Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Back to School


And the 6:31 is full again,
WHSmith quite empty.

Tans on the train, whinnying of "a marvellous time!"
"and how was yours?" not caring for the answer.

All those building works that limped through August now recover their pace,
A cavalcade of Travis Perkins HGVs dance attendance, more materials.

Every rat run is now full again,
Luminous black Range Rovers in strict convoy,
And strictly one per child, 
All jockey for pole position outside the school gate.

Misty rain makes a damp start,
to a new year.

Hooray!

Lovely Laugharne

Laugharne August 2017

We’d fallen hopelessly in love with Laugharne. This is a tiny town in Carmarthenshire, not far from Carmarthen town Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Tâf as it flows out to the sea. We visited first in March – Story of that visit is here http://bit.ly/lalalandinwales

A pall of mystery and creativity hangs over this town.
There was talk about moving here forever.



A staged withdrawal from the Home Counties was planned and this was stage 1: To discover what the place was like in high season. Sian was nervously eyeing up the caravan and mobile home parks nearby and wondering what their contents might disgorge in August.



So we made this short visit staying in Browns Hotel, the best B&B on the planet.
We had two days of glorious weather, big walks on Pendine Sands. This is a 7-mile length of beach on the shores of Carmarthen Bay. Rosie was in canine seventh heaven on these sands, cooling herself at the water’s edge.  Warm sun and gentle breezes and all the families south wales was here on holiday yet nicely absorbed by this wonderful beach.



Laugharne, here all was agreeable, wonderful walks round the castle. 




Then, each evening it was a brisk climb to a 6pm Chardonnay as the sun lowered. And each early morning a higher sun greeted Rosie and I during our walk before breakfast.

Other happy impressions are ‘pinned’ to these drawings.

LASTLY
I call to mind an extract he Reverend Eli Jenkins’ Prayer in Thomas’

Under Milk Wood

O let us see another day!
Bless us all this night, I pray,
And to the sun we all will bow
And say, good-bye – but just for now!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Great to be back in print

Sunday 3rd
Yesterday I visited the Lock Press in Marlow, with my lino blocks, inks rollers and other print making paraphernalia.
Rolling out the ink to then ink up the lino cut


After several years doing no print making at all it was a breath taking couple of hours in this small press room.  

A moment of truth when when after rolling the block and paper through the press you peel back the paper and see what you have got!


I feel like I am back. Ready now to do much more!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Orkney Tales 7 - The last day: To the airfield via the Brewery

Friday – To the airfield via the Brewery




HMS Tern – or Royal Naval Air Station Twatt – operated as a vital part of the Royal Navy’s presence in Orkney while Scapa Flow was the base for the Home Fleet in WWII. It was one of four airfields set up in Orkney during WWII.


Although the aircraft based at Tern formed part of the defences of Orkney, the site’s main role was to provide training facilities for the Navy. Also, when the Fleet’s aircraft carriers were in harbour, their aircraft would fly ashore rather than stay on board, and the facilities at Tern and other airfields in Orkney were expanded to accommodate the extra squadrons.


The airfield started operating in 1941. Many different squadrons were based there, flying many different types of ‘plane – Gladiator, Swordfish, Roc, Skua, Seafire, Chesapeake and more. After WWII the station was ‘mothballed’, but was in the care of the Royal Navy and maintained as a usable station until sold off in 1957.                     





More details of an excellent tour round the airfield 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Orkney Tales 6 - To the Isle of Sanday

Thursday –  grey yet welcoming

Sanday is one of the inhabited islands of Orkney that lies off the north coast of mainland Scotland. It is the third largest of the Orkney Islands and a couple of hours on the ferry.

From Quoyness


We toured around, inland it is fertile there is much farming and is some commercial lobster fishing. We trudged the two or so miles to The Neolithic Quoyness chambered cairn. It is approximately 5,000 years old and is located on the shore side. In the afternoon it brightened up a bit and we enjoyed our lunch among some low sand dunes, looking out to sea.
A thoughtfully curated crofter's cottage


This is a place for shipwrecks due to Sanday’s low-lying topography. Those unfortunates provided the islanders with a steady supply of wood for building and fires! We saw the a more recent wreck, sunken WW1 U-boat submarine making its way out of Scapa Flow in 1919

Our lunch spot
Now deserted 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Orkney Tales 5 - The Sands of Evie

Wednesday -  The Sands of Evie

After farewells, leaving Richard and Fi back at the Stromness Ferry, we head for the beach. It had turned into a really hot day

The Bay of Skail on the way to Evie (kind of)


One of our favourite spots is The Sands of Evie part of Aikerness Bay. We lay out in the sun reading our books. The sounds of a family at the far off water’s edge drifted up along the beach.  Right behind us was the Broch of Gurness an exquisite dry stone construction. It’s the Iron Age round tower fort is fringed by a number of additional structures and impressive concentric ditch and rampart form the outer defences. Add in some the rocky shoreline cliffs and this would have posed formidable challenge for would be invaders.

The Sands of Evie

A Pictish slab was discovered on this beach, suggesting that the Iron Age society liked to dine al fresco on the beach, for perhaps the slab was a picnic table?





A stop off at the Birsay Tea Room 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Orkney Tales 4 – Into the Viking bunker

Tuesday – Into the Viking bunker

We took Richard and Fi to Maeshowe. This is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave not far from us and v popular with the coaches that carry people round the island from the huge cruise ships that tie up in Kirkwall.

Outside Maeshowe ,sun on the water

Maeshowe was probably built around 2800 BC. Entry is by ticket and includes a spirited and breathless recitative by a Heritage Scotland guide, thus one knows all one needs in a short visit. During the 1861 excavation, its entrance passage was blocked, so an entry shaft was driven down through the top of the mound. Once inside the archaeologists discovered that they were not the first to break in…

Runic "graffiti" found on the inner walls confirmed the Orkneyinga Saga story that several groups of Norsemen had been here - known to them as "Orkahaugr" - in the mid 12thC and chronicled their presence on stone sides of the tomb.
A short stop at the Ring of Brodgar
‘Magnus with a big one was here’ and such
More detail (on Maeshowe not Magnus) http://www.orkneyjar.com/index.html


Friday, 25 August 2017

Orkney Tales 3 – A walk with Tim Dean

Monday July 4  – A walk with Tim Dean

Our friends Richard and Fiona Campbell came over from the mainland, for a two-day break with us from their busy Scourie Hotel http://www.scouriehotel.com. We scooped them up from the ferry terminal at Stromness and headed back to the cottage.




That evening we all enjoyed a wonderful four-hour magical botanical, and ornithological romp with naturalist and writer Tim Dean. He took us cross the cliff tops at Yesnaby. On our hands and knees we saw the Scottish primrose (primula scotica), which is only found in Orkney, and Sutherland and Caithness on the mainland.



The cliff tops were just loosing their haze of sea pink or thrift, although we still enjoyed them and the sea campion, bird’s foot trefoil, eye bright, wild thyme, and ox-eye daisies. Tim pointed out all these lovely flowers and other species. Overhead around cliff top birds, Arctic Terns, and Great Skuas Fulmars, Greater Black Back gulls, Puffins.  Birds were soaring and screeching to a halt landing in their nests on the cliff face.


And the time we said our good byes’ to Tim, just after 10pm, it was still broad daylight!