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North of Nowhere

24 September, 2010 Leave a comment

I wrote in the previous entry of my recent trip and the Danes that I met there. I talked of the traits I saw in them. One I didn’t mention was their renowned fierceness as warriors. History has proven the Danes to be great warriors and their involvement in this current conflict is doing nothing to harm that reputation.

I also mentioned an ‘interesting’ flight home after my visit and said I would write of it in this entry…

Once my work was done it was time for me to return to the safe confines of our desert bastion. On arriving at the departure point I was met by the normal rag-tag individuals heading onwards to their journey home and people going back to their base after a visit for whatever reason. There was also, on this occasion, a group of Danes with enough kit between them to finish the war!*

The LPC advised that these modern vikings were to board first with the rest of following on, we’d then be ferried ‘home’ before they were forwarded to their final destination.

All that changed as soon as the ride landed and the LPC spoke to the loadie, we were bustled on first, including the working dog on his way home for a medal, ann were followed on closely by the squad of tooled up Scandinavians all grunting, back slapping and showing each other the Devil‘s Horns (a la Ronnie James Dio \m/). The lights went out, the rotors changes tone and we lifted into the moonlit night…

I don’t know where we went, I do know it was vaguely North, and after an indeterminate length of time (it’s best to snooze on these journeys) we touched down, and waited…

The rotors surged again and we were once again lifted into the moonwashed skies and heading North(ish). This leg was slightly longer and I tried, once again to doze, to no avail… Even behind closed lids the brightness of the defensive flares are blindingly bright. Given the fact they have to divert attention await from the heat of the turbine engines keeping this thing in the air I can understand it, but it was a bloody rude awakening! After watching through the domes perspex window as the pale grey landscape rushed by not too far below I drifted of into slumberland once more. I was rudely awakened by the sound of weapons, more grunts and back slapping and shouts of ‘two minutes!’ as these guys readied themselves to disembark God only knows where… I must admit to being a tad concerned when one turned to my mate and, with two fingers held in a Churchill manner, shouted ‘two minutes!; at him and looked at the two of us! (Not bloody likely was both our initial responses.)

By this time we could feel the bird dropping fairly quickly and I glanced out the window again to see… nothing. There was a huge vista of  pale grey with light and dark patches here and there but no light, no activity, and more importantly to my defensive mind, no cover.

As we pulled a hand-brake turn (I don’t know how else to describe it) and  touched down they launched themselves into the great unknown (although I’m sure they knew where they were!) and dispersed themselves into defensive positions. We them lifted off and headed back from whence we came. This leg of the journey was far less eventful with little or no chaff or flares and a far greater height being reached. Having embarked on a 15 minute ride on a Chinook I arrived back safely over 80 minutes later.

I mentioned last night that this flight had spawned some lyrical musings. Here’s the bare bones…

Day’s over, the job’s all done
High time now to hightail it home
Light of day in dark of night
Full moon’s overhead

We’re not alone, there’s more to come
For some work’s just begun
Light’s out, head down
All Hell’s gonna let loose soon

Dark of night, flares so bright
We’re headed North of Nowhere
All tooled up, let’s stir it up
We’re headed North of Nowhere

Moon rides high, light’s up the sky
Washing sand and village white
Signs of life show down below
Dropping down, it’s time to go

Dark of night, flares so bright
We’re headed North of Nowhere
All tooled up, let’s stir it up
We’re headed North of Nowhere

* I know we’re not at war, but I hope you’ll allow a little poetic license!

Wake up, and smell the eucalyptus!

27 August, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been away for a couple of days. Nowhere too exciting, but somewhere which has allowed me to gather my thoughts.

It’s amazing how quickly groundhog day sets in out here, and how little you notice the jaded attitude taking over. It’s only as a result of these little ‘breaks’ in the monotony that you regain a little perspective on things and hold on to some semblance of what we know as sanity.

The last couple of days have helped to do just that.  I’ve read through my last few entries on here and noticed the darkness looming, and for that I can only apologise. Maybe I shouldn’t, or maybe I should? This blog seems to have taken on many roles for me out here, journal, conscience, sounding board, notebook and lyrical sketch pad… As such it is bound to reflect my moods to an extent and, of late, that hasn’t been too bright.

All that has changed (for now) thanks to some plants, a few flowers, a gazebo and the chirruping of crickets.

I kid you not!

Okay, perhaps some helicopter rides, a road move and a (very short) walk helped, and actually feeling as if I was contributing something more than suggestions for changes to policy, but God it felt good to get up and get outside the perimeter even for an hour or two!

But back to the garden… It’s amazing how, in this dry and dusty land, there can be swathes of vibrant colour and smells which lift the spirit. Even walking round a corner and being overwhelmed by the smell of a eucalyptus was an uplifting experience.

The laughter which resulted in meals taken with old friends may also have had something to do with it. Good, honest, laughter, sometimes for a reason and sometimes just because it felt right.

Perhaps it happened in answer to my heretic post earlier this week, perhaps it was just a break from the norm. I don’t really know and, to be honest, I don’t care. I’m just glad it happened.

And now, back to the coal front… bring it on!

(Oh! And by the way, the gazebo was a real pleasure, not least due to the fact that I helped build it in 2007!)