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.