A Climate Change Adaptation Challenge…#blogging101


Significant uncertainties over the scale and nature of potential changes in storms and wind speed.

Significant uncertainties over the scale and nature of potential changes in storms and wind speed. Climate Change Risk Assessment for Wales. Restored Victorian Shelter, Aberystwyth Promenade, January 2015


A #blogging101 assignment to experiment with format.

The Medicinal Waters of Llandrindod Wells #blogging101


The Rock Park Spa with its distinctive brickwork, Llandrindod Wells. Photo © C. Duigan.

Water always leaves me feeling fresh, energized and rejuvenated.  In Ireland I grew up drinking water from a limestone well.  The large metal kettle always on the kitchen stove was completely encrusted internally with deposits of calcium carbonate.  When it got too heavy to lift we had to hack away at the crust.  This hard water tasted good, especially a cold glass full drawn directly from the well with the hand-pump.  It made good tea, and of course, water and tea can cure everything that ails you.

The medicinal properties of water are also appreciated in Wales, especially in the ancient spa town of Llandrindod Wells.  The arrival of the train facilitated the development of this Victorian Spa Resort.  Long queues developed to collect a daily serving of water from white-coated attendants in The Pump Room.  Over 1,000 glasses of water were sold before 9 o’clock on one Bank Holiday.  A wide range of ailments were treated with different volumes and the types of mineral water available in Llandrindod Wells.

Water is good for you; the human body is about 70% water.  Drink a glass of water; enjoy it!

This blog was developed to address the #blogging101 Daily Prompt – Re-springing Your Step.  Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated.




Re-springing Your Step

Calling all Nature Bloggers in Wales! #blogging101

Exploring Skomer.  Photo © Warren Kovach.

Exploring Skomer. Photo © Warren Kovach.

Are you blogging about nature in Britain or Ireland?  Well, in theory you can link up with your community through the specialist network – UK & Ireland Nature Bloggers

The website says it is easy to join.  You just need to provide the following information:
– the blog’s title;
– the blog’s URL;
– the blog owner’s name (not for publication);
– the blog owner’s email address (not for publication).
And you get a badge to add to your site!

The location of registered bloggers is presented on a Map, so I decided to investigate the 9 nature bloggers in Wales but it proved to be a bit of sad investigation. So working north to south in Wales –
1. A Year in an Anglesey Wildlife Meadow – last post 16 April 2014.
2. RSPB Conwy – page not found! But it should be linked to here.
3. RSPB Glaslyn Ospreys – page not found! But it should be linked to here.
4. The Natural World of Wildlife – blog has been removed!
5. Near Aberystwyth – Sarah Cookson Blog Spot – Blog not found!
In addition the two blogs near Shrewsbury were not active.  But things improved a bit in South Wales –
6. Myky Speaks – Somewhere to get things off my chest – last post 23 January 2014.
7. Meadowlife at Hailey Park – last post 25 April 2011; most material moved to website.
8. Newport Wetlands was flag on the map with no weblink!
9. Wildlife Snapshots – yeah, last post 8 January 2015!

But do not despair I know there is more blogging talent out there in Wales. For example Megan Shersby (Assistant Environmental Engagement Officer with Radnorshire Wildlife Trust) at Barcode Ecology was recently nominated BBC Wildlife Magazine blogger of the week.  This was well deserved as her youthful enthusiasm rings from the computer screen. Check out her wildlife targets for 2015 – everyone needs to see a kingfisher!

I am also quite excited about the growing number of blogs from our fabulous Welsh Islands, especially The Skokholm Blog which has a very attractive layout – each post is well written and illustrated.   You get can get the latest news on Bardsey wildlife from the Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory.  Or a flavour for what it is like to live on Bardsey from the Porter Family, including talented photographer Ben. There is also an active RSPB supported blog from Ramsey Island (and for Newport Wetlands).  Seal and bird fans will love the blog from Skomer Island National Nature Reserve.

I am learning that part of the experience of blogging is building links with your blogging community and starting to interact with your readership.  So as a first step I am going to register my blog on the UK & Ireland Nature Bloggers website and I will ask others to do so.  Hopefully they can update their web links soon.  Please feel free to draw attention to other Welsh nature bloggers by adding comments below to this post.

Calling all Welsh Nature bloggers – let’s make the links and start a conversation!


This blog was developed as a #blogging101 assignment.

My dear Charles Darwin #blogging101

Charles Darwin as young man.

Charles Darwin as young man.

My dear Charles Darwin,

I hope this letter finds you well and ideally in a place where all your many ailments have been resolved. No doubt you will be surprised to get this letter from North Wales but you will just have to believe me than some relatively recent scientific developments have made it possible for me to get in touch with you.  Actually this communication is called a “blog”.  I think you would have enjoyed blogging because you were a great correspondent and it would have given people immediate access to the many interesting observations you made.

Anyway my time is short and I really want to give you on update on a place close to your heart, Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia.  A couple of weeks ago we had a very special party to celebrate this wonderful place which helped to open your eyes to glacial processes.  We were marking a landmark date in the environmental history of Cwm Idwal as it has now been a National Nature Reserve for 60 years.  Although we appreciate you could not be there for the party you were, of course, mentioned in the speeches and your photograph is projected on the wall of new building for visitors every day.

Also I hope you will be pleased to hear experiments are being carried out at Cwm Idwal.  In particular grazing has been excluded from parts of the reserve over varying time periods and we are recording the regeneration of the natural vegetation.  I try to get there at least once during the summer to see the successive changes.  I love the meadows of bright yellow Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) but the heather is now making quite a comeback, and we even have some trees!

I always think of you when I see your beloved insectivorous Drosera plants and remember how they gave you hours of amusement watching the leaves curl around their prey.  On a good day the sunshine glistens on the globules of gluey fluid on their leaves.  You said you would stick up for Drosera to the day of your death so I suspect you would not worry if the occasional crumb of cheese sandwich accidentally dropped on a Cwm Idwal Drosera, after all that is what you fed to your plants in the laboratory.

But I also appreciate that your work on Drosera pretty much wore you out at one stage and you recognized the need to sit and not do much some times.  In addition to the hundreds of students who come to learn about the ecology and geology of the reserve every year, even more people come to enjoy the landscape and get some healthy exercise.  You would be impressed at the growing public consensus that nature is good for the body and soul.

But before I sign-off there is one thing I really want to resolve with you and I hope you can find a way to send me a reply. Were you ever on Anglesey?  We know you left Sedgwick at Capel Curig but I can’t believe you did not take the opportunity to visit him when he was on the island.  After all you did have a copy of Henslow’s The Geology of Anglesey on The Beagle.  I like to imagine you passing over the new Menai Bridge.  I wager you would have walked over and paused to take in the view of the Strait but, with respect, it was a big omission to not have recorded this clearly in your diary.  People are still arguing over whether you were on Anglesey over one hundred years later!

I have to go now, as I need to be up early for work which involves knowing about and protecting the Welsh environment.  I am sure you would agree we have been doing a good job at Cwm Idwal.

By the way your theory of evolution has been a great success even if there are still some Creationists around…..

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours very sincerely,


Caveats! This was an experimental piece of writing carried out in a short period of time as part of a #blogging101 assignment to write for your dream blog reader and after a long day at work.  

Listen to the speeches made at the birthday celebrations for Cwm Idwal on the video below.  You can also follow @Cwm_Idwal on Twitter.

Who am I and why am I blogging? #blogging101

The Book of Kells, an ancient Irish illuminated manuscript.

The Book of Kells, an ancient Irish illuminated manuscript.

The start of a New Year is always marked by resolutions, good intentions and enthusiasm to take on new challenges.  I am no exception when it comes to embracing these kinds of aspirations.  Since last summer I have started to dabble in the art of blogging which seems to satisfy a personal craving to write. I love the process of putting words on a page and rearranging them until they convey a message or tell a story to my satisfaction.  I suspect this is a built-in Celtic genetic trait – just think of all those ancient illuminated manuscripts like The Book of Kells.  So I am blogging because I enjoy it!  

In the course of my career I have written quite a few articles within the very conservative discipline of a scientific paper – introduction, materials and methods, results and discussion – but now I would like to try to take this a step further.  However I recognize that the communication of science to different audiences needs particular competencies and skills.  I am hoping that blogging will help me develop some of these skills.

In addition I have been so lucky to have had hugely interesting and enjoyable jobs working in research and environmental management.  While driving home in the evening I can reflect on something new I have seen, read or learned during the day.  For example today I read a paper on the ecological impact of non-native invasive species and saw a fabulous photograph of a long dangling lichen which looked like Santa’s beard.  It seems a bit selfish not to try to share some of this information and experience with a wider audience.

Finally I have been looking around for a blogging training course that I might be able to fit in, so I am hoping to keep up with the #blogging101 assignments in the evening after work.  But the new yoga term starts tomorrow night….