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.

 

 

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Mentro 6. Great Day, Rubbish Surf, Rhossili, Gower 24th May 2015.

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This #Mentro21 project, logging all my surfs this year is proving useful. All the recent trips to Rhossili, Gower are blending into one. The van is becoming a common site at the newly acquired National Trust Carpark, spot the bulldog.

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We have had surf too small, surf too big and Goldilocks just right surf but this weekend was too small and totally blown out.

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I went in anyway in the DimExcuses spirit of the #Mentro21 project, but it was impossible to get a stand up ride.

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It was a fantastic day though and I got some great shots of Rhossili Bay, Molly and the van.

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Molly loves Rhossili, she is a proper Gower bulldog.

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She loves having a nose out of the passenger seat of the van.

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Apart from when Sharon gets her out for a cradled pose.

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It is a picture perfect venue at Rhossili with a cracking view in any direction. Here for example is the imposing Wormshead.

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So the surf was awful, but a day at Rhossili is never a day wasted. The water is slowly getting warmer, and it maybe time to lose the boots and swap the winter suit for a summer one, DimExcuses.

Mentro 3. Rhossili, Gower, 2nd May 2015

Dark & Offshore Rhossili

First bank holiday in May and where has the weather gone. In Gower the sea is 9.6C and the air is 11C. The swell is 6.5 foot but it is coming from a strange WSW direction resulting in 1 – 2 foot surf. There is also a 21mph unusual east wind.

I was in two minds to go surfing and get a Mentro 3 session for my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year, when I saw pictures of the surf pumping on Instagram from the Welsh Surfing Championships in Freshwater West. It was enough to get me straight in the van and down Rhossili, Gower.

I was joined by my friend Gareth so I actually had some company for my third surf trip this year. We arrived at 2.30pm and the low tide had been on the way in for an hour. This what it looked like on the way in.

Rhossili Offshore Wind

It was 1 to 1.5 foot and that weird swell direction was pushing waves diagonally into the bay. That east wind was strong and offshore (regular readers will know I love an offshore wind). The swell and offshore wind were producing steep consistent lefts.

Glamorous Windy Changing

I was enjoying, being a goofy footer I prefer lefts as they are on my forehand (balls to wall, if you excuse the expression), until I lifted my board on a dismount and the wind launched it. That awful moment when you see a surfboard fly up in the air and know it is attached to your leg! I covered my face but took a big crack on the head. I have a nice graze and egg sized lump on my head to show for it. DimExcuses I surfed on with a bit of a headache. Here is how Rhossili looked when we came out an hour and a half later, dark and mean lines.

Dark Iines Rhossili

So 3 down 18 to go! You can follow the #Mentro21 project here, and I am planning my next trip, DimExcuses.

Mentro 2. Newgale, Pembrokeshire, 25th April 2015.

Surf Newgale

My second surf of the year was Newgale, Pembrokeshire. It was the second session in the Mentro21 project.

Molly Newgale

Molly and I headed for a cloudy Newgale where the 1 foot surf was suffering from a messy onshore wind.

Surf Patrol

Molly was keeping an eye on the changing conditions and also a watchful eye on our VW van.

VW Molly

A sudden change to a north westerly wind was cold but also produced offshore wind conditions that were resulting in some nice blue lines.

Blue Lines Newgale

The dogs were loving it on the beach, and Molly our French Bulldog was joined by Sadie the Spaniel and Rocky the Bichon Frise.

Dogs Newgale

At points we had the beach to ourselves.

Molly Newgale

There were literally thousands of little beetles washed up on the strand-line. I have no idea what these are or where they came from. I wonder if a swarm of them was blown out to sea? Maybe in the unusual winds we had recently that brought all that Saharan dust to the UK?

Washed up Beetles

It was incredibly sunny, but that north east wind was punishing. The dogs decided to steal some human warmth.

Sadie, Dennis and Rocky

Sadie acting innocence, keeping it calm, keeping it casual.

Sadie acting Innocent

I got an hour in the water, making the most of the hollow waves formed by the wind. There was a strong rip current out to sea, which combined with the offshore wind was quite hazardous. It was important to know where you were and check you weren’t drifting out to sea. The water was ok, but the changing out of a wet wetsuit in a wind blow car park was chilling. So we retired to the Duke of Edinburgh for some liquid refreshment.

Sharon & Susan

Even Molly had half a Guinness and black.

Half a Pint for Molly

The wind was still around on Sunday, colder and stronger, so no more surfing and we had another dog walk on the beach.

Newgale Dog Walk

So two surfs down in my #Mentro21 quest to go surfing twenty one times this year. You can read my first trip Mentro1 here. With May ariving soon there is no excuse to not get in the water more, DimExcuses.

 

Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire

With a massive expanse of sand, Llansteffan is one of the best dog walking beaches in South Wales.

Llansteffan, DimExcuses Beach Guide

It is a short drive from Carmarthen through Johnstown. There is free parking, public toilets, a small cafe and a fish & chips vendor. There are views across the estuary to Ferryside and the Arriva Wales train can be seen as it takes it coastal route towards Swansea.

All the gang, Molly, Rocky & Sadie.

The geology is striking with alternating layers of sedimentary rock showing deposition in reducing conditions to create grey layers often interchanging to oxidising conditions to create contrasting red layers. Or in less technical terms rocks that look like streaky bacon.

Bacon Rock

These pictures courtesy of @lizzieLoubi on twitter.

Red & Grey Layers

There is a holy spring that feeds into a river that enters the bay. It is a great rehydrating spot for thirsty dogs.

Llansteffan River

Molly has to go further into the archway than anyone else.

Molly tunnel explorer

Molly and Sadie the springer love this river. It is a real cooling stop.

Molly and Sadie in the river.

There is plenty of room at Llansteffan to run a pack of dogs. Our little pack of Molly, Sadie and Rocky love it there.

The Carmarthen Pack

When not running on the beach they are exploring the rocks.

Molly and Sadie

Llansteffan beach is an essential stop on a visit to Carmarthen, especially if you have a dog. Try it next time you are heading to Wild West Wales, DimExcuses.

Long spring evenings when you get Pobbles Bay to yourself. 17th April 2015.

Spring evenings when you get the beach to yourself.

Spring is here and the longer light is coaxing the sunny days to come in behind it. I made the effort to get Molly the bulldog and I straight down Pobbles Bay, Gower after work today, and it paid off as we had the bay at high tide to ourselves.

Spring Evening Pobbles Bay Gower

There was little wind, some gentle clouds and a perfect spring evening to be enjoyed.

Perfect Spring Evening

Arriving at high tide meant the view was fantastic…

High Tide Pobbles

…but no beach for us.

Lookout Molly

There are places you can go at Pobbles, if you know your cliff paths, but as always know your limitations and take care of yourselves. The cliffs and boulders Molly and I explore require agility and a lot of local knowledge.

High Tide Pobbles Bulldog

But it does give you some very different views of Pobbles and Three Cliffs Bay.

Pobbles

The high tide and evening light really made the bay atmospheric for just Molly and I to take in on our own.

Molly Pobbles

We caught the bay at a great light for when the tide was so high.

Moody Spring Evening Pobbles

Molly was happy exploring the cliff paths.

Molly Cliff Exploring

The views really were fantastic.

Spring Evening Gower

But this was a quick visit, we were there and back in an hour and a half. Yet Molly still found the only muddy puddle.

In every muddy puddle

Pennard gossip alert! On the way home I noticed someone is seriously doing up the Three Cliffs overlooking dream house Shirecombe.

Shirecombe

Molly had her serious face on at accusations of being in muddy puddles, but apparently ‘it was a similar looking dog’…

Muddy Molly

So the lesson is, make the most of your spring evenings and score those empty Gower beaches to yourself, 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.

 

Sun, Sand, Sea and a Bulldog, Caswell Bay, Easter Saturday 2015.

Sun, Sea, Sand and a Bulldog, Caswell.

A hit and miss Good Friday left us with a cloudy windy day that there wasn’t much you could do with. Easter Saturday started in a similar way, but by eleven it was looking like spring had finally turned up for Easter. By 1pm the sun was out and the roads to Mumbles and Gower were starting to fill.

Molly Caswell

With a low tide early afternoon and still a little wind around, Caswell Bay was an obvious choice for a sun afternoon, so much so the car park was totally full. After a little while we squeezed the van in and Molly, Sharon and I were on the beach.

Molly and Sharon, Caswell

It didn’t take long to bump into some family members who had had the same idea and this little spanner who is the the latest edition to the Bidder / Blackmore / O’Brien clan.

Baby Spanner and Bulldog

Molly was all over the beach with so much sand to sprint on, but it wasn’t long before she was in the sea…

Molly in the Sea

…under the waves…

Spot the Bulldog

…add leaving vapor trails on her sprint out.

Bulldog Vapor Trails

It really was a family day out with Sharon getting Molly to tow the line.

Sit

When Sharon wasn’t coercing her into the odd selfie…

Sharon Molly Selfie

…or two!

Pet-Selfie

And even I got in a few of the selfies.

DimExcuses & Molly

One with even Sharon and I in it, Molly was taking the picture.

Mark & Sharon

But it wasn’t long before she wanted back in the lime light.

Molly Caswell.

If that French Bulldog Cross isn’t in the sea, she is in the rock pools.

Rock Pool Molly

And Caswell has plenty of rock pools at low tide.

Strike a Pose

Caswell Bay is a fantastic stretch of sand more than it is a rock pool safari like Pobbles Bay. So today like any other Molly the Bulldog was all over the Caswell beach.

Molly Caswell Sand

Which left us with one small problem, how to get this beach bulldog to agree to get off the beach?

Molly Caswell

So with a late start it has been an awesome Easter Saturday, which leaves one question, what beach are you going to tomorrow? We are off to Newgale, DimExcuses.

StormWatch Surf Bulldog, Caswell Bay, March 29th 2015

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It has been a pretty dark, wet and windy weekend, culminating in 50 to 60 mph winds today.  With my swaying fence looking like it won’t make it to April and the scafolding groaning on the roof, I decided ignorance is bliss and headed down to a dark Caswell Bay with Molly and Sharon.

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The Gower Live Website was saying Caswell had head to overhead surf, but with this wind it was a nasty mess. If you could get out through the punishing white water there was a head high face, but it was looking dark and mean.

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Several surfers were giving it a try, and fair play some serious waves were getting ridden. We on the other hand we staying with playing stick in the shallows.

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Two surfers decided to brave it with short boards. Molly ran down to give them some heavy swell pointers.

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Before focusing back on her stick.

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People tell you French bulldogs don’t swim, but Molly says different.

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And if she is not in the sea she is in the river.

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Looking majestic as always.

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This is one surf bulldog looking forward to the end of StormWatch and for a spring to emerge.

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One thing is sure, whatever the weather we will be down the Gower beaches, DimExcuses.

My Wild Life. Any Given Sunday, Bulldog on the Beach.

Molly is the Queen of Three Cliffs

This post is mostly French Bulldog photos, some of the best I have taken of my dog Molly.  In honor of the current ‘My Wild Life‘ campaign that wants to show what wildlife and wild places mean to us all, I just wanted to show our wild life enjoying the Gower beaches all year, in all weathers.

It is all about the sticks

In not uncommon DimExcuses style, all these photos are taken at Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay on a 5 km walk route Molly and I often use.

Molly Cave Explorer

A photographer once told me that the hardest thing to photograph is a black dog. He wasn’t wrong. So it was great that we finally got some strong sun to bring out the contrast and shadows that show Molly’s features which the camera usually struggles to pick up.

French Bulldog Face

Molly was happy to model in the sunshine.

French Bulldog Molly

The tide was out this Sunday, so Molly had a great expanse to play stick…

Playing Stick

…or just get her roll on!

Molly Roll

Three Cliffs Bay is amazing on any day, but the real first sun of 2015 really made it a great walk.

Three Cliffs Sun

But mainly at the moment it is all about the sticks for Molly…

Molly at Three Cliffs

…with a few rolls in between (there is a pattern forming here).

Frenchton Roll

A ball does break the cycle a little.

Frenchton and Ball

So that is My Wild Life, making the most of the Gower beaches the wild Frenchton.

Wild Frenchton

Sometimes we see cormorants, sometimes we see seals and we always see seagulls, Molly is working on her stalk to catch one (hopefully she will never achieve that), but for the moment it is all about the sticks.

Talk to the bum cause the face ain't listening

So why not tell us about your Wild Life? Just use #MyWildLife on social media, DimExcuses.