So one day when we were up the field walking the dog and noticed the new Severn bridge's turn to look preternaturally close, we decided to go to meet it in a short break between squalls of rain.
Thursday, 7 October 2021
Severn Beach and the trees of Snuff Mills and Vassalls Park
Changes of scene are good, even if they are only very very local changes of scene, what with the petrol shortages and all, and it's been good to have an occasional break from funeral organising lately.
As always, perspective is interesting. From the field we watch the sunset trundle along the ridge of hills from Mynydd Machen, near where Son the Younger used to live, to just beyond the new bridge and back, before it starts to set beyond the M5, then Avonmouth, and finally disappears from view until the spring equinox. It seems a fair distance, but from near the bridge itself, both it and Twmbarlwm seem close at hand. (It's actually about 20 miles.)
Mind you, this is where we watched the sun set on the eve of the first lockdown last year, pretending we were on Ithaca, so maybe we're not best placed to talk about real things like perspective.
Anyway, I took some nice photos of the new bridge, of course, and coveted the huge bits of driftwood you see along the shore of the Severn that are far too heavy to be moved by anything other than a handy crane or the third highest tidal range in the world.
Since this was a whim-based extension to our original walk, we didn't trudge miles ... just far enough to glimpse New Passage up ahead, and way beyond it, Old Passage at Aust, and the beautiful older suspension bridge.
By the time we got back to the new bridge, the forecasted rain put in an appearance so we headed back to the car ...
... passing this installation of sea birds made out of used milk containers by 11-year old twins to highlight the issue of plastic pollution. There's something about bleak Severn Beach with its huge river and huger sky that seems to encourage flights of imagination, and this one is beautiful and provocative.
Our other ad hoc tripette this week was to Snuff Mills on the River Frome in Bristol. The last time we were there was almost a year ago, during the hiatus between our old dog Ted's death and the arrival of Cwtch, so it was all new territory to our little collie, who, as the river was running high and fast, remained on her lead.
The first thing we saw was a kingfisher, zipping away from us across the river. I took a picture of it, and it is actually just visible, but it's my worst kingfisher picture yet, and not unlike one of those photos you get in tabloids of deadly Australian snakes in people's back gardens that are impossible to make out even when they're pointed out to you.
Since neither Cwtch nor the Northerner had been to Vassalls Park above the Frome gorge, we only went a little way up the river before turning up the steep lane that leads there. It's lined with some marvellous old trees, beeches and ashes mostly.
Having descended to the river by a more tortuous path, we turned towards the car park, eventually retracing our steps from earlier. The light was extraordinary, the river like milky tea, and though the tortoiseshell butterfly we saw evaded my camera, I did capture a ladybird and some snails.
Sadly, this magnificent oak up atop seems to be dying.
A beech with a bunch of flowers on either side. I always find it touching how we turn to trees as natural memorials in a time a loss.
This is an elm, and something of a rarity these days, of course. I took a close-up of its leaves, as I'm not that familiar with them.
This too is a memorial tree, though I found the inscription on the plaque a little pointed for whom I assume was a Welshman ... though, of course, there could be all sorts of private reasons why it's appropriate.
A magnificent pine
This broken tree reminded me of the wreck of the Nornen on Berrow Beach. A tree wreck, perhaps.
Looking down to the River Frome