|Winter 2010-11 part 4:
That was that, then! - plus a look at the Borth Sea Defences project
& Dyfi Valley landscapes Slide-Library - Click HERE
strange winter! From a record-breaking November-December straight
into nondescript. It's now the middle of March and although a few night
frosts have occurred that's been about it on the cold front. Good news
was that the ground finally dried out enough to
sort out both veg-gardens ready for planting - after a wet start to
February that saw more dramatic floods along the Dyfi Valley after
inches of rain fell over the mountains in a prolonged period.
On the morning of February 6th, the rain eased and the clouds lifted to
a higher milky veil, allowing (for a change) the valley to be visible
from the top of Y Wylfa - a good point from which to get an overview of
Machynlleth and the valley. On arrival up there I was buffeted by a
60mph SW gale, so I shot the images lying on the ground, the camera
well-braced. Below is the view looking back to Machynlleth - well-sited
on slightly higher ground....
Here's the view across the valley:
In an attempt to find an original slant, I zoomed-in to telephoto and
picked out individual features. This was doubly difficult, as
camera-shake is more noticeable at telephoto range and the wind howling
up the valley was shaking the trees, so I went for a medium-wide
aperture at f8 and cranked the ISO up to 1000. Shooting as I prefer to
with the camera set to aperture-priority, in these overcast but not
overly dull conditions, the settings gave a reasonably fast exposure
with which to counter the motion-blur due to the wind....
Trees, bent against the prevailing SW wind - the clue is in the
vertical telegraph-poles in the distance....
almost looks like snow to me! The main channel of the Dyfi is picked
out by the rows of Alders on either side.....
From then on, the weather decided to go into sleep-mode - mild, cloudy
and windy but with good sunny breaks as high pressure asserted itself
from time to time, but nothing that could be classified as
"spectacular" or "worth intercepting". Just as well, given the price of
One day I managed to get myself over to Borth for a look at the big,
multi-million pound sea defences project. The village has featured a
few times in these pages, with shots of waves threatening the seaward
houses at high tide. Now, with the twin threats of under-nourishment of
the beach and sea-level rise fully appreciated, action is underway to
address them. Here's a couple of overview shots from near Borth Head -
looking down the beach:
And to its north end. One gripe here is that the shingle being brought
in is from NW Wales, which means that it will render the beach
difficult to use in Earth Science teaching because it has introduced a
lot of rock types exotic to this area. However, the same is the case on
Aberystwyth's beaches, due to the countless tonnes of ship's ballast
being dumped there over the centuries: there are all sorts of
rock-types represented there. One skill the field geologist needs to
develop is the ability to spot manmade "anomalies" like this. The
bottom line though is that something has to be done to protect our
coastal settlements, or we lose them in the coming decades, and that in
my book is the bigger of the issues here.
"Tonka-toys" always make interesting subjects for the lens!
The construction site itself is obviously out-of-bounds for safety
reasons, but there are plenty of vantage points surrounding it. Here,
boulders are being brought in by road and transferred down to the
groynes by big dumper-trucks...
Several large tracked grabs at work laying out the groynes:
A delivery comes in:
One of the groynes being arranged....
Excellent light over Borth Head and the sea.... I guess this is what
critics might call "moody"!!
Calling at Ynyslas, in case there was much driftwood there, I
remembered to get a shot of the dune-erosion. This has been done by
....it's the same
on the N side of the estuary, between Aberdyfi and Tywyn - this image
was taken last October. Rising sea-levels and beach malnourishment i.e.
insufficient sediment being deposited to keep the sands at a high
enough level both contribute to this process. Dune-systems form
important barriers, protecting the coastal lands where they are
low-lying - at Borth the hinterland includes Cors Fochno, one of the
largest lowland raised bogs anywhere and an internationally important
wildlife area, as well as the dwellings at Borth and Ynyslas.
I'll post on the Borth project as and when key steps are completed,
such as the artificial reef that's going to be placed a few hundred
metres offshore to break up the worst of the swells.
After the evil frosts of December, the poor garden was in dire need of
someone I know had a row of Leylandii they wanted taking out, and I
volunteered my services in return for all the timber - 3-5m nice
straight trunks and even some handy curved lengths. Even Leylandii has
A week or two later and it's looking back
to its normal self. These should last an awful lot longer than the
sycamore I had been using, which was starting to rot....
Once the ground had dried out, garden #2 was back in business, slowly
digging the soil, sorting out the myriad bindweed, bracken, bramble and
couch grass roots.....
Phew! This was a satisfying moment!
The idea here is to leave a barrier, dug out to subsoil depth, around
the beds. This should stop or at least hinder the pernicious weeds that
abound all around. The cultivation will be done in ridges built over
strips of manure: one is done and another's about to be started here....
Two done, one
The idea is to
grow spuds here this year, giving more room at the other garden for
variety. This is a very good-sized plot that may be expanded in due
course: I want to see how things do in this patch first. The soil is OK
- a bit undernourished but the manure will help that and the abundant
worms are massive - so there must be some goodness there! Planting will
be next month to let the ground warm up a bit more - no harm in being a
bit late - and Spring seems about to burst forth. It's been a long time
coming, after such an early start to Winter!
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