Archive for category sunset

Eifel National Forest roadtrip – Part 4

Hello All,

How are we all? Well, I hope.

A few things of interest of late, it is now Spring (astronomically speaking, but not really reflected in the weather, unfortunately) and today is World Meteorological Day which may interest some of you with a love for clouds and an interest in the weather, such as myself. For those of you who may not be able to access the link  to the Cloud Appreciation Society for any reason, the text introducing this is “World Meteorological Day on Thursday 23 March is themed, this year, on ‘Understanding Clouds’. It marks the publication of the latest edition of the World Meteorological Organisation’s definitive reference work on cloud classification: the International Cloud Atlas. This official resource for cloudspotters includes, for the first time, the ‘Asperitas’ cloud. It is a new classification of cloud, with a chaotic, turbulent appearance, that was proposed by the Cloud Appreciation Society back in 2008, based on photographs sent to us from members all around the world. It is a classic example of citizen science, in which observations by the general public, enabled by the technology of smartphones and the Internet, have influenced the development this most official of classification systems“. Even if you have a passing interest in sunsets or the like, the pictures are pretty awesome. Have a look.

Lastly, a more pertinent matter regards blogging and stuff. I am on Instagram! Yes, I have broadened my electronic horizon. If you are a ‘grammer, look me up @lukegeoffreyjohnson and I will give you a “follow”…or something, whatever this is referred to.

Anyhow, continuing to the blog, we are now on part 4 where things get slightly less history and more petrol-ly. I’m not sure that’s a word, but bear with me here. Essentially, this part of the journey covers some hiking up a hill to another castle and the views, but this view includes a racetrack, the main reason I travelled to the area in the first place. Anyway, stick with me here. The day was loosely based around me undertaking a trip to the Nurburgring racing circuit. However, on finding the village of Nurburg, I didn’t realise you could hike up to a castle…..

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From here there was a commanding view. The castle stands within the famous North Loop, or Nordschleife, of the circuit on a volcanic basalt cone. The castle has had quite a chequered past and has not been well treated but was of significance to pretty much every group who lived here since the site was first mentioned in the records in 1166 as Noureberg or Mons Nore. Local historians say it is probable that it was already used as a signal station in Roman times to protect the important Roman road that ran through the Eifel.

In 1290, ownership of the castle was transferred to the local government, because there were no more descendants of the lords of Nürburg. As early as the 16th century the castle fell into a very poor condition, a situation which the officials complained about. As a result, restoration work was carried out several times. In 1633, during the Thirty Years War, the castle was captured by the Swedes, who plundered and damaged it. In 1674, imperial troops re-occupied the castle. In 1689, French soldiers finally destroyed the place. Some surviving parts were also used  as a prison, but was no longer fit for that purpose after 1752. The castle was abandoned and used as a stone quarry. In 1818, local royalty had the castle restored because, with its height of 678 m above sea level, it would be able to act as a trigonometric point for creating maps. In 1949, ownership of the ruins was transferred to the German State Department for Conservation, who had work carried out several times in order to expose elements of the building that had been filled in, as well as to carry out safety and restoration work, which was still ongoing when I was there. What a view though…..

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Oh, and talking of views, what’s this? A racetrack? Actually, this is the view from just outside over the small village or Nurburg (which expands massively during racing season) towards the track. Those of you with an eagle eye, might be able to spot a small red car off to the left on the parking area. Yeah, I walked quite a way, not realising I could park at the bottom of the cone…

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However, the view from the top wasn’t just of the track, the beauty of the National Forest was obvious all around, as well as the fantastic field of vision. No wonder this place was fought over.

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Right, I will be talking cars now I’m afraid or more of the track and the surrounds, at least. There are quite a few garages owned by large organisations around the village that I noticed as I wandered around, including Bugatti, Audi, BMW M who all base a team here on occasion to test vehicles, which was the original purpose of the track. Nowadays, this is referred to as Industriefahrten. However, there are many new ventures for this area with the popularity of the area spreading, there are fairs, music festivals and all sorts of family activities hosted by the track but, the hardcore undercurrent is cars. On occasion, you see the odd private garage where people keep cars in the village just to go out and have a blast…..

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There is also a large visitors centre offering tours of the “ring°werk” museum and Grand Prix track behind the scenes, which was about all I could do as this was the German “off-season” and it seems that no-one visits Germany then. In a way it was nice, as there were plenty of parking spots, but not as you couldn’t experience a certain buzz that you get from places like this. There were many interesting exhibits and it was quite a place, but quiet wasn’t the word….

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I quite like a quiet spot, as I am quite happy with my own company, but as I left the museum after buying themed boxer shorts and the like from the fan-shop (no, I’m not joking and they are the most comfy things ever) I couldn’t help but be attracted by an advertising hoarding for drives on the track with this gorgeous Audi RS4 Super-Estate sat there doing nothing. Now, this won me over and got me thinking. Whilst, I couldn’t afford this kind of thing at 649 Euros, there must be a cheaper option…and should I use my own car. Hmmmm….

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On the way back, to aid my pondering, a lovely sunset over the forest. It seemed strange to have the two things in one place…a forest and a racetrack. They almost seem at odds with the current thinking but it is working and has worked for many years, nearly 100 years in fact. However, mine is not to reason why, just to enjoy the view once more as I left the circuit behind for the day..

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Hopefully the non-car people have not dropped off. I will try to minimise my car based musings in future posts but I can’t guarantee it! Thanks for dropping in and reading my blog as ever, it is much appreciated. Spread the word, Instagram me, ask for copies of pictures if you like them. I shall happily provide them.

Until next time though, take it easy and enjoy Spring!

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A few photographic effects for your perusal..and Storm Angus

Well, hello from Storm Angus ravaged Wales!

Kind of storm ravaged. Okay…not at all, just the tail end. We didn’t get this all half as bad as the south of England, if you wish to, you can read about the main bits in the Daily Telegraph.

Cue the normal film (courtesy of YouTube on this occasion) on the evening news of people who should know an awful lot better canoeing in the street, standing perilously close to waves crashing onto beaches, generally being a teeny bit dull or driving into water that is far too deep.

Honestly, if I knew that Newhaven and Brighton and similar areas were going to get this much coverage in the years after I moved to Wales, I wouldn’t have bothered coming! Only kidding. Still, at least I stayed relatively dry. The wind was perishing cold though, that was what bothered me the most as I don’t have an awful lot of meat on me. This is due to get less after Christmas too as I will be embarking on a proper 12 week training regime to do a further sportive bike ride of 100 km (60 miles) in aid of charity. I was looking at the handy downloadable training timetable and I am struggling to think of routes that fulfil the length of time or distance needed and also go in a loop to assist me in not transporting the bike around the county in a car that is too small for it. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

However, let us not be bothered by my good deeds. You read this for my wit and pictures don’t you? I like to think so, but I could be having a one-way conversation with the vast internet. So let us begin.

Iridescence. Difficult to spell, even more difficult to spot. More difficult to photograph than both of those things. I think I have posted images on here with some “mother of pearl” effects in some winter clouds but these are not to be confused with the proper nacreous or polar stratospheric clouds.

In this instance, you have to look very carefully at the tips of the dead clematis flowerhead I took a picture of a while back…

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I never noticed the fact there was some iridescence in this image when I took it to be honest but looking at Mr Wikipedia…thanks be to Wikipedia…it says that the effect is generally created by microstructures that interfere with light, which figures as these flowers are very intricate and the flash fired in this image.

On to a more familiar subject, the sky, but a more unusual effect in the clouds than usual. You may remember a while back that I pointed out some oh-so-catchy Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in clouds at sunset that caused what look like cresting waves? In a nutshell, it’s the interaction of two fluids of varying density such as the wind creating a wave on water (yes, air can indeed be construed as a fluid in science). It seems that the effect can go full circle (pun intended) and create what essentially looks like a corkscrew.

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Pretty cool, huh? I have only seen this the once and I can only find a few images on the internet that are similar, so you never know, I may have stumbled on a new cloud type! I will name it “the screw-mulus”. Or I could be over-thinking things….yes, the latter.

Now, moving away from science but to return to it in a little while, some sunset pictures I took just because and in the order of this post heading towards the end of the day in subject matter. Not that many sunset images at all this year, seems we have way too much low cloud now, so there will be fewer and fewer of these images of feathery loveliness…

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This next one is an unusual one as there are quite a few “straight” lines in the cloud. I say straight with a little bit of a nudge as they aren’t ruler straight, but in nature, you very rarely find anything too straight, so when you see it, it’s usually due to interaction with something unexpected…in this instance, I suspect the contrail on the right at a similar angle has something to do with it.

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Back to science! Rays. In particular, crepuscular rays. I have posted many images on here of these rays but now I present to you a rarer image of….anti-crepuscular rays. It is pretty much the same thing but you see these opposite the sun, not around it, behind a cloud or such like. The rays are caused by the interaction of the light with an object out of your line of sight due to the curvature of the Earth, so as the sun dipped just below the horizon here, a little cloud got in the way, casting this shadow…

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Apologies for the dark image, I had to fiddle the contrast to enhance the rays somewhat. However, talking of dark brings me nicely to my last image for this post, a nightscape. I don’t often do these, as it’s not an area I have a great deal of skill in, but I try. I took this of the refinery and fuel storage areas around Pembroke (on the left) and Milford Haven (on the right) from Pembroke Dock.

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I even managed to catch a little starlight in the image which was not my intention, but it adds a little depth to the inky black bits. I might try this further in the future, but I find them a little boring being so dark and having a not so well suited camera for this kind of stuff. We shall see.

Well, there you have it for another post. Before I go, just a couple of things…I need one more follower to reach 50 so if you have a friend or relative who can stand my infrequent babble, tell them to pop to my site on a PC and click the “Follow Me” link at the bottom right. Thanks!

Also, I have changed a few bits on the site such as the background banner and post text. Hard to read, too small, too large? Constructive criticism is very much welcomed!

Cheers in advance and see you soon.

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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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Looking a bit closer at my regular haunts…

Hello Readers,

Not entirely sure where you have all gone, as my dashboard on here says that I haven’t been all that popular of late..strange, as I had some people say that they had visited, unless it was all lies?! At this rate, if I had my funeral soon, I’d be the only attendee!! Please continue to drop in, if only to poke fun at my limited portfolio, however, I enjoy taking the pictures, so I guess that’s the main thing. However, feel free to challenge me, I dare you 🙂

In this “episode”, I visit a number of my usual haunts but find, if I look a little closer, I see a few interesting things, which I hope you will also find interesting in turn. Up at the top of the Aberfforest waterfall, it did me good to lengthen the shutter speed taking this image, as I found a slow little whirlpool off to one side that made a nice effect on the finished image….

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Yes, I was standing in the middle of the river….

Now, this following image doesn’t exactly give the appearance of looking closely, but I thought I’d include it for the fact that it was a nicely framed Spring picture; you will note the wild garlic on the right and up beside the waterfall (yes, you can eat it…but I’d let you go first, however it smells lovely even just stood around it) and catkins on the trees above the water….

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Spring at Aberfforest, the sound of tumbling water and the smell of….garlic

It was when I was buzzed by a little brown bird on getting closer to the falls that I saw it. A nest. Well, a hole of sorts built out of mud tucked in the rocks right next to the rushing water. Brave little thing…it must be pretty deaf as well!

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You can see here how close the Dipper lives to water that would drown it. Very brave

On returning home, I found that this brave little birdy was a Dipper of the european variety, of course. First time I have seen one and it must be so proud of the spot it has, as it’s a doozy. I’ve always considered the water here a bit dirty, but I think that this is proof that this is not the case as birds like this surely wouldn’t be able to feed. Amazing little things too; mostly, they perch on rocks and feed at the edge of the water, but they often also grip the rocks firmly and “walk” down them until submerged. They then search underwater for yummy dipper food; they can also “swim” with their wings like little penguins! Impressive. Oh, just to clarify, I wasn’t able to get a picture of it…waaaaay too fast. I did see the nest is still there this year though, so there’s time.

Along the way on the mossy stumps and debris I found some interesting fungus as well. The waterfall creates a microcosm of sorts, because there is moss, wild garlic and stuff here like you wouldn’t believe and you don’t see elsewhere…

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Feel free to name the fungus….

Closer to home, I was outside checking out the sunset in the evening when I saw some bird muck on the door, which isn’t unusual being near the coast and with seagulls passing overhead regularly…so, I go to wipe it off when I realised with some controlled horror that there is a baby spider disco happening on the door frame!

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Eeeek! Spiders massing against us. Luckily, I scattered this group in time….you’re welcome

Now, I don’t mind spiders, as long as they aren’t big enough to wink at me or anything, but the sight of these little things running off in all directions gave me the heeby jeebies!

My nerves under control, I concentrated on the sunset and have a couple to share with you on the end of this post which I thought were pretty good. The first I included because of my love of contrails and cirrus clouds. Difficult to tell but I think that this is a few contrails (common over us, as we get trans-atlanic planes over us daily) pulled apart by high winds way up above. Whatever, it’s pretty sweet…

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Contrail sunset. I loves it

Lastly, I do like a mixed cloudscape but a mixed cloudscape at sunset when it’s all at the stage it turns red, even better. The clouds lower down look just like mist arriving from the hills, maybe it was, but I can’t remember the weather on this evening. Enjoy.

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My favourite spot for dusks in Summer…because of pictures like this

Well, there we have it for another post. Sorry for the delay, due to unforeseen circumstances, but I hope you all still take the time to visit again soon, look through the archive, let people who love sunsets and nature know of my work even.

Until next time, all the best.

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Into 2016…and it’s still raining!

Well, it is here anyway!

It’s not even the end of January and we have got to “J” in the alphabet. Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, some bods in the Met Office a little while ago thought it’d be a good idea to name all the storms that hit our country through the year…this apparently makes us more aware of the weather and the populous more likely to protect themselves when it arrives. Or keeps us in fear of something else, whichever you believe. So, when the wind was blowing the rain horizontally last winter, we were wandering in vests and shorts with gay abandon, it seems. Good Lord.

Anyway, the wind and rain we have now is called Jonas and is the tail end of the snow that deluged the eastern seaboard of the United states not so long ago, resulting in scenes like this. Alas, no snow here (so I still had to go to work, more’s the pity) but lots of wet and windy weather as the warm Atlantic melted it all before it got here. Maybe next year. Not entirely sure where Jonas was chosen from….the character in the Book of Mormon, the town in the Netherlands? Maybe the Jonas Brothers? Let’s hope not, as they are truly awful. Talking of awful music, when I was listening to the radio in bed for a while last night, I encountered possibly the worst cover version of “Heart – How Do I Get you Alone” that I have ever heard. I found, consequently, that it was one of these blooming reality show stars who murdered it. Honestly, it was so bad, I wished that I had suffered from a bout of tinnitus for the short period it was on for (I only heard the end). Should you hear this song, find it and kill it with fire.

Anyway, I am no music star, so best post some pictures huh? This lot are from a walk about when it was less wet around Blackpool Mill, Llys-y-Fran and the surrounds. Hopefully, some of you may recognise the places from earlier posts…

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The exposed roots of the trees along the banks of Blackpool Mill

Another random train of thought, looking at this root system again. I’m a fan of The Walking Dead and this picture is almost skeletal in appearance. In a way, like the ribcage of the tree, but under the earth, exposed by many feet passing over it. Pretty cool though.

Further on along the path, there is the (abandoned) Blackpool Mill. Still owned an maintained by the welsh version of the National Trust, Cadw, it used to be a nice quiet cafe and museum. You possibly don’t recall the last time I posted a picture here, but notice the lower roof on the left is brand new. Last time I saw it, it had a hulking great hole in it. Nice to see it is being fixed, even if it stands derelict….

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A newly fixed Blackpool Mill

If it interests you, the bridge I stood on to take this picture is is Grade II listed and is single-span bridge, built about 1825 for the de Rutzens family, previous owners of the estate.

Sadly, fixing is not what is happening with the actual workings of the mill which stand all silted up and slowly rotting into the mud. The smaller wooden bridges are fixed to allow pedestrians to pass over, but other than that, the channel and waterway are pretty much just abandoned..

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Anyone got a dredger?

On to happier and more used structures now, Llys-y-Fran County Park owned by Welsh Water, where I took this image of the dam on a bright sunny day. I’m no fisherman, but I can attest to the good walking around the edge of the reservoir…about 7 miles in all. Be careful to choose a dry day though, it can be very damp!

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Perfect conditions for a nice image of the dam in flood…..

Now, a couple of pretty pictures of a sunset for you. I have loads of these, I must admit, so I will continue to shoehorn them in. I was recently painting my girlfriends bathroom and the fact she must choose a picture for a wall somewhere in her flat to brighten the place up was mentioned. Quite how I’d choose, I have no idea! I’m having sunset withdrawals at the moment though; I can only recall 1 or 2 sunsets I even thought of picking my camera up for of late…in fact, to count good sunny days would possibly use less than ten fingers of late. However, things are looking up I’m sure and I plan to stash the camera in the back of the car, having recently missed a nice show of Asperitas at Saundersfoot beach…

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A molten orange sunset over Llangwm

This picture was just a little later on and in the landscape format to capture a bit more contrast. Apologies for the curvature of the foreground, that’s just an effect of the optics…I only have a small kit lens.

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Once the orange goes, then emerges the pink. Lovely.

However, a small kit lens sometimes come in handy when needing to take still life pictures of, say, a cat. Indeed, the most handsomest kitty in Pembrokeshire, Mischief, is once again showing his modelling skills. This is the “all I survey” look he perfects during the Summer. Mainly because he is downright nosey and looking at all that is going on in other gardens around him!

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Mischief, posing as ever. In real life, he is far less intelligent than this image suggests!!

You’ll excuse the age spots and such, I’m sure. he is getting on after all! Bless his furry paws. Still going strong though and I’m sure he will feature further as the days get longer and he insists on following me of out the gate!

Well, try to stay dry through Jonas. If you do, I hope to see you again soon. If you don’t, I expect you to use another computer to come and visit me! Thanks for dropping by.

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Like buses…two posts at once!

Hello again

Well, no excuses from me. I thought that I’d have the opportunity to do a blog come the weekend but seems that I have become rather busy, so here I am again, with a blog which contains a few different bits and bobs in that I thought you may like. I have loads of pictures as I couldn’t choose which to post, so you could call it a bumper crop…excuse the pun.

Against my better nature, I have had to do a teeny bit on manipulation (mainly smoothing oput digital noise) on a few images. Honesty is the best policy but the results were rather good, so I’m hoping that you forgive me for it and congratulate my honesty. Or something. As I type this, about to add the images, I have had a very apt mp3 come on “Shakedown – At Night”…kind of fitting for the first batch of photos that were taken….at night.

Although I can’t remember the exact reason, it appears to be one of those times I just decided to take drive and it ended in Goodwick, next stop Rosslare, Ireland…well, Strumble Head first in a straight line, but that’s splitting hairs. I had the tripod, so thought I’d fiddle with some settings and see what happened….

A full moon and moondog over North Pembrokeshire

A full moon and moondog over North Pembrokeshire

As you can see, a full moon and small town (Old Fishguard) make for some good reflections and, I think it might be, a moondog on the thin cloud just below the moon. Same principle as a sun dog but at night. Nice capture. Further around the coast now, towards north Pembrokeshire and the old Fishguard Harbour…

No need for a flash when there is a full moon to provide all the light you need

No need for a flash when there is a full moon to provide all the light you need

The cloud was coming and going as you can see in the pictures as we had been having some heft showers that days it looks like but the trip was well rewarded in the end by a lunar halo. Check out this bad boy (as with all images, please click on them to see the full resolution versions, these are but large thumbnails)…

A lunar 22 degree halo...portent of bad weather?

A lunar 22 degree halo…portent of bad weather?

The technical term is actually a 22 degree halo but that is a bit of a mouthful. Incoming science!! Those who have stuck with me might have seen the solar (sun) version of this many posts back but both are formed the same way, light is refracted in millions of randomly oriented hexagonal ice crystals hanging way up high. In days of old, moon rings were are said to warn of approaching storms or bad weather. The reason was that, over time, people realised that they appear when the sky is covered by thin cirrus family clouds (like mares tales) that often come a few days before a large weather front. However, the same clouds can also occur entirely randomly, making a halo unreliable as a sign of bad weather.

On to clouds that are just pretty now, for no other reason that I liked the colour, shape and effect the still water in puddles had on the image. This was taken when it was VERY cold, so rather than water, these clouds are more likely ice….

Icy water in the air...icy water on the ground

Icy water in the air…icy water on the ground

Next, a cloud ray shadow, or rather as some in the weather spotting fraternity would call it, a “crown ray”. Reason being, as you can see below, the sun is directly behind a big thick cloud giving a shadow from behind that creates a crown, instead of the light coming through and creating the familiar crepuscular ray (have I lost any of you yet?!). Nice.

A very pretty golden "crown ray"

A very pretty golden “crown ray”

Now, further on in the year, one of those storm clouds that has a mix of clouds in it that creates weird colours, shadows and shapes. I love these. I have stuff like this on my PC as wallpapers as pictures of these kind of clouds make them look different from different angles every way you look at it if you were there in person. I don’t think that much came of this particular bumpy bit but it is a nice example…no prizes for storm chasing on this occasion though…

OK, so it's no masterpiece...but look carefully at the blues, greens and greys, not to mention the rays lighting the top

OK, so it’s no masterpiece…but look carefully at the blues, greens and greys, not to mention the rays lighting the top

Further on, more cold weather and the clouds created above the chimneys in Pembroke and Milford Haven where the refineries are located. No massive science here. As I am sure you are all aware, warm air rising into cold is going cause condensation, that’s what warm air does…same thing applies to aircraft engines, hence condensation trails. If it is nice and clear as well as still, you get a big lump of warm cloud sat there and, on these occasions, the said lump was quite photogenic. The first is taken looking towards Neyland at sunset one day….

A winter sunset over Neyland

A winter sunset over Neyland

The same few a little while later but if you look closely, you can see the separate streaks of condensing warm air as they create the cloud. On this occasion, all four chimneys at the new gas power station were puffing away…

So, it's pollution of sorts, but it is very pretty

So, it’s pollution of sorts, but it is very pretty

And last, but certainly not least is this purpley orange beast I spotted. It looks so alien in the blue sky with the thinner cloud around it, it’s easy to see how that, at a glance, people mistake these for UFOs. However, you’d have to be pretty silly to not realise this is a cloud.

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a UFO? No, it's a cloud!

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a UFO? No, it’s a cloud!

Anyway, there we have it. I hope you enjoyed the night shots that I took and that you might take the time to pop a comment on if you did. Maybe you hated them and want me to skip on to my holiday in Germany or something. Go ahead, it’s free, vent your spleen, I shan’t take offence.

Until next time, thanks for dropping by.

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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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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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