At last – sunshine in amongst all the drizzle and mist in South Wales. It’s a couple of days ago now and, of course, we were straight back to the drizzle on Monday but the memory remains.
Saturday was at least dry and allowed me to get out to record week 5 of the birds down at the marsh woods. Listen to the clip below. This is a 2 minute clip but I could have sat and listened through the cans for a lot more than the 7 minutes of the full clip. Remember, if you’re reading this in an email, you’ll have to click the title above or the http link at the bottom to see the full blog entry with sound clips . . . or you could click the comment button.
And then in the woods the birds were arguing over territory again – or was it food? The two things guaranteed to make birds or humans argue. Listen below.
This Robin's keeping an eye on me
Old railway track through the woods
At last, a bright day. At least for today there would be no SAD. I took a walk down to the old St Teilo’s Churchyard and had to take my coat off in the warmth – I love this place and have done a StillWalks there, a Summer sample of which you can see here – Old Churchyard Walk. Here are a few pics from Sunday AM.
St Teilo's Churchyard
St Teilo's Churchyard
River Loughor - Down on the Marshes
With the sun still shining, a trip to Cardiff was called for to take Ellen back to Uni – she had come down to Swansea to go and see the National Dance Company of Wales (NDCWales) at the Taliesin Arts Centre with us. They were awesome 🙂 Anyway, not wanting to waste the sunshine, we had a walk in Roath Park and got a cuppa in the cafe there. We were reminded what a popular place it is . . . with birds and people alike. Whoops! How did I manage to miss both people and birds off these shots – I wouldn’t have thought it possible lol. The sound clips at the bottom prove they were there though.
Roath Park Crocuses
Remember, if you’re reading this in an email, you’ll have to click the title above or the http link below to see the full blog entry with sound clips . . . or you could click the comment button.
Weeks 1 – 3 of my marsh wood birds sound clips went smoothly and it was great to hear different “music” (bird song) on each occasion. I’m afraid there will be no “music” this week as I’m off to York for a British Tapestry Group meeting (another, parallel life) – they have an excellent new website.
The week has been very busy with the launch of the new StillWalks website and various other things including a trip to Cardiff where we visited the library and the Chapter Arts Centre. The main exhibition there was Lothar Götz and was much more interesting than I was led to believe from what I saw on their website. We also went to see The Artist and really enjoyed it – the best film I’ve seen for a while . . . and silent!
Anyway, in place of a sound clip, there are a couple of pics from Cardiff and the Chapter here or you can see them and others on Flickr.
from Cardiff Library
There is one other shot on Flickr of the interior of the library – I would have taken more as it is a great building but Vertigo is not a good thing to suffer from there 🙁
Hope to do a recce walk for StillWalks in York while I’m there and maybe get back in the Spring for a production day.
It was 3 AM this morning when I realised I had forgotten to update the StillWalks Blog menu following the launch of the new (now current) StillWalks website. Apologies to anyone who may have been confused by this.
The menu items at the top of this blog are now up to date. If you haven’t yet visited the StillWalks website, please do and I hope you enjoy all that is there. Much more will be coming in the future and here is a tip for enjoying the virtual walks found on the site – click the Full Screen button in the corner of each video – it looks like this.
Last year my daughter, Ellen Duncan, had a short story included in an anthology edited by Kate North and called “The C Word”. It was published by Cinnamon Press and launched at Waterstones. Needless to say I was very proud of her.
I asked Ellen to write an account of a recent trip I took with her to the north of Scotland to visit my sister, Jane, on the sad occasion of her husband’s death from cancer. Philip had lived with cancer as long as he was able and maintained, with Jane’s help at the end, a popular blog about his experiences (www.philiprogers.co.uk). Jane runs RichThinkers.
I asked that Ellen’s story focus on aspects of the visit other than that of the funeral.
Alastair Duncan 31/01/2012
A Jaguar Tale
The trip to Bristol Airport at three in the morning, was probably more round-about than necessary, a result of attempting to figure out how to use TomTom on my Dad’s new iPhone and not being entirely successful. Nevertheless, we arrived there in plenty of time and spent the next two hours drinking coffee and trying to decide whether it would be better to stay awake or doze until the flight. As it happens, even dozing is virtually impossible in a busy airport at five in the morning, regardless of whether you’ve slept earlier or not, and I hadn’t. So we stayed in a mostly silent daze until it was time to head to the departure lounge.
Sunrise at 20,000 feet
The flight itself passed in a haze of tiredness, broken by a spectacular sunrise somewhere around eight in the morning, and constantly underpinned by the gravelly whine of the engines. It was cold when we got off at Aberdeen Airport, a biting wind that even cut through my thick winter jacket, and we were both glad to reach the warmth of the arrivals lounge. Checked in with Europcar rental service, then got breakfast, and wow, what a queue of riggers! We were too warm by then, that’s always the way, but a full cooked English breakfast could actually be enjoyed, and then it was back to the Europcar desk. Another queue, more waiting.
I was hanging back, staring at nothing in particular, so it startled me a bit when Dad just spun around, grinning like a little kid, and said, ‘We’re getting a Jag!’
‘Awesome!’ Because, frankly, it was. Who’s going to be disappointed by that, especially when we were expecting a Ford Mondeo? So off we went, keys in hand, and suddenly looking forward to the two-hour drive to Forres rather more than anticipated. And there it was, gorgeous and shiny and black, absolutely stunning, with leather seats, and so comfortable . . . and Dad couldn’t figure out how to start it.
We worked it out, eventually; it was all electronic, automatic, but so smooth. We had fun playing with the digital display, tapping through the climate control (separate for each side of the car!) and figuring out the radio and sat nav. Hooking up the iPod was beyond us, so we travelled in the quiet – you could barely hear the tyres on the road, or the engine. I didn’t sleep. The sun was bright, the area was gorgeous and there was snow on the hills.
We were staying with my grandparents, opposite Jane, in her friend’s house. Lunch – thank heavens – was pretty much ready when we arrived, so after some admiring exclamations about the car, we settled down to eat, following which I passed out in bed for a couple of hours, catching up on some much-needed sleep while everyone else went out and got in the major shopping for the next few days.
And that, unfortunately, was when the problems began.
‘The boot won’t open.’
‘The boot won’t open. All the food’s in there.’
And try what we might none of us could get it open either. Dad ended up calling the rental service, Europcar, and they said they’d send someone out – but because it was snowy it might take a while. So we got on with things, and saw Jane, and cooked dinner, and poor Dad just had to hang around.
When they finally did arrive, late in the evening and while we were eating, Dad hung around outside while the mechanic tried to sort it out – but of course, things are never that easy, and even he couldn’t sort it out. Dejected, Dad came back in to finish his by-then cold pasta, looking harassed.
He had been explaining to the others about StillWalks, and since he had brought one of the DVDs up he decided to use it in a much-needed attempt to relax. It worked, too, for all of us, just sitting, watching and listening to them, going from a winter to a summer one, from coast to forest. Dad seemed pretty calm – right up until the point when Granny said, ‘I think you should call the car company again now, not in the morning!’ Quite a lot of the tension returned.
Next morning, while I was giving Jane a hand with some boxes of Philip’s books, poor Dad was still having to wait around, this time for the AAJag specialist to arrive. As he had been hoping to use the time we were up there to produce a StillWalk of the area in memory of Philip, this was more than a little frustrating. When they finally did get there, still no luck. Whatever techniques they tried made no difference whatsoever, and on top of that it turned out the car wasn’t locking either. By this point we had all pretty much decided that a Jaguar, lovely though it might have been, was far more trouble than it was actually worth on this occasion.
Dad, in a last ditch attempt, tried calling Jaguar themselves, in the hope that they would have a solution. Considering the luck we had had so far, I don’t think any of us were surprised when they told him the only way to get in would be to cut through the steel and into the boot from the inside. By this time we decided just to give in, do the shop again, and apply to get the money back on the insurance.
That was how Dad and I ended up in Tesco, buying everything again – and it’s funny how it doesn’t matter where you are, Tesco is the same. At any rate, by the time we were finished, it was nearly dark, and sleeting along with it, making for a fairly miserable drive back while we tried to remember the route without a great deal of help from street signs. On our return my Uncle Simon joked that the boot would open only when we got back to the airport!
The next day, Dad took the morning to do the work for the StillWalk – by then, thankfully, the snow had more or less cleared. Granny had done the flower arrangements for the service that afternoon, so we drove there a little early. It was further than we had realized, and the roads were quite twisty, so I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised when a humpbacked hill came out of nowhere – it felt like the car almost took off.
That evening, I found myself keeping my little cousin, Isobel, entertained with just about the strangest game of Hide and Seek I’ve ever played – it involved her showing me where she was ‘hiding’ something, and then the pair of us wandering off to start ‘looking’ for it together.
Unfortunately for us, we were leaving in the early hours of the morning again, and had to be up at 2am, which I can’t say is a time I’m too fond of. Nevertheless, when it actually came to it, despite all the trouble we’d had, the Jaguar is a nice car to drive and be in, and the roads were silent and empty, so we arrived at Aberdeen Airport in plenty of time, and not quite as tired or stressed out as we might have been. We parked in the hire car area, which was more or less completely abandoned, and were just grabbing our things off the backseat when Dad decided to try the boot one last time.
It opened! After everything, all the trouble and time we had taken trying to get it sorted out, and right at the very end it just opened. Leaving us to abandon £130 worth of food and wine just as it was finally accessible again.
Ellen Duncan 31/01/2012
I wondered later if it was that ‘flight’ from the humpback bridge that unstuck the boot, but I guess I’ll never really know. And the car? Well I know from the texts I sent, just how frustrated and annoyed I was at the time – but when I look back, it is the pleasure I felt at driving a brand new Jaguar XJ that I remember first and foremost.
Alastair Duncan 31/01/2012
NB Anyone interested in Philip Rogers books should contact Rich Thinkers.
Just about ready to go with the new website – hope people visit it, like it, use it, follow it. Last few tweaks to do and then further developments will take place over the next year . . . watch this space 🙂
It was a beautiful bright morning this morning and I decided I just had to get out to look and listen to the sights and sounds in the park and on the marshes. Had thoughts of a new, part time project – to record at the same time each week the sounds from the same spots in this location over the period of a year and then look back and see (or hear) how they change with the seasons. Question is, will I be able to persuade myself to do it when the weather is horrible, as it is often enough in Wales!
Remember, if you’re reading this in an email, you’ll need to go to the blog to listen to the sounds – the Song Thrush is really lovely! 🙂
Last month during a visit to the north of Scotland I recorded some interesting sound clips. There is a story attached to this visit and that will be published soon. In the meantime, these sounds and pictures give a little info on the Scottish weather during a mild winter. Remember, if you are reading this in your email, you will have to visit the actual blog to listen to the sound clips. You can also enjoy a sample StillWalk from this visit at http://youtu.be/nTsd_gz8Qmw
Hmmm, it seems the SoundCloud files on the blog don’t show up in email notifications. If you want to see / listen to the sound files, you will need to visit the blog itself. You can do this by clicking on the blog title in the email or maybe I just need to remember to put in this link!