Category Archives: geology

214. Three years of Roads of Stone

past and present high street rye east sussex england by roadsofstoneThings have been slow around here, for a little while now, and in more ways than one.

I’ve had less time for running, and less still for writing. I’ve been unfit, distracted and slow.

And yet — there’s been real progress, too, hidden not far beneath the surface.

Our 95,000 visitors this year may have found only 22 new posts to read, but it’s been a momentous year of change, both in London and abroad.

the old mill horsham sussex england by acirfa virtual tourist comThe great crash formed the backdrop to the year, but it was in America that destiny was decided.

A changing political landscape marked the 2008 US election and the new opportunities that brings, for America and the whole world beyond.
Continue reading

Advertisements

211. The price of oil: 4 – a rising road ahead

st pauls cathedral city of london england banking financial crisis 2008As the world begins hesitantly to emerge from this downturn, when and how strongly the recovery will manifest itself is still unknown. There are huge uncertainties remaining.

So why should energy costs be rising again already? Last week’s post about the oil price shock of 2008 described a fall from a $147 peak last summer to $34 in February 2009.

In concluding, I noted that although a $60 oil price looks ‘low’ today, in relation to past prices, it’s still way above the average.

In fact, the oil price has only exceeded $60 for some 15 months across the whole of recorded history. What has happened to keep the oil price high?
Continue reading

210. The price of oil: 3 – energy economics and the financial crisis

storm in the north seaThe highest ever oil prices.

The fastest and greatest fall in energy costs in economic history.

A lot has happened since early 2008 and my last essay on the oil price.

This article will explore events in the oil markets since then, and in the next I’ll take a look towards the future.

* * * * *

Early last year the oil price lay close to historic highs at almost $100 a barrel.

Supply was tight, I said, and getting tighter. Prices could fall to $60 later in the year if the credit crunch really bit. But long term, the trend was clearly upwards. And a world of $100, $200, $400 oil prices was not that far away.

world oil price jan 2006 to may 2009 energy information administration
Continue reading

209. A dragon slain on Doomsday – Horsham 10 km

dragon in horsham park maze west sussex england by captain tarmac flickrDragons used to roam in St Leonard’s Forest, or so the local legend goes. Today it’s only runners, and me amongst them, burning with limbs afire in the 25th running of the Horsham 10 km.

We’re on my regular lunchtime route, or at least the tricky part of it, where the Lower Cretaceous clays of the lush Arun Valley rise eastwards towards the sandstone plateau of the forest.

horsham 10 km 2009 at horsham rugby club sussex england by roadsofstoneWe gather on Horsham Rugby Club’s playing fields in bright spring sunshine, and when the siren goes we head off dutifully around the touchline of the first team pitch.
Continue reading

206. The price of oil: 2 – a tragedy in the North Sea

bond-superpuma-helicopter-north-sea-c-ap-thesunco-ukI was going to write another article about the oil price today, but I’ll postpone that for now. Sixteen people died in a North Sea helicopter crash on Wednesday.

Their Super Puma helicopter had flown 150 miles from the BP Miller Platform towards Aberdeen, but came down just 13 miles from the coast at Peterhead.

Eight bodies were recovered from the scene. Another eight may never be found.
Continue reading

204. Sand, storm and shingle – from Rye to the sea

the-levels-at-dawn-rye-east-sussex-england-by-roadsofstone“All this area was once under the sea, you know” — old famous greeting, familiar to any geologist.

Dawn on the levels. Running across a grey, cool morning, stepping slow behind the heels of winter. And today, for once, that quote is really true.

A plan formed deep in the forests of night. To run from Rye to meet the sea.

merchants-houses-in-church-square-rye-east-sussex-england-by-roadsofstone

I trot out from the hotel and head up the cobbled street. Beside the half-timbered merchants’ houses on Church Square, past The Flushing Inn and the old sweet shop, through Landgate’s arch and down to The Strand.

And that’s where the uncertainty begins. A channel lies in front of me, and the flat far horizon ahead. But which way should I run? Does the river flow east or west to the coast?
Continue reading

198. This bank and shoal of time – beside the river in Stratford-upon-Avon

stratford-upon-avon-england-christmas-lights-on-clopton-bridge-dec-2008-by-roadsofstoneBut here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come.
Macbeth, Act 1, Sc. 7.

Why then the world’s mine oyster.
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 2, Sc 2.

The Roman road crossed the river at its widest and shallowest point, and gave this town its name: Strat-ford-upon-Avon.

The Clopton Bridge stands at the same spot today – five hundred years old, and still carrying all the traffic across the river. Beneath the bridge, the Avon flows both chill and slow. I know the feeling.

I run past the boathouse, the Tramway Bridge and the Rowing Club. The Avon is full of rowers out bright and early. A couple of fours, a sculler or two. There are no canal boats today, but the river is navigable all the way from the sea.

stratford-upon-avon-england-monument-at-new-lock-dec-2008-by-roadsofstoneThe navigation works were authorised by King Charles I in 1635, and by 1641 the river was open to within four miles of Warwick. But by 1874, the upper section had fallen into disuse.

It was the vision of David Hutchings and the Upper Avon Navigation Trust to re-open the river between the Severn and the Birmingham Canal. Stratford New Lock was the last link in that chain, finally completed in 1971.

The lock was built by volunteers from Gloucester Gaol, and Stratford’s Shawshank offered a tough kind of redemption. Continue reading