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

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.

 

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.

Dawn Rocks! Zante, 2015. It is all Greek to me 1.

Zante Dawn

So there I was, deep in the Mediterranean enjoying the morning sunrise and examining the geology. The #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year was going so well a month ago, and then I developed a large abscess under my arm (go to @DimExcuses twitter for the gory detail). A trip to A&E and some emergency surgery under a general aesthetic, I was left with a big hole under my arm that would need weeks of healing, and definitely no surfing (DimSurfing).

Sunrise Zante

So it was rather lucky that we were set for two weeks R&R in Zante, Greece, for our friends Nic and Mark to renew their wedding vows.

Empty Zante Beach

Sun, sand and cocktails by the pool was just what the doctor ordered.

Zante Landing

We stayed in Kalamaki, right by Zakynthos airport, where the planes land close over the beach. Really close over the beach.

Fly Zante

I could watch the in flight movie as this one passed.

Beach Plane

Sunrises and planes aside, the reason I was on the beach was because people had been telling me about a glass like rock formation in the bay. I was brought a piece back and identified it as Muscovite Mica. Mica is usually the little reflective bits that but the sparkle in Granite Worktops.

Muscovite Mica by the Sea

To see it in a large crystal outcrop would be quite interesting for a Geologist like me. Note the water bottle for scale, always a Geologist.

Muscovite Mica

There were some other striking rock formations…

Greek Rock Formation

…and also the shear awe that people can be so ignorant to the hazard of this potential rockfall. I saw some people lying under it for shade!

Potential Rockfall

The Zante coast is so very picturesque.

Pedalo Dawn

It really does have a bit of an edge on Wales in terms of sun and warm weather, and has a rather awesome sideline in turtle conservation.  They fence the nests off like this to protect the hatch-lings.

Turtle Nest

Great to see nature and tourism developing side by side, the tagline for these pedalos was ‘Rent a Pedalo, see a Turtle’.

Pedalo Dawn

A great morning and a good start to the holiday.  I have four more posts from Zante, and it is all Greek to me, DimExcuses.

Mentro 14, Sker gets Scarey. Kenfig, Bridgend 17th July 2015.

Keeper of the Dunes

What a strange day, today was in this unusual July. The weather didn’t know what it was doing and the surf didn’t know what it was doing. Very unsettled and changeable. With a big swell and some onshore wind it wasn’t going to be nice surf anywhere so I went in at Sker Beach, the far end of Kenfig Sands within Kenfig National Nature Reserve. I wrote about #MyGreenSpace Kenfig Nature Reserve here. This was the fourteenth session in my #Mentro21 surf project.

Kenfig

This was the third Friday evening that I surfed Sker Beach, Kenfig on my own. This time there was not a soul there. Not a good sign as there is usually a couple of other surfers braving the half hour walk to get a wave on this massive uncrowded wild Beach.

Kenfig Nature Reserve Parking

No photos of the Beach again as you have to leave everything at Kenfig National Nature Reserve Centre before making the long sandy walk through the Dunes. On the plus side there is loads of free parking at the Centre and it is easy to find from Junction 37 of the M4.

Signpost to Sker Beach

The large oak Keeper of the Dunes will point you on your way to the Beach.

Kenfig Keeper

The surf was messy, windy and a good three foot. On your own that is big dark and scarey. The surf was as wild and raw as the the scarweather Sker beach is itself. It is a long hard walk to that beach, but if you get there you get a wide wild Bay pretty much to yourself. There might be one or two other surfers there, and one of them might be me, DimExcuses.

Mentro 13, like surfing in laverbread. Caswell, Gower July 2015.

Caswell Bay

I needed a good day surfing, last Saturday at Rhossili I had a poor session and needed to get back on the horse. With similar if not bigger surf and wind this weekend, I roped in Darren Green and we headed for Caswell Bay, Gower.

Darren Green

Caswell is the most accessible Beach on Gower. It has an car park just off the Beach, bus routes from Swansea City Centre and concrete surfaces almost to the top of the Beach. Toilets, cafe and shops means it caters for everyone, especially learner surfers with a consistent medium wave pushing into a safe sandy beach.

DimExcuses Caswell

It doesn’t offer epic surf that often but is pretty much assured of a good fun session all year round. We caught it two hours before low tide and loads of small jellyfish were everywhere. Those little scotch pancake looking ones with the four little pink squares inside (sorry I am no marine biologist). If you like scoping up four of those little guys on every paddle stroke, today’s surf would have been right up your street.

Like surfing laverbread

Also as the tide pushed everything into the smaller and smaller Bay as it was funneled by the rising tide, seaweed was everywhere, like surfing in laverbread (the Welsh delicacy, look it up or order a Welsh breakfast to try it).

Caswell Gower

But every Beach has its day and today was Caswell’s day. A consistent two foot swell pumped in, with a much needed gap between sets. This has to be in the top five times I have surfed Caswell, and I will put up with jellyfish and laverbread for that, DimExcuses.

Mentro 9, the Keeper of the Bulldog, meets the Keeper of the Dunes. Sker Beach, June 2015.

Keeper of the Dunes meets the Keeper of the Bulldog

This is a quick update on the #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year. It has been very much Rhossili dominated recently, so I wanted to mix it up a bit. Occasionally working in Kenfig National Nature Reserve puts me a mere half hour walk (barefoot in a wetsuit) from Sker Beach, the most eastern corner of Kenfig Sands, Bridgend, Wales.

Surf Keepers

It is just around from Rest Bay, isolated by Sker Point and Pink Bay, but receiving the same surf as Rest Bay. The long walk through the Dunes ensuring only a handful of surfers surfng the Beach.

It was a good swell, at least 2 foot, but blown about by the onshore wind, heavy but rideable. There are what I can only call pits of boulders in the sand which makes for tricky walking out but apart from that it is a pretty much a sandy beach.

Keepers Rockingin the Free World

I have no photos of Sker, because I wasn’t going to leave my camera on the Beach when I surfed. But I did get some photos with the keeper of the Dunes, apparently modelled on Gemma McLean, former Bridgend Sustainably Officer. Even if you don’t get to the beach, Kenfig is well worth a visit, one of Bridgend’s finest green spaces, and certainly at the top of #MyGreenSpace favourites. Another day, another Beach, nine down, twelve to go, I better get on it, DimExcuses.

Summer Finally Arrives in Gower. Pobbles Bay, 10th June 2015.

View of Three Cliffs from Pobbles Bay

After a poor start to June summer has finally shown up. Sharon, Molly and I are on annual leave so we were lucky enough to get down Pobbles Bay, which was shining in the sun and enjoying a little surf on high tide. It was very different to when I took photos the last time I was here on high tide, which was on a spring evening.

Pobbles High Tide

Molly was enjoying the sun and climbing all over rocks, having a good look at the sea. The water was spectacularly clear.

Molly on the Rocks

She has no fear on the limestone cliffs…

Bulldog on the Rocks

…and is equally at home in the sea.

Swimming French Bulldog

Whatever it takes to get her ball.

Water Ball

Another successful fetch.

Fetch

The west cliffs of Pobbles Bay give you a very different perspective on the famous three cliffs of Three Cliffs Bay.

Three Cliffs

Molly was having a good look.

Three Cliffs Bulldog

She spotted these to kayakers making the most of the high tide in the sun. What a spectacular place for a paddle under the three cliffs.

Kayak Watch

Molly and I got a quick AONB selfie.

Molly and Me.

 Sharon and her mum were also soaking up the sun.

Sharon & Susan

While this horse and rider were taking a dip to cool off.

Horse Riding Gower

Pobbles Bay is spectacular on high tide, but it is amazing with a few waves and the sun too.

Pobbles Bay, Gower

Almost enough to make you jump in for a swim.

Pobbles Bay

It has taken me a couple of days to write this as I have been out enjoying the sun, but today the drizzle is back, but I am sure the sun will make another appearence this June and when it does we will be out and about again, DimExcuses.