Blog posts by year and month October 2011

Posts (96)

  1. I spent a very calming couple of hours at the National Wetland Centre Wales in Carmarthenshire this week, or Penclacwydd as it's also known. At the centre, they've just finished restoring three salt water lagoons, making it easier to spot some of our annual Winter visitors. My guide was Dominic Carmichael who is the Learning Manager at the site and with his expertise I was able to pick out some of the many water birds across the salt marshes. It was a misty day, with Penclacwdd only just visible on the other side of the estuary. Directly in front of us but some distance away was a little egret, a member of the heron family, standing alone waiting for the tide to go out so that he could start feeding. Watch a clip of the reserve on BBC Wales Nature & Outdoors. Also present were black-tailed godwits which the centre is renowned for - stopping off in West Wales as they make their way South from Iceland for the winter. Black-tailed godwits in flight by Tony Llewellyn. We also spotted a flock of dunlins, swooping low in formation across the water. It was very peaceful experience with only the sound of the birds to be heard. I'm reliably informed that staff at the centre also see kingfishers and even spoonbills regularly and are convinced that the refurbished lagoons are already helping to attract more birds. The salt water also attracts all-important invertebrates which provide a valuable food source. The only problem is being posed by a resident peregrine falcon who is terrorising the smaller visitors. A little egret landing by Martin Pulling. One top tip from Dominic to anyone visiting the Wetland Centre is to check the tide times before you set out as high tide is best and could make all the difference. Here's a few bird numbers counted on the restored lagoons so far this autumn: 160 little egret, 500 black-tailed godwit, 340 redshank, 150 lapwing, 850 curlew, 58 greenshank. Rarer birds spotted included great white egret, wood sandpiper, garganey, ruff, little stine and kingfishers.

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  2. This week I have no desk partner. I am like a little Norma No Friends, sitting on my lonesome at the back of the section. I look like I have been sent to the naughty step to think about what I've done (I definitely might have used a little bit of vibrato when I got carried away during Beethoven 9 the other night). As you may know, in the string section we sit in pairs known as desks. This helps the flow of communication from front to back (someone can deal with the marking up of parts whilst the other continues to play), the blending of sound, the clarity of the divisi lines and uninterrupted page turns. Our string section also works on a rotation system. After the numbered chairs, which are permanent seats always filled by the same people (generally the first two desks), the seat in which you sit changes, either with each programme or bi-weekly, depending on how your elected section rota manager chooses to work it out. This has a number of practical positives. Firstly, you never have to spend all of your time at the back of the section. In the violas and second violins that would be a miserable existence as it would place you either directly in front of the high wind or directly in front of the brass, all day, every day. Now, when I say that, I mean that with the greatest love and respect for my colleagues. If they are called upon to play fortissimo, then play fortissimo they must and it is the nature of their instruments that the sound often be quite penetrating. It is no one's fault, it is a simple fact of acoustics. However, without a doubt, sitting directly in the line of fire, as it were, each day, could eventually have a detrimental effect on a player's hearing. Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to play alongside each of your colleagues. We have a fabulous viola section and I have learnt a lot from each of my viola colleagues since joining the orchestra. However, this week the required string strengths meant that we would have an uneven-numbered viola section with someone sitting on their own. AND IT WAS ME (cue minor huff). I hate sitting on my own - it's more difficult to blend with everyone else; you've got to do all the secretarial work yourself but still not miss any of the playing out; you feel like a little viola peninsula separated from the main body of the viola island and you've no one to (quietly and discreetly) gossip with during the bits you're not rehearsing. So, if you are at our Swansea Festival concert tonight (Thursday) or our Hoddinott Hall concert on Saturday, do give me a little wave. It's lonely back there on your own! I look like I've been sent to sit on the naughty step...

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  3. "See you again next year," the bookseller said, "if Amazon hasn't done for us by then." It was the last event on my publicity tour of the Wales/England border for the new novel which, like most of them, is set in that general area. I did signings at bookshops from Abergavenny to Oswestry, som...

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  4. Fflur Dafydd and Horatio Clare are the latest Welsh authors to have put a contemporary twist on the medieval Welsh myths of the Mabinogion. The New Stories from the Mabinogion series was launched by independent Welsh publishers Seren Books in 2009. The novellas in the series bring the essence ...

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  5. The death of King Edward II of England is a relatively well known story - the time was that every schoolboy in the country would happily tell you he was murdered by having a red-hot poker thrust into a very painful part of his anatomy! Edward II and Hugh Despenser sought refuge in Caerphil...

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  6. On Saturday 22 October Adam Walton and I from BBC Radio Wales will be hosting a special stage of acoustic sessions at the plush location of the Kuku Club, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff. We'll be showcasing a selection of some of our favourite bands appearing at Sŵn this year, and broadcasting them...

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  7. An exhibition of new work by Wales-based artist Sue Williams has gone on show at the Oriel Ffin y Parc Gallery in Llanrwst. Williams is a lecturer at the School of Fine Art at Swansea Metropolitan University. She won the Fine Art Gold Medal at the National Eisteddfod in 2000 in Llanelli, and i...

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  8. Sheep rustling is on the increase and becoming a big problem for farmers in Wales. I know this after making a radio series earlier this year about rural crime and discovering that as the economy nose-dives, criminals are becoming more organised and more audacious. I spoke to one farmer, (w...

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  9. The Welsh Rugby team may be on top form at the moment but the weather certainly isn't! I was in Bryngarw Country Park yesterday doing a charity walk organised by the Lions Club of Bridgend. It was damp and windy but despite the drizzle it was pretty mild and a good number turned out with p...

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  10. Following months of anticipation and speculation in which artists were confirmed and some dropped out, rumours flew and fan groups complained, the Michael Forever tribute concert went ahead at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium this weekend. We sent along Sam Edwards, and this is her review of the night.

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