Wednesday 20 February 2013

Fungi and misty eyes

By the Thursday of our week in Wales, grey skies had finally given way to blue.

And not only meteorologically... as it was also St Valentine's Day.

Our Lass played an ace of a card, a wonderful mixture of wildlife and punning.
What's not to love?

We ventured north from the Gower Peninsula to Llandeilo in the Tywi valley. On the outskirts of the town lies Dinefwr Park, a National Trust property consisting of Newton House, a ruined castle, parkland and a Wildlife Trust woodland reserve.

In the damp woodlands, there was a plethora of mosses, lichens and fungi. All mysteriously unknown to us except for this Scarlet Elf Cup.

Walking through some of the parkland, I had a moment of perfect syzygy with history and some White Park cattle.

camera - cow - castle
We clambered up to the castle and stood on the battlements looking out over the valley of the River Tywi.

Did I mention it had been raining?
The next day we reluctantly left the lovely cottage where we had been staying (Many Thanks to Phillipa and David) and headed over towards the border with England. We stopped off for lunch at Dyffryn Gardens, another NT property, and spent a pleasant afternoon wandering around the many garden 'rooms'. Whilst there were few plants in flower at this time of year, the layout of the garden was interesting, with something new to see around every corner. I was particularly taken by these reflected ripples...

though I couldn't decide whether it was a deliberate effect or a fortuitous accident.

For the next two nights we were staying at a B+B near Chepstow. On opening the curtains on the first morning, we discovered a covering of frost and thick fog. As the sun rose, these melted away leaving an ethereal scene in the valley below.

After a leisurely stroll around the area, we drove across to Newport Wetlands, an RSPB reserve on the edge of the Severn estuary, which we had visited for the first time last October. Here, too, the mist and fog rolled in and out all afternoon, lending much to the magical atmosphere and creating different vistas through the channels and reedbeds. Even the neighbouring power station wasn't immune to the landscape drama.

Positive and negative voltages
That evening we dined at the Piercefield Inn, a pub/restaurant just across the road from Chepstow race course. Coincidentally, there was a large chalkboard detailing the provenance of all their local produce - definitely no horse burgers!

The trip home at the end of the holiday was punctuated with a visit to Slimbridge, the WWT reserve on the banks of the River Severn. For a predominantly wet week in February, this pushed our final bird species total up to 89, though of course the primary reason for the visit was a roast lunch.

Actually, no, at that point the total was 88. It wasn't until we were firmly back in England, and most of the way home, before we saw our one and only Red Kite of the holiday.


Martin said...

The board with the origin of the meat has been in France in most or all restaurants for as long as I have been here.. Whether you believe the source is another matter, and I did notice one the other day that was firmly stating the beef was from 04 (High Provence) and 06 (Alpes-Maritimes) regions only!

Imperfect and Tense said...

I suppose it does raise the question of whether local and organic is of greater concern than identity!