The Winds Around Thurrock Thameside Nature Park

I gave a talk last night at the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, as a guest of the Essex Book Festival.

There was a great audience, my thanks to everyone who came, and it is an amazing venue. I strongly encourage you to visit if you get the opportunity. The Park sits in a reclaimed area, where a site of special scientific interest neighbours heavy industry. It is close to London, but washed over by wilderness. The air was thick with maritime scent and bird calls. Red and green navigation lights blinked over the water between mudflats and the docks. Quite a place.

If you do go, the circular visitors’ centre is a fun place to sample the relationship between wind and land. Last night, I arrived a little early and took the opportunity to wander around the site and the building. I gathered my bearings from a crescent moon and Orion and then tuned into the wind, which blew strong and steady from the south. Even stronger from the wonderful viewing platform on top of the building.

As I walked around the perimeter of the building, it was fun to note how the wind shifted from a strong southerly on the south side of the building to a westerly, then southwesterly, then southerly again, then southeasterly before disappearing into a mixed bag of light gusts on the northern side of the building. Continuing my circuit the wind kicked in again, wheeling from southwesterly all the way around to an easterly and finally the strong clear southerly again.

Any circular building like this is a great opportunity to study the way wind direction and landforms interact. We get the same effect, albeit a little more complex to read, around hills and mountains, islands at sea and street corners in town, to mention a few.

I returned to my hotel room after the talk and enjoyed a few minutes thinking about the place, the people and the winds. Then the phone went. I had forgotten I had agreed to do a live radio interview with ABC Radio Australia. A fittingly surreal end to a day spent visiting a wonderful wild place.