31 July 2019

Visit by sister part III

My sister's trip was coming to an end! I thought. But we had the whole Friday. We didn't want anything all too steep, still after Wednesday's carnage, so I settled on a loop from the parking lot in Cwm Eigiau. After doing to much bushwhacking I wanted solid paths this time. So I thought we could walk all the way down to Rowlyn Uchaf, cross into Pant y Griafolen, then walk up the valley to the two reservoirs there and then walk along the hill back to the cars. And so we did! I knew the path into Pant y Griafolen could be a bit sloshy but as far as I remembered, it was never not there at all. We just didn't want to cross from one valley to the other anywhere else because the suggestion on the map didn't exist!

We did the walk. The weather was nice! Sometimes cloudy and blustery, sometimes sunny but always nice. And the walk was good! It's true that the walk into the valley is a bit same-ish (and indeed a bit swampy) but as it is beautiful all the way that's OK. And there were mines along the way! The first was close to the path so Marieke kindly pointed out she wouldn't object to me having a look. She even came along! There wasn't much to see, but I hadn't been before, so I was glad we did it. And we hardly met anyone! Only at the farm where I wanted to cross the river was there a farmer with a quad bike, and where we started on the long straight walk in we saw a car with some pensioners pass. And when we could see the parking lot we saw ant-sized people in the distance. That was it!

The dirt track leading to the other valley

A stile as a lookout tower

Cooling my feet at the stream coming into Llyn Dulyn. Pic by Marieke

Llyn Dulyn

Dulyn Slate Mine

I found an adit! Pic by Marieke

Almost back at the car

When we got home we had the chanterelles of the day before. They were lovely! And as well, things changed. My sister's plane turned out to be overbooked. And she had been keen to stay another day. The heatwave, of which we had only had tow ( not even adjacent) days, was still engulfing Helsinki (where she lives) and she doesn't like heat waves. Anymore. I can still remember one during our childhood and I was zonked but she was fine! But one changes. So as the weather forecast for Wales was cool the whole weekend she didn't mind staying a bit longer. So she phoned the airline and sorted it. That meant we had the Saturday too!

That Saturday a few chores needed doing; I had to pick up my bike from the bike shop, and we needed to do some non-Bethesda shopping. But when that was done we could go for a walk! And I figured we could do Moel Siabod. Over a path, this time. We drove up to Capel Curig; Marieke got to see how parking in the Ogwen Valley gets out of hand on a summer Saturday. We parked up at Pont Gyfyng and started our way up. I had been up to the quarry before, but not beyond. And now I knew the path continued, even though the OS map doesn't show that. It was a bit cloudy but that was OK. The top was not in the fog!

It was a bit of a slog up but we got there. And the path was rather clear all the way! This is clearly the way to do it. We didn't linger and went down again. The path down is quite a scar!

Approaching the slate mine on the flank 

The view north from near the top

When we got close to Capel Curig we first bumped into some young ladies in T-shirts. They didn't seem to be carrying much luggage. It was actually raining a bit. They asked what it was like at the top. When we said 'a bit windy' they weren't discouraged. But a few minutes later we bumped into two blokes. We were really close to Capel Curig now! They were also in T-shirts, and they had no more than a bumbag for luggage. They wanted to know if it was still far! Well, it was. I don't know if the women made it but I would be tempted to put money on that the blokes didn't. Snowdonia on a Saturday in summer!

We walked back to the car while the rain got stronger. It didn't matter! We went home. The weather made my sister extra happy she was still here, as she would have boiled in Finland!

The day after was only a stub end. In the morning the plumber came (blog post later), and when he was gone there was only so much time left for a walk. We just did a small loop in the area! It would have to do. And then Marieke made sandwiches for the long trip, and I brought her to the railway station. And waved goodbye!

I can't possibly remember when I had a guest for that long! But it went well! And we did some amazing walks. And we caught up like nothing on Earth! I mean, writing letters is nice but it's not the same as having a week to just talk. We could do this more often...

30 July 2019

Visit by sister: part II

The first part of the week had been good! One epic hike, a slow day, and a partial day. On Wednesday we would do the BIG walk! It wouldn't be as long as the walk to Aber Falls but it was expected to feel that long at least. We wanted to go to Pen-y-Pass and walk back. And there is such a thing as the Snowdon Sherpa: a bus service especially for that sort of thing. We wanted to take that so we set an alarm. We were atypically ready by 8AM! Only to realise the bus only goes on Sunday. Oh dear. But we phoned a cab and he brought us after all, about five minutes after calling him. So by 9AM we started from Pen-y-Pass! And of ours the place was packed but hardly anyone goes up to the Glyders rather than Snowdon. We had the slope to ourselves!

We started out with nice views. But we had on purpose picked a cloudy day for this hike, as we did not want to boil, or burn to a crisp. So along the way we caught up with the clouds! A pity but it was nice and cool. And the path seemed to disappear. If it's still there we lost it. But after what felt like an eternity we reached the ridge! Time to sit down and have some lunch. And figure out where we were.

The Pyg Track seen from the start of our walk

Reaching the ridge

We knew we were on the ridge but where? We had missed the path and we couldn't check with any landmarks in the fog. But we knew we were on the ridge, so I figured we should walk north until we hit the cliff and then walk west and later a bit north. That way we would go in the right direction! But then I also wondered if my app 'footpath' knew where I was. And it did! We were slap bang on Glyder Fawr. And it told us exactly where the path to Llyn y Cwn was. Handy!

Soon we were on the steep rocky descent to the lake. It's not easy going! But we could see the lake. And after the lake we sat down for some more food while letting some other walkers go past. Then we went up y Garn, and walked the easy terrain after it until Foel Goch. Then we had to get down and up again to Mynydd Perfedd. By then we were sort of done with all the up and down! But we still had to get to Carnedd y Filiast and then down. Especially the latter would be tricky! The path is very narrow and easy to lose.

The ridge down y Garn

The smoother terrain after y Garn 

View from near the top of Garnedd y Filiast

It was a bit trying to get off the ridge. But we did it! And then we only had to walk home over my running route. We even went past the supermarket. And were home by seven! A long day. Luckily we had left-overs in the fridge and we did not have to cook. And we were in bed on time!

The day after we were very stiff in the legs. And it was another scorcher. So we didn't do much! Marieke wanted to go into Betws y Coed to buy souvenirs for the people back home, and she didn't mind me not joining but sitting in the shade on the riverbank instead. And then we did a small walk in the Gwydyr forest. It was so hot that when we walked past a gated mine entrance we both couldn't resist crouching in it and enjoying the cold air blowing past! And the rest of the trip was most notable for the fact we found more chanterelles than we could fit inside our lunch boxes. Nice! Good to have a mushrooming sister.

Walking past Llyn y Parc

The day after the weather would be OK again and our legs would have rested. So we could be back at it!

29 July 2019

Visit by sister: part I

My sister would come an entire week! I hoped the weather would be good. The last time she visited in the middle of a heatwave. And that was sub-ideal! It was too hot for long walks, and it was too hot to sleep comfortable. But this time could be different!

She arrived on the Sunday, after the hectic day I had had buying a car. But it meant I could pick her up from the railway station! I took her home and showed her the house. It looked decidedly different than the previous time! And we would be more comfortable.

I expected she would kick me out into the hills immediately, as she really likes her walks. But that was unfounded! She was up for a walk but not within three minutes of her walking through the front door. We went for a modest walk in the direction of Tregarth. Not spectacular, but sufficient! And I had gone that way in December but everything looked different now.

Coming across some charming locals

Nice cloud above the hills behind Bethesda

She had offered to cook for the week. One of the reasons was that she was targeting some foodstuffs and avoiding others for reasons of health. And why would I object! She is a better cook than me (not that it is hard) and it's nice to be cooked for. And her dietary requirements suited me fine!

On the Monday we would do a proper hike. I had wanted to walk from home to Aber Falls and back! And she was up for it. We would walk a loop, going near the coast on the way out (where I had walked with Wim and Joke last year, but in the other direction) and on the other side of the ridge on the way back. I had last been at Aber Falls with Roelof, and I had seen the path going up alongside it. Now we could take it!

It was quite a walk to the start of the valley. And it blew a hoolie! As well, we missed a junction (it must have been quite invisible) so we didn't quite walk the way we intended. Afterwards, though, we were glad we had walked the way we had. It was beautiful and not so busy!

Immediately after the falls we found the path up the hill. And it was lovely! We also were entertained by an enormous and beautiful dragonfly that was flying around and dipping its bum into puddles on the path all the time. Was this a female laying eggs? Probably!

Behind the waterfall was a beautiful valley. We needed s spot there to cross the river. Trickier than I had expected! And I managed to drop my water bottle in the river. That was gone forever. Oh dear! But the path was clear. Until the next ford. And the next. Bit not beyond that! We were tired by then but we had to bushwhack for a bit. Uphill. Luckily we fairly soon got to y Gyrn and from there it's a smooth walk back home. We were tired now! But the day after it would be very hot, so we would not want to walk such a distance. It had been some 19 km and that's a lot if too much of it isn't on a path! And there is a fair amount of up and down.

Both water falls seen from the start of the path up

The dragonfly

Approach of the waterfall

The valley behind

From ford to ford

The day after I started my day early to sneakily do some work-related stuff; this will get its own blog post. I left the house at 5.30, was back at 9.00, and had a nice second breakfast (I had eaten some sarnies during the work). It wasn't a day to do any further extreme things as far as I was concerned! But a nice walk is always good so we picked something modest but pretty. We went to a parking lot a bit north of Beddgelert, to walk to Cwm Pennant (where I had been with Monique) through the woods. We didn't get very deep down as it was too hot! And we still had Aber Falls in our legs.

Pretty bridge

Past the lake

Looking sideways into Cwm Pennant 

Looking up in the direction of Rhyd Ddu

When we got home we had about a third of the visit behind us! It felt so fast. I am generally a difficult growling loner who can't stand people in her territory, but Marieke is different. We always have something to talk about, we manage things constructively, and we let each other do our thing. For instance, she inexplicably has no urgent urges to sit in comfortable chairs. Really strange! I certainly do. But then I just go and sit in a comfortable chair myself. And that's OK!

28 July 2019

Bike goes for annual service

With moving to Bethesda my approach to bikes changed! As I now has a sizeable bike commute, I wanted a good fast bike for the first time in my life. But in order to keep it good and fast you have to maintain it. I have less than half the skills, and not enough of the time, so I decided I should bring it in to the local bike shop for maintenance once in a while. How often I wasn't quite sure. But after about a year the brakes became very, very noisy; that was a sign of dirt and wear. So the time had come! And then when my sister would visit I figured I wouldn't need it for a week so I could book it in. And I did!

My plan had been to chuck it in the back of the car and deliver it like that. But the car had just died the night before! So I had to bike it in. And it was forecast to be the rainiest day of the month. Just my luck. But a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do! So in the morning I got on the bike in a shortish skirt (what you don't wear doesn't get wet), waterproof covers (well, that's what they were sold as) over my shoes, and my waterproof jacket and went into the downpour. I was about to leave Bethesda city limits when it dawned on me I might not have my wallet on me. And I didn't! Oh dear. I had to turn back and try again. By the time I got home I was already quite wet. I had little to lose.

The bicycle shop is in the southwestern edge of Bangor. The bicycle path brings me to the northeastern end. So I had to find a new route! And I have a thingy with which you can fix a map to your handlebars but I haven't manage to find that since moving house, so the map had to go into the bag. I would have to remember what was on it. What could possibly go wrong.

I biked to Caerhun without issues, And there I spontaneously forgot to turn right. That lead to me ending up at the Vaynol Arms in Pentir. Oh dear! I then decided to go back a bit and go north past the electrical station (or what do you call these). It was a lovely route! But it had a tree lying on the road. Luckily my road bike is small and light and I could lift it through/over without too much hassle. Then I took another wrong turn but that didn't matter. And then I finally got to where I should have ended up in the first place.

All dripping I presented my bike. The bloke said it needed new brake pads, a new chain, new ball bearings and possibly a new cassette. This commute is heavy on the poor old thing! But that's exactly the reason why I brought it in. He advised me to replace the chain regularly. That saves you having to replace the cassette too often! My chain was all stretched.

Bike in position for a check-up

While he sorted the paperwork I took off the show covers. My shoes were soaked anyway! And after he'd given me the paper slip I started my way to the office. The bike shop is south of the hill most of Bangor is built on, so I had to cross it. I knew there was a path from there to hospital, so I took it. It was pretty! And from the hospital you can (when on foot) take a one-way street down on the other side. And then cross the bridge. By the time I arrived I was soaked. I had made sure I had dry clothes on me!

The path from the bike shop to hospital

Later that day I hitched a ride home from Kate. And the next week I wouldn't bike as my sister would be visiting (blog post to follow). And the weekend after I picked it up again. In my new car! And with the back seats down it fit in without taking the front wheel off. Good! They had replaced the chain, the back cassette, some ball bearings, some gear cables, and whatnot. Oh yes the handlebar tape. Pretty much only the wheels, frame and saddle had remained! And they said it had quite some wear and tear. Maybe next time I bring it a bit earlier! And I can now tell when: I bought a gadget for checking how stretched my chain as when I was there anyway. Not sure I am keen to replace said chain myself. I have done it in the distant past but it's not a chore I like! But I look forward to riding my as-new bike again!

26 July 2019


I saw a film about a Victorian Welsh girl would play in Neuadd Ogwen. That sounded cool! It was called 'Gwen' and I quickly looked up the trailer. Yay, a film with mist and slate and moorland and an encroaching quarry! And it looked like the story was a bit too strong for me; I think daily life is exciting enough. No need to spice it up with, say, murder and helicopters and aliens and car chases and whatnot to make a movie out of it. Not that you have helicopters and aliens and car chases in your average Victorian film but you get my gist. But I could just look at the scenery! So I bought a ticket. And I went.

So what was it like? It looked great! I had no idea where the farm which was the main location was (some light googling afterwards suggests it was in Rhosgadfan, near where I had been walking with Jeff), but the neighbours were clearly the farm at the top of Nant Ffrancon. That only works in films. And there was a nice rock which was clearly in Nant Peris somewhere. And between the farm and the chapel (on the Vaynol estate, apparently) was Dinorwic Quarry. Why not! And the quarry offices were rightly in the Slate Museum.

As I expected, the story was a bit too strong for me. It dealt with the struggle between the (English) quarry owners and the local (Welsh) population. And that struggle was real! The English had the money and the friends in high places and the good lawyers. And they knew it. And their awfulness was mind-boggling. But in this film (I won't go into the details) the quarry owners resort to methods of getting their hands on land that is currently farmed, but into which they want to extend their quarry, that I have never come across in any history books. Why would you get so direct if you have the money and the friends in high places and the good lawyers.

Another thing I wondered about was that the Welsh don't stand together in the film. I have the strong impression there was a solid community spirit! And if you broke that and pandered to the demands of the quarry owners, by for instance breaking strike, you were pretty much seen as subhuman. The big strike ended in 1903 but sentiments still run high on this topic. So I don't think the level of collaboration with the quarry owner is realistic.

And I know it would be a pain to get it all right in a film, but in this one the mine owner goes to chapel with the local population. I don't think so! These mine owners wouldn't have spoken Welsh so why go to a Welsh language chapel. And they were generally Anglican so they would have gone to church. Oh well. I assume there were a lot more things historically inaccurate but it wasn't a historical documentary.

The film is playing three nights in Neuadd Ogwen! Very unusual. Normally they have only one screening of any film. And they even had it on the day it came out nationally. I suppose that as soon as there is a film about a big slate quarry with a bastard of an owner then Bethesda can't contain itself. I suppose it's a big hit in Llanberis too!

25 July 2019

New car

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone! It's true. When my car broke down I became quite aware of how handy it is to have one. First of all, I couldn't throw my bike in the back and deliver it to the bike repair shop. I had to bike in (in the pouring rain, as it happened) and then walk to the office. And with my road bike also gone (be it temporarily) I was even less mobile. And in only three days I wanted to pick my sister up from the railway station. And how can I get to mines without a car? And to the crags for climbing? So I decided I should get one soon.

When my car died on a Thursday night I got home still full of adrenaline, so I started looking for other cars immediately rather than going straight to bed. Something small and affordable! Not necessarily as low-budget as the previous one, but I still don't see the point of buying a car that's so expensive you worry about it. And I texted David. I would need him to help me buy another one!
The next day I settled on Citroen C2 I wanted to see, and tried to make an appointment. It was in Bangor; that's easily biked. And then I can immediately try of the bike fits in the car! Not unimportant. And I wanted David to come with me! And this fell through; before I could mobilise David the car was sold to someone else. Oh well. David indicated he needed a calm weekend but he was willing to provide remote advice. Well, that’s already a good start!

When the C2 was gone I restarted my search. I sent him an ad for a Volkswagen Golf. He didn't like the thing. Too many fails on its MOT history! Then I also saw a Vauxhall Corsa. I asked David what he thought. I had checked its MOT history; it had sailed through every single time. Good! But David would know of more things to look at. But no reply yet! I didn't want to do the same thing as with the C2, though; wait until David is available and see the car be bought from under my nose in the meantime. So I just booked an appointment with the seller. And just hoped David would respond before I would get there! And I had hoped I could bike; I found the car on Facebook Marketplace and they give a rough indication of where the seller is. It said 'Bangor' but I hoped it would be a bit further south. But no; it was on Anglesey, actually; in Pentraeth to be precise. So that was the end of the biking thing. Pentraeth is a bit too far. Especially with my old bike! (Since the new one was at the bike shop for maintenance.)

I took the bus at 9:04. No answer from David yet! In Bangor I had to change buses. I got to Pentraeth at 10:08; that again shows how handy a car can be. Pentraeth is only 20 minutes by car! Anyway. I soon found the bloke, Robert, who had put the car online. It was parked at a garage. And Robert said it had belonged to an elderly relative, who now had given up driving for reasons of eyesight. I know that's what you are supposed to say as someone trying to flog a car but it did fit with the mileage it had done. It was a 12 year old car with only some 60.000 km on the counter! And the car came with a service booklet; it had been annually serviced by this very garage. And what do I know; they migth have done a crap job with it. ! But it looked solid. I asked the guy to take me for a spin and he obliged. All was well!

I had no further questions and decided to just chance it. I would hear from David afterwards what he thought! The bloke took me into the office and we sorted the paperwork. I paid over PayPal. And sorted my car insurance online. Robert gave me a cup of tea. And then it was sorted! We shook hands and off I was. Blimey!

Driving a new car is always a bit awkward. How do the lights come on, where is the reverse, how does the radio work? But I got home without issues. I immediately taxed it. Then I put my university parking permit in and found Radio 4. Done! Ready for the road! And David appeared on the radar again and said that the car looked good. Excellent! I'm sure he'll have a good look next time I see him. I hope he will still like it then!

I'm mobile again. And now I can pick up my sister up by car! And we are not restricted to either walks from the front door, or walks started on the Snowdon Sherpa. We can walk anywhere! And I can also get to the dig and anywhere else. And how I will get large things to the recycling centre is something I will deal with once the situation presents itself! I shall now see how I like the life of a Corsa driver!

For only an hour or so the two cars were parked side by side! 

24 July 2019

Car dies

It has served me some 3.5 years! Not an awful lot I suppose. But it did well! It carried me everywhere without complaining. And it cost me only £640 so I assume it was £200 per year. Excluding tax, insurance, fuel, and repairs. Especially the latter! Blimey I think it cost about £400 to get it through its first two MOTs. But still! Some people buy a car new, for, say, £20.000 and I doubt they get 100 years of driving out of it. I think it did its job!

The car was very big. I bought it when the ThursdayNighter trips required a big car. But times have changed! Back in the days we could either go in one big car with 4 of us or go in more than one car. And with the Picasso the former option was actually an option! But then we stopped going with four people from Anglesey and the car became too big. Although its size was a boon when I moved house! There isn't much my car couldn't transport. But I'm done moving house and have no plans doing it again. That means the car is now way too big! I wasn't sure when to get rid of it. I figured I should wait until my new doors would be delivered. (The house has mainly hideous doors that don't fit so I ordered a new set, made from reclaimed wood.) That would mean the old ones would have to go. And my Picasso would have no problems with a set of doors! Any other car might. So I figured that the moment these doors would have been safely delivered to the recycling centre would be the moment to start looking for a new car. But things didn't go that way.

When we were walking back from Seler Ddu I discussed an issue with my car with Jason. He used to have a Picasso too! And he was rather scathing about it. He liked his Citroen but as soon as anything serious happened it wasn't worth repairing. Hm! Oh well I'd wait for the doors and get rid of it.

Then I drove home. I got to the One Stop petrol station and the engine started sounding a bit off. And it felt off too. Oh dear! And then only a few hundred meter on the engine light came on. Oh dear again! It started smelling weird too. I was worried!

What to do? I decided to see if I would make it home. I was on the A5; over large stretches it's a two lane road with a wall on either side. Break down there and you have nowhere to go! You would be in everybody's way. And it's a winding road too. I have in the past come across cars having broken down there; you see it rather late. So best not to go there! I ploughed on. The car just about managed to get to the maximum speed. And I made it home! I was driving on adrenaline. And I knew this would be the moment I would get rid of my car. I am not driving that thing again! As it is an old thing that's quite rusty and really struggles to get through MOTs I figured it wouldn't even be worth trying to find out what it actually was that was wrong with it. Years ago an AA man had already verbally written it off. And as said, it only had one more task before I wanted to get rid of it anyway! So it would just go. But now I just wanted to get in and rejoice in that I had made it home.

I pretty much immediately started searching for another car, but that's for the next blog post. Considering the old car; I had heard of that you can give these to charity. So I registered mine on giveacar.co.uk and chose a charity. They phoned me back about it, and after figuring out how old the car was they decided they would have it scrapped. I suppose that makes sense. I wouldn't buy this as a car! The sad thing was that they said it would get them the grand total of £13. Oh dear! So much metal, worth so little. Even the Fiesta yielded more (no less than £18!) But even £13 can make an incremental difference so they went for it.

The giveacar people said a scrapping company would get in touch. That happened the next day. And they could pick it up that same day! I quickly removed my parking permit, spare liquids (oil, windscreen wash, antifreeze), mallet (for getting the wheels off), road atlas, satnav and torch from the car, and put the seats and the parcel shelf back in. Ready! I also retrieved the paperwork. And saw if I could drive it backwards a bit. I got two meters before it refused! Oh well. I decided to have a coffee waiting for the scrappers.

They appeared. And they wanted to know if it drove. Eh, well, maybe! But they managed to start the engine and run it. It was clear to them there was something wrong; they said it was running on only a few cylinders. If they say so! Not sure why but it had become an academic question.

They filled out the 'transferring your vehicle' slip and I gave them the rest. And then they were off! They would actually drive the thing to wherever it went. I suppose it's different if you know what's the issue with the car. It turned out of the street and that was it! Thank you, Citroen, for 3.5 good years!


23 July 2019

Back to Seler Ddu

Two years ago Jason had showed us his 'pet' mine Seler Ddu. And as it had been only a few of us then we decided to go back. I drove to Clynnog Fawr where I met the other northerners (Jason travels in from the south). We left my car and Edwyn's cars behind and drove up the little country road where we met Jason. We kitted up (as much as necessary; the mine does not require much kit, and it was a warm evening) and walked up. It is a bit of a slog up the hill! But the views are lovely.

We got to the flooded bit Jason and I had explored the previous time first. Then we went to the 'main' entrance. And we had a scamper around! Ed and Edwyn had not been before. So we had a good scurry around. It's a nice place with arched hand-picked levels and funny lithology. It's a manganese mine and you can see the black, crumbly vain in many places. And we even had a look in a level Jason had never explored as it had always been too wet! Now it wasn't.

Looking at some funny country rock supports. Pic by Jason

 In the otherwise wet level. Pic by Jason

 A crawl. Pic by Jason

In the otherwise wet level the pick-axe marks were all over the place. Generally they all go in roughly the same direction but not here!  Pic by Jason

Coming out. Pic by Jason

We then came out and walked along the hill. We popped into another level with a waterfall in it. And then we looked at a drainage level. We had brought a spade and a pick-axe to see if we could improve the draining. David, Edwyn and Jason had a bit of a prod but decided it wasn't going to yield much. We gave up and went back to the cars!

This had been the last regular ThursdayNighter trip for Ed. Lots of hugs followed! We hope we'll see him again. And we hope he manages to have lots of underground fun in the south!

22 July 2019

Ready for the encyclopaedia

Sorting eleven meters of shelf space is not a trifle! So if you need to make space for a big fat encyclopaedia you have some work on your hands. But I had a lot of wall space. And I had stolen, begged and borrowed some shelving strips and brackets. But then I also needed shelves. And these have to be the right size. Not so easy to pilfer these! So I popped to the local timber merchant. They had plywood sheets. These were 8 by 4 foot. That sounded perfect! I needed shelves 8 foot long and 1 foot deep. So having them saw the thing in strips had me sorted.

I needed 3 long strips (sorted) and a slightly shorter one; I cut that one in the conservatory, and then took them to the office to fit. And it was almost good! I had intended to use one pilfered shelf. And that almost worked. One shelf needed a notch as there was a tube with cables in the way, and a long plank had to have a corner cut out to accommodate the pilfered shelf. So these I took home again! And sorted the adjustments. And brought them back.

I then screwed the old and new plank together. Now they fit perfectly!

The week after I finished it off; I brought a plank from home I and screwed it into a third wall; this shelf is quite shallow but it can take some smaller stuff that's currently in my cupboard. This is deep enough to take bits of the encyclopaedia! So this additional shelf will allow for some more efficiency. Then I also screwed the shelves to the brackets and that was me done!

I have contacted the suppliers of the encyclopaedia to say I was ready to receive the thing. They said they will get in touch soon. Watch this space!

Look at all that space

Precision work!

21 July 2019

Grass instead of ferns

When the ferns and the clump of earth were gone the hard work was done! And now all I had to do was aid nature. I sowed grass and watered the patch. Now I must just wait until the grass is fully grown! I expect that to work out OK. When I had reduced a raised bed in the top bit of the garden, and sown grass there, it came up quickly was was soon fully established.

I had also made a few earth patches in the lawn, trying to fill some depressions. I sowed these too. I hope soon you won't be able to see what I've done!

The grass is appearing!

Goodbye Ed! (And Megan, and Connor, and Ben)

A PhD is only supposed to last three years here! And time flies. So when we got Ed as a PhD student on the BRITICE project more than 3 years ago (a bit of overrunning is not uncommon), and Megan as Jaco's PhD student, and Connor as Katrien's, and Ben as Yueng's, we knew they weren't here to stay. Unfortunately! They are lovely people. They are the bulk of the people I have lunch with. And Ed is of course also a mine exploration mate. But then time flew indeed.

Ed accepted a job in Southampton. Megan has been offered one in Durham. Connor has been offered several; neither in this area. Ben will go to Liverpool. It will be an exodus! And we decided to go for dinner as a goodbye. Ed was the first to actually leave so it was mainly for him, but for the others too.  We went for a curry, and then everyone except Kate and me (we were the oldies) went to the pub afterwards. It's great to see all these people have secured jobs before they've actually finished their PhDs, but we'll miss them!

20 July 2019

Fail entirely to climb in the Ogwen Valley

I wasn't sure how long I would want to be at the graduation reception. Graduation was on a Monday, so it clashed a bit with our club climbing evening. I did think the graduation reception had priority! This is a unique day for the graduating students. I can climb every week. So I  had let the club know I wasn't sure if I would be there, and I might be late, and I would travel independently (no car-sharing this time). But I had seen enough fairly soon so I got home, changed, and drove on to Gwern Gof Uchaf where we would be. But there were no cars. Weird.That meant there were no climbers. But I decided to walk to the crag anyway; maybe they had hovered there? And at least I would be somewhere pretty to eat my sarnies.

I had my dinner on the rock. The view was nice! But then I went back. But when I drove past Gwern Gof Isaf I saw a familiar vehicle. It was Glyn's rather recognisable van! So there were here! Somewhere here.

My dinner location

I decided to stop and look for them. I walked up the public footpath. And then I saw two little figurines on Tryfan Bach! But how to get there? I bushwhacked a bit. And then I heard my name. It was Eirian! One of the climbers. She was just on her way back to the car. She had only come for some fresh air and the view, she said. But she said the path she was coming down on lead past the bottom of the crag. So I went on. And I saw Glyn and Kamal. And the vanishing figure of Ika high up on the slab.

Pretty path towards where the climbers could be

Ika on the crest of the rock

It's a strange crag. It's not very steep at all! I suppose one could scramble it. And it was an area of trad routes, and long ones at that. We didn't have long enough ropes so it was a multi-pitcher for us! And that is an awful lot of faff. Glyn, Kamal and Olivia had just done a route and would do another one just now. They said they could lead and second it and throw a rope down for me, so I could climb too.  Kamal set off. I went up to see if I could scramble along beside him.

Looking down from the scramble up

I went a fair way but I didn't think it looked safe enough to get all the way to the top. I went down again. Kamal was at the top and Glyn started seconding. I got my shoes and harness on; hopefully I would climb soon! But Glyn had to get up to the top of the first pitch, Kamal had to lead on to the top and create a belay, then Glyn had to follow.... it took forever. And then they had to get the rope down to me. Just throwing it down didn't work on a slope like this! The rope just lay on the route, out of reach. They tried again with a bag. That was better! But didn't quite get there either. I wondered if I could scramble to it from the side, but t was difficult to communicate with the chaps out of sight at the top. And it was getting late. And the midges were coming out. So when I saw them pull the bag back up I just let them. No climbing for me today!

Small climbers at bottom of slab

I went down to Eifion and Tony. The others had already left. The men were thinking of a scramble out, but when they felt the midges they decided against. Together we left. Altogether not a very satisfying evening, but I had had dinner with a view, saw some of my friends, and seen Tryfan Bach, which had fascinated me from a distance for years. So it could have been a lot worse! Even though the bushwhacking had left me with a tick (duly removed once home). Next week I won't be climbing, and I hope things go better the week after that!

19 July 2019

Summer Graduation

I had been to a winter graduation once. If you're either on a research contract, or these ad hoc contracts of only a term or so. you don't tend to feel involved enough to go to events like these. But I'm permanent now, and the students who graduate now have been taught by me from the very beginning. So I intend to attend them all! It's nice to see them all robed up and smiling. And I imagine it's nice for them to see lots of their staff to make the effort to be there.

I was early robing up. I got a different robe than last time! I suppose it doesn't matter what they give me. I read some articles until the others arrived and we got into formation. I was glad my robe wasn't overly warm as it was a blazing day! I also had made sure I wore a strappy dress underneath. As little as respectfully possible! And I felt for the men in their suits.

The gown of the day

Gathering in the Council chamber

We got ready and walked in. I ended up on the front row, close to, but generally unobstructed by, the vice-chancellor. And the whole thing is televised. Oh dear! I would have to be at my best behaviour. No picking my nose or yawning or looking bored or any of that! But it's not too difficult; I get carried away by the excitement of the students who parade past to be congratulated by vice-chancellor and chancellor.

At then end there were some special honours handed out. One was for the lady who runs the Sea Zoo here on Anglesey and who did her MSc at the School of Ocean Sciences; she won 'alumnus of the year'. Luckily no posthumous degrees or honours this time! The ceremony lasted some hour and a half. Enough time for everybody in a gown (that's both students and staff!) to get way too hot. It started to smell a bit of overheating people. Oh dear! And then we paraded out. Then the students came out and we could congratulate our own students. Nice! But it was hot outside too, of course. We decided to ditch our gowns and go for a drink. And so we did.

Merriment in the courtyard

There was more merriment there. And I was introduced to the family of one of our former master students. His wife was doing a PhD here so the whole family was in North Wales, even though they were all Tanzanian. And they had given their youngest daughter, who was born here, a Welsh name! That was sweet. And other students spoke of their new jobs or ongoing education.

I hope all new graduates will look back on their time in Bangor, and on this day, with satisfaction! And that many may follow...

18 July 2019

Indoor perks of gardening

Before I cut the grass I picked some flowers that were growing in it. And when I cut the Buddleia to keep the road clear for the neighbour's car (and the occasional other car that goes there) I kept some of the flowers. So now I have flowers in kitchen, living room and bedroom! Very nice...

Start tackling yet another raised bed

I have already planted four raised beds. And one mostly. But there is more! I sometimes go and rip out brambles or goose grass as I don't like them. And that way I had emptied big parts of the raised bed against the back wall. I had emptied many buckets of soil from the pile there so I had given it more attention than normal! And then I also pulled out some other obvious weeds. And now the garden waste bin is full, but the bed is starting to look a lot tidier. And I also found out it is actually two separate beds. This one, and the one in the corner with the apple tree in. Hm! That wasn't clear anymore. I'll have to think about whether I emphasise that again, or give in to the realities that they have grown together.

The bed now mainly has one big shrub in it, and then some other nondescript scrubby things, and then some more weed I didn't have space for in the bin, and some things that may be weeds but they are pretty so they can stay. I'll have to find some nice extra shrubs in the garden centre who don't need too much direct sunlight to fill up the space! This garden is starting to look civilised...

The big shrub in the otherwise largely emptied raised bed