Bad Days Make Good Photos. Three Cliffs & Pobbles, May 2015.

Sand Dune Molly

It has been miserable end to May, apparently caused by El Nino. Today was no exception, with a wet morning and a gusting hard onshore wind ensuring no one in wild west Wales was going to have a good day surfing.

Three Cliffs Bulldog

So Molly and I headed out to Gower for our usual loop of Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay.

Molly Three Cliffs

There was quite a swell coming in and that wind was whipping it up, making the Gower coast look wild and rugged.

Wild & Rugged Pobbles Bay

These pink flowers were bravely blooming on the cliff edge contrasting with the barren limestone. Just like the primeroses in April, the bulbells are now starting to wilt away, leaving these pink blooms to take the spotlight.

Pink Coast Flowers, Pobbles, Gower.

Molly was less interested in the flowers or surf, finding some smells to investigate. It was a case of talk to the bum because the face ain’t listening.

Speak to the bum, because the face ain't listening.

She was all over the cliffs like a mountain goat, surveying the incoming tide swelling Three Cliffs river and filling the valley.

High Tide Three Cliffs, Gower

It wasn’t long until this French Bulldog was distracted by a stick though.

Three Cliffs Stick

Some nice photos but it wasn’t as nice as it looked. That gusty wind was cold and annoying. My hat blew off twice. But you have to make the most of a bad day and get out and about, DimExcuses.

 

 

Mentro 6. Great Day, Rubbish Surf, Rhossili, Gower 24th May 2015.

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This #Mentro21 project, logging all my surfs this year is proving useful. All the recent trips to Rhossili, Gower are blending into one. The van is becoming a common site at the newly acquired National Trust Carpark, spot the bulldog.

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We have had surf too small, surf too big and Goldilocks just right surf but this weekend was too small and totally blown out.

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I went in anyway in the DimExcuses spirit of the #Mentro21 project, but it was impossible to get a stand up ride.

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It was a fantastic day though and I got some great shots of Rhossili Bay, Molly and the van.

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Molly loves Rhossili, she is a proper Gower bulldog.

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She loves having a nose out of the passenger seat of the van.

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Apart from when Sharon gets her out for a cradled pose.

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It is a picture perfect venue at Rhossili with a cracking view in any direction. Here for example is the imposing Wormshead.

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So the surf was awful, but a day at Rhossili is never a day wasted. The water is slowly getting warmer, and it maybe time to lose the boots and swap the winter suit for a summer one, DimExcuses.

Clyne in Bloom, May 2015. #MyGreenSpace

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Yesterday saw the start of the #MyGreenSpace campaign to encourage people to discover great outdoor places. So today Molly and I thought we would help you discover a world class green space, Clyne Gardens in Swansea.

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This is the best time to see the gardens in their full glory, Clyne in Bloom. The #MyGreenSpace campaign is based in Bridgend County Borough and uses their Natural Neighbourhoods website to help you discover green spaces and things to do outdoors. But there is no reason people outside Bridgend (like Molly and I in Swansea) can’t get involved and discover great green spaces and share them using #MyGreenSpace. Just like I am doing here with Clyne in Bloom. Last week I discovered white bluebells and today I was pleased to find there is no shortage of them in Clyne (below) or in their traditional blue (above).

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At the moment Clyne Gardens has spectacular flowering bushes contrasted by wild species in equal bloom like this wild garlic. The aroma is incredible too.

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The colours are so vivid and varied.
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Molly the French Bulldog couldn’t believe all the colours, smells and textures all around her.

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Molly and I visited Clyne in Bloom last year and we especially like the giant rhubarb like Gunnera plants. We visited Clyne in the middle of winter and saw the Gunnera wilted away and rotted down, but I am glad to say our favorite giant rhubarb was back in full bloom in my green space.

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I know it is not related to Rhubarb by the way.

#MyGreenSpace Gunnera

Just don’t tell Molly, who was keeping it calm and keeping casual under the giant rhubarb.

#MyGreenSpace Molly and the Giant Rhubarb

It is quite a magnificent plant.

#MyGreenSpace Gunnera Clyne

Molly was more interested in the flowers.

#MyGreenSpace Molly

And what a range of flowers you can see at Clyne in Bloom.

#MyGreenSpace Clyne Flowers

What better way to get involved with the #MyGreenSpace campaign than discovering the great green space of Clyne Gardens, Swansea? Why not get out and photograph your favorite green spaces and tag them #MyGreenSpace for someone else to discover on social media? Get involved, DimExcuses.

 

Mentro 5. The Gloves Are Off, Rhossili, 10th May 2015.

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It is just a little too cold for not wearing gloves in the water yet. I regretted my choice not to use gloves surfing this Sunday at Rhossili. It was quite painful in the 10C water combined with 13C air temperature.

It is surprising how quick they go numb though and then it isn’t a problem, and surfing without gloves is a much better experience even if a bit nippy.

This was the fifth session in my #Mentro21 project to venture out in the surf at least 21 times this year. Mentro 3 was a bit too small, Mentro 4 was a bit too big, so was this session the Goldilocks conditions that would be just right?

It was totally cloudy and Rhossili was very quiet with my car quite lonely in the car park newly acquired by the National Trust.

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The surf was a consistent one foot with noticeable two foot sets that you could see coming in dark and tall above the other waves. The south cross shore wind was creating steep faces. I was joined by another DimExcuses surfer, Darren, keen to make these trips a regular thing this year and beyond with plans to form the Sandbar Surf & Social Club.

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So five sessions down in the #Mentro21 project and sixteen to go! The gloves are off and staying off. I am now looking forward to when the boots and winter suit can come off, DimExcuses.

Among the White Bluebells, Three Cliffs & Pobbles, 9th May 2015.

Molly in the Bluebells

Just like the light, weather and the tides, the flowers change with every walk along the coast. Sometimes you see something rare or new, and sometimes you learn something, like not all bluebells are blue!

Gower Bulldogs and Bluebells

After a great start to spring in April, May has been a bit cold and wet. But today some unexpected sun came out, so Molly and I headed for the Gower beaches. Our winter haunts of Caswell and Langland are unavailable because of the summer dog restrictions. So our fallback option is always our Pennard Castle, Three Ciffs and Pobbles Bay loop.

Eye on the Ball

Getting to Pennard Castle it is essential to get a picture of Three Cliffs Valley.

Three Cliffs Valley

But with an impatient bulldog we were soon in the valley…

Three Cliffs Valley

…and then in the sea.

Surf Bulldog

This dog is not scared of the water when fetch and a ball is involved.

Molly Surf Bulldog

Molly was loving the sea at Three Cliffs, this falling tide giving a fantastic view of Great Tor in the background.

Molly Pobbles

Enough about the French Bulldog, I promised you bluebells that aren’t blue! Spring is a little bit late turning up this year but that hasn’t stopped the bluebells. Molly is loving them as you can see above. There are loads and loads of them on the walk up from Pobbles, but if you look really carefully you may find these white bluebells.

White Blue Bells

The primroses were the first to come out this year and we have had a bumper crop, now they are giving way to hoard of bluebells (some of which may not be blue). Get out there and see what you can spot, DimExcuses.

Mentro 4, Hard & Fast Rhossili, Gower, 4th May 2015.

Hard & Fast Rhossili

Sometimes you need a hard, messy 3 foot swell with a short period to reset your arrogance levels back to zero, and remind you to respect the sea.

This was the forth session in my #Mentro21 project to surf at least 21 times this year. They are coming thick and fast now with only two days since my last session. What a difference two days makes. The wind had dropped and gone cross shore, enough to mess it all up but there were still rideable lefts and rights, only now they were three times the size!

Heavy Rhossili

I never pay much attention to period but I am learning that it can affect your surfing considerably. Period is the gap between waves, a long period is a big gap and short period a small gap. The longer period the better because you can ride a wave and then paddle back out through one or two waves. With a short period you can take a beating as you get hit by wave after wave as you paddle out.

Riders on the Storm & a Dog

Basically I took a beating. My friend Gareth joined me again for this trip and he was able to get outside through duck diving his performance short board, but even he got caught on the inside with wave after wave hitting him down. There is only so many cold waves smashing you on the head before it is time to go in.

Gareth & Mark DimExcuses Collective

That said I got to use my new National Trust membership again to park for free (or £30 a go if I never go again). Joking aside it is noticeable that the parking is better managed and the staff are brill.

National Trust Rhossili

My long suffering surf widow Sharon came with us this time time which meant Molly the French bulldog could come too. That dog is becoming a proper loon, she followed me out as we waded into the sea, swimming alongside us until the waves forced her to swim in. It also meant I can use Sharon’s photos here (tagged with her twitter username @WarmSand1).

Molly the Surf Bulldog

The surf was far to big for Molly, so she and Sharon used the low tide to discovers shipwrecks that even I haven’t seen.

Shipwreck Molly

So finishing as I started, it is good to have a hard day in the sea, it makes you a better surfer. I always say in this blog know your limitations. Never underestimate the sea, DimExcuses.

Mentro 3. Rhossili, Gower, 2nd May 2015

Dark & Offshore Rhossili

First bank holiday in May and where has the weather gone. In Gower the sea is 9.6C and the air is 11C. The swell is 6.5 foot but it is coming from a strange WSW direction resulting in 1 – 2 foot surf. There is also a 21mph unusual east wind.

I was in two minds to go surfing and get a Mentro 3 session for my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year, when I saw pictures of the surf pumping on Instagram from the Welsh Surfing Championships in Freshwater West. It was enough to get me straight in the van and down Rhossili, Gower.

I was joined by my friend Gareth so I actually had some company for my third surf trip this year. We arrived at 2.30pm and the low tide had been on the way in for an hour. This what it looked like on the way in.

Rhossili Offshore Wind

It was 1 to 1.5 foot and that weird swell direction was pushing waves diagonally into the bay. That east wind was strong and offshore (regular readers will know I love an offshore wind). The swell and offshore wind were producing steep consistent lefts.

Glamorous Windy Changing

I was enjoying, being a goofy footer I prefer lefts as they are on my forehand (balls to wall, if you excuse the expression), until I lifted my board on a dismount and the wind launched it. That awful moment when you see a surfboard fly up in the air and know it is attached to your leg! I covered my face but took a big crack on the head. I have a nice graze and egg sized lump on my head to show for it. DimExcuses I surfed on with a bit of a headache. Here is how Rhossili looked when we came out an hour and a half later, dark and mean lines.

Dark Iines Rhossili

So 3 down 18 to go! You can follow the #Mentro21 project here, and I am planning my next trip, DimExcuses.