The last six years of my life have been so singlemindedly focused on the poles, so caught up with snow, cold and ice that I sometimes manage to forget that there is a polar opposite to this world. Recently I was lucky enough to head briefly down to Naples, Florida where i met some incredible and inspirational people. I experienced the boundless enthusiasm and vigour of true entrepreneurs and enjoyed my first taste of southern hospitality, both exceeded every expectation.
But sometimes it is the simplest of things that take your breath away and for me that came when I walked down to the beach, took off my shoes and felt the sand beneath my feet for the first time in almost six years. Seabirds were whirling and diving; a group of friends threw horseshoes and two men stood with the lines of their fishing rods stretching out into the dappled sea. I asked them what they were fishing for and they cheerfully replied ‘shark!’.
In my normal travels, the sun setting and rising is a rare and ponderous occasion, but here the sun set so fast that I, engrossed in the conversation of my friend, almost missed its fall; as if it too could not resist the call of the water it illuminated. It made me long for the sea and old friends.
For now though, the Arctic has resumed its call upon me and as I do my best to help Rosie reach the North Pole I study weather forecasts and satellite images to track and forecast the Arctic’s mood and intentions. Today’s infra-red was a beauty and seemed an admirable counterpoint to the picture above. A high pressure zone is currently keeping the skies clear over the pole, though it is also pressing down upon the ice. One can see widening leads beginning to make their presence felt to the west as the season pushes towards summer, while in the south-east a particularly nasty storm boils furiously. I hope that neither come to affect Rosie before she reaches her goal.