Sailing by at 0048: severe gales and lullabies, with love.

“Thames Variable becoming westerly or south westerly 3.  Showers.  Good.”

(BBC Shipping Forecast quote, used by artist Shirley Vauvelle)

If this means something to you (even if you don’t understand it!), then it is because you have experienced the British Shipping Forecast at least once in your lifetime.  If it brought a smile to your face then chances are that you – like me – have a bit of a soft spot for the Shipping Forecast.

I have always found it quite captivating, listening to the softly spoken, almost musical lilt of the broadcasters reading the late night forecast over the radio airwaves. I am not alone.  A lot of people find it very soothing, and some even use it to drift off to sleep.

The first Christmas after we were married, my husband bought me a copy of Charlie Connolly’s fantastic book ‘Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast’.  It was such a thoughtful gift, showing how well he knew me, and it turned out to be a fascinating read.  I can whole-heartedly recommend it.

This weekend was our sixth wedding anniversary. I was stunned when I unwrapped my anniversary gift.  The love of my life and my best friend also happens to be romantic, thoughtful, and a supreme present-buyer.  I am an incredibly lucky woman.  Simple as that.

Sea themed generally, because we are both scuba divers, swimmers, and pretty much never happier than when in water. Drift wood because wood is the contemporary material given for the sixth anniversary, symbolic of strength and long-lasting unity. With a little quotation from the shipping forecast because he knows how much I love listening to it.  The piece of art is utterly lovely and unique, made by the very talented mixed-media artist, Shirley Vauvelle.

006a_545 copy

Thankfully internet radio means that although I’m no longer in England, I still get my Radio 4 Shipping Forecast fix.  Although these days I actually listen to the 0048 shipping forecast nearer the start of my day than the finish.  Just one of those things about being in a GMT+8 time zone!

So from a bright, sunny day here in Brunei, our anniversary shipping forecast for the dark skies and seas around the coast of the British Isles:

Bailey Shipping Forecast – Issued: 0405 UTC Sat 25 Oct

Southwest 7 to severe gale 9, occasionally storm 10 later.  Very rough or high, occasionally very high later. Rain or showers. Moderate or poor. 

Shipping forecast aficionados will have spotted that this is an area forecast rather than the general synopsis.  That’s because Bailey is probably my favourite sea area included in the shipping forecast. It’s a tough choice between Bailey and Lundy.  Yes, really, I have a favourite sea area! Although I’m sure this isn’t how the poor fishermen feel when they’re out to sea, I think Bailey wins, because they are wild, exciting seas out there! You aren’t telling me you don’t have a favourite, surely?  Cromarty, Rockall, Malin, North and South Utsire, and many more besides.  I reckon there is probably somewhere for everyone in the shipping forecast. Or is that just the shipping forecast geek in me, shouting out too loud again?!


8 thoughts on “Sailing by at 0048: severe gales and lullabies, with love.

  1. Aileen Hunt

    There’s something very soothing about the shipping forecast, isn’t there? (At least, when you’re listening to it safely tucked up in bed!) Do you know Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, Prayer? It ends with her repeating the shipping areas, like an incantation. She calls the forecast, ‘the radio’s prayer’. It’s a lovely piece. You might enjoy it, Jenny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenny Post author

      Yes, absolutely! I’m sure the fishermen and sailors tossed about on the waves don’t find it quite so soothing, mind! I don’t know it, but will definitely look it up – thank you, Aileen.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. jenny Post author

      What a beautiful poem, Aileen. Thank you for leading me to it. I especially like the part that goes:

      ‘So, a woman will lift
      her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
      at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.’

      I know I’ve had one or two of those!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Coastal Home (@CoastalHomeUK)

    What a small world! I’ve just found your blog through Shirley Vauvelle’s FB page. My Dad was a keen sailor and I always remember listening to the shipping forecast as a child – this influence has stayed with me, as I set up my own business Coastal Home . I specifically remember wrapping up and posting ‘Big Fish’ as it was for a special wedding anniversary gift – it’s so nice to know it’s gone to a very happy home . Happy Anniversay, best wishes Nicky x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you so much for the lovely message, Nicky! It is really touching to hear from you. I absolutely LOVE Shirley Vauvelle’s ‘Big Fish’ (I didn’t know it was called that – what a fab name!). I love your memories of listening to the shipping forecast as a child; memories like that are so precious. I’ve just been having a look at your website – what an absolute cornucopia of coastal treasure. Something tells me we may have birthdays and christmas gifts sorted for a while to come! :o)


  3. Pingback: Merry go round moments – week 4. | readsbyredriverbanks

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