Riding More, Rhossili 20th & 21st August 2016. #RideMore

DimExcuses Surf Rhossili

August has been a great month for surfing. In my mission to just simply #RideMore I managed to get down Rhossili Bay, Gower on both Saturday and Sunday, 20th & 21st of August 2016.

Rhossili, Gower August 2016

The Saturday had a consistent swell, but it was slightly windy. Apart from the wind it was fun in the sun and definitely worth getting in the water. It must have been perfect conditions (10 mph onshore wind) for paragliding as there were loads of them in the air, launching off Rhossili Down. Look closely below, I don’t know how those paragliders don’t hit each other?

Paragliding Rhossili Gower August 2016

I was joined by regular DimExcuses surfer Darren Green, keen to get some use out of his new 7’6″ mini-mal.

DimExcusesSurf Rhossili

A busy summer day meant that the bottom field was open as a car park, which is my preferred base when surfing Rhossili. We had a few obligatory car park photographs before taking the long walk down to the beach below.

Mark Blackmore DimExcuses

We had a good two hours in the water and we were super stoked. So I was really pleased when I got a chance to return the next day with my girlfriend Sharon’s family to collectively surf Rhossili again. It was a great chance to continue teaching the kids to surf.

Teaching the kids to surf

The surf had dropped off slightly, but the wind had also dropped making perfect conditions for learning with perfect small waves coming into Rhossili Bay in straight blue lines.

Blue Lines Rhossili

And as always we were flanked by the impressive Wormshead.

Wormshead Rhossili Gower

Molly my French Bulldog cross joined us, taking charge from the camper van…

Molly at Wormshead

…and checking out the surf from the car park.

Bulldog Surf watch Rhossili Bay

Again we got our favorite basecamp spot in the lower car park because it has possibly the best view of Wormshead without actually walking out to the Coastguard Station.

Big Landmark, Small Bulldog, Rhossili August 2016

There are clear views to the North too, giving Molly a great view of Burry Holms and Pembrey beyond.

Gower Bulldog

Enough of the headland, we were soon down on the beach and in the water. Everyone was getting their share of waves.

Surfing Rhossili

Including me.

DimExcuses Surf

The great thing about surfing at Rhossili is the magnificent view of Rhossili Down rising up above the beach. This is the natural beauty that Gower is so well known for.

Surfing Rhossili #RideMore

It is probably best to look where you are going though and save the view for the walk back up afterwards.

Catching that wave

Molly insisted on getting in the mix, dragging her stick into the waves.

Rhossili Waves

All the time we were catching waves we were in the shadow of Wormshead.

DimEXcuses Surf Gower

Even when just chilling out back.

Chilling Out Back Wormshead

Weary from a long surf it was just a case of doing that punishing walk back up to the car park.

DimExcuses & Dog

A great weekend surfing, I am definitely riding more, and I hope to #RideMore as we go into Autumn, DimExcuses.

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#RideMore 4, 5,& 6. Summer 2016.

DimExcuses Surf

It took a while but after making a resolution to just #RideMore (bikes, boards and waves) finally I am out nearly every day. Unfortunately this has meant the blog has suffered and not seen enough updates. So with no more delays here is what I have been doing. A late improvement in summer weather saw me surfing Sker Beach within Kenfig National Nature Reserve. It was the usual hard walk to the remote beach I regularly surf.

How to get to Sker Beach

No photos of the beach this time, but here are some shots of the Nature Reserve.

Kenfig Nature Reserve

Since getting our French Bulldog, Boston Terrier cross, Molly my mountainbike riding has suffered. Her little legs, as fast as they are, can’t keep up with a bike for long. So instead of riding I spend most of my time walking the Gower beaches with Molly. Here she is.

Frenchton Molly

But in August I was able to get out on the bike in Pembrey Country Park. Here is the fine steed.

DimExcusesRide

Molly was not impressed that she was being left out of the adventures.

Dim riding for Molly

Pembrey Country Park is great for a bike ride as it is relatively flat and perfectly positioned on the Millennium Coastal Path, a fantastic bike friendly section of the Wales Coastal Path. There is a viewpoint you can cycle up to and see all the way across to Gower, Rhossili Bay, and Wormshead.

View of Gower from Pembrey Park

Even though Molly didn’t come on the ride she was still as tired as us when we finished riding.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

With a surf and ride under my belt my #RideMore plan was finally starting to come together. Next I headed to Newgale, Pembrokeshire with my girlfriend Sharon’s family. I have surfed Newgale many times, but this time I was teaching the kids and had my waterproof camera with me. Helping the DimExcuses next generation get the bug for surfing.

DimExcuses Surf next gen

Newgale is a great place to learn to surf, with consistent ride-able waves breaking into a safe sandy bay. The best way to teach learners is to push them into waves and let then experience riding the wave all the way in lying down. This helps the learner truly understand what the exhilaration of riding  a wave feels like. To catch a wave you need to be travelling as fast or faster that that wave is moving when it gets to you. Learners often can’t get that speed and a little push can get them on the wave.

Learning to Surf

The kids were keen to learn, look at the concentration on his little face below.

DimExcuses Surf School

It wasn’t long before they were catching waves all on their own.

Surf Newgale

With the surfing stoke passed on to the next generation we sat down to watch a fabulous Pembrokeshire sunset over Newgale Bay.

Newgale Sunset

So two surfs, one ride and a whole load of fun at the end of summer. I also intend to #RideMore as we get into Autumn and my favorite month Surftember, DimExcuses.

#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.

 

Stormwatch. After the wind drops the surf rises up. Langland / Caswell 2nd January 2016.

StormWatch Langland

Rain, rain and more rain as storm after storm hits the UK and temperatures refuse to drop to anyway near average temperatures for this time of year. Coupled with high winds the weather has not been good for getting out and about in South Wales.  As always I have been on the StormWatch, especially on the DimExcuses Christmas Coastal Walk earlier in the week when I saw Caswell Bay had yet again got a bit of a hammering. Nothing like when Caswell  was devastated in January 2014,  thankfully the storm protection measures put in since then seem to be holding up.

DimExcuses Surf Langland

But yesterday (the second day in January 2016) was a respite from the recent storm generated wind and rain. Spotting a good few hours of decent weather Sharon, Molly and I headed down to Rotherslade Bay, to walk around to Langland and Caswell Bay. You can follow our route on Strava here.  Before we had even left the car, we could see that the massive storm swell was still here, but now with no wind to spoil those big peaks and they were coming into Langland in beautiful massive straight lines.

StormWatch Caswell

Caswell Bay was no different with plenty of surfers in the water due to the above average temperatures. There was a 10 degree air temperature which matched the 10 degree water temperature. The sun even came out for a bit and with no wind it felt more like 13 or 14 degrees.  The beach at Caswell looked more like late autumn or early spring with families playing games and having BBQs. There were people in short sleeves, some in shorts, and even some bare foot walkers dipping their toes in.

Mild Winter on Gower 2016

It really is quite worrying. I recall Halloween 2008 when it was barely over 2 degrees for that last week in October and the Halloween night itself. Or there was the freezing winter of 2010 when it did not go over zero degrees on Christmas Day, and it wasn’t until March that we got temperatures even approaching 9 degrees. This winter we have only seen one frost and temperatures barely left double figures throughout December.

Storm Surf Langland Gower

By mid afternoon the word was out, GowerLive was posting some impressive video and surfers were coming down in droves. Langland was looking really busy with a full line up scrabbling for their go at the straight lines. A great afternoon and the 7km walk was just what was needed for Molly the French Bulldog who has been going stir crazy in this poor weather. With more storms forecast we will be continuing to keep up our StormWatch, watch this space, DimExcuses.

Mentro 19. Sunset Dreaming, Rhossili, Gower 11th October 2015

Wormshead Sunset

On Thursday I surfed Rhossili Bay as the sun started to set.  Three days later I was back there, slightly later in the day and with the days now a fraction shorter. The result of which was surfing even closer to the Autumn sunset. This was the 19th surf in my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year.

Surf Colt Sunset

Surely the west facing Wormshead at Rhossili has to be one of the best views that you can frame with a sunset. This time I was joined by regular DimExcuses surfer Darren Green, joining me for some one foot glass with a slight breath of offshore wind.

Rhossili Glass

Two hands on the camera meant that some pre-surf selfies could be taken.

Darren Rhossili

Darren above and myself below.

DimExcuses Rhossili

We got an hour and a half in the water making the most of glassy sets that rolled into Rhossili Bay. Large gaps between sets made paddling out an ease.

Blue Lines Rhossili

The shortening Autumn evenings meant that we made our way out of the surf as the sun started to set, producing some fantastic photos after we had changed and packed up.

Rhossili Bay Sunset

We weren’t the only ones taking in the fading light and sunset dreaming.

Sunset Dreaming

A spectacular sunset, even better than last Thursday. Now though we are wearing winter suits and boots surely won’t be far behind. Tomorrow the first frost is forecast and it will be a return to coldwater surfing as I face my last two #Mentro21 surfs, DimExcuses.

 

Mentro 18. Autumn Warmth, Rhossili Bay, Gower 8th October 2015.

Mentro 18 Rhossili

Autumn is like one great big sunset on the year. Surftember moves into October as leaves brown and fall from the trees. It hasn’t been the best summer and even Surftember didn’t live up to its name. El Nino has ruined the party like a drunken ex-boyfriend crashing an engagement do.

Surf Rhossili

But today on Gower, October offered up some post storm swell and some Autumn sun. So I headed for my usual break, Rhossili Bay. The air is cooling but the high thermal inertia of the sea means it is still a summer 14 degrees C. Air and water almost becoming the same temperature. So I notched up my eighteenth (Mentro 18) surf in my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year.

Mentro 18

Having the day off for my birthday, celebrating 42 years since I came kicking and screaming into this world, I decided to spend it kicking, paddling and screaming into some clean two foot sets in the October sun. I either saw a Portuguese Man-o-war type jellyfish or an inflated plastic bag pretending to be a Portuguese Man-o-war jellyfish. Either way I gave it a wide berth. I also got a scare from a large bass that decided to jump a couple of feet out of the water right next to me, as I sat on my board out back.

Clean Rhossili

There was not a breath of wind. A great change for a usually wind blown Gower.  These two had the best seat in the house to watch the waves.

Best Seat in the House Rhossili

The best thing about October surfing is that by late afternoon everything becomes a sunset.

Rhossili Sunset

I had the sea and pretty much the car park to myself, “after the boys of summer have gone” as Don Henly would say.

Gower Sunset

So the sun sets on Mentro 18, leaving three sessions to go to complete the #Mentro21 project, 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.

A return to Gower, Friday Night Bulldog & Beach Club.

 

I have had a several week hiatus from my normal Gower adventures, and Molly my French Bulldog, Boston Terrier Cross, is looking under weight from two weeks in kennels, for reasons I will explain in further posts this week.

Pobbles Friday Night

So to get us back on track, we made the most of the start of autumn and headed to our favourite Beach Pobbles to blow the cobwebs off.

Bulldog & Beach Club

The views were fantastic as always. We had the wild Beach to ourselves and Molly certainly made the most of it.

Friday Night Bulldog & Beach Club

Friday night fetch, DimExcuses style.

Friday Night Fetch

Molly was up on the cliffs as much as she was on the Beach, back to her old self.

Molly DimExcuses

So a return to service as usual, a Friday night of bulldogs and beaches,  and a good few blog posts to come this month, 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.

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.