Explorer and Independent Biologist

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Triple Harp Mission

The Triple Harp is the classical Welsh harp. It is characterised by having three rows of strings (rather than one), the third row (set between the two outside rows) is tuned to the semi-tones, eliminating the need for keys or pedals. It is notoriously difficult to play. My younger son Carwyn has played the small Celtic harp (or "knee-harp") for years and has long set his sights on extending his repertoire with a triple harp. The mission was to meet him in Wales to collect such a harp which had just been restored.

 I wake to a fine dawn at high tide on the Welsh coast

The rendez-vous is  John Thomas' harp restoration workshop

Carwyn meets his new Triple Harp, 
a fine pedigree instrument, some 150 years old
Three rows of strings with accordingly three rows of tuning pins

Tuning so many strings takes some time...

 ...before I witness the first melody to issue from this harp in a great many years

World Premiere: Carwyn performs at his first 'gig' on his new harp 
the very same evening!

My visit occurred about the time of granddaughter Heledd's third birthday. 
What is in a the parcel?

 Heledd is very impressed with her new Jack-in- the-box!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Rydal Water in November

Rydal Water is one of the smaller of Cumbria's Lakes, surrounded by hills and woods. I decided to launch my kayak for a day's fishing soon after dawn on a beautiful calm November morning. Launching is from the car park at the north end of the lake into the river Rydal Beck and then a quarter of a mile drift downstream into the lake itself.

I approach Rydal Water with the morning mists still shrouding the hills

Mirror-calm conditions are ideal for exploring the lake and its little islands

By mid-morning the mists have evaporated and thin winter sunshine reveals itself

I manage to boat a decent pike weighing 7lb 3oz (3.2kg)

I reckon six servings from this fish!

By mid-afternoon the sun slips behind the hills

A moulted swan feather is trapped in some weed

Fishing in Rydal Water in by permit only. Day permits can be purchased on-line this the Lake District Fishing website.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Bridge to Freedom

The Einserkanal marks the border of Austria and Hungary, 
the division between Europe's former "East and West".

Sunset over Hungary on the left bank of the Einserkanal

 A watchtower is preserved as a stark reminder of the 
infamous "Iron Curtain" of the Cold War

In 1956 Hungary was invaded by Russian troops and some 165,000 refugees 
crossed a footbridge into Austria where they received freedom 
and a welcome and became fully integrated
The original bridge was destroyed by the Russians to curtail the evacuation;
after the fall of communism this replica was built in its place as a memorial 
to those who perished in their bid for freedom

The covered bridge catches the final rays of the setting sun...

...when the rising mists of dusk gather along the Einserkanal.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Maalie is off to Eastern Europe for a few days to his favourite place in Burgenland.

You can find pictures from previous visits to Burgenland here and here and here and here.