A Fascinating World – Keith Booker – 17th August 2015.

Keith Booker is the cur­rent treas­urer for Dore PROBUS club. He retired rel­at­ively early in his career and he and his wife decided to see the world whilst they were still fit and able to do so. They have been on two world cruises and amassed a treas­ure trove of pho­to­graphs in the pro­cess. Keith did a lot of research into the places they were going to visit, and having been there fur­ther expan­ded his know­ledge.

They vis­ited the island of Monserrat, in the Caribbean and was fas­cin­ated by the Soufrierre Hills vol­cano which erup­ted in 1995. It buried the islands cap­ital, Plymouth in 40 feet of ash and mud, killing 19 people.

Keith admit­ted his fas­cin­a­tion for vol­cano s and showed slides of the Tavurvur vol­cano at Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, Papa New Guinea. This erup­ted in 1994 des­troy­ing 80% of the town of Rabaul and also the local air­port. Apparently the Megapode bird lays it eggs in the warm vol­canic ash to incub­ate. When the birds imerge they are feathered and are able to fly within a day and the adults play no fur­ther part.

Keith went to Long Beach, California and went on the old Queen Mary, which is now an hotel and con­fer­ence centre. It was built on Clydebank, as was the Queen Elizabeth, the QE2, and HMS Hood and many other well known ves­sels. In 1940 the Queen Mary returned to the Clyde to br fitted out as a troop car­rier and in July 1943 she set the record for the most number car­ried on a vessel at any one time – 16,683.

Keith then went on to talk about the Tuortara which resides near Rotorura. It is the oldest known living rep­tile, fossils of which have been dated at 225 mil­lion years old. Its blood tem­per­at­ure is only 12 degrees Centigrade and it breathes once an hour. Its eggs take 14 months to hatch and it lives for about 120 years. Having talked about the oldest living rep­tile Keith then went on to talk about the oldest living plant known as the wel­wits­chia which can live up to 2000 years.

Continuing on his theme of the oldest, the Namib Desert is regarded as the oldest in the world and the sand dunes have been aged at 30 mil­lion years.

To lighten the mood a little Keith showed a pho­to­graph of a man walk­ing into an air con­di­tioned bus stop in Dubai, and he also showed a slide of a gold bar dis­penser where you could actu­ally insert your credit card and buy a gold bar. Dubai is now home to the ex-Cunard liner QE2, which was sold to a Dubai con­sor­tium in November 2008, with plans to con­vert her into a float­ing hotel and con­fer­ence centre, but the plans are now on hold.

Having digressed for a while, Keith returned to his fas­cin­a­tion with vol­canos and talked about Mount Etna, Vesuvius and Stromboli which lies off the north coast of Sicily and is con­stantly active. He also talked about other powers on earth, such as gey­sers in Iceland.

Keith’s talked was a very well-illustrated and inter­est­ing insight into won­ders of the world and this syn­op­sis doesn’t really do it justice.