Archive for category water
Many thanks for bearing with me on this and the fact I had to take a break due to being busy and also the Tour of Pembrokeshire. Well, some, if not all of you will be glad to know that once this post is done and dusted, no longer will I be harking on about Germany or the fascinating places it holds and the volcanic history of the places I went. In fact, I shall be moving back to the UK and onto things you may more readily recognise…
Due to some feedback, I shall be condensing the last few visits I made around and Cologne and Koblenz and my trip to the Nurburgring to frighten myself silly. In fact, it’s no bother, I took way too may pictures anyway and, technically you aren’t allowed to film or take images near the circuit, so I didn’t, bar a few favourite cars I saw. Not that anyone takes any notice of that, as you can see from all the videos posted on YouTube. Anyhoo, more on that in turn with the other pictures (a few more this time).
Firstly, there was a trip to Cologne (Koln) Cathedral. Now, this is an impressive building. I live near a cathedral in Wales and that, sorry, doesn’t hold a candle to this building. When you walk into a building that is adorned with items such as the ones below, you know there is some real history there….
It is a renowned monument of Catholicism and Gothic architecture and was added to World Heritage site list in 1996. Sadly, it was also in 2004 placed on the “World Heritage in Danger” list, as the only Western site in danger, due to plans to construct a high-rise building nearby, which would have visually impacted the site. The cathedral was removed from the List of In Danger Sites in 2006, following the authorities’ decision to limit the heights of buildings constructed near and around the cathedral. As an aside, it is the most visited landmark in Germany, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day! It also holds a record of being the tallest twin-spired church at 157 m (515 ft) tall and its two huge spires give the cathedral the largest façade of any church in the world.
Some of you may also know that the recent history of this building is quite violent, the cathedral suffered fourteen hits by bombs during World War 2. Badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city, but in an unfortunate twist of fate, the twin spires were then an easily recognisable navigational landmark for Allied aircraft bombing.
Repairs were completed in 1956 but maintenance work is constantly being carried out in one or another section of the building, which is rarely completely free of scaffolding, as wind, rain, and pollution slowly eat away at the stones. The Dombauhütte, established to build the cathedral and keep it in repair, is said to employ the best stonemasons of the Rhineland.
Whilst I was visiting, I couldn’t help notice that visitors can climb 533 stone steps of the spiral staircase to a viewing platform about 100 m (330 ft) above the ground. I love a good view, me…..
I felt a bit short changed though, as there was still a good few feet above me!!
Onward, well, downwards back to my usual haunts over in the Eifel. This time, I had some proper driving in mind, but the route I took took me through some of the richest vineyards in the region so I had to stop and look around for a while. If any of you are wondering, yes, I did have a grape or two. They were disgustingly sour. I’m no wine aficionado, so I don’t know if the process of wine-making sweetens things up and the grapes are always that sour, but I’d only use them as vinegar if it was given to me in that form!
I was in a rush to get to the circuit for a certain time (the tourists are only allowed on the track certain days and times) so I thought to myself that I’d return at a point in the future for a few more relaxed shots, plus this was obviously a popular route on coach trips judging by the traffic (not seen here, thank god)…
Anyway, I arrived for my slot at the track. I was very nervous. So nervous that I decided a while earlier that my little turbo hot hatch was going to be staying well and truly parked. I had toyed with the idea of taking my own car onto the track as I had figured that I had safety in power, but reason won the argument. That and the horror stories from fellow guest at hotels that I regularly shared beers with. Most will know that I am VERY protective of my cars, even going so far as to park significant distances away (to be measured in hundreds of yards or large fractions of miles) from destinations, mainly due to the fact that all the other people arriving won’t, so thereby reducing the risk of door dents and such. In this instance, not only was the risk of damage high and the insurance I held would be invalid, there was a very real risk that my inexperience could hurt me or someone else. Yes, I driven on tracks, but short tracks where people have similar cars. This was The Green Hell where cars vary from Ford Transits to hyper-cars capable of 200 mph and 2 people die or are seriously injured per week.
So, what did I opt to drive on this horror of tracks? That’s right, a Suzuki Swift Sport. In hindsight, not the best choice. However, it was all I could afford to pay the insurance excess on should I crash or be involved in an incident. I think it wasn’t cheap even then, something like 6000 Euros. So, my dreams of flooring it in a fast beauty like these faded away…
However, it was a blast. I felt like I was standing still when I was near 100 mph on the straights but it was still a great laugh. In all I did 4 laps in my little hatch but the effort was immense. I literally had to peel myself out of the seat afterwards. Strangely, I was not satisfied with my extended near death experience, so I decided to spend a little more money on the Ring Taxi, which was in my case a BMW M3 driven by a slightly unhinged man with no idea of what the word slow meant. Whilst I held on for dear life (to the point my hands sweated so much they went wrinkly) and we hurtled along at near 300 kmh, he calmly noted that it was beginning to rain!
As we arrived back at the gate with (and I’m not joking here) smoke pouring from the brakes, I considered that my time as a racing driver should be restricted to the odd track day in a small car or a kart….
On to more sensible pursuits, my last trips out before my holiday came to an end. I decided that it would be interesting to go a little further afield and ended up at a large fort and the confluence of two rivers in Koblenz. It started rainy, but cleared to a beautiful day in the end, which assisted me in find the place finally as it was truly hidden away, strangely enough for a fort. Set in wonderfully landscaped parkland, my first issue arose as I rounded the corner to park the car only to be met by a ticket operated barrier. Think about it. That’s right, I was the wrong side. However, the German people are helpful and a young lad saw my issue and ran over, took my ticket, popped it in the machine and I was through. Bless him, I stopped and shook his hand and he told me in pretty good English that he had raised this issue before with the staff and he was sorry. What a nice bloke!
Here we were, Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, backbone of the Prussian defences in the 1800s located on the eastern bank of the Rhine, overlooking the confluence of the Mosel and the Rhine. It is the northernmost point of the World Heritage Site I have mentioned before.
It seems that I had arrived on a day of festivities, as there were ladies and gents in all sort of uniform as through there was a general re-enactment theme going on. Pretty cool. However, I wanted to get as many images of them as possible but there was always something modern in the background, so I got precious few pictures like that….
During its years of active service, the fortress had never been attacked. It escaped being dismantled after the end of World War 1 as a result of its perceived historical and artistic value. The American General Henry Allen, convinced of its historical value as a premier 19th century fortress, prevented its intended destruction in 1922. It was occupied after 1919 by the US Army as their headquarters during the occupation of this area and then after January 1923 it was occupied by the French. During World War 2 the fortress served as a place of safekeeping for archives and cultural objects. After this, it was used first by the French Army before it was handed over to the State when it served as a refugee camp and then, in the period of insufficient housing in the early 1950s, as residential housing into the 1960s. I bet it was blooming cold surrounded by all that concrete! Today, the fortress is fully open to visitors. It is connected to the town of Koblenz across the Rhine by a cable car which I had to take…..
At the bottom of the cable car is Deutsches Eck (“German Corner”) where the Mosel river joins the Rhine, plus it is also home to a monumental statue of William I, the first German Emperor. In typical British understatement, it’s a pretty big statue.
I can’t really post a picture of scale, but the pictures above show the size of the statue in comparison to the headland, as well as showing the confluence of the two rivers quite clearly. You are looking for the point of the headland where the darker water meets the lighter water, that is the merging of two great rivers. Quite subtle, unless you were looking for it! Believe me, once you went up to the water, apart from a little disturbance on the surface, it isn’t all that obvious. As well as that, most people come for the monument, so weren’t even looking at the water.
I had a quick wander around, picked up something to eat before they day was getting a little old, so it was time to pop back on the cable car back up to the fort and head off home. As I left, I was looking for my saviour yet again but, bless his cottons, he must have said something to the staff as there was a guy from the cafe actually waiting at the barrier on my side so I could hand him my ticket and get out! See, there are nice people in the world.
On the way home, I decided to take a detour via the vineyards again where I remembered that there was a picturesque ford in a lovely green valley, so, here endeth the German road trip…I thought this would be a nice picture to send you all off with.
As of the next time I post, there will be more home grown posts, I promise. Maybe I shouldn’t take so many pictures on holiday? Not sure. But, if you are still reading, thanks a lot. I appreciate you sticking with it and hope to see you here in July. Good Lord. Where has the year gone?
Ta-ta for now!
I hope this latest post of the blog finds you well. I am keeping up with my monthly muse and hope that you are enjoying the pictures (although one of my subscribers said it was not the best for pictures, it was ironically the best blog ever for likes…my email was pinging like crazy). The weather here in south west wales has finally bottomed out, the sun is getting a bit warmer and the hedges and skies are becoming more interesting (for further info on the local loveliness and general pretty things, investigate my Instagram @lukegeoffreyjohnson, I’ll be happy to see you). I’m out on the bike more for the May Tour of Pembs and ventured far far away to Kilgetty on a training run lately. It was interesting. All I will say to those who overtake near cyclists is please, think. We are very light and cars hurt, so next time you overtake a cycling colleague, give them a bit more room 🙂
Anyway, the blog. For those who are concerned that there will be pictures of motor vehicles this month, fear not! No cars. This week, I am posting of the wonder of nature yet again. In fact, a Guinness World Record holding wonder of nature. Beat that. This visit is based in and around Andernach which is a lovely, although on the day I visited it was a bit dull.
Andernach is situated on the River Rhine, 13 miles (21 km) north of Koblenz, a more industrial town I didn’t visit as the roads frightened me to death. A little way downstream of Andernach, the Rhine valley narrows from both sides forming the northern part of the romantic “middle Rhine”. In Roman times the place the narrow passage begins was named “Porta Antunnacensis” or Andernachian Gate, formed by two hills. Founded by the Romans in about 12 BC on the site of an old settlement, Andernach is one of the oldest towns in Germany. In addition to themedieval remnants of the old town fortifications as seen above, the city of is the location of several old industrial plants such as a huge malt mill, but now also to a large steel-mill to produce cold formed tin plate and companies manufacturing medicinal products, raw food materials, cast iron products, engines and engine parts. See, we are straying back to cars again! As I wandered the banks of the river, barges were frequently plying their way up and down…..
However, the main reason for my visit was the geyser. No, not like out of Eastenders! A water based geyser which is a remnant of the volcanic region and quite unusual in as much that it is cold water and acts with force generated in a fashion similar to that in a shaken bottle of fizzy water..it is quite powerful, reaching up to 200 ft (60 m) but I suspect less height in the video I took and posted on YouTube. As you approach the geyser along the Rhine on a special boat (you cannot access the area directly by foot, so that’s a nice little earner), things actually look quite tame…
However, every so often, usually every couple of hours, the geyser erupts, quite quietly at first, then up it goes! On 9 November 2008, the Andernach Geyser was officially recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest cold-water geyser in the world. See, these fantastic things you have on your doorstep. I had never heard of this place before I saw the leaflet….
I was amused to read that this geyser was actually found, in a way, by mistake. Although a borehole was sunk to look for carbon dioxide, they just kind of did this one randomly due to someone thinking they saw bubbles rising in the waters of an old Rhine ox-bow lake. Boom. Geyser. Result. It was used for commercial reasons to begin with but then the was replaced by a more mechanised manner and the geyser has reverted to being a tourist attraction. Although, having seen the state of the drains and the iron showing in the water and on the rocks, I’m none too sure I would have drunk the water fizzed by this geyser…
On to the town itself. Lovely place. It is full of remnants of days gone by and tourists who also come to the region for the geyser and volcanology usually visit these, such as the 183 feet (56 m) tall “Round Tower” (“Der Runde Turm”) finished in 1453….
One thing I liked was the fantastically preserved castle keep and wall that had been seemingly hijacked by the local allotment society. I walked past it a few times on my way around the museums and though that the flowers and plants looked a bit strange until, on closer inspection, I found that they consisted of a wide range of vegetables! Weird, but what a fantastic use of land that would normally be waste ground or just plain grass…
In the distance behind this, was a very well looked after massive gate and gardens that you could tour at your leisure, in some areas you could even walk around on the parapet, although the view from here was not all that brilliant, just rooftops…
Another item from its ancient industrial past is the “Old Crane” of Andernach situated outside the town downstream close to the river bank of the old harbour where it replaced an even older 14th century wooden floating tread-wheel crane. For 350 years it was in operation from 1561 to 1911. Two to four men were required to rotate the crane top which lifted and lowered the load—mainly millstones and tuff, some results of which were on show in the local museums in the form of these intricately carved columns…
Well, there you have it. Who would have thought that there was record breaking cold water geyser a few hours away from you in Germany? I tell you, most people think of hot places and beaches for holidays, but the more I visit places closer to home, the more I realise there is much to be seen there…and Germany is a place I would love to return to. Perhaps not this exact area but Germany is a big place with a rich history.
Next time, we are off to Cologne where I test my lungs and legs to the extreme by stupidly ascending to the highest part of the cathedral…by foot! Was it worth it? Find out when you see the views!
Thanks for stopping by, see you all soon
Well, here we are, another post and it is nearly the month of March! Crazy stuff. Life is busy as ever and with the impending onset of the (admittedly, self-inflicted) training regime for the Tour of Pembrokeshire, it is set to get busier, I dare say. Apparently, it’s a 12 week improvement plan, or something. I shall let you know how it is going.
Anyway, for one thing, I hope the weather picks up some time soon. A little while ago, I may have mentioned the onset of the back end of Storm Doris (thanks to the US for sending that across) but it seems that was a false alarm and this is now the time for Doris to hit. According to one of my my little weather gadgets, it is set to rain…..
For ease of reference, this little bulb, known in the lingo as a “Goethe Globe” is a weather predictor in that, once filled with liquid, a pocket of sealed air with a constant pressure is created inside the device. As the atmospheric pressure changes outside the glass, it will affect this sealed air. A high atmospheric pressure system will push the liquid down the spout, as the outside air is heavier than the trapped air inside. Low pressure will cause the trapped air to be heavier than the outside air and will push the water up the spout. High atmospheric pressure or a “low reading” in the spout usually indicates fair weather, while a “high reading” in the spout usually forecasts poor weather or a low pressure system. In this instance, it seems that it should have been raining buckets indoors!
However, I digress. I seem to recall that I promised you all a castle, or in German “ein schloss”, so here we are. On the day in question, following the roads and my few euros worth of map, I happened upon Burresheim Castle. In so doing, I chose a unique place, as this castle, together with Eltz and Lissingen, is one of the few sites in the Eifel that have never been conquered or destroyed and have been able to withstand the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as numerous European upheavals since.
That being the case is all well and good, I was just struck by the fact it was a pretty good looking building all in all. From the moment you entered the grounds, you could tell this was a mature and well established property (click the link for an old painting of the castle) and was especially taken by the lovely gardens to the side. The effort that goes into the maintenance of the pyramid bushes is pretty awesome in itself.
Moving further in, a glance at the floor lets you know that this place has been around for a few years. In fact, the castle was built in the 12th century and Bürresheim was mentioned in documents for the first time in 1157 along with the owners at the time. You can see the age of the property by the visible ruts in the stone entrance way worn down by umpteen horses and carts transporting their wares ….
How is this for an olde worlde kitchen too eh? OK, so I know that all of the equipment here is most likely not original, but I am sure there is an attempt to make the fixtures and fittings as close to authentic as possible. Imagine rustling up dinner using the rickety cupboard and stone fireplace…..by candlelight. Respect to the cooks!
Talking of trying to be authentic, it is worth mentioning that what you see in the photos is not what you saw if you clicked on the link above to the original painting of the castle. The complex, which currently appears as a closed unit, has only been like this since the 15th century. Previously, they were two completely independent, non-connected and differently sized buildings. Once upon a time, the fortress of Bürresheim was secured by a few walls and drawbridges. The latter are nowadays buried and only a few remains are left of the walls. On other matters though, get a load of this door….that there is a piece if fine architecture. Beats IKEA hands down…..
It seems that this castle was so good, it even had a brief flutter with the movies. That’s right, Burresheim is famous, albeit under different names. A brief exterior shot of the castle can be seen in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where it features as the fictitious Brunwald Castle on the German-Austrian border, where Professor Henry Jones Sr is held. Additionally, it has featured in German domestic films for children as a kings castle, an advert showed the baroque garden as well as the castle in the background and in May 2009 filming took place for a German language version of Rumpelstiltskin. So, in honour of a static building being more famous than I, a further picture of the lovely exterior inclusive of gardens is due!
Onward now to a couple of water based images. On the way back from here, I stopped at what I thought was a pleasant lake for a leg stretch/walk. Judging by the large car park and numerous cafes, I thought it would be nice but it turned out to be very interesting too. What I had actually found was the Laacher See, an oval volcanic caldera lake around 1.5 miles in diameter up in the hills. It is part of the larger Eifel volcanic range and caldera features in the area, after an eruption formed the lake around 13,000 years ago. Since then it slowly filled with water but was expanded a bit in Roman times as the lava was quarried for millstones until the introduction of iron rollers for grinding corn. On the western side lies the Benedictine monastery of Maria Laach. The lake has no natural outlet, but is drained by a tunnel dug before 1200 and rebuilt several times since. As you can see, the nature of the rock makes the water as clear as a bell, which probably accounts for the popularity with tourists.
Having a Google, there are guesses of what this eruption might have appeared like at the time. SCIENCE ALERT! Much text about volcanoes now; please scroll down if you are likely to be bored easily or frightened by scales of the eruption in numbers! It is very interesting though, so please, hang on in there…..
So, for what seems a fairly small hole in the ground, the effects that it would have had were pretty far reaching and quite humbling. According to the scientific guff and in summary, volcanism in Germany can be traced back for millions of years, due to the collision between the African and Eurasian plates, but it has been concentrated in bursts associated with glacial advances and retreats. The initial blasts forming the Laacher See, which took place in late spring or early summer, flattened trees up to 3 miles away. The magma opened a route to the surface which erupted for about ten hours, with the plume probably reaching a height of 20 miles. Activity continued for weeks or maybe even months, with pyroclastic flows travelling 6 or 7 miles away covering the area with hot sticky mud. According the surveys, near the crater deposits are over 150 feet thick and even many miles distant, they are still 30 feet thick. In this eruption, all plants and animals for a distance of about 40 miles would most likely have been exterminated.
Unbelievably, the sticky mud actually seems to have dammed the Rhine River and created a lake! When this burst, the water flooded downstream and traces of this mud have found in Bonn, 50 miles away. Fallout effects have been recorded in an area of more than 120,000 square miles, covering from central France to northern Italy and from southern Sweden to Poland.
The wider effects of the eruption on weather were pretty harsh too, amounting to several years of cold summers and up to two decades of environmental disruption in Germany. However, the lives of the local population, known as the Federmesser, were massively disrupted. Before the eruption, they were a sparsely distributed people who existed by foraging and hunting, using both spears and bows and arrows. According to archaeologist Felix Riede, after the eruption the area most affected by the fallout (the area nearby occupied by the Federmesser) appears to have been largely depopulated and population shifted to southwest Germany and France. However, he states that these people seem had a lower level of toolmaking skills than the Federmesser and appear to have lost the bow and arrow technology. In Riede’s view the decline was a direct result from the disruption caused by the Laacher See volcano eruption. In essence, the eruption set the evolution of northern Europe back a little, which is pretty blooming scary when you consider the existing volcanoes and the population nearby in parts of Europe such as Naples.
Anyway, not that anything is likely to happen in our lifetimes, let us bask in the prettiness of the clear water and try and forget the geological time-bombs around the world!
That was a little bit of a sobering note to end up on wasn’t it? Sorry about that. You have to admit that it is fascinating though isn’t it? The fact that surveys can find things like this out and a picture can be built up of what might have happened, is very interesting to me and I hope that it was for you too. Don’t worry, I don’t go all science all the time, there was a few easily accessible articles that had clear illustrations in, so I couldn’t help myself. Calm your fevered brows with a nice green landscape….
You’re welcome. Next time, I shall avoid science, honest. Thanks for reading as ever, see you soon with a more light hearted blog, promise!
Welcome back to the continuing saga that is my blog. It’s been a bit busy of late, many many things have been going doooown. I shan’t go into details, but bear with me if there are delays in my unofficial resolution of posting monthly!
Anyway, here I am. Ready to embark on the Eifel roadtrip, part deux. As I said last time, I will try to limit the posts to a couple of days at a time unless there’s something pretty awesome to share and, bear in mind, for the one picture you see, I’ve been through tens! Ah, the memories.
So, moving on from settling in Adenau, I decided that day trips were in order and I was spoilt for choice as to where to go, so I opted for the “buy a five euro map and see where it takes me” option. In essence, this next few images takes us through some lovely forest and architecture around the towns of Bad Münstereifel, a historical spa town (“bad” translates to “baths” in German), situated in the far south of the North Rhine-Westphalia. It was lovely and quiet when I went. Also featured is Mayen, often called ‘The Gateway to the Eifel’.
However, in the interests of my ridiculously nerdy car interests, I must post an arty shot of my ride for the holiday, my (since traded in, sadly) Ford Fiesta ST-2….
Look at her. What a beauty. I know some will roll their eyes when I say this, but I still pine after that car. It was quick, fun, sounded awesome on turbo whistle and pop when you got things right and was surprisingly economical. In the drive over, cruising with cars double or treble the power at near 90/100 mph (legally) I returned over 40 mpg. Really impressive. However, reality then comes back to haunt me. Although the seats were super comfortable, if you were on a road of low quality or a traffic calmed area, you could wave goodbye to your fillings and lumbar health as the suspension was harder than Chuck Norris. It also hated being driven slowly. In fact, to maintain the engine, it had to be driven quite vigorously to stop carbon build up. This is a fact, check Google. So, I’m afraid it had to go, as I have a very short commute. But let us not go on, back to the pictures.
I arrived at Bad Münstereifel on an off day. The weather up until this point had been pretty good, but this day was an exception. I sat in the car for a while to wait for the rain to stop! When it did, or at least it stopped for a period of time, I found it was quite a quirky place…
I’m sorry? A telephone box in Germany? Strange. I never did get to the bottom of this. All I know is that I saw a news item recently that said the going rate for one of these is £12,000 so if they paid that, I’d show it off too! The other buildings around the markt (market) were gorgeous old churches such as this one near the walls of the town (seen off to the left)…
Also you could see original buildings made of wood, as you could in many other towns I visited, vividly and lovingly painted by the owners. Shame that a good portion of them were now lawyers or some business. Apparently, this town has a speciality in training the legal profession. Well, we all have our bad points, don’t we?!
After copious use of my terrible German resulting in a double order of a pastry I didn’t actually want, I thought it best to stop sheltering from the showers and get a move on to somewhere else…after all, the cafe staff were look at me funny. Again, another fortuitous turn on to a fabulous road. I think I actually turned around and drove this a few times, it was so good, plus I had it all to myself.
Not only did I find a nice road, but I stumbled upon, of all things a hydroelectric plant. What else? As I rumbled along, I suddenly realised I was on a dam and had to double take, as it wasn’t marked on the map…but then again, why would you? Not all tourists are nerds. Oh. Just me then. No stopping or turning on the dam, so a few quick maneuvers later I found a car park for a local holiday park and went to investigate. Unfortunately, I find that, on this occasion, I have omitted to make any note of the name of this dam like I usually do when I visit places, or it may not have even had one so apologies for that….
Quite picturesque, don’t you think? I thought so. Now, I’m no engineer, but I am impressed by engineering. Think of me as Jeremy Clarkson without the pot belly and terrible fashion sense, he also loves cars and engineering but couldn’t build a dam, I’m sure. Wandering around, I stumbled upon a pretty big hole in the dam and took a peek inside…
Good Lord. Now that is a hole and a half. I wonder what the heck you would put in there. Oh yes, I think I see what goes in there now….
A turbine and a valve for the water the size of a truck, that’s what goes in there. I know that some people are left pretty cold by stuff like this, but think about the materials and thought that goes into stuff like this. Even just the valve at the front being made of the right metal to withstand so much pressure, not break and to regulate the flow reliably so we get the right amount of power. Pretty awe inspiring. I shan’t dwell though, so onward to Mayen, ‘The Gateway to the Eifel’.
In Roman times, Mayen, was an important economic centre. From the 3rd century until the Middle Ages, potteries operated here and their products were traded and sold across Central Europe. In much earlier times (I refer to these as “the grunting years”), nearby quarries were the sources of basalt to make millstones and tuff used to make grave goods. Sadly, during the Second World War, in late 1944 and early 1945, approximately 90% of the town was destroyed. After the war and following a special referendum which addressed costs of rebuilding, the people voted to rebuild the town. This is why there are so few buildings of note standing and they look so new…
However, I thought that those were standing were lovely examples of the local tall and towering architecture, especially this gate to the town that had been rebuilt from a few feet that was left standing after the bombing…
So concludes this round of the Eifel tour for now. If you want to see more impressive buildings, keep this frequency clear, as I managed to find a nice picture perfect “schloss” or castle with some fantastic gardens for you. Think of the type you see on brochures and postcards hanging over the Rhine Valley and you aren’t far wrong!
See you soon and again, thanks for dropping by
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….
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.
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….
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?
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….
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.
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….
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!
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….
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….
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!
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…
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!
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…
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.
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.
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…
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….
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..
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!
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…
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.
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!
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.
I hope that you are all well. December already eh? I hope that we have all been making in-roads to our Christmas present buying? I have asked a few of the guys at work and the consensus seems to be that it is best to go out on Christmas Eve. Whilst, I’m usually quite organised, I am loathed to do any before the month begins with a “D” but I got some last weekend, so there goes that precedent….
Anyway, I arrive to yet another update on WordPress so I am hoping that all the buttons are in roughly the same place and this doesn’t get complicated. Seems straight forward so far.
Before I forget, I must pass on some sad news. The Temposcope didn’t make it 😦 Seems that although quite a few thousand people believed in the gadget, they weren’t rich enough to pull it off and the fund fell short by around $100,000, which is no small margin I will admit. I was quite disappointed as I was promised some feedback by Weathernet as to their involvement but never got any….which reminds me, it’s been awfully quiet regards my winnings. Hmmm.
Anyway, less of my finances and more of the pictures. This week, I find my search landing at a trip I took to Newgale beach at low tide following the storms I wrote about a few post back, hence the title. The first picture tells quite a story showing what angry wave can do to a walkway on a beach…
Actually, the reeeeal reason of my visit to this beach after the storm was due to the fact that the erosion and backwash (is it called backwash when referred to in a geological manner?) by the waves had revealed a rarely seen treat. A submerged forest. Sweet. I shall try to explain in my very no geological manner as much as possible, starting with this picture, which shows a preserved peat bed..
If you look closer, you can see traces of roots and ferns. Quite a jumble, so I expect that the plants that used to live on top would have been thick and lush. I used Google to look into the type of plants that were here and when and it seems that Newgale peat and the fragments scattered around contain remains of preserved stumps of willow, hazel, oak, pine and birch. The site I found refers to such wood remains as ‘Noah’s Trees’ from an earlier belief, before their true nature was understood, that they were believed to be the result of the biblical flood which gave birth to numerous myths and legends of cities and countries swept away by the sea.
It goes on to explain that as well as wood, the remains of animals have been excavated from the deposits around the tree stumps, including red deer and brown bear from Whitesands and pig from Lydstep, both in Pembrokeshire. How fascinating! The tree stumps are rooted in peat levels lying below the marine sand (see the pictures earlier where they were exposed) and have been preserved by the continuous waterlogged conditions…in fact the council in some instances attended to cover large logs with pebbles to preserve and prevent them drying too much. The sites around the Welsh coast do not represent a single flood, apparently fancy technical dating techniques give dates showing that most sites have trees that died around 3 to 5,000 years ago….
Isn’t it mad to that that the stick poking from the sand above could be that old? If you think about it hard enough, it gives you a headache. To reiterate, this is how wet it was. I went into a small cave at the high tide mark and the water was running down the rocks where it is usually dry…
Once I had got home and it was dark, as we hadn’t had enough, there were more showers appearing over the Preseli Hills in the distance. Apologies for the blue tinge, no sun to give this image any warmth, such is the danger of pictures at night!
Well, there we have it once more. Now you can impress your friends and/or co-worker about the effect of an erosive wave action on a submerged forest. Say, “marine sand” or “underlying peat layer” on occasion, you are golden. Instant IQ increase. Have a beard? You’re a scientist. Thank me later.
Thanks for dropping in..come back soon for more of my fave local landmarks and holiday snaps with scintillating explanations or artistic insight. Coming soon is a petrolhead experience to Germany with a long detour via the Eifel National Park.