sleep, I was up early (for Rockall time) as I had an interview with Ben Fogle for NBC first thing. This was recorded by them via Skype and me on my video camera here, and will be cut together later for transmission in the USA, and hopefully in the UK too if one of the networks picks it up from them. Ben was as nice as you would expect, recounting his trip here, which was great as he'd just stepped off a plane from Alaska apparently. I have to briefly mention the fact that Inmarsat are being amazing, allowing me the airtime to do Skype interviews and upload the video I've recorded, to NBC.
That took much of the morning, after which I did some general admin and then went out about the rock to carry out some minor tasks like measuring distances between the fixings in the rock (might be useful for someone to know at some point) and cutting away some old ropes which might tangle my ropes and lowering rig when I eventually come to leave here.
I was treated to some amazing scenes over the past few days, what with all the whales around, changes in sea state and the sun glimmering on the waves. It's starting to become very apparent to me that as well as a challenge, it is also a privilege to see some of the sites I have already seen here, and to have had some of the experiences. It's almost a shame there's no-one to share them with!
I have also made a start on mapping out the summit plateau in detail. I had to time my start with the wind as I didn't want the turbine to clock me on the head, and as it was an Easterly the blades were facing away from the end where you climb up onto the top. The summit plateau was created when the Royal Engineers blew the top off Rockall to facilitate the installation of a light beacon (now defunct), and there are still the parallel drill tracks across the top where the explosives were set. This nicely forms the basis for a grid, and I managed to measure the width of these grooves and the distances between them before the wind started to pick up, as forecast.
I retreated to the RockPod and the wind continued to build through the day until it was up past 30mph by evening. It's just not sensible to be out and about in those conditions, even with a harness and life line, especially when the rock is wet and slippery, so I was pod-bound for the rest of the morning and all of the rest of the day. This meant more reading: I finished Jay-Z's 'Decoded' and started Steven (Aerosmith) Tyler's autobiography, before completing some more harmonica lessons. The basic tunes I'm on at the moment sound to me like they're supposed to, and there's some basic technique work at this stage too, which seems to be going well.
Around 1600hrs the VHF came to life and I spoke with John (?Walker) who along with his wife Janet on their boat 'Jay Walker' had come out, via a night's stop at St. Kilda, from the Outer Hebrides. It had taken them three days all told, and they expected to be heading to Northern Ireland on their return, due to the prevailing wind direction.
Yesterday, I woke up to glorious weather: the wind was still high but had dropped away from the night before, blue skies and a choppy sea. The photo is of me squinting into the bright sunshine shortly after waking up! (Why does sunshine make me sneeze?) The gannets had returned; I watched them diving for fish whilst the minke cruised past, and wondered if the whales ever get hit by the birds. It's amazing how such a day can lift your spirits, particularly after being pod-bound like the day before. I was visited by a small brown bird, who was a bit bedraggled when he first appeared, but soon dried off and looked like a brown starling; maybe a juvenile? He appeared, wet again, later, so he was either bathing somewhere or was getting caught in the spray lower down.
Twitter: @RockallNick #RockallSolo
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