Power to the People

Tunnel

(No cameras allowed so this is a picture of the tunnel at Crauchan from their website)

We went to see a power station today. Called Crauchan the hollow mountain, it’s not really a hollow mountain, it’s a tunnel. The tunnel runs for a kilometre to a power station in the mountain which consists of four huge turbines that can create 100,000 kilowatts of electricity and it only takes two minutes, or 28 seconds if the turbines are already spinning. Who knew electricity could be so interesting but we had a very enthusiastic guide called Dorah and she inspired the following story.

Osprey Nest

(There’s lots of wild birds near the power station. You might be just able to make out the Osprey’s nest on the mobile phone mast. Dorah said they must be smart birds, they have the pick of the farmed trout – also in the picture – and free mobile calls home to Africa)

This is what happens… there’s a dam further up near the top of the mountain, full of water. There’s a lake, Lough Awe, at the bottom of the mountain. The power station gets a message from the electricity board, quick we need more power Xfactor took an early break and the whole of Britain just switched on their kettles! Then the man in the control room under the mountain flicks a switch and the water from the dam floods down into the mountain and through the turbines and out into Lough Awe. Within twenty eight seconds (the turbines are always spinning during Xfactor) there’s enough electricity to heat the kettles.

Reality

(This is reality here)

When the water from the dam is all used up the turbines then reverse and pump water from Lough Awe back into the dam ready for the next break. This very neat and self-supporting idea of being able to both create electricity with flowing water and refill the water to create again was the brainchild (or dream) of Sir Edward McColl. Although Sir Edward was a very intelligent, hard working and creative man he found it difficult to delegate and died in his prime a few years before the first reverse turbine power station at Crauchan was built.

Blackboard

(The feathered visitors)

So I was thinking…. it’s all very well to have a dream and work hard fulfilling it but…. if you ignore the signs for rest and balance then you just might wear out before your dream comes true! Put on the kettle, take a break and think of Sir Edward who may indeed be responsible for the power I’m using to type this.

Thank you Sir Edward McColl, Mairead.

We’re off…….

Ready

(Almost ready to go…)

We’re off to Wales via Scotland and we’ve arrived in Belfast and are sitting on the ferry. It’s been almost twelve months since our last motorbike trip and I had forgotten how much I love it! We left Greystones at 8.30am and it was overcast and a little chilly… but the smells were amazing. Fresh air, soil and grass – yummy.

Big Bridge

(Big Bridge near Dundalk)

An hour later I was very cold and I remembered what I love about cars – the heater. Maybe it’s time to get the heated vest thingy. You wear it inside your jacket and plug it into the bike. Your very own heater. For now all is well, hot tea is warming me up and we have a window seat. There’s also free wi-fi so all is very well.

Here we go

(Here we go)

It’s funny what we get used to. Since I was little I’ve thought that travelling by plane to go on holidays was part of the holiday. The excitement of getting there. The nice person that checked our tickets and took our luggage. The walk to the plane, the smiling air hostess and the cute little meals – that were free! It’s still exciting to go on holidays but the new things they’ve added to the plane journey are not helpful. The plastic bag of liquids. The bins full of half empty water bottles and nail clippers. An odd sense that you might actually be a security risk. The waiting. Boots off. Queueing. Boots on. Fitting your bag into a metal cage or maybe not fitting your bag into the metal cage. More waiting. The cute little free meals are gone now and so are the smiles.

Cosy

(Cosy and dry)

The ferry experience today was very different. Although it was raining there were lots of smiles. We were stopped once to look at our tickets, no you don’t need your passports. Then we drove to lane 14 and waited until a smiling man sent us up the ramp behind a bus, to keep you dry! Another smiling man directed us to the bike section. A third smiling man tied the bike to the boat. The whole thing took ten minutes. And two hours later we’re here.

Welcome to Scotland! Mairead.