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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

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Back to painting!

Barn Owl (part of my latest study page)

I've neglected the brushes recently but have got them out again over the last few days and completed two more pages for my ongoing wildlife journal, one of a barn owl we've watched a couple of times hunting in the afternoon and another of ptarmigan seen on our trip to the Cairngorms at the beginning of the month.  It's good to be painting again!

I'm happy to say that the first two red deer  watercolours which I painted to raise money for the South West Deer Rescue Association have been sold.  One of these paintings may be used as their logo which would be a lovely honour if that goes ahead.  I've also been helping out with artwork for a logo for another association so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens there.

There is also good news on the work front and I'm currently being trained as a Forest School leader, something I've wanted to do for a long time now and I'm thrilled to have been given the opportunity through work and am looking forward to putting it all into practice once I'm trained. This is the little camp in the woods where we have been having our training.  Today we've been building shelters, chopping and sawing wood, making crafts using woodland resources, making camp fires and more - lots of fun and learning new skills too.

Friday, 19 February 2016

A recent wander in Snowdonia

'The mountains are calling and I must go' 
John Muir

I just love walking in the mountains especially on a good weather day so when I saw that the forecast was looking bright and sunny last Monday I headed off to Snowdonia for the day with Holly.  We went for a wonderful walk in one of my favourite areas, Cwm Idwal, then in the afternoon decided to walk up Crimpiau which has lovely views in all directions.  The sun was getting low as I was descending Crimpiau so I decided to stay and watch the sun set before heading home.  I hope you enjoy this selection of photos from the day

Cwm Idwal

Pen yr Ole Wen from the head of Llyn Idwal

Pen yr Ole Wen and Llyn Idwal

Idwal Slabs 

Pen yr Ole Wen and Llyn Idwal

Y Garn and Foel Goch


Holly at Llynnau Mymbyr with the Snowdon horseshoe in the background

Snowdon from Capel Curig pinnacles

Holly on Crimpiau with Llyn Crafnant below

The view from Crimpiau towards the Ogwen valley



Wednesday, 17 February 2016

A wonderful weekend in Scotland

 We spent the first weekend of February in the highlands of Scotland, a trip that we had been looking forward to for many months, staying in a lovely little cabin in the woods.  We went in the hope that we would get the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife including Ptarmigan, Mountain hares and Crested Tits and we were blessed to see all three but with the added bonus of seeing wild red deer, red squirrels and to also have a pine marten, badger and hare visit our little cabin.

Our first day was spent with a friend of ours who lives locally and he acted as our guide for the day taking us to a very remote and beautiful glen where we saw plenty of wild red deer......

 and then on to a beautiful mountain valley where we saw mountain hares.  While Gary and Graeme were photographing the mountain hares I remained a distance away as I only had a small lens on my camera and was happy to watch through the binoculars.  I was thrilled however when I saw a hare running down the mountain towards me, I instinctively crouched down and the hare stopped just a few metres away from me, staring at me - after watching him watching me for a while I slowly raised my camera and took some photos - what a magical experience that was!!!  Here is one of the photos I took

It had been a wonderful day and to top it all we had a pine marten visit the cabin that evening to feed on the peanuts we had left out!  This photo was taken by Gary through the cabin window

The pine marten wasn't the only visitor we had over the weekend - we also had a badger and a brown hare visit - I knew badgers like peanuts but have never heard of brown hares enjoying them - this one visited several times over the weekend!

On the Sunday we went to the Abernethy forest to look for Crested Tits and were thrilled to get good sightings of them - they can only be found in this area of Scotland and I have only ever seen one once before so it was wonderful to spend the afternoon watching and photographing them as well as a variety of other birds

On Monday we went looking for Ptarmigan on the way up Cairngorm mountain - it was a beautiful winter's day with blue skies and not a breath of wind - we could hear the croaky calls of the ptarmigan before we saw them.  Beautiful to see them in their winter plumage in the snow.  This photo was taken by Gary as I didn't get this close and was watching from a distance through the binoculars.  

I was also surprised to see lots of red grouse above the snow line - I hadn't known they came up that high - lovely to get photographs of them in the snow

After spending the morning with Ptarmigan and Red grouse on a snow topped mountain on a beautiful winter's day, it was sadly time for the long drive home to North Wales, leaving sunny Scotland behind ... but we have booked the same cabin for a few days in April so we'll be back!!!