Out Out

I only popped out for milk, but somehow I found myself on the seafront near Swansea Marina watching the waves as the tide reached it’s highest point this morning.┬áThere wasn’t much of a wind and I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular but right on the promenade I could see and hear the waves pounding the sea wall. Sure enough, there were plumes of spray bursting high into the air.

I stood and watched for a while before getting the camera out. Not only did I want to make sure I experienced this properly but I also wanted to see what the waves were doing, so I wouldn’t be surprised by a big one and get soaked. Although there wasn’t a pattern I could find, I did notice that waves coming in at a certain angle created the massive spray plumes. I kept an eye out for those waves and waited.

There were others on the promenade walking dogs, jogging, riding bikes and just watching and snapping away, like me. One of the photos I had in mind was of some of those people getting soaked. However, I didn’t want to be a similar subject of someone else’s picture. Between photos, I kept a careful eye on the waves and what they were doing. High tide was around 9am and I didn’t notice any change one the tide was technically going out. In fact, the waves seemed to get stronger as I walked along the promenade towards the docks. I didn’t go far, finding a great vantage point that offered me some protection and a nice view back towards the Guildhall. Looking at the times on the photos, I see I was only there half an hour but it felt like a lot longer.

I headed off to get my milk but once again something went wrong and I found myself in Mumbles. Although the shelter of Bracelet Bay didn’t give rise to many waves, further along seemed to offer more opportunities and I took a stroll along the coastal path to Langland. Along the way I could hear and feel rather than see the waves hitting the cliffs. There was a deep boom at every impact, followed by a much higher pitched hiss as the water receded. At Langland Bay, large pebbles – fist sized of more – had been thrown on to the path and the forecourts of the cafe. As I watched, I saw similar sized pebbles being pushed up the slipway, grating and rattling as they went and occasionally hitting the metal handrail, causing it to ring.

The rain forecast for later this morning started a little early so I turned around and made for the car. It was amazing to hear and feel the thump of waves against rock as I hurried back to avoid the inevitable downpour.

I did manage to pick up milk, too.

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The wind is in the door

My great aunt, who ran a little sweet shop in a small Gower village until the (and her) early 80s, used to say ‘the wind is in the door’ in her peculiar Gower accent if there was a storm blowing. I think she would have been able to use that phrase today,

We weathered the previous storm (weathered – did you see what I did there?) partly because we had several days warning. This one sneaked in, hidden in the shadow of the big one and hit my part of South Wales harder. Following a tip from a fellow photographer, I headed off to Rest Bay to see what there was to see with the sea (I’m on wordsmithing form today – there’ll be rhymes sometime soon).

I wasn’t disappointed. I could see the rough breakers and the foam filling the air from the car park. I battled to force open the car door and struggled to make my way down to the beach against the wind, blowing directly in from the sea. It wasn’t cold, but the spray acted like rain and stung my face as it blew across the sand. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were grains of sand mixed up in it.

I walked along the coastline, heading east towards Porthcawl. The tide was coming in and although I was side on to the wind, I found it hard to make headway in the lengthy gusts. Porthcawl came into view and I could see massive waves striking the pier and crashing over the lighthouse at the end of it. I found a small pavilion to shelter behind and took a few minutes to watch and listen to the sea. There was a low, constant rumble and a higher pitched sound as the water crashed onto the rocks and pebbles. The wind added to the noise, whistling around corners and rattling anything that was not completely fixed down.

I left the shelter and was buffeted as I walked along the promenade, occasionally brought to a complete standstill by a particularly strong gust. Ahead, people lent against the wind. Coastguards stood watch on the pier as two people had tried to get on it earlier. I don’t understand why anyone would want to do that, given the ferocity of the wind and the sheer power of the waves. I took photos but I made a point of stepping back to watch and experience this powerful sea. All around, people were being blown about. As I left the pier the wind was at my back and I struggled not to go running into the middle of the road.

Huge waves were rolling in to the beach by the amusement park and bobbing about in the white water were a number of surfers braving the stormy seas. The sea was different here, though. With no rocks or walls to crash against, the waves rolled powerfully in to the beach. I didn’t see anyone manage to ride a wave while I was watching.

I turned to head back to the car and once again found myself leaning in to the wind as it tried, quite effectively, to prevent me from moving. The wind direction seemed to have change a little so that rather than coming in at 90 degrees to the path, it was now blowing slightly towards me. This meant that I was struggling to make any headway as the gusts were long and strong. Slowly I made my way up and back to the pavilion, where I took a few minutes to take some photos of the bay and the waves out to sea. Then it was off again into the wind.

I crossed the road, carefully as it meant letting the wind push me a bit, and walked as far from the beach as I could to avoid the foam. Nevertheless, I quickly became covered in it, so that I looked as if I’d been spat on by large people. Several times I was brought to a complete stop by a gust of wind, and I found the going quite hard. Great for my training, but not so good for getting back to the car before the next rain shower.

But eventually, the car park came in to view and after being blown away from the beach with no effort on my part, I finally reached the sanctuary of the car. It rocked and shook but it was dry and cosy.

I heard later that there were gusts of 89mph.

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Stormy Weather

Feeling a bit under the weather today (see, the weather theme already and only one sentence in to the blog). So I was glad of the extra hour in bed this morning. I was up in time to see the motor racing, but that was a bit tame and when a friend called to say the sea was pretty spectacular, I decided that fresh air was what was needed. It only took 20 minutes to drive down to Mumbles. It nearly took longer to get out of the car, as the wind was blowing in such a way that I couldn’t let go of the door handle for fear of the door blowing off completely.

But once I’d managed to get out and remain upright despite the gusts, the sight was indeed spectacular. On both sides of the headland the waves were queuing up to crash and dash against the rocks. Seagulls rode the gusts, wheeling and diving and probably not completely in control of their movements. Spray blew up from the frothy waves and in no time my glasses were coated with a thin film of salt. People dashed from cars, raised camera phones up and quickly snapped a couple of frames before retreating to the warm car interior.

I made my way to the shelter of a rocky outcrop and crouched down to take some photos. Then I made my way around to Bracelet Bay, where I spent about an hour watching and snapping the waves. A ship, the local dredger, was slowly making it’s way out into the bay and the waves were smashing up against it’s bow. The ship rocked back and forth on the rough, grey sea. Only once have I been on seas as rough as this and it wasn’t pleasant.

Finally, I watched as another photographer ventured close to the waves to get some pictures, before scampering back as the next wave broke. I’ve done it myself and it’s great fun. Back at the car, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realised why I should have worn a hat. My hair was windblown and with the salt in the air, it had set fast. In the photo, you can see the driver of the car next to me wondering what was going on.

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