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Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
Last Wednesday we walked up from Ganllwyd, following the forestry tracks that ran in approximately the same direction as the Afon Gamlan until we reached the open mountain. The first part of the walk was easy. Just a long plod up the forestry track.

Road to quarry

The old conifers are being cleared and new broadleaved trees are being planted.

Clearing trees

More photos behind here...Collapse )

There were several footpaths clearly marked on the map that no longer exist on the ground. G had planned a circular walk but we were thwarted over in that distant wood you can see in the photo below. After leaving the mine and floundering across a mile or so of very rough and boggy moorland, with no sign of a path, we reached stile over the wall into the wood, so we had clearly been following more or less the right line. We then managed to follow the path for a few yards, but fallen trees and new saplings had obliterated the path completely. Trying to force a way through would have been impossible. We struggled our way out of the wood whereupon I spotted a footbridge in the distance and suggested that footbridge meant path and perhaps we could cross the river via the bridge and make our way back uphill to the track we had followed to the mine.

Well, it turned out that the innocent looking open land in front of the wood is a bog! G went into it up to his waist.

Beware of the bog!

We eventually escaped to terra firma by backtracking to the stile, floundering across more rough and boggy moorland to finally reach the bridge and the faint traces of an ancient lane and path that linked a scattering of ruined cottages. At one time, with the mine and six or seven houses, there must have been quite a little community up in that valley, but now it's absolutely deserted and there was only a handful of sheep and a couple of ravens to be seen.

Ruined cottage

So the walk took a lot longer than planned and was far more exhausting than it was supposed to be, but we saw a part of the local area we'd never visited before and we do now have a safe and sensible route to put in the geology book. Basically, up the track, look at the mine and return the way you came. Do not, repeat DO NOT venture off the track!
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10/52 for the group 2018 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: J is for Job

As I'm retired, I no longer have a job, so I tried a different interpretation of the theme! The book of Job has never been one of my favourite books of the Bible, but it does nicely for this week's alphabet challenge. :)

The book of Job

In other news, the weather is still miserable but after a routine check with the practice nurse revealed that my blood pressure was higher than it should be, I have determined to turn over a new leaf and stop spending so much time sitting at the computer. I don't think Brexit is helping the blood pressure, but I'm hoping that being more diligent with my exercise will improve matters.
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This morning was the informal Welsh chat session in a local cafe. At first I thought that no one was coming and sat for nearly 20 minutes on my own, but then 5 others turned up and we had a good conversation. I mentioned that the Co-op had no eggs at all yesterday. They ran out while deliveries were disrupted by snow, but I had expected the shelves to have been replenished on Monday, but they weren't. Someone mentioned that the butcher in the square sold eggs, so I popped in and bought some there.

Whilst on that side of the road I noticed that the shops have been playing musical shops again. The delicatessen has moved under the arches to where the greengrocers used to be and the shop that had been a delicatessen is now a bakery. They had a wide selection of baked goods and I bought a couple of pastries which are very nice. I will be going there again. :)
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9/52 for the group 2018 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: I is for Isolated.

Nefyn is popular in the summer, but at the end of February, it looks very empty. It's also quite a long way from everywhere, so we're currently staying in a holiday bungalow in Pwllheli.

Isolated beach

Well, I said we're staying in a holiday bungalow, but I'm actually posting this from home. We thought there would be wifi, but BT let the cottage owner down and it won't be installed until Easter, so I only have my phone with a rather feeble signal for internet access.

Anyway, we've had a couple of excellent days of exploring, looking for locations for G's book, but this morning we woke up to snow, so we've nipped home for a few hours to have a quick catchup online. We're setting off back to Pwllheli now so I'll see you all again at the weekend.
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Yesterday I learned something new. Did you know that in Windows there's a keyboard shortcut that rotates your screen display by 90 degrees? Well I didn't until I accidentally pressed it! Fortunately I worked out how to get it the right way up again, but it was very scary for a moment.
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At last the weather has improved. It's very cold, but it's so wonderful to see the sun! This is an off-topic shot -- this week's theme was H is for Historic -- but the gloom has really got to me this week and other than doing the essentials, I've felt very lethargic. But today was bright and sunny, though very cold, but I'd rather that than the endless gloom.

Glorious view

There are a few signs of spring. My elderly friend had some daffodils on her kitchen table, which were from a local garden. The birds are starting to twitter in the mornings, the collared doves were courting in the tall tree at the bottom of the neighbour's garden earlier, and I think I heard a thrush singing at twilight.

Well, something was singing and I think it was a thrush, but my bird knowledge is far from reliable.
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7/52 for the group 2018 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: G is for Gentle

My husband hates the smell of most fabric softeners, but Fairy has very little scent. As our water is already very soft, I only use a very small amount in each wash, so a big bottle like this lasts a very long time.

Gentle Fairy softener
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For once we actually had pancakes on pancake day. I can't remember the last time that happened. In the past it was unlikely that having the right ingredients and having enough time/energy would both happen on the right day. If I had the energy, I'd realise I had no eggs or no lemons. If I had all the ingredients, I wouldn't have the time due to G and I often having to teach evening classes on a Tuesday. If we had pancakes, it usually ended up as Pancake Friday or Saturday.

Yesterday I felt up to cooking something a bit more complicated and realised that I had flour, milk and eggs but thought I didn't have any lemons, except then I remembered that I had some frozen lemon slices in the freezer. I'd never thought to freeze lemons before but recently discovered that it was possible. Over the years I've wasted a lot of lemons that were surplus to requirements because they'd go soft or mouldy before I could get round to using them all, but now I know that they successfully freeze that won't happen again and the pancakes were very nice indeed.

This afternoon there was a short break in the relentless rain and I nipped out into the garden to remove the heavy clump of ivy from a fence post that had fallen over in the recent storms. Now much lighter, the fence post is propped up again. A temporary solution, but seeing the leaning post every time I looked out of the window had been irritating me.

There was also a short spell of fine weather yesterday. It lasted for an hour or so and I finally managed to reconnoitre the final part of a local walk I want to video as part of my Ambitious Project to start a Youtube channel. I'll explain more about the project in another post. :)
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6/52 for the group 2018 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: F is for Fractal

I really want to make an effort to keep up with the weekly theme this year and have fewer off-topic shots. I therefore hope this plant is fractal enough to count. The weather has been particularly awful recently and getting out to take photos is very difficult. However, I spotted this fern in a friend's garden yesterday and took a quick snap with my phone.

Fractal fern

I other news, I made successful Fridge Soup this morning. Fridge Soup being soup made from whatever ingredients are lurking in the fridge and larder, about to pass the point where they become unsafe to eat.

This soup contained: some left over chicken, 4 small slightly soft potatoes, a slightly soft tomato, a bendy carrot, a fresh onion, stock cube, seasoning and a handful of lentils.

It came out fine. Not spectacular, but tasty enough. But that's the problem with Fridge Soup, it can never be completely replicated. I've never had one turn out horrible and it's always at least adequate, but sometimes it turns out absolutely delicious and you know you can't make another soup exactly like it because next time the odds and ends in the fridge will be slightly different.
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For our second day exploring London, we opted for another stretch of the Regent's Canal. We've done parts of this before and last time finished somewhere around the Angel Islington. So that's where we started...

Walking along the canal is a great way to see a different side of London -- but watch out for joggers and cyclists! To be honest, I tend to feel that towpaths are not really wide enough for mixed cycling and walking traffic, but we avoided getting run over or accidentally pushing an eager jogger into the water.

There is lots to see on the canal. I found myself categorising boat names and came to the conclusion that there are three broad categories. There are people who have gone for what is traditional, or that they think sound traditional, like "Rosie Lee" or "China Rose" (boats are painted in the style of the traditional "roses and castles" decorations). There are those who have gone for the ageing hippy fantasy vibe with names like "Excalibur" or "Ygddrasil" (these feature lots of Celtic-style intertwined designs), and there are those who have gone for the "clever" name like "Narrow Escape" (fairly plain and without fancy decorations).

More pictures of boats and a park with a fountain can be found here...Collapse )

By the time we left Victoria Park we were feeling distinctly peckish, but the cafe in the park turned out to be packed full and also had a more elaborate menu than we wanted. It actually took us a complete circumambulation of the cafe to find the door and if someone hadn't emerged just at the right moment, we'd never have found our way in as the door was canvas and you had to unzip it.

Returning to the canal we continued towards the Thames...

Lock gate

...which we eventually reached via Limehouse Basin. From there we carried on along the by now familiar Thames Path to Canary Wharf.

Canary Wharf

It was still peak lunch hour and the cafe that it looked like it might have a decent selection of sandwiches was full of men in suits grabbing a quick lunch away from their desks. There was another, quieter cafe, but we were back into posh food territory. According to the menu the cheese sandwich contained brie and another continental cheese in addition to Cheddar.

So we hopped on the DLR back into central London and got ourselves plebian baguettes in Waterloo station.

Note new icon! It says "I can't stand the rain" and was a graffito from the railway path walk. I think I'm going to be using it a lot this month unless the weather improves. :(
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