Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The weakness of my language...

Michel De Montaigne, On Books (from the collection On Solitude)

I took this a couple of months ago, as I did most of the photographs in this post, they're the meant to posts of this years spring (well, February through May), fittingly and finally organised and shared as I prepare to leave Swansea as an inhabitant, hopefully for good.
I'll put in the occasional bit of text-explanation, but for the most part I'm showing a visual record of the ups, downs and plateaus of the last few months. I've had dozens of different plans, obsessions and distractions, none of which have helped in my preparation to leave, indeed all of the  related paraphernalia unique to each fix have only really served as physical burdens and small financial wastes (the newest example of a fixation would be tile painting, those tiny pots of humbrol enamel paint, the varnish etc,. etc,.).

We (S, M and I) moved into a lovely flat on the 7th February. Having personally been in-between places since graduating the previous summer, I had foolishly assumed that this new and expected settled state of living would soothe all previous feelings of anxiety and unease that I'd failed to explain or force away since the aforementioned summer.

But with a new and fixed (for a sixmonth at least) abode comes new worries, rent and bills and tax which you're directly responsible for rather than kindly contributing towards, the panic of not making enough money to break even for the month, in a part time job that's far better for the mental health than the awful full-time experience as an Amazon automaton had been. But then you make just over the council tax line, so the survival doesn't work so much when the food/safety money is now taken up elsewhere. But I do need the bins collected and the streets cleaned. Not by seagulls, but, ok... I became preoccupied with the idea of making a patchwork quilt. As yet I'm still collecting/preparing materials and the time is now ten to leaving. I don't have a sewing machine either. Stupidity.

At least it's a nice place, neurotic and bastard-free (for me at least!). It's important to bloody love the people you live with, I honestly would have broken down if I didn't have S and M to come home to, Tea and semi-sanity, what I love best. We had a grey Wagtail (very yellow despite the name, but the yellow Wagtail is yellower still and so claims the fame in it's name) come to the strip of damp green behind the flat, hard to get a good shot of the fella as the name says it all, that tail will wag and wag. Every morning before Uni I used to drink my tea alone with the Wagtail. It's not common for a grey wagtail to visit a garden, they like pools, but ours was damp enough, for a while. When the Wagtail stopped coming, I won't lie, I was foolishly downhearted.

I put up a little feeding station that was a big hit with the tits however!

It's the little things in life after all, indeed the little things like snorting at "a big hit with the tits"...
On Saturday the 18th February Soph and I went on a biscuit (gluten free vegan digestives), peanut butter and jam errand, after which we stopped off in Dynevor for a machine-generated cuppa and a snack, afternoon tea in a deserted room at the end of the photography corridor, looking out on to the car park. We failed to register the significance of everybody (weekend life-drawing class) leaving the building at 16:30. We forgot to move until the darkness outside registered instead, by that time in Feb it was coming on for 18:30, and our movements set off the alarm system. We had been locked inside the building. Intruders armed with confectionery tuned to a sensitive digestive system. Badass. The security guard at the desk had apparently turned off the system and failed to check the room where the sensors had detected our movements, because after the alarm stopped we were free for a while to wander around a deserted building. We made for the WC to relive our bladders in all the excitement. After which we were escorted by the friendly guard to the gate at the back of the car park. Unfortunately he was unable to unlock a gate he had himself only recently locked. What followed was an impressive bit of scaling on our parts, never seen any facade cleared so gracefully.

Those exploits aside, our first month in wasn't exactly a riot for S and M, the latter still being overlooked in every job application and the former mired in final year uni-work and family-mourning, it was her birthday-time too. This is us two on that day, S and I, looking so at ease and not at all shifty. 

The day after this, S spent with her family, and the following few. M worked on his website and I wandered and wandered, trying to occupy my stupid worry mongering mind. I ended up in Plantasia, for some reason they thought I was from the Evening Post because I had a camera and notebook and it was dead inside (apart from all the good life of course). I did not lead them to think otherwise. This is what I saw, but alas, readers of the Post did not.

Spot the Hippo

Lorikeet feathers I picked up and cleaned.


Elegant Parakeet

Rainbow Lorikeets

Zebra Finches

Elegant Parakeet feathers also found on the birdhouse floor.

Sadly not in Plantasia, on the walk home, chap making an exhibition of 'imself.

The next day, a Monday I went to meet Mat, but my afternoon student didn't have a lecture, so I hung about longer than lunch, and discovered an awesome book in the resource "library" there.

Fixation 1

M started volunteering in the Environment Centre, so on Mondays during students I'd walk down from Dynevor and share a salad and a cuppa with him, and pick up Birds of the World by Oliver L Austin. One week (it's a large book, so you can't get through it in one 40 minute break) I came across the Luzon bleeding heart Pigeon/Dove, what an amazing creature!? Google it I implore of you, such amazing plumage, like it's been shot! And scientists don't quite know why, because the obvious reason of sexual enticement doesn't seem to fit when compared to some of the elaborate repertoire of displays particular to Galliformes...

Not only are the illustrations beautiful, but the writing is so involved and impassioned, it was published in the 60s, Rhodesia and Ceylon still existed, and so did opinion in books on the Natural World, detachment is a more modern symptom maybe..

Trogons are fantastic birds, I've had a thing for them since I was 16, an old friend died in the summer, and for months I stayed awake the night through downloading photographs of birds and trying to categorise them in my own way, I held fast to the Trogons, especially the Resplendant Quetzal, not least because I dreamt of an isolated wooden tree house of my own in the forests of Belize... The writing on the Trogons in Birds of the World has to be the best bit of nature writing I've read, enjoy, I hope.

Different strokes for different folks I guess!

The Monday I first discovered the book, following from my exploits in the Plantasia birdhouse, picking up tiny Lorikeet feathers from the floor, I had natural-explorer-curator-fever. We went to the Swansea Museum because I hadn't been in a while, and M fancied the Scott/Edgar Evans exhibition.

Proud of myself...

Colouring in and jigsaws, yes sir!

I fell in love with these little boxes.

Thinking about these little boxes, the shells I'm prone to pick up, the feathers from Plantasia, along with the feathers gathered around the wetlands centre in Machynys, made me realise my tendency, or need, to collect items as tokens of proof of my existence. Sounds extreme. It has come up time and again, my need to prove I've done things, photographs, ticket stubs, quotations, always saved and stored, never scrap-booked as it were. This is my scrap book of sorts I guess, my crap book. I understand it's not a behavior unique to me, but I need to keep bringing it up, as I'm at risk of becoming a serious hoarder, and I don't have the money or space to let that go unchecked! I think if I lived in a city with more in the way of artistic/nature-themed archives this might do well to curb the urge to archive at home.

A made it to the top!
S: sexy face.

A and S, lovelies.

I was lucky enough to be taken to some lovely places this spring, lucky enough to live so near and to know some lovelier people. Those above are from an 11th March Sunday afternoon walk in three cliffs, with A and S, complete with root beer and nuts! Such a great way to end a day. I was feeling rubbish at this time, but doing everything right, exercising three times a week at the gym, and walking and cycling in-between days, I eat very well, and forced myself out of bed every day. Nothing. Convinced I don't need Pharmaceuticals, resigned to "that's life", what else can you do? Develop distracting peculiarities I suppose. Categorizing the seashore, collecting talismans, photographing death, these could be some.. 

Trusty Reds.

D: on the rocks.

Dead Dogfish, there were at least 3 below me, a ways.

One Thursday after uni finished, not for the first time I was at a loss, I have no idea why that panics me so, but the thought of being spotted doing nothing scares me slightly, I don't know why I always assume a guilty frame of mind, it's not good for the nerves this thinking you're a constantly scrutinised K! So M and D were going climbing to Rhossili and let me tag along, I took a book, binoculars, and tea. We saw a harbor Porpoise, I saw a Cormorant, there was a Kestrel, and lots of clownish Goldfinch, neither of which I photographed, because you don't think of cameras in times like those.. These above are through the binoculars as I was far away, and feeling voyeuristic. D looks a cool creature through a lens this way. Ships do, too.

On the way to the cycle track from home, Magnolia!
Mumbles to Bracelet Bay.
Bracelet Bay on Sunday the 25th March.

By Night in Chile, read it all in the cliff top wind, brilliant.

Aside from the Cycle/Walks I wandered on a few Bus/Walks too, over Easter (March 30 - April 24 for my students) I didn't have any work, so I took the plunge and bought a weekly First Cymru bus ticket for £20. It's valid for 7 days, so everyday apart from 2 completely rained-off days I went wandering alone, apart from the day M and I took the bus to Kidweli Castle. I walked miles with backpack and binoculars, wet and dry weather clothes, map and sustenance. What follows are some photographs. At the time I made copious lists of what birds and how many I saw each day. There were so many notes in my phone (another of my habits is deleting messages after replying to them, I used to save everything, but it had to stop, now, it's a kind of self-imposed rule to delete what I can) that I just made one big list of all the birds I saw, I might add it somewhere.

South American Comb duck.
Bewicks Swans, shy.
North American Wood Duck (A.K.A Carolina Duck.)
Red-breasted goose.
Yes, that is a blurry Greater Spotted Woodpecker on a birdfeeder!
One-eyed Nene, also blurred. 

That was Machynys at the beginning of April. The following were mostly taken around the village of Angle in Pembrokeshire. My parents have a little second hand touring caravan that they use as a static, behind the Old Point House pub. The view is amazing though. During this time I talked at length with my father about feeling restless, and he shared his own distraction remedy with me. Right after my last lesson before Easter break I got a phone call while shell-shopping on the beach in Swansea; "get on the 16:01 train to Pembroke, pick you up from there when it gets in". The train journey was so good! So much light and life. When I got there we took  a tireless dog to the beach for an evening stroll. 

What did you say?!
Nuthin'? Di'n't think so.
Doing his awesome "cereal isn't just human food" sadface.
Morning walk to the lifeboat station.
Not a bad little view.
Pembroke excursion, sexy car, twas divine from the rear...
Mencap gardens with dad, rawr!

This we came across in the woods near Ystrad home.

These last photographs to come are from the time I spent alone in the caravan with M. The weather wasn't great, but we went for a walk every day, drew, watched films and coloured on my jeans. We also hatched a plan to get an Eurail pass and travel Europe over 2 months in the summer when my work would be over. Unfortunately the pass would have been too expensive for the two of us as M would be 25+ on July 8.

This is a map of Europe I printed off in A4, and became a little intoxicated in sticking/fitting it all together. Europe is huge! We since came upon a cheaper and less ambitious journey.

M in the Rape

M on the rocks.
Caravan skies.
Irish Ferries
Mackerel comes from a tin. Truth.

M and I around Kidweli Castle;

Solo bus days and Swansea walks;

Marina: loads of tiny fish

Each separate set were taken in one day/journey. Here's Swansea-sad-windy-walk (try and say it fast, go on?!).

Swansea- Rhossili - Oxwich - Swansea

Dead Flora
Dead Rabbit
Dead Lamb
Tor Bay
Masked  Crab (there were hundreds)

Sea Potato! 

Pheasant on a farmer's land.

Correct bus stop, finally!


Swansea - Merton - Horton - Oxwich - Swansea

Lovely bit of marsh on the way down to Horton.

Horton in the sun after it rained in the woods.

Nice weather for a walk around to Oxwich (abt 4Miles)

From index nail tip to thumb nail tip, unintentionally, then around the point..

Drunk on my love!

Lliwiau Llachar.



Oxwich nature reserve bird hide, finally!

On the other drizzly bus days I went to the Millennium Wetlands centre again with my binoculars, I'm a member of the Wildfowl and Wetlands trust, so it's free, and sheltered in the hides. I'm photo-less from these days because I was too absorbed with the birds and their accouterments. I did other things too. Honest. I think I'm going to end with some photos taken on recent walks with A. The most recent of which was towards Carreg Goch, near Fan Hir and Cribbarth. There's a crashed WW2 bomber that went down in the fog on a training exercise in 1944 I think.




A with a Rhea of sorts.

These last photographs are from a day last week when I walked up to Cefn Coed Hospital to meet my Father after he worked an afternoon shift there, to get a lift home to Ystradgynlais.

I don't mind walking up that there way, it reminds me of walking to work last summer for the painting and decorating job, it was a good job. It was also a time when S, AB, J and I would occasionally drive to the sunrise some Sundays. J tells me AB is to leave Swansea too. I don't see her much these days, but I can't help feeling we should mark/symbolize this departure somehow. S will also leave for Cardiff mid summer, and J sometime for Hong Kong. 

I haven't been submerged in seawater yet this year.