Friday, 11 August 2017

Dragons!

I was able to go to Kidwelly Castle recently where they had the dragons which have been at Caerphilly Castle for a while. I've been wanting to see them for ages and had a lovely sunny day on which to finally get there. I have to show you the photos!

They were near one of the towers, the mother protruding from the ground and the babies in their nest.



Dad Dewi, who is red, has stayed at home in Caerphilly Castle while mum Dwynwen and the twin dragonlets are on tour around Wales.





They were all made by Cardiff based props company Wild Creations. The adults keep still, but the babies are animatronic and move their heads, eyes and wings. You can also hear a roaring sound from them. I love the way they look quite realistic, with the detail of their scales and mottled colouring.

Here's a close up of Dwynwen:



And one of the babies:




While I was there, I also took photos of the castle itself.

Here's the tower by the dragons:




This is the view from the very top of one of the towers (yes, I was very brave! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Š) You can see the river Gwendraeth just behind the castle in the centre of the picture and the landscape beyond.





There's a lot of history surrounding this place. Gwenllian, a Welsh princess, daughter of the king of Gwynedd and wife of the ruler of Deheubarth, led a battle against the Normans in the fields just to the other side of the castle while her husband was in North Wales gathering men to fight. The Normans moved earlier than expected, so Gwenllian and her sons went to face them. This was before the castle was built in stone as it now is. Sadly, Gwenllian lost the fight and was killed in the fields. That area is known as Maes Gwenllian (Gwenllian's field).

Although I've been to Kidwelly before, it was well worth the second visit to see the dragons. I've waited to see them for a long time and it was even better to do it now the babies have arrived. It's all part of the Year of Legends promoting Wales's history, mythology and tourism.

You can find out more about the dragons by clicking here:

http://www.caerphillyobserver.co.uk/news/964692/baby-dragons-hatch-at-caerphilly-castle/


We've had quite a few rainy days recently, but on a rare sunny day, I took this photo of a hoverfly on a dahlia:




I think at some point, this photo may make it into a piece of art.

Friday, 4 August 2017

New Ideas, New Work

Hello! I'm back. Did you miss me? πŸ˜‰ After the busyness of 30 Days Wild I only intended to take a break of a week or two from blogging, but it became an extended break due to various things that happened. πŸ˜‘ I return, though, with new ideas and new works in progress to show you.

Here's the first one, my barn owl painting. If you've seen my last post for 30 Days Wild, you'll have seen this painting already, but now I've developed it further. This is the original:




I've dyed some cotton and muslin with tea. It turned out quite well I think and it matches the colour I painted in the background. Tea gives a lovely muted, natural colour and it's also eco-friendly, something I'm very conscious of. I don't want to harm the environment with chemicals just to produce my work.




I've printed my painting onto fabric and next I'm going to layer it on the tea-dyed cotton, then sew on it with a combination of hand and machine embroidery.



That's my work in progress so far, it's been a bit slow the last month or so! 😊 I hope to get this done though, so I can show you the finished thing. I haven't really planned this one, I'm letting it unfold in it's own way, so I don't really know what will happen with it. I hope it works. πŸ˜‰

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

30 Days Wild Days 29 & 30



Day 29

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I wasn't able to write my last 30 Days Wild post on the actual days, but here it is now.

I've done another Wild work of Art and painted a barn owl. It's finished as a painting but there's more I want to do with it. I'm thinking of transferring it to fabric.




Day 30

I found this moth inside, so captured it in a jar and released it in the garden.




I've looked through my wildlife books but haven't managed to identify which moth it is. At first I thought it might be a Beautiful Hooktip but when I looked again, the wings are too dark and not the right shape for that.

I also saw this bumble bee buzzing by me in the garden and managed to get a photo of her.




She turned around on the leaf and I was just about to get a great photo of her face when she flew off before I could press the button. I'm glad to have this one though as you can see the wing veins and a lovely shimmer on them from the sun. 

So, that's 30 Days Wild over again for another year. If you've been taking part, I hope you've enjoyed it. I have. To be mindful of nature and make yourself aware of it and part of it every day is a fulfilling thing to do. I'll definitely be carrying on! πŸ˜ŠπŸ’—πŸŒ³πŸŒΈπŸŒΉπŸŒΊπŸŒΏπŸπŸ‚πŸ¦πŸžπŸ  

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

30 Days Wild Days 27 & 28



Day 27
It was unexpectedly sunny yesterday, so I took the opportunity to do some yoga in the garden. Here I am (or my shadow at least! πŸ˜ƒ ) doing tree pose, which is a bit difficult when you're trying to take a photo at the same time. πŸ˜‰




You can just about see my little companion to the right doing his own version of yoga, which seems to involve laying down with your eyes closed. 😊🐈😴

Here he is actually on my mat "helping" me. He's thinking about doing cat pose. πŸ˜‰




I began practicing yoga a year ago after I had some really bad back pain, but haven't really done much outside. To do it in the fresh air with the breeze on you and the sounds of the world all around is quite different from being cooped up inside. There's a different feel to it, a freer feeling as you take the time to breathe and stretch in the open air. There's also the feeling of all the birds around watching you and wondering what you're doing! πŸ˜ƒπŸ¦


Day 28

I saw the hover flies again today in the garden and managed to get this photo of one, but it's a bit blurry because the flies move so fast. Even when they're hovering in the same place, their little wings are beating many times a second and are impossible to see. This was the best I could do.





There are only two days left of 30 Days Wild now and I'll be disappointed to finish, but with those two days, there's still more opportunity to do Random Acts of Wildness.
Remember to take a look at the Wildlife Trusts website: wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild

Monday, 26 June 2017

30 Days Wild Days 24, 25 & 26



Day 24

If you saw my blog before I began 30 Days Wild, you may have seen a fungus I found called Many Zoned Polypore.
Here it is:




On Saturday, I went back to look at it and found that the white parts have now turned greenish:




I assume this is because it's older and it changes colour through time. I also found these mushrooms growing very nearby:




I haven't managed to work out what type of mushroom they are although I've searched to try to find out. There are so many and quite a few yellow ones, so I don't want to guess without being fairly sure!


Day 25

Yesterday was quite sunny here but not hot, which I was grateful for after the heatwave, so I took some time to meditate in the garden. I've been trying to practice Mindfulness for a few years and try to meditate regularly, but I haven't done so outside.

I tried to concentrate on the sounds of the birds and the feel of the breeze on my skin. It took a while to get into it, but when I did it was a lovely experience and very relaxing. To listen only to the birds and not be occupied with my thoughts going round in my head was a great way to clear my mind and put some things into perspective. I think everyone should try this for an inner sense of calm and a deeper connection to the world around us.

Here's a clam picture I created to kind of represent peacefulness in nature.





Day 26

The rain stayed off again today so even though it's a bit cloudy I had my lunch outside. It was only a sandwich, juice and a banana, but it was a welcome change to the usual routine and I think food tastes different out in the open. Why is that? The difference in the air?  🍹🍌

It reminded me very much of when my parents used to take me on picnics in the country when I was a child and when we used to have lunch in the garden in the summer. Back then we seemed to have sunny days all the time and we'd sit in the garden on our folding chairs with the sun umbrella and the table, enjoying the food and the fresh air. We'd be outside all day. I wouldn't come in until it started going dark! (The only problem was the flies landing in our squash. πŸ˜ƒ )




But I couldn't stay outside today. Things need to be done and so I had to tear myself away from the birds flitting about. 🐦



Friday, 23 June 2017

30 Days Wild Days 22 & 23



Day 22

A few years ago, I tried an exfoliating scrub for the first time, but then after only a few weeks of using it, I found out about microbeads and how damaging they are to the environment and aquatic life. The little beads are made of plastic and can hang around in the sea for a long time, being eaten by animals. When I checked the one I had it contained microbeads, so I stopped using it.

Looking around for other types, I noticed that a lot of them also had chemicals in them, parabens, etc. So I thought about trying to make a scrub myself, using the ingredients I'd seen on the label of one. I bought sea salt, an avocado and a lime to experiment with.




I put the avocado flesh and the lime juice into a food processor so it's all mushed up, then I mixed it with the salt and came up with this.




I think it works just like the ones you can buy in shops and it's completely free from all chemicals and plastics, so it won't hurt the environment. All together it only cost me £2.87. Much cheaper than a scrub you can buy and it lasts quite a while providing I keep it in the fridge. 

I don't expect everyone to make their own scrub, but please check the label on anything you buy to make sure it has no plastic microbeads in it, only natural exfoliants. If you do try to make your own, I'm sure there are lots of websites out there with information, but please note that if you try this one, you do so at your own risk. I made this for myself so I don't know how it will work for anyone else. 😊


Day 23

"I've looked at clouds from both sides now....." 🎼 πŸŽ΅πŸŽΆ 🎹🎸 πŸ˜€

Yes, I've taken photos of different types of cloud - all in the sky around my garden within about 15 minutes. It's amazing how many types can be in the sky at once, from whispy thin tendrils to big puffy cotton wool mountains and soft looking blankets. 

If you look closely at this one, you can see the small speck of a fly that flew past just as I took the photo. Just below it, the cloud looks a bit like the head and neck of a dragon I think. 🐲






I love the way the sun is shining on the clouds here. The bright spot was a reflection on the lens. 










A hill with a castle on top? (to the right.)




These clouds look like waves in the sea to me.



A link to the Wildlife Trusts: wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

30 Days Wild Days 20 & 21


Day 20

I found this caterpillar on a rose yesterday. I've seen this type of caterpillar before but I'm not sure what species it is. I think it's a moth rather than a butterfly. I love to know that these creatures are living and growing in my garden, even if they eat my plants! πŸ˜‰





Day 21

Today, on the summer solstice, I saw this bee having a rest on a leaf. She's the only one to stay still long enough for me to take her photo.




A few weeks ago before 30 Days Wild began, I saw a bee in the garden which wasn't moving at all. I gave her a gentle nudge with a blade of grass and she moved her leg, so I knew she was still alive, but maybe tired. A while ago I'd read that you can help tired bees by giving them a sugar and water solution, so I mixed some up, put it on a shallow saucer and held it in front of her.

Within just a few seconds she stretched out her proboscis in search of the solution and drank quite a lot of it with breaks in between. She began to move around then and to buzz her wings, so I put her safe on a plant. When I checked later, she was gone, so I hope she had recovered and flown off.

I wish I had a photo of her, but I didn't have my camera with me and when I thought of it I was holding the saucer for her. πŸ˜ž  I'm really glad I was able to help her though. Our bees need as much help as they can get.

With just over a week of 30 Days Wild left, there's still lots of time to do Random Acts of Wildness and you can find more ideas on the website: wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild   πŸ˜ŠπŸ’šπŸŒΌπŸπŸŒ»πŸŒ·πŸŒ³πŸ¦πŸšπŸΎπŸπŸž