Tuesday 19 December 2017

Nurtured by Nature

Hello Friends!

You all know that I love where I live, and I feel deeply blessed to be where I am. There is a deep and ancient spirituality to the land, which you cannot fail to feel; open your heart and your spirit, throw open wide your welcoming arms, and it will softly ooze into every corner of your being, connecting you on levels you have never known before. Everything surrounding you is alive with special energy as it sparkles and glimmers with ancient magic, from the pre~dawn of time.  Significant Ley Lines run nearby, and evidence of ancient settlements are at every turn, if you know what to look for. 

This is a land shaped by the forces nature long before man came along and turned it to his design by his own hand.  This is a land where coastal inlets and caves are carved out by the relentless pounding of the Atlantic Ocean.  This is a land where small streams carve out small but beautiful valleys as they run to greet the ocean  This is a land where the mighty westerly winds that whip without end dictate and shape what grows in the fertile soil of the land.

After a walk on a rare and wonderfully warm and windless mid December day, I rested, quietly, on a special, handcrafted, slate seat set into an old Pembrokeshire stone hedge.  I let my spirit drink deeply from the draught offered to my parched and hungry soul. As I sipped from the never ending well of universal energy, I was nourished and restored by all that surrounded me as I sat in peaceful contentment and awe.

The sun was as strong as it could possibly be for the time of year, as it slips slowly closer to the horizon each passing day, with the Winter Solstice just days away, soon it will be starting its long uphill climb, rising slowly higher each day as the light returns and the circle of the year unfolds once more to bring the Summer Solstice; and so the world turns ~~~

I sat, at first, in silence and with closed eyes, but then the magic unfurled to disclose the unseen. The sun, although pale, shone through my closed eyes and lit up the dark behind my eyelids; a distant gull raucously cawed from a high vantage point; closer by more and more birds joined in the chorus; soon I was hearing birdsong all around. The waves, just a few yards away, out of sight, below the high cliff, lapped languorously, for with no wind there was no urgency, but my ears, now sharpening to the sounds of nature, picked up the quiet lap, lap, lap as barely an effort was made.  The bay is seldom seen so calm ~~~

~~~but the fields are almost always so lushly verdant green, for we have a lot of rain! Indeed we do!

I opened my eyes as I sat and observed: small tussocks of dying grass, mounds like graves in honour of the dying year, were all around my feet ~~~

and as I watched those mouldering mounds, with newly opened eyes, I saw life springing all around!  The clear, clean air was full of tiny gnats, swarming and swimming around in the warm afternoon; the finest of gossamer threads, silver, spider parachutes spread, flying out, glimmering and shimmering, catching the pale light of sun, as spiderlings fly to seek out new homes; and all the while the birds still sing and the water gently laps the shore.

One thing I love at this time of year is seeing the bare, leafless trees, the structure on which all the other seasons are built. We have some special shaped trees all along the coast, sculpted by the {usually} relentless westerly winds. If you are ever uncertain which way is west, look at the trees! Their west facing sides are clipped by nature, giving a very lopsided look! Of course, you have to know that the prevailing winds are the westerlies that romp and rage in from the wide Atlantic Ocean, or this doesn't work!

Here are a few such trees, some much more pronounced than others depending on how sheltered they are ~~~

This one does not like the salt water at all, for you can see the greenery burned by the salt laden winds ~~~

This stand of trees always captures my imagination, it has done since I was a child, for it looks like a giant wave of trees sweeping over the land, shaped and flowing in from the wild western seas ~~~

Slowly, yet all too quickly, the sun slipped lower, and lower; the soft, pastel shaded clouds coloured the coming sky of evening told me it was time to turn and wend my way home once more, while the sun gave one last shimmer across the cold, grey bay ~~~

On my way home, some friendly horses say "Hello!" I think they might be hoping for a carrot or a juicy apple! Sadly, I had nothing to offer them.

Until next time ~~~
Deborah xo

Saturday 16 December 2017

If You Build It ~ They Will Come

Hello Friends!

The wind blows; the wind slows
The rain slices sideways in sudden, sharp downpours
Hailstones pummel and sleet slushes

We had so much rain in the last forty eight hours that when I stepped out on my lawn yesterday evening it was like walking across a wet sponge that slyrruped and slurped, squelching away under my feet ~~~

Much of the rest of Britain has had snow. We won't talk about that, other than to emphasise we didn't!

Last year, you may remember, I had to have a bad apple tree removed. Sadly, it was the apple tree where I used to hang my bird feeders. It was a grand spot, for I could sit in my comfy arm chair, warm and toasty by the fireside, with my hot drink of tea and slice of cake, watching the birds flutter in to feed on seeds and peanuts and fatty, nourishing foods to help them through the lean winter months ahead. 

I have missed watching the birds feed, so my only option was to get a feeding station to place on the lawn.  Of course, I could hang them in the remaining apple tree, but I cannot see it from the window. So, I bought one ~ "easy self assembly" and "no tools required" on the box, it said. An hour and a half later "You're having a laugh!" I said, for it might just as well have come from Ikea!  No instructions, no labelling of parts, two very fiddly stuck screws that needed a pliers to dislodge them, and all the while I'm handling cold metal with bare hands on a chilly sub 40 degrees Winter day in the garden!

Eventually, I got there. Wherever 'there' is.

However, it was only after expending all my unused energy in pushing, shoving, and hammering the spikes into the ground and coming back indoors I discovered, shock and utter horror, it is about three feet to the left of where I wanted it. Piffle.  There it will remain. I will have to either move my chair or sit forward to view the birds feeding, for I am through wrestling with it!

I filled the feeders {which are not the best quality, so good quality metal feeders are next on the shopping list} and that's when I found out that my diminutive stature of not quite five feet, three and three quarters inches about one inch shorter than the height I need to be in order to hang the feeders on the hooks without the use of a stool! Piffle.

Can this get any more desperate?

Well, yes. Of course it can. I wouldn't have asked otherwise, would I?

I have two big bags of Black Niger seed and Sunflower hearts, both of which pour straight out of the bottom of the feeders which are not at all suitable for them. Piffle again.

Defeat loomed on the grey horizon ~~~

I fished out an old stool, carefully climbed up and hung the feeders, filled the water bowl, and tipped suet into the seed dish.  This I managed without incident. The way this saga is unfolding, spilling the cold water all over me would have been the icing on the cake!

My reward was not far away, though ~~~

If you build it, they will come!

It didn't take long for the birds to come!  So, I've wittered away the afternoon watching in between chores as the birds come to discover a new feeding station in their neighbourhood!

There's a long way to go before I get all that I want set up out there, but the main thing is the birds are coming in, and I managed to get a few photographs of the happy diners, and some of the rook who wasn't happy to discover he can't get at the seeds. He became incredibly vocal ~~~

Oh, and if I am to take my photos from the comfort of my living room, I will need to wash my windows in between the window cleaner's visits! Digital photography picks up, and enhances, even the slightest speck of dust!

My favourites are the Starlings. They have such lovely markings, and while the colours are not as bright as some of the other, smaller birds, there is a sheen and delicacy to their feathers the other birds don't seem to share.

At this time, I am making a heartfelt plea to all who have read this in regard of Starlings. They are often misjudged as greedy, condemned for seeing off the other birds at the table, and for being nothing more than voracious eaters that devour everything in sight to the detriment of other birds. This is not so. For those of you who do not know, the truth is that Starlings have a very high metabolic rate and are a lot more fragile than many of the smaller birds. Starlings need about four times the amount of food, in ratio to body weight, as the small birds do, so while they appear to be greedy, they are simply eating to survive the winter months.  Please consider this next time you see Starlings eating at your feeders and don't shoosh them away, or they may die a cruel death from starvation.

Until next time ~~~
Deborah xo

Thursday 30 November 2017

Winter has a Heart ~ Memory Making

***a note to my readers ~ my computer is on it's last legs and I have struggled to put this together because periodically my typing does not enter on the screen. Consequently, for those of you who do leave a sweet comment, I should be able to publish, but may not be able to reply immediately, so please be patient. A new computer is on the horizon, and, frankly, is something I dread doing!***

Hello Friends!

Brrrrrrr! Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, I think Winter has arrived with all of us. It isn't too bad here, yet, but I'm sure we are going to pay this Winter for several exceptionally mild years recently.

As many of you know, I am a full time care giver, and now, for two afternoons a week, I have help coming in so that I can get out to do things that I could otherwise struggle with, such as getting to the bank, or off for my 'flu injection!  One of the things we can do, weather permitting of course, is to go out for rides in the countryside and make some new, happy memories to cherish as we visit garden centres ~ ones with tea rooms, naturally; go out for lunch or afternoon tea; just go for a ride to see pretty scenery; in fact, pretty much anything. This is why, of late, I've been able to share with you some of the photographs I've taken on some of these precious days out. 

Here's what we did yesterday. We visited a lovely little tea room in nearby Mathry called "Siop Fach Tearooms"  Sadly, they do not have a website but have a very good rating on Trip Advisor.  Here are the photographs I took of some stunning scenery, and delicious food we ate.

I have to say that the tea shop was immaculately clean, light, fresh and airy. A welcoming aroma of cooking food filled the entrance, and a display of deliciously tempting home made cakes was on display by the main counter.  More photos of those next time, but today I'll focus on what we had to eat.

A simple Scampi, Chips and Peas ~~~

I had one of several delicious sounding vegetarian options, Glamorgan Cheese Sausages. These are a traditional Welsh dish of cheese, onion and leeks. Served with yummy Sweet Potato Fries ~~~

Desserts! Puddings! Yay!  Lemon and Lime Cheesecake ~~~

Apple Pie with Custard Sauce ~~~

and I had Warm Chocolate Brownies with Ice Cream ~~~

I confess, the portions of pud were rather generous, but who's complaining? We cleared our plates!

Of course, it has to be Heinz ~ I fell for this cute condiment tray! I would have bought one had they sold one in the little shop next door ~~~

Who can resist an ice cold Fiery Ginger Beer, made in Radnorshire, on a cold Winter's day?

Isn't that a cute name for a company? "Heartsease Farm" It just makes you want to drop in and visit them. On the subject of hearts, I casually tossed my gilet to one side and look what happened? The folds just arranged themselves into a lovely heart shape? How cool is that?

I took a couple of photos from the window, the first has to be the creepiest creeper covered cottage I think I have ever seen ~~~

and this is the Farmer's Arms pub, just across the road. Recently, I was asked if this is 'arms' as in with hands on the end, or 'arms' as in "up in arms and going off to fight" ~ as far as I can tell, it is the 'with hands' version, although I've tried to look into this for you and there is nothing easily found to clarify. Let's go with 'with hands' as it is far more friendly, I'm sure you'll agree. It is a very common pub name in Wales ~~~

On our way home again home again jiggetty jig we pulled over so I could take a few quick photos of the wild and woolly wonderful big sky across the lush, softly rolling hills and gentle valleys of the Shire. In the far distance of this one you can just see the Preseli Hills, where the world famous bluestone which forms part of Stonehenge originated. Bluestone can be found across the world. Preseli bluestone is a fine grained dolerite, a magical stone with particular healing properties used in Shamanic rituals.

The weather was decidedly wintry, with gusty blasts of icy winds coming from the North, and I got caught out in a sharp, prolonged hailstorm! I love looking at the big skies over the Shire, in all their glorious majesty, in wonderment and awe.

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

Thursday 23 November 2017

A Blustery Day

Hello Friends!

One thing you can guarantee is that our weather out in the west is windy!  We had two major storms and one hurricane back in October, but, other than a few days where the winds picked up a little over twenty five miles an hour, most of November has been relatively calm, with breezes not much above twenty miles an hour most of the time, and some days well below twenty! Until today! I guess we had to have some more winds at some time, living where we do, jutting out into the wonderful and wild Atlantic Ocean, and sure enough, overnight we had winds well in excess of fifty mph, gusting up to seventy, so a blustery day, as Piglet and Pooh would say.

This afternoon, I was able to spend a few short moments in a car park overlooking Newgale beach, with the small hamlet of Newgale nestled precariously either side of the road that winds up a hill leading up from the beach and valley below. I don't know about you, I would love to live in one of those houses, for the view must be spectacular during a storm! Of course, I wouldn't want the job of cleaning the windows afterwards, lashed with all those salt laden winds and spray!

The yellow building, to the left hand side, is the Duke of Edinburgh Public House. It is on the road, and immediately across the road is a bank of pebbles, the only protection from the ocean and all the elements can throw at it.

The pebble breakwater running alongside the main road. 

Several times a year, mostly during the Winter, the combinations of high tides and high winds crash through, causing the pebbles to breech and the Atlantic Ocean to pour through.  When this happens, the road can be closed for several days and all traffic is rerouted along the unclassified back roads to my village. These back roads, although surfaced, are single vehicle wide and not designed to take the regular daily traffic of many cars, busses, and delivery trucks. It can add some time to the journey.

You will also see a pond of water in the field alongside the Duke of Edinburgh; that, my friends, is a camp site! No camping there today!

Here are some more views of Newgale looking out to sea ~~~

This is the most stunning view any time of year. I love to sit in the bus, as we tootle along the high~hedged road home, and watch the faces of visitors to the area as they see it for the first time. It is priceless to see their amazement at the wild beauty of it all ~~~

In the distance Ramsey Island and Ynys Beri

A great place for walking the dogs!

Just as I was turning away, I heard a distinctive noise. I stopped, turned, stayed still and observed, searching with my eyes and ears until I found it ~~~ a sweet little wren ~~~ hopping about in the thorny bramble vines left behind long after the Autumn fruits are gone ~~~

All too soon my time at the beach was over and I had to return, so ~~~

Until next time ~~~

Sunday 19 November 2017

Black and White Seven Day Challenge

Hello Friends!

Some of you, who use social media will have seen a recent, on going, photography challenge, the Seven Days Black and White Photo Challenge. No people. No explanations. Just black and white images.

I was nominated by my friend Maggie. I'm so happy she did nominate me, because I delved back into my archives and came up with the following photos, and a few more than the required seven besides. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed black and white, I think it reveals a lot more of the subtler nuances of light, shadow, and textures than colour photography. Don't worry, I'll keep taking colour most of the time, but expect to see more monochrome too!

Today started out as a lovely late Autumn day in the Shire. Winds have dropped, rain has gone, and a pale, frothy edged ball of lemon sits, diffused, maybe confused, in a wintry blue, cloud cluttered sky. It ended submerged in grey murk and that sort of precipitation that is nameless ~ too heavy to be drizzle, too light to be rain, just everything getting damp through. Now, if only we could have a hard frost overnight, I'd have some grand photos in the morning, but I think it is a mild night forecast here.

I think there will be a lot more black and white photography from me in the future. I've rediscovered something special this week!

Until next time~~~