Walk from Boulmer to Low Newton-by-the-Sea and back, Northumberland, England

While we were staying in Alnwick, Jude went off for the day to see her best friend Kate in Edinburgh. I therefore took the opportunity to do a long(ish) walk (of about 14 miles or 22.5 km) from Boulmer. OK, I admit it, my main motivation was to stop for a beer at the Ship Inn in Low Newton-by-the-Sea. 😋

As you will see from the gallery below, the weather was breezy, but quite kind until I set off for the return journey, when the winds dropped and the rain took over. I got so wet, my mobile phone screen decided to pack up and, despite my best efforts to revive it (by leaving it in a bag of dried rice for a week), it still doesn’t work.

Over the past few weeks, Jude and I have been in the habit of collecting bits of sea glass and washed up pottery from all the various beaches that we have visited. I therefore couldn’t stop myself picking up the handful in picture 2, which were all found in the small area seen just below my hand. Another load was safely put to one side until I returned, when I managed to completely fill my sandwich bag.

The route also took in Dunstanburgh Castle and Embleton beach which I’ve previously posted here. My apologies for the duplication, but I don’t think you can ever have too much of a good thing!

Embleton Beach and Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland, England

Jude and I have just returned from a week in Northumberland, staying in the wonderful town of Alnwick. As you may have gathered by now, we’re drawn, almost magnetically, towards the sea and the beaches along this stretch of coastline are fabulous.

So it was that we went for a walk to Dunstanburgh Castle along Embleton beach. For added interest, to me anyway, there’s an 18 hole links style golf course which runs alongside. I was fortunate to spot 2 golfers on the horizon while I had my camera set to black and white and I thought it made for an excellent photo. (See pic 7). Little did I know at the time, until I turned the corner and spoke to them, that the lady hitting the shot to the par 3 “signature hole” 13th had put it to just 2 feet away from the pin! (See pic 8). Great shot Marcia!! (In case you’re wondering, yes, she did sink the putt for a birdie!)

As you may already know, Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England – over 70 in fact. Dunstanburgh Castle was built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster between 1313 and 1322, taking advantage of the site’s natural defences and the existing earthworks of an Iron Age fort. As you will see below it’s now a shadow of its former glory. For more information, please click here.

Unusual Sightings at Benar Beach, Gwynedd, N. Wales

Just before Christmas, Judith and I were slightly alarmed to hear a whirring noise outside the house. We looked out of the kitchen window and saw not one, but two, powered paragliders (or paramotorists) flying up and down and then across the estuary. This was a first in nearly 4 months of living here.

It turned out to be a nice day, so we did our usual thing and went for a walk along Benar beach (which is about 9.5 miles or 15km further down the coast). And, hey presto, another came whizzing along! At least this time I had my camera ready. 😊

As we walked along, Judith spotted some small lumps or bubbles emerging from the sand. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it before and I’d be interested to know if anyone else has….(?) They were filled with air because, as soon as you touched the top of them, they deflated. But how on earth they were formed, given that we’re talking, albeit wet, sand here, I don’t think I’ll ever know.

They only appeared, near to the sea, over a stretch of no more than 30 yards (of a very long beach) and, as you can see from the pics below, there were quite a few of them. Their size varied from maybe an inch or 2cm across, up to 8 inches or 20 cm. Very strange (and we’ve not seen any since)!

Craig y Garn Walk, Gwynedd, N. Wales

From our house you can see a number of mountains and, almost inevitably, it has become a bit of a goal of ours to ‘top’ each one of them. One of the smallest is Craig y Garn (at 363 metres/1,191 feet) which, on a clear day of course, we can see above Porthmadog as we look across the estuary. We found a route to the top in a small book called “Snowdonia – Park Rangers Favourite Walks” (which itself has 20 different walks and may also become a bit of a ‘challenge’).

So it was that on 21st November 2021, Jude and I walked to the top from the village of Garndolbenmaen. As you will see, you don’t have to climb too high in Wales to get magnificent panoramic, 360 degree views. Plus, of course, if we can see the top from home, you should be able to see our house from the top. And if you zoom in on photo no. 9, you may be able to make out a white house on the far side of the estuary – above the lowest point of the ‘V’ between the two hills (slightly left of centre).

Christmas Quiz – My Answers

Firstly a very happy and hopefully very healthy new year to all my followers and a special thanks to all of you who have commented over the past 12 months, it is very much appreciated as I’m sure you all know.

So to the, well my, answers to all those images (repeated below in case you missed my original post), with a little explanation in case you don’t ‘see’ it:

  1. Is obviously a fish – and many commented that it was an Angel fish, which is even more precise. I was pleased that the, albeit quite large, stone was in the right place, making it look a bit like one of those from the deep. The gaping mouth added to the drama!
  2. A tricky one this, which some may have thought was a squirrel and I’d go with that, but I initially though it looked like a deer running away to the left, with its butt in the air. There are two small antlers too, to the top left, so that was my answer.
  3. As soon as I saw this in the sand and maybe it was because we’re now living in Wales and I was hoping to find one, that I thought it was a dragon, breathing fire out of its mouth to the top right and a claw off to the left. But I can also see a lady’s dress.
  4. Again, this ‘spoke’ to me immediately as a roadrunner. My thoughts went back to my youth and all of those wonderful Looney Tunes, with Bugs Bunny (my favourite) and the hapless, but very inventive, Wile E Coyote always failing to catch the Roadrunner. Beep, beep!
  5. Another fairly obvious one which many people got – definitely a scorpion.
  6. Less obvious was what I thought looked like a horse (one of two in this list). It reminded me of one of those sit-on horses on a merry-go-round at the fair, with it’s head in the air and feet never quite touching the ground.
  7. Perhaps the easiest of them all, with it being a rather chic (perhaps Christian Dior?) dress. Maybe the beach is where they got some of their inspiration!
  8. Not so clear is the jellyfish. Perhaps a little bit manufactured to get into this quiz, but at least one person spotted it. Well done Brian!
  9. In the same vane, this horse was not so obvious – particularly with it’s tiny head. but it reminded me of one on those ancient cave paintings, where the perspective is not quite right.
  10. A little clearer was the goose or duck or swan. Again the white ‘eye’ was already there…
  11. …as it was in this image, which looks like a shark to me, but could be many sorts of fish I suppose.
  12. Last but not least was what I thought was a squirrel, with its little legs running off to the right and bushy tail dragging behind.

I hope you enjoyed this little quiz. I think it’s amazing what nature conjures up!

Christmas Quiz – 2 new images and some answers to help you…

Further to my post on Christmas Eve, my thanks to those who have already commented but, in case you are still trying to work them out, below are some possible answers to match up with the images. I’ve posted them all again below, so that you will have everything in one place. And, since I’ve just realised that I missed a couple pictures, there are now two more for you to puzzle over!!

However, be warned, I’ve only given you 11 possible answers to the 12 pictures – so one of the answers appears twice, but I’m not going to tell you which one. (I’m such a tease!)

Anyway, here are my ‘answers’ and I’ll publish which I think belongs to each image later in the week.

  • Scorpion
  • Horse
  • Goose
  • Dress
  • Shark
  • Dragon
  • Deer
  • Squirrel
  • Fish
  • Roadrunner
  • Jellyfish

So, just let me know what you think images 1, 2, 3 etc, are… E.g. 1 Squirrel, 2 Scorpion, etc. etc.

Lastly, remember, there are no ‘right’ answers (and please do let me know if you are convinced one of them is something not in the above list) plus, of course, it’s only a bit of fun!

Christmas Quiz

Well, it’s that time of year when (hopefully) you will be meeting up with family and friends and, as I hinted at in my previous post, I thought I would set you a little challenge to keep you and the little ones entertained.

So, there are no ‘right’ answers here, as it’s open to everyone’s view of the world, but the following images ‘speak’ to me in a certain way and all of them look like something (like an animal or object). Of course, I could make it much easier for you by giving you some possible answers but, for now, I’ll let you decide what you think each one is. Depending upon the number of comments that I get, I may repost this in a few days time with ‘my list’ for you to choose from.

Answers/comments by this time next week please, when I will reveal my view of the world, but in the meantime, if you celebrate this time of year, or anyway, have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful, safe and healthy, new year. 🎅🎄

Benar Beach, Gwynedd, North Wales

If there is one thing that blogging helps to do in this strange world we currently live in, it’s to take people away from whatever situation or location they are in at the moment and transport them to another part of the world. So let me take you far away…

When the rain and gloomy, grey skies go away, Jude and I are in the habit of going for a walk along one of our local beaches. We’ve been to our favourite, Benar beach, twice recently; once on the 5th December, when it was a little cloudy and very windy and again yesterday, when it was almost perfectly still and the skies were completely blue.

Below are two separate galleries, showing some of my best images from those two walks. (Yes, I’m like a London bus, you don’t see a post for ages and then 2 come along at once!)

In the first gallery, you may note that I turned one of my pictures of “the hand” upside down and (at least to my eyes) one hand (pic 9) looked concave, into the sand, (as it really was), effectively holding the stone, while the other picture (no. 10) looked convex, seemingly coming out of the sand. I know this is a trick of the eyes (and I just looked at them again and it was the other way around!) See what you think.

Maybe it’s just me but I’m always spotting shapes in either the sand or the seaweed and picture 4 in the second gallery shouts ‘fish’ to me (even to having an eye in the right place). I’d be interested to know if you also see it and/or do the same. I have in mind to do a Christmas (picture) Quiz called “Name that creature”!

5th December:

December 18th:

Butterfly Photography

As I was looking through my Val de Réchy Walk photographs, I noticed a sequence of images which I thought some of you might find interesting. I know there are a number of people out there who like the butterfly pictures and I think the sequence below sort of shows how I go about capturing them. By pure chance, the sun was in exactly the right position to show my gradual movements towards the butterfly.

Essentially my technique (if that’s what you might call it) is to take a photo from afar, to help identify it, in case it flies off immediately, as they often do! But then to move closer and closer (quite slowly, so as not to spook it) while taking pictures all the time. As you can see from the shadow, it’s just a point and shoot camera, which is held out at arms length (often thrust forward to within 3 or 4 inches of the subject and sometimes while trying my best to balance on my other hand!) At this point I really don’t know whether the camera is focusing correctly or not. Indeed, the final cropped image was taken from the photo numbered …6339. The rest of the unused images are usually deleted.

Also, I checked the timings of the first and last picture and, to my surprise, they were only 16 seconds apart. (And my mate Pete complains I take too long taking photos, or was that take too many photos!? 🤔)

The sequence is best viewed in Gallery mode, by clicking on the first image and then paging (right arrow) to go forward.

Ynys, North Wales, Part 2

Once out of quarantine, Jude and I were free to wander and below are some pictures of the local places we explored.

Not more than a kilometre away from where we were staying was Llanfihangel-y-traethau church. It’s quite famous for a number of reasons, not least of which is that there is a unique memorial stone in the churchyard with an inscription (in latin) which indicates that it was built in the reign of King Owen Gwynedd, who reigned from 1137 to 1170. Another reason is that the writer Richard AW Hughes is buried there. (See pic 7).

But perhaps most interestingly, especially to American readers, is that David Ormsby-Gore is also buried there. Who’s he?, you may well ask, but he was the 5th Baron Harlech or more generally known simply as Lord Harlech. He was the British Ambassador to the United States from 1961 to 1965 (and, to add a bit of UK interest, MP for Oswestry from 1950 to 1961). He became good friends with President John F. Kennedy and (Wiki tells me that) “after his assassination there were rumours of a romance between Ormsby-Gore and Jacqueline Kennedy. In 1968 he proposed marriage to her, but, she did not accept. Ormsby-Gore was one of the pallbearers at Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral.”

He subsequently married American socialite Pamela Colin in 1969 but, sadly, Lord Harlech was seriously injured in a car crash on 25 January 1985 and died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital the following morning, aged 66. Senator Edward Kennedy, Jacqueline (by then) Onassis and other Kennedy family members attended his funeral in the Llanfihagel-y-traethau church. He was buried there as the church is situated on one of the two Lord Harlech estates.

The reason we were keen to we visit the church (and we were lucky enough to get the keys to be able to go inside), was that Jude grew up in the old school, in Pant Glas, which had provided education for the children of the workers on Lord Harlech’s other estate, Brogyntyn, near Oswestry.

As you will also see below, at low tide it is possible to walk across the Glaslyn/Dwyryd estuary and Jude and I took the opportunity to go swimming in one of the pools left behind by the side of Ynys Gifftan island, which sits in the middle of the estuary.