Autumn 2013 part 3: Brilliantly colourful, violently stormy! 

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It's December 29th and time for 2013's last blog-post. It's been a while since the last one, but serious health issues in the family (we had our Christmas dinner in a Midlands Marie Curie hospice this year) have very naturally become a preoccupation and during some of the recent severe weather events I simply wasn't present in the area. That said, it's probably fair to say many people have by now had their fill of storms, and this post features a lot more peaceful weather-images than is the norm for this site.

November began with some increasingly rough weather, but by a miracle a window in the rain gave the people of Machynlleth the chance to enjoy the 2013 Lantern Parade and fireworks. The theme this year is demonstrated aptly by this superb astronaut created by local puppeteer, Jo Munton, seen here on the display field with some of the other excellent lantern creations in the background...

machynlleth lantern procession

The fireworks were up to their usual standard although photography became a challenge as the rain started to fall once again...


I should have brought a tripod, but these handheld shots were quite pleasing...



A major Atlantic storm rolled in the next day (November 2nd) and I headed down to the coast at Ynyslas for a look, with a steady force 8 wind blowing onshore upon my arrival.....

Force 8 sea

This lone and brave windsurfer made an interesting demonstrator of the size of the raging sea!



As the wind further increased, down at Ynyslas Dunes severe erosion was ongoing, with clouds of sand billowing through the air...


Back at the previous location, and this is the sea that a steady force 10 storm throws up. High tide that evening was to bring a few problems...

Force 10
                      sea witnessed by this scene in Aberystwyth the following morning!

                  prom damage

This is some of the worst storm-damage here for quite a few years, testament to the power of the huge, storm-generated waves...

aberystwyth prom damage

Conditions continued unsettled thereafter, with things clearing up a bit on the 8th, when the multiple layers of cloud finally started to break up in the late afternoon. I headed to a spot I know above Derwenlas to see if I could get some interesting shots looking back up the valley to Machynlleth, but the timing of light and cloud was proving hard to get right!

                      Valley from above Derwenlas

Clear air with towering cumulus above: fog below!

above Derwenlas


Here the fog has cleared temporarily but the light's still not right!

Dyfi Valley

This wideangle shot shows the overall perspective....

Dyfi Valley

On the 9th, the light was much better and an autumn colours shoot seemed to be a possibility - first returning to the vantage-point near Derwenlas....

Dyfi Valley

....before heading off up Cwm Llyfnant with its interesting mixed woodlands...

Cwm Llyfnant

A telegraph-pole above Glaspwll showing its age!

Cwm Llyfnant

This valley, in varied autumnal light, is well worth a visit in November!


Ten days later, calm conditions at Dyfi Bridge had me casting around for the best aspect:


Dyfi Bridge

Telephoto looking downstream from the bridge...

Dyfi Bridge

The calm conditions and cold nights with hoar-frosts prompted me to get the winter firewood in. In the summer of 2012 I had cut up a large fallen oak in a field belonging to a farming friend, stacked the lengths off the ground and left it to season. It was in here, somewhere...
hoar frost

Detail of frost on an oak-branch...

hoar frost

Unearthing it from the dense nettles and thistles, I began to accumulate a stash...


December began quietly but things soon went downhill: the first big storm causing a dangerous surge down the North Sea. That it did not have a similar toll to the deadly 1953 event is largely down to improvements in sea-defences and a vastly improved warnings system: nevertheless, at least 1400 homes were flooded. Between the storms were brief transient ridges of high pressure with calmer conditions: this was Aberdyfi at sunset on December 17th:

aberdyfi sunset

A cold but calm shot to the west down the estuary, with the sun sinking below Ynyslas Dunes:

aberdyfi sunset

That night was the occasion of local butcher Wil Lloyd's Winter Fair, where the producers of the stock get together with other local people for a prizegiving and retrospective of the year. Wil is a very good example of how to do local e
conomics: the beasts only travel a few miles for slaughter, and the money from sales stays mostly in the local community: he is the exact opposite of supermarkets and all that they stand for!

Wil Lloyd's winter fair

The storms then continued in the run-up to Christmas: at Borth on the Solstice there were only two other people in evidence as the sun briefly broke through the wintergrey pall...

winter solstice 2013

The rough weather continued right through the Xmas period: rainbands brought flooding in places and landslipping, gusts of 70-109 mph
(the latter recorded at Aberdaron on the 27th) brought down numerous trees and thunder was heard in the Dyfi Valley on several occasions as showers of rain, hail and snow piled in on the colder post-frontal airmasses. Similar conditions currently look to extend into, at least, the first week of January.

Over at the veg-garden this is a quiet time of year. Seaweed, dumped on the beaches following storms, was collected and used to mulch the beds....


...whilst there are few things left to harvest, like leeks (reasonably good this year)...

synoptic chart 0800

...and celeriac - not huge but very tasty indeed. I shall grow these again in small amounts. They boil up at the same rate as potatoes and the result - celeriac mash - is delicious, especially with game like roast pheasant


The Swiss Chard is slowing down now, but the frost has so far been kind to it - less so the slugs, which owing to the mild temperatures are still very active. Another couple of months and it should start growing again in earnest, before it bolts...


One big change for 2014 though has been the recent clearfell of the wall of conifer forest behind the garden, as the pic below illustrates. It will be interesting to see what effects this has. It'll be windier, I think, when sou-westerlies blow. On the other hand, there will be more groundwater and certainly there is more light - a lot more...


So that wraps up 2013 here in Mid-Wales. It may be a while again before the next update, but that will cover how winter 2013-14 is panning out: so far, the exact opposite of the predictions from the Daily Express in October and November, but that's not to say a cold snowy spell is out of the question in the remaining months before spring once again arrives!

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