I am now returned from what can only be described as an utterly memorable and spectacular trip. Although it began with some uncertainty when we found that our original transport/hotel, the Ombak Putih, was belching noxious black smoke after an engine overhaul, we transferred to the miraculously available Sea Safari VII:
Looking for all the world like a pirate ship – which, after all, the original Bugis phinisi vessels, on which she is based, often were (raiders of the Makassar Straits) - she proved a very comfortable (if basic) means of enjoying the glorious landscapes, seascapes, and peoples of Nusa Tenggara, with a delightful crew, good food, and more than sufficient supplies of cold beer. The only disappointment was that, unlike the Ombak Putih, her height did not allow the sails to be unfurled and actually put into action; however, stability is important, and, regardless, the experiences of the voyage far outweighed this piece of the equation. For example, here is our trusty transport moored in one of the bays of Komodo Island – where, I can assure you, there definitely be dragons, and remarkably unpleasant creatures they are.
However, over the next couple of weeks, the telling of tales may well be sporadic: I leave soon for a return to the UK and a trip to Milan where I will be giving an invited talk at the international conference of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (you can, perhaps, make a guess as to my general topic – but it will, specifically, be an appeal for geologists to “interface” with the remarkable work going on in the world of the physics of granular materials, a potentially fruitful conversation that, surprisingly, does not seem to take place very often).
But as a result of this, and the inevitable domestic tasks after being away from my London home base for six months, posts may be irregular; I have an extensive photographic archive from the trip (to be precise, over 1000 pictures) and these will at least provide grist for the visual mill. I have always tried to routinely split infinitives but, more importantly, post something vaguely scientific (reporting on active research that I find fascinating), and I am acutely conscious of my recent dereliction with respect to this; all I can say is that time eludes me, but that I shall endeavour to return to fulfilling this aspiration.
For now, psammophiles: the variety of flora and fauna that find sand a pleasing habitat never ceases to amaze me – I had not properly appreciated that mangroves fall into this category: