but the outright lies . . .

I have added this post onto my Thatpr site because I wanted to reiterate the danger to people, especially tourists, who aren’t familiar with our coastlines. Our coastlines are beautiful, enchanting and very dangerous in places and bad weather conditions.

As you know from what I have written before, half of the Coastguard Marine Rescue and Co-ordination Centres are being closed.  We’re an island nation I hear you gasp – why??????   Money, money, money – no other reason.

I wrote this today as a post on facebook and wanted it to have a wider audience, so here you are.

Swansea to be closedThis is Lynne Gray, @lynnerosie, writing – I have posted this on my own timeline but wanted to share my learning with you too.As someone who always looks at the world with a large degree of optimism, I have learned some very valuable lessons since being involved with the wonderful and caring people of @Coastguard_SOS.
One is that I would always like them on my side, their integrity is unassailable, their loyalty is unquestionable and their strength of character is invincible. The guys and girls I have had the privilege to meet from the Coastguard both during the last three/four years and at Liverpool this last weekend are the best of the best. I salute each and every one of you.
Two is that politicians and government departments and government agencies lie, distort the truth and cover up on anything they do not like. I know I am safe in saying this because I can present so many proven examples that cannot be refuted. I have been horrified by what I have learnt whilst dealing with this Government and its Ministers, The Department for Transport and the MCA – Maritime & Coastguard Agency. There is no democracy once the government has made a decision – absolutely none.
Gagging orders, disciplinary procedures and termination of contracts were the way they have dealt with this whole affair. There is no leadership, leadership is shown by people who respect those they work with. Disrespect and disregard were what the Coastguards were given.
The arrogance and the patronising were unbelievable, but the outright lies . . .

Brazil : part 3 : becoming an honorary Kenyan

Glad's house - VickyI first met Vicky Ferguson of Glad’s House, Kenya, when we had the training weekend away for Street Child World Cup. First impressions – huge smile, huge personality and huge warmth. I was spot on!

Vicky puts her whole heart and being into running Glad’s House in Mombasa, Kenya. The house had a football team at Rio in the Street Child World Cup. Such nice guys, so intent on improving their prospects and opportunities. They were an inspiration.

Glad's house - JanGlad's house - CliffGlad's house - JohnAnyway, Jan and Clifford Ferguson (Vicky’s parents) were there, as they are trustees, as is the lovely John McGlasson who was also there coaching the boys on.

Jan and I shared so many tears and so much laughter, but she seems to think that she can call me ‘the old girl’ as I am one month older . . . sharp intake of breath!

Glad's house - BokeyAlso with the team was Bokey, seen wearing a whistle around his neck in the photograph. Bokey is an ex boxer who now spends his time with Glad’s House. He is as inspirational as the boys – friend, mentor, guide and protector all wrapped up in one.

As we’ve said before, SCWC works with local charities and agencies to find solutions to improve the lives of all homeless children in that country. Glad’s House is the local charity it works with in Kenya.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with them in Rio – I know it sounds as if I’m gushing, but they are all absolutely fabulous. They have the special gift to make you feel good. Bokey wanted to know whether it was raining on the day I was born, on being told it was, the next day I was given the honorary Kenyan name of Okoth, born in the rain. Imagine that, me given a swahili name!

Sadly, Mombasa has thousands of young people living on the streets, who are struggling for survival. Glad’s House tries to help them reach their full potential. The following bullet points are from their web page.

  • We try to reunite children with their families using our team of social workers. Alternatively, we place the children with foster families.

  • We place the children in full-time education. We also support higher education for them.

  • We use our sports programmes to engage with the children & youths and provide practical and emotional support.

  • Our enterprise schemes provide training and apprenticeships for young adults.

These children have suffered violence, abuse and may other unimaginable things. But despite all of that, they are willing to trust again and go forward with a new purpose. They’re inspirational. And no child should live on the streets, every single one deserves to be given a good chance in life.

I have a just giving page for the Street Child World Cup and as their work goes on all year round, please feel free to make donations as often as you would like!

Why the ‘Visit’ tourism agencies should be afraid . . .

Coastguard storm 2I am very blessed to live in our sceptred isles; they are truly beautiful. Our coastlines are magnificent, separating the ever evolving land from the strength and majesty of the sea. And the sea’s fury and malevolence was clearly seen in this year storms, when our coasts were well and truly battered.

Thank goodness for the Coastguard MRCCs, their experience, expertise and local knowledge kept everyone safe. So many people owe their lives to them, not just in the storms but every day of the year. The RNLI and all the independent coastguards are also guided by them; they are the experts. The Transport Select Committee in the Houses of Parliament knows this, experienced sea travellers know this, a large number of MPs knows this, and, basically, lots and lots of us know this. It’s common sense.

Forth CoastguardCLYDE-ribbonThe Department for Transport (DfT) and the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) choose to ignore this and, in their never ending quest to save money for what they consider to be inconsequential matters, they are closing half the coastguard stations we have round our coasts.


So, Visit Britain, Visit England, Visit Scotland, Visit Wales and Discover Northern Ireland, should all sit up and take notice of what is happening. They should read today’s story in the Express about the subject. It states facts not spin, it states facts from people who know, people who are experienced, not guys in grey suits saving a few pounds here and there. One can but hope they put the tourists’ safety before anything else.

Yarmouth coastguard deathMistakes have already happened. East Anglia is a beautiful destination. But due to the indifference and arrogance of the Great Yarmouth MP, Brandon Lewis, Yarmouth MRCC was allowed to close. East Anglia, is now covered by the Coastguard stations at Dover and Humber! And local knowledge was nowhere to be found in a diving incident earlier this year. Humber sent a lifeboat that was not the nearest to the incident. The nearest lifeboat, which is an independent one, saw the one sent go past it. Big mistake. The busiest shipping area in the world and the MCA closes the Coastguard station, it beggars belief.

And then there is Wales; hugely diverse landscapes to explore, beaches, prehistoric caves, limestone cliffs, woodland, salt marsh, and so much more.coastguard gower

The Gower is designated an area of outstanding beauty and it’s easy to see why, the peninsular is stunning and the Swansea Coastguard, which was built as a main communications centre, does an incredible job of monitoring and responding to one of the largest number of incidents a station has. 

coastguard swansea signGuess what?  Yes, the MCA has decided Swansea, the ‘Maritime and Coastguard Agency Headquarters, Wales and West of England’ is one to close. Sir Alan Massey, ‘affectionately’ known as SAM, has stated that response times may be ten minutes longer, doesn’t take anywhere near that long to drown!

Involved in our wonderful travel and tourism industry as I am, I fear for the safety of the tourists we are trying to attract to our beautiful coastal areas. With incidents increasing and responsible travel becoming more popular, having holidays and short breaks in our own wonderful isles is on the up.

I pray the rookies aren’t hung out to dry and the MCA and DfT is held totally and utterly responsible for incidents which are not handled correctly. The future isn’t bright.

Brazil : part 2 : as a visitor

Brazil Christoscwc at ChristoHow many people have seen the pictures of Christo – Christ the Redeemer – and wanted to go there? I was one of the lucky ones, I did.

The title of this post is as a visitor, but I really did not explore Brazil as I would have done as a tourist. I went with the Street Child World Cup organisation as a volunteer for the two weeks of the football tournament and the conferences. We stayed in large and safe sports facilities at Espaço in Lonier, which was about an hour from the airport.

I can, however, write about a couple of the times we did go out and my thoughts on these experiences.

The visit to Christo was done on two days. The girls teams went one day with half the volunteers and the boys teams went the next with the other volunteers – Lynne with an ‘e’ and Lynn without an ‘e’ included, as you can see from the picture.

It was a massive achievement to get us all there and all back, especially as you have to change buses half way up as only the official ones go to the top. Went in the seat next to the driver on the way up, and down too. Sounds like nothing special, but believe me, on those hairpin bends all the way up and down it most definitely pushed your comfort barriers!

Christo was an incredible experience, being there as part of an amazing team of people, made it all the better. We had a drone photographing all that was happening and the results were spectacular – the main photo on part 1 is one example.

Travelling through to the places we visited, you can see the lack of refurbishment and the neglect of huge parts of Rio. The rich get richer and the poor are just shoo-shooed away if they become a nuisance.

brazil more love pleaseThe second trip out was with the boys teams and we went to the favela of Vidigal. Wow, what an incredulous day that was! Incredulous because it showed the huge chasms in Brazilian society and incredulous because it really was an eye-opening and truth-defining time.

Near the bottom, it takes about an hour and a half or more to walk to the top, was this sign – ‘more love please’ – definitely fitting.

There were going to be three stops on the way up for people to get their breath back. At the first water stop, two of the injured boys were going the rest of the way in a minibus. Jan Ferguson (Mum to the lovely Vicky Ferguson of Glad’s House) and I thought we would go too, so we could keep an eye on them. Nothing to do with us being over 25, of course; we were just being considerate of others.

Brazil MarcelloAt that first stop we met Marcello, who had been in the film ‘City of God‘. If you haven’t seen that film do watch it; based on a true story, it tells of the lives of the teenagers in Rio – very raw.

Marcello and friends formed a dance and music troupe and encourage children from the favelas to become part of it. Keeps them away from the street gangs.

Vidigal is officially described as ‘pacified’ by the authorities. This means that the favela now has a police presence and, supposedly, no gangs terrorising the inhabitants. Horrible description, ‘pacified’, and says a lot about the society out in Brazil.

brazil vidigal 3brazil vidigal 2These people may not be shown any respect by the powers that be, but they were lovely, proud and friendly with us. The houses were made of whatever they could build them with, so there was a huge array of styles and stableness.

And at the end of the day, we exited down and onto the street where Vidigal is hidden from the hotel and big houses.

The challenge Brazil now has is that, where the favelas have been built, it’s prime real estate land and the corporate building boys want to replace the favelas with big, expensive housing. They may well get their way in some instances, as they’re building Olympic villages for the athletes for 2016. From what I understand, they’re telling the people from the favelas that they can move into them, after the games. Immorally, and horrendously, they will do this without telling them that they’ve already sold them on to private agents at an appropriate time afterwards.  I do hope that isn’t correct, because these proud people will then be homeless and in a far worse situation than the favelas they’ll move from. But the future is not looking good whatever happens.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.   Edmund Burke

Unfortunately the good men are not in positions of power and so, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.











































































































































































































Brazil : part 1 : as a volunteer

scwc at ChristoI’ve just returned from two weeks in Brazil, in Lonier near Rio de Janeiro.

I was just one of the many volunteers, from lots of different countries, who were at the Street Child World Cup. It was an incredible experience and was a fortnight filled with the highs and lows of emotions and tears of total despair & sadness but also tears of joy.

I learned of Street Child World Cup (SCWC) through one of the co-founders, John Wroe. John and Tim are Swansea Jacks (meaning they support some football team called Swansea City). John’s enthusiasm and total commitment to the SCWC was impossible to resist and when I saw a tweet asking for volunteers for the Comms Team, I leapt at the chance. I didn’t tell John though and, at the volunteers training weekend earlier in the year, when he saw me, his first words were “What are you doing here?” Chuckle, I was warmly welcomed after that. The Wroe family is just wonderful, John and Jo and their two daughters, Alice and Ruby. Yes, I am using superlatives but they deserve every single one . . . and more.

One thing I did find out was that it’s hard work being a volunteer! I was part of the Comms Team and we spent the first few days in the media room, ensuring all was ready for the football tournament. From before breakfast until you went to bed – those people were so dedicated and committed to what they were doing, you happily joined in. On one day, 06.30 was the first meeting and, at the end of another, 22.30 was the last!

Hard work it most definitely was, but with so many pluses. The joy of meeting new people, learning new things, sharing experience and expertise and being part of a team. I cannot properly put into words how exhilarating it was to be a member of a team that was doing something totally for others, to give without wanting anything back, to get so much from it. It was an absolute privilege to work as part of the ‘J’ Team, Jo Clark, Jo-Jo Ellison and Joe Hewitt. Not forgetting, wonderful Ben, amazing Matt, lovely Jo, gorgeous Malachy, Wilf and Alan, beautiful Ben, Becky, Kate and Vicky, Tanzi and Hena, Jessie and Bex, Nick and Paul, Sam and David, someone called Lynn (without an ‘e’) and, and, and . . . . . .

As for the sleeping arrangements; our little room slept five with just enough space between the beds to put your suitcase side on! We five,  Sue, Bev, Ingrid, Lynn without an ‘e’ and me, got on really well, especially as there was only one key for the room. You had to remember to take it to main reception if you were the last one to leave the room – thank goodness we didn’t have too many moments of forgetfulness.

The children, who were in the teams, were amazing. Some of the stories of what they’d been through would break your heart, but that’s for another post.

Brazil volunteers arriving backThis is a photo of some of us arriving back at Heathrow after our 12 hour flight – all looking extremely glamorous, of course. Great timing!  I hope we stay in touch, wonderful friendships were forged.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely!

P.S. Just have to mention the outrageously lovely reception peeps – WonderWoman, Angel and her hubby, Superman.

P.P.S. Not too late to donate and help the street children – it isn’t just for the duration of the Street Child World Cup.






Positively Portugal

Last month we went on a lovely long weekend break to Portugal, booked through TravelZoo – they have some great deals. We live in the bodacious shire of Bedford, so going from Ldn Luton Airport was a bonus.

DSC_0019Leaving early-ish on Saturday, we were at Faro Airport before we knew it. Picking up the hire car we made our way to Albufeira, to the Clube Praia da Oura. Great resort, not our normal choice but very well thought out, and for all ages – look at the fabulous swimming pool with a ramp :-)

DSC_0020The sky was very grey when we wandered along the pathway nearest to the sea. There really is something special about being by the seaside, your senses are heightened, your appreciation of the power of mother nature is ever present.  But so much had changed and expanded, the last time I came here was about twenty-eight years ago when it was wonderfully unfashionable.

DSC_0023This sculpture was about half way to the old town of Albufeira and is by the boats and the old way of life. There was a group of locals standing nearby, more mature men, chatting and laughing at what the day was bringing to them.

DSC_0025And then we came across this wonderful bicycle, it was outside the restaurant called flavours. Well, we just had to go in – and it didn’t disappoint. It was long and the front was out onto the beach. Lovely cups of coffee and an admirable apple pie too.

lynne and cowThe angels of the weather decided to be kind to us and the sun emerged from a blue sky. Time to walk further afield. We walked through the square and into the shopping part and there we felt right at home – look, anything Milton Keynes can do . . . . . .

DSC_0026We decided to walk along the main road gong back and so glad we did. The first roundabout we came to had this amazing structure on it. It was massive and breathtaking and based on Portugal’s wonderful seafaring history.

DSC_0030We had more surprises on our journey back – they had named a Chinese restaurant after Tim! His eating prowess was obviously gaining international fame.DSC_0037 Then we saw a restaurant advertising all manner of sumptuous ice cream desserts, so we found a table.  Imagine our disappointment when they told us they’d run out of ice cream! Boo. Walking further on we saw an orange tree and a lemon tree – real ones!

DSC_0031The sky was going grey again and, lo and behold, the Algarve showed us its quirky side.  Two huge watches in the centre of the next roundabout. How could you not know what the time was – just brilliant! DSC_0034

The sky was staring to show blue again and then, the best was yet to come, the next roundabout held wonderful, funky, funny worms and, even better, their tails came out of the central reservations on each side.

DSC_0035Can you see the tails?

Back to the hotel, we had half board so there was time to chill before dinner.  The food was good, as was the restaurant and all the team who worked there.

A very nice break, thank you.

Street Child World Cup 2014

SCWC-Logo-Brazil2014If you don’t know about Street Child World Cup, let me tell you about these wonderful people. The Street Child organisation had its first event at the South African World Cup in 2010 and things started to happen. South Africa made changes to the whole matter of street children – and all to the good. Life is wonderful, when you make a difference.

In the world of travel and tourism, the street children are often hidden away and never ever mentioned – the countries’ governments do not usually understand nor address the situation. The children are not worthy, they have no official identification, they do not exist. In putting the teams together, the Street Child World Cup (SCWC) team works with local charities and government agencies in each country. This gives encouragement to improve the way they deal with homeless children, sometimes from seeing them as criminal vagrants to recognising them as human beings who need support. For the first time, often, they are registered as citizens so they can be given a passport. And the needs of the wider homeless community are spotlighted as a result.

These children on the road to Rio 2014 come from 19 different countries; there are both boys and girls teams. All they want to say is ‘I Am Somebody’. The countries are El Salvador, USA, Zimbabwe, Argentina, England, Mozambique, Nicaragua, South Africa, Burundi, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Liberia, Brazil, Egypt, Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania and the Philippines. Have a look at the SCWC website to find out more.

I am very proud and privileged to have been included in the volunteer comms team going to Rio – so lucky, I’ll get to make a difference. All the volunteers met up at a weekend training session at Gilwell House in Epping Forest last week. So inspiring, so many fabulous people.

Should you wish to make a difference too, I’m trying to raise £2000 towards the central fund, it costs about £1,000 per child to get them there – and it has such an impact on their lives – this is the world cup that matters. Please donate here justgiving.com/lynnerosie – thank you.


Samoa 1913

Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke

This post is to celebrate the centenary of when Rupert Brooke visited Samoa. This post is to celebrate the beautiful and unspoilt islands of Samoa.

Rupert Brooke is best known as a WWI poet who wrote the poignant poem The Soldier and Grantchester, in the shire of Cambridge.

The Soldier

IF I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke loved England and the shire of Cambridge (Grantchester), and with next year commemorating the centenary of the beginning of World War I, this poem is going to be right out there in the public eye again.

Rupert Brooke also loved travelling and learning about other cultures and countries. In 1913 he arrived in Samoa, and what did he think of the islands?

“Sheer beauty, so pure that it is difficult to breathe it in”

“The loveliest people in the world, moving and dancing like gods and goddesses, very quietly and mysteriously, and utterly content”



What he experienced remains as true today as it was then, one hundred years ago. Samoa is the sacred centre of the Polynesian Islands, Samoa is Paradise.

Ecuador and conscious tourism; sadly not.

Anna - slide-42-728Last year, Ecuador held a conference called ‘Conscious Tourism’, which was hailed as a wonderful success and a beacon to lead the way forward for tourism. Ecuador made a very bold statement then.

This new strategy was based on the principles of sustainability and ethics; and promoted the values ​​of peace, friendship, respect and love of life as the essence of tourist practice.

n american may the sun, blessingI chose the slide above from the presentation made by the keynote speaker and founder of Conscious Travel, Anna Pollock. It is a beautiful saying from Malaysia, that captures how the very wise indigenous people see our planet. The Native Americans knew/know how precious our wondrous planet is, they used only what they needed to live. They did not have laws, they did not need them. They looked out for each other and lived peacefully, and America was bountiful. Then the white man came and brought the evils of egos and empires, and America changed beyond recognition. It’s the same in most countries. I haven’t gone off on a tangent, it’s not too late to listen to what they say, it’s not too late to save this planet. But . . . . .

Reading what had been said at the conference by representatives of different countries and of the UNWTO; I, and many others, were filled with a new hope. No more of the old industrial model of mass tourism, but a new respect for what each country has, their unique cultures and characteristics.

And now there is a race to save Ecuador’s Yasuni national park from the oil lobby. Green groups are frantically campaigning for a petition to force a national referendum to block President Correa’s unilateral sanction for drilling. Yet again, it’s all about the money and not nature that gives us life.

Talk is easy, the annual conferences have ‘leaders’ of tourism, saying wonderfully scripted promises for the future – but it is action we need. Action and a shared aim to conserve and celebrate what we have and not just go on developing for its own sake. We do not need same old, same old . . . . We need determined change, we need commitments from governments to make the changes. 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Wat Phonm.

WatPhnom_PhnomPenh_2005_2When we visited Cambodia this year, it was mainly because my son had said it was such a beautiful country and the people were too. He wasn’t wrong, Cambodia is fascinating.

We stayed at local little hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Phen and travelled the distant between them by local coach. We were trying to travel as consciously as possible, so we used local transport, local tuktuk drivers, local hotels, local shops and local street food places. And we had a ball, I can’t begin to tell you how much we enjoyed getting to know more about the people and their culture.

Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia and has been since the mid 15th century; (prior to that it was Angkor).  It’s former name was Chaktomuk, (the Four Faces) meaning it was situated at the four-branched confluence of the Mekong River. Legend has it that a local woman, Old Lady Penh (Duan Penh), was living by the chaktomuk and one day a floating koki tree went past, which she hooked out. Inside the tree she found four Buddha statues and one of Wat Shrine_outside_Wat_PhnomVishnu. This was seen as a divine blessing for the area and she raised a hill and built a shrine (now known as Wat Phonm) atop it to house them. ‘Phonm’ is Khmer for ‘hill’ and the hill took on the name of its founder. So the capital was moved from Angkor to what was to become Phnom Penh.

Cambodia had many different countries try to take over, the last one was France. The French stayed in control for most of the first half of the 20th century. As the population grew (in 1939 there were 109,000) the city continued to expand and the wetlands to the west were drained to accommodate this.

Cambodia became independent of France in 1954 and was relatively peaceful and until 1970 when there was the Lon Not coup. This was the beginning of the war between the government and the communist Khmer Rouge. The city finally fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975 with the deaths of thousands of people. Between December 1978 to January 1979, the invading Vietnamese army managed to free the city and then, the country.

IMG_0127Phnom Penh was a shambles but slowly people returned; raising the population figures from 100,000 at the end of 1979 to 615,000 by 1990. As part of a UN brokered deal, national elections were held in 1993 and the country proudly became its own master as last.  The 21st century has seen expansion everywhere and the population rose to over 2,000,000.

We would love to go back again, there is so much to explore and we only managed a small part of it. The welcome is genuine, you won’t want to leave.