#SelfieBench, the true guilty party exposed!

#SelfieBench

Whether you think it is facebook fantastic or instagram insanity, Porthcawl having the world’s first #SelfieBench has divided opinion and caught the attention of the world’s press and social media commentators.

Selfie Bench

Let’s start with three disclaimers: Firstly these are my own opinions and do not represent the views of Bridgend County Borough Council in any way. Secondly the DimExcuses blog could never be accused of topical investigative journalism, so don’t expect any shocking revelations here. Read the home page where I admit this is stuff and nonsense from wild west Wales. Thirdly that isn’t my best side in the #SelfieBench selfie above.

Resting those feet.

Now, in defense of the bench. Ten years of working with street furniture makes me look at this bench in a very practical way. Consideration of bench installation is often for the frail or those with mobility issues that see these benches as a much needed rest when walking a community route like this. Often facing the road as waiting places for lifts from relatives. Many benches are orientated like this, and you have probably never noticed them like this old bench in Gowerton. Nowhere near the quality of bench that Porthcawl’s #SelfieBench is.

Nothing to see here, not #SelfieBench

Don’t blame the bench, the true guilty party here is the breath taking South Wales coast, being so beautiful and at the same rugged that orientating anything around it so that it is not facing this inspiring vista is seen as wrong. And this little bench has been seen as wrong and faced ridicule. Yet in my opinion the true criminal is this view below.

Selfie Bench view, Porthcawl

But I am not the only defender of the bench, people in the tourism know in Porthcawl have revealed that this is world leading design, and heralded the World’s first selfie bench, or #SelfieBench in our modern social media world.

Doing #SelfieBench wrong.

The eyes of the press have been on #SelfieBench all day and it has been trending on social media. It even has its own outside broadcast team!

#SelfieBench Media

So without further a do, lets get that perfect #SelfieBench #selfie!

#SelfieBench #Selfie

Definitely better than that first effort.

Facing the wrong way.

So get down Porthcawl seafront and get your #SelfieBench photo with that true criminal the breathtaking Bridgend coast in the background, DimExcuses.

 

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Darth Mannion 2016. Pwll Du River Run.

Pwll Du River Run

Once again the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge was an epic affair. Pwll Du saw the deepest and most exciting river run. I was there to give you a glimpse of the action.

Into the river!

I had already seen the runners at Pennard Castle, you can read about that here, and see the full gallery here. That was a steep dune decent, this was a much more watery affair.

Darth Mannion River Run

I arrived just in time to see Dom finishing the river run.

Dom running the Darth Mannion

While Alun was having a quick think about starting his cold dip.

Alun on the Darth Mannion

Others were just taking the plunge.

Go Deep.

That was one deep and cold start to the river run that runs from Pwll Du beach all the way to the ford, before the soaked runners make their way to Brandy Cove on the last leg of this extreme run.

Keep Smiling

The regulators and veterans were taking it all in their stride,their waste deep in freezing water stride.

Regulators Mount Up

Putting a brave face on cold legs rubbing against submerged objects along the irregular river bed.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du

The field was very spread out so runners were still running into the valley from Pennard Cliffs as others were deep into their river run.

Entering Pwll Du

The entrance to the start of the river run was soon seeing a queue to jump into the frigid waters.

Queuing to river run

Katy and her crowd were being particularly noisey about their river entry.

These Girls Can

Having a moan about it being cold. It was only nine degrees!

Katy G

The river was soon full with runners.

Darth Mannion River Run Pwll Du

Some had the tactic of taking their top off and carrying it above their head to keep it dry.

Darth Mannion Shirts Off

Some others like Kirsten here just got soaked through.

Darth mannion Kirsten

Here is some more runners utilizing the shirt carrying tactic.

Keep those shirts dry

The only thing is you have to get in the river and keep that top dry at the same time, like Rhian here was discovering.

River Entry

Even the toughest regulators were carrying their kit on their heads.

Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge

I can’t tell you what Joel here said to me as he passed.

Joel Doing the Darth Mannion

Best just summarize that he went past, cheered on by the massive crowd of one man and his dog.

Nothing to see here

This river run is immensely challenging. Knees and joints are stiff and sore at this point as most of the cross country half marathon is behind them.  But now sore joints become cold joints and clothes get wet, heavy and energy sapping.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du River

This is the deepest river run on the Darth Mannion and it is the longest period that the runners have to face in the cold water. That doesn’t stop them having fun and giving me the thumbs up. A big thumbs up is guaranteed to get you featured in the DimExcuses blog.

Thumbs Up

That’s the spirit!

The Darth Mannion Spirit

Others were just focused on keeping their packs dry.

Darth Mannion wading

Everyone is relieved to get to the end of the river run at Pwll Du and get out at the ford.

Nearly there

I must be a great feeling to climb that bank and know it is only the run around to Brandy Cove, one more sea submersion and the climb up to Pwll Du Head to go!

Climbing out of the river.

The organizers of the Darth Mannion ensure that you are safe and supported in each peleton. Here the regulators are making sure their group get back home and dry. Well as dry as you can be at the end of a river run!

Home and almost dry

The river run at Pwll Du once again proved to be an entertaining section on this year’s Darth Mannion. I have over a hundred photos from the river run, so I will split these up into two albums (Pwll Du Gallery 1 and Pwll Du Gallery 2) and post them in two further blog posts. Click on the links in the brackets above to view the galleries, DimExcuses.

StormWatch. The Pebbles only Winter sees. Pobbles Bay, January 2016.

StormWatch Pobbles

January maybe a bit of a cold wash out, but that doesn’t stop me and Molly the French Bulldog from getting down the Gower beaches. We are maintaining our StormWatch and observing how climate change is effecting the Welsh Coast.

StormWatch Three Clffs

Last time we were checking out the big surf at Langland Bay, today we were further down the Gower coast at Pobbles Bay. Pobbles is the small bay before the famous Three Cliffs Bay, and you can see Three Cliffs in the picture above. From this angle it doesn’t look too unusual at Pobbles Bay, but if you walk down there today you have a striking view in front of you as you reach the entrance to the beach. See if you can spot Molly among the pebbles.

Storm Erosion Pobbles Bay

The pebble storm beach at the top of the beach is at least twice the size it should be with many pebbles exposed by storm erosion. These are pebbles that are never seen in the summer buried by several feet of sand.  This large section of exposed rocks is making it difficult to get on to Pobbles beach itself. I saw two horse riders really struggling to get their horses across this hazardous stretch of pebbles.

Storm exposed cave Pobbles

In the coves and caves the sand lost is very clear and the pebble beds that only winter sees are clearly on display.

Find the Ball

Note the metre of bare rock with no barnacles at the bottom these cave sides showing where the sand level would normally be. Molly was having a proper investigation, and the pebble caves make for a challenging of game fetch the ball. Especially as there are now some sizable rock pools in those caves.

StormWatch Rock Pooling

But Molly always gets her ball.

Rock Pool French Bulldog

Always keep your eye on the ball…

Eye on the Ball, DimExcuses

…unless you can touch your nose with your tongue.

Touch your Tongue with your Nose

We explored all the caves in Pobbles Bay, seeing a lot of bare rock you wouldn’t normally see at other times of the year.

StormWatch Pobbles Bay January 2016

This is the furthest east in Pobbles Bay.

Pobbles Bay

And here is looking back at Three Cliffs.

StormWatch Three Cliffs

And finally another look at those impressive caves exposed by winter storm erosion.

Storm Erosion Caves

It is really impressive seeing how much sand is moved around by storms and the seasons, and with it only being January there is still plenty of winter left for Molly and I to continue with our StormWatch observations, 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.

Some like it hot! Gower Chilli Festival 2015.

Gower Chilli Festival

The sun finally came out for the first day of Gower Chilli Festival 2015. This two day event runs 18th & 19th July 2015 at South Gower Sports Club, Scurlage, Gower (SA3 1BA). So what is Gower Chilli Festival?

Chilli Festival

It is a loosely specialist food festival based around chillies and chilli based foods, that incorporates food & craft tents, BBQ completions, a chilli cookoff, gormet food stalls, family activities, bands and a bar. Here is their website.

Cool Heat

It is based in South Gower Sports Ground so includes access to their bar and clubhouse. There was a bit of chaos as the only real ale, the legendary Gower Gold was off on one pump and foaming on the other leading to a queue at the bar. But no one minded in the relaxed atmosphere and there was plenty of food to destract and engage you.

Relaxed Chilli Festival

It is free to park but costs £5 to get in (£8 for both days).

Cool Heat, Gower Chilli Festival

There are sauces to try for every pallet from smokey BBQ, limes and pickles to nuclear tastebud disabling red hot chilli sauces. When there say XXX hot here they mean it!

Estelle's Gower Goodies

So did I get anything? Of course I did, and as this was Gower Chilli Festival, I had to get some Gower sauces. ‘The Gower Scorpion’ and ‘Under Neath The Counter’ from Estelle’s Gower Goodies’ stall pictured above. You can find out all about her sauces at the Estelle’s Gower Goodies’ website here.  I am a little bit nervous about using the ‘Under Neath the Counter’ it looks like a tongue battering firestarter!

Gower Scorpion

Gower Chilli Festival was a relaxing and tastebud tingling day out today, and there is still a second day tomorrow for you to go to, DimExcuses.

Mentro 10, everyone else went to Glastonbury, I went to Rhossili. 27th June 2015.

Mentro 10, Rhossili

Last night I surfed Sker Beach, it was heavy, messy, cloudy and wild, the way only surfing deep in a Welsh nature reserve can be. What a difference a day makes. Today I rocked up to a sunny Rhossili Bay, gentle onshore wind and that substantial swell that is pumping in at the moment.

June Rhossili

Almost perfect conditions and a lot of fun. Perfect for the new short board. I went really colourful when I got this one.

DimExcuses Pro Pig

The water is really warm now, breaking through 14 degrees C today. No excuse not to get in.

Rhossili Summer Surf

This was the Mentro 10 surf in my #Mentro21 project. Hopefully this swell will hold and we all will be able to get some summer waves, 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.

#MyGreenSpace is Yellow Today, Kenfig National Nature Reserve, June 2015.

Kenfig NNR

In Bridgend we are well into the #MyGreenSpace campaign, helping people discover and share the green spaces important to them. So with a sunny day in June I find myself in Bridgend’s jewel in the crown green space, Kenfig National Nature Reserve.

Keeper of the Dunes

It is a massive sand dune reserve, with spectacular lake, salt marsh and expansive beach. Even the lake has a little beach too, “Hey girls, you are on Molly’s Beach, watch out for the bulldog”!

Molly's Beach

But as I was accompanied by the frenzied frenchton Molly, apparently it was about the massive field of buttercups you can find there at the moment.

Buttercup Molly

A very yellow #MyGreenSpace. So why not go to the #MyGreenSpace section of our Natural Neighbourhoods Website to discover and share your favourite Bridgend Green Space, DimExcuses.

Mentro 8. A Misty Midsummer Night’s Surf, Rhossili.

A misty midsummer night's surf

It seemed like the perfect plan, the second longest day, Gower’s furthest west beach, a 9:40pm sunset and high tide six minutes later. But Welsh weather isn’t a fan of perfect plans and this June continues to disappoint, as we headed back to Rhossili Bay for Mentro 8 in the #Mentro21 project. Molly and Sharon were the ready to rock, if you want to roll, surf patrol.

Ready to Rock if you want to Roll

But we arrived to this, with those who had access to weather reports making alternative plans.

Sea mist

The second longest day was set in heavy cloud, which was then hidden by a thick sea mist. Remember when Rhossili Down used to be there?

We have lost Rhossili Down!

Undeterred I was joined by Luke and Hannah as we made our way into mist to venture down into the sea below. Sharon, Molly, Dennis and Susan stayed on the cliff with now almost zero visibility. Dane from Finn Surfing (up and coming Swansea surfwear brand) popped over for a chat and wished us well before we set off.

Misty Wormshead

We got two hours in with Luke and Hannah getting a lot of bodyboard wave time. As we walked up the mist rose a bit with us, and for a while we could see Wormshead.

Misty Gower Surf

But it started to decend again and our hope of seeming the legendary Wormshead sunset were lost, along with our Midsummer Night’s Dreams.

Wormshead

The nights maybe shortening but I have now added catching a Wormshead Sunset to the #Mentro21 goals. We will catch one, DimExcuses.