Pinch punch, 1st of the month. My Mrs got me at about 15 seconds past midnight, then I text all the kids because ,my eldest Laurie is on a roll and has got me at least the 6 months in a row. So I'm almost back to being the number one pinch puncher, just got to beat the Mrs first.

For the last 6 weeks I've been building the Glynneath area walking page but keep getting sidetracked on family history stuff so maybe it's a good idea to concentrate on the family stuff for the immediate future and get that out of the way so that I can finish the Glynneath area. So today I parked up at the first pond in the Gnoll Country park and walked over to the Melyn from there, my family and the Melyn have gone hand in hand since day 1. I popped into see local author and historian Rita Williams but she wasn't there so I had a coffee and a chat with husband Terry who was. Terry and I go back 30 years to when I was playing squash for Neath with Terry and his sons Richard and Kevin. In 1985 I lost to Kev in the final of the Neath tournament, my excuse was that I got married the day before. Kev's excuse was that he was the better squash player, always a deciding factor that. Rita kindly featured my daughter Victoria and myself in one of her books 'Neath & District Memories' see illustration below. Of walking interest is that on the day that photo was taken my eldest son Dale and I climbed Cader Idris at sunrise. Back to Rita's book and today's walk..............       


87.jpg (501852 bytes) 86.jpg (393946 bytes) 85.jpg (465861 bytes) NEATH AND DISTRICT MEMORIES by RITA WILLIAMS 2011

Today's walk was for research only and started at the Gnoll Country Park 1st Pond. This is the old Neath open air swimming pool, in use up until 1961 when the indoor Dyfed Road Baths opened. Please see the sample page (illustrated right) from Rita's book which contains information about this place.


2-16 Feb

We had great 8 day sunny spell during this period but I was too busy with family commitments and the day job to record the short walks I managed. these included 3 sunsets on Aberavon Beach and a walk from the Halfway pub in Cathedral Rd, Cardiff to the Millennium Stadium to watch Wales v England. I can't remember the result but we walked back to the pub again by the same route. 

A interesting thing happened on the way to the stadium, I'd only managed to secure 4 tickets so that was me sorted and 3 of the kids wanted to go as well, Laurie, Victoria & Simon. Victoria travelled down from Cambridge and brought her wife with here Christina. Now Christina is a Mexican and we wanted her to experience the atmosphere inside the stadium so we said we'd look out for a ticket for her on the way and laid plans should we get one she was to walk out the front door of the pub, turn right and she'd meet us coming the other way. As luck would have it we managed to get a ticket with 10 minutes to go to kick off. Victoria ran back for Christina and arrived in the stadium just as the anthems were beginning. later we learned that Victoria instead of turning right to meet Christina at the end of Cathedral Rd she turned left and ended up at the train station. Bizarre considering she'd lived in Cardiff for about 6 years and especially as there was only the one turn she had to make. She eventually realised where she was and the mistake she has made and legged it pronto to meet Christina who was just arriving at the end of Cathedral Rd herself. It's amazing she managed to make the anthems in time. I sang my heart out and they played the game and I still can't remember who won but I know we partied on after it long into the night.

Sunset 1 - Mumbles with setting sun 


Sunset 2 - Fishermen (Dai & Mike) with Mumbles in the background

Sunset 3 from Remos - the photo from the iphone doesn't do this one justice

I'm often asked if I am obsessed with sunsets - the answer is yes.      


17/2/2015 - Porridge on the Point


They only gave sun for this morning so I thought I'd try a new slant with 'Porridge on the Point' - this time it's a trig 'point' and for the first one Moel Penderyn just above the village of Penderyn which gives a nice view over the Brecon Beacons. Moel Penderyn (371m) is just over 1200 ft so it's a climb of 1000ft to start the day from parking which was at Dinas Rock - outside because the car park was shut. It was a 6.30 start for a 7.26 sunset. and it was a little bit gloomy for the first 10 minutes but as soon as I made it out of the shade it became light enough to stride away. Arriving at the top with 10 minutes to spare for sunset I settled into breakfast mode with first coffee, then porridge and joy of joys the new frying pan worked so it was bacon butties all round, oh dear I'm the only one here so all for me. 

The sun was not happy with my plan for it to rise over Pen-y-Fan so it rose just south of Merthyr which was a good job because the clag was down over most of the tops of the Beacons. Then really turned cheeky and rose before the porridge was ready. It got a little bit cold on top (about minus 1) as the sweat on my back began to turn chilly so note to self to pack a spare thermal next time.


  Breakfast over it was on to the number one waterfall in Wales Sgwd Eira with the traditional photo through the waterfall. 

I'm often asked if I am obsessed with waterfalls - the answer is yes.      

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Spray mist on above the waterfalls viewed from the approaching path  The view through the waterfall Exit right from behind the waterfalls A frosty bridge approaching the gunpowder works in Pontneddfechan


Heading back home it was disappointing to see the occasional slice of litter. The biscuit however was taken when I spied what looked like a roll of toilet paper wrapped in the branches of trees. On closer inspection however I discovered it was a fungus, unusual I've never seen that one before, I'll take a photo and look it up when I get home.



So at 2.00 pm I start my white fungus investigations and I looked it up and it turns out it's not a fungus, it's actually ice and it's behaving very weirdly so it's known as 'hair ice' which is exceedingly rare and there's a professor guy in the US who's written all about it.


and I put my boots back on, I can't believe I didn't take more photographs, grab my best camera, saddle up the car and head out to take more and you've guessed it, it's all gone - darn, drat and dagnabit. And as Chrissy Hinde once said.... 

"Maybe tomorrow, maybe some day". 


Not much happened in the last 10 days apart from a short walk around Glynneath with the Mrs and lots of rain and rubbish weather. Not enough rain to make it a worthwhile trip around the waterfalls though. I normally do one full waterfalls walk once a year when they are in flood. It's a spectacular walk and can take up to 6 - 7 hours depending on how many photos I end up taking. Anyway, back to today and Chrissy Hinde with her song. I think it's something like 'Stop Sobbing the World' and I think the Kinks may have recorded it first. But what do I know........ and I'll tell what I do know. I know frost when I see it so we had our first frost this morning for 10 days since my 'hair ice' discovery so after my early morning swim I popped into the house to pick up my best camera and was off on a short 'hair ice' explore-walk. And I found it too in the same spot as last week and nowhere else. Here's what I think is happening..............

The dead wood is absorbing rain and moisture through the air. When the air temperature drops and the water in the wood freezes it expands because that what ice does and the only way out of the wood is through the pores of the wood. The ice particles then grow together in line with each other out of the pores creating a hair effect. It's possible that the effect is only happening to the deadwood of only one type of tree in the area I have found it. I think I may have identified that type of tree as Silver Birch although there seem to be quite a lot of oak leaves in the area as well so this may be another possibility.

It was just before 9.00am that  arrived at 'hair-ice-ville' and it had already started melting so best camera with me this time and I snapped away for about 40 minutes. This was my favourite 'My Little Pony Hair Ice' - if you look at the end there's a pony tail coming out of the right hand side and you can use your imagination for the rest.

      Isn't she a sweet little thing. But not in the easiest place to get to. If you look in the photo below, the arrow points to where she is..................

so I looked at the bank I had to cross and yes it was steep with about a 15 metre slide if I slipped and yes it was the first anniversary of when I broke my leg so I'm thinking is she going to be worth it and the answer to that question is yes she is. So I made the journey across and found myself still upright at the end and I took lots and lots of photos some of which are thumbnailed below:

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.............I'm often asked if I am obsessed with hair ice - and the answer is yes.

Afterthoughts.......... 24/7/2015 - Dale sent me this link to paper published on hair ice....







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