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Friday 19th September
Our ferry from Gothenburg docked in Tynemouth at 10 am sharp after a good crossing and we arrived in Beadnell after a leisurely car journey at about 12 am and made our way to Stan and Lee Hall’s Farne Diving Services. After unloading the cars and  moving in, I made some quick phone calls on my mobile and found that Anders, a former clubmate who is now doing postdoc research at Bristol University, and Lou and Caroline were already in Beadnell and Matt and Adam weren’t far away. Steve (Walker) would meet us on the pier at Seahouses at 3 pm, in time to depart for the first dive at 3.30. The weather was perfect – sunny and warm, no wind and flat calm.
Our immediate reaction on seeing the boat was how are 12 divers going to kit up at the same time on this one? However, with a bit of cooperation and a lot of goodwill, we somehow managed it.
Our skipper, Eddie, put the shot by the boiler on the Chris Christensen at what was supposed to be low-water slack and down we went to find that we had a strong cross-current. Anders and I and a couple of the Swedes spent a short time on the wreck and then made our way over to the wall, where we saw a biggish shoal of pollack and were buzzed by a seal at 8-10 m. The rest of the group never found the wreck! I should add that it was a neap tide, so that there wasn’t really any slack.
Matt and Adam asked Eddie to put them in on the wall, where they had a nice relaxing dive at around 15 m.
Saturday 20th September
After a very early breakfast, we did the first dive at Blue Caps, where we had close contact with lots of seals as well as seeing squat lobsters, ballen wrasse, velvet swimming crabs etc etc. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the seals as they were too quick for me – this was my first dive with my Motor Marine IIEX and it took me time to attach the wide angle lens and set all the settings – but Anders and Henrik, who are experienced u/w photographers, should have some nice pics.
After the dive, it was back to the harbour to fill our cylinders for the second dive, which was at The Pinnacles. We saw lots of pollack and ballen wrasse and Steve found me a very cooperative octopus and I managed to take 4 or 5 pics.
Shortly after we got back to our accommodation after the second dive, Peter Kelly (aka peter k) and Robert Burgess (Budgie) turned up. They had decided on the spur of the moment to come and see us, which was very nice. We all had a good meal and natter in the pub and then Anders gave us a nice slide show, with pics from the Red Sea, Indonesia and Mexico.
Sunday 21st September
The first dive was at the north end of Blue Caps. There were lots of seals on the surface and on the rocks but we only saw one under water. However, Steve and I saw two lobsters, one of which was huge. It was completely unafraid and I was able to take several pics. We also saw a nice shoal of pollack, which I also photographed.
Our second dive was at Big Harcar, where we saw 2 seals under water, one of which had a good nibble at Steve’s fins, a lobster, several leopard-spotted gobies and a nice blue-rayed limpet.
That was the end of our diving at the Farnes for this trip. I think everybody will agree that we had 5 very nice dives. The boat was old and cramped and the diesel fumes disgusting but Eddie is an excellent skipper and a great guy and we were very lucky with the weather.  
We now returned to our accommodation to pack our cars, the UK people to start the long journey home (8 hours for Matt and Adam) and the 6 members of the Swedish contingent to move on to St Abbs, where the weather had started to deteriorate and our host and skipper, Billy Aitchison, told us that we were going to have strong northerly winds (the worst direction!) the next couple of days but that the forecast looked much better for Wednesday and Thursday.
Monday 22nd September
Rain, high winds, white horses and cold!  We did just one dive, a drift dive with a strong current at Black Carr, and then decided that was enough for that day.
Tuesday 23rd September
Even windier and rougher, so no diving today. We had a nice aftenoon shopping in Edinburgh, though.
Wednesday 24th September
Cloudy but much less wind and calmer. Our first dive was on the ”Glanmire ” wreck. There was a huge swell and we were rocked back and forth at 30 m. The vis was also less than perfect but we saw quite a lot of fish and crustaceans on the wreck.
The second dive was at Wuddy Rocks. There was still a heavy swell but we saw 2 octopuses, a tadpole fish and a small shoal of sprats (?).
Thursday 25th september
We had planned 3 dives for today. The first was at West Harcars and the beginning of the Skellies. There was still a heavy swell but it was a beautiful dive with lots of life and I mangaed to photograph a big lobster and a shoal of 20 or so pollack.
The second dive was theoretically Tye’s Tunnel but my buddy and I somehow managed to miss the entrance to the tunnel. We found another cooperative octopus, though, as well as another shoal of pollack and lots of nice anenomes.
Just before dive number 3, Billy was unexpectedly called away to Eyemouth, where two fishing boats had decided to come in and unload their catch (Billy’s other job is selling fish). However, he managed to arrange for his friend Peter to take us out with a group from a cluib in Edinburgh. Peter’s boat is not as spacious as Billy’s but he is an excellent diveboat skipper. He put us in at Skelly Hole and we dived the Skellies. There was some current but the swell had now settled. This was arguably the best dive of the trip. We saw an octopus, a lobster, 2 nice nudibranchs, a big ling, lots of nice anenomes and a velvet swimming crab posing in a crack with several squat lobsters. Did I get the shot?
Friday 26th September
Back to Tynemouth, sailed at 3 pm.
Saturday 27th september
Docked in Gothenburg at 5.30 pm. We all agreed that we had had an excellent trip. A pity we lost a day’s diving but that’s UK diving in a nutshell.
FOOTNOTE
Thanks again to the UK participants for your enjoyable company.
If any of my pics turn out, I’ll post them on this board in a few days.
 

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Hi John

Thankyou very much for having us!  We had a really nice time.  It was good to see some familiar faces again, and some new ones.  Ander's slide show was a real highlight, whcih I totally didn't expect - somehow the offer of a slide show of someone's holiday snaps doesn't usually fill me with joy!!  What are his tanks about BTW - the weirdest setup I've ever seen....

I bored everyone at work stupid with my tales of seal encounters - I can't understanxd why everyone wasn't as excited about it as me ;).  Although my seal photos are utter shite you can just make out a few seal faces so I at least have proof it happened.

Shame you didn't get the best of the weather in Abbs but it sounds like the dives you got were good.

Where's next then?  

Lou
 

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Anders' tanks are twin 4 L x 300 bar. They are not uncommon in Sweden, though they don't provide enough air for the likes of me. Anders seems to have gills, though. However long the dive, he always comes up with about 80 bar left. The famous Australian u/w photographer Valerie Taylor always uses twin 4L x 300 bar tanks on her female models, by the way. She thinks they look really nice on girls, not so clumsy as aluminium 80's.
Don't know about my next trip yet but it could be Narvik if somebody gets their finger out and organises it (Wink! Wink!). I'd also love to go back to British Columbia about this time next year if I can afford it. Is it the 4th you and Caroline go?
 

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John, you originally only had a spot for me and not Adam, fortunately a spot came up for the boy and he was well pleased. He was begining to get a bit fed up with Stoney! Only down side is that now he thinks he will dive through the winter as its much better offshore than inland. So it looks like another dry-suit on order, plus a new shoulder dump for mine, it will be a Si-tech as I removed mine after the w/e and broke it in the process, apparently not uncommon with the Apeks low profile crap.
We thoroughly enjoyed the diving, the company and the accomodation/food, even though I had reservations about a bunk house. Diving is so much more than just getting wet and what you see, its about the company too and we had great company all weekend.
Glad you actually got some diving in after we left as all week I was watching the weather forecasts and thinking of you and the guys and hoping it was working for you.

The boat at the Farnes was a bit small but it worked as we all just got on and helped each other rather than behaving selfishly.

Matt
 

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The photolab didn't have much to do today, so they developed my two films and put them on a CD within an hour, instead of the usual 2-3 days. Most of the pics are awful but a few are less awful than others, like this octopus. Edit: Whoops! Why is the pic so small?
 

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this nudibranch ..........
 

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this shoal of pollack .........
 

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............. and this huge lobster, the image of which I unfortunately had to reduce to 19% of the original quality in order to post. Note the colourful close-up of Steve "Lobster Prodder" Walker's fingers in the top left-hand corner  
 

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Cheers for having me John it was a fantastic weekend. WELL worth the traffic jams!
 

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It was a pleasure, Adam. Glad you enjoyed yourself.
 

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Ahem.. I would add that as a marine biology PhD I'm fully qualified to prod lobsters - but don't try this at home kids ;)
John, I wouldn't mind seeing the higher resolution versions of your pix if  you've got time to  mail some to me, I don't suppose the one with the seal nibbling my fins came out ok ?
Like everyone else I had a great weekend

Cheers
steve
 

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Hi Steve,
No, the one of the seal nibbling your fins didn't come out, I'm afraid. You can just about make out a seal-shaped object and a shadow in front of it. I'll e-mail the high resolution pics to you.
 
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