Tag Archives: blogging101

From Barafundle to Bosherston – some R&R from blogging101

I consider myself to be amongst the most fortunate people on the planet – those who live in Wales. And when occasionally I have any cause to doubt my good luck, a day like yesterday comes along and I am once again reassured that this is truly a little slice of heaven on earth!

Saturday 8th August was one of those increasingly rare days when Charlotte and I had no commitments in the diary, and the weather forecast was set fair (light south westerly winds, and temperatures due to peak at about 23 degrees C). As a result, we were up early and on our way to south Pembrokeshire by 8.30am. We were heading for Stackpole with a plan to complete a six mile circular walk from Stackpole Quay along the coast via Barafundle Bay and Broadhaven, then inland alongside Bosherston Lily Ponds and back to our starting point.

The Stackpole Estate sits on a peninsula to the south west of Pembroke and is now in the ownership of the National Trust. The whole area is, in turn, part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and is a truly spectacular mix of rugged coastline, secluded bays, sandy beaches and unspoilt countryside.

We arrived just outside Stackpole in good time and decided to change our plans slightly by parking at Stackpole Court. The friendly and really helpful National Trust volunteer manning the car park at the Court provided us with a great map of the area and we set off on the walk.

We decided to head across towards Barafundle Bay while it was still relatively cool, knowing that the walk across the fields and headland to access the beach was likely to be the hottest part of the journey.

The first glimpse of the sea above Stackpole Quay

The first glimpse of the sea above Stackpole Quay

I get a tremendous buzz of excitement from my first glimpse of the sea even now, and this trip was no exception. The deep blue of the Atlantic on this occasion was set off perfectly by the dark mass of the cliffs rising from it, and the tourquoise of the sky above.

As we made our way across the path towards the main car park at the Quay, we realised our good fortune in having decided to leave our car at the Court. It was very busy!

The plaque at the entrance to the Bay

The plaque at the entrance to the Bay

We turned right and continued our walk along the cliff top towards Barafundle Bay; a great name for a beach, and evocative of pirates and smuggling (although there’s no historical connection to the area of either). The beach here regularly features in ‘Top Ten‘ lists of beaches in the UK, and on a day like yesterday it’s easy to see why. The sand is fine and white; the sea is crystal clear and almost draws you into its refreshing saltiness; and the seemingly limitless view towards the horizon reminds us that however big our individual problems or stresses may appear, they are really pretty insignificant in the bigger scheme of things. Having made our way onto the sand and set up camp, we decided that the call of the water could be ignored no longer and headed down for a swim (which was admittedly brief – it was very cold – but nonetheless gorgeous!).

After a lay in the sun, a bite to eat, and a snooze, it was time to get our walking boots back on and continue our route along the cliff top from Barafundle towards Broadhaven South. The views along this stretch of the coastline are stunning, and my photos can only hint at the beauty and majesty of the scenery.

Clifftop view 4

Cut in the cliffs

The final section of our walk led us down alongside Broadhaven South and inland along the valley past Bosherston Lily Ponds. The dappled shade provided by the trees growing up the steep sides of the valley was very welcome on what was becoming a warm afternoon, and the peace and seclusion of the lily ponds was incredibly relaxing.Bosherston

Finally, some five hours after setting off, we came back to the eight arch bridge across the water that links the headland above Stackpole Quay to the driveway to Stackpole Court and it was time to wend our way home.

It was a lovely walk, in surely one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and I’d highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to do it.

The eight arch bridge

The eight arch bridge

blogging101 : Day 4

I read today’s task with a growing sense of trepidation : “We often create posts hoping that someone in particular will see and appreciate our work. Today, publish a post that you’d like that person to read – and stretch your blogging chops as you do”. The ‘stretching’ bit of the assignment is to incorporate a feature into the blog that hasn’t previously been included.

I decided to focus on the stretch element of the task first – largely because the question of who I write this blog for was too existential for me to even begin to get my head around. I’ve never embedded a tweet here previously, so I thought I’d give that a go. Amazingly, (and providing proof positive that the blogging gods are smiling down on my current efforts), about three entries in on my twitter homepage was this beauty :

And it was then that it hit me. I write this blog for anybody who – like me – is incapable of seeing a tweet like this and not immediately following the link to the news story to find out the details. (In summary, it involved the robbery of a man at 3am by a woman wearing a cowprint onesie, who then made off with two accomplices in a Volkswagen Golf car).

There are so many elements mixed up in the story – comedy, tragedy, drama, the absurd. There are so many questions – why was the woman driving around at 3am in a onesie in the first place? Why was the victim wondering around Belfast with a load of cash on him at that time? Was the victim known to the robbers? Was this the first such crime that they’ve committed or have there been udder ones? (Sorry – couldn’t resist!).

It seems to me that life is extraordinary – and that we all find extraordinariness in so many different ways and places. So I guess I write this stuff for you as a little glimpse into what has caught my attention and in the hope that what’s struck me as extraordinary might touch a nerve with you too.

Unintended meanings and inadvertent offence

This is day 3 of my blogging 101 challenge. The tasks for today were to customise the WordPress Reader by identifying some content ‘tags’ to follow from other blogs; and to follow five other blogs as the first step to building up my blogging ‘community’. There was actually no requirement to submit a post to this blog today, but I have been motivated to do so as a result of some feedback to yesterday’s reflection on my blog title and tag-line.

One of the things that worries me about blogging is the fear that I may inadvertently cause some offence or upset to the reader as a result of what I publish. It seems that I fell into this trap when writing about the background to my blog title yesterday. Some readers have suggested that the description of my grandfather clearing his throat when working on his allotment (followed invariably by the exclamation “Better out than in!”) is inappropriate and disrespectful. I am naturally sorry for any offence caused; but I am equally clear that the anecdote was entirely relevant in the context in which it was written. And for the avoidance of doubt, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my grandfather and my respect for him always was and remains inestimable.

The problem of course, is that no matter how careful we try to be in the way that we write and publish a blog post, once it is out there, we have absolutely no control over the way in which it will be read and interpreted. There is a danger that in trying to avoid anything that might be seen negatively or liable to cause offence, what remains of the content simply becomes too dull to be readable.

In signing off this post – and in the hope that it redresses the balance somewhat – another of my grandad’s favourite sayings was a quote from Voltaire : “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”. I would like to think that this is the approach that he brings to the reading of this blog as he looks down on it today.

Reflections on titles and taglines

This is the second post in my blogging101 challenge. Today’s prompt invites the blogger to reflect on their blog name and tag-line.

My blog title came to me relatively easily and works on a number of levels. I explained the inspiration for it in my very first post in August 2013 : “My grandad (a very wise man) always used to say “Better out than in” – usually immediately after noisily clearing his throat and depositing the product in a weed patch on his allotment. This probably makes this blog my weed patch; and my posts to it, the phlegm that otherwise threatens to clog up my thought processes.” Apologies if you’re reading this over the dinner table! The title is therefore a nod to my grandad, a description of the somewhat random nature of the posts that appear here, and an acknowledgement that what I write is in many respects a kind of mental de-cluttering.

The tag-line reflects the inevitable self-absorption that is probably present to a greater or lesser degree in all bloggers. Blogging (for me at least) is a form of psychological self-help. There is something cathartic about sitting in front of the computer and downloading thoughts, ideas and observations onto the blank page. There’s also something narcissistic about publishing those thoughts into the public domain rather than – for example – keeping a personal diary. I kid myself that I publish for my own benefit and that it doesn’t matter to me whether anybody reads this stuff or not. In reality, of course, I’m as thrilled as the next blogger if my views hit a new record, or if I receive an unusually large number of ‘likes’ or comments.

Having said that, some of the posts that have been most ‘popular’ in terms of views aren’t necessarily the ones that have given me the most pleasure in writing. Nor are they the ones that I have spent the most time in crafting or researching. There’s a salutary lesson there around my inability to predict what might hit a nerve with the reader.

I work in the Health Sciences Faculty of a regional University in the south west of England. I’m neither an academic nor an educationalist, but having spent the past 9 years working closely at various times with doctors, dentists and veterinary surgeons, I have picked up quite a lot of ‘advanced lay’ knowledge. One of the key professional development skills for healthcare professionals is the ability to engage in reflective practice. You can find an interesting overview of some of the models of reflective practice here : http://www.brightknowledge.org/knowledge-bank/medicine-and-healthcare/spotlight-on-medicine/what-is-reflective-practice and a Google search will bring up many more references. In some ways, this blog is a reflective practice exercise for my life – covering not just professional development but a lot of more personal stuff too.

So – better out than in? For me certainly, and hopefully for you too. And blogging cheaper than therapy? Well it’s free, so I guess that’s a no-brainer!

Blogging 101 : Day One

It’s very nearly two years since my first entry on this blog. In the intervening period I have successfully completed National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo) in November 2013 and 2014 as well posting on a pretty eclectic range of subjects from book reviews and poetry, to political rants, and from accounts of visits to sporting events, to details of family holidays.

My motivation for starting the blog was to establish a habit of regular writing, and (as the title of the blog suggests) to get some ideas out of my head and into the wider world. It’s obvious that I have failed to meet the regular writing target that I originally set for myself; although paradoxically, I have enjoyed the two NaBloPoMo challenges enormously.

Blogging 101 is an opportunity to get back into the ‘habit’, and I’m excited at the prospect.

I hope that you’ll forgive the regular clogging up of your Facebook and Twitter feeds over the coming weeks; but I hope even more that you’ll find at least some of the posts interesting or entertaining, and if you do, I hope you’ll let me know!