The Waterside and Reviewing the Week 56

Heading home from my day at The Waterside, I was surprised and delighted to be driving across the Welsh hills and into a fantastic sunset. The colour, light and shade typified the mixed weather from the start of the day to the end.

The soundscape below may not fit perfectly with the sequence of photos if you listen and view them at the same time, but it is not meant to be StillWalks video but hopefully it will help to give you a better sense of that beautiful, secluded South Wales valley.

The Waterside-27

The Waterside Soundscape

If viewing this in an email, to see the sound player you will need to visit the blog – please click the post title to view the full post.

From Calmness to Turbulence

Approaching the southern end of the lake on my walk around the valley at The Waterside, the sound and atmosphere changed from peaceful and calm to turbulent and vigorous.  Before reaching the rapids of water flowing into a tunnel, I could hear it in the background – in fact the sound of the rushing water had been noticeable for some time. However, the volume rose dramatically as I stood directly over the crashing deluge.

There is an aspect of acoustics in my perception of the volume of sound in this place. I cannot imagine what Niagara or Victoria Falls sound like but the environmental space at this point at The Waterside is much more enclosed than that at Niagara or Victoria and so, as there is inevitably more reflection of sound, it may be that the perceived difference in volume is (slightly) affected by this. However, I wouldn’t dream of comparing one with the other as the scale difference is astronomical.

Today (Friday) StillWalks is at The Waterside running presentations  about the StillWalks package for businesses and organisations. If anyone is interested in coming along to one of these in the future, First Fridays are currently regular open days at The Waterside, please check out the website above and contact us in advance.

Old Gate

Rapid water

water entering tunnel

Wild Weather Walkers and Reviewing the Week 46

Reaching the end of my wild and windy walk between Southgate and Three Cliffs on the South Gower coast, like these other two intrepid weather walkers, I was huddled over and protecting my camera against the rain.

I have not created a full StillWalks video of this walk using a mixture of still images and video because I am not a great fan of hand held video and I have not had the time. However, the sequence of photos and the sound clip below can be viewed at the same time and if you are interested in the video I took on my iPhone during the walk, this can also be viewed at the end of this post.

Mixing video and stills is something I will continue to experiment with for StillWalks and if I can find the time I will probably work further with this walk in this way. In the meantime I hope you can enjoy all that I have posted this week and don’t end up too breathless or blown off your seat!

walkers

Wild Wind

If viewing this in an email, to view the sound player you will need to visit the blog – please click the post title to view the full post.

When playing the video I recommend you click the HD and full screen buttons.

Sculpted by the Wind

This visual evidence of the prevailing wind on the South Gower coast with its effect on the hawthorn trees produces wonderful natural sculptures typical of Britain’s coastline.  There are probably not many trees like the hawthorn or blackthorn with their ability to survive and thrive in the rugged conditions that come with the Autumn and Winter seasons here.

That’s not say that we have particularly harsh winters, but they still have to cope with the strong winds and sea salty air and I know plenty of other species of tree that do not welcome this sort of situation at all. I love these trees and I also love the equally hardy whin or gorse and, in this case, their silhouette against the dark grey horizon line of sea and sky.

windblown hawthorn

windblown hawthorn

Whin at Three Cliffs Bay

Peace and Pylons

I was amazed at how peaceful this dewy Autumn morning walk was. As I climbed up Cefn Drum towards the electricity pylons the wind was almost non existent and I could hear all the other tiny noises of the landscape around me.

I enjoy listening to the sounds of the environment (any environment), but I also enjoy the occasional peace that you get on a day like this. If you listen to the 5 minute clip below, what do you hear? Listen out for the obvious things like the skylarks and other birds such as pheasant – do you also hear the dog in the distance or the similarly distant hammering as someone works somewhere over the other side of the valley.

The feint base in the sound clip is the motorway. It is the still air more than anything else that has kept this sound from travelling up the hill as it normally does. Air pressure and humidity also affect the way sound travels so on this particular day all atmospheric conditions must have been favourable to a quiet, peaceful hillside.

Pylons

Cefn Drum 2

pylons

This monochrome version of the pylon image can also be seen on Leanne Cole’s Photography blog post Monochrome Madness MM 2-33.

dew on grass

Walking Through the Seasons

The fact that every year we see similar sights in Autumn (or any other season) to the ones we saw the previous year does not make them any less enjoyable. In fact we look forward to the sights that different seasons bring with them – colours, textures and patterns. The fact that we can feel continually in awe of the same things happening again and again is perhaps an essential survival mechanism.

The changes we see, feel and benefit from repeatedly as the seasons go by, are most noticeable in the natural world. This suggests how important it is to have that world an integral part of our urban landscape and planning and to have footpath access to open countryside.

Whether it be in a city park, a country lane, open hills or simply a tree lined street, walking with awareness of the natural elements of the local environment is something I could not do without.

country lane

Cefn Drum-10

Autumn leaves

Almost There

Almost there! No, I’m not talking about the imminent arrival of planes at Cardiff or London or wherever they are going – I’m talking about the sunrise which the passengers will have seen significantly before I did.

Early morning inbound flights can be quite a nuisance when field recording if you happen to be on one of the main flight paths for Wales and southern UK but I guess they are a fact of life these days. On this occasion they were not particularly noticeable and that would be due to some of the other sounds of the morning (traffic) and also the atmospheric conditions – wind direction etc. I never cease to marvel at the difference in the environmental sounds around me which are the result of different conditions from morning to morning.

On a positive note, the sketches on the sky drawn by the airplanes can bring something extra to a composition (disregarding the pollution of course).

sunrise 1

sunrise 2

sunrise 3

sunrise 4

Welsh Landscape and Reviewing the Week 12

This final photo of the week was again taken with my iPhone but shows the view looking north east up the valley before I enter the woods to climb up to the top of the hill and look south towards the Gower Peninsula in the distance.

Click on any image in the gallery to view them in a carousel. The sound clips posted this week can also be found below. These will not be visible in an email – you will have to listen to them on the blog.

welsh landscape

 

Environmental Range

The walks I have been taking each morning recently, include a range of environments – urban, coniferous forest, deciduous woods and open farm land.

Although I prefer the natural woodland environments on these walks, I also enjoy the faster, more even pace of walking through the (semi) urban area. Even in the woods there is still the background sound of traffic on the motorway – except at one point along the footpath where the sound from the motorway (see last photo) almost completely disappears and there is only the sound of individual vehicles occasionally passing on the road below.

The sounds as well as the plants and animals of these places are many and varied. The field recording I have posted below and in previous posts this week illustrate something of that variety.

There is an intrusion into the sound clip below. I was recording on my Edirol R09 and had forgotten to switch off my phone! So there is another element of the urban environment unintentionally included.

landscape sunrise

forest floor

lichen

motorway

Fforest Birds 4 and Traffic

 

Windblown and Wondering

My recent walks at Kidwelly in Carmarthenshire revealed to me a number of aspects of the local environment. The old canal, mudflats and birds of the Towe Estuary were among the first of my discoveries, but there were other elements of this area that contributed to the atmosphere of the place just as much as those more obvious features.

These trees had a particularly dry looking bark and colour to them along with their windblown direction of growth. These as well as the brambles and dry reeds through which the footpath led me, all contributed to my perception of the environment – one that suggested a much dryer place than could be the case.

I wonder about that apparent contradiction? Even the dampness in the cold air could not defeat the sense of a lack of water that I felt from the colours and textures around me.

For all the lack of colour in this image of the trees, there is a monochrome version of it featured on Monochrome Madness 47 at Leanne Coles Photography blog.

wild trees

brambles and reeds