'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Vitamin Sea

Pensarn Beach, Abergele is a fine place to go for a dose of Vitamin Sea.  It’s an SSSI, site of special scientific interest - because of its vegetated shingle bank, which is the best example of this feature in North Wales.  The smooth, rounded pebbles are all shades of grey, green, blue and plum and strewn with blue-green sea kale, silvery sea holly, sun-yellow trefoil, paper-white sea campion and sweet smelling wild roses. 
At the tide line, bickering oystercatchers flicker in black and white like the end of old movie reels.

Rafts of black ducks bob in the green water.  The information board confirms them as Common Scoter. They’re not that common really but they get thousands and thousands here over the winter.

I keep an eye out for the splash of porpoises.  A group of sea-skimming cormorants fly across the lenses of my binoculars, followed by two kleeping oystercatchers and a peeping ringed plover.  A small section of beach is roped off to protect the ringed plover nests and I watch a fluffy mottled chick whizzing over the stones like a clockwork toy.

Off shore, windturbines slice through the sky like circus knife throwers.

The pebbles are lovely to play with and before I know it, two hours have passed and it’s time for a chip butty on a bench with a view of bright plastic spades, twirling pink windmills and blue beach balls. Beaches are good places to be Slow.


Friday, 4 July 2014

River of Time - a landscape art project connecting past and present

Facebook flashed up a message from Discover Flintshire about a special evening event at Loggerheads Country park so rather than fall asleep in front of the telly, I pulled on my wellies and headed into the dusk.
It’s exciting to be out in the woods at night.  Even the house martins were tucked up in their nests above the shop.  After the rain, the air felt heavy and wet and the pungent smell of wild garlic made my nose twitch.The trees dripped and mist hung over the lime stone cliffs transforming the woods into a mystical rainforest.
At the candle-lit Mill, we watched Sean Harris’ animation of
ghostly reindeer, inspired by a 12,000 year old carving. 

We were given tiny tea-lights and followed a trickle of people along the rain-swelled River Alyn.  There’s something magical about candles, lots of them had already been placed along the path and the woods twinkled.  A grey wagtail danced on river stones, its tail flickering like the candles and screens, suspended across the River like a magic lantern, showed flickering images of reindeer, elk and aurochs, animals that would have roamed here thousands of years ago.  Their bones have been found in caves only a mile away.
We lit our candles and were invited to place them wherever we chose.  I spent some time selecting just the right spot, noticing where other people had put theirs.  Some were tucked in tiny crevices in the limestone, some in tree holes, some on mossy logs, some stood alone and others in family groups.
Standing in the peaceful glow of candles, fat rain drops rolling off glistening leaves and bats flitting through the misty tree canopy, I felt connected to the ancient past.  The River bubbled and gurgled, carving its way through the limestone as it must have done for centuries, and if I half closed my eyes, I could definitely imagine an elk lowering its huge head to take a drink.
Thanks to Sean, Ruthin Craft Centre and Denbighshire Countryside Service for a lovely event.
More about Sean Harris www.wildboarpress.com