the world turned upside down


One of the more lasting gifts of knowledge acquired from the Scouts was learning how to turn your watch into a compass. This pearl has earned praise or bewilderment on a number of occasions – but, as someone who invariably takes ‘the path less trodden’ it has also helped me navigate my way out of a few sticky corners. This is how it works: Holding your wrist flat and rotate your watch until the hour hand is pointing directly towards the sun. then split the difference between the hour hand and the 12 (this is for GMT, use the 1 for BST daylight saving) and this marker on the watch face indicates due South. A line directly through the centre and beyond leads to North. Easy peasy.

If there’s no sun (or clouds) at night, locate the Pole Star (North) with this other Boy’s Own favourite:

Find The Plough and take a straight line upwards through the front two stars of the ‘pan’ end (as opposed to the tail end) and upwards. Now find Cassopeia (the sideways ‘W’) and extend a straight line directly, as if upwards from the ‘W’. At the point where the imagined lines from The Plough and Cassopeia meet….you will find the Pole Star (not the brightest in the sky)…and therefore North.

Granted, I have no daily need for these tricks, but I rely on intuition for a sense of direction and the idea of Satnav I find disconcerting. Anyway, here in Adelaide, my old World wisdom is useless. The desert or bush would’ve consumed me already. The sun passes across the sky in completely the wrong direction, because it’s in the North….weird. At night a stunningly impressive starry sky is utterly unrecognisable. The new Moon is still new, but on the wrong side. I would never have known, but it just looks ….odd.

It’s the middle of May and late Autumn. Day is night and night is day – but to make the time conversions even more difficult, Adelaide is 9 and a half hours ahead of Blighty. I wake up in the middle of the night and it’s too hard to do the maths.

An unfamiliar dawn chorus heralds the day, as does a scorpion in the bathtub.


2 Responses to “the world turned upside down”

  1. Got a local to show me the Southern Cross this evening. My hemispheres are a little less unbalanced.

  2. The Australian moon is upside-down.

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