Author Archives: Andie

Vintage Postcards #26 Cadair Idris

Cadair Idris, the Chair of Idris, the local giant, is a dominant feature of the area.  I’ve walked to the summit a number of times on the Minffordd Path, but that was many years ago and I’ve no idea where those photographs are now.  When spring arrives it will certainly be time to do it again.  The first photograph (Valentine’s AG105), which is unused, superbly captures the solid mass of Cadair Idris, its massive presence.  The sharp outcrop in the foreground is both a great piece of photographic composition and a reminder of the enormous geological forces that lifted up the Welsh hill ranges.  Below it, a well-used track carves a route well into the distance.

Painting of Pen y Gader, the summit of Cadair Idris,  by Thomas Compton 1812-1818 (lithographer Daniel Havell). Source: Wikipedia, via the National Library of Wales

Cadair Idris was a popular destination from at least the late 1700s, when tourists were first attracted to Llyn Cau, the glacial cwym lake.  Llyn Cau has attracted tourists ever since, and it became a popular destination throughout the 19th Century.  Richard Wilson painted Llyn Cau in the late 1700s, and early 19th Century artists continued to produce various interpretations of Cadair Idris, including Edward Pugh (1816), John Skinner Prout (1830), Samuel Jackson (1833) and Sidney Richard Percy (1874).  A painting by Compton is shown here on the left, and some other examples can be seen on the Campaign for National Parks website.  A few brave souls reached the summit, like Thomas Compton who painted it in the early 19th Century.  At 2927 feet the summit and highest point of of Cadair Idris is called Pen Y Caer.

What is remarkable about the summit postcard to the right is that the women reached the summit in those long skirts!  What a nightmare, even if they took one of the easier routes.   All were sensibly armed with sticks, but their footwear is hidden from sight.  They look as though they are heading out for a shoot.  That photograph (Valentine’s 32025), was postmarked1918.  The message on the back, sent to Derby, says that the writer hopes to climb it one night!  The mind boggles, quite frankly.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2020 – my results

An hour in the garden between 1100 and 1200 for the Big Garden Birdwatch 2020 this morning produced the following bird count.  I do lure birds in with peanuts, mealworm and nyjer seeds, so the deck is stacked in my favour.  Not putting in an appearance during that hour were other visitors that I see most days including magpies, collared doves, great tits, wood pigeons and rarer visitors like coal tits (which were regular visitors last year but are few and far between this year), greenfinches and house sparrows.  There were six goldfinches on the feeder during the hour, but looking out of the window there are now nine of them all fighting for a position on a feeder that can handle a maximum of six.  The pheasants are tame and queue up outside the kitchen door to be fed peanuts.

 

Vintage Postcards #25: Two-masted schooners at Aberdovey wharf

Two lovely postcards showing sailing vessels at Aberdovey, moored against the wharf.  I have no information about either.  The names of the vessels are not visible and there is no information on the postcards themselves, not even a postcard manufacturer name.  As to a date, the postcards post-date the building of the wharf and jetty in 1885.  In spite of the lack of additional information, I love them.  They are incredibly evocative of 19th Century and early 20th Century Aberdovey, when the village was an important trans-shipping port for for exports and imports.  The symbiotic relationship between Welsh sailing ships and the growing network of railway lines, the juxtaposition of old and new, was all about using the best possible solutions for the growth of trade and communication both within Britain and across the Atlantic.

Both postcards were unused, and apart from the fact that they were printed in Saxony, there are no further details.

Photographs today of Tal y Llyn, Llanuwchllyn and Bala

On my travels today I was lucky enough to see some remarkable weather.  Things started out with a sky so blue and a sun so yellow that the colours seemed almost fantasy-land.  The grass was white-topped and scrunched under foot when I left the house, and the air was so cold that it froze my breath.   It was a challenge, after turning right at Bryncrug and heading towards Tal y Llyn, to keep my eyes on the road, because the scenery was so glorious as it emerged from its icy white lace.  Tal y Llyn itself was simply spectacular, mirroring the sun-lit south-facing slopes in a near-perfect reflection.  At this time of year the contrast between sunny colours and black shadows is dramatic.

Tal y Llyn

As I approached Llanuwchllyn, which sits at the foot of Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala) and according to the Visit Bala website means “Church at the top of the lake,” there were fascinating horizontal bands of cloud sitting above the ground and beneath the hilltops.  On the south-facing slopes these were against bright hillside colours and blue skies.  On the north-facing slopes they sat above trees and fields still spiked with frost, the sun so bright that the sky seemed silver against the darkness of the hills.  My lovely Canon digital SLR (known for reasons lost in the mists of time as Josephine The Second) turned out to be impossible to get to in a hurry, so I used the little Sony that I keep in my handbag.  It struggled desperately with some of the lighting conditions, but I have posted the photos anyway because they do capture something of the magic.

 

 

These strands of white mist presaged, to my surprise and dismay, a tediously dreary fog.  Ahead of me a car was just a ghostly shape, and beyond that any other vehicles were a mere suggestion.  The lake was invisible.  I had been expecting to stop and take photographs of another beautiful mirror image, another spectacular vista, but beyond the road that runs along its north bank there was nothing but a dense veil of unvarying, damp, impenetrable murk.  In the picture below, where I pulled the car over, I am standing at the water’s edge.  Normally the lake would stretch out as far as the eye can see, contained within a sloping valley, very beautiful.  Today even the seagull floating only a few feet away from me was seriously blurred and ill-defined.

When I quite suddenly re-emerged into the sunshine, the impact was rather like stepping off an air-conditioned plane onto the top of the mobile steps in a very hot country – a moment of pure sensation and a blissful sense of mild disorientation and very pleasurable surprise.

Another fabulous Aberdovey sunset tonight

Following a stunning day of sunshine and blue skies after a crisp, scrunching frost, another outstanding Aberdovey sunset.  Life is head-spinningly hectic at the moment, so it is great to take a peaceful step back, to enjoy the scenery and be a little mellow.  Again, no filters applied, no Photoshop employed.  A true miracle of nature.