Travelling around Great Britain under a duvet is a daily delight. As someone who habitually wakes around 5 am, listening to the Shipping Forecast at 5.20 is a perfect start to the day. I picture the map with its angular Sea Areas marked out: Forties, Dogger, German Bight… and the numbered Coastal Weather Stations: Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic, Valentia, Malin Head… before the bit that is necessary to keep alert for: the forecast for Inshore Waters. If I miss Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis, I don’t know whether I’ll need an umbrella or a sun hat.

There’s a romanticism in the names alone, including the wonderfully named Ardnamurchan Point on the west coast of Scotland. Its name (whose spelling I had to look up) derives from Scottish Gaelic and the Point itself is almost as far west as you can get on the British mainland. It wasn’t until on holiday in Oban, when visiting nearby Salen, that I realised where I’d heard the name before: ah, yes, the Shipping Forecast!

Modern technology, one might think, would have rendered the broadcast Shipping Forecast redundant, but no; mariners still, apparently, check their instruments against the broadcast details. As a landlubber, I simply enjoy the imaginative travelling in a clockwise direction around Britain, the sound of the words spoken and places visited, and the assurance that someone out there is keeping a watchful eye on the awesome weather systems that swirl around the beautifully crafted blue orb that we call planet earth.



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