Archive for category seasons

Looking up again..you should try it

Hello All,

Just popping on as I found an interesting series of photos in between the subject I finished on last time and that I was going start on next time…my trip to Germany a while back. Now, I’ll say in the very early stages, this may or may not interest you so I won’t take offence if I don’t get any feedback! However, I find this kind of thing very interesting and, in a way, beautiful when it comes to the shapes in the clouds. If it is one thing I’d encourage you all to do, it is to look up once in a while, clouds aren’t all flat and grey.

One afternoon, just wandering around the house minding my own business I expect, the day got a little heavy cloud-wise and the first clue that something was swirling around appeared…

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Now, without being able to point in directions and add annotations (I haven’t worked that out yet) you can see that a shelf of cloud is developing and is moving in from the upper part of the sky from right to left. In the distance, you can see the yellow colour displayed when there is rain in the air too and even a bit of virga. The thing is, when you looked to the left, the same was happening….

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In this image, you can see in the upper part and the lower part there is some compact and elongated mammatus and some distinct curves in the cloud where more is developing. A sure sign that rain is coming! However, seeing one big lump is coming one way and one the other, this is where is got interesting as they met in the middle and created this kind of melee of tumbling clouds at low-level…

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This continued on for quite a while and things got very dark and distinct lines of where the air is pulled in and pushed out became apparent in the form of asperatus-like curves and shapes…

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Sadly, all things come to an end and the lovely show came to messy finish where everything was jumbled up all over. I was hoping for a rain shower, a clap of thunder or maybe I read things entirely wrong!

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Mind you, not being one to give up easily when it comes to clouds (I often wonder what the residents of the houses backing on to the fields where I take my sunset pictures think of me) I saw that following this was a very distinctly shaped cloud which I have looked around for on the webby net. It seems that it ticks all the boxes for part of a flanking line for a storm cloud, so I think I was right! It was a storm close by but not over us..

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In the words or Mr Wikipedia “a flanking line is an area of small clouds that mark an area of widespread updrafts in front of strong thunderstorms. These flanking lines generally occur in the vicinity of supercells or large multicell thunderstorms. The bases of the clouds making the flanking line are merged (like in the picture). The forefront area usually has no rain” (this accounts for the fact there was no rain the whole time.

“These feeder clouds will merge with the main cumulonimbus and will regenerate the storm.” That I can’t vouch for but “the feeder clouds are located at the west or southwest of the main cloud” I can vouch for as the large town that pretty much always has these big rain storms is located in that direction.

Just call me John Kettley.

Well, this concludes an overly scientific and speculative diagnosis of weather in my area of Wales. Next time, we embark upon a road trip to Germany! Thanks for dropping by and sticking with me in this post.

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Forgotten you again!

Hello All,

Thanks for dropping by on the email you get sent to a spend a couple of minutes hearing me drone on.

Well, it’s been a busy and interesting couple of months for me. To be honest, the less said the better, but in the middle of it all was a three week holiday, so I will use that as my very valid excuse for not posting. I went to the south-western tip of Ireland again…some of you may remember I posted a video of the time I went whale watching in the same area. No? Shame on you! If you wish to have a look, either search my name on YouTube or go to Humpback Whale Awesomeness in my previous posts.

For those who wish to go to the area, I can highly recommend it and will be posting pictures of that area in the near future, as I now have time on my hands to do more regular posts. The first time was gorgeous weather, this time it was less so, but still very enjoyable and there are some lovely vistas to post.

However, I stray from the post I am doing. Now that Autumn is upon us, I though I would keep a few of the Summer pictures coming for a short time to keep us all from seeing too much brown and wet images by looking out the window! In the first instance, just along the way, it pays to look out of the window for those photogenic weather shots as along popped a little back-lit shower…

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I’m quite proud of this. I would put it in the folder marked “might consider getting printed when I have a place to nail it to in the future”. Catchy, huh? Alas, the folder is quite full, so I will need to purchase a stately home! I thought I’d add a slightly after picture too, to point out the lovely glaciation (virga) effect as the little cell collapsed…

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You remember me talking about glaciation? The jellyfish clouds are the most common form of this but in this case, I think what happened is that the top of the cloud suddenly outgrew what could be supported and became a little icy, then just fell down slowly, creating the shower you see above.

Next, a lovely sunny picture to inject a little landscape love! This is one of my favourite views on the Preseli Hills. I know most people climb the road or hike the hills and look south, but I much prefer the view to the north…well, the north-east. Essentially, in the distance from this view-point, you can see all the way to the end of the National Park and you are looking along the line of hills towards Crymch. This side is noticeably more rugged than the south, which is why I like it.

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Also, don’t forget, there is a lot of history here and that adds to the attraction. Pollen analysis suggests that the hills were once forested but the forests had been cleared by the late Bronze age; the hills are dotted with super-aged remains, including evidence of very early settlement…you know, grunting and flint type stuff. It has been mooted that bluestone from the hills is similar or the same as that used to build the inner circle of Stonehenge. Lots of people with beards and letters after their names have argued but seem to have settled on the fact that the stones have come from multiple sources on the northern parts of the hills…the exact way the photo looks.

Further south now, a few colourful pictures from the southern extent of the Park, thankfully not showing the overrated beaches and towns, but the much ignored Blackpool Mill. Again, I have mentioned this before but I like this picture showing the old mill tucked away in the forest…

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Moving in a little closer here, a tiny member of the thistle family in full flower, covered in pollen and waiting for a bee come along and do a swap and continue the line. No proper thistles here and I’m afraid I can’t put my finger on the exact name of this one.

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From bees to wasps. Now, no hatred for the poor wasp. I know they buzz your food and beer on the 3 or 4 days you are able to eat “al fresco” in the UK and that is a pain, but they’re only trying to eat. Anyway, I’m going to big these little blighters up. I mean, check this bad boy out, that’s quite an undertaking for a tiny insect….

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But wasps have a useful purpose. Wasps are predators who hunt and eat almost every pest that harms crops including grasshoppers, aphids and flies. Also, don’t forget, the nest is made of what is basically a wasp super wallpaper…they chew bark or wood up, mix it with saliva and spit it out in a thin rough paper to a high degree of accuracy which is brilliantly efficient at both retaining heat at night or to grow larvae and to cool residents on a hot day. So, even if you hate them, give a little respectful fist bump to a wasp, rather than smacking it with a copy of the Daily Mail….additionally if you do that, it just attracts more as a dead wasp releases pheromones attracting the masses!

In this case, I returned a few days later to see the nest destroyed…I hope the person who did this got a most uncomfortable sting.

To finish, as is usually my favourite thing, a dusk scene. Again, not very far away but hopefully attractive in the way there are lights, darks and silhouettes in the same image…

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Well, thanks again for popping by. No promises on the date of the next blog which will be moving on to a trip to Germany, but I am hoping for sooner rather than later and I may even consider a slight revamp of the set up if I have the option. Groundbreaking stuff! However, I might need to speak with the PC first as it’s beginning to creak a little. Should be fine though. Famous last words…..

Ta-ra for now!!

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Kind of a water theme….

Hello All

Back again! Within a month. Well, nearly.

Greetings anyway and thanks for dropping by. It’s a bit of a hotch-potch this post, I went through the pictures I have lodged chronologically and they were all over the place (or rather I was all over the county taking them) but I hope that you find them to your liking. I did think I was going to be able to go on to a water based theme, then this moved to clouds and then to beaches so…woops.

Anyway, how about the weather in Wales then? For those who aren’t fortunate enough to live in this area, it has been humid. Phew. I work in an office that has air conditioning but this is essentially for show, as it broke down in the first year or so of me being there and has never been fixed…we have Japanese tourist buses call in on occasion wondering quite how we retain such ancient cooling systems without spontaneously contracting Legionnaires. However, I’m more of an open window guy but even that hasn’t helped, as wind has been in short supply. However, this are changing, a little fresher and drier to come the weather people say. Mind you, weren’t they the ones who failed to predict the famous 1987 storm?! Anyway, cynicism aside, onwards to the pictures and associated nuggets of information…

Firstly, on the partial water theme and following on from my images of the boats last week, I ventured once again down to Port Lion and was fortunate to see evidence of one of the highest tidal ranges in the UK (upwards of 25 feet in the highest tide). In this instance, just a wet mark was left but, bear in mind that as you continue down the slip, there is usually a considerable stretch of beach to stand on which is underwater, that’s a whole heap of H2O….

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Quite what possessed the owner of the house down at the bottom of the lane to think it was a good idea to build there confuses me, but build they did. Of late, the property has been revamped as well and it has a pretty awesome view but what does he say to his insurance company in the event of a disaster? I imagine the conversation would go something like this….

“So, how did the property flood?”…”Erm, it was a particularly sticky tap when I was running a bath upstairs….for a day…with mud in it”…”So, how do you account for the seaweed?”….”I like Japanese food and was hosting a sushi party?”. Hmm.

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Moving to less ridiculous things and away from my twisted sense of humour, the next images are from one of my favourite beaches, Newgale. This place is packed during the Summer but, if you are a resident you get to see it at the best times, during Winter and Spring when it is quiet and sunny. As well as being a blue flag beach, which is one of the cleanest going, it is very beautiful in pretty much all weathers off season. Some of you may remember that this beach featured in my blog earlier when I posted some images of the ancient forest that had been uncovered by recent storms. In this incarnation though, I need the sand to give the effect I wanted….

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Also, it appears that (unofficially) this beach marks the marks the boundary between English and Welsh-speaking Pembrokeshire, with the next beach north of Newgale being called Pen-y-Cwm. It also made an appearance in a music video (Delerium – Silence)…yes, you can see it here …Pembrokeshire on the tinterweb. Who’d have thought?

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It wasn’t going to be long before I moved onto weather was it? Lenticular clouds. What? Yes, quite a rare occurrence around here, but there was a little rash of them not so long ago, only small, but they were there. Let me explain…..as air flows along the ground, it encounters obstructions like water in a flood would. These are every day objects, such as buildings and bridges, as well as natural features, like hills…in my case, the Preseli Hills. All of theses things disrupt the flow of air into eddies. The strength of the eddies depends on the size of the object and the speed of the wind. It results in turbulence, of a sort. Where stable moist air flows over a hill, a series of waves form. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lenticular clouds. I admit, the ones I saw were not as dramatic as the link….

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Here, you can see that the clouds have degraded into the waves I spoke of earlier…probably due to a change in the wind speed or direction. Not quite as pretty, but it demonstrates the principal.

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In some circles, these clouds are referred to as UFOs (or “visual cover” for UFOs), particularly the round “flying saucer” type in the link pictures, because these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and smooth saucer shape. Also, because lenticular clouds generally do not form over low-lying or flat terrain, many people have never seen one and are not aware clouds with that shape can exist. Bright colours are sometimes seen along the edge of lenticular clouds making people think they are other-worldly. However, they can form where a mountain does not exist, usually as the result of shear winds which are, again, not so common.

As an aside, the term flying saucer was created by an early documented sighting of “vehicles” over Mount Rainier by an amateur pilot, Kenneth Arnold. He described flying shapes moving “like a saucer if you skip it across water”. However, I’m sceptical…as per the description above, where are you most likely to see these clouds? Yes. Near mountains. It is quite a regular sight in the area, as per this picture by NASA.

Anyway, I took some further pictures later on of the further degradation and now that the wind had dropped and the moisture had increased, so had the cloud cover and there was a nice blanket of clouds with a slight asperitas feel….

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I love the folds and lines in these types of clouds and you can pick up the shapes of the lenticular clouds in places if you look carefully. Nice. I admit, I should probably have smoothed this image of noise as it was dark, but the PC was protesting at this point, so you’ll have to forgive me!

Well, here endeth the prattle. If you have stayed on this long without just scrolling down the pictures, well done! No, thanks for that, all criticism and requests gladly taken but remember, don’t nick the pictures for your wallpaper! Ask me. I am happy to email full resolution copies upon request. All my details are in the blog, I don’t bite and won’t charge unless you ask me to print one, that’s a whole different kettle of fish…

Thanks again, see you all soon for more Pembrokeshire based picture based nuggets!

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Some Summer colour in the hills

Whatto!

Well, well, hasn’t it been a busy last few weeks? I hope that you are all well and enjoying the warmer and drier weather. In sunny West Wales the office has been stifling most days but now it’s cooled after some well deserved rain and everything plant wise has received a turbo boost; my girlfriends mother remarked that there was a rogue patch of grass near her summer-house that seemed to grow almost visibly every time she steps over it!

It’s been busy, as I said, so the blog has been on the back burner of late; essentially work is the usual unresolved stress and strain (to remain unspecified) and there have been a few small disasters in the household that have needed me to prioritise. The most long-term of these is the fact that I, by mistake, pretty much destroyed my fish tank that has taken me a number of years to stock to a self-sustaining level.

Thinking I was being a good and responsible owner, I decided to medicate the tank due to seeing a few fish with finrot, a not-so-serious fungus that can be dealt with via a tonic directly into the water. So, in the spirit of “read the directions, even if you don’t follow them” I did all that was asked of me and expected happy fishies. Not so. After the removal of a portion of my filter to allow the tonic to circulate, I came back home and replaced it early, as I would be away for a few days. Said few days elapsed and I came back to an aquatic version of nuclear ground zero…after queries with local pet stores I found that in my haste I had neglected to rinse the parts of the filter I was replacing and, in sitting out of the tank, they had become toxic. In adding them, I basically pumped toxic goo all over the inside of the tank and killed all but one plant and a good 50% of my fish. For the last couple of weeks, I have been scrubbing (literally) and allowing what is left in the tank to rest and recuperate before reintroducing some plants hopefully in the very near future and fish in the medium term. So, onward and upwards there then…

On to the pictures, this is after all why you are here isn’t it? Continuing with the summer theme from last time, I shall start off the pictures with this little guy, supping away at the flowers…a rhodedendron, perhaps? I don’t have green fingers!

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Now, the main cut of the post, a walk along the forestry paths into one of my favourite places, the old Rosebush quarry. As a place, this village did not exist until the slate was quarried in the early nineteenth century and it is rumoured that this was one of the first places in rural south Wales to have piped water, which was sent to the quarry workers cottages. The cottages, although modernised, are still lived in today.

Now, although it looks it, this next picture was not staged, I found this rusty old bit of metal on a stump after the clearance of the trees for timber. I suspect, since researching the area, it may be a piece of something to do with the railway built in the 1870s that facilitated the movement of the slate out of the village to Clynderwen, then on to Narberth and towards Swansea and Cardiff. If you walk and look nearby, or even drive the roads going past, you’ll see parts of leftover bridges, as well as tracks and such making fence stays.

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Deeper in the quarry, you find “The Blue Pool”. Well, it looks blue in certain lights and is as clear as a bell. In this picture, it was a bit windy and cloudy, so it’s not at its best, but you get the idea. However, as a safety conscious bod, I must say that pools like this, although they look nice, are full of hidden dangers…that water is probably freezing and who knows what chemicals are waiting the dirt at the bottom? The only certainty is that you never see any aquatic life in there, bar the odd plant or bit of algae. There must be a reason for that…

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Also, as I saw on this day, the surrounding quarry isn’t all that safe either, as this recent rock slip testifies. That slate is sharp too, just pick a piece up and look. On other days, this Summer in fact, I have seen teens climbing up these cliffs to throw things in to the water. Quick route to a Darwin Award in my eyes…

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Additionally, there is what I refer to as “The Lost World” nearby. This is basically just a hole in the quarry, whether it was a fall or a hole sunk  on purpose, I am not sure but it’s scary feet deep. I wouldn’t even like to guess. I often look over the lip and think to myself what special species of plants and such lie in there, undisturbed, other than by the weather? Probably a few mobile phones too!

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Anyway, I’m a predictable soul, so I’m ending on skyscapes and clouds for your viewing pleasure. In my opinion, not enough people look at sunsets. Schools should teach children about them and the gorgeous colours and what weather you can see or even predict if you are lucky enough. For example, in this gorgeous pinky red (usually about 20-30 minutes after sunset time), you can see both a gravity wave effect on the clouds (the horizontal lines on the clouds mid left) and the remnants of a sun pillar, which is formed when ice crystals hover in the light above the sun in cold air…

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You’re welcome. This other picture, although I chose it predominantly for the colours and the slight pollen corona around the sun just below the horizon, also has gravity waves in it. They are quite common. Next time it’s a bit clearer and you have high, thin clouds above you, take a look, it doesn’t hurt.

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Now you are all scientists. Well done! Maybe next time there will be another lesson? Until then, keep safe and don’t go investigating that hole in Rosebush! It’s dangerous!

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Spring has….sprung?

Hello All,

By the fact that I was voluntarily cleaning in the house and my room the other day, I can come to no other conclusion than the fact that Spring is here. The days are warmer(ish) and people are already complaining of hay fever, so there must be something in it. Here, in West Wales, things started to sprout then got beaten back a little by random frost and “blast of icy air” as the forecasters put it. Brass monkeys, more like. However, today, I had to take off a layer to drive without feeling uncomfortable.

Cycling still goes well and I was even joined by a few friends and colleagues from work who also hope to do the 50 mile tour, as do I. Now, I hate to blow my own trumpet but (toot toot) I was struggling to go as slow as they were! Maybe they were all hung over but the slowest had a full carbon bike…something wrong there. If it was my size, I’d do a swap. Maybe I was trying harder as other people were about? Perhaps it was the energy drink I was consuming that tasted like gritty, stale Fruit Shoot (other juice drinks are available)? Only the day will tell. If anyone wants to come and chant or something…feel free. Should be fun.

Anyway, seeing I am at a loose end for my training (I try not to do 2 days in succession, so I shall be out tomorrow) I thought I’d pop on a few springy Spring pictures to cheer us all up after Mr Bee made us all smile recently. Living in Wales, there is just no way that I can get away without showing the national flower, seeing it is a Spring bloomer…

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Now, the eagle eyed will notice that these shots are slightly older than Spring but there is a mix of a couple of old pictures of some gorgeous flowers I took late Spring last year as well. This is of the weed called dandelion, a very good-looking weed at that, something that is truly a harbinger of warmer weather. Now, did you know that the name comes from the French “dent de lion” or “lions tooth” which refers to the shape in the leaves, nothing to do with the flower or anything? In some countries, it’s referred to in terms which are not glowing (insert rude names associated with weeing here) due to the fact that the roots can be used as a medicine and are very diuretic. Amazingly, I also found an article that says that these “weeds” actually produce rubber when cut, but the quality varies massively. Even so, apparently Continental Tyres are working on a tyre using blends of rubber from normal sources and….dandelions. No joke, read about it here.

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I have memories of breezy warm days where all the little parachutes (seeds) filled the air, as there were just at the right stage and floated away on a puff of wind. Scourge of many gardeners, I’m sure. However, now that you know what you do, respect the dandelion, they could be part of your car wheel soon!

To less interesting but no less impressive plants in the garden now, beginning to bud and sprout into fantastic colours now the sun is a little stronger..

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This picture gave me a bit of a headache in post-processing. I usually do nothing to the images I take bar reduce the size and add my name to them. I might crop them a little from time to time too. But this one, this one I had to reduce the red on it as it was so red. Maybe the sensor on my camera wasn’t a fan but I thought this was a nice detailed shot, could have done with Mr Bee posing in the foreground though….

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Now, another picture from the archives but a lovely stretch of river near Wolfscastle, on the way to Fishguard. I have heard many things about the wildlife in this area when I have been here such as stories of kingfishers and growling otters. I believe the lady regards the kingfishers as they are, happily, becoming more and more common and I have seen a few in the local area (Pembrokeshire) myself but the fisherman with the story of the otter that got out of the water and growled at him (presumably for daring to fish in the river), I’m not so sure. Next, he’ll be expecting me to believe they cross the rail line nearby to go to the local tea room to vary their diet!

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Last but not least, a sunset shot but with a difference. A lovely smooth coloured vista of clouds over the Preseli hills (you can just see them in the mist at the very foot of the image). Evenings like this are very nice, quite still but colourful. Some might say that this is boring but I implore you to look a bit closer, see if you can count how many shades are in the clouds. So, it’s no storm front but I’d argue that a shot like this is anything but boring.

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So, there we have it for another post…come Saturday, I shall be zipping around North Pembs on my bike so next time you hear from me I shall be complaining about something aching, but I will be better for the experience. Maybe.

Cheers for dropping in, catch you soon for more sunny shots and plant facts to bore your friends with!!

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