Sianikatt's FotoPage
Swansea and Gower in photos....
By: Siani Katt

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Thursday, 18-Dec-2003 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
God, my memory...

Ready for work
Main circle of Rhossili Old Castle
Remains of WWII anti-aircraft gun support
View all 10 photos...
Can you believe it? I'd actually forgotten all about this Fotopage account, which is ironic, seeing as it's such an excellent service. What a plonker! Sometimes, I really think I must be going senile, about 50 years too soon. I've been whingeing on about the Enetation comment-box not working properly on my other weblog, http://sianikatts-gower.blogspot.com, and fretting because I'm running out of webspace for my images - and I already had the solution to the problem right here. I can now share some images of a recent trip to Rhossili on the Gower Peninsula, near Swansea, south-west Wales.

It was a lovely, sunny and unusually warm morning for this time of year, and I'd gone there to get some photographs of a site known as Rhossili Old Castle. To the untrained eye, it just looks like a weird series of bumps, dips and furrows near the cliff edge. I was intrigued by it for while, and upon investigation, discovered that the site is in fact the remains of an ancient Iron Age hill fort or defence. In the UK, the Iron Age refers to the period of our history which occurred between 751 BC - AD 42.

When I arrived that morning, I found a number of people performing maintenance work on the dry stone walls, near to Rhossili Old Castle. I'm not sure whether these were National Trust volunteers, workers from the Countryside Council for Wales, or maybe local agricultural workers [pic 1].

During the Iron Age, buildings tended to be made from timber, straw, mud and other readily available natural substances. Structures were mostly circular in shape, and pic 2 shows clearly the remains of a circular construction - I suspect the rapid slope away from the edge of the Old Castle was created by the frequent cliff erosions and rockfalls that occur in this area. In pic 3, you'll see what I'm told are the remnants of WWII coastal defences, probably a gun support. I find it interesting that the same site was chosen as a defensive look-out by armies separated by almost three thousand years in time. Pics 4-6 show the Old Castle from a number of different aspects. I wonder how much the view shown in Pic 6 has changed since the Iron Age? Perhaps there were Iron Age roundhouses along these cliffs, maybe the vegetation was less sparse? Or perhaps this particular view is timeless...

Pic 7 shows some more WWII remnants, right next to Rhossili Old Castle - it also shows part of my coat sleeve, in the bottom left-hand corner . Pic 8 shows more of the humps and furrows that dominate the site of the Old Castle - were they part of the defencework? Maybe warriors would hide in them, ready to leap out and attack any trespassers. Or were they simply places to crouch down in, away from the biting, salt-laden Atlantic winds?

On my return to the village to catch my bus, I was surprised to see a dairy herd occupying a field normally full of sheep and/or ponies [pic 9]. I wouldn't have thought the treacherous cliff-tops a suitable grazing ground for cattle. It was a rather bitter-sweet experience, looking at the view in pic 10, with a nose full of the stink of cow poo. Anyway, that's all for today - I'm so glad I remembered about this place....


Wednesday, 24-Sep-2003 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A trip to Mumbles before disappearing into the sunset....

Swansea from Blackpill
Another one of Blackpill's streams
Mumbles from Blackpill
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I've not been out and about much since Saturday due to this stupid, annoyingly inconvenient ailment I have called arthritis . But today, I thought, bugger it, I'm getting out and old Arthur Itis can grumble as much as he likes. Just because he's grumpy, it doesn't mean I have to be, even if he does cramp my style a little. So off I trotted and got myself a weekly bus ticket.

First port of call was Tesco for some sandwiches and a bottle of pop and then down to Blackpill, which I believe is officially the start of the region known as the Mumbles. There's a definite cold tingle in the air now, no mistaking, but it was fine and sunny today. Further evidence of the cooling temperatures appeared along the shoreline at Blackpill, in the form of the first flock of oystercatchers, who arrive here every year to over-winter on the varied terrain of sandy beach, rivulets and mud-flats. Sadly, apart from myself, and an elderly ornithologist who sat watching them with a tripod-mounted terrestrial telescope, no-one paid any heed to their well-being. One couple made great merriment of the fact that their lumbering great hound kept charging at them, causing them to take off en masse and settle elsewhere. I found their behaviour abhorrent, because Blackpill is known nationally as an important over-wintering ground for many bird species.

I decided to move on shortly afterwards, because a trio of youths on bikes started to make me feel uneasy. I'm not a nervous or paranoid person, but I became aware they were watching me and discussing me, and kept cycling up and down near me. They were all around 16 and as I'm an overweight 38 year old, I'm hardly the woman of their dreams. But then I realised they'd seen the camera. I immediately left the foreshore and cut across the forecourt of the petrol [gas] station and headed to the bus stop, where a few people were waiting.

After Blackpill, I caught the bus a little further along the seafront to the village of Norton, immediately next door to Oystermouth, I stopped here for a little while to take some photos. Then horror of horrors, I thought I spotted those youths again. They cycled down past me towards Oystermouth bus station, and then came back past me again, and I heard one of them say, 'yeah, that's the one we saw earlier', as they went past. As I saw them start to circle around again, I got out onto the main road, and by sheer good luck, on the opposite side of the road to the beach, a bus was already waiting at the bus stop. Needless to say, I got on it and headed back into the city centre.

I arrived back in town feeling somewhat aggrieved at the fact that my day out had been cut short, but I felt certain my personal safety was at risk from those lads. I'm usually very relaxed when I'm out and about, certainly not fearful of gangs of kids, but these guys really did shake me up, as the sense of menace coming from them was palpable. I arrived back at the bus station around 5.30, and decided to take a round trip on the last Gower bus of the day, hoping to get some sunset pics.

I was rewarded with spectacular views of the most amazing sunset I have ever seen, over some really beautiful scenery. The photos I took don't do it justice. My camera is only a basic point-and-shoot digital model, plus the shots were taken by an arthritic relic leaning out of the open window of a rickety bus, hurtling along narrow, pot-holed country lanes, sometimes at speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. But anyway, enough for today......


Friday, 19-Sep-2003 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Worn out

Port Eynon Bay
Kite-flying at Port Eynon
Port Eynon from the Horton end of the beach
View all 9 photos...
I've been spending a lot of time lately getting out and about, doing a lot of walking and trying to get back into shape. Thanks to a period of forced inactivity due to health problems, I've put on a fair bit of weight, and the only exercise I can safely do, is walking. Luckily, there are plenty of nice walks in Swansea and Gower. During the recent hot spell, I would spend the earlier part of my day lazing on Port Eynon beach with a good book, before heading back to town for a brisk walk along the promenade during the cooller late afternoon/early evening period.

Something I've been wanting to do for ages, is to walk from Mumbles back to town. To most people, this 5 or 6 mile walk, on the flat, isn't especially challenging, but for an arthritis sufferer like me, it's quite an undertaking. After taking a series of shorter walks during preceding days, I managed the Mumbles to Swansea walk for the first time in about 2 or 3 years, last Friday. It took me a little under 2 hours to walk from the bus stop outside the British Legion Club on Newton Road, right around to the Tesco store. By the time I reached Tesco, I could barely put one foot in front of the other, but I'd made it all the same.

On Monday, I attempted the same walk again, but ended up twisting my ankle at Blackpill, because I had to quickly sidestep an Old English Sheepdog which came racing at me, leaping and snapping around me. Its teenaged owner only called it back when I demanded that he did so, and I received no apology from him about it. As a result, I had to abandon my walk a little further along, and take the footbridge across the road and catch a bus into town, from outside the University. Yesterday, I walked from Oystermouth around to Bracelet, and was amazed I could climb that incredibly steep slope from the pier to the coast road, without passing out at the top. I think the cappuccino and muffin I had at the pier cafe must have helped. I was quite surprised at how that cafe has changed. I worked there about 15 years ago, when it was a horrendous greasy spoon place. Now, it's quite a pleasant place, if a wee tad camp, with its elaborate chandeliers and lounge music.

When I got to Bracelet Bay, I was surprised to be hit by a strong, almost gale force, and rather icy wind, which brought tears to my eyes. There had only been a gentle, nicely coolling breeze at the Mumbles side of the headland. Luckily, there was a 37 bus due at any time, so I caught it back to Oystermouth, before having another brisk walk down as far as Blackpill. I've uploaded a few of the pics I took on these walks. Check out the last pic - there was a pool on the beach at Blackpill, with a stream leading from it, and I guessed that the water had to be coming from underground, as there was no other explanation for a stand-alone pool which generated its own stream. Closer inspection of the pool revealed a water spout at its centre, with swirling sand and bubbles where the water was forcing its way up from underneath the beach. If you look closely at the pic, you can just about make this out.


Wednesday, 17-Sep-2003 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Let's see if this one's better....

Thatched cottage at Oxwich
Craft shop and tea rooms
Boat preparing to launch
View all 7 photos...
I've become increasingly frustrated with Fotolog, as it's incredibly slow and I get endless error messages, so I've decided to give Fotopages a try instead. Today was a bit of a frustrating day, as I spent the late morning and early afternoon waiting around for a family member who was supposed to be accompanying me on a trip to Gower, and they pulled out at the last minute, so the earliest bus I was able to get after that, was the 2 o'clock. I transferred at Killay, to the 18C and headed for Oxwich, before getting the 18 an hour and a half later, down to Rhossili. These are a couple of the pics - I hope they look okay, as I don't know whether or not they'll stay their original size when I upload them, or whether they'll be reduced.

The first pic is a cottage called 'The Nook' at Oxwich, where the founder of Wesleyan Methodism, John Wesley, stayed on several occasions. The second pic shows the Bwthyn [Welsh for 'cottage] craft shop and tea rooms. The building was once a post office, and has been in use as a shop since 1834, according to a plaque on its wall.

The third pic shows a boat about to be launched. Many people on Gower earn a living directly or indirectly from the sea or the land, and the common practice of using farm tractors to tow boats to the waterline, serves as a curious reminder of these facts. The fourth pic was taken from a very comfortable seat I found amongst the rocks, complete with a foot rest made from a long bar of rock set into the sand. The heat was scorching at Oxwich today, and it was fantastic to perch comfortably on this rock, in the shade of the wooded hillside that overshadows this side of the beach.

P.S. Just checked how this page looks - it's 50 billion times better than Fotolog, because if you click the thumbnails, you get to see my original images, not some crunched up version of them. I may as well add a couple of the pics I took at Rhossili, now I'm here. After the Rhossili pics, take a look at the rock pool pic [full size version]. If you look at the leafy structure, slightly to the left of centre, near the bottom of the pic, and then look slightly above it, you'll see one of the tiny little fish that were flitting around the rock pools at Oxwich. There were some strange, shrimp-like creatures there, too, but they were tiny and almost transparent, so they don't show on the pic.

The only slight grumble I have about this page is the fact that I can't make multiple posts - I have to keep adding to the original. But it updates in real time, instead of waiting 12 hours for Blogger to update.


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