Before I left the house I checked my tide clock to confirm what the view from my window had already told me – the tide was all the way in. It was still a surprise when I got down there at how high the tide actually was. I have never seen waves lapping at the foot of the pillbox, for example, and there was just a thin band of sand, a couple of feet wide, because the sea had reached the pebbles and the dunes. Checking the tide tables on my return, it was indeed a pretty high tide at 4.83m.
There was nothing much to see on the strandline, which was mainly bladder wrack, leaves and old wood, but the sea itself was absolutely spectacular, and the sky, veering from bright blue to blue-black and back again, provided a wonderful backdrop for both the frothing white waves, the yellowish sand dunes and the bright green golf course. There were good signs of life on the dunes, with brave early plants producing bright new leaves. Not just a feast for the eyes, however, but the ears too. What had originally drawn me to the beach was the thundering roar that announced itself when I opened the front door this morning and on the beach itself it was explosive.
Apart from two men wielding metal detectors, there was absolutely no-one around, so no need to worry about social distancing, which was lucky as short of scaling the sand dunes, or going for an unseasonal paddle, there were places where it would otherwise have been difficult to avoid someone coming in the opposite direction. On my return leg via the golf course there were a lot more people around, mainly walking dogs but a small group was considerately collecting litter.
At about 1730 last night a mixture of sun picking out the bright green on the ground, and the very dark clouds above creating some rather spectacular lighting over Ynyslas and the estuary. The view from my living room changes daily, the light always different.
So much for my plans for another long walk today. Had a late swim in the sea last night after most of the beach-dwellers had gone home for the evening, and it was still very warm when I returned to the house. I had been planning another hill walk today, but the weather forecast wasn’t promising, and it’s just as well I didn’t venture out early because by mid-morning thunder was rumbling and there were flashes of lightning and by the afternoon the sky had turned charcoal, and when the rain came it wasn’t messing around! Even so, the view was amazingly striking. Aberdovey and Ynyslas still look fabulous even under looming blue-black clouds! The photos below show the sequence, over 16 minutes from 1502 this afternoon, from mildly intimidating to fully apocalyptic 🙂
On the next one, see if you can spot the bandstand on Pen Y Bryn!
The high winds recently have been a challenge for some of the local garden birds. When I did this video the weather was dry but wow what a gale! I had to strap my bins down with bungees to prevent them flying down the hill. I am always entertained by the way that the goldfinches take all sorts of weather in their stride, but this was particularly fun. The cherry tree looked like a whirlpool of movement, but the bird feeder was remarkably still, and the goldfinches were apparently oblivious to the the surrounding chaos, scoffing away with admirable dedication. Sadly there are only muted sounds of the wind, because I’m not daft and was safely indoors when I shot this 🙂
Yesterday was a truly extraordinary weather experience. I sat on the decking in the sun all afternoon, working my way through a number of books, loving the heat. But looking out over the estuary all morning and afternoon, it was bizarre to think that the sun could penetrate anywhere, because it was impossible to see beyond the folly on Pen Y Bryn. The first photograph was taken at noon. The water was quite invisible, and Ynys Las and Ceredigion were just a figment of the imagination. I checked regularly, because it was fascinating, but there were almost no perceptible changes until well into the late afternoon/early evening, when the second photograph was taken at just gone 4pm. The sand banks are visible, and Ynys Las can be just about detected, but Ceredigion is still shrouded in mist. The temperature was diving at this time, really chilly.
I set out for my usual exercise circuit today. Walking down Gwelfor Road towards the sea front, it was lovely to see so many wild flowers providing a colourful display.
Instead of turning left at the bottom of Gwelfor Road, past the Neuadd Dyfi, through the tunnel and left along the beach to return up Copper Hill Street, I found myself turning right into the sand dunes and walking in the direction of Tywyn. I am so glad I did, because it was a lovely walk. In the sand dunes the story was quite different from the hedges and verges of Gwelfor Road, with only occasional dots of colour in an otherwise attractive but fairly unvarying selection of shades of green over the powdery ivory sand, dominated by marram grass. Marram grass is super. It casts spiky shadows, sways so elegantly in the breeze and carves out perfect circles in the sand. The occasional dots of colour came mainly from small dandelions, daisies and, to my great surprise, huge and simply stunning colonies of violets. Peacock and red admiral butterflies kept me company, and there were plenty of bumble and honey bees. The dandelions were doing a particularly good job of keeping the bees and butterflies busy. Little meadow pipits erupted out of the grass, taking to the sky with much angry peeping.
Walking back along the beach, countless dead jellyfish, a translucent myriad of opal colours, had been washed up, but there was not much else of interest on the strandline. The sparkling sea, however, was a wonderful almost Caribbean blue, very clear. In spite of a strong and slightly chilly wind, it looked untroubled and still. Very peaceful. A single white fluffy cloud interrupted the endless flat blue of the sky. The wind had built up thousands of little sand ramps, raising shells and pebbles on customized, sloping plinths, utterly fascinating. A pied wagtail stayed a few jumps ahead of me for maybe 15 minutes.
There was no-one in the dunes, there were very few people around on the vast sands and as I walked along the silent shop fronts and turned up Copper Hill Street there was no-one else visible. Oh for a salted caramel ice cream 🙂
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.
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.