WHAT blows my mind is never the mountains nor the valleys nor the seas.
It is always the fact that someone has looked at them, thought about it and then gone and built a railway right through or a bridge right across or a tunnel right under.
It astounds me anyone could be that clever; that they could look at the difficulties presented and, instead of giving up and going to watch Only Fools And Horses on Dave, they overcome the challenges and master their environment; that from nothing but a complex set of problems, they create structures that can solve vast social issues.
And then they let me travel across it for free, or for hardly anything at all, or, at the very least, without making me get down on my knees and worship their brain cells.
Like I say: astounding. A level of evolutionary advancement that goes beyond my ability to grasp it. A bit like using eBay, I suppose.
Or like the bridge I once travelled on across the Alps, while sitting next to a German couple who wouldn’t stop snapping the snow-capped peaks but not once ever bothered to capture the sleek steel structure which allowed them to move at 80mph, hundreds of metres in the sky, between two points on two mountains nearly a mile apart
“But that’s just... nature,” I wanted to say.
“It’s nice but it’s meant to be like that. It exists. This bridge is the work of human mind and brawn. It is physical impossibility made real. For your benefit.”
But, of course, in the name of European unity - and because he was a big bloke - I kept my counsel.
I finished our European vodka and went to sleep.
So... there I was this weekend sat in an aeroplane (don’t get me started on how insane machines that can fly are) looking down at the Irish Sea. And there bang in the middle was this vast and stunning wind farm.
Going gracefully, it was, at full pelt. Farming that wind for all it was worth. Sucking it raw from the sky and transforming it into usable energy.
And it looked incredible.
An army of towers, each one sleek and strong, a tribute not just to the ingenuity of architects and engineers but also the desire of people to do what is right for the Earth.
And then I got right annoyed because whenever someone wants to build a wind farm in some bland part of the sea or a blander part of the British countryside, there’s always some local nimbys who object because they reckon it will ruin the view, or something equally spurious.
Which is a rubbish enough excuse anyway, because what is an interrupted horizon compared with the creation of clean energy?
But, more to the point, they enhance the view. Because what those boffins who’ve designed them have done, is not just worry about the maths; they’ve produced something which if it was a piece of public art would be adored for generations.
Would you like one outside your home, the nimbys cry. Well, yes, I’d be honoured. I’d look at it every day and marvel.
So this is me, nailing my colours to the blades: how beautiful our man-scarred Peaks are, how beautiful they might be farming their own wind energy.