One of Billy Bailey’s big advantages over our previous generation of touring living accommodation is that Billy has a very swish sunroof. The light this admits turns him into more of a travelling conservatory. We love it, though it does mean that we need to think about pulling the blind across if we want to avoid being awoken by daylight beyond about 4:00 AM in midsummer. At this time of year, though, too much early light is not a problem and the roof remains clear.
Our unobstructed view through the roof of one small section of Britain’s air space this morning made a major change glaringly obvious. The four square feet of sky above my head was crossed by two aircraft contrails. Carol looked outside to widen the view beyond Billy’s four square feet and counted no fewer than 19 contrails. Clearly, we were flying again. The BBC Radio 4 news confirmed that which was, to us at least, no longer news.
Obviously plane contrails are going to make some difference to the amount of clarity in the sky but I (I suspect we – nobody) had hitherto not realized just how much of a difference. Each contrail remains for a considerable time. As it remains it spreads. As it spreads it closes gaps in the sky with other spreading contrails. Spreading contrails criss-cross and thicken. New flights add their contrails to the mix and, quite soon, the entire sky is blanketed to a greater or lesser extent by a pretty much constant contrail haze.
As we walked down to investigate Lyme Regis, as well as taking in the very varied views [Ed: couldn’t resist the alliteration, eh?] of the countryside, we also kept glancing up at the haziness of the blue sky now less full of sunshine than had been the case over the previous five or six days during our flight ban. If I ever wanted a demonstration of the existence of global dimming, here it was being very graphically provided.
On our walk into Lyme Regis we crossed a small footbridge over a sun-dappled stream flowing throw a wooded area. I noticed a flashing movement just above the water. The flashing movement came to rest on a rock in stream and began curtseying. It was a dipper. I’d been stalking a very nervous dipper in France last year and failed to get a shot. This delightful little chap was everything but nervous and seemed unconcerned about our presence, continuing to gather a beakful of grubs as we watched and clicked. Once again, since we were on an 8-mile wander, I didn’t have the big, heavy lens but my trusty 300mm, more portable lens did a reasonable job.
Lyme Regis was pleasant enough for a seaside town. It seemed very well equipped with so-called amusement arcades and certainly had almost countless fish and chip shops. It does seem to lack a good pub, though; we saw two selling appealing beer in an unappealing location and one in an appealing location selling unappealing beer. Drat and blast!
I really am going to have to consider lugging that big lens along on walks.