Strait Views On A Winter’s Day

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Look to the horizon, out beyond the oyster catchers and the black-backed gull, and you will see a line of ghostly windmills caught mid-arabesque against the sky. This is the Menai Strait between Anglesey and the North Wales mainland, caught on a December morning last year. We often spend Christmas on the island, though not this year for obvious reasons. And we have often had December days like this – perfect sunshine stillness and warm enough to abandon the winter coat. No wonder the windmills look frozen in space. Not a breath of air to stir them. Only the calls of gulls and waders.

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Our Eyes Open Lisa’s bird weekly challenge is birds near/on water or snow

In A Winter’s Light ~ Ynys Mon

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Winter light over the sea can make for some mysterious monochrome images. The first photo was taken early one morning, above the small town Beaumaris on the island of Anglesey (Ynys Mon). In the foreground is Menai Strait; beyond it the mountains of Snowdonia in mainland Wales.

For several years Anglesey has been a favourite place for family Christmases. There have been times of hair-raising gales, but also days of brilliant sun and unexpected warmth. This searchlight-sun effect over the Strait is a particular local phenomenon, and you quickly understand why the Celtic Druids, and later the early Welsh Christian saints were so drawn to the place. Landscape as transcendental meditation.

You can hardly see the Strait in the next photo (below the tree silhouettes), and it was anyway just going dark. But even so there’s a luminous glow on the field slopes of the far shore – a reflection off the water? And then there are the snow slopes making their own light. I like seeing how much of an image can be gained from the least amount of light. At the time I was using my little Kodak EasyShare ‘point and shoot’ camera. It was interesting what it could come up with.

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The morning we visited Plas Newydd it was broodingly gloomy – as if the sky gods had forgotten to switch the lights on.

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But some sunnier days on the beach at Newborough:

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2020 Photo Challenge #46 This week’s assignment from Jude: make sure you have contrasts in your image(s). Clear whites and strong blacks will add impact and create attention.

Canine Delight In Stormy Water

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The wild waves on Newborough Beach may look alarming, but this dog was having the time of its life – as dogs usually do. Nothing like a spot of unfettered enthusiasm.

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January Light #11 Pop over to Becky’s to join in her January Light challenge: square format, words ending in ‘-light’ (fudging allowed).

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Moving Water Cee always has great challenges: join her

Magical Mystery Fairylight Lunch At The Marram Grass

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The reason we were on bleak and windswept Newborough Beach on the last Sunday of December (being unexpectedly wowed by intrepid kiteboarders) was because we thought we should work up an appetite before lunch. And no ordinary lunch either. Sister Jo had booked it weeks before – at the Marram Grass – a little beach shack eatery that has become a legend not only on the island of Anglesey, but far beyond.

To say the premises are unassuming is an understatement. It truly is a large shed –  and that’s how it began. Nine years ago, when two young men – Liam (newly graduated surveyor) and Ellis (self-taught chef) Barrie came to help their parents set up a small caravan park, it was an old potting shed. And from it grew a thriving enterprise whose raison d’etre is to serve freshly made food that highlights local and seasonal produce, much of it home-grown.

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They’ve won awards. And so they should. We stepped out of the freezing wind and into an all-round glow. We sat in our cosy booth as the afternoon grew darker, ‘50s tracks on the sound system, low hum of chatter beyond, and a complete unknowing of what we would eat. There was no menu.  All depended on what the chef had decided to cook, and so instead of feeling like run-of-the-mill clients, we became guests. And it made me think that there was nothing more blissful on a dreary winter’s afternoon than a long, slow Sunday lunch, impeccably created and presented with love.

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January Light #7

Low-Light Kiteboarding ~ A Different Kind Of ‘Photo Challenge’

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The last Sunday of 2019 and a piercing wind is blowing on Anglesey’s Newborough Beach – the sort that knifes through all clothing defences and finds every millimetre of exposed flesh. Brrrr. By lunchtime it is growing dark too, or perhaps day never quite dawned properly. It’s anyway a big change after the entrancing blue of Christmas Day. But we are not put off: Newborough Beach is a favourite winter walk so we trundle through the high dunes to the shore, as ever joining a mass of promenading families and dogs, and face the elements. The wind takes our breath away.

But down above the tide-line there is much activity – lines laid out and out across the sand as paragliding wings are prepared by dive-suited individuals. Much clicking on of harnesses, clapping on of helmets and multi-coloured kite-fluttering. And then they are off, skimming the bay at astonishing speeds, now and then shooting high above the surf – aerial ski-jumping. It is exhilarating to behold – or it is when one can focus through eyes filled with wind-tears. But then that’s one of the things we love about this beach – you just  never know what you will see there.

On the other hand I’m rather wondering at the reactions of legendary St. Dwynwen, she whose religious retreat this place was in early Saxon times. Or maybe her spirit is out there embracing it, flying with the wings – engaging in extreme sports, closer to the heavens.

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January Light #6

Bathed In Sunlight On Menai Strait

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Christmas Day on Anglesey. For once I didn’t mind when he who builds sheds and binds broken books walked straight into my prospective shot. (It’s a common occurrence). Two moments earlier I was wondering if a shot of the backlit rocks would work. Then out stepped Graham. So I caught him instead. He doesn’t know!

January Squares #4

Six Word Saturday