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Friday, May 25, 2007

Langland Bay and Rotherslade

I had an appointment at midday yesterday, about doing some voluntary IT work for a local charity. Afterwards, I took a trip over to Morrisons, as I didn't need anything too heavy or bulky this week. I was home by 14.45, with a day ticket begging to be used again. I decided to head for Langland, probably my last visit there for a while, as it's bound to start getting very busy there, soon.

When I got there, it was overcast and murky, but luckily, the fog which was in abundance earlier in the day, had dissipated. I made my way to the beach via Langland Bay Road, and took this first shot not long before I reached the hairpin bend.

As I approached the bend, I heard a kid saying 'beep beep' behind me, and as I stood aside, two lads of around eleven went past on a bike. The pillion rider waved at me, smiled sweetly and said 'hiya'. I'm afraid he went unanswered, apart from a lame smile, because my gob fell open. Usually, what I get from kids his age, if I walk along Swansea Prom, is 'ow ew, f**k off out the way, ya fat tw*t". It's such a sad indictment on our times, that a child being nice and friendly, is a cause for shock. As he went past, I really thought he was about to start some trouble, or yell insults, but no, he was genuinely a nice, old-fashioned kind of kid. God, I hope I can afford to shift to a nice neighbourhood one day.

I met a cyclist of a rather less pleasant disposition as I carried on down the hill. I spotted this massive swathe of red valerian on a wall, and decided to photograph it. I could see a woman of about 55-60 riding towards me, and decided it would be polite to let her pass before I aimed my camera. After all, I wouldn't want some stranger accidentally photographing me. Alas, she took my lowering of the camera the wrong way, and thought I was annoyed at her presence. Well, the old witch gave me an evil glare, dismounted, and pretended to rifle through her backpack for the next five minutes, all the while giving me sly looks. What a sad, petty old fart. I just calmly waited until she gave up, got back on her bike, and pedalled off, still giving me evils.

Just before I entered the wooded area, close to the seafront, I spotted a large clump of Dyer's Bugloss. Alas, this shot does the flowers no justice.

In the same wooded area, I also spotted a phenomenally tall, straight tree trunk, that seemed to stretch right up into the heavens. I tried to get a pic of it, but traffic had picked up, and it consisted mainly of boy racers, who all accelerated at terrifying speeds, upon reaching the foot of the hill. So I decided it wasn't worth the risk, as some of them whizzed past frighteningly close. As I exited that tree-lined stretch, I turned left, alongside the tennis courts, going towards the promenade. I spotted some more valerian, and was delighted to see a clump that featured the less common white variety.

As I strolled along the path, in a westerly direction, I spotted many large clumps of this daisy-like flower, some of it even sprouting from the seaward side of the sea wall. I have no idea what it's called, even though I have a huge clump of it tumbling down my own front wall. Any ideas, anyone? It flowers late spring to early summer every year, has pinkish-lilac petals around a bright yellow centre, and each flower is about the size of a two pound coin.

There were a few pleasure boats anchored in the bay, which made a nice change to the tankers which usually loom on the horizon.

There seems to be a fair bit of construction and regeneration work going on at Langland. I hope they don't overdo it. It's a pleasant, very accessible bay for those of us with mobility issues, and it would be a shame to see it turn into a mini-Benidorm. It already looks a little over-developed to me, although the beach huts give the place character and a touch of Victorian charm.

One gripe I have about the place. Why on earth has the council, or whoever, dumped masses of loose rocks and pebbles between the beach and most of its flights of access steps? Do these fools not realise how difficult, and exceedingly painful, not to mention dangerous, it is for anyone with any kind of spinal or mobility issue, to scramble over such a nightmarish obstacle? To make matters even worse, many of these heaps of rocks have been placed on sloping ground, adding to the agony. I had to walk almost to the end of the promenade, to find the only flight of steps that led directly on to sand.

I'm glad I did go onto the beach. Although it looks like a pretty average beach from above, once you start walking along, you quickly realise it's a lot more interesting than first impressions suggest. The tide was out, so I was able to walk along from Langland to Rotherslade. I spotted dozens of rock pools I had no idea existed. I'm a big kid when it comes to rock pools, so I set off to investigate them, camera at the ready.

I was fascinated by the heavily encrusted rocks. I spotted hundreds of limpets clinging to them. I also saw another formation beneath the limpets, and wondered if I'd come across honeycomb worm colonies. But I think the smaller encrusted forms are barnacles. I know very little about marine life, so forgive me if I've got it wrong.

Amongst the barnacles, I spotted a bright yellow shell - any idea what lives inside it? And what's that beneath the barnacles? Just natural rock erosion? Or some other life form?

Is this shell just a variant on the one above, or a separate species?

This next shot sadly does no justice whatsoever to this rather lovely shell I spotted in a pool.

I kept coming across clusters of these vile, slimy-looking reddish-brown things in the rock pools, usually just poking out from the edge of a rock. I had absolutely no idea if they were animal, vegetable or mineral, but got it into my head that they were giant, blood-sucking sea leeches, and started giving them a wide berth. Are there giant, blood-sucking sea leeches? Probably not.

Then, I spotted some of the potential bloodsuckers, and they were all displaying either flowery fronds or tentacles. I ruled out the mineral option at this point, but still have no idea if they're plants or animals. Anyone know?

When I reached Rotherslade, I was mortified to see that the only way I could get off the beach was to clamber over yet another mountain of scree, before I reached the steps. By the time I got off the beach, my spine was badly jarred and I was in agony. So I sat on one of the deep steps below the Rother's Tor cafe for a while. It was lovely and peaceful there, just the sound of the waves, a couple of ravens and gulls, and the occasional snippet of conversation from across the beach

The sun finally peeped out from the clouds, and it became gorgeously hot, and I basked in it for a while, cursing the fact I'd have to leave soon. I didn't want to miss the last bus from Langland Corner, or I'd have had to walk down to Newton Road, with a jarred back.

As I enjoyed my last few minutes at Rotherslade, I suddenly thought up a photographic experiment. The lenses of my sunglasses are a smoky brown colour. So I decided to see what would happen if I held them in front of my camera's lens, like a filter, and took a few shots. You can see the results on A Picture of Gower.

As I was about to leave, I took a sneaky shot of these two ladies, playing a ball game. Every time I've been to Langland in recent months, they've been there, playing away, stopping occasionally to sit on the beach, chat and smoke.

I didn't relish the climb up the steps, as I looked up at this apartment block high above me. Is it my imagination, or has the building of this thing rather spoilt Rotherslade?

As I slogged up Rotherslade Road, I was horrified to see a bus shoot past, and had to wait another fifteen minutes for the next one, which shocked me by arriving precisely on time. That's a rare occurrence for First Cymru.

When I got home, I was surprised to see my garden, which I've done nothing to this year, looking quite presentable. I normally remove weeds, but I've left all the non-invasive flowering ones where they are this year, and they've proved an asset, especially the valerian

Anyway, I've waffled on long enough now. My next planned expedition is hopefully Margam Park - but not until the kids have gone back to school. I hate going anywhere that's overrun with kids.


Jeremy said...

Hi Siani,
Nice account; enjoyed reading it. I was at Three Cliffs Bay today, which looked lovely in the evening sunlight.
Your slimy jelly things look like some sort of sea anemone, maybe Beadlet Anemone.
Pink flowers may be some variety of Erigeron glaucus, or Sea Daisy.
I`m no expert, though!

Siani said...

Thanks Jeremy - I didn't realise I'd waffled on for so long until I'd finished it. Thanks for the pointers re: the unidentified species - I now know the pink flowers are indeed a species of Erigeron glaucus, commonly known as the beach aster. And after much searching for pics of beadlet anemones - yes, you're right, that's what the slimy things are, but with their tentacles retracted.

jams o donnell said...

Nice stuff Siani. I have white valerian sticking up from a little patch of dirt in front of the house.

I bought a specialist macro lens yesterday so I am loking forward to trying tome heavy duty close up work. I'll probably need to shell out a few hundred for a ring flash to use it to its ful extent though

Cennad said...

Hello Siani,
I can't believe that Langland hasn't changed in 55 years! Except for that 'condominium' where the hotel used to be at Rotherslade.
The big shells look like whelks and the spiral is a species of winkle. Your penultimate pic is a real winner.
Jeremy may well be correct- another name is Fleabane. But probably a cultivar, so Meri tells me. Very like an Aster.