About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

A Birthday Walk at Beachley

It being the dog's 10th birthday yesterday, and a beautiful afternoon for a walk, we decided to continue our exploration of the River Severn, still in England but this time on its opposite bank.

To get to our starting place, we had to cross the old Severn Bridge, cross the smaller bridge over the River Wye into Wales, navigate Chepstow, cross another bridge back over the Wye into England, and then loop down  the peninsula ...
... and park near the Old Ferry Inn, right under the bridge itself.

The ferry in question is the Aust - Beachley ferry, the eastern terminal of which we'd explored the previous Wednesday. The tide was right in today, though, and almost unnaturally calm. 

Here's the western slipway, still in use by the Severn Area Rescue Association, whose lifeboat station is adjacent.  

And here's a Chinook helicopter flying over. (I'm not sure why the bridge is suddenly all tilty in this shot, but it doesn't appear to be in danger of toppling in real life.)

Local legend has it that following his ferry ride from Aust, Bob Dylan quenched his thirst at the Old Ferry Inn.

This might even be another Gents he visited.

Sadly, the pub is closed now and being converted into offices. 

We pottered on what little beach the tide had left us. 

Look, here's a Type FW3/24 pill box, dating from 1940-41 ... 

... and some interesting geology. 

Looking upstream

We decided to wander down to the tip of the peninsula.

Old Man's Beard

St Twrogg's Island - or Chapel Rock - used to be the southernmost point of the peninsula, but is now a tidal island. The ruined chapel dates from the 13th century, although there was apparently an earlier one built on this site. 

This earlier refuge, built around a holy well known for its healing properties, was originally dedicated to St Tecla (Treacla), a 4th - 5th century princess from Gwynedd. (They always seem to be from Gwynedd.) 
She became an anchoress after abandoning her father's court and was later murdered in her cell by pirates. (She is not to be confused with St Thecla who knocked around a bit with St Paul.) 

Subsequently, her cell was used by another Welsh Saint called Triog or Twrog, who kept a beacon burning to warn vessels of the dangerous rocks. There's a lighthouse there now. 

The new Severn Bridge

We were now down by the western pylon of the Aust Severn Powerline Crossing, the longest powerline span in the UK, at just over a mile long.

From here, there were views of the Bridge Over The River Wye (cue a few bars of tuneless whistling) ... 

... and the confluence the Severn and the Wye. 

The grassy path ahead looked tempting, but we decided to return for a closer look at low tide, in a season when the afternoons are longer.

Two blackbirds were chinking at each other across the path as we retraced our steps ...

... and back at the bridge, a little boat was waiting to be trailered up the slipway. 

There was just time for another photo of the birthday dog and his boys ... 
... and to enjoy the intense colours of the last of the sun.

Looking downstream

A few interesting finds on the beach, considering there was so little of it. 
I really should acquire a couple of guides to pebbles and fossils, so as to be able to write with at least a little authority, but we think this is a bit of fossilised wood,
maybe; another fossil of Something; a pebble that looks like a Scandinavian forest in winter (technical term) and ... could it be ... a carnelian?

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Looking for Bob Dylan at Aust

Iconic is an over-used word but for older Bristolians, this photo probably is. 

It was taken by Barry Feinstein on 11th May 1966, and shows a 25-year-old Bob Dylan at the Old Passage ferry terminal, Aust, following his gig at the Colston Hall the previous evening.  He's en route for Cardiff, which just happens to be where we saw him perform some 50 years later.
And this is the same spot, more or less, today. The reason for the falling-into-disuse you can see is (just) visible in the background of both photos - the now old, but then very very new Severn Bridge, which was to open in September 1966. 

It's hard to know exactly where the photo was taken. For a start, you aren't supposed to go in (but the fence has been broken down).  

Inside it's very overgrown ...

... and the wooden buildings you can see in the photo of Dylan have  almost completely rotted away.

The concrete toilet block is still standing. 

... and did Bob Himself pass through this turnstile on his way to the Gents?

In the older photo, you can see a couple of mooring pins behind Bob, and there's one still visible here now ...

... but it's in the wrong place for it to be THE pin, just behind His Greatness. A photo taken here would show the toilet block. 

So it must have been taken further down, but it's hard to tell where exactly because of all the foliage. 

We decided to walk out as far as we could to the end of the necessarily very long jetty. 

It was icy and muddy and four years plus one day since I fell and broke my leg, so I was taking it steady.

This far out you can appreciate the aquatic nature of the warth, which is covered twice a day by the third fastest- and highest-rising tide in the world. 

We squelched our way back up to the causeway under the cliff ...

... then wandered down towards the landmark stripy section*, which was looking beautiful in January sunlight. 

*technical term

The rocks tell us that all this area was once desert but then became sea 210 million years ago. They're backed up by an information board claiming the same. 

There are fossils in the upper levels that drop down onto the beach from time to time. As a result, fossils hunters proliferate here. We found an abandoned hammer. (No traces of blood.)

It was the old bridge that was attracting most of my attention, though. 

It's like Concorde to the newer bridge's Airbus. 

Talking of which, looking south in its direction, we could see it was time to leave. 

What's more, the back of the ferry buildings were starting to look like they might be haunted by something more sinister than a young singer-songwriter from Duluth, Minnesota.