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Mogs Travels: April 2009

Mogs Travels

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Weekend with friends

Had a lovely time last weekend staying with some friends who live in Hampshire. We've known them for several years but initially only online and we've just met up at the odd bike meet. It was great to find that we got on so well and were totally relaxed in each others company. We felt quite at home there and didn't have to be on our best behaviour as guests and I think they didn't have to be on edge trying to be good hosts. It's the sort of situation you hope for but you don't know will happen till you try it.

They have recently bought a Huf house. It's one of those German ones that are nearly all glass and very high tech. It was lovely, very light and airy, open plan on the ground floor and with a good lay out of rooms and "flow". I was quite jealous to start with but it would be no good for me and LB, we're far too untidy. It's the sort of house that needs to be kept uncluttered and minimalist and even though our kids have left home we still can't manage that!

The highlights of the weekend were our bike ride around the New Forest & trip to the Sammy Miller bike Museum. LB spotted some electric pushbikes for sale at the Museum so had a go on one around the courtyard.

In the evening we went to a talk by Simon Pavey on his experiences as a Dakar and enduro rider and teacher at the BMW Off Road School. Really interesting.

The only thing I'd change is the hangover we were all suffering from on the Saturday. We hadn't intended getting drunk but were enjoying ourselves so much the alcohol sneakily crept up on us and slid down our throats without us realising! Anyway a great weekend so thanks Anne.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Newport Wetlands Reserve

Had a pleasant afternoon at the Newport Wetlands. The reserve was constructed some years ago to replace the lost habitat in Cardiff Bay, when the barrage was built. It gives very easy access to the ponds and reed beds with proper paths and no mud! It would have been very peaceful there yesterday if it hadn't been for the reed warblers! What noisy birds they are! It's actually a lovely cheerful song and we were surrounded by them. Frustratingly the birds stayed well into the reeds and although I had a few glimpses, enough to identify them, I was unable to photograph them. In fact none of my photos were particularly good. I could do with a more telephoto lens. I'm finding photography is the sort of hobby which encourages you to buy more and more accessories! Anyway to get back to the birds. We spent most of our time watching a family of young coots being fed by their parents.
They were really cute. The iconic bird of the reserve is the bearded tit but we failed to spot them, ah well, it's another reason to go back there!


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Glorious Mid Wales

LB, Paul & I went for a ride on the bikes today. It was wonderful weather, more like summer than spring, and with empty roads we enjoyed one of our best rides for a while. Our route took us over Mynydd Eppynt & up to Rhayader for elevenses. We then took the B4518 to Llanidloes and on past Llyn Clywedog. This resevoir has several car parks and picnic areas but we just stopped to admire the view from a layby on our route. It's definitely somewhere we'd like to return to, with picnic and walking boots, one day. It's a beautiful spot. Our road took us on to Llanbrynmair where we had lunch at "Machinations" This is a workshop, shop and cafe where automata, particularly simple wooden ones are displayed and made. The cafe is excellent and we ate sitting outside in the sun overlooking the babbling clear waters of a stream. Home was via Newtown, Crossgates and an afternoon cuppa at the Old Station at Erwood. We got home at about 5.30 having done nearly 200 miles. We had great roads, fantastic views and are now suitably knackered! I'll sleep well tonight!


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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Success - trout for tea!

My hunter gatherer went off to a local trout pond today, not just for casting practice but fishing- and look what he brought home!! Yum Yum! This is all for me as although LB loves fishing he doesn't eat fish! So that's my food sorted for tonight, I'd better nip down to the shops to get him something nice, I've a funny feeling beans on toast wouldn't go down well with him! Thank you LB!


ps the garden is coming on well, that's our pear tree in full bloom in the background.

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Monday, April 13, 2009


We're back in Pembrokeshire for Easter. We've been blessed with lovely sunny weather so have made the most of it with lots of long walks along the cliff path. Of course I've taken the camera and have been trying to get more bird shots. We went chough hunting on Saturday but failed to see one let alone photograph them. We did spot this raven's nest though and spent some time watching as the parents flew back and fore feeding the youngsters. The chicks were still very small and all we saw of them was the occasional beak visible above the top of the nest. I also took dozens of photos of the gulls and fulmars as they circled around. Most were a bit fuzzy and ended in the bin but I was pleased with these two, a herring gull above and fulmar below.

Yesterday we had a brief glimpse of a chough near West Dale Bay but had no time to photograph it. Never mind, it's early in the year so I'm hopeful I'll get a snap of them. They're beautiful birds with bright red beaks and legs and very acrobatic in the air. It will be a good challenge!

We've had a lovely weekend here, catching up with old friends. A caravan site is an incredibly sociable place, presumably because we spend more time outdoors so bump into people more. We've previously considered buying a flat down here but always decided against it purely because we'd miss the company of the campsite. Amazingly LB met an old college friend here yesterday. They've not met for over thirty years but John, who lives in Swindon, has just happened to buy a van pitched next door to one of our closest friends here! It's a small world!


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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More bike work!

It's warming up but we still haven't vacated the kitchen. Anyway the broom handle came in handy again, this time to push down the damper rod in the fork and the kitchen jug was needed for the fork oil. It took four of us all evening to put one fork back together although we did spend over an hour having a cuppa and catching up on each others news!

We're now known as the Fair Weather Fettlers or FWF....I think Paul's hinting he wants his dining room back!


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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rock Pools - an alternative perspective!

The underwater casing for my compact camera had only been used in warm tropical waters until last weekend when I had the bright idea of using it inside rock pools in Pembrokeshire. It was a bit hit and miss as most of the time I couldn't see what I was photographing but I did get some good shots. I think the most surprising aspect was the vibrancy of the colours. Seaweed and the slow or static animals filled all the frames. Perhaps one day I'll do it and find a big crab or fish looking at the lens but I think that's unlikely! I'll have to get a book on seaweed now. I can identify the topshells and sea anenome but can't name the plants in the photos. Also does anyone know what the green blobs of jelly are on this red seaweed?


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Sunday, April 5, 2009


On Friday we came down to our caravan for the first time this season. I particularly love it at this time of year. From the van we have a great view up the valley of Haroldston Woods and the surrounding fields. We're ideally placed to watch the changing colours of the seasons. At present most of the trees are bare but some are coming into leaf so there are patches of the palest green, not the vibrant greens of the summer. The gorse is in full bloom and the blackthorn is also blossoming. Each time we visit the colours will have changed until everything is in full leaf, then it will remain fairly static over summer until the autumn brings it's own changes. The woodland is full of birdsong now. The chiffchaffs have arrived en masse and you can hear them wherever you are in the wood. There are plenty of blackbirds, robins and assorted tits and finches singing away too.

We've had a couple of walks in the woods, along the cliff path and of course on the beach. I've brought my slr camera and am quite pleased with some of the photos I've taken. It's strange how having a new camera has made me think about different camera angles and views. I've also tried a few arty close up photos and some underwater shots in the rock pools. I don't have a card reader to get the rock pool shots off the compact camera so I'll post those after I get home tomorrow.


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Thursday, April 2, 2009


It's a year exactly since I retired! What a wonderful time I've had too. I'm so lucky to be able to afford early retirement and to have both the time and money to do all the things I want. Would you believe over four out of the last twelve months have been spent away from home either in the caravan, on holidays or weekend trips! When home I've taken up photography, walking, motorbike restoration, birdwatching and a bit of horse riding. The only downside has been my mother's deteriorating health but that was to be expected, and part of the plan, as I've been around to sort out doctors appointments etc and to support Dad.

Before I finished work my mother-in-law expressed concern as she didn't think I could be "just a housewife". How right she is! The house is marginally cleaner and tidier than when I was working, but not a lot. On the other hand she was totally wrong in assuming that retirement was a negative state of carrying on as before but without work. It has opened up a whole host of opportunities for me and LB. Woohoo!!


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More on the bike project

This is progressing quite nicely. We've finished stripping and cleaning the forks & are just waiting for some fork oil before reassembling them. Front and rear brake calipers have been stripped, refurbished and reassembled. We have slightly different approaches to this work. Here I am with my favourite tools.......

Whereas Viv has a more considered approach....

The workshop has expanded from the dining room into the kitchen where we have more work surface. The cooker hood proved to be a useful extractor fan when we were using brake cleaner on the various components and other household bits and pieces have also played their part! That's one of the forks being cleaned with the wrong end of a brush!

Next week we'll reassemble the forks providing we remember to get the fork oil!

Incidentally all the pictures of the work are here, if you want to take a look.


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