The “naturalist” afloat


p An iridescent blue insect no more than 9mm long suns itself on devilsbit scabious.

q A fellow bug in a fetching black and red outfit.

About seven hours south from Western Australia’s Perth City, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet, a steady stream of tourists take the tripper boat across the wide Nornalup Inlet where skate skulk in shallow green pools and giant eucalypts lean over the Franklin River exactly as the first settlers saw less than one hundred years ago. They call the tour guide Garrulous Gary, a well earned title being blessed with the most exciting attributes of Crocodile Dundee, David Attenborough and a stand up comedian. It is Gary who will enthuse the most staid tripper to lay face down in the sand with a 15 magnification eyeglass and discover a fantastic world amongst the sand crystals – a world normally rarely looked at in with any curiosity or care.

Cruising down the Atlantic Coast of France there are almost endless opportunities to discover the beauty of the natural world in the coastal belt or inland within range of a short cycle ride. Using a digital camera with a good lens it is possible to observe the finest detail very carefully and to capture fleeting moments and discover a new world which we see but cannot or do not observe.

As Sherlock Holmes pompously put it to the long suffering Dr Watson in
A Scandal in Bohemia – "Quite so," he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. "You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear." u