1. Kingfishers are absolutely delightful in the wild. Technically I've seen one before; back during my college days there was a kingfisher haunting the lake in the centre of our college. But that little guy was almost unbelievably obese. Like, literally unbelievable, in the sense that the ludicrousness of its ability to fly far outstripped the old factoid about impossible bumblebees.
I've no idea what the little dude was eating - "laked" freshers, perhaps - but the ones we saw in Pembrokeshire were fighting fit, and entirely lovely. We spent over two hours watching them, and might have spent even longer had there not been a constant stream of visitors to the hide who somehow harboured the ludicrous impression that chatting loudly to each other somehow wouldn't scare the birds as long as they did it just outside the hide door.
Turds. Anyway, here's one of Fliss' pictures of one of the birds. We also saw an otter - a long-time goal for both of us - but it didn't stay above water long enough for us to get any snaps.
2. Pembroke Castle is a good choice for a day out. In better nick than many castles (it was only taken once in its entire history, and that only because humanity eventually got around to inventing cannons), so there's lots of turrets and levels and corridors to look around, as well as a rather nifty cavern underneath that's just about big and pretty enough to impress despite the pigeon infestation and discarded kebab boxes. There's also some interesting history to the place, from it being a base to plan Irish invasions and defences against the French to changing sides repeatedly during the civil war. There was also some dude named Strongbow heavily associated with the place, which amused me. The centre of the castle is now a huge map of Wales, strewn with chess pieces, white and black (the English as the black ones, obvious), each one, naturally, a knight. Occasionally men dressed as squires will gather at the map to encourage children to bellow their defiance against the encroaching marcher lords. Jingoism as entertainment, basically, which I suppose is probably an art-form older than the castle itself.
3. Rocks are, of course, boring, but the locals did at least know a thing or two about putting them together in pleasing shapes. The upper stone in the picture below weighs somewhere in the region of sixteen tonnes.
And all because some guy died one time and wanted to be remembered. From a social justice perspective it's grotesque, a weathered, lonely reminder of the ludicrous excess of those who claim power and prove it by making their subjects bleed. It does have a striking beauty, though, the kind of beauty that, as with the pyramids, you can only acquire through a total disregard for human life. Ugh. Culture is complicated.
4. Rocks are, of course, boring, but the rocks that make up the cliffs of Cardigan Bay are among some of the least boring I've seen. Trapped between two outcrops of volcanic rock, the sedimentary rock in between has been squeezed like a stone zit, gradually creating a strange wave effect like the one I snapped below.
There's also this thing, which is - what the hell is this thing? It makes the Welsh coastline look like a half-finished jigsaw puzzle, which God had to abandon so as to make sure he had the time to make England perfect. (I need to stop watching old Al Murray routines.)
There are some awesome little caves too, which were hard to take good pictures of because all the other people on the boat stood up at the same time we did, blocking shots. Selfish.
5. Speaking of Cardigan Bay, dolphins are arseholes. When you get close to them you can see they're covered in scars from fighting each other. They make the lives of the local harbour porpoises a living hell. They wait for birds to settle on the sea and then charge them from beneath. They're awful. Pretty though.
Still, as the major would say, I wouldn't give them the time of day. And I got the chance, too, when we met the dolphin emissaries during Watch the Skies 3 last Friday. That though is a story for another post.