I realised today - with horror - that it is now three weeks into 2006 and I haven't made a posting. In mitigation, an awful lot seems to have happened - we have had an eventful few weeks and been rushed off our feet. First Graham, then me, then Mark have been ill, and my elderly father (whom regular readers will know that we look after on a full-time basis) has been extremely unwell. On at least one occasion we
thought that he was heading to meet his maker, and the whole period has been fraught. Whilst on the subject of bad news, we had heating failure between Christmas and New Year and four of our frogs have died. Both Mark and I were very upset when we found out, but I suppose that this is all part of the way things are.
On a more cheerful note, we had our annual Council meeting in early January, Mark Martin and Chris Moiser joined us for the meeting, and have thrashed out a pretty good schedule of events for 2006.
CHANGES TO COUNCIL
Sadly Elliot Saunders has resigned due to ill health and his place as Electronic \Information Manager and Forum Moderator has been taken by Oll Lewis - also from South Wales. There should be some amusing comment about swapping Elly for Olly, but I can't think of one.
EXPEDITIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS
The Golden Frog project is continuing apace, and we now have records of little yellow hopping batrachians from all over the UK, but most excitingly, three separate ponds within a few miles of our HQ in rural North Devon.
In July an expedition, currently comprising of Richard Freeman, Chris Moiser, and Lisa Dowley will be travelling to the Gambia. On June 12th 1983 amateur naturalist Owen Burnham and his family were walking along Bungalow beach when they came upon the fresh carcass of a huge sea creature. It was around 16 feet long with a crocodile like head, four flippers, a bulky body, and a tail. It was brown with a white underside. The jaws had 80 sharp teeth. The animal had no blow hole like a whale would and lacked scales. Its skin was rubbery. The
description fits no known animal. Owen did not have a camera but took detailed notes and made sketches. These were later published in BBC Wildlife Magazine. Two locals turned up and hacked off the creature’s head to sell as a curio. Owen and his family realised the importance of the specimen and buried it above the tide line on the beach were the hot sand would preserve it.
We have Owen`s map and know exactly were to dig for the creature. We need not transport the whole carcass back to England. If we find it we can take samples and our friend Dr Lars Thomas of the University of Copenhagen can arrange for DNA tests to be run on them.
We are also hoping to return to Loch Ness in the autumn to continue our attempts at searching for evidence of giant eels. Depending on finances, we may also be returning to the United States at some point as well, probably to liaise with Chester Moore or Ken Gerhard on one of their many projects.
Whilst on this subject, Ken and Lori are presently in Belize carrying out their second expedition in search of the mystery bipedal hominids of the area. We wish them good luck in their endeavours, and want them to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them.
This year's event will be held over the weekend of 17-20 August, at the Woolfardisworthy Community Centre here in North Devon. Before you all wince and assume that to reach us will be a monumental task, akin to that of reaching Lake Tele in the Congo, let me reassuere you. We are only a mile and a half from the main A39, we are 18 miles from Barnstaple Railway Station, but will be running a FREE shuttle service to and from the station over the weekend, and there are plenty of cheap hotels, campsites, and B+Bs. We shall be circulating an accomodation
list in a week or so, but meanwhile - to whet your appetite - here is the current speaker list for the event:
TIM MATTHEWS: Dragons from a Velikovskian viewpoint
RONAN COGHLAN: The Goatman Cometh
PAUL VELLA: Analysing the Patterson Bigfoot Film
LIONEL BEER: the search for Camelot
RICHARD FREEMAN et al: Gambia 2006 Expedition
CHRIS MOISER: tba
BOB MORELL: The cryptozoology of ancient Egypt
IAN SIMMONS: Space is the Place - Extraterrestrial Mythologies in Modern Music
MATTHEW WILLIAMS: Mystery animals and crop circles
JEREMY HARTE: tba
GORDON RUTTER: Imaginary Zoo - Animal Fakes and Frauds
LARRY WARREN: Rendlesham Forest revisited
Plus Exhibitions and Workshops from:
PAUL CROWTHER AND CHRIS MOISER: Analysing big cat footage (Workshop)
CHRIS MOISER AND MARK FRAZER: Hints on practical fieldwork for big cat investigators (Workshop)
ANTHONY JAMES (CREATURAMA): Make your own Monsters (Workshop) Creaturama 2006 (Exhibition)
MARK FRAZER: Big Cats in Britain (Exhibition)
SAM SHEARON: Cryptozoological Art (Exhibition)
OLL LEWIS: `The Dumbo Squid` - a tool for catching aquatic predators (demonstration)
MATTHEW WILLIAMS: Make your own crop circle (workshop)
FOOLISH PEOPLE THEATRE COMPANY (tba)
CENTRE FOR FORTEAN ZOOLOGY: 15 years of the CFZ (exhibition)
CENTRE FOR FORTEAN ZOOLOGY: cfz at the movies (Cryptozoological documentaries featuring the CFZ will be shown throughout the
The event will - as usual - start with a FREE cocktail party at the CFZ on the thursday evening, and there will be an open house for people wanting to visit us and meet the team all day on the friday. Doors open at the Community Centre at 6.00 and the speakers will start at approximately 7.30.
More speakers and attrractions are at the TBC stage and will be confirmed as being added to the bill in the next few weeks.
Tickets for the three days are £20. Book now to avoid disappointment as numbers are strictly limited.
* Animals & Men #37 is very nearly ready. All material has now been received, and we hope that it will be going to press imminently. We hope that A&M38 will be out in the spring, A&M39 in time for the WW, and that we shall reach the big four-oh by Christmas.
* The inaugural `Big Cats in Britain` Yearbook is currently being proofread by Suzi Marsh, and we hope to go to press in a week or so. It includes papers by Chris Moiser, Mark Frazer, Jan Williams and others. Full details will be posted in the next week.
* `Fragrant Harbours; Distant Rivers` by John Downes (Senior) is now complete, and will be with the printers within 24 Hours. From the back Cover:
"Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), once wrote that “There is properly no history, only biography”. His dictum has quite possibly never been illustrated better than in this book. Many excellent books have been written about Africa during the second half of the 19th Century, but this one is unique in that it presents the stories of a dozen different people, whose interlinked lives and achievements have as many nuances as any contemporary soap opera. This is the story of how ordinary people achieved extraordinary things and shaped the face of the continent we know today.
This is also believed to be the first book of its kind which explains how the events in China and Hong Kong which surrounded the Opium Wars, intimately effected the events in Africa which take up the majority of this book.
John Downes, born in Plymouth in 1925 served in the British Merchant Navy during the closing days of the Battle of the Atlantic, and then came ashore to marry Mary in 1947. This led them to adventures in Nigeria and Hong Kong, during which John – quite accidentally – found himself following in the footsteps of one of the main characters in this book; Frederick Lugard – the architect of modern Nigeria."
* The CFZ Yearbook 2005/6 is now in prepation. It will include articles by Richard Freeman, Chris Clark, Chris Moiser, Jon Hare, Oll Lewis, Neil Arnold, Ruby Lang, Lisa Dowley and others, and we will have full details in the next few weeks.
* `The Island of Paradise`, my new book, which covers my 2004 expedition to Puerto Rico and includes a radical new theory concerning th4e chupacabra is over half written and we hope that it will be published in the spring together with the 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition of `The Owlman and Others`.
* Other reprintings due in the next few months include `The Blackdown Mystery` by yours truly, and the first three volumes of the collected editions of Animals & Men.
Suzi Marsh very kindly organised an evening of local bands in Barnstaple just before Christmas and £200 was raised for CFZ funds. Thank you very much my dear....
As you can see, the CFZ is very much alive and well as we enter our fourteenth year, and the future looks very bright indeed.
As always we are in desperate need of donations of time, money and expertise. The CFZ makes quite a lot of money but, boy, do we spend it fast! We are currently carrying out research all over the world and every penny earned goes straight into these projects. We do not ask for money for personal gain. We are all capable of supporting ourselves, but if we are to continue our programme of research we MUST have more money and more manpower. If you are interested in cryptozoology (whether or not you are a member of the CFZ) and feel that you can help, send donations via PayPal or feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, many thanks for all your support ,
(Director, Centre for Fortean Zoology)