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Meet the Rough Scientists

Capraia Diary: Mike Leahy



After getting over my bout of self-indulgence (I'm particularly good at them). I got a beer, and Jonathan suggested that I moved seat to get out of the wind. We watched seagulls follow the ship, as David suggested a project, in which we would construct ladders or lifts to save the baby seagulls that tend to drown or starve in Capraia's steep walled water reservoirs. We reckoned a wind powered infra red sensing lift would be a good idea. As soon as the seagull stepped on the lift, it would be detected and lifted to safety.

After watching the sun set over Gorgona, a small island between Capraia and Livorno, we pulled slowly into the smelly old town to spend the night in the waterfront hotel. Whilst polluted, Livorno is pretty lively, and we went to a Pizza restaurant, rather than the hotel, for some food, passing a brothel (or something which looked very much like a brothel) on the way. It was a great evening. I was sat at one end of the table, with Derek, Drew, Paul and Anna. John was stranded with the serious crew at the other end, separated from us by Jonathan, Kate, Mike and Vanessa. We laughed all evening, sometimes just putting it on to make the others jealous, and watched as unfeasibly attractive and well dressed local girls walked past, not even noticing us.

At first I thought that I was on for a late night, but was tired, so went back to the hotel at about midnight. Some of the others moved on to a local bar, where they had a good last night together, but I would never have had enough energy.

Sunday 2nd October

fishingI didn't want to be back, and perhaps it showed. I don't think anyone at home wanted me back either (ahhh) so now I am planning another couple of adventures, but before long I'm sure that I will return to Capraia. I find it impossible to comprehend that I may never see the place again. I suppose like most things though, there is no way to ever recapture the atmosphere of the island when we were all part of the 'Rough Science' team. It's just one of those brilliant memories. Memories of a project that I would have never dreamt of being involved with had a mate not sent me an e-mail earlier this year asking for volunteers for an island experiment — surreal.