The weather has really warmed up, and the plants seem to have taken it as a challenge to see just how quickly they can go from bare, to full leaf.
This little patch of woodland had clearly been managed in the past, lots of coppiced trees, but now had a gentle air of neglect.
On the river bank the wild garlic was out, which produced an odd craving for pasta at 11am!
Wonderwool is under 2 weeks away, and in my head that means spring is here. (We'll ignore the year it snowed in through the slats on the sides of the hall). The hedges are only just starting to get green shoots, but the daffodils have been out for a couple of weeks.
Also, just like clockwork, the lambs have appeared in the fields behind the house. The Welsh Mountains lamb outside, pretty much by themselves, the farmers check the fields regularly to keep an eye out for problems, but other than that the sheep are left to get on with it.
So getting good photos is hard... the ones in the field behind the house don't get any supplementary feeding, so don't even associate humans with food.
Getting close requires a degree of sneakiness... and careful spotting of a sleepy lamb.
This one was very sound asleep, it wasn't until I was stood right over it that it jumped up with a start.
It was not impressed at having it's doze interrupted.
Though finding Mum made everything better.
At the moment they all want to stick close to their Mums, and are basically sleeping and eating. Give them another few days and gangs will start forming, and then the run can really start!
The beach is a winter destination for us. The joy of living so close to the sea is that it's very easy to just nip down to the beach for a morning dog walk. By summer the beaches will be filled with visitors, so we tend to stay away.
So this week was probably our last visit to the beach for a good while.
I've always loved the light on this particular beach, when the sun isn't out everything gets quite dark and moody which makes me appreciate the flashes of colour.
Even a bit of World War 2 concrete somehow looks pretty under these skies. The beach still has lots of the costal defences in situ, looking a little battered after 50 years of storms, but they still provide a welcome stop for a breather when the dogs have been running around.
As well as the natural colours there are some very unwelcome bits of unnatural colours. This isn't a beachfront close to the town, and as a result you get full exposure to the horrifying amount of waste we put in the ocean.
This daffodil must have been washed up in one of the winter storms after being swept down river during the floods this year. It was doing it's best to survive in the sand dunes.
One final post about the Italian Gardens above Corris.
It's hard to describe the final set of photos. I think, scrapbooking in 3D using stone and china and found objects is the closest I can get!
This 3D version of a geological map of this part of Wales must have been a real labour of love. I remember being introduced to geological maps as a teenager working my Saturday job in our local independent book shop, they were like looking back in time. Later during my Biology degree I actually got to find out more about the periods of time when these rocks were being formed, if you get me to think very hard I can still recite the mnemonics we created to remember the names of the periods of time.
No Welsh hillside would be complete without a castle!
The whole place is a riotous play on scale, everything is shrunk down, but to varying degrees, so you can have some fun if you play around with the settings on the camera.
I also found a brick picture I didn't show you before. So I'll leave you with that, and of course, the most wonderful Rowan Atkinson...
Some people collect stamps, others collect elephant items, the builder of the Italian Gardens clearly had a thing for bricks.
Brick making used to be a very local thing, cricks were heavy to transport, so you might as well make them close to the clay, and close to where you needed them. As a result the colour variations throughout the country is quite dramatic.
Bricks were stamped with the details of the brick maker, so we spent quite a while looking for bricks that were local to our old home in North Staffordshire. Dad's family are Stoke people, so this collection from Fenton and Longton reminded us of the colours of the terraced houses throughout the city.
This wall contains ones that are a bit more local to Wales, with some wonderful stamping for the brickworks names.
Even the middle of these bricks are beautiful, I love how the outside and the inside turned different colours in the firing process. Wonderfully subtle...
One of the jobs for this week is to plan the February Gradient Pack colours, maybe a brickwork colour way is on the cards.
The area around here seems to attract it's own special breed of eccentrics...
In the garden of a bungalow above Corris there's an homage to a lifetime of holidays in Italy. A local Chicken Farmer and Caravan Park owner loved their family holidays so much that in 1980 he decided to recreate the Italian architecture in his own garden using cement, chicken wire, and other building materials.
35 years on it's now sadly slipping back in to the forest, the owner died in 2012, and since then it doesn't look as if much is being done to maintain it.
We visited just before the New Year, and I freely admit to getting snap happy as everywhere I looked there was something that made me smile with it's delightful quirkiness.
This is only the top half of the garden, so hopefully gives you a sense of the scale of the place...
If you're in the area then it's well worth a trek up the hill to take a look at. This map shows you where to find it.
Next up, brick close ups... seriously, there's some lovely examples of locally made house bricks in some stunning colours!
Seems like it's all I talk about anymore...
However the hit Christmas present of the year is our very own personal weather station. Now we'll know just how wet our soggy little valley is!
It's bee securely attached, in a nice open spot, so we're hoping to see some interesting wind speed data. We've already recorded a 56km/h gust, and it's been calm weather so far.
Getting it level was interesting, it took far too long for us to work out that the magnets in the weather station were effecting the compass!
So if you fancy seeing just why it takes me so long to get things dry, then there's now a little weather widget at the bottom of the website. You can also see more detailed views on the Wunderground website.
I may have developed a slight addition to the monitoring ipad/iphone apps as well...
Anyone else a bit of a weather geek?
December has been no better than November in terms of the weather. The rain has continued to fall in epic quantities, and everywhere is thoroughly sodden. We've been watching the online river level monitoring in the towns closest to us, and twice in the past month they've been close to reaching their highest ever recorded levels.
Last week we had friends visiting, so we ventured out in to the greyness, and somehow avoided the rain.
We went and looked at the local streams, and surveyed the damage that high winds have caused to some trees.
At the moment it never seems to properly get light, particularly when the skies are full of nothing but leaden skies. We also went for a walk up to a local deserted slate mine called Ratgoed.
At the end of this valley is a small collection of houses, and buildings, none have mains electric, though there is a phone line. Unlike the quarries at places like Dinorwic the actual workings are now lost in the woods, but the buildings all remain.
This is the chapel that was built for the workers and their families. It's now over 100 years since the site was abandoned, and it's amazing how well the walls have lasted even though the roof is long gone.
This is the stable block for the quarry owners house, and the thick layer of moss has actually held the roof together.
This is the amazing front door to the main house, looking at it you'd never think you were at the end of a remote welsh valley, a day's journey from the nearest small town. Until recently it was lived in, but is now abandoned and rather sadly is slowly crumbling. The other houses at the end of the valley have now been renovated and are back to being inhabitable, I just hope someone rescues this place before too much damage is done.
And finally, it wouldn't be me if I didn't do a bit of colour spotting...
The air in this area is incredibly clean as it's a long way from major roads, so you get lichen growing in some incredible colours.
Don't slam the door on your way out....
It's been an up and down month, things are definitely on the up health wise, though still highly frustrating on occasion for someone who normally gets as much done as I do. Then of course there's been the weather. It has been oh so wet, and oh so windy. We've had repeated storms, and in between those storms the weather has been generally un-cooperative.
Yesterday however was a real hum-dinger of a day. Taking the parcels down to the post office was a bit of an experience as the main road had turned in to a river.
In the afternoon we had to take the dogs out to stop them from bouncing off the walls, so we took a walk down to the valley below the house to look at our local river. I've certainly never seen it so high, and according to the environment agency the river Dyfi down at Machynlleth was within 20cm of reaching it's highest ever level.
The photos and videos are not great... my camera is not waterproof and it was still chucking it down!
We took a walk along the side valley as the river there will burst its banks even when it's just been a bit wet, and were not disappointed.
Not quite over the road at this point, but very nearly so.
Just around the corner is a very confused RAC breakdown van, sat looking at the patch where the river had flown over the road. We walked halfway through it, and then I filled up my wellies, and Meg very firmly made her feelings about swimming known.
So around we turned, and back home for a mug of cocoa.
I pack the van to head up to Yarndale tomorrow, so today is all about taking it easy. I try to get most of the show prep done well in advance. Going to a show is exhausting enough without having spent the week before working all hours to get the stock ready.
So today I joined Mum and Dad on their morning dog walk. We went up in to the forest 10 minutes from the house. Autumn is here, and the colours were beautiful.
The trees are still pretty green, but the Rosebay Willowherb or Fireweed has lost it's magenta flowers and is now looking very autumnal. Of course once the camera was out I started spotting colours...
Then when we got home the light was co-operating to capture Big Bird's plumage and it's lovely iridescence...
Looks like I might be doing a bit of work this morning after all. The siren song of October's gradient packs is calling.
Hilltop Cloud- Spin Different
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