Christmas traditions colours Land Art landscapes light light quality sculpture the sea the seaside the shore Wales

New Year’s Day at the seaside

This post was written right at the beginning of the year but I never got round to publishing it, so here it is a day spent at the seaside to celebrate the arrival of a new year, 2019.

It has become a tradition with Jude and I to spend New Year’s Day at the seaside, sometime on the north coast, sometimes mid-wales. For 2019 we made the trip to mid-wales settling on Aberystwyth as our venue for the day. Daughter Jo and son-in-law Rob joined us so it was extra special.


We are always amazed when at the coast how both Mother Nature and visiting humans produce little creations with pebbles and driftwood.


As the day wore on the light changed and a warm light lit up the sea and the rocks where the tide rushed in with frothy waves.

So now we can look forward to January 1st 2020 a new year’s day seaside amble and of course a new decade’s day amble too!

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A coastal walk in Cornwall

While on a week’s break in Cornwall we decided to try a coastal walk and also decided that the day to do it would be the anniversary of my surgery to rebuild my right leg. Before my surgeon performed this complex 5 hour operation I was able to walk a few hundred yard at a struggle and in pain, so I was determined to see what I could do exactly a year on.

We had a great coffee and brownies at a beach cafe and took off. Immediately the path went steeply uphill and we could soon look back to the town we had left from, Portreath.


We had not been to Cornwall for years and quickly remembered just how beautiful the coast line is, with every step giving us breathtaking views.

We took regular breaks for drinks of water and a close look at our walk map. We stopped or slowed all the time simply to take in the beauty of the landscape we were walking through and to check up on my newly rebuilt right leg! Just after this particular stop we were entertained by a pair of Kestrels hunting as a duo team playing and following their instincts. We walked alongside them as companions for a good half mile enjoying their antics and acrobatics before they finallyy turned away.

A seriously steep sided couple of valleys were our hardest challenge of the walk. The first we had to zigzag down sometimes using steps cut into the valley side to climb the steepest sections. A fallen plank bridge, the only way to cross a deeply cut stream, meant a scramble to get across the trickling water. It was a great relief to get over and begin the ascent. The second valley side was a walk along steep stone tracks.

We met a couple of brothers sharing a walk who stopped to talk and were fascinated to meet us with me tackling this long difficult walk with a walking stick. They asked if we would like our photo taken, a suggestion we accepted readily. They were great to talk to and gave us chance to catch our breath too.


The half way point was at Derrick Cove, our signal to start the return leg of our walk, but not until a twenty minute rest and plenty of water. We had walked three and a half miles and knew we had the same to do to get back.

We decided to walk a slightly different way to avoid the steepest valley climb, but this meant walking along a road for a while. It meant also dropping down into Portreath from a different direction so we enjoyed different views of the town for the last few minutes of our walk.

So back at the car we felt elated but ached severely. We had such mixed emotions, but overall a sense of huge achievement was the strongest emotion of all.



An early September holiday in Anglesey

We decided to spend a short break on the island of Anglesey, just off the coast of North- West Wales reached by a short bridge crossing over the treacherous waters of the Menai Straits. It has been a favourite place of ours for years as we enjoy its unique atmosphere, the friendly inhabitants and the varied countryside and even more varied coastline.

We rented a holiday bungalow in a small group of others along way from any towns or large villages, close to the coast and boasting stunning views. Jude and I went with our son, Jamie, his wife Sam and our year-old granddaughter Arabella. We were set for a most enjoyable time, hopefully weather permitting, spent outside in the fresh air.


The bungalow had a large garden with outcrops of rock among the grass and a beautiful ancient stone boundary wall along one side. The wall boasted so many varieties of Lichen growing on it as did the outcrops.


We had views from this wall over the nearest village which was on the coast.

As the day began to come to an end the light changed minute by minute and was different each day.


The holiday property proved to be a great place to go out from to visit the countryside, coast and the places of interest we planned to visit. We decided one day to give Arabella her first taste of a British beach and a chance to discover the sea.

The massive expanse of sand at our favourite Anglesey beach is always textured by wind and wave. On this visit we were pleased to spot an amazing sand art drawing of a unicorn, one of Arabella’s favourite animal characters.



We were lucky to spot this lizard, basking on a wooden post as we walked back from the beach.


countryside landscapes light light quality National Trust photography The National Trust the sea the seaside the shore Wales wildlife

A Stroll along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – Part Two

Welcome back after a bit of a rest and we continue along the beautiful coastal footpath towards the headland at St David’s Head. You left us with our goal in sight as we began our way across rougher moorland.

We were walking a stretch of the coastal path in Penbrokeshire which was my challenge for 2014. We set out intending to walk a mile, far more than I should be walking. We found ourselves going further than intended and still had not turned back. I set myself a new extended challenge. To walk the mile to the headland of St David’s Head and back again. I knew I would suffer for days after but I am a stubborn chap.

We carried on, crossing over a crystal clear waters of a tiny mountain stream. We stopped a while to enjoy the sounds of water rippling over rock, a sound that always makes us feel good! Letting our eyes follow the stream’s track to the sea showed light over the water more akin to late afternoon, almost the sort of light that comes shortly before a sunset, but it was still early afternoon.

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We followed the narrow and at times wet track along the cliff top, all the time keeping our eye on the headland we were aiming for, but at times it disappeared from view. Bracken and fungi grew in the short grass, close cropped by sheep.


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We followed a stream against the downhill direction of its journey, gradually climbing all the time. We were constantly stopped in our tracks by the beauty of the landscapes. Enjoy my photos!


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When we reached our destination we enjoyed a good rest, sitting on comfortable and convenient rock outcrops. Coffee, fruit and in my case a good dose of Ventolin helped refresh us. We felt so pleased, so satisfied. We enjoyed the views from this vantage point, where we could appreciate a vast panorama.

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The rock faces were painted in lichen and the grass dotted with fungi even in this bleak place.


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From where we sat we spotted a cairn marking the highest point on the headland. We just had to walk a few hundred yards more. Of course along the way we searched for a stone each to allow ourselves to follow our tradition of placing it on the cairn.

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We found returning to our starting point a lot easier following a steady downhill track.

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Stonechats followed alongside us as we neared the end of our walk. I managed this one poor photo of one of them.


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Back where we started off from we can look back over the same wall and appreciate just how far we have been. We could see the headland we had aimed for and reached in the misty distance. We felt exhausted but very satisfied.


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countryside landscapes light light quality National Trust photography The National Trust the sea the seaside the shore Wales

A Stroll along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – Part One

Every year I set myself a challenge that defies my disability. Something totally silly if I take my health into consideration! Something I definitely should not be doing! But these challenges are great fun! I love them! Jude accepts my need to do them but worries when we are following these strange desires. Sometimes I have a need to go a bit further than my actual abilities!

For 2014 my challenge was to walk a mile along a stretch of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, probably the most beautiful of Britain’s long distance paths. For me a single mile is a long distance walk! I did it in late November and survived! Okay I suffered for a good few days after but boy did it feel good! I had such a feeling of elation when I finished the walk. Anyone else would have to climb Everest to get the same thrill! My consultant was proud of me. He likes my crazy ideas.

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So come with us on our trek along the windswept coast near St Davids. As we dressed in suitable gear for a walk in the cold and most likely wet weather we noticed these two using the beautiful backdrop to take photos of their stained glass window. No doubt some great shots will appear in their promotional materials.

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We made our way onto the path by passing through a beautiful stone wall. A sign with wording engraved on slate informed us that the walk to St David’s Head was 1 mile. I hoped to make half way to give us a round trip of 1 mile.

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Jude looked ahead and could see just how far away the headland was that I was aiming to reach. She thought I was mad! We soon started finding colour in the tough grasses – wildflowers of coastal habitats. The first was this Armeria, the Sea Thrift. Close by the much brighter coloured Gorse added a bit of sunshine colour.

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This little delicate plant foiled us completely – neither of us could remember what it was.

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Every rock was painted with Lichen and Mosses. They look just like they have been daubed by an artist. These rocks had fallen from the field boundaries that are specific to this area – stones with soil in the gaps and on top. The soil provides homes for the local flora.

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The light was changing by the minute. We could be in sunshine one minute and then under heavy storm clouds the next. Just see the extremes in the photos below taken within minutes of each other. The temperature varied in the same way – hats and gloves were on and off all the time.

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What made this walk extra special was that it gave double value. We had views over the inlets and headlands over one shoulder and views of the countryside inland over the other.

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As we passed through a wooden gate the landscape changed and the views opened up. The signs on the gatepost invited us to carry on with our walk but be careful not to fall off the cliffs! We hadn’t been planning to! The National Trust sign informed us that we were on St David’s Head. We realised then that we had already walked further than we had intended. We should have turned back and made our way back but my stubborn nature won over and we decided to carry on perhaps making it to the headland in the far distance. This would give us a total walk of two miles. Far more than I should have been contemplating! We had rugged open moorland to cross to reach the headland itself.


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Jude was fascinated by a label hanging over a rock and just had to have a close look. We found it was a marker point on a trail laid out as part of an army training session. We were tempted – just for a moment – to pick it up and take it back to the local barracks to tell them we had found this label. Common sense prevailed however and we resisted the temptation.

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In the photo below we can see the headland for which we were aiming right on the horizon.


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My legs are aching and pain is creeping up my spine just writing this post and loading the photos so we shall take a break for now and return in Part Two.



photography the sea the seaside the South

Go South 6 – Old Hastings

We all have favourite seaside venues, our favourite sandy beach, favourite, fish and chip cafes, favourite harbour etc. If we were asked we would go for the quietest beaches or the oldest, most interesting harbours. A secret beach on Anglesey, Bamborough or Dungeness would satisfy the first, but there would be a few contenders for the second such as Whitby, Mousehole and the feature of this post – Old Hastings.

Think of Old Hastings and a picture forms in the mind of a busy beach cluttered with fishing boats and their gear and friendly fishermen who enjoy and even invite visitors to wander around taking photographs. This shingle beach area with its fishing boats and net shops is known as “The Stade”.

We arrived to see and hear a violent noisy sea crashing in waves against the shingle beach and the walls of the harbour. But the sun appeared and this made the occasional shower less bothersome. We began by exploring the “Stades”, wandering in between the “net shops” the tall, black-painted clapper boarded sheds built to dry fishing nets. They have a special beauty and a character all of their own.

Across the road an imaginative architect and builder had created an apartment block that reflected the Stades’s net shops but looked modern. Most impressive!

But what is a fishing village without its boats?

As usual my camera and I were attracted to little details.

the sea the South

Go South – One

We like a few days away in early autumn. If you can appreciate what this season has to offer then you miss the summer a little less. Thus we travelled southwards for a midweek break.

We planned to enjoy the glories of gardens and the sights and sounds of the sea. My blog seems to feature rather a lot of coffee and cakes so in this first post in a short series called “Go South” we invite you to join us in a wonderful little cafe in the historic town of Rye.

We found “Cafe des Fleurs” near the harbour in one of the black, clapper-boarded warehouse of the old port. A surprise awaited us for as we crossed the threshold the aroma of coffee and the scents of flowers greeted us. This was a coffee-house and a florist all in one.

The flowers were displayed in antique wooden boxes from the local fruit and vegetable farms and a mixture of baskets and tin-ware. These were not full of the usual florists’ fancy foreign flowers but of traditional English garden flowers. Snapdragons, Sunflowers, Delphiniums, Roses.

Sit with us now and enjoy the freshest of coffee and a delicately flavoured slice of Lavender Cake.

The furniture for coffee drinkers was a total mix, antique chairs, well-used tables and soft sofas inviting you to lounge. All around were tasteful local crafts and enticing handmade sweets. From the beams of the ceiling hung colourful bunting reminiscent of the sea and flags.

We couldn’t have found a better place to escape from a heavy downpour of cold rain. Relaxing. Sensual. Creative. Mix’n’match furniture. Maritime artifacts.

In the other Go South posts you are invited to join us as we explore the coast and a little further inland some excellent gardens.