Sharing the scone

It just isn’t done. A scone is a beautiful thing, particularly when smothered in butter and/or (don’t judge the calories) thick cream. It’s not for sharing, after all there are other scones. So imagine my unease when, having sat down in the sunshine to eat my scone and drink my coffee, I was approached by two Chaffinches who wanted me to share my scone with them.

“They won’t sell us a scone of our own,” they protested. I fell for it. For 20 minutes, I shared bits of scone with two hungry and grateful chaffinches.

I set off early this morning for Dryslwyn Castle and the plan was to climb to the ruins and then head off to the National Botanic Gardens nearby. Weighed down by a full bag of camera and lenses, I set off from the car park, pausing only to chat to a bird watcher returning to his car. “The Whooper Swans haven’t arrived yet,” he said in answer to met enquiry about whether he’d seen anything interesting. “I’ll try further up the river, but I think they may be late this year.” We parted with a comment about the weather, and I started the short but steep climb to the old castle.

At the top, I could see the rain coming in from the west and a rainbow showed where the rain was already falling. I didn’t linger; taking photos of the castle still bathed in sunlight with my normal camera and the one converted to shoot infra red. In the distance, Paxton’s Tower was also picked out by the sun. This was built shortly after Admiral Nelson’s death at Trafalgar by his friend William Paxton. It was part of the estate that now makes up the Botanic Gardens.

As I left the hilltop, the rain started and I just managed to get to the car before the heavens opened. After the short drive back tot he gardens, I waited in the car until the rains topped. By the time I emerged from the ticket office, the sky was clear and blue and the sun warm on my back. I spent the next hour or so slowly wandering around the site, ending up in the fantastic biodome built on the site of the original manor house. Inside, it was pleasantly warm and the flora were all from parts of the world with Mediterranean climates. As I made my way through African and Australian bushes, a small plane buzzed overhead.

Then to the cafe, housed in the old stable yard. A scone and coffee were on order and I’d seen one of the staff wiping down the seats outside, so I decided to eat out in the sunshine. Before I’d even finished buttering my scone, two chaffinches turned up. While one distracted me by sitting on the back rest of the chair opposite, the other tried to sneak in under the table. I slowly reached for my camera and this seemed to put the sneaky bird off. But in no time, they were both back and jumping on to the table. Maybe the crumbs of cone I’d scattered for them was too tempting. Maybe they were interested in my camera. They were both very tame and for a few moments I thought I might be able to get one to eat from my hand. But a loud child shattering the calm spooked both birds and they disappeared.

It was time to head back and I left plenty of crumbs for my little friends and set off down the path to the gate. On the way, I spotted dragonflies and I managed to act as voyeur as two of them expressed their love for each other while darting about over a little inlet of a larger pond. Having finished, one sped off and the other dropped into the water, only just managed to drag itself out before the wings got too waterlogged. A fine finish to the morning.

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Holidays!

I’m off on leave. I should have been clambering all over the Brecon Beacons ¬†but that’s not happening at the moment. So I have to try and find things to do to make the leave worthwhile and that don’t involve creating dents in the sofa where by bottom fits nicely. It’s hard (no, not my bottom, finding things to do). But here goes.

Yesterday was taken up mainly with the bitty, tedious administration stuff that has to be done but doesn’t have to be liked. The car went for a service. I hate spending money and not getting anything for it and with a car service (or MOT) it’s just money that disappears. Rather like petrol and taxes and so on. I took it easy in the afternoon, cleaned, changed the bedding (bored yet?) and took a load of clothes and other bits and bobs down to the local charity shop. The house is looking a little more empty than it was.

Today was much better. An early morning phone call from the female equivalent of Stephen Hawking told me my travel insurance claim has been accepted and will be paid in full within 5 working days. What a bizarre call at 8am. They’ve obviously decided my land line is a mobile phone. Still, nice to know that I’m, not out of pocket for the trip. I only hope the record of my claim accurately shows it to be as a result of an injury, not a condition, so that I can get insurance when I do decide to do the next trek.

Happy with that, I headed off to the River Tywi at Nantgaredig to take photos of the bridge, hopefully with loads of mist, and then on to Dryslwyn and the castle. The bridge was mist free but looking east, some of the trees lining the river had mist as a backdrop. and I spent a few minutes trying different settings to make the most of the conditions. In my mind, I was thinking ‘high key’ and with a few straight shots as bankers, I played around with the exposure to lighten the scene.

Then it was on to the castle, which I could see on a hill top in the distance. At first, it looked as if part of the remaining wall had fallen away but as I got closer I could see that this was a trick of the mist occasionally covering the hilltop. At the care park, I wandered along the river bank for a few minutes, managing to disturb a heron in the process.¬†Throwing all caution to the wind, I made my way up to the top of the hill – and my leg didn’t fall off! Unfortunately, the most was the wrong kind of mist – the type that obscures rather than adds depth – and the photos I’d imagined weren’t to be found.

Instead, I decided to head back home and to call in to the doctors to see if my X-ray results had turned up. They had and although I need to speak to the doctor, the receptionist said they were marked ‘normal’. Probably not mine then as little about me has ever been described as ‘normal’. Nevertheless, this second piece of good news made me reconsider going home to rest up, so I grabbed the camera and headed down to the Botanical Gardens in Singleton Park to get some close-ups of flowers. And I wasn’t disappointed. The dull conditions are ideal for macro as there are fewer shadows and the even lighting brings out detail. There was plenty of colour too, and I spent a pleasant half hour wandering around snapping away.

The day is still young, though, so once I’ve posted this I’ll probably be off to do some strimming in the garden. Not worthy of a blog post in itself, unless something dramatic happens.

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