Windswept

I went for a stroll to Singleton Park this morning. Although this weekend had been planned as a break from training, I actually like walking and so I have been out and about. Yesterday was quite a challenging afternoon. Today was the calm after the storm (I’m hoping that will be a new phrase like ‘the calm before the storm’ – remember, you heard it here first).

So off down the road to the park with the intention of photographing masses of brown Autumnal leaves and a few colourful trees. But the recent winds seem to have cleared all the newly fallen leaves, or other photographers have gathered them up for still life shots. I was left with the half rotten, dark brown ones that are slowly turning into mulch. Not photogenic at all.

But the sun was out and there were some colourful trees and I was happy. It was a lovely morning – I love the early part of the day before most people are about. It feels as if it’s special – mine – and only a few get to see it like this.

I was using the infra red camera a lot this morning and that really brought out the trees against the dark sky. I tried taking comparison shots with the normal camera and I’ve posted a pair here out of interest. I took a completely new route away from the main path; it surprises me how big Singleton Park is and I’ve lived near it for years.

I walked as far as the beach. There were several joggers and dog walkers and the tide was on it’s way out. Yesterday, driving along Oystermouth Road, the sand was whipping up off the beach and creating mini sandstorms along the dual carriageway. Today there was barely a breeze.

Back in the park, I started noticing storm damage. One tree had been stripped of it’s branches and stood like a might telegraph pole. It had clearly been done as a safety precaution as the job was too neat. Then I spotted a tree that had snapped off midway up it’s trunk. The sharp spikes pointed skywards. Finally, I found my usual route back blocked by a lot of branches. I skirted around them to find a tree completely uprooted. It was quite sad to see this massive and old tree pushed over as it if had been a sapling. I pass this tree every time I walk through the park and I always marvel at how big and sturdy it looks. Not being an expert in tree things, it looks to me as if it could just be pushed back into place, with a bit of mulching, and left to get on with it. But it is huge and I guess to get a machine that could achieve that would be expensive. I expect it will be chopped up for firewood.

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The Weekend

Most of us spend 71.4% of our time thinking about it or planning for it, wishing it was coming, anticipating the difference it will bring or the potential it holds.  Sometimes we wish our lives away in the hope that it will come sooner.

My weekend started off with a takeaway and a movie. It’s a great way to end the week and we always have a laugh, whether it’s because of the movie (we tend to watch cheesey horror – the more predictable the better) or just a natural release of the stresses and emotions of a full on week of work. Tonight it was Frightnight, and with David Tennant in the role of a self styled vampire hunter, it was always going to be entertaining.

Saturday dawned grey and misty. I had a few things to do which would culminate in picking Rufus up from his hair consultant (a dog must look his best) after a summer cut to remove his shaggy winter coat. But first I headed off to Margam park to take some photos in the early morning mist. I like Margam with its beautiful Gothic house and the ruins of the original 16th Century manor house nearby. I had the park to myself most of the time I was there and I enjoyed the brief stroll around the grounds.

Then it was back to Swansea and the library and then a brief visit to the seafront. Eventually, with all my jobs and chores done I got round to collecting the hound, minus most of his fur, from the stylist. We headed off to the river Tawe, one of our favourite places and somewhere mentioned several times before in this blog. We had a great time splashing around in the water; Rufus was clearly relieved to have his warm coat removed. He managed to fall into a deep pool at one point when he over balanced in his eagerness to retrieve a stone I’d thrown for him. I managed to grab him but he made his own way back to the rocks and then, in revenge for my part in his soaking, he shook himself all over me so that we were both drenched!

Today, I woke early as the sun was shining through the curtains. Before breakfast, I headed off to Tycoch square and the site of my old junior school which has been demolished to make way for a block of flats. I’ve been taking photos of the area for a while in anticipation. The removal of the great red brick building has made a huge difference to the square, allowing more light in to the area. I’m sad to see it go (my mum went to school there too) and I hope the flats don’t overload the local infrastructure. I suspect they will, though.

Then I went down to Mumbles as there was a lot of sea mist and I could see the potential for some nice photos. I had Mumbles pretty much to myself, apart from the odd jogger and cyclist. I was back home by 9.30 to have breakfast (I’d been quite keen to get out). The rest of the day was spent doing work on the house (the bathroom again) and the garden. This is the year of sorting my garden out. Again. No, really. I’ve had enough practice.

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Chance of Frost

After Wednesday’s joyful stroll in the worst kind of weather, I was determined to go back to the waterfall we found to get a proper look and get some decent photographs. Watching the weather forecast, Saturday morning was looking good apart from one slight technicality – frost and ice. The road to the start of the walk is narrow, high up and exposed. It’s situations like this that make me realise I really need a 4×4 as I find myself more and more in places where there is some uncertainty about being able to get there or, more importantly, get away from there.

So Rufus and I set out really early and slipped and slid our way alongside the River Tawe – more of a large stream at this point – until we found a suitable parking spot. (Of course, if I had a 4×4, anywhere would be suitable). Wellies on (essential for croossing the stream) and we were off up the hillside towards the waterfalls.

It was a beautiful morning. The sky was clear, the air was crisp and a thick frost underfoot took care of the mud. As we started up the hill, the golden sun poked it’s head over the hilltop behind us and we began to warm up. Overhead, people flew to or from America.

We very quickly reached the first waterfall, and while Rufus dredged the stream bed, I set up the camera and started to snap away. We moved slowly up the course of the stream, which was swollen with water from the recent rain. The rising sun partially lit the waterfalls but cast an annoying shadow too. Nevertheless, I got some great photos.

With a combination of several neutral density filters I was getting exposure times of 30 seconds or so and Rufus realised early on that this meant less time for stone throwing. So as I set the camera up for yet another picture, he stood on a rock in the stream and encouraged me with some a couple of well timed barks. It was no good, stones had to be thrown!

After an hour or so, we headed back down to the road and the Tawe and I rewarded Rufus’ patience with a lot more stone throwing and some swimming. We headed back to the car happy and content, with one of us being a little more wet than the other.

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