Thursday, July 30, 2015

Time for a summer break

I'm down in the radio room with some souvenirs from the Netherlands - Amstel and a Fryslan bottle opener! Im winding down as I've got only more more day at work until more than two weeks holiday, and I'm listening to some MW action from across the water.

Vrolijke Mijnwerker is pretty strong on 1620 kHz, Pandora was on air on 1636 a few minutes ago, and earlier Calimero was doing well as usual on his regular slot of 1638 kHz. And Mustang has just signed on 1646 with a big signal.

These higher-power pirates all do well even when conditions are not at their peak. But last night there was some added interest when low-power Radio Rebecca was coming through on 1620 kHz.

I had a look at my logs and it seems I've not heard this station since January 2012, so it was great to catch him after so long. His signal was crossing the North Sea pretty well. Sure, there was some fading, but at the peak it was pretty good considering the time of year and the transmitter power involved. Have a listen to the recording and you can hear for yourself. It comes up particularly well at around the 50 second mark.

Rebecca was busy qsoing last night with various stations, including Quintus, Bonte Specht and Saporro, a trio who I also don't hear often, especially at this time of year. It seems propagation is slowly moving into autumn mode. Can't wait to start hearing the stations that don't make it during the warmer months.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Trip to the Netherlands

Since my last post, I've been across the North Sea to the Netherlands, where I went to the Summer Meeting, an annual get-together of pirate folk and a chance to meet up with lots of old friends and to make some new ones.

I travelled over from Harwich to the Hook of Holland on July 2 and headed straight to the east of the Netherlands and to Radio Barones, who I have been visiting for over 20 years. He kindly allowed me to use his house as my base while I was over there until July 7. 

The next day I went with the Baro to meet Henri of Radio Poema. He was waiting for us at his house, along with Arjan from Radio Edelkampioen, and we were later joined by the operator of Radio Salo. We all had a great time in the sunshine, with food and drink and a look around two pirate studios. As ever, the sheer height of Dutch pirate masts never fails to surprise me, along with great attention to detail elsewhere, with purpose-built studios a real surprise. Like I said to them, British pirates are often hidden away in the spare bedroom on their own, fearful of being found. But in the Netherlands it is often the complete opposite.

On Friday night it was time for the Barones transmitter to swing into action and we broadcast into the early hours of Saturday morning, July 4 on 1611 kHz. There was lots of contact from listeners who seemed to be enjoying our show, and the beers were flowing all night long!

Saturday was a very busy day, taking in visits to the operators of Radio Monza and Radio Admiraal as I made my way to the Summer Meeting, together with Radio Technical Man and Radio Soerabaya.

And at the meeting it was great to see lots of pirates and friends, including Powerliner, Foxfire, Black Arrow, Borderhunter, Batavier, Relmus, Mustang, Tidalwave, Sluwe Vos, Python, Underground from the UK and to meet some new ones too. It seems the operator or Radio Calimero is as fun in real life as he sounds on air, with his stories in a mixture of languages! Also great to meet Terry from Little Feat Radio in the UK, to finally talk with the operator of Radio Pirana from Norway after knowing him for over two decades, and good also to have a nice chat with Artem from Moscow.

On Sunday after a quiet breakfast at the Summer Meeting it was time to head to the east of the Netherlands again and to Radio Utopia. Great to catch up with this fine pirate once more, and nice he was able to spare his afternoon and evening to join me and Technical Man on visits to three husband and wife combinations who can often be heard at the top of the MW band.

First stop was the Keizer en Keizerin, where there was beer and herring in the garden, followed by a whirlwind and some broken glass in the back door! They later accompanied us to visit Witte Tornado and the Lady, who had just started their weekly programme on 1647 kHz. Their hospitality was also super, with non-stop drinks, food and even some 45s to bring back to England. 

The final stop on our Sunday pirate visit was to Tante Foeke and Viking. If you've ever tuned in to 1671 kHz late on a Saturday night and heard an intoxicated lady singing very loudly, that is Tante Foeke! And I'm pleased to say she is just the same in real life as on the radio, although no singing on this occasion! There was more drink and more food and a T-Shirt to bring back home which my wife has been modelling this week! It was a very pleasant evening, and now I also know where the Viking gets his name from!

By the time I made it back to the Barones it was around 0300 local time - it had been some weekend! I had planned a morning visit to Powerliner on Monday, and perhaps a trip to Mustang during the evening, but in the end I had a good rest and a visit to a couple of local supermarkets to shop for beer to bring home.

I must say a big thank-you to everybody who helped make my latest stay in the Netherlands so enjoyable, all the pirates and lovely people who couldn't do enough to make sure I had a good time. Thank you also to Sisca for making me so welcome and for the gifts. 

I look forward to seeing everybody again next year!