Living as I do in Welwyn Hatfield my Member of Parliament is Grant Shapps. I met him a couple of times before he was elected in the 2005 general election and he has been our MP ever since. I have contacted him on a number of occasions since then on issues such as Palestine, arms sales, Trident, cannabis etc. Suffice it to say that we rarely agree. Last year Grant Shapps was appointed Secretary of State for Transport.
In October last year I read about the Greenheart Project to develop a modern zero-emissions small cargo ship powered by wind and sun alone and able to land cargo on a remote beach using a mast which doubles as a crane. If you have been following my blog you will know that this sort of thing is right up my street so when I learned that they were crowdfunding on indiegogo I created an account and made a contribution of $100 in exchange for a ‘share’ in the maiden voyage. At the end of April it was announced to supporters that the building contract for SV Greenheart had been signed and a series of events was arranged to celebrate the occasion, the first of which was aboard the MS Stubnitz in London Docklands on May 16th. I wanted to learn more about the project anyway but the choice of venue clinched it because I had been aboard the Stubnitz once before and was curious to see her again. The first visit was back in 2005 after I had been on the G8 Bike Ride and decided to visit Amsterdam with four Americans who had also been on the ride. On our last night there was a big party on the Stubnitz with live music from the Seattle-based Infernal Noise Brigade
Infernal Noise Brigade on MS Stubnitz
At the CycleHerts meeting on Thursday we discussed (amongst other things) ideas relating to the forthcoming county council elections due to be held on May 2nd. One proposal was to send a questionnaire to all Hertfordshire candidates, designed to get an idea of their stance on important issues of relevance to cyclists in the county. We would collate any responses and put up a summary on our website to help voters make an informed choice (and to help remind winning candidates of their answers). Another suggestion was to use the Hertfordshire County Council petitions system to call for a default 20mph speed limit in residential areas but it was understood that this would have to be taken on by an individual, so I decided to at least do a bit of research.
Back in 2007 I was involved in setting up a radical sailing collective called Learning the Ropes. About a dozen of us put some money in a kitty and in March 2008 we bought a 22 ft Kestral called Mary for £700 which came on a mooring in Exmouth. I have sailed in her three times and I reported on two of the trips in the Learning the Ropes Blog. The basic idea of the collective is to share knowledge and gain experience on a small boat with the aim of getting more people and money together to buy something much bigger which could then be used as a means of sustainable transport by the collective and a vehicle for promoting social and environmental justice. There is a lot of overlap in terms of both membership and philosophy between Learning the Ropes and Bicycology, another collective which I have been involved with since it formed in 2005. On the last weekend of July a crew of four sailed Mary down the coast to Brixham to visit the brigantine Tres Hombres. Apparently the crew of Mary were welcomed on board by the very hospitable crew of the much larger (32 m) Tres Hombres and some inspiring discussions were had about sustainable transport, lubricated no doubt by a bottle of something from the 35 ton capacity cargo hold. It is a bit of a trek to Exmouth for me and I was busy so I didn’t go but I learned that Tres Hombres would be visiting Great Yarmouth for the Maritime Festival and decided to see her there. In the meantime I enjoyed looking at these photos taken in Brixham.
Tres Hombres Figurehead