5 years in the planning

Yesterday, after 5 years of planning, discussion, postponement and more planning, I climbed Pen y Fan. Big deal, you may say, recalling the various times I’ve mentioned the highest point in the country south of Snowdonia. But yesterday’s ascent was a special one for me. I went in the company of a friend who, 5 years ago, was ill and who I promised to take to the top of Pen y Fan once she was better.

I’m glad to say she is better, and has been for a while. But it’s been impossible for us to synchronise our busy social schedules to arrive at a day to go. The weather hasn’t helped. Work hasn’t made things easy, either. But yesterday it all came together on an splendid, sunny morning. We were early enough that there were plenty of parking spaces and few people actually making the ascent. Normally on a summer Saturday there are queues of people making the long, steady climb to the top.

We set off at exactly 8am, as laid down in the project plan. We took a steady, approach and kept the pace nice and easy. Sadly, much of the talk on the way up was work related but it meant that we were occupied so that the metres slipped by without too much trouble. Before we knew it, we had reached the bwlch and rather than the howling gale I half expected, there was a gentle, cooling breeze which took the edge off the warmth we were all feeling.

It was a short walk to the top of the mountain, skirting to the east of Corn Du which wasn’t on the plan for today. The first time I ever came up here, in the company of one of my friends present yesterday, we’d missed pen y Fan completely as it was hiding beneath a cloud and we’d climbed Corn Du assuming it was our goal. It was only when we were driving off to have lunch afterwards that we realised there were two peaks not the one we’d seen.

No such trouble today and we spent a few minutes enjoying the clear view from the top before making our way back down to the car park again. By now, there were a lot of people climbing; families, dog walkers, joggers and lots of kids all sporting massive back packs. One of the rewards for getting tot he top is that you can be smug on the way down, jauntily breezing past those who, like you on the way up, are panting and taking short breaks to rest.

By the time we got back, the car park was full and as we sat and enjoyed hot drinks, we were passed by more walkers and many cars trying to find somewhere to stop.

A great morning.

 

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Fun week

Rufus has come to stay for a week while his owner moves house. This poses a few problems. The main ones being, who owns the sausages in the fridge and who owns the sofa? Actually, there is no problem on the latter, as Rufus owns the sofa and I merely have use of it when he isn’t here. I may be allowed to sit on the floor, leaning against the sofa, as a concession.

My garden has never been completely secure from intruders – I’ve talked about the fox here before. In anticipation of Rufus’ arrival, and to avoid a re-enactment of ‘The Great Escape’, I spent the last week or so putting up new fencing around the garden. I wanted to make sure that while Rufus is here he has free reign over the garden without being tempted by the wider world. Most of the fencing is done but there are a few areas which are difficult to get to and the dim light of dusk made seeing what I was doing hard. I managed to spear myself in the ear with a small branch and several times I knocked my glasses off. So this morning I tackled the awkward bits in full daylight.

I was watched by the boss the whole time, except when he had to go and lie down. He checked out every link and made sure there was no slacking of effort. Then he claimed the sofa for himself once again.

I expect there will be some negotiation over the time and frequency of walks. It may go something like:

“I want to go out now.”

“But it’s 5am.”

“Yes, time to go out.”

“But I need my sleep so I’m can be an effective work unit.”

“Yes, but it’s time to go out now.”

Then there is the little matter of the sausages. I expect it will be similar to the sofa in that it will turn out that I don’t own any of the contents of my fridge. Toast for tea, then!

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A year in statistics

Happy New Year everyone.

It’s windy and wet out, so Rufus and I are taking the opportunity to chill after a few days of being out on the hills and in the valleys of the Brecon Beacons. No doubt we’ll be out again tomorrow, so there are no feelings of guilt. Today is a day for snoring and flopping and sighing and watching things on TV that we’d never normally watch. There will probably be some eating and drinking (non-alcoholic, of course) and a little more eating.

It’s also a time for reflection. I had a look at last year’s early January posts and there were some resolutions and some reviewing. So how did I do on the resolutions?

1. Give up chocolate? Hahahahaha!

2. Do more exercise? Well, yes. I achieved that spectacularly. Not only did I increase the number of times a week I went to the gym (and the activities I did there) but I got out on a lot more mountains. I hiked and cycled a total of 1395.6km, with a peak in December of 164.8km. Also, in December I climbed a total of 6,121m – that’s 226m more than Kilimanjaro! In the last nine days I’ve climbed 2,985m.

3, Take more photos. Well, I kept 16,093 photos from last year so I guess I must have taken about 18,000. I see I took 1300 infra red images, and 804 macro images. I started and completed my ‘One-a-day’ project on Flickr.

4. Save money. Well, yes and no. I’ve made up some of the losses from the car and the house repairs, but I’ve also spent some on the trek. But my philosophy has changed from ‘save as much as possible’ to ‘save and spend wisely’. There are some things I may not be able to do when I’m older, so what is the point in saving up to be able to do them in 5 or 10 years time?

5. Improve. Well, they say a good wine improves with age. I’m not sure that applies to people. We improve by experiencing things, learning new things and practising things we already do. I’d like to think I’ve done all three. It’s hard to measure as I never set goals last year and to be honest, I didn’t want to then and I don’t want to now. My improvement will come through experience, and that may strike at any time.

No resolutions this year. They just set you up to fall. Instead, aspirations, aims and a reminder to myself of something our expedition leader said on the last Everest Base Camp trek: “There are those who dream of adventure and challenge, and there are those who go and do it.” I want to be the latter.

Finally, geeky stats (you know you want them really).

30% of this year’s photos were taken with a Nikon D7000, 11% with a Fuji X10 and only 0.01% with an iPad. 16% were taken on a full frame digital camera. 18% were taken with a Tamron 18-270mm zoom lens, 10.5% were taken with a prime lens and, according to the programme I’m using, 1.4% were taken with a lens of focal length of zero mm! And that’s the bigger picture!

366 photos - 1 a day

366 photos from my one-a day project.

600 hours

600 hours to go to my trek. 25 sleeps!

It was important to get a walk in today, regardless of the weather. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad and equally fortunately, Rufus was keen to come along .

Keen to come along? I was warm and cosy in my home, hangin’ with me bro’s in front of the fire. There was the delicious smell of home made soup in the kitchen and I was fairly confident that with a little application of puppy dog eyes, I’d get some. Then he turned up and one slip, just one wag of the tail, sealed my fate. Before I knew it I was in the back of the car listening to the wind howling outside.

We drove to the foot of Moel Feity. The plan was to go straight to the top and then drop down to the river, climb back to the top again and head back to the car. Plenty of ascent in a compact walk so that if the predicted storms did turn up, we wouldn’t be far from the car.

He pretty much dragged me out of the car. I would have been happy to wait in the relative warmth for him to come back, but oh no! I had to go. Once I was out and braced for the cold, it wasn’t too bad. There were plenty of things to investigate and, of course, I had to keep an eye on him to make sure he didn’t wander off.

We spiralled our way up the side of the mountain. By the time we got to the top, the wind was blowing. All around, the tops of the higher hills were shrouded in mist and the drizzly rain there threatened to drop down and envelope us, too. It was dark as well. We’d started out later today, so it was getting nearer to sunset than we’re normally used to.

When I faced into the wind, my ears flapped backwards and made me look slick and streamlined.

We meandered around the top of the hill for a bit, seeking the highest points, before we made our way down to the river. Once there, I threw stones for Rufus and he carefully retrieved each one from the water. We were sheltered from the wind in the little river cutting but eventually we had to leave. The wind had picked up quite a bit and as we climbed back up the side of Moel Feity, it was blowing from just behind. It helped push me up but before long the direction changed again and it was trying to blow me off course. It made the going harder.

Don’t listen to him – he’s trying to make it sound hard. I ran up the hill, jogged back down, ran around him several times, headed off to a particularly interesting scent and back again while he was huffing and puffing his way up.

At the top, we turned to face the wind again, and headed across the featureless moorland before dropping back down towards the car. On the way, I passed a strange looking ring of stones, low in the grass. It looked like a hollowed out barrow; it was too small to be a sheep fold or a permanent shelter. At the southern end was a larger upright stone. It didn’t look ancient so I’m guessing it was a small temporary shelter of some kind.

It was just a bunch of stones. No big deal.

At the car, we were both still feeling energetic, so we drove a little way down the road and stopped so that we could climb up to the standing stone above the road. It’s a short but steep climb and I wanted to get some more ascent in today in case tomorrow proves to be too stormy. Rufus cleared the stile with a little help from me and we started off up the hill.

A little help from him? Unasked for, I must say! The balancing act on the top of the stile was just that! An act! And a good one!

We reached the standing stone in no time despite deep, boggy mud underfoot. Still feeling good, we set off to climb to the top of the hill. The wind was now almost as strong as it had been last week and it was getting harder and harder to battle against it. Great training!

I was as slick in the wind as ever.

At the top, visibility wasn’t good but I could just make out Crai reservoir in the distance. Down below, beyond the standing stone, was my car. It was quicker going down and after negotiating the stile…

…in some style, I should add! Style… ha ha!…

… we got back to the car still dry. I dropped Rufus off just as the proper rain started.

It was great to get back to me homies who were keeping my bed nice and warm.

This was the route we did today.

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More hills

As I type, Rufus is lying besides me, snoring quietly. We’re both tired after a stroll on Gareg Lwyd and Foel Fraith in the mist. The fire is on and there is rubbish on the TV. Perfect.

Rufus stayed over last night but we both stayed up late so I wasn’t woken until 6.30. The garden checked, we both went back to bed and it wasn’t until around 7.30 that we both surfaced again. We took our time – the traffic at this time in the morning meant that it was pointless leaving early and so we set off around 9.15.

By 10.15, we were at Gareg Lwyd, setting off from the car park to climb the first hill. It’s part of a quarry complex and limestone was cut from the hills all around here. There are plenty of man made dips, cliff faces and a lot of quarry spoil to be wary of, and the going is quite tough as there is a lot of scree where the limestone has been broken by the action freezing and thawing. Finding a path to the top that avoids the rough ground is always a challenge.

As usual with this hill, mist was lying on the top, making the featureless plateau hard to navigate. I always get disorientated on this hill and today was no exception. But I had come prepared – a map, compass, GPS unit and the mobile phone tracking app. I used the GPS unit as it displays an OS map and was quickly back on track for the two large cairns that mark the true summit.

And there they were, faintly appearing in the mist. Rufus beat me to them and waited patiently as I picked my way through the stones. After a small snack for him, we set off over the hill and down to the shallow valley between Gareg Lwyd and Foel Fraith. The mist lifted only slightly as we got the to lowest part of the valley and thickened again as we climbed back up the other side. A chill wind picked up, too, but thankfully it was nowhere near as bad as yesterday.

The top of Foel Fraith was also shrouded in thick mist. It’s a strange feeling to be out in this kind of weather without any visual references. It’s a little scary, challenging and exciting all at the same time. Of course, I was secure with the GPS, but I’ve been on these hills before and found myself veering way off course, despite electronic aids. Sure enough, on the way back and even though I was checking the route, I noticed I’d missed one of the turns of the path.

Turning back on track, I soon began to hear the sound of traffic on the road by the car park. Moments later, we descended beneath the mist and before us were the quarry workings and beyond that the flatter farmland of Llangadog, with sunshine picking out the fields.

Back home, we settled on the sofa and the snoring started.

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Packing it in

A day off. And after a stroll into Swansea this morning, and a load of housework this afternoon, I decided that I should have a preliminary trial pack of my kit bag for Kilimanjaro. Although the trek is shorter than Everest Base Camp, some of the stuff I’m taking is bulkier. It’s colder on the upper slopes of Kilimanjaro and after the trek leader laughed at my sleeping bag at Lobuche (5100m), I thought I ought to get a warmer one. Warmer = bigger. I’ve also decided to take my duvet jacket for the same reason and I’ve been told to take an inflatable sleeping mat as the ground can be cold and uneven. As I figured out early on, to inflate it, I won’t have enough breath at high altitude, so there’s also a foot pump in there.

With everything laid out on the floor, I was wondering where to start. Last time, I started off with everything and ended up removing loads of things until I had only what I really needed. That’s the benefit of practice packs. By the third time I’ve done this, I may even get down to one of everything. But today, that wasn’t to be.

My carry on bag will take some of the bulk – after running out of clean clothes in Kathmandu, there’s be a change in there, along with my camera and various other essentials. If my main luggage is lost, I should be able to make a valiant attempt on the mountain with a couple of hired items and a lot of smelly clothes. Hmm!

Bit by bit, things went in the kit bag. Small stuff first, packing out the sides. Then the bigger bits and finally the sleeping bag. And then the fun began, because the kit bag wouldn’t close. And I’d already left out a load of things. Some repositioning of fleeces and adjusting of socks ensued to no avail. The sleeping bag was so big, even squeezed into its stuff sac, that the zips just wouldn’t meet.

It’s all very well squeezing and squashing it all in today, but I have to think about doing that each morning in a tent, tired, cold and eager to set off. So out came some more bits, in went the sleeping bag again, and then more shifting and squeezing. As I type, it’s closed and it’s not bursting at the seams.  One good thing is that the weight is just about 13kg – under the 15kg limit for the porters. And it will be lighter still on the trek, as I’ll be carrying around 5kg of stuff on my back.

I might have another go at packing tonight.

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Spamming

WordPress is pretty good at identifying and filtering out the spam comments. But I can’t help laughing at some of them as they are clearly generated automatically, or by someone for whom the English language is just something they have been told about. Probably in a dream. Here are some classics from my recent spams:

“I would not even know the way i ended up right here, but I thought this post has been great. I don’t know what you are but certainly you will a popular blogger should you aren’t already  Many thanks!”

– Well, i aren’t a popular blogger and I’m not sure what I am either. But I is working on it and if you recommend I to all your friends, my popularity is growing!

“This genuinely answered my personal problem, thanks a lot!”

– I am genuinely relieved that your personal problem was resolved by a random post about potatoes.

“Why A Hard-Nosed Millionaire Is Willing To Teach You How To Make Money Online! Watch Here”

– Possibly because the Online money making scheme involves getting ‘suckas’ to click on links to his site? Or am I being a bit too cynical?

“Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.”

– Hey there. Useful information on my blog? (Well, I guess I do resolve personal problems through the medium of spud). Hey, I’m looking forward to more of your spam comments.

“When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Many thanks!”

When you initially commented on my blog, I deleted you as a spammer. If you managed somehow to click on the ‘notify by email’ checkbox, that’s your problem, although I doubt you did, personally. However, if you did (please, oh please) and you are getting 4 emails every time someone posts a comment as a result of you trying to spam me, let me and everyone else who has ever been spammed know how it feels and we will try not to laugh at you. And they’re not spam because you asked for them. And no, there is no way I can remove you (even if I wanted to) as I don’t have access.

My comment rules:

1. I welcome genuine comments and as I say on my home page, I will read them all. If they are appropriate (i.e. tasteful and interesting) I will allow them. They don’t have to agree with me, but they must make a point without resorting to aggressive or insulting language. If they don’t meet these simple criteria I won’t allow them.

2. If you appear to be a spammer, or if the message appears to be promoting your own business/get-rich-quick scheme, I will add you to my spam list after copying the message. At some point, I will publish the messages, removing the relevant contact details, and make fun of it.

3. I don’t automatically ‘like’ or ‘follow’ you just because you have done the same to me. I will visit your site but if it’s commercial in any way (and that includes not-for-profit ‘message’ sites) then I will probably not like or follow you. There are always exceptions, and I am the only one who will make them for this site.

4. I don’t expect you to automatically like or follow me. I would rather have fewer genuine likes/followers than masses of ‘auto-likers’. I am old fashioned enough to hope that a ‘like’ actually means something rather than just being a means of generating more likes on your won site. If you get a like from me, it’s because I genuinely appreciate what you have posted. There is no obligation to like me back.

5. There is no point 5.

One of those days

It was going to be one of those days. A ‘day after’ day. I’d had a busy Saturday – and early start followed by a late finish. In addition, today’s weather was forecast to be stormy with lots of wind and rain. A fine recipe for a day in watching TV with my feet up and ultimately achieving nothing. It started off on course – I had a lie in until 8.30am – very rare for me as I feel guilty if I’m in bed after 7! When I got up I was feeling quite awake and the predicted storm hadn’t arrived. Judging by the clouds, it wasn’t far off but at least I hadn’t woken to rain lashing against the windows.

Feeling suitably inspired, I decided to try my hand at some baking. I recently harvested a lot of apples from my tree, and some blackberries from the hedge line in the garden. So apple and blackberry pie was on the cards. I followed this recipe which was straight forward enough. but never having done anything like this before, I was glued to the iPad (which was displaying the instructions). In no time, the apples were simmering, the blackberries washed and my hands were covered in pastry mix. Persevering, I managed to come up with a reasonable pie in about an hour. By the time I’d got everything in the oven, the storm had found it’s way to Wales and I was watching the tress in the garden taking a battering as I did the washing up.

I left the pie to cool and headed off into the loft to continue laying the insulation. It’s going well, and today I was able to get rid of some of the rubbish up there (there was an old TV aerial we used to use for a second TV upstairs) and some odd bits of cardboard. The last roll of insulation I had went down, and some off-cuts filled in the gaps in the corners. By my estimation, another four rolls will complete the job. I then have to fix some more wood to the floor to make a walk way, and some raised platforms to store things on so the insulation isn’t compressed. It’s another two or three evening’s work.

Then, for fun, I took some self portraits using the infra red camera. It’s kinder to the skin as the infra red light penetrates the top layer slightly, hiding blemishes. Suddenly, it was 4pm and I wondered, as I always do on a Sunday, where the time had gone. It was clear outside – the storm had disappeared off to the north – and I popped outside to see what there was to see. I managed to gather a few more blackberries and was pleased to see that some of the spiders in the hedge had survived the wind and rain.

All in all, a day of trivia and little of any consequence, but no less enjoyable for that.

PS – just had the first few mouthfuls of my pie and it is delicious!

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Back on track 2: Return of the sun

My training calls for back to back hikes. This weekend, it called for two four hour strolls. It called very loudly at 6am. But not loudly enough. After my first decent night’s sleep for ages, thanks to a lovely cool breeze coming through the windows, I was reluctant to get up. So in my head when I did surface at around 6.30am, I was late.

As I left the house, the weather was looking similar to yesterday and I guessed that I’d be walking under a sheet of grey cloud. Part of the reason for walking this weekend was to experience the heat and get used to keeping hydrated. Although hot conditions aren’t my favourite, I was looking forward to some strolling in the sunshine. I was heading for Fan Brecheiniog, an old favourite. But before I got to the turn off to the lane that leads to the start of the walk, I decided to try an new route. I parked opposite the Tafarn y Garreg and took the signposted footpath from there. It would mean a southerly climb up Fan Hir and then a nice brisk walk across the ridge to the short but steep slog to Fan Brecheiniog itself.

Immediately, I realised this was a lovely little route, following the banks of the River Tawe for several hundred yards before cutting through farmland and up onto the first part of the climb. The river was shaded by trees and the sun was shining and it would make an ideal picnic spot at some point. I’m fairly certain Rufus would approve of it’s paw cooling potential, too. (Once again, it was too hot for Rufus to make the long distance).

Climbing up the southern end of Fan Hir, the sun was shining brightly but a breeze kept the temperature from being too much. But it was steep and I could feel myself warming up. This was what I was (perversely) hoping for as I could check that my idea of hydration would work. Using the bladder and hose system is great because you don’t have to stop to drink. The theory goes that you are more likely to drink more often in that case. But it’s harder to judge how much you’ve had to drink, and how much is left in the bladder.

I reached the top of the steep part of the climb. Although I was still ascending, the slope was gentler and I sped up a little. I was consciously trying to keep a slow pace to get used to the one I’d be using on the trek. It’s still the part of hiking I find most difficult.

Before long, I’d reached the crest of the ridge and I turned north to continue along Fan Hir. The views all around were fantastic. To the south was Craig Y Nos and Waun Fignen Felin. The latter was once the site of a large lake and much evidence that prehistoric hunter-gatherers stayed in the area has been found in the form of weapons and bones of their prey. Nearby is a stone row, the Saeth Maen, which may have been a marker for travellers in the area. It’s also the site of more modern remains; several military aircraft have crashed there or thereabouts.

To the east, the dramatic near vertical face of Fan Hir dropped to the Cerrig Duon valley and the course of the Tawe. To the west, the rest of the Brecon Beacons natioanl park stretched as far as the eye can see. It’s a beautiful part of the country.

I was concentrating on the view to the north. This was the path I was taking. Underfoot lots of broken stones made the going a little harder than usual. Ahead, the seemingly endless series of little summits were crested, only to find another one ahead. But before long, I could see Fan Brechieniog in the distance. The sun was getting hot now and I was glad I’d plastered on the sun cream. I’m using a small tube of factor 50 at the moment. I didn’t notice when I bought it, but it’s for kids. So it smells of banana. Every now and again, I’d get a whiff of banana in the wind as I moved along.

The short climb to Fan Brecheiniog was tough but over quickly. Then I walked along my favourite mountain to the very northern end, where I sat and stared out at the gorgeous countryside, while eating a Snickers.

Then it was time to turn around and head back. The view south, which dominated now, was of a more industrialised landscape. There were at least three sets of wind farms in view. I could see the building where I work. The sea was crammed in between the horizon and the sky and the lush green of farmland contrasted with the grey and brown of the upland moors and rocky tops. I was walking into the wind and sun now. My hat kept the sun at bay but the wind flapped the brim and one part kept folding down over my left eye. It was annoying and ruined my depth perception, but it didn’t cause any problems.

The drop back down to the river was steeper than I remembered and I found it hard going on the knees. The path was dry and dusty which made it slippery, too. I sought grass and natural steps in the rocks to try and stop myself falling, and I managed to stay upright the whole time. As I descended, the wind died down and it became very hot in the sun. At the river, the shade was welcome and I stopped several times just to enjoy the view. I spotted a movement in the water and saw a duck trying to paddle along. The water level was low so it couldn’t float and was content with waddling between pools and spots of deeper water.

Back at the car, it was boiling and I was glad to get the back pack off and to gulp down more water.

My second hike of the weekend was just over 7.5 miles and it took 4 hours. I climbed around 700m in that time.

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Weekend Training

As you may have noticed by the theme of the last few posts, I’ve stepped up my training for the trek. I have to increase the time I’m out and I have to walk with weights to prepare for carrying the back pack. Based on experience, I think my trekking back pack will weigh 5-6kg so I’m trying to regularly train with at least twice that weight, often more if I can. I feel that the heavier the load I can manage regularly, the better it will be on the day. In the hot weather we have at the moment, it’s easy to make that weight up with water.

Yesterday, Rufus and I went out to Whiteford for a stroll. As we were walking through Cwm Ivy, I spotted a signpost for a footpath we had never tried before. I thought it would be something different, and it offered us the opportunity to walk through woods for a large part of the distance which would mean cooler conditions. Even at 8.30 am the temperature was climbing and neither of us like the heat of midday.

The path through Cwm Ivy wood was undulating but shaded by trees to give a gentle, green light. It twisted and turned until it was hard to judge which direction we were heading, but every now and then I caught glimpses of the dunes and pine woods of Whiteford burrows. Eventually, we left the canopy of trees and emerged at the edge of the salt marshes where we turned left to walk along the sea wall towards the dunes. I decided to stick with the trees as much as possible, so we left the main path and headed inot the woods. There was a nice breeze between the trees and we ambled along enjoying the morning.

We popped out onto the beach at Whiteford Point. I was hoping the tide would be in for Rufus to have a paddle but it was a distant line. However, there was a large pool of seawater close in and almost as soon as I had registered it, Rufus was in it up to his knees. There followed a 30 minute splash and chase session which Rufus enjoyed so much that he even ignored a passing dog in favour of the next stone. I turned to leave; an act that was met with a frantic series of barks which reminded me that Rufus actually runs our walks and I just participate. His barks echoed off the trees but in doing so, they lost some of their bass frequencies so although a large Cocker Spaniel barked, a tiny Terrier answered back.

Eventually, I persuaded Rufus that we had to leave and he reluctantly agreed. We headed back into the woods and weaved our way between paths, tracks and dunes. We went back through Cwm Ivy wood but even here the heat was growing and the tress that sheltered us from the sun also blocked any cooling breeze. In the car, the air conditioning was on full and we both enjoyed the fridge-like temperatures on the way home.

Today, I was up a little later after a late finishing gig last night. Rufus was home and so I decided to take a stroll down to the beach and as far as I felt like going. I was still sleepy when I left the house the the mile down to the sea front was enough to wake me up. I walked along the beach as the tide went out. There was a cooling breeze coming in from the sea which made the walking more pleasant. I managed to reach Oystermouth before deciding to turn back. By the time I got closer to Swansea again, the beach was full of people.

Swansea beach is a lovely stretch of sand that is hindered only by the unpredictable weather and a line of mud just below the high tide mark. I have great memories from my childhood of going to ‘the sands’ as I called them. Whenever I visited my grandparents (which was every 2-3 years as we stayed with them while my dad was posted from RAF station to station and was arranging accommodation), we would always go to ‘the sands’. I remember going there one day and seeing JCBs filling trucks full of the sand. I was distraught as being only 6 I thought the beach would disappear. Later I found out the sand was transported to Blackpool, of all places.

A good weekend of training, but I have to up the walking time over the next few weeks.

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