Friday, August 29, 2008

Staying Local

Weather improved these last few days, though still cloudy. I heard today it was the worst August on record for Pembrokeshire.

Whitesands heaving with tourists the moment the sun came out; families cheek by jowl either side of the slip way. 300 yards toward St David's Head is Porth Melgan, a steep sided cove with aqua-marine water and fins of black rock - one family had the place to themselves.

A couple walked past us as we sat at the headland, they were taken aback by the view - a gentle reminder of how special this place is. Wind picking up the tide in Ramsey Sound but I saw at least one porpoise. No seals today.

Rock pooling at Abbereiddy we catch a dozen small fish, a few miniature shrimps and a blenny. At Blue Lagoon the youngsters were jumping from the old quarry platforms, watched by small crowd. I am sunburned this evening.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Parrog

High tide at the Nevern estuary. Walking the path towards Parrog there is excitement that someone has seen an otter in the reed beds. Few birds of interest - the egret has gone for now. Only one speckled wood and one small white butterfly; a very poor year for butterflies.

The boatclub was full of 'hoorays' wearing sweatshirts, baggy shorts and flip flops. Very few appear to be going sailing. Not sure why I object to them so much - in many ways they are little different from me. Jane says it's a form of class consciousness, which is probably correct, but I sense there is something deeper.

I made a model of an old mine for Dylan's railway - papier mache and poster paint - he seems to like it. Mike plays with him well.

On the internet there is a report of a sunfish and large basking shark sighted at Strumble Head.


Strumble Head. Two birdwatchers at the hide, scopes pointing at open sea; notebooks, flasks and sandwiches by their chairs. Evidently they sit there most days, posting their sightings on the internet each evening. I liked their watchful patience - like fishermen with telescopes.

I spotted some porpoises in the run of the tide - perhaps eight or ten, but hard to tell as I may have counted twice over. They are common here. No sunfish today, but they are seen regularly in the summer. A heron flew out to sea.

Both of the spotters' scopes had a large foam shield (10 x 6 inches) fixed around and to the side of the lens. This allows them to look through the eyepiece with both eyes open. 'No need to squint,' one of them said.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

North Wales

A few days in North Wales; a touch nostalgic as we stayed at Cobden's Hotel where we held our wedding reception. It has new owners and was much run down. Sad.

A good day taking Dylan on the Padarn Lake Railway then walking in the quarries at Deiniolen, watching climbers on the slate slabs and marvelling at the men who had worked the quarries out of the mountain. Deiniolen is similar to the villages in the Rhondda.

In the evening we all walked to Cwm Idwal, the older boys scampering up the rocks, Jane and I remembering our first visit twenty years ago and the kiss by the lakeside. We used to go there often. Once we found a red rose tucked into a crack on the Idwal Slabs, with it a note in a plastic bag, from a girl to her boyfriend who had died in the Himalaya.

On our return we stopped at Machynlleth. I liked its higgeldy piggeldy mix of shops, ranging from organic greengrocers through traditional hardware and gift shops to upmarket boutiques selling household trinkets - a number of charity shops too. Museum of Modern Art Wales (MOMA) was disappointing.

Back at Llandeloy the crows are gathering on the wires.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Grey skies

The rain returned this morning; had to dash to the car, the trees bending further than I've ever seen in August. A few diehards at Newgale campsite, otherwise deserted; waves breaking on the stones, spray covering the road.

The osteopath asked me lots of questions gave my back a rub and charged me forty five quid - nice bloke, interesting books on his shelves. First quack I've seen that said I wouldn't need more treatement.

Friends came in the evening; chatted around the usual middle class worries: pensions, our kids' futures, the cost of housing. The children played in the annexe, unaware of concerns next door.

Only a few rooks today, though a flock of gulls came over early evening.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Clear skies

There were about 100 rooks gathering in the village this evening. They were joined by dozens of seagulls, all of them freewheeling in great arcs over Sunny View, one or two gulls landing on the roofs. The wind was bending the old Scots Pine so some of the rooks took shelter in the fuller trees at the back of the graveyard, but most flew on towards Llochmeyler and Llanrhian. I think I'll try and find their roost later this week. Very wet and windy all day until the sky cleared at night - so many stars it was hard to identify the constellations.

Jane starting to point out the crows.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Flapping about at dawn

Ever since I read Mark Cocker's Crow Country I've been watching crows and rooks. I like the idea that they return to the same place each evening, travelling miles to sit together. And I like knowing relativey useless things about them, such as the way they find small worms by stabbing their tough beaks into soft grass using a sort of hit and hope technique.

There's an old Scots Pine that stands in the churchyard of our village, where the rooks gather in the morning. I can see the tree from my bedroom and sometimes I watch them flapping about at dawn. After a bit of tooing and froing between the tree and the telephone wires they fly off in small groups. Some go west, the majority seem to go north. I counted fifty birds this morning. It's hard to tell which are rooks and which are crows, but I don't worry.

My neighbour tells me - with some glee - that they used to cull the rooks each year. It brought back memories of the photographs in one of our local pubs - of men carrying the dead rooks, caracasses tied at the feet and hanging in bunches. A good cull would take more than a hundred birds.