Archive for category random

On holiday…again? Pffft!

I wish!

Greetings my followers and apologies again for the pause in posts from myself. Unfortunately, I have not even any decent images to show you nor trips to talk of from the recent past. Was I knocked off my bike by a marauding car? No, although that probably never crossed your minds…I haven’t by the way. Mind you, the way some drivers are around here, this surprises me.

No. Even more surprising is that I am moving house! Well, technically I have moved and my things are slowly moving into the house as from a few days back. I have purchased a small house (know as a bungalow in the UK) not a million miles away from where I was living with my family up until this point, just on the edge of the Preseli Hills in Wales.

Now, anyone who has done this house buying horror themselves will know that my preference was to indeed have been knocked flying from my Boardman racer and to be in traction in hospital, as it would have been less painful and more relaxing. However, here we are. No invites to any housewarming as yet, seeing there is much fettling to be done yet and my DIY skills extend to painting and….painting. Well, pretty much just painting.

So, should I get the opportunity to fiddle on my PC and pop the odd post out, I will but this is on a list with mowing lawns and attempting to erect flat pack furniture. Actually, I’m quite good at that as well as tea is provided regularly, with occasional sustenance.

Anyway, those who are interested, remember that I am still on Instagram and you are welcome to follow me…my handle is @lukegeoffreyjohnson as per this site, so you don’t get confused and I can be slightly embarrassed by my middle name. I post loads more on there as my phone is with me much more than the PC is one, so get an account, it’s free and there’s some gorgeous stuff on there to follow for a good photo fix on a daily basis, don’t forget to follow me too though!

So, thanks for following still. Here’s hoping that picture filled service will resume shortly!

See you soon!

 

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Merry Christmas and Happy 2017

Hello All

I seem to remember that a year or so ago I got a blooming boring email from WordPress telling me my year in review, which I duly passed on. It was so boring I don’t think anyone looked at it other than to hold their hand to their aghast mouth as they spontaneously fell asleep.

Not this year. To see you through the Christmas period, an image of Mischief the cat anxiously eyeing the pressies is required I feel, so here he is….

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Please note the precariously placed antique glass bauble above his furry head. If he wasn’t quite so chubby and old, he’d probably have broken it by now. Or maybe he is well-trained.

Anyway, this is just a quick message to pass on greetings of the season, please don’t over indulge and let me know if you get any cool presents! Normal service will resume in the New Year with images from Germany as mentioned before, I just couldn’t pass the end of my working week without saying Happy Christmas.

All the best,

Luke

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Merry Christmas and here’s to a Happy New Year 2016

Hello All

As I haven’t been on to post fancy pictures of late, mainly due to an inordinate amount of shopping and the visiting of people around this time of year, I thought I’d pop on to wish you all best wishes for the Season.

Not particularly snowy here in West Wales. Well, not snowy at all, it’s been on and off rain for the past few weeks now…the local weather forecasts with their silly “warnings” of rain, as if people wouldn’t react if they saw rain?! Actually, judging by their driving of late, maybe they wouldn’t!

Anyway, here is a seasonal picture to tide you all over… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2016.

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In the words of Grumpy Cat…Ho, Ho, No

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A missed opportunity? Maybe not.

Hello everyone,

Well, winter is well and truly here now and with that, in West Wales at least, it means lots of rain and wind. However, it could be worse. I saw in the news today as well, that the first named storm of the season, Abigail, is heading for the north of Scotland and they are forecasting mountainous seas and swell with pretty gnarly winds. Be some pretty awesome footage coming out of there, I’m sure.

Talking of weather forecasting, I know what you are thinking after looking at my last post and viewing the best weather gadget in the world on Indiegogo (as I’m sure you all did); something along the lines of “Oh no, I missed the chance to back the awesome Temposcope…how remiss of me”.

Fear not! The fund closing date has been extended for a few more weeks, so you can pledge cash to a worthy toy! Go on, you know you want to.

Now the evenings are longer, there will be the time to post a few more images and fiddle with pictures, so expect another post soon, I’m editing as we speak.

Keep this frequency clear! Speak to you soon….

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Some random garden and weather pictures for the weekend

Hello All,

I return. Been a bit busy of late and with the weather getting better by the day, they has been quite a lot of riding of my new bike to be done. Also, when I had it serviced recently I opted to fit gel inner-tubes to protect against punctures, so I am now more confident riding the paths around here that seem to be strewn with thorns for some reason.

Also, my work colleagues have decided that being single is a source of lunch hour amusement for them and have put me on a site called Plenty of Fish…probably to take the mickey even further, but it’s quite time-consuming! I was also persuaded to attend a singles night locally the other day; little did I know that I would be the only person there. No, not the only man, the only person. I even got let down by people who promised to come with me! The barmaid was very apologetic, but it was super embarrassing…

Anyway, what a difference an hour makes in South West Wales weather? When I got up the wind was blowing and the rain was horizontal but now, I’m squinting against the sun as I type! Mind you, there has been a lot more of interest in “space weather” of late as you may have seen on the news lately? If not, there was a “supermoon” (which saw some amazingly low tides around the beaches near here), the partial eclipse and a sighting of the Northern Lights over Pembrokeshire. Should you want to see the local cover, please refer to the local paper…

Read about the eclipse over Pembrokeshire here

See some pretty awesome (although not as you see them in Norway, unfortunately) Aurora pictures here

Anyway, I shall start popping my own pictures on now! As I said, this is a bit of a random collection of mainly weather, as it appears that my travels were somewhat curtailed and these were more local wanderings. Firstly, a spider that caught my eye in the garden, wrapping up his next big meal it appears..

Looks like this guy is wearing his desert camouflage...

Looks like this guy is wearing his desert camouflage…

That is a pretty funky spider tattoo down his back, isn’t it?! I fully admit that I am no fan of spiders, but will concede that they are amazing little creatures. I am quite thankful that I live in a country that just has small ones though, not like the tropics. Eeek!

Moving on to the skies, as I quite often do, a nice dusk that I took a few pictures of. I have included these as I noticed on review of the images that there was a little aberration in the latter picture…not sure whether I noticed this at the time though…

Notice the ripple effect in the cirrus towards the top of the picture; could this be Kelvin-Helmholtz forming?

Notice the ripple effect in the cirrus towards the top of the picture; could this be Kelvin-Helmholtz forming?

In the latter image below, just above and to the left of the trees, you will notice a line of Kelvin Helmholtz instability. Now, I don’t know whether this is some optical illusion or something as the earlier pictures shows some “waves” in the high cloud. I can’t say for sure, but I’d like to think I caught the creation of the waves over time 🙂

A small line of Kelvin-Helmholtz (I think) in the orange dusk

A small line of Kelvin-Helmholtz (I think) in the orange dusk

Next, a common occurrence over Pembrokeshire, some mild asperatus. This is the only place I have ever seen the regular appearance of this cloud, that is similar in age to me. In that, I mean that it wasn’t really officially recognised as a type of cloud until 30 or so years ago; I’m sure it has been around for donkeys years. In the textbooks and such, this is a precursor to rain or is on the rear edge of a front that was just carrying rain (this I can testify to). So, if you see clouds like this, get a coat….

Some mild asperatus in advance of rain overnight (which did happen, I'm not making it up)

Some mild asperatus in advance of rain overnight (which did happen, I’m not making it up)

As the sky got a bit dimmer, there was a nice watery orange sunset so I snapped a quick image of that with a little of the asperatus in…

A watery, orangey, asperatussy sunset. All technical terms, you understand

A watery, orangey, asperatussy sunset. All technical terms, you understand

A few days later, things had turned a bit squally again. This again seems to be a theme here, there are times where we have weeks of squally heavy showers and because of the position of the house and the hills in the distance, we get a pretty good grandstand view. In the first instance there was this little cell struggling to make itself into an anvil shape over the estuary to our north, bless it…

Must...create...anvil...shape. Nicely lit by the sun though

Must…create…anvil…shape. Nicely lit by the sun though

Alas, wind blew this little cell apart and it died away to be replaced by three of four layers of “scud” which were whipping along in the wind at quite amazing speeds. I took a picture of these as they passed, as the colours and contrasts of the different levels were pretty cool, I thought…

The type of clouds you avoid if you are in a glider, I suspect

The type of clouds you avoid if you are in a glider, I suspect

For every cell that falls apart there are a few that succeed in dropping their rain. This one and the following picture are from a day where things were a little less “lumpy” so they are much more streamlined and pleasing to the eye, even though in looking at them you would have got wet! From this angle, you can see what I mean in me getting a good view as the weather moves from left to right (from the Irish Sea inland)…

A windswept squall over the Preseli Hills

A windswept squall over the Preseli Hills

And to finish, a rainbow! Everyone loves a rainbow. No particular structure to this one as this was a fleeting one that passed by in the clouds as the rain flew around in the air. Again, this is something which happens quite a lot in the Spring around here, very pretty…

Rainbow! One of the plus points of rain in my opinion

Rainbow! One of the plus points of rain in my opinion

Well, there we have it, I hope that the fact that the sun is (trying to come) out and the flowers are blooming has cheered you up and these picture may have raised a grin too. Don’t forget the clocks go forward this weekend too!

Next week, I see that I was out and about when there was fantastic display of cirrus “mares tails”, basically windblown cirrus clouds very high up in the atmosphere that also seem to show themselves in advance of heavy weather which I also manage to capture, so I shall be posting those images. I have others from my wanders that week too so if you are good, I might post some more moving water…

Well, that’s the lot for this post, cheers for dropping in and taking a peek, see you soon. I will also update you on any decent single life news in the next entry 🙂

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Mixing it up a little with some animal life!

Hello everyone!

I hope this blog finds you well. It’s that monthly time (or kinda around that time) where I post a blog as I rumble through the photography archives.

The weather here is…wet. Mind you, we can’t complain of late. It’s been getting a lot warmer and all the Spring plants are emerging as the sun grows stronger. Dad has planted a plethora of snowdrops in the garden and our daffodils our beginning to cover the bank in front of the house….we have even undertaken the first lawn cut of the year! I have been able to get out in the car without having the windscreen wipers on constantly and also done 100 miles or so on the new bike. It’s still cold enough for me to have to wear a fleece and thicker tights (yes, tights) but we are getting there. I hope that things are moving on with you; at the very least you are appreciating the longer days!

Well, to the pictures. As I said, a little bit of a diversion from the norm here as I am posting some pictures of a visit I took when visiting Longleat (http://www.longleat.co.uk/) and Cheddar with an ex-girlfriend a while back. Now, apologies, I don’t usually get personal and mention that kind of stuff, but it’s only polite to acknowledge her, as she did buy the weekend as a birthday present for me and did all the driving (a significant distance from Pembrokeshire).

Anyway, moving on. This isn’t an exhaustive list of whats in the Park by the way, there is only so much room I can post pictures so I have chosen some of my favourites to share with you. Firstly, there is this cheeky monkey…who isn’t a monkey. I think everyone likes a lemur don’t they? Those mad prehensile tails and mischievous nature are quite a draw!

I wish I had a tail I could hang from branches with.....

I wish I had a tail I could hang from branches with…..

After the lemurs, there were larger paddock areas you could drive through; there were others breeds of lemurs and small mammals but the weather was a bit crap to be honest, so there was a certain amount of hibernation going on. Can’t say as I blame them, they are used to much warmer climes. In the first paddock, there was a certain amount of looking up to do…

Getting a good view from up there?

Getting a good view from up there?

As well as the giraffes, there were herds of deer that wandered about. You couldn’t drive much more than 5 mph really for fear of either frightening them or missing one that decided to cross the road in front of you. You could feed the deer too by buying these bags of pellets but I’m not into that kind of stuff, personally. I see these parks as a necessary evil, rather than an excuse to hand feed wild animals…plus the deer seemed fine mowing the lawns!

Talking of hand feeding, the next route headed into the monkey enclosure. This part was gated and there were many signs basically saying that a) if you cared about your car, think twice and b) don’t feed the monkeys, it only encourages destructive behaviour. Needless to say, most people ignored this and there were many monkeys attached to cars…one family even threw fruit onto their bonnet to get a closer look!

I don't know whether this little scamp expected milk form the nozzle or what....

I don’t know whether this little scamp expected milk from the nozzle or what….

Escaping from the monkeys (we sustained no damage, but had a close shave when a youngster used the underside of the car as a hiding place, frightening the crap out of both of us), we headed back to the paddock where we had a close encounter with a gorgeous mature rhino. No other option but to give way to this beast, it probably weighed more than the entire car!

By all means, you first...

By all means, you first…

Once you had cruised the paddock, you could park up and head indoors to see all kinds of creepy crawlies (if you are in to handling snakes, spiders and hissing cockroaches that is) as well as some penguins, complete with their own outdoor basking area, fibreglass cliff and underwater viewing panel. This one seemed to fascinates the children more than anything..

One more flash photo and I'll jump!!

One more flash photo and I’ll jump!!

Now, I like my butterflies, so I made sure I included a picture of the one that stayed still long enough for me to get an image of! There were many more around but they staff had recently put honey pots and oranges out for them to feed on, so it was a bit of a frenzy of fluttering wings….I guess this guy had just had enough.

A gorgeous iridescent butterfly resting away from the madding crowd

A gorgeous iridescent butterfly resting away from the madding crowd

Further on, there was a queue. Very mysterious. Eventually, we discovered this was for a boat, but…a boat to where? Well, it appears that Longleat have a family of gorillas. This family of gorillas, for reasons that probably include escape and all sorts of others risks, are housed on their own island in a huge lake on the property and this boat cruises around the island so you can get a view from all sides. I hope that they didn’t want any privacy. Anyway, to add the the journey, there are sealions in the lake! Yes, sealions! You can buy fish on the boat to feed them if you wish and boy, did they know it, performing for a meal as we chugged along…

Drop the darn fish! If I only had thumbs, I'd come up and get it!

Drop the darn fish! If I only had thumbs, I’d come up and get it!

The gorillas. Hmm, less into performing. I have only included the picture here of the younger and/or female members of the group as there was a silverback but he was uber grumpy. He had obviously become aware of the route of the boat and was sat in an area where all you saw was his back. Well, in the same situation I’d probably feel like that too, so no surprise. It was an very impressive silver back though.

The more "sociable" gorillas watch us pass

The more “sociable” gorillas watch us pass

On the way back, I managed to snap a nice panoramic view of the house with no crowds in it, so that was a bonus. There was a cafe nearby so that was the next stop. If I recall, the coffee was pretty decent. Expensive but decent. Me like coffee.

Longleat House

Longleat House

There were lovely gardens surrounding the property but again, due to the weather not being on our side and the season being all wrong for too much to be in flower, I shall only pop a single picture up. Come the Spring and Summer, this place would be awash with colour judging by what I saw and hopefully they have bee hives nearby to take advantage of all of it! Maybe I should suggest that….

A taste of the very nice gardening around the House

A taste of the very nice gardening around the House

In closing, the weather had got significantly worse so I could only get a few pictures of the Gorge at Cheddar. Lovely area but we were a little pushed for time so couldn’t stay long. A shame as I wouldn’t have minded having a bit of a climb or a rumble around the caves…however, such is life. You never know, I may pop back sometime.

I think I shall name this "The Long and Winding Road"

I think I shall name this “The Long and Winding Road”

Well, I hope you enjoyed the whistle-stop tour of South West Englands finest tourist spots?! No, seriously, it’s worth a visit if you are in that area any time, not enough people appreciate places such as the Cheddar Gorge as much as they should be appreciated for their geological wonder.

Thanks for dropping in again as ever and all the best to all my regulars readers (you know who you are). See you soon!

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Great War memorials and The Menin Gate – Part 1

Hello all,

Thanks for tuning in again and apologies as ever for the gap; sometimes the writing of the blog gets overridden by things I have to do. Of late, this has been helping my father with the 2014 Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. It’s been going very well this year and I have also been persuaded by some of my colleagues to grow a beard for the Appeal. Once it got past the “I would like to scratch my own face off” itchy stage, it’s actually grown on me, if you excuse the play on words. I agreed to do nothing for a month, so at the moment I do look a bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway but what the hey, people have complimented me quite a lot and I have made a few pounds for the Poppy Appeal. No, I won’t post a picture 😛

Anyway, onwards to the subject of this post, namely a day trip I took when on holiday in Belgium. This entailed a tour around the Flanders area to visit selected great war (and some Second World War) sites and cemeteries. A very sobering experience, I can tell you. If I could briefly step on my soap box, I think EVERY child/young person should be taught about this period (and every other war for that matter) at length to impart the gravity of the situations these youngsters found themselves in, some not much more than school age themselves. If they can visit as a school group, even better.

Warning!! This is a very wordy post for me, so sorry about that, but it’s important to convey the scale of things and I hope you can stick with it!

Anyway, the first site we visited was the site of the first large-scale use of poison gas at Langemark-Poelkapelle, near Ypres. Here, on 22 April 1915 the Axis forces released chlorine gas towards the Allied forces numbering 18,000 and in doing so, killed 2,000 Canadian soldiers. The memorial below commemorates this date and those soldiers are buried a few miles away.

The memorial to the first large scale use of poison gas in this area

The memorial to the first large-scale use of poison gas in this area

Although this was a huge toll and no countermeasures of note such as adequate masks existed then, the Allied forces withstood the attack. Immediately, Allied governments quickly claimed the attack was a flagrant violation of international law, but Germany argued that the Hague treaty had only banned chemical shells, rather than the use of gas projectors or cylinders which were used on this occasion. Typical politicians, splitting hairs.

Not far from here was evidence of the more conventional weapons used over the period, nicknamed by historians today as “The Iron Harvest” which is the collection of unexploded munitions and shrapnel, barbed wire and such that is ploughed up each harvest season by the local farmers.

Inert items of the "Iron Harvest"

Inert items of the “Iron Harvest”

These items, when found, are picked up and placed by the road for regular patrols of tasked soldiers to collect. Every year across France and Belgium, approximately 900 tons of this “harvest” is collected and disposed of by the current Belgian armed forces. As you can see in the image above, some of this is clearly inert and can be handled, but the soldiers and farmers have been and still are injured and killed every year by this stuff that is degrading slowly over the years. Apparently, in the Ypres area alone 260 people have been killed and 535 have been injured by unexploded munitions since the end of the First World War, not including the 20 or so soldiers collecting them in recent years.

It goes without saying that, should you visit this area, do not touch anything you find unless you are 110% sure it’s not explosive.

Our next stop was the cemetery of Tyne Cot on the Ypres Salient, the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war, containing just under 12,000 graves and the “Memorial to the Missing”. To say it was moving is an understatement and the images cannot portray the scale of the site adequately, but I hope it makes you stop and look, even for a second.

Apparently, the name “Tyne Cot” is said to come from the Northumberland Fusiliers seeing a resemblance between the German concrete pill boxes, which still stand in the middle of the cemetery (see below), and typical Tyneside workers’ cottages – Tyne Cots.

The pill boxes in Tyne Cot and one of the reasons why there are 12,00 soldiers buried here

The pill boxes in Tyne Cot and one of the reasons why there are 12,000 soldiers buried here

Being on the Ypres Salient and one of the places that was as high as you can get around the local area, the site was massively important strategically and fought over furiously, changing hands many times.

A small portion of graves in the upper part of the site

A small portion of graves in the upper part of the site

As I walked around, there were some notable graves and things I thought I would like to point out. Although I don’t have pictures of them, there are no fewer than 3 recipients of the Victoria Cross for acts of bravery in the area of Ypres buried here. Also here are 4 German graves, a very unusual thing, but these graves are of men that were treated here after the battle, when the pill boxes were used as a Dressing Station for wounded men.

I also noticed this grave as I was walking down one side of the site and thought, from a distance, that the stone had been distressed but, when I approached it, I saw that the there were pebbles all over the headstone. I had never seen this anywhere before, let alone in a war cemetery.

The headstone of a Jewish soldier in Tyne Cot

The headstone of a Jewish soldier in Tyne Cot

After looking into this, it appears that this is a Jewish tradition as the grave is that of a Jewish soldier. I looked into this after talking to the guide and found out that explanations vary, from the superstitious to the poignant and quote them below…

The superstitious rationale for stones is that they keep the soul down. There is a belief, with roots in the Talmud, that souls con­tinue to dwell for a while in the graves in which they are placed. The grave, called a beit olam (a permanent home), was thought to retain some aspect of the departed soul. The “barrier” created on the grave by the stones prevents the kind of haunting that formed stories through Jewish life of souls that return, for whatever reason, to the world of the living. So, one explanation for placing stones on the grave is to ensure that souls remain where they belong.

All explanations have one thing in common; the sense of solidity that stones give. Flowers are a good metaphor for life. Life withers; it fades like a flower. For that reason, flowers are an apt symbol of passing. But the memory is supposed to be lasting. While flowers may be a good metaphor for the brevity of life, stones seem better suited to the permanence of memory. Stones do not die.

Another story tells of shepherds in Israel; on some days, they would go out to pasture with a flock of 30; on others, a flock of 10. Memory was an unreliable way of keeping tabs on the number of the flock. As a result, the shepherd would carry a sling over his shoulder, and in it he would keep the number of pebbles that corresponded to the number in his flock. That way he could at all times have an accurate daily count.

When stones were placed on the grave the visitors are asking God to keep the departed’s soul in His sling. Among all the souls whom God has to watch over, we wish to add the name – the “pebble” – of the soul of our departed.

Further on, I found a photo and cross placed by a youngster who had obviously made a very personal pilgrimage to this place with their family….

A very personal and commendable tribute to a relative buried here

A very personal and commendable tribute to a relative buried here

The stone wall surrounding the cemetery makes-up the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. Upon completion of the Menin Gate memorial to the missing in Ypres, builders discovered it was not large enough to contain all the names as originally planned. They selected an arbitrary cut-off date of 15 August 1917 and the names of the UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot memorial instead. Additionally, the Kiwi contingent of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission declined to have its missing soldiers names listed on the main memorials, choosing instead to have names listed near the appropriate battles. Tyne Cot was chosen as one of these locations. The inscription you see reads: “Here are recorded the names of officers and men of New Zealand who fell in the battle of Broodseinde and the First battle of Passchendaele, October 1917 and whose graves are known only unto God”.

The memorial (see below) contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces, plus a further 1,176 New Zealanders and a further 3 British Army Victoria Cross recipients are commemorated here.

A view of the Memorial Wall

A view of the Memorial Wall

Further on from here and on the way to Menin we stopped at an Australian cemetery upon the request of a gent who had come all the way from Perth for the single reason of laying a cross at the grave of his relative. It was a lovely peaceful place of manicured grass, surrounded now by pine forest.

An overview of an Australian grave site near Ypres

An overview of an Australian grave site near Ypres

After leaving the gentleman to his thoughts for a while, we moved on and passed a small museum where we could plainly see more evidence of the “Iron Harvest” of the Ypres area. As you can see, the items vary greatly from inert items such as plates of metal, helmets, metal poles and so on to potentially deadly items in the form of shells and gas canisters. All in all, it made the place seem quite dangerous, although I was assured that the Army had made everything as safe as possible!

You can't help but feel a bit uncomfortable stood near stuff like this!

You can’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable stood near stuff like this!

Next time, a few pictures from nearer the Menin Gate and some sites where you can plainly see the ravages of war on the land, even 100 years on. Again, I’m sorry about all the text, I tried to summarise bits but there is so much history here, it really is flabbergasting.

I appreciate you staying with me and see you next time for the second part of this day trip…..

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Not quite Belgium…but I’m getting there

Hello All

What a foul evening. Windblown drizzle and grey murk abound (by the way, a very low uniform cloud deck sometimes is referred to as a nimbus deck) so I thought I’d keep in touch with my fans.

Last time I did promise that I’d post pictures of me arriving in Belgium but I had to take a slight detour because I thought you might like a Summer lift in the form of some flowers, butterflies (commonly known in this family as “flutterbies”) and some of the natural beauty around my home range. Let’s not stand here and make small talk then, best get posting some pictures.

Firstly, a relic (quite literally) of the by-gone days down on the estuary when the local waterway was used for ferry coal down the estuary. Think of human or wind propelled barges plying their way up and down this stretch. I expect that this keel is from one that became obsolete as someone bought the first truck and decided to load that with bags of black gold to and from Haverfordwest and Pembroke Dock. Shame…

The spine of a victim of the internal combustion engine

The spine of a victim of the internal combustion engine

Next a view across the widest part of the estuary. At this point I’d usually say that “in the distance you can see…” but on this occasion you can see that the bank is pretty much just woods. In the foreground are some Brant Geese that we commonly see overwintering on the water around this area. As you drive around some early mornings you can see them fly over towards or from feeding grounds. Lovely to look at but are they noisy?! More honking than a drunken clown convention let loose amongst a showroom of hand honkers!

Suddenly, geese!

Suddenly, geese!

Next, a mildly atmospheric shot across the water towards the wood with an emphasis on the smattering of pleasure craft that litter the deep channel. As you walk around the “pill” or spit of land you almost have to step over the abandoned hulks of boats on the shore. Some are old and it’s obvious that people are no longer using them but others are very large and you do wonder about the stories behind them. I can only presume the poles are an aid to navigation as they seem to be on the edge of a channel.

The view from the pill across the estuary

The view from the pill across the estuary

Next, well, you knew I wouldn’t be able to post a blog without including a sunset but I hope that this pleases those couple of people who requested I don’t stop posting the cloud images completely. Quite a humdinger this one and the cloud deck looked as though you could reach up and cut a slice out of it. No amendment of this image by the way, save for a slight change in shutter speed to increase contrast.

Ooooooh. You know you want to ask for a copy of this don't you?! Go on, leave a comment asking for one!!

Ooooooh. You know you want to ask for a copy of this don’t you?! Go on, leave a comment asking for one!!

Next, some flutterbies. This year has been very sparse with the poor little things. My Dad presumes that they were all killed off by the ridiculous amount of rain we had in the early part of the year, about 5 weeks in all. However, having said this, we all live in hope of an increase of bugs and Dad bough some little bug houses to pop next to some climbing plants we have in the garden. After all, “build it and they will come”.

Firstly, a Cabbage White….

Nom nom, nectar...

Nom nom, nectar…

….next, a Red Admiral….

My favourite image of the three, even though ever so slightly off focus

My favourite image of the three, even though ever so slightly off focus

…finally, a Small Tortoiseshell.

What wonderfully delicate creatures these little things are!

What wonderfully delicate creatures these little things are!

All these little critters were snapped on or near a Budlea plant which apparently a favourite of many insects. They were massing on it last year along with bees and such. I only got a few pictures as they don’t half fidget!

Just around the corner from this spot there is a Clematis that had lost the orange trumpet flowers and had moved on to furry seed pod type things. I must admit I failed Biology at school so my knowledge of this kind of things is lacking, I was more interested in the fact that in the morning dew this looked as thought it could be mistaken for a crystal chandelier. Gorgeous!

This could almost be a diamond pendant

This could almost be a diamond pendant

Where’s this “nearly Belgium” I hear you ask? Well, here it comes, or at least my first stop, being London St Pancras railway station. That’s right, I went to Belgium by train. This is for two main reasons; firstly, have you ever been to Cardiff Airport? If you have, you will know what I mean. I shan’t go into detail, lest I am sued for libel by the Welsh government, but the word “shocking” springs to mind. Maybe I was spoilt when I lived in Sussex as we lived very close to Gatwick but still, Cardiff airport, pffft. Secondly, I am anxious of flying. This added up to me thinking around the problem and concluding that the Chunnel was the way to go.

Jumping ahead a few days from here, I was most pleasantly surprised by every aspect of this service. Yes, it takes longer but it’s a journey, not a chore. There we no queues, no baggage limits, no lengthy waiting, no crappy shops, you could take any amount of liquid there and back you fancy, no invasive searches, a choice of decent food which was reasonably priced, big comfy seats, a massive window…what’s not to like? I worked out my fare to Brussels after too and it was cheaper than the equivalent air fare. There was also something fascinating about standing in the cafe car looking out the window on the train whilst travelling around 250 kmh through France!

Anyway, I digress. Ironically, as I step on to the platform, what should I see? Clouds! Well, a piece of art showing clouds called “Cloud:Meteoros” by Lucy Orta. I must admit, it was difficult to work it out (I think the statues on top are travellers with bags and such) but I liked it. Me want.

A sign that I need to keep chasing clouds?

A sign that I need to keep chasing clouds?

My carriage awaits. Quite a monster isn’t it? I think the only security aspect that was noticeable here is that there is a rather large and solid screen around the train so you can’t interfere with or throw yourself at it. What I couldn’t get over is the fact that they arrive silently. I’m not kidding, this one appeared and I didn’t even notice! The areas to the left isn’t for boarding if you thought that…oh no, that’s a champagne bar. Don’t even ask the prices. I looked and nearly had a seizure. In fact, the pain inflicted on my wallet by just looking was so great that my brain has blocked the figures out.

Unusually, this whole place is quite aesthetically pleasing too

Unusually for a rail station, this whole place is quite aesthetically pleasing too

And finally, another piece of art I liked the look of, a 30 foot statue called “The Meeting Place”. Apparently this is meant to evoke the romance of train travel to the passing passengers. Looks like a massive lump of bronze (20 tons apparently) to me but I don’t hate it, I just would opt for the cloud installation myself!

Now THAT'S a statue!

Now THAT’S a statue!

Well there we are. I am on my way. well, at this point in the photos I was on my way, crawling through London and the south-east of England at what must be just over idle in these trains. Brussels and then Bruges awaited, dark, cold and wet unfortunately, but weather doesn’t stop me when I am on hols and I was prepared with every kind of coat you can imagine!

Next time, a quick whistle-stop tour around a few local sights near the hotel in Bruges. See you then, cheers for popping in!

Ta-ra!

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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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Happy New Year

Hello everyone

Happy New Year 2014 to you all. It’s all been a bit mad here so apologies for the delay and what will probably turn out to be quite a short post this time. As ever I am working through the cards I’ve downloaded, which aren’t in any particular order….so I’m still working on Summer 🙂 

To give you an idea of whats coming up, it would appear that I had a few runs out so there is a trip to Blackpool Mill, my favourite waterfall (which I really must visit again sometime with all this rain we have been having), some flowers, loooovely cirrus, a few storms and such. There will also be a star appearance by the only feline in my life, Mischief the cat, who decided to be very photogenic this Summer as he loves the sun.

Firstly, back to Summer and away from this blooming awful weather. It was a very good season for optics in the form of sundogs, arcs and some lovely high clouds. Don’t ask me why, as I am no expert apart from a little knowledge about refracted light in ice way up high; but they look pretty.

Some good strong colours of this arc mixed in with clouds here, very nice

Some good strong colours of this arc mixed in with clouds here, very nice

Next up is the rumble through the hedgerows I seem to do on occasions; in this instance, I found a very handsome bunch of thistle family flowers in the sun. Seems the bees have busy on these as you can see traces of pollen here and there over the flowers which I picked up pretty well I thought. Ironically growing in Wales, this is the national emblem for Scotland. I suppose I should have sought out some daffodils or leeks instead! Bit of a rotter this plant, grows all over and no particular use that I’m aware of apart from being quite well defended by umpteen prickles.

Looks nice, but squint and look at the stem covered in spikes!

Looks nice, but squint and look at the stem covered in spikes!

Thankfully the next subject stayed still long enough for me to get a good shot with it (mainly) in focus. A hoverfly. With a passing resemblance to a wasp or bee, this poor little thing gets batted away by many people at barbecues during the Summer, but is actually very useful and eats aphids and such by the shedload. Hooray! Ask anyone who likes roses, aphids = bad medicine. Shame the sun wasn’t directly on the flower for this picture but hey, that’s life.

Not sure of the flower, but just managed to snap this hoverfly resting before it nipped off. Busy bee!

Not sure of the flower, but just managed to snap this hoverfly resting before it nipped off. Busy bee!

Next I’m branching off to the local Summer animal inhabitants around me. Most Summers we get a small collection of cows in the fields behind us, although this Winter we currently have some very hardy (and extremely wet/windblown) Welsh ponies. There always seems to be a leader in the group of whatever is around and this black cow is one of those examples. As I took the pictures, it was striding up to me with no problems whatsoever, so he got a tickle on the nose and a handful of nice grass from the other side of the gate.

"Oi! Get out my blooming field, weird two-legged cow. Oh, you have grass, that's fine"

“Oi! Get out my blooming field, weird two-legged cow. Oh, you have grass, that’s fine”

Well, here he is. Mischief. So named because, frankly, he is just that. he causes no end of headaches with his demanding nature when it comes to meals and has an annoying habit of rushing off (running slightly sideways as he always does) and creating chaos in the living room when he doesn’t get his way. Mind you, I’m not sure the house could be without a cat as they do inject a certain something to the environment. More of him to come…..

One of the few moments of not running around like a nutcase that Mischief does, once the sun is out.

One of the few moments of not running around like a nutcase that Mischief does, once the sun is out.

At the moment, he is bored stiff. Even though he looks like  a bit of a moggy bruiser here, he hates wind and rain so most days of late he is having a good kip on a bed or the top of my fish tank. Well, why not, it beats working I suppose.

Well that’s that for the first post of the year. Hope you enjoy, thanks for dropping in and keep tuned for the next load in the future. Happy hangovers!

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