Archive for March, 2014

The breaking of the 2013 Summer drought (Part 1)

Hello everyone,

I hope that everyone is well. It’s all hectic here as ever with issues with my car (don’t ask) and such going on, so apologies if this post is a little later than you expected but there is a need to be here, there and everywhere at the moment!

Our weather is warming up as we speak; although it was raining steadily (but lightly) this morning, there is an increase in the brightness by the minute so I’m hopeful for another colourful sunset this evening or tomorrow. With the warming weather comes the jobs to be doing outside as well…the lawnmower sits eagerly awaiting the first lawn cut of the season as we speak!

There have been some heavy showers flying around of late and there were a few anvil clouds silhouetted last night that I managed to snap. Unfortunately they were way, way, away over the West towards Ireland so it’s not the best picture. Maybe Summer will bring some dramatic skies again?

Speaking of dramatic skies brings me nicely onto this post. I realised as I was going through all the images I wanted to post that there were way too many to put up in one tranche….if I did I could almost imagine heads hitting keyboards! So, I have popped a few of the images together and chosen a natural break in the day that I took them to stop before posting the colourful conclusion….intriguing. Probably not, but I hope you like it it all the same.

As an aside, this is one of those posts that all the images were taken in one day, just so you can get an idea of quite how massive the changes were in the cloud deck. Anyway, the day started with a run out to Fishguard where, on the return journey, there is one of my usual haunts near Wolfscastle that I pop into for a quick watery portrait…..

A view along the river near Wolfscastle, no Otters or Kingfishers today

A view along the river near Wolfscastle, no Otters or Kingfishers today

As you can see, although there isn’t a lack of water in the river due to the drought (this is direct from the Preseli Hills which are never all that dry for long as they are mainly boggy) but having been there a few times the drop in level was quite noticeable. Here there has been talk of the sighting of a family of otters; I bumped into a fisherman a while back who told me that once that he was growled at by one! I guess that was a warning to stay away from the fish!

This was the only wildlife that stayed still long enough for me to get a picture of..

This was the only wildlife that stayed still long enough for me to get a picture of..

 

Nothing doing on this occasion and I’m probably far too noisy as I walk although if you are lucky, you might scare a kingfisher away and see a flash of blue as they shoot up onto the bank to hide. As I travelled home, the sky became more overcast (those who visit often know that I spend quite a lot of time looking up) and the air grew heavier, so it appeared that the weather forecast for rain was right. However, the cloud was looking pretty evil by later afternoon…..

Nice tail of cloud off to the right there...closest I get to dramatic storms

Nice tail of cloud off to the right there…closest I get to dramatic storms

I took a quick snap of a nicely formed tailing cloud from a storm and thought that was that. I was wrong. This turned out to be an attack of Asperatus, one of the best looking sets of Asperatus I have seen. To find out more about this gorgeous type of cloud, I recommend using this link if you like pictures (http://cloudappreciationsociety.org/cloud-tags/asperatus/#p=1&t=cloud118&i=0) or this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undulatus_asperatus) if you wish to read about the decisions that need to be made to classify the cloud as a new type and how they come to be formed.

Look at that...you don't see a shape like that every day do you?!

Look at that…you don’t see a shape like that every day do you?!

I have seen these quite a few time since living in Pembrokeshire and they always seem to either precede or follow a long period of dry weather which is going to be “broken” by rain. Or at least that’s my experience. However, in my eyes the most important bit is the fact they look pretty awesome.

After the most dramatic shapes, things started to settle down

After the most dramatic shapes, things started to settle down

As I said, I took looooooads of pictures. I think I counted about 50 or 60 when i was going through the archive folder (all different shapes and shades so I had to choose a few good examples and hope these are OK).

A nice bit of orange from a previously blocked out sun creeping in here

A nice bit of orange from a previously blocked out sun creeping in here

By the time I had taken these last images, I thought that the clouds had passed us by and things would settle down to be a bit boring, flat and grey. Mischief was nearby, so he caught my attention instead…..

Although it looks as though he is eating the fence, I think it was a piece of grass that looked...a bit threatening

Although it looks as though he is eating the fence, I think it was a piece of grass that looked…a bit threatening

It’s hardly a flattering picture and I’m sure he wouldn’t thank me for posting images of his chunky little tummy for you all to see but he can’t argue!

Wandering back indoors, I considered that the photogenic nature of these clouds had dried up but it appeared that I was wrong, I was out down the road taking pictures until dark! Part 2 will come along shortly….those who like a bit more colour will enjoy it I’m sure.

In the meantime, thanks for bearing with me and hope you’ll pop back in a week or so for the finishing images. Tatty bye for now!

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Some Summer skywatching and….groundwatching

Hello everyone,

I know, it’s been a few weeks since I posted but things to do, people to see as they say. At home, things are moving on. Jobs that should have been done months ago have been finished (better late than never) and the clean up after all the high winds over winter has begun. A number of the one tonne builders bags that usual contain sand or bricks have been travelling back and forth full of branches and leaf litter to the local “civic amenity site”…more commonly referred to as “the dump”. I think my father should consider charging for all the stuff he has passed on to be composted!

Had a trip out to look at Newgale beach this afternoon too. Some of you may have seen the BBC news cover this area due to the storms? Well, now it’s all died down, the beach has been massively eroded of sand…apparently some areas as much as 7 years equivalent in a few weeks. At Newgale this means a massive slab of ancient forest floor has been revealed. I have taken pictures and will post them forthwith but if anyone is nearby, it’s worth a trip.

Overall, things are looking greener, the sun is out more and the birds are beginning to nest in the trees outside my window; specifically a pair of magpies who always nest in this one fir tree. Bless. Not long now and they will be screeching at the slightest movement past the back door…you think I’m joking? I can’t wait.

I feel the need to celebrate the passing of a milestone on my bike of pedaling 300 miles. Hurrah! Boy, do my thighs ache. I recently received a very useful piece of equipment from Amazon; a pair of glasses with 5 sets of interchangeable lenses, a hard carry case, cloths, two lanyards and such. Price? A whole £10…from China! Sweet. Can’t beat capitalism 🙂 I know there are those of you reading this who wonder why the heck a cyclist wears glasses when it’s not sunny? Try standing in front of a hairdryer with small suicidal bugs in the airflow and you may understand!

Anyway, enough gibbering about zipping around in my lycra; to the photos. It’s been a while since I have posted pictures of atmospherics on here so, it was a nice coincidence that I have a few sundog pictures that I took last Summer pop up on my archive. The first one here was unusual, as it was a double sundog. To make this more complete, there should have been a halo and another sundog at the 12 o’clock position but not this time…I remain hopeful….

If only the cirrus was above the sun as well this picture would have been much better

If only the cirrus was above the sun as well this picture would have been much better

If you can’t remember what a sundog is, shaaaaaame on you. I’ve explained before when I have posted them over the time I have been blogging. Tsk! Pay attention. A sundog is the refraction of light from plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus clouds. These can happen any time of the year but if it’s a cold day in winter and the sky is like this, have a quick glance around the sun in the cirrus clouds for one, I’ve seen them more often in these conditions.

Impressively, one of the sundogs hung around until sunset

Impressively, one of the sundogs hung around until sunset

On to more ground based views now. Around where I live there are quite a few abandoned slate quarries, the most famous of which I think would be the one in the mountains near Rosebush, mainly because more people who walk in the hills see it. The others a dotted about and hidden behind overgrown hedges, as is this one near the hamlet of Scleddau, Fishguard. Ironically, it’s on the main route from the ferry so probably has many times more people pass than the Rosebush one.

Scleddau Quarry, since abandoned and being reclaimed by nature

Scleddau Quarry, since abandoned and being reclaimed by nature

Thankfully this quarry isn’t trying to kill you like the Rosebush site which has deep excavations all over it. You know the kinda hole that if you fall into you wouldn’t get out of? Those. This is very flat and although the walls are steep, quite open. I’m sure you could climb up if you fancy, but you’d most likely fall into a bloody, slate covered heap afterwards as this stuff is SHARP.

Some sprouting plants on the quarry floor...weeds, but pretty and nice to see

Some sprouting plants on the quarry floor…weeds, but pretty and nice to see

You can see how sharp the pieces of slate can be in the close up I took of the pile you saw in the earlier photo. Lovely colour and texture though, it’s no wonder it is in such demand for decorations all over peoples property. The shame is that now most slate comes from China (maybe I should take back my capitalism comment) and the slate industry here is dead and gone, bar a few small-scale quarries that can’t compete.

Almost seems that these have been arranged so you can browse through an buy, but it was actually a rockfall from the main face

Almost seems that these have been arranged so you can browse through and buy, but it was actually a rockfall from the main face

Although the place looks and did look dead to the casual glance, it was encouraging to see that even in the driest of conditions (we were in unofficial drought back then) there is still a little flower that can summon the energy to push on through and inject a little colour into the parched and cracked earth…..

Alas, the sun had gone in when I took this which would have highlighted this little trier

Alas, the sun had gone in when I took this which would have highlighted this little trier

Some of you may remember that the picture I took that won me a place in the Weathernet calendar was similar to this? Taken in the same place and on the same day it was. I’m hoping things pick up and I get a few more opportunities to get out and take more pictures to make it three entries in a row. Any suggestions?

Anyway, that’s me for another post. Hope you enjoyed looking as much as I enjoy wandering and taking the pictures. Have a good week, thanks for dropping in and I hope to see you soon.

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A quick walk to Blackpool Mill

Hello All!

Three guesses what the weather is as I write (type if you want to be technical) this blog. For anyone who guess rain, award yourself a gold star! To be fair, things have settled to a certain extent of late and continue to do so. I even managed to wash my motor (how very Cockney of me) the other day, I can now see that it’s red. The amount of water that is lying around in the gutters and such, I’m not sure that my fish tank wouldn’t be better being outside at the moment!

Anyway, enough grumbling. These are a few pictures that I took last Summer when I decided to take a wander over towards Narberth. I should really go up into the hills more often I know, as they are a National Park but they are pretty flat and boring for pictures unless you go mooching about in private fields (like a did a while back if you recall). Of late, there is a real prospect of drowning up there at the moment…it floods during the Summer so I expect there are people disappearing hip deep in bogs as we speak.

To get here if you are interested there’s a little car park next to a handy underpass on the A40 just before Narberth. If not, ignore that bit 🙂 Once you get over (under) the road, there’s some lovely mature pine forest which is very pleasant as it isn’t “managed” by the Forestry Commission (for managed, read ravaged) like the woodlands on the hills. Such a shame.

Wandering uphill into Slebech Forest....

Wandering uphill into Slebech Forest….

You can tell that it isn’t touched as you walk further along, as you find what most organisations feel are weeds, such as this lovely tall pink flower in the verge. I’m not too sure of the name but it’s fairly common around here during Summer, growing as tall as me (about 6 ft) or so. I am sure I will be informed as to what this is by people emailing or texting me!

Yes, yes, I should know what this is called but I don't. Very nice though

Yes, yes, I should know what this is called but I don’t. Very nice though

Once you drop down the small hill running parallel along the river, you turn up what, to all intents and purposes, looks like a very old driveway to the actual Blackpool Mill, seen below. The website, Experience Pembrokeshire, states as follows;

From the early 17th century, through to the early 19th century Blackpool Mill was important for its iron furnace and ford. The present building, a cornmill, dates from 1813 and was built by Nathaniel Phillips, the owner of Slebech Estate. He is also credited with the construction of the bridge erected ‘to unite two roads which had long existed’. The mill remained in use for grinding corn until 1945 and for storage possibly longer.

Apparently, according to a number of websites and local leaflets, this is now a museum maintained by Cadw (Welsh Heritage). As a local to this area, I can assure you that it is A) no longer a museum as the gates are locked shut and B) it sure as hell isn’t maintained; a fact that can be proven by the blooming great hole in the roof of the building on the left. This is what Cadw think of Grade 2 listed property. Cheers guys, way to ruin historic buildings. Absolutely shocking.

The Mill; a lovely building in a gorgeous setting, left to fall apart by those trying to protect our heritage

The Mill; a lovely building in a gorgeous setting, left to fall apart by those trying to protect our heritage

Looking over the bridge at the time I walked here, the water was very low and you can see that possibly a fish has succumbed to lack of oxygen, can’t quite see clearly. I suspect that, at the moment, the water here is a positive torrent in comparison. If the mill had been working, last Summer would have had them up against the ropes.

The river which Nathaniel Phillips bridged when building the mill; from here it runs into the Cleddau Estuary

The river which Nathaniel Phillips bridged when building the mill; from here it runs into the Cleddau Estuary

Having had my rant regards Cadw, there seems to be someone who takes care of the area as, when you go along in the Summer, the grass is always pretty regularly cut as you can see here. The overgrown channel in the foreground is a ford for the water that was supplied to the mill that goes further down the property and into the forest. There is a path alongside, mainly used by dog walking now, as it’s a dead-end.

Abandoned building, neatly trimmed lawn. Strange, but makes it look a whole heap better

Abandoned building, neatly trimmed lawn. Strange, but makes it look a whole heap better

Last point of interest here is the “gate guardians” (just a picture of one here) on the gateway to the property, a very proud looking eagle. Perhaps the family symbol of Mr Phillips who built the mill? Not sure and I can’t seem to find out so that’s what I shall go with!

A very proud feathered gate guardian at the entrance to Blackpool Mill. Let's hope he sees the gate open again!

A very proud feathered gate guardian at the entrance to Blackpool Mill. Let’s hope he sees the gate open again!

Well, there we have it for another post. A short one this time as I noticed the next subject of pictures (some sundogs and clouds) that I took on the card started just after these, so apologies for stopping short. Hopefully the weather will have smoothed out even more by that time….having said that, it has actually stopped raining now. I may go out and admire my car with all the water beading off the clean paint.

Thanks for dropping by, hope to see you again soon.

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