Thursday, 18 December 2014

"The Best it's ever been, be this good again..."

I always look forward to end of year lists of friends records, especially friends who I don't see that often who may have discovered a gem that I may have missed.

I have decided to list my 10 fave musical recordings, my fave gigs, my fave wildlife sightings and places I visited this year.

Hands down my fave album of the year is...

Helen Chambers - Penny Arcade 


Closely followed by...

Young Conservatives - S/T

Prawn - Kingfisher

Failures Union - Tethering

Echo & The Bunnymen – Meteorites

Personal Best – The Lovin’

Protectors – Soul & Fire is all we ever need

Owen – Other peoples’ songs

Stay Clean Jolene – S/T

Dolly Parton – Blue Smoke

My fave gigs:

Out of Spite 2014
Echo & The Bunnymen - Oxford 
Gregory Porter - Brecon Jazz
Failures Union - Undertone Cardiff
Helen Chambers - Le Pub
Dolly Parton - St David's Hall Cardiff
Gregory Porter - St David's Hall
Echo & The Bunnymen - Cardiff Uni
Pale Angels & Luuv - Le pub
Thousand Arrows - Last Gig at Moon

My wildlife highlights:

Seeing Puffins, Seals, Dolphins, Porpoise, Peregrines, Guillemots, Razorbills, Wheatear, Red legged Partridge, Chough, at RSPB South Stack
Seeing my first Weasel crossing the road near Barmouth
Seeing Little Ringed Plover and Chicks at Parc Slip
Seeing my first dog otter at Hamwall 

My fave places I visited:

South Stack
Holyhead - Holy mountain
Lisbon - Staggersaurus Rex
Barmouth - Hendre Fechan Cottage 
Ham Wall & Shapwick Heath

Merry Chrimbo & Happy New Year 
One Love

Monday, 8 December 2014

Crudely Drawn Christmas

I have since my 100 bird year triumph, struggled to see many new species.

I recently went in search of Goshawks at Cwmcarn forest drive and failed miserably barring what we call a little bit of jizz, not enough to be sure.

I have sort of stuttered along still really enjoying what I do see regularly but not seeing anything new.

I also hit a bit of a wall creatively and stopped drawing for a bit too.

After a walk on the weekend in the beautiful winter sunshine I decided to commemorate the idyllic scene of a Robin having a little wash in a puddle after foraging for food on the muddy path.

I think what I need next from all the literature I have read is to get better at identifying birds by their song.

I have also been enjoying the newly renovated Eastern Prom at Barry Island, and think it would be a fab place for impromptu acoustic gigs...

I would love to have a beach hut

I also went to see my faves Echo & The Bunnymen with one of my oldest friends the enigma Gary Pliers in Cardiff. Another sterling set with all the hits.

I am really enjoying this record Kingfisher by Prawn which ties in nicely to the blog too.

"We are Old Souls, In New Skin"

I am very much looking forward to Out Of Spite Festival next week a long running Leeds DIY Punk Rock and craft Ale all-dayer featuring:

The newly reformed Milloy

Also Young conservatives who I am yet to see live and naturally pretty excited.

As well as Protectors who have a great new album out

And a new band called Stay Clean Jolene featuring members of the much loved Leif Ericsson & The Great St Louis

Creating Problems While Practising Solutions cover artStay Clean Jolene - Easy Target
Young Conservatives cover art

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Lonesome Trucker #4

I was meaning to get this last issue of my mini zine finished and printed during the summer I failed so I'm going to put it up here instead. If there are any secret collectors reading I have a few hard copies left.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wish I could be drinking down the van...

During half term I had the privilege of spending a couple of days down the caravan with my Bessie mucker Pugs.

We set off from mine in Pugs' mams convertible beetle on wed afternoon. We picked up some essential provisions eggs, beers, bread, pizza etc at the local Lidl. 

The van is situated on a site at the far west end of Gower on Broughton beach. 

We took Bryn with us, he us awesome. He is a Golden retriever Poodle Cross.

We had a quiet first night had a few beers, a walk on the beach and watched Autumnwatch.

We got up the next morning took bryn for a walk on the beach, loads of birds around Oystercatchers, around 35, a few cormorant and loads of gulls.

We decided to head to Worms Head Rhossili for a bit of breakfast. Which was banging hand rolled Glamorgan veggie sausages. 

We had a walk out on Worms Head the views are unreal. On the way back we sat and watched two dolphins fishing in the water, amazing. 

We had a couple in the pub overlooking the bay. I had a Tomos Watkins Worms Head Bay followed by a Gower Power from Gower brewery, which was lush. 

We headed back to the van and decided it was such a nice day we needed a dip bear in mind it's October 30th.

We shared a bottle of Buck's Fizz to get us in the mood, packed some stuff,  the bins, a few beers and headed for Blue pool.

Blue pool is a natural ring of rocks, which fills when the tide comes in leaving a plunge pool when it retreats. 

We both had a quick dip it was surprisingly not that cold for the time of year, we had a beer watched the sunset and headed back to the van. 

We had a quick change, an amaretto coffee and headed out on foot to The King's Head Llangennith for a few beers and a spot of dinner.

I had the Gower Power IPA, which again was good. We shared a baked Camembert with garlic bread and chutney to start.

For main I had a gourmet pizza, which was anything but gourmet.

To finish I had sticky toffee pudding with hot vanilla custard, which was to die for. I finished off with a Gower brewery Lighthouse, which was Delish. Rolled back down the hill to the van. 

We watched a bit of Snow White and the huntsman, I was falling asleep though from the overwhelming fullness.

We took Bryn to the beach in the morning again loads of Oystercatchers about around 35 or so.

We decided as I was heading back today we would stop off at Kenfig Pool to see if  there were any birds about. Bear in mind Pugs has never really done any birding before, I have about 5-6 years under my belt and in that time I've barely seen more than a fleeting glimpse of a Waterrail. 

We were literally in the hide five minutes we were informed we'd just missed the Bittern, when not one, but two Waterrails came out of the reeds and started foraging right in front of us.

Needless to say I'll be taking Pugs birding with me again!

Love Marilyn x
"Wish I could be drinking down the Van!"

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Unknown wales

Last weekend I was invited to attend the unknown wales conference at the National Museum of Wales in collaboration with The Wildlife Trust. 

I also entered the photo contest with my entry "A year in the life of a Welsh conservation volunteer."

"A year in the life of a Conservation Volunteer in Wales
The photo collage illustrates the range of conservation volunteering I have undertaken in the past year. From Balsam Bashing with the Wildlife Trust at Parc Slip, removing invasive plant species; Educational Wild Walks, Pond Dipping, Fishing, Field Drawing and Bug Hunts at Dow Corning Eco Centre with Wildlife Trust, allowing children to get up close and personal with wildlife; Monthly beach clean with Friends of Barry Beaches, clearing rubbish and recyclables; Residential Volunteering placement at RSPB South Stack reserve, people engagement about the plight of our seabirds, using optics to locate wildlife; Educational wildlife crafts, making pipe cleaner Bats at Techniquest and Margam Park with RSPB; Dissecting Owl Pellets at Margam Park with RSPB."

It was a great feeling seeing my photos on the big screen in the National Museum of Wales  Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre at such aprestigious event.

The first talk was on the bank voles of skomer and Ramsey island from Dr Tim Healing Who's comical sketches and excellent photos made the talk very engaging.

There was then a talk from Dr Ingrid Juttner on diatoms a form of algae/plankton which very beautiful to look at but the delivery was very dry. 

The talk I was looking forward to the most beforehand was on the reintroduction of the sand lizard to the sand dunes of wales, a species I was yet to see. Again the images made the talk.

There was then a talk on dung beetles of the uk from Dr Sarah Beynon who was very engaging and inspirational speaker. Also the bugs themselves were absolutely beautiful.

During lunch the photo contest would be decided and the entries on display in the oil room. I had my packed lunch outside in the fresh air and a piece of lemon and poppyseed cake and a belvoir ginger beer from the museum cafe. I then headed to check our the other entries and the results. The main prize was a trip to Skomer island, somewhere I have been longing to visit since I became interested in birds and wildlife. 

Most of the other entries seemed to me to focus on the photographic style rather than the subject of conservation in Wales. The winning entry was a stunning composition, light and colour contrast. I then saw my entry as runner up, sometimes coming second is worse as there is no prize no special mention just a  sign saying to me "nearly got to skomer mate" basically. 

The afternoons talks were on ancient forest fossils of Wales which was very very dry indeed.

Then there was the Barry triangle "Why do rare fish keep turning up off the coast of Barry ?" which initially being from Barry I was really into until I realised it was just 30 slides of the fish and when and where they turned up followed by suggestions as to why?

By this point following my near defeat I was ready to leave. However, the final talk from Stephen Moss former Spring Watch producer and president of Somerset Wildlife Trust. The day so far had been interesting, but heavily scientific and academic led. For me Stephen was a breath of fresh air as he spoke my language. The films he showed highlighted some of my favourite animals, people and places. Red Kites, Red Squirrels, Great White Egrets, Marsh Harriers, Otters, Iolo Williams, Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath reserves. Stephen spoke of the importance of us making our own minds up and making our own decisions about controversial reintroduction programs, he also highlighted the importance of educating the younger generation on conservation issues.

I left feeling fully inspired after an awesome day. Also, I finally managed to bag myself a weeks volunteering on Skomer next summer!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

From Lisbon with Ludge...

The week before last I went to Lisbon for the weekend to celebrate the stag doo of one of my best friends in the world, the enigma that is Leeg.

I was apprehensive as we have got in some scrapes together in this country let alone be in a foreign country with 18 others that reads like a UK most wanted.

I decided to fly out separately to the rest as their flight was full, so I headed up to Luton and stayed in a nice little B&B in Lye Hill, Breachwood Green. I stayed out in the country, woke up had eggs on toast, whilst I watched Red Kites, amongst other birds in the garden.

It was my first time flying solo and my first time abroad for five years, so naturally I was quite nervous.

The check in went fairly smoothly, until we got to boarding, when they decided to tell me I could only take one bag on board, thankfully a guy behind me in the queue had nothing and offered to carry my rucksack on for me. 

The flight out was fairly painless and we were updated that it was 23-24 degrees in Lisbon. 

I caught a bus from the airport to Rossio, downtown, city centre, which cost me 3 euros 50 compared with 20-25 in a cab. 

I used the bus map to walk from the bus stop towards the street we were staying on. I found the street no problem, very cool little district loads of little bars, cafes, restaurants and shops. 

I found the hostel and checked in. The place was amazing for the price and better than most hotels I've stayed in.

Lee rang me and was already shitfaced, bearing in mind it was 420pm. I had a quick Schwitz, changed and we hit some bars. 

I loved the city almost instantly, cool relaxed vibe loads of cool architecture, statues, history and graffiti. 

The beer on the other hand was cheap, but not to my liking Super bock or Sagres almost everywhere which after a few is just too gassy. 

We did find an Irish bar later that evening which had that lush German Weiss beer with a monk on it about three varieties franz something. 

We had decided beforehand we weren't gonna do typical stag t shirts or anything, but that didn't mean Lee was getting off, his bro bought him a garish Jon Cena T shirt and purple sequin hat.

We also found the most amazing little mojito bar that night, in Barrio Alto a very cool very hip street bar area. Three euro for a pint of rum, fresh mint and lime, crushed ice, sugar and a shot of lemonade. Two and I'm on my arse. 

Love street drinking culture me. Stoop! 

There were a few sore heads at breakfast the next day but I got up early had cheese rolls, cornflakes, coffee and juice all included in the £14 per night. 

I heard over breakfast one had been arrested for throwing up and splitting on the police station and another mugged during the evenings festivities. 

I set out pretty early to have an explore, as the sun was shining I walked down to the front loads of cool statues and the museum of modern design, which was currently fronted in a history of surfboard art which was cool. 

Saw a heron and an egret at the front. Started to sober up sat and had an espresso to sort me out. I trotted around our area most of the morning then bumped into the lads for a spot of lunch, mushroom omlette and a load of jugs of sangria, naturally when in Rome....

We had a boat trip booked for 2pm, but the weather was taking a turn it started pissing down just as we were getting ready to head out. Trog decided that what this boat trip needed was a man sized inflatable dinosaur later christened Staggersaurus Rex or Yolosaurus Rex.

We headed down to the boat in cabs, as they told us we would lose the money. When we got there we were all a little despondent at the barge with a breville on the back when we had been promised a yacht with a BBQ to feed 20. 

Once everyone was on board including Yolosaurus we set off. The skies cleared, the waters calmed the boat dudes brought around cheese and garlic sausage on sticks. The views of the city from the boat were rad especially the bridge and the graffiti.

As we were sailing along blasting some choice chunes from Leeg's wedding playlist, Phil Collins to Hatebreed, I got my bins out I didn't spot any birds of note, but loads of cool metal graffiti on the small beaches. There was one beach with Embalmer, Deicide, Sepultura and Nile logo's near the Benfica stadium.

The beers (loose term) started coming around they were gross tbh but we made do.

We dropped anchor to have a swim within minutes I was in the sea with a blow up dinosaur drinking a beer and moshing to Davidian by Machine Head, Lush.

We swam and ate lunch for a few hours the BBQ turned out good for the meatheads not so good for the swimming veggies, I had some salad crisps and bread and oil. (Good job I had that omlette)

Naturally the Yolosaurus tried on my hawaiian and hat and drove the boat home.

We headed back just in time it looked like it must have pissed down in Lisbon the whole time we were at sea.

We hit up another Irish bar in the marina as the football was on, the barman took a liking to yolo and kept buying him drinks I think he had a dino fetish tbh.

We headed back for a schwitz and change before hitting up the bars. Sadly Lee was left unsupervised with Yolo and He got punted off the marine as Lee was already steamboats by this point. 

"RIP Yolosaurus Rex 
A brother lost at sea
One Love"

Things get a little blurry on this evening after another visit to the Irish bar in Barrio Alto some more monk beers, shots being thrown around, another visit to the killer mojito den where mother and daughter with matching lipstick boob tattoos hypnotize you with boob juggle mint lime crush. The less said about "the shelf" the better...

Ended up in one of the quotes of the trip: "I look across the street Leeg is asleep on the back of someones car, his brother is pissing in the street and Stubbs is singing up a rubble tube... Wales"

Senegal Steve decides that he needs to take some photos on his Iphone3 of Lee asleep in the sunglasses he sells. So we all pile in and get him to take a few snaps. 

I've known Lee for years and when he's gone he's gone there ain't no coming back, he'd had a bloody good innings today. So I volunteered to Carry him home. 

Had nice sleep, woke up had pancakes for breakfast in the hostel with nutella, some cheese rolls, cornflakes, coffee and juice. 

We decided to head out to the beach by train for the day. I spotted a latex pig mask in the shop near our hostel, we had a whip around and got Lee the Pig mask. We got to the beach which was lush, but as soon as we got in the water there were loads of Jellyfish which freaked me out a bit.

We bumped into Senegal Steve selling dresses and pearls on the beach, obviously we bought the Pig a dress and a Bandana. We then decided to bury the pig and just leave his head poking out. 

At lunch Lee decided we needed 4 litres of sangria between five of us...

I had an average pizza but it soaked up the sangria, had another swim then we all chucked the pig in the sea in his dress.

We played football with some young Portuguese kids I scored a blinder, but it ended a dubious 2-2 draw.

On the train on the way back the Notorious P.I.G. was born and I laughed so much I cried the rest of the journey home was filled with pig related hip hop puns see below.

We got changed and washed and decided on a quiet night around the bars with the Goldup brothers and others telling the favourite Leeg stories whilst drinkiing ridicoulously strong G&T's until the early hours.

Best Stag ever

Pig Hop
Snoop Hoggy Hogg
Piggy Smalls
The Squeal Slim Shady
Swill Smith - Getting Piggy with it
Piggy Azalea
Piglet Enemy featuring Bacon Flav

Comment below with Pig Hop puns

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

“There are only two kinds of guys that can wear Hawaiian shirts and I know which one I am"

I have an exciting new blog collab featuring my charity shop buys and menswear style, with my friend and all round dudette Teri realness you can check out my first post, my best buys of the summer here:

and there will be more exciting #charityshopgold outfits in the coming weeks...

This outfit even looks great on a T-rex driving a boat...