Agelena labyrinthica

Last week we were in Wales, a fourth holiday at Towyn Farm campsite on the Llyn Peninsula, but I took very few photographs – chiefly because we spent much of our time on the beach and I’m not sure that my camera is robust enough to survive days on the beach. In the rock-pools we found fat green blennies, a thin black shoe-lace which turned out to be a fish, a couple of flat fish and lots of crabs and shrimps. B found a dead spider-crab floating in the surf and he and I found a mermaid’s purse, a shark’s egg-case, in a large rock-pool. One evening we saw a well-preserved dog-fish washed up at the tide-line, and every day the beach was littered with jelly-fish.

We were camping with friends and one morning we set off to climb Carn Fadyrn. The lower slopes of the hill are a purple and yellow patchwork of heather and low-growing gorse. The gorse was covered in webs, each one silvered with rainwater, and each having in the centre a tunnel with a resident labyrinth spider – agelena labyrinthica. Labyrinth because, apparently, down in the central tunnel there are actually several tunnels where the eggs are concealed.

The kids all coped admirably with the climb, even S who I had had my doubts about.

A snack and a rest en route.

We lunched together at the top…

…and enjoyed the fabulous views…

Looking down the peninsula.

Before the boys’ determination to clamber over every rock they could find…

…prompted a return to the cars below

We eventually headed for the beach when most people would have been thinking about leaving. There was virtually no wind, and only tiny waves, and the sea was incredibly clear. It was full moon, or there abouts, and the tide was very low. Some of us swam out round some exposed reefs of rock. A friend lent me a mask and snorkel and I was amazed at the variety, number and in some cases size of the fish I saw.

As the tide came in we had a barbecue on the beach and watched the sun go down over the sea.

Later in the week, when numbers had dwindled, we drove west to the end of the peninsula.

Looking out to Bardsey Island.

My camera helped to confirm that the small flock of corvids we saw were indeed choughs. (Poor photos, but clearly red legs.)

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Agelena labyrinthica

Great North Swim

A rare treat – a sunny weekend in the North West. It was the Great North Swim in Windermere on Sunday. Some of our friends took part – I’m not sure how they did, but they had a good day for it. Meanwhile on Saturday we were on a beano – the church picnic. (I haven’t had a road to Damascus moment as yet, though it has been suggested that I might take advantage of a forth-coming ‘return to church’ promotion.) There was no charabanc sadly, but double parking at Brown Howe car park and a barbecue with terrific views of Coniston Water and the surrounding hills. The water was pretty bracing, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a swim, and it wasn’t so bad after a while, particularly away from the shade of the lakeside trees. Could I manage a mile in a wetsuit for the Great North Swim next September?

‘Wild-swimming’ seems to have become a bit of a phenomena of late with books and magazine articles devoted to it. Are more people swimming in open water or is it just that more fuss is being made? I notice that ‘coasteering’ is offered these days as a ‘life-style choice’. We used to call it coastal plonking and combined it with ‘wild-swimming’, often involuntarily or some times with a bit of ‘tomb-stoning’ thrown in. (Perhaps that’s what the church needs – a spot of rebranding, a more macho sounding name?)

Great North Swim