Things we saw on the reef. It is all Greek to me 6. Zante 2015.

Thornback Ray

Continuing with my photos from my recent trip to Zante Greece, and the last post showing what we saw in the sea, here is what we saw once we discover the reef on the tip of Kalamaki Beach. Below I think is a Peacock Wrasse.

Peacock Wrasse

Here is a Goby and his friend. You can see these back home rock pooling at Pobbles Bay, Gower.

Goby

Another Peacock Wrasse. These fish would literally be all Greek to me, but again I am using Rob Jones’ “Mediterranean Species for Divers, Fisherman & Snorkelers”. That is not a typo it does say fisherman not fishermen, lost in translation I think.

Peacock Wrasse Zante

I think this tranquil Wrasse didn’t know what to make of me.

DimExcuses Snorkel

Or Sharon for that matter.

Sharon

Next we spotted these two. A striped Grund on the left and possibly a Brown Wrasse on the right.

Fish Zante

Here they are from another angle.

Striped Grund

Joined by another Striped Grund.

Zante Fish

Can you spot the Striped Sea Bream in this one. Quite good at camouflage this species.

Under the Sea, Zante

Here is a better look at them.

Striped Sea Bream

There was no shortage of these or the various Wrasses.

Sea Bream

This reef was plentiful with small fish.

More Sea Bream

Another Peacock Wrasse (Thalassoma Pavo according to Rob’s guide).

Peacock Wrasse

I think this plain little chap is a Common Sea Bream (Pagrus Pagrus).

Fish

But where there is small fish the bigger fish can’t be far behind. Which is wear I made this most significant spot of the trip, a Thornback Ray.

Thornback Ray Zante

I saw him, he saw me…but wasn’t sure if I saw him so tried to blend into the seaweed.

Thornback ray hiding in seaweed

He was very wary of me, and me wary of him as he was a ray, but he didn’t seem aggressive and we parted company friends after these photos.

DimExcuses Thornback Ray

Finally swimming back in from the reef you see some more small fish in the shallows sifting through the sand and gravel.  Generally brave little Striped Sea Bream that don’t seem wary of all the human swimmers at all.

Shallow Striped Sea Bream

So that is what we saw on the reef and with the help of this guide it is not all Greek to me for once. Which leaves just one set of photos from Zante to post, the speed boat trip, DimExcuses.

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Things we saw in the sea. It is all Greek to me 5. Zante 2015

Underwater Cave

I still have four sets of photos to share from my recent trip to Zante, Greece, as part of my its all Greek to me series. I promised you some underwater wildlife in my last post. So this is a collection of fish I managed to photograph while snorkeling. Once I get through these photos it will be back to beaches and bulldogs as normal.

Zante Snorkeling

These fish species definitely are all Greek to me, but luckily I have borrowed Bridgend Countryside Management Officer Rob Jones’ Mediterranean Species Guide which tells me above are Saddled Seabream. I photographed some of us humans too. #UnderwaterSelfie

Underwater DimExcuses

Lewis had an underwater selfie stick, what is the world coming to?

Lewis Selfie Stick

Anyway, back to the wildlife. Quite a shoal here.

Zante Fish

Off they go…

…they must have seen Lewis…

Lewis

…or me! Quite impression of the Nirvana Nevermind Baby.

DimExcuses submerged

But don’t worry there are plenty more fish in the sea, this time baby Barracuda by the surface.

Baby Barracuda

This is a black-tailed Wrasse I think.

Black-tailed Wrasse

Great clear shot of a Saddled Seabream.

Saddled Seabream

Quite happy in the diffused sea sunlight.

Saddled Seabream

Some sort of Wrasse below.

Wrasse

Any identification help will be welcomed.

Wrasse swimming

A small Hermit Crab coming out to say hello.

Hermit Crab

A black tailed something, again it is all Greek to me.

Sun Speckled

This guy is a bit more distinctive, a striped Seabream I think.

Underwater Zante

Oh and a lesser spotted Lewis!

Look who popped up!

So that is what we saw in the sea. A few days later we found a reef and my next post will be what we saw there, and I promise you some even more interesting species, DimExcuses.

 

Mentro 17. Even an end has a start, Sker Beach 25th September 2015.

Keeper of the Dunes

You can spot a rubbish made for TV movie by it having two names. “Terror at 30,000 feet – Flight 364GY” or “A bridge too far – the Jessica Long story”. I made those two up, but what I wanted to highlight in a long winded way is that every #Mentro21 post has three names. First it’s mentro number showing how many times I have surfed this year for the Mentro 21 project. Coming from the Welsh word mentro (to venture), Mentro 21 is my effort to surf 21 times this year. Secondly it has an apt title, this time “Even an end has a start”, and finally what beach was surfed and when. This time it was Sker Beach, Bridgend.

Heading for Sker Beach

With five surfs to go for this project the end is in sight but things are changing. A calendar season person or an equinox season person, you have to agree we are now into autumn. Air temperatures are dropping (the sea is still warm) and days are shortening.

This end has a start, and it starts here, this is probably be the last time I will be able to surf from Kenfig National Nature Reserve after work. The last time walking barefoot through the dunes to surf in a summer suit. To get the last four surfs in is going to take weekend days and a return to a winter suit and wetsuit boots.

Keeping the Kenfig Dunes

Again, because of the long walk to the beach I can’t give you any photos from the beach but can give you these shots of the Kenfig reserve in the falling autumn sun, as it sets on the Keeper of the Dunes.

Famously modeled on our former Sustainable Development Officer Gemma McLean, I gave the Keeper a surfboard to look more like the Outdoor Pursuit loving Skokholm lass she is based on.

Starting a lot to look like Gemma

So it looks like shorter days, with October and November surfing guaranteed to complete the #Mentro21 challenge. Somethings should be simple, even an end has a start. Coldwater surfing for me, DimExcuses

Autumn Sunset & Surf. Pobbles Bay, Gower, September 2015.

Molly Pobbles

The evening sunlight is still with us as we head into Autumn. After today’s rain Molly the French Bulldog and I took advantage of the early evening sun to head to Pobbles Bay, Gower to see the surf and sunset.

Sunset & Surf Pobbles

Cross shore to offshore winds were creating a beautiful wave if small wave curling into the Bay, and Molly was enjoying the evening Sun.

Molly Pobbles

Long shadows and low sun.

Molly, Long Shadows

Obviously some fetch with the ball.

Sunset Fetch

As the evenings draw in, walks like this are going to become less likely, but what a great way to see Autumn in, sunset at Pobbles Bay, Gower.

Sunset Bulldog

This is my 100th blog post and it is fitting it is a bulldog walk at Molly and my favorite beach, Pobbles, DimExcuses.

Running out of Summer, Swansea Bay 10k 2015.

Chris Swansea Bay 10k 2015

If anything in South Wales marks the end of summer it has to be Swansea Bay 10k. All the regular runners, like Chris Jones above, come out of the woodwork and try their best to run from Swansea to Mumbles and back as fast as they can. These two below were the fastest.

Swansea Bay 10k Winner 2015

With this lot not far behind.

Swansea Bay 10k Fast & Furious

It was a real family affair this year with my new nephew Ethan cheering his Dad, Matt Bailey on.

Baby Ethan

Here is Matt taking it all in his stride.

Matt Bailey Swansea Bay 10k 2015

My brother Steve wasn’t far behind raising a finger to say he has got this one!

Steven Bidder Swansea Bay 10k

Swansea Bay 10k regular Sam Donaldson was also not far behind, never afraid to get in a photo. You can spot him in the photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2014 here, and in the photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2013 here.

Sam Donaldson Swansea Bay 10k

Fresh from running the Swansea Bay Half Marathon 2015, Morriston Actif Girls Caroline & Tracey were the next smiling faces to come along.  Morriston Actif being Sharon’s running club, there was a lot of cheering going on.

Caroline & Tracey Swansea Bay 10k

Quickly followed by fellow Morriston Actif runner Karys Dermody.

Karys Dermody

A surprise entry was Jan Lawrence, but she seemed quite happy taking on the 10km of this renowned road race.

Jan Lawrence Swansea Bay 10k

Of course it wouldn’t be Swansea Bay 10k without the Macmillan Mug! We love the mug!

Macmillan Mug Swansea Bay 10k 2015

The downward run complete the runners start to return on Swansea Promenade. Mark Gosney setting the 40 minute pace for the real athletes.

Mark Gosney

Matt Bailey had obviously listened to Ethan’s bib, “run daddy, run”.

Matt Bailey Swansea Bay 10k

Chris Jones wasn’t far behind him tearing up the course.

Chris Jones Swansea Bay 10k

This year really was a family affair with my other brother, Chris Bidder running too. The Safety Lead on the Darth Mannion (surely that is an oxymoron) Beach & Swamp Run Challenge, he is using this race to prepare for entry to that extreme Gower half marathon himself. You can read Chris’ journey to the Darth here. More information on the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Challenge can be found on their website.  Or you can read my report on last year’s Darth Mannion here: Part 1 Pennard Castle, Part 2 Pwll Du River, and Part 3 Brandy Cove Headland. Chris is even wearing their jersey.

Chris Bidder Swansea Bay 10k 2015

My other brother Steve wasn’t far behind Chris digging in for the only hill in this great flat race.

Steve 10k

Keeping quiet about the pace, Sam Donaldson was next to take on that hill at 8km.

Sam Donaldson Swansea Bay 10k

There he goes.

Sam Blackpill Hill 10k

I was pleased to finally bump into fellow Gower photographer, twitterer and blogger Richie Hammond before the start of the race. Unfortunately his wife Ceri proved too fast to photograph and I only caught her back as she climbed the hill.

Ceri Swansea Bay 10k

Next was Debbie, one of two Mumbles Milers running in the race. To be fair half of them had been on the DimExcuses Big Gower walk yesterday, so they get a pass.

Mumbles Miler Debbie

Well done Debbie.

Debbie Swansea Bay 10k

Sorry for anyone I missed this year. I had this fidget under one arm, Molly the Frenchton checking out the route on the Promenade Map.

Molly Swansea Bay 10k Route

Molly, Sharon and I cheered in Tracey and Caroline from Sharon’s running club.

Tracey & Caroline

The Morriston Actif Runners taking it all in their stride.

Morriston Actif Runners

Soon followed by Actif Runner Karys who was now running alongside Jan Lawrence.

Jan and Karys

My Zante 2015 buddy Nicole was next.

Nicole

Proving the Swansea Bay 10k was not all Greek to her.

Nicole Hill Climb

Nicole’s sister and another of the Zante 2015 posse Yvette was working really hard to complete her first 10k. She completed the course at a steady pace.

Yvette Swansea Bay 10k

Well done Yvette and all this year’s Swansea Bay 10k runners. If you want to do it next year there is a DimExcuses guide to running the race here. So get your trainers on, DimExcuses.

 

Pedalos and planes. It is all Greek to me 4. Zante 2015

Pedalos Zante

I am still getting through my photos from Zante, Greece.  You can read these earlier posts by clicking the links below:

It is all Greek to me 1, Zante Dawn.

It is all Greek to me 2, Jump in the pool.

It is all Greek to me 3, Banana Beach.

DimExcuses Zante

I still have a load of photos to go. These are taken on Kalamaki Beach when we hired some pedalos.

Kalamaki Beach

As mentioned in the Zante Dawn post, this beach is just before where the planes land, so you often see them flying overhead.

Kalamaki Plane

It is quite surreal as you pedal about and dive in the water to see the planes soaring over you so close.

Plane & Pedalo

I wonder if they could look down and see us snorkeling by our pedallo?

Plane Zante

Snorkeling here is great fun, but you won’t see much in this bay at this time of year, unless you come down really early and catch the turtles hatching.

Underwater Zante

I am sure in this photo Sharon is trying to run me over with the pedalo. It makes for one of my most unusual selfies! That look on my face is all about being twice out of my depth and the camera I am holding doesn’t float!

In water selfie

Sharon insisted on a pedalo with a sun shade, probably wise in this sun.

Parasol Pedalo

We let the kids with us roast in the sun.

Pedalo Zante 2015

Snorkeling done and all pedaled out, it was time to try out the beach bar on Kalamaki Beach…

Kalamaki Beach Bar

…and catch one last plane shot.

Plane Kalamaki

This Mediterranean life was starting to suit me.

DimExcuses Beach Life

Next we went and snorkeled in some more wildlife populated parts of the coast, but that is a whole different post that I will upload soon, DimExcuses.

 

Mentro 16. Challenges should be motivating. Rhossili, Gower 13th September 2015.

Mentro 16 Rhossili

What a difference a weekend makes. On Friday I was doubting if I would surf 21 times this year for my #Mentro21 project. Recovering from injury, facing cooling weather and shorter days, a flat start to Surftember was looking to scupper my plans. But a good swell came in on Thursday, and I was able to do the double, intimidating Sker Beach on Friday and a more mellow Rhossili on Sunday.

Unsung Hero

Today was great, some sun, offshore winds and a steady one foot swell. I was joined by Darren Green and Gareth Cook. It is always good to get out in the water with your mates. So two more surfs done, five to go, DimExcuses.

Mentro 15. Challenges should be challenging. Sker Beach 11th September, 2015.

Under the watchful eye of the Keeper of the Dunes

The start of Autumn was like the end of spring. I found myself making the same cloudy, barefoot, half hour walk in a full wetsuit to Sker Beach as I did last May. My plan to venture out into the surf 21 times this year (#Mentro21 Project) had looked so easily achievable, but three weeks injury and two weeks in Greece meant I was now seven surfs off my goal.

Add to this an unseasonal flat spell, shortening days and reducing temperatures, I look to be facing an uphill struggle. To make a dent in those seven surfs I planned to go to Sker Beach, Kenfig, Bridgend after work today. The little hints that the surf was good were there all day. Spot the surfers in these photos of the Kenfig Reserve who have been heading to the breakers all day.

Spot the Kenfig Surfer

It was the best I have ever seen , and ever surfed at Sker Beach (the furthest section of Kenfig Sands). The Nature Reserve’s own break was looking awesome. Great A-frame peaks and a steady offshore wind. The two foot swell was getting a lot of attention. I counted twenty surfers in the water on my way out. Unusal as often I have had the beach to myself.

So one of seven surfs down, six to go before the end of the year. Cold water surfing it is then, mentro allan, DimExcuses.

Banana Beach, Greece, DimExcuses Beach Guide. It is all Greek to me 3. Zante 2015.

Banana Beach Zante

This is my third post in my it is all Greek to me series, documenting my recent time on the Ionian island Zakynthos otherwise known as Zante, Greece. You can read posts one (Dawn Rocks) and two (Jump in the Pool) here.

Casa Playa Banana Beach

Banana Beach is the first international beach to feature in my DimExcuses beach guides.

Banana Beach

Banana Beach is to the north of the island in a traditionally Greek village called Vassilikos. You need to get the free bus that collects from the tourist centers of Kalamaki and Laganas, which then takes you on a secluded road cutting through a pine forest before taking you straight to Casa Playa, the large beach bar that dominates Banana Beach.

Casa Playa

Banana Beach is 12 kilometers from the airport and 10 kilometers from Zante Town. It is a blue flag standard beach, described as having “golden silky sand that is certain to deliver that relaxing paradise you’ve been dreaming about” by Casa Playa Beach Bar.

Palm Beach Zante Style

They don’t exaggerate, it is fantastic, total luxury. The bars plays the best blissed out Ibiza tunes over the boardwalk keeping your feet off the hot white sand. You can then rent a sunbed under a straw sunshade as you order cocktails via waiter service. Or you could just go the whole hog and get a four poster double sunbed!

Banana Beach Sunbed

The sea is the closest the Mediterranean comes to surf with a tiny swell making bathing fun. Banana Beach is water sports central and you can end up doing all sorts of crazy things tied to the back of a speed boat. We risked spinal injury in a big rubber ring, but walked away laughing.

Surf Zante

The water is very clear on the whole of Zante, but it was even clearer at Banana Beach.

Banana Beach from the Sea

This Beach is all about the luxury laze. It is a far cry from the wind swept Gower walks Molly, Sharon and I usually get up to, though Sharon wasn’t complaining.

Sharon Banana Beach

Casa Playa is the perfect dream bar, and provides showers and toilets, so no need to worry about any alfresco rest stops.  I could stay there all day and time flies when you are relaxing, but the return bus pick up is 4 pm.

Boardwalk

I could get used to this luxury lifestyle.

DimExcuses Banana Beach

Danielle I think was starting to call it her spiritual home.

Danielle Banana Beach

I love the orange sunbeds under the straw sunshades.

Banana Beach Sunbeds

I loved this beach and its Casa Playa beach bar.

Casa Playa

Pure chilled out luxury. It was the real highlight of our trip, which was literally all Greek to me, DimExcuses.

Jump in the Pool! Zante 2015. It is all Greek to me 2.

Jump in the pool Zante 2015

So there I was in the middle of the Mediterranean. I had seen the sunrise on the beach (It is all Greek to me 1), and I was signed up for two weeks sun & snorkeling with friends in Zante, Greece.

Swim Zante

We were staying in Hotel Denny’s Inn, which was a great Hotel, with a nice restaurant, lovely bar, fantastic staff, but most importantly an awesome pool.

Denny's Inn Pool

The pool was essential as temperatures were rising to 35C in the shade. It was suggested ‘in that case you should try and stay out of the shade’.

DimExcuses on Tour

A cooling dip was needed on the hour every hour, and this pool even had a deep end (As demonstrated by Lewis here). You don’t see that in UK hotel pools much anymore.

Lewis of the Deep

I was amazed by these little birds that were always dipping in the water and pottering around us at the edge of the pool.

Pool Birds

They had plans to eat the insects that had plans to eat me, so welcome pool buddies.

Dipping

More nature and tourism together.

Pool Buddies

I also saw a lot of bats at night, unusually close to the sea, probably due to the unlimited mosquito food source.

Zante Birds

Our party was a little less tranquil around the pool.

Ready to launch

With the lads making the most of Denny’s Inn keeping the pool stocked up with inflatables.

Zante 2015

Charge!

Charge

Sharon and I took a shades on underwater selfie amidst the shenanigans.

Underwater Shades On Selfie

It was a lovely pool and a good base for the rest of my Greece adventures, where I saw more wildlife than just the pool birds…

Zante Birds

I have some more Zante posts to come, but basically it is all Greek to me, DimExcuses.