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Sunday, 28 May 2017

A trip to Skomer Island

Barry took us down to Pembrokeshire straight from work Thursday afternoon so that we would be at Martins Haven early to get tickets to Skomer Island.  It's always a worry as tickets can't be pre booked and there is always the chance that boats may be cancelled at the last minute.  We were lucky though and it turned out to be a glorious day on Skomer!  We were hoping to see the leucistic puffin that we had heard about and were thrilled that it made an appearance soon after we arrived and put on an amazing show, flying around the cliffs and landing for a while right in front of our hours so Gary was able to get some beautiful photographs.

I'm not sure if this leucism (if that's a word) affects his attractiveness to the females and whether he has bred successfully - for that matter I don't even know if he is a he!! He could be a she! If anyone knows let me know please.

As well as the unique white puffin there were of course thousands of puffins in regular plumage!  Most eggs haven't yet hatched so not many birds were seen with beakfulls of sand eels but we did spot a few.

Some lovely behaviour seen too - I love witnessing these special moments between a bonded pair.

All the above photos are taken by Gary - if you're on facebook just click the link to see more.

I love the landscape on Skomer and always take time to have a walk around the island - my favourite spot on the island being Skomer Head where the sea thrift makes for a spectacular sight.

Over the past few months I've been leaving my artwork in public places for someone to find and take home in the hope of spreading a little joy in this crazy world we live in.  After getting the boat back to the mainland I left this puffin watercolour in the car park for someone to find and take home as a souvenir of their day. Hopefully it is being enjoyed somewhere

This trip to Pembrokeshire was our second outing in Barry and I'm loving my little home from home.  Next trip will be to Rutland Water next week and then after that the Isle of Arran for my birthday weekend!  So much to look forward to!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Meet Barry!

Having a camper van is something I've dreamed of for years and I took the plunge this month and got one!  I've called the camper Barry which was my dad's name and I see it as a tribute to him and a way of doing something positive with what he left us. It felt the right thing to do and I know he would have approved. I've now got the freedom of being able to drop everything and escape to all sorts of wonderful places whenever I can and I intend on making the most of this new found freedom. We took our first trip in it at the weekend and drove up to Aviemore - a long journey from North Wales! Here's Barry parked up at the Uath Lochans car park in the Inshriach Forest, a beautiful spot.

We took a walk from here up to Farleitter Crag where we came across this stunning view over the lochans.

The next day it rained most of the day but this didn't stop us! We drove up to Chanonry Point where bottlenose dolphins come to feed on salmon on the rising tide.  I went for a walk down the beach and came across a delightful little path alongside the coastline which was lined with bluebells.  When I returned to Chanonry point the dolphins were in full flow feeding on the salmon and breaching.

Bottlenose dolphins at Chanonry point (photo taken by Gary Jones)

I had forgotten my waterproof trousers and was rather wet with all the rain so it was wonderful to just go back to the van, put the heating on, get changed and sit with my feet up with a cup of coffee listening to the rain splashing against the roof.

The next day was sunny and warm again and I went for a very early morning walk from Aviemore up Craigellachie which has stunning views over to the Cairngorm mountains.  Here is Holly on the way up - she's loving the new van too!

This week we are planning a trip down to Skomer Island, driving down after work and staying in the van so that we are ready for the morning boat over to Skomer Island so I'm sure there will be lots of puffin photos to show you after the trip!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Back to painting and blogging!

I've had a long break from the blog so I hope there are still people out there! I will get round to catching up with you all in blogland at some point and see what you've all been up to!  

I've only recently started painting regularly again and it feels good so I'd like to share some of what I've done with you all.  Birds are still my favourite thing to paint but I'm planning on painting more landscapes based on all the wonderful places I visit when out and about!  If you don't see any landscape paintings from me within a couple of months you have my permission to give me a  kick up the bum!

Something I've been meaning to try for a long time is painting in old books and I came across an old children's book when I was sorting out my dad's house after he passed away last year.  I kept hold of it with the view of painting on the printed pages and recently tried it out. Here are a few examples of what I've done so far....

They are great fun to do.  I also came across a lovely old organ book in a charity shop and have been painting in that too.  My daughters play the piano so I must get them to play the music to me while I'm painting to add another dimension to it!  

I've also had some lovely commisions to paint recently - butterflies, birds and bears which will be the subject of my next post. Enjoy the rest of the weekend whatever you are doing :-)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Back to blogging (again!)

It's been a while since my last blog post as my dad passed away very suddenly at the beginning of April so blogging became the last thing on my mind while I struggled to come to terms with what happened.  Much of my time has been taken up sorting out practical things and the last few months have been a bit of a daze.  It's so important to have things in your life which help you get through tough times and to make sure you do the things you know will make you feel better - even if you don't really feel like doing them. I've found getting outdoors and painting has helped so much to clear my head.  I've just returned from a lovely 2 week break to Scotland, a few days on the Isle of Arran, a few on Mull and a few days in Aviemore.  We were treated to storm force winds on Arran which nearly blew our tent away but we survived the winds while other campers on the site bailed out and went to B&Bs.  Arran is a beautiful island and I loved it.  We managed to get up Goat Fell before the strong winds came in and we saw lots of wildlife while we were there.

I would love to go back sometime and climb some of the other mountains on Arran and see more of the island.

Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse on Mull and we had torrential rain from the moment we stepped on the island and every day except the last day which was still not great.  It is always wonderful to be on Mull though whatever the weather and we did have our waterproofs which allowed us to wander around in the rain!  We were lucky to have a break in the weather the day before we left and got out on a boat trip to see the white tailed sea eagles. It is always a real thrill to see these magnificent birds soaring above you so close.

Tobermory (Mull) during a small break in the heavy rain 

Finally our luck with the weather changed and when we arrived in Aviemore we were treated to glorious sunshine and blue skies - a wonderful way to end our holiday!

I was hoping to be able to climb the second highest mountain in the UK while I was there and the weather was perfect for it so up I went and here I am at the top of Ben Macdui. I asked another walker to take the photo for me.

The day after I did Ben Macdui I went for a walk above the forests of Glen Feshie, a beautiful area and climbed another Munro called Sgor Gaoith which is out of view in the photo below

I have fallen in love with this part of the world and have lots of plans for other walks in the area next time I go which hopefully won't be too far in the future.

The evening before we left I went for one last look at the mountains in the evening sun before the long journey back to North Wales the following morning.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Walks and wildlife

March is flying by so fast!!! It's been a busy time work wise but it will soon be the Easter break which means 2 weeks off for me so I'll have more time to do what I really love.  I am lucky that I can get out and about on my days off and now that the nights are drawing out I can just about manage a walk after walk before it gets dark.  There has been a mixture of weather this month with snow here and there and a bit of glorious sunshine and even T shirt weather which is always a good thing!

I love hill walking and Moel Famau is only short drive in the car for me so I'm lucky to be able to get my hill fix even when I can't get further afield to Snowdonia or the Lake District.

There have been snowy days.....

and there have been some lovely, warm sunny days....

....glorious sunsets.....

and days full of atmosphere in Snowdonia .....

a day for watching planes at the Machynlleth loop

... days for painting mountain hares ...

and a day for a stroll around the zoo

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Short eared owls

Winter brings an influx of short eared owls to this country from the continent and many go to coastal areas to overwinter.  Living on the North Wales coast and close to the Dee Estuary we are in a great position to be able to see them fairly locally and my latest wildlife journal page features studies of them using Gary's photos as reference.

It is always a memorable and magical experience to see any owl in the wild and the only British owl I haven't had good sightings of is the tawny owl but I'm hoping I will get to see one this year.

I would also like to share with you a deliciously loose watercolour landscape that an artist friend of mine painted from one of the photos I shared in my last blog post.

Llynnau Mymbyr by Leona Fraser

The working week is now over for me but the weather's not looking great for walking tomorrow so I don't think I'll be going too far so I may get some extra painting time in. 

Thanks for popping by.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

A beautiful day in Snowdonia

After a busy 6 days of Forest School Leader training last week, it was finally my day off on Sunday and the forecast was looking good so we set off early for Snowdonia with the intention of walking up Moel Siabod.  The weather didn't start as promised and we arrived at the summit in cloud but after a coffee on top and a wander the clouds cleared to give breathtaking views.

The view back to Crimpiau, Crieigiau Gleision and Pen Llithrig yr Wrach from the slopes of Siabod

Moel Siabod summit trig point

The view from the summit towards the Snowdon horseshoe

The view down to Llyn y Foel and across to the Clwydian hills in the far distance

Snowdon Horseshoe

Gary taking a photo of the Snowdon horseshoe from the slopes of Siabod