I first 'met' Debby Carter in the very early days of Seashore No4 when she contacted me from her travels and asked me to send a gift to her Mum back in the UK for Mother's Day.
We have never met in real life, but her love of life and her enthusiasm for travel and dedication for conservation is an inspiration and so a while ago I asked her to share her story with us. It's taken a while (on my part , sorry Debs!), but it's a fabulous interview - so make yourself a cuppa and sit back and enjoy.
Travel, Conservation and a love of the Sea
- with Debby Carter
Where do you live, and have you always lived by the sea?
I live in Seaford on the Sussex coast, only lived here just under 4 years, moved just recently which is our 3rd move …plus I went travelling / backpacking for 6 months during those years! I just packed everything in a container and went!
I'm a townie, born in Fulham, living life in various south London towns so living by the sea is a new experience for me, but I have always been drawn to the sea, and I love every minute.
I love to travel; when I was a child , holidays were in caravans ….. which I loved and still do! My mum worked for Clarksons one of the original holiday companies so my first trip (and only one as a child abroad) was at 7 years old to Italy … I fractured my wrist & spent the entire time with a plaster cast wrapped in plastic bags, nothing was stopping me get in the sea, which was the start of my sea fascination!
Have you always loved the coast, and if so, what do you think influenced you?
When my own family were young, (I have 3 children & waiting on no.9 grandchild any time soon) family holidays were package holidays …. Great fun – you know keep the kids happy and then your happy , types of holidays …. But I wanted new experiences, real places and people …….. the big wide world was calling.
Where have you travelled, what has been the most exotic destination?
Our last backpacking trip was spent travelling in india, mainly Rajasthan , india is soulful (it's true you really love or hate it, no happy medium).
I have been known to cry tears of joy in several of the places. The colours, the sights the smells, make you live and breathe in india even on 15 hour bus rides I felt a calm! I trekked from Darjeeling in freezing temperatures over 5 days, a personal achievement to experience the Singalila Trek, see Everest in the distance whilst standing at the top of Phalut at 5am waiting for the sun to rise!
We went to Myanmar, somewhere I have always been fascinated by, there were temples everywhere.
We visited the Andaman islands which are like Robinson Crusoe islands', white sands the heat lasted throughout the day and night, but there were beautiful corals and shells. Sunrise and sunset beach on Neil Island have to be my most favourite beaches.
In the UK cornwall is my hearts happy place.
Cambodia was next, painful and hurting place …… the history makes me recoil, but the people are friendly and smiling ….. again a fascinating place.
We finished our trip with a balloon flight over the fairy castles in Turkey Cappadocia, like an excited child just before daylight hours I was chatting to ‘rabbit in headlight’ fellow travellers. The air was so quiet and warm, the colours breathtaking …..
Tell me about the time you spent on the Faroe Islands, what work did you do and how long did you stay? Is it really as remote as it looks?
I worked in O&G for over 10 years in seismic marine, which believe it or not has a very strong conservation & preservation ethic. I spent 3 of those years as Shore Support, which meant I travelled the world, looking after seismic vessels and their crews.
I was often alone for weeks on end apart from the local agents. Crew changes were big events, but unless it was a dry dock (maintenance work on the ship) my pals and the crew came and went swiftly. My rotation was 6-7 weeks so I learnt to use any spare time immersing myself in the local culture, area & location. I went King Crab fishing in Hammerfest and joined a shark dive in Durban!
I also travelled to Canada, Africa, Australia, Norway with work.
I was only in the Faroes for a few weeks, one of the ships were making a quick stop for some maintenance so it was decided crew change would be from there, we had a small crew change of around 60-70 people coming and the same returning home. Hotel rooms are limited on the island and we basically took over several hotels. The port was small, yet this was the town, a few little tourist & gift shops and some history scattered about for the tourists, unlike anything our crews we were used to, the local agent and everyone involved was so enthusiastic and helpful .
One of the local agents was keen on hiking and took me out on a few spare days we had.
Outside of the teeny town The Faroes are green and lush and you can walk and walk for miles and not see anyone. Sue the agent showed me the little spot were that wonderful sheep shearing advert for Specsavers was shot, were the old farmer shears the collie ! hilarious ! the small shacks scattered about have grass roofs. Puffins are soooo teeny, I had no idea how tiny, but I saw flocks of them nestling in the cliffs
I remember being shown the islands prison …….. believe me we would pay fortunes to stay there on retreat, it had a grass roof, glass front looking out over the rolling green hills and built into the side of a cliff. It was quite empty as you can imagine, not a lot of crime there .
Sue had told me she had lived on the islands for 30 years, her children were born there and her husband was from there too. The roads wound round the hills, if you imagine Dartmoor, remove half the sheep and all the people, it would give you a fair idea.
You do amazing coastal conservation work, tell me about how you got into this and what do you do? How long have you done this work and what have you achieved?
I love wandering on empty beaches, collecting shells and driftwood, that’s why I was drawn to your lovely products all those years ago.
I hated seeing rubbish left lying and believe you should only leave footprints.
I then saw the 2 minute beach clean by Martin Doyle on social media and I started full on from there, obviously living by the sea has made this so much easier, I usually combine it with dog walking now!
I started volunteering just after I was made redundant from oil and gas ( which also led to my backpacking) just because we could!
So I helped out the Rangers for the SWT, this has believe it or not catapulted me into student life. I'm studying countryside management at Plumpton College, my aim is to become a Ranger and my own blog is ‘Age is just a Number’ and I believe that wholeheartedly.
I’m the oldest in the class at 55 the youngest is just 16, one of my grandsons is older than her!
If I set myself a goal I will do my very best to get there, I also have a work placement at Bateman's National Trust working with a lovely Ranger called Kev. Conservation is very high on my list of priorities.
Where is your favourite beach and why?
In the UK it's Sennen Cove, I’m not a surfer, but I love to boogie board. But I have to confess, I prefer Cornwall in the winter when it’s not heaving.
I feel I can breathe by the sea ……. I feel alive.
Do you think you will go travelling again and if so where would you like to go?
My brother calls me ‘Argo’ which I believe is a ship created by a Greek god and means 'to set sail'….. but in my case it means any invite and I’ll go or 'Argo'!
I love new experiences and adventures, I will always travel! I would love to go to the Antarctic as its one of the continents I haven’t yet been ….. also a tropical rain forest would be cool, in fact if I could be paid to travel and write I’d be off. I wrote a travel diary during my backpacking and it was great fun!
Debby's Blog is http://age-isjustanumber.blogspot.co.uk/