#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.

Who wants to do the 10k twice? Swansea Half Marathon 2015

Swansea Half Marathon

Me, Sharon and Molly are big fans of the Swansea Bay 10k. I even wrote a km by km guide to running the Swansea  Bay 10k that you can read here.  So I was quite excited to get down Swansea bay this Sunday (14/06/15) to see the second Swansea Half Marathon.

Swansea Half Marathon 2015

That is almost two 10K put together, 12 miles!  It takes in the whole of the Swansea Bay 10k route and a whole lot more.

Banana Man

Molly, Sharon and I where at our usual spot under the speed camera on the Mumbles road on the way down and running over to the Blackpill bridge to catch the runners on the way back.

DimExcuses Half Marathon

I have been spectating there since 2008! You can read about the 2014 Swansea Bay 10k here, and the 2013 Swansea Bay 10k here.

Molly Half Marathon

Even though this was the Swansea Half Marathon there were lots of familiar faces from the blogs above and some new faces. Anwen Davies and the Superman T-Shirts team seemed in good spirits! There was a definite superhero theme this year.

Anwen Davies

Swansea University’s Chris Marshall was also making the jump up to half marathon with ease too.

Chris Marshall

There was a crocodile…

Crocodile

..and Bananaman chasing the previous banana!

Bananaman

Morriston Actif Running Group were represented, you can just see them coming in to view here.

Swansea Half

The actif runners hiding behind this orange runner, Rhys has been training them well.

Morriston Actif

Hold up a finger for every mile done so far ladies.

Rhys' Ladies

And there they go.

Get Actif

Swansea Bay 10k Legend Sandra Mitchell, infamous for falling asleep in a porter-loo for an hour during the Paris Marathon was managing to stay awake today.

Sandra Mitchell

Swansea Bay 10k pace-setter Mark Gosney was one of the first local runners back across Blackpill Bridge.

Blackpill Swansea Half  Marathon

Fast as always.

Mark Gosney

Andrew Wade, the Bishopston Boy now living in the USA, made a trip back across the pond to run in his hometown’s second half marathon.

Andrew Wade

Chris Jones was almost too fast for my camera, but I just got him. He is now probably sleeping the race off in his VW camper.

Chris Jones

Anwen and the Superhero Tees weren’t far behind.

Anwen

10k regular Chris Kent leads this pack across the bridge even though he has been struggling with injury. Eye of the Tiger stuff.

Chris Kent

Tony Henebery ditched is usual 10k fancy dress for this more serious distance.

Tony

An epic battle was taking place between the crocodile and Bananaman for fancy dress supermacy at the Swansea Half Marathon.

Actif

And here comes Rhys’ Ladies from Morriston Actif. Caroline, Tracy and Sarah from Sharon’s Running Group.

Actif

And there they go again. Spot the Boston Terrier.

Blackpill Hill

A bird of prey was starting to circle over Sandra Mitchell and the back runners.

Vultures Circling

Sandra smashing that Blackpill hill.

Sandra

What a morning! The second Swansea Half Marathon was a massive success. Loads of runners, loads of spectators and a great atmosphere. Who is running it next year, DimExcuses?

 

Pwll Du Bay, Gower. DimExcuses Beach Guide

Pwll Du

This secret South Gower beach is a locals’ favorite. In a picturesque secluded cove the beach is dominated by its huge storm beach of limestone pebbles. There have been many Pwll Du Posts on this blog.

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Pwll Du Bay is quite difficult to find and walk to. It does not have good access and isn’t suitable for wheelchairs or children’s buggies, yet the people who live in the white cottages still get down there in their land-rovers. It is great for a family day out, but take what you need as there are no facilities of any kind.

Molly Climbing

Nestled along the All Wales Coastal Path, Pwll Du can be found between Brandy Cove and Hunts Bay, when travelling west from Caswell, Langland and Mumbles.

Pwll Du Molly

It can be accessed from East Cliff in Pennard and through Bishopston Valley via Pennard Church or the ford under St. Teilo’s church in Kittle. All those routes are difficult to follow and long, with the potential for getting lost. The best way to get there is to park off Pyle Corner in Bishopston (Grid Ref: SS580882). This is a residential area, so please park respectfully (Postcode SA3 3HA). There is also a bus from the Quadrant in Swansea to Pennard that stops in Bishopston.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du

There is a good twenty minute walk down Pwll Du Lane to get to Pwll Du Head. Do not try and drive down there, it is a dead end with no parking and barely any turning.

Brandy Cove to Caswell Bay

There is a great view from Pwll Du Head over both Pwll Du and Brandy Cove. There is then a rocky lane down to the beach.

Pwll Du Ford

The beach itself can be accessed by crossing the ford or taking the bridge and entering the beach between the two houses.  The river they cross is the bravest river run in the Darth Mannion Beach & River Challenge.

River Run

As well as being a river run, Pwll Du is also perfect for sensible running or a proper good old fashioned Gower walk.  It is a haven for boats in the summer, and people stay the afternoon on the sand after coming in from boats moored in the bay.

Pwll Du Beach

It is very sheltered and a real suntrap on a sunny day. A real gem hidden on the South Gower coast. A definite essential Gower visit next time the sun is out, DimExcuses.

Mentro 7, Windy with Extra Jellyfish. Rhossili, Gower 7th June 2015.

Windy Rhossili There is a seasonal tipping point when the seawater shifts to a steady increase in temperature. The sea has a high thermal inertia, it reacts to changes in temperature slowly. The winter surfers, and us spring surfers try to hurry it along, discarding gloves and longing for summer suits and no boots. Wormshead Sunset Finally that day has come. The sun came out for great June day but the air is still unseasonably cool. I headed for a small and windy Rhossili Bay hoping the headland might shield me from this cheaky wind that was making conditions messy. It was much better than it looked with the messy conditions making some interesting peaky waves. But the great thing was that I was comfortable in my summer suit and no boots. Rhossili Bay This strange June had another trick up its selve. Literally swarms of large barrel jellyfish have been washing up on the beach, I saw five just walking in, and much to the worry of my now bare feet they are still floating in the shallows. They apparently (hopefully) don’t have much sting dead. They are more of a psychological worry than an actual risk, so embrace this tipping point into warm waters and get in, DimExcuses.

Windy Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles at Low Tide.

Windy Three Cliifs, Gower

This June isn’t bringing summer to us just yet. Though better than last weekend, it is still cool and windy on Gower. Undeterred Molly and I set out for our usual loop of Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay.

Adventures of Molly at Three Cliffs

What was different today was that it was a very low tide and we were there right on the turn.  Which meant that we could drop into the valley and walk along the river.

Three Cliffs Valley

More importantly it meant we could get through the cave in Three Cliffs to enter Pobbles Bay.

Molly in the Seaweed

The low tide let us get right out to under the Shirecoombe headland, where Molly got to explore the seaweed. We are off all week so hopefully we will do some more DimExcuses Beach Guides and maybe add some surfs to our #Mentro21 Project. So keep an eye out, 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 1. Newgale, Pembrokeshire, Easter Sunday 2015.

Newgale Pebbles

I have a project this year to get in the water surfing at least 21 times. I am calling this project Mentro 21, with mentro being Welsh for ‘to venture’. With a sunny Easter Sunday and a small wave predicted, where better to start the first surf (Mentro 1) than Newgale Bay in Pembrokeshire.

Newgale

We arrived to a lovely small one foot wave, but this tailed off towards the falling tide as midday went into afternoon.

Perfect Right

With a lack of surf adventure Molly was happy to step in for some action shots.

Baywatch Molly

She even brought some friends…

Molly, Leader of the Pack

…and made some new ones.

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The sand level was very low and the low tide was exposing some quite bizarre sand banks. The children were finding these sandbanks get new lands to conquer.

Sandbanks

The dogs were more interested in the rivers the sandbanks were creating.

New Rivers

Molly supervising Eddie here in some serious bobbing for pebbles.

Pebble Bobbing

We put Molly in the van for five minutes, to try and get her to take a break from charging up and down the beach with her mates.

VW Molly

She wasn’t happy.

Moody Bulldog

And was soon nosing out the window.

Nosing out the Window

So we let her back out on the beach…

Molly Newgale

…and in those sandbank rivers.

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Those who had struck when the iron was hot, and got in on the early tide had been rewarded with a lovely little wave.

Morning Surf

By the evening I was in less luck, but there was no way I wasn’t going to ‘mentro allan’ (venture out) for the first surf of the year. So I was a lonesome figure as I walked into the ripples.  That is me tiny on the right (Get your reading glasses on).

Evening Ripples

Here I am in the line up.

Evening Line Up

Well basically I was the line up, but I got some small waves and got my hair wet for the first time this year. It wasn’t too cold even though the water temperature is nine degrees at the moment.

Newgale

Mentro 1, the first surf of the year done. The next 20 hopefully will have a bit more action, like Molly here.

Splash

Whatever happens you can’t beat Newgale when the sun is shining like that and it was great see friends and family down on the beach enjoying it too.  We had left home at 9.30 am and we got home at 11 pm. One seriously great sunny day.

Newgale Beach

With a fantastic Easter Sunday in the bag, we are now looking at a sunnier Bank Holiday Monday. Molly is in a bit of an adventure coma, so I think a simple day at Oxwich, Gower for us today. You should get out too, DimExcuses.

 

Darth Mannion 2015 Part 3, Return of the Jedi.

The Final Leg

Just like the for the runners themselves it has been a long hard haul to get to the end of my original trilogy of posts on the Darth Mannion 2015 Beach & Swamp Run Challenge. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here. But all things must come to an end and I better press on or be caught up by the dreaded Silent Sweeper, the official back marker.

The Dreaded Silent Sweeper

The Silent Sweeper wasn’t catching these runners as they took the coast path from Pwll Du to Brandy Cove.

Wales Coast Path

Chris Kent was looking relieved to be nearing the finish as he climbed the final hill out of Brandy Cove.

Chris Kent

Pausing to only take the wonder of nature under a massive tree.

Under Darthwood

Robin Benton was also in good spirits bringing his peloton home.

The Benton Peloton

From the climb out of Brandy Cove it is a quick and much needed flat run across Pwll Du Head under the watchful eye of the hardworking volunteer Marshals and official Darth Mannion Saftey Lead Chris Bidder. Spectators were few and far between, but their cheering support was welcome relief. After cheering everyone in, one spectator was a little horse.

Darth Horse

It was all smiles coming in, and the runners were now starting to enjoy the race.

Big Smiles

With the stunning scenery of South Gower behind them, runners finish in South Gower Rugby Club for a heroes welcome and a lap around the field over hay bails before crossing the prestigious finish line.

DSCN3315

So the 6th year of the Darth Mannion was a massive success. A full gallery of the final stages of the race is below (click on images to open), and with over a hundred runners getting involved it can only be bigger and better next year.  Maybe you should enter, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2015 Part 2, Join the Darkside.

River Run

The first post in this set of three was just a taste of the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge. This second post goes from the full sea immersions and into the deep river run at Pwll Du Bay.  The runners looked like ants as they ran into Pwll Du Bay having quite a trek to the sea on the low tide.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du

The warm weather was no escape from the punishingly cold sea and the joint sapping chest deep river wading. Now with the sea dip complete the runners had to climb up the massive pebble storm beach and into the river to make their way to the ford.

Pebble Run

The water was cold and very muddy. It came up to upper chest height…

Wading

…on the taller runners.

Deep River

Charles Phillips was looking a bit more chipper.

Charles Phillips

Robin Benton was looking a bit more course weary.

Robin Benton

While Clyne Riders was represented by a very wet Dom, without his mountain-bike for once.

Dom Clyne Riders Represent

I was pleased to see Chris Kent turn up at Pwll Du. Swansea Running / Fitness Guru and general twitter nuisance (@itsakentthing). we adopted him as the official DimExcuses team runner. Chris has been in the blog before, running a much more hospitable Swansea Bay 10k.

Chris Kent

The river corner in Pwll Du was a real wading challenge with one or two opting to swim.

In the Drink

It was a bit easier going towards the ford.

Towards the Ford

With all the runners through the river it was a run around the cliff path to Brandy Cove and then a final climb up onto Pwll Du Head, but that is in the last blog entry: Darth Mannion 2015 Part 3, ‘Return of the Jedi’.  There is a gallery of all the images from the darkside river run below, and Part 1 can be read here, DimExcuses.