Books written by Ray Sullivan

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

An Advert For Life

Here's a top tip for you, the next time you find yourself heading out into the desert - it's not something we do that often in north Wales but Talacre beach is very sandy, mind.  Don't ask how to pronounce the name, though, it can set off some very deep divisions.  Locally we pronounce it tal-ak-rurr, the visitors from Liverpool have been known to refer to it as Tall Acres and the BBC recently pronounced it as tal-a-cray, which sounds like it should be on a bottle of Scotch to me.

Anyway, back to your trip to the desert.  Even if you intend coming back the same day it's advisable to take some emergency equipment with you - a bottle of Talacre Welsh whisky obviously being one of them.  The other is a sheet of polythene, at least a metre square, bigger if you can find it.  Make sure is isn't holed and try to get a decent thickness to reduce the chances of a hole being made.

You see, should you find yourself having to make an unscheduled overnight stop in the desert you may find your stocks of life-giving water  becoming used up rapidly, especially if you pop a dash in with the Welsh whisky you have for your nightcap.  The trick is to scoop out a shallow indentation in the ground adjacent to where you intend spending the night - either pack a folding entrenching tool in your backpack or, alternatively, pack one of those no-name cheapo eReaders that are turning up on Groupon and Living Social these days - you don't want to risk damaging your iPad mini or Nexus 7 in the desert when there's no WiFi and anyway, the battery won't last.

Use the cheapo eReader, or the folding entrenching tool if you really are that much of a control freak, to scoop the sand into said indentation and lay the polythene sheet over it (the indentation, not the eReader - you need that to read yourself to sleep with a glass of Welsh Talacre whisky), weighing it down in the centre with a convenient rock and pegging the edges with similar rocks.  I wouldn't advise bringing your own rocks as that would be silly - a handful of no-name android pay-as-you-go not-so-smart phones will do just as well.  Have a read, have a drink, then go to sleep.

In the morning the dew will condense on the polythene sheeting and, because you created an indentation and weighted the sheeting to the centre of the dip, the polythene sheet will have accumulated water.  Probably not much, but enough to keep you alive, or at least until the battery on your no-name eReader gives up on you.

This top tip, by the way, comes courtesy of the SAS Survival Guide, which unfortunately doesn't appear to have made it onto Kindle format yet.  My copy is a dog-eared paperback edition that predates eBooks anyway, but it occurs to me that in this day and age an eBook version for the Kindle would be a sensible item to have in the backpack.  The book discusses other, less attractive, methods of collecting water including filtering my own urine, but really I'd rather just pack a sheet of polythene.  If you really want to try the urine method then drop me line letting me know where you want the urine sending.

Now most of the readership of this blog will, like me, take the option to turn a tap (or faucet for the north American readers) to pull a glass of water.  Those with perhaps more spare cash than myself might pull a bottle of expensive water out of the fridge - did you know that Evian spelled backwards is Naive?   Despite a very broad international readership spanning every continent on the planet, I still reckon most of you won't struggle for a drink of water.  The Welsh whisky, well that's a different challenge especially as I made it up, but a drink of water is something many of us take for granted.  But not all.

Water is, of course, the single most important requirement for human survival other than air - doctors talk about the three threes - three minutes, three days and three weeks, where they refer to the effective survivability without, in turn, air, water and food.  For those populations that don't have ready access to clean, drinkable water, the three days limit might not sound as generous as it might to those of us blessed enough to be born in places that don't struggle for water.

In Peru, just outside Lima, an innovative idea has been implemented to provide free clean water to anyone who has a need.  A massive advertising billboard has been erected that uses a very similar technique to the SAS trick to condense water that is in the atmosphere and to deliver it, up to 96 litres a day, to the inhabitants of the village which is in an area that is considered virtually a desert area and where access to clean water is a challenge.  The billboard earns its keep by delivering adverts - that's what billboards are good at - and the locals get free, clean water for allowing adverts to be shown by their road.  It sounds a good deal to me.

Perhaps when I get around to creating the new Welsh whisky, Talacre, I could try marketing it in Peru using such a billboard.  At least I know the locals can get a dash of clean water to drop into the whisky there.


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