Tag Archives: Wildlife

Springing into the rest of the year

21 Mar

I love those moments in the year when you can just tell that the season has changed. Spring has been just around the corner for a few weeks now, but last Thursday as we climbed Plymlimon we could just sense the change: spring has finally sprung.

I love the area around Plymlimon and Nant-y-Moch. It feels so wild and isolated. We would occasionally just stop and listen and hear nothing except the wind moving through the grass and the geese on the lake below us.

As we climbed higher (without coats for the first time this year!) we heard a sky lark singing high above the moorland. Surely that must be a contender for one of the best sounds in the world?! Perfect.

Gradually the track levelled out and we reached a series of pools where we could hear a chorus of frogs calling to one another.

It all just makes me so excited! I love winter for many reasons, but there is just something about Spring that promises potential for the rest of the year.
It has spurred us into action for planning our summer break and this week we’ve organised and booked quite a bit.

So far we’ll be visiting the Lake District before spending a few days hostelling in Glencoe.
Then we’ll be travelling to Knoydart. I’m so excited about this leg of our journey! Knoydart has been called the last wilderness in Scotland because there are no roads to it. To reach it you must hike 18 miles over the mountains or by a 7 mile sea crossing. Eeek!
We’ll then be spending a week on Skye before meandering our way back down South spending time in Devon, Wiltshire, the Cotswolds, London and the Lake District again.

My problem is that I’m an administrator through and through. I love to achieve things and tick them off my list. It’s not just office things – I find that I do it in normal life too. Even as I’m doing something, my mind is often on the next thing to be achieved.
However, I don’t want to be like that with our last few months in Aber and with the time we’re taking off from work. I want to try and enjoy each day as it comes and make the most of it because I know it’s going to pass really quickly. I’m not very good at sitting back and letting things happen, but I’m working on it!


Sick as a…Redstart?

17 Jun

I’m feeling blue today.

Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m feeling green – I’m sick.

This is annoying for two reasons:

1)      Being sick is one of the things I hate most in the world. Yarg.

2)      Today is the first day of five days I have off from work. I had to take them as my work year comes to an end next week and I still had a few days to take. We hadn’t planned anything, but were hoping to throw the tent in the car and go somewhere nice and enjoy some gorgeous weather.
Instead, all I have been enjoying is the view of my toilet bowl. And I use the term enjoy very loosely here.

Anyway, enough of my whining. I had planned a post today about how Josh and I have been spending our days off over the last few months.

It was all about maps.

Bet you’re devastated that I’m too sick to bother.

Instead I will just post some pictures of some great little birds we have seen recently.


For those of you not in know (and believe me, I’m not in the know but I will try and sound like I am) this is a Redstart.

Josh reliably informs me that my parents-in-law (who live in Devon) would sell their limbs to get such great views as we have recently. From that I take it that they’re pretty rare in Britain.

Apparently mid-Wales is a stronghold for them, but until now I have only ever caught fleeting glimpses of red high up in the canopy.

However, because we have been exploring more recently and have gone to some more remote places the birds have seemed a lot bolder and we have had some great views.

I will leave you with a picture that accurately sums up how I currently feel 🙂

Holiday Organisation

12 Jun

Warning – this post contains pictures of copious lists which may burn the eyes of the disorganised.


I know that I should be posting about what has happened in the last five weeks, and it will come eventually I promise. I have some great photos to share.

But for now, I wanted to share something that’s happening in the future, because well quite frankly I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE!

I am, of course, talking about our holiday to Shetland in July. We booked it back in February, and for the next few months it predictably melted into the back of our minds as busy life took over.
But now, with only just a month to go we have been finishing off all the planning and booking of tickets and hotels that we need to do.

And that my friends, means I have turned into a holiday organising whirlwind.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I can’t seem to function without lists. Although I’m SUPER excited about this holiday, it’s a potential stress for me too. I’ve never done the travelling thing. I didn’t take off on a spontaneous round-the-world gap year after school, I’ve never had to organise flights before, and it’s the first time we’ve really had to work out a holiday budget and try and fit transport and accommodation around it.

As a result it’s on my mind most of the time, and I have that squiggle of excitement in my stomach every time I think about it!  So…what do I do? I make lists!

This is my holiday notebook which I keep with me in my bag. Anytime I think of something that needs to be done, or something that would be useful to pack I can just scrawl it down in the book, because I know full well that five minutes later it will be gone from my mind. As a result, I hope to be super organised when the time actually comes for packing and travelling, and that will take away any potential stress from doing all these new things.


Anyway, enough of my weird control freakish nature…

The holiday we’re booked on is a ready prepared wildlife extravaganza. We’ll be having midnight boat trips [it doesn’t really get dark in Shetland in the summer] to see European Storm Petrels come into roost. (photo from here)

We’ll be taking boats, and walking along cliffs to see huge sea bird colonies, spotting dolphins, seals and maybe even killer whales [this is top of my do before I die list!]
We’ll be otter and red-necked phalarope spotting and so much more.

Josh and I are a little concerned that we’re going to be the youngest on this trip by about twenty-five years, but we’re hoping we’ll be proved wrong and will embrace it even if we’re not!

I’m going to use my planning notebook as a journal when we get there so I don’t forget a single sight, sound or smell of our trip, so you can be sure I’ll be sharing it with you as well!

Anyone got any tips for travel?


10 Jun

Hello! Croeso! Welcome back to Dreaming of the Country.

I’m sorry for the sudden way that the website got taken offline. It started out as me trying to edit the layout and not having enough time to do it properly, and then before I knew it, life had slipped by and soon five weeks had passed without a post – or infact a website at all.

The last five weeks have been great. Spring has passed into summer and all around us things are bursting into life. Josh and and I have done tons of exploring recently and I’m planning a series of posts on all the great places we have visited.

We’ve had family to stay, I’ve found some great steals, and seen some stunning wildlife. Keep checking back over the next few days and I’ll give you a full update on things.


26 Mar

During the first three years of being married and having a proper job and pretending to be a grown up, Josh and I haven’t really taken many holidays.

Sure, we’ve been on some fabulous short breaks – like camping in Pembrokeshire, and staying in the yurt…and we went to Scotland with our friends, but we haven’t really been on a proper holiday just by ourselves.


Neither of us have done a huge amount of travelling throughout our lives and so, with our newlywed budget dictating things, going on holiday wasn’t really top of the to-do list.

It wasn’t just going away on holiday we didn’t do. For some reason I didn’t tend to take large chunks of my allotted holiday all together. I guess I felt that if we weren’t going away I would be wasting the time.
As a result I ended up getting completely exhausted because I wasn’t giving myself enough time to recharge.

I really noticed it over Christmas. We visited family but then I had almost a week back in Aberystwyth just to relax before going back to work. It really helped me to recharge the batteries and I felt so much better for it.

So this year as part of our ‘make more effort’ campaign, we are making more effort to (a) make sure we are having enough time to be completely rested and (b) make the most of our time off and to see some new things.

1)      Next week we’re taking a TWO WEEK holiday!!! I am so ready for it as I can feel the tiredness levels creeping up and the productivity levels creeping down!
First we’re spending some time with our families and then we’re heading to Abersoch with some of our friends. Can’t wait!

2)      In August we’re going Northumberland with some of our close friends. It will be slightly different to our holiday to Scotland last year because there will be a new born baby with us! Our friends Will and Anna are expecting their first baby in April. It will be interesting to see how it changes our friendship dynamic, but I’m sure it will be FUN!

The Deeps Self Catering Holiday Cottage, Hunstanworth, Nr Blanchland

3)      BUT – the most exciting plan we have is to go to Shetland in July. OHHHHHH I’m so excited! It’s a fully arranged wildlife tour. To be honest, it’s a little bit of a risk – just incase we don’t get on with this style of holiday at all – but then you never know if you don’t try!
For seven days we’ll be escorted around the best wildlife spots in Shetland, we’ll be staying in a lovely hotel and being fed three course meals daily…

 …and hopefully be seeing

 Killer Whale

Red-necked Phalarope

Great Skua


(photos from here)


It’s getting ‘otter round here

11 Feb

Excuse me while I go and do a little dance…


…okay, sorry – I’m back now. Why am I dancing you ask?




Today I escaped the office and it was a perrrrffect day. First I had a massage (I got a voucher as a birthday present and have only just got round to redeeming it) and then we headed off to Ynys Hir for a walk in the clear beautiful mountain air.


We saw a male hen harrier, but I didn’t get a photo of that. (Apparently you’re not meant to ask if it’s the one that looks like a seagull when you’re standing next to hardcore birdwatchers)


We also saw Scaup near Borth, which is pretty rare. The photo is rubbish but it’s proof anyway.

(Apparently you’re not meant to call is a Skort when you’re standing next to hardcore birdwatchers) (I don’t know how J puts up with me).


Oh yeah, and then we saw this:


And then I died.


And then when I came back to life I took this photo



See, I told you it was a perfect day 🙂

Birthday Fun at Blwch Nant yr Arian

19 Aug








Top 5 Photographic Memories – Wildlife

7 Aug

You have probably noticed that I love wildlife photography. I love the challenge it poses because it’s often so unexpected and you only get a few seconds in which to catch something special. Josh and I try and get out into the countryside as much as possible and as a result so many of our wonderful memories hinge on wild places and wildlife. It’s wonderful to have some photos to help us treasure those memories.

1. Dolphins in Pembrokeshire. June 2008


This isn’t a particularly good photo but it just reminds me of fulfilling one of my ‘do before you die’ wishes. While camping in Pembrokeshire we took a boat out about 23 miles into the Irish sea and eventually came across a pod of dolphins which swam and jumped around the boat for about forty minutes. It will be something that I remember for the rest of my life.

2. Starlings in Aberystwyth. February 2005

 Aberystwyth starlings

During the Autumn and Winter months thousands of starlings roost underneath the pier in Aberystwyth. If it’s raining the starlings will quickly swoop underneath the supports, but if the weather is fine they will mass together in their thousands and perform amazing acrobatic air displays. This photo reminds me of eating fish and chips while watching one of these displays with Josh when he came up to visit me when I was at University. We have only been going out for 8 months and hated being apart. That week we spent together was very special.

3. Ynys Hir Lizard. June 2008


This was taken on one of the first proper trips I had out with my new canon SLR last year. I had to crawl so slowly to try not to scare the lizard and managed to snap two frames before it darted away. I doubted whether either would be any good as I had been balancing on one leg, but amazingly this one was great and sent me into a bookeh induced euphoria for the rest of the day. I will always remember that day as we saw so much good wildlife without even looking for it.

4. Woodmouse in Wiltshire. November 2008


I know, a woodmouse can’t exactly be described as a top wildlife spot, but what is special about this one is that I managed to share the experience with my young Nephew. We were lagging behind the rest of the group on a walk when I heard a scuffling in a nearby hedge. We carefully moved closer and saw this little chap just sitting there. We managed to get very close and then just crouched there watching. I could tell my Nephew was holding his breath and was spell bound. Very special.

5. Butterfly. Aberystwyth


I just like this photo, and it reminds me of all the hot summer days that I have spent lying in fields of long grass and wild flowers, staring up at the sky while butterflies flit around me.