Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay: the lustre of pearls?

The video presentation released by Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay certainly looks impressive, but will the scheme have a ‘lustre of pearl’ effect on the bay?

The presentation describes plans to construct a 10.5 km causeway, using innovative techniques, to create a 11 sq km lagoon in a £650m development. But will it live up to its promises?

A lagoon for energy?

Fitted with turbines capable of generating enough electricity to power over 100,000 homes, the causeway certainly ticks the environment-friendly boxes, helping to create a carbon-neutral Wales. But what will the impact be on the local ecology? On its website the company appear to be quite honest in accepting that the development will have some impact on the local environment, and have confirmed that they will be producing an Environmental Impact Assessment report.

A lagoon of opportunity?

The developer states that the lagoon will provide an environment for reviving old marine-based industries such as oyster beds, kelp farming; and watersports like sailing and triathlon. These are to be welcomed and can only further enhance the bay’s status as a premier location for seafood and watersports.

A lagoon for jobs?

It is fair to say that the tidal lagoon will create some much needed jobs for the area and give our local economy a boost. But I assume that a development as cutting edge as this will require some highly-skilled expertise. I wonder how many of these jobs will come to Swansea Bay? I believe that the lagoon offers the Swansea Bay region an exciting opportunity to create a research centre, possibly at the new university campus on Fabian Way, to lead the way in the development of tidal power technologies for export.

A lagoon for art?

Some may find the suggested dragon sculpture a little cliche. However, the developers should surely be applauded for their efforts to include public artworks in the scheme. Cape Farewell, an arts group committed to engaging the public around the issue of climate change through the arts, have been commissioned to develop a creative inquiry into the scheme and how it will impact change on the area. Perhaps, artworks that stimulate debate around climate change and the marine environment specifically would be more appropriate and beneficial, and better reflect the innovation of the scheme?

What do you think?

Detailed plans are still being prepared ahead of an expected public consultation during the summer and submission to the UK Secretary of State for Climate Change and Energy in the autumn.

Meanwhile, here’s the report of the children of nearby St Thomas Primary:

And here’s what the children of Grange Primary had to say in a classroom debate:

TUC march for ‘A Future That Works’

Old Man ProtestPensioners RevoltingReturn of the nasty partyUnity is strengthHerts' NUTThe Front Line
Get Britain BuildingA Future That WorksDave Prentis at the frontNever to young to start protestingSay it loud 'Pleb and proud!'Coventry Pensioners
General strike?Protest chicNelson's protestGames Maker turned Demo MakerNot a deficit denierBig society? My arse!
Political choirsAusterity is failingSelling public services will increase cost of livingEnglish protesterProud to be a plebDog Steward

TUC March 20 October 2012, a set on Flickr.

Despite drinking a few beers and half a bottle of red wine I struggled to sleep last Friday night. Like many people I often toss and turn when I know I’ve got an early start.

The early start was, relatively speaking, quite exceptional – breakfast at 4am in the morning ready to meet outside Swansea’s Guidlhall at 5.30am.

Dawn showed no sign of breaking as I quietly joined my fellow activists. As we waited for the coach to arrive the autumn chill began to bite. At least I had been to bed, a brave chap had been in Cardiff the night before, enjoying a few pints with old pals, and had caught the early train.

The coach finally arrived, approximately half an hour late, and we set off for London.

There was an air of excitement on the coach, hushed by the sleepy yawns as everyone settled into their seats and attempted to get some rest before the day’s march.

A few hours later we were passing the spectacular James Bond theme window displays of Harrods.

After zig-zagging across London we finally alighted the coach in Aldwych and headed down to Embankment to take our places towards the front of the march.

The day’s march was peaceful and had a family-friendly atmosphere, I noticed several kids protesting with their parents.

After walking for two to three hours we arrive at the rally in Hyde Park to listen to the speeches.

Bob Crowe, Mark Serwotka and Len McKlusky went down a storm. My own union’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, less so.

But the frosty reception was saved for Ed Miliband, who struggled to be heard above the boos coming from the activists gathered towards the front.

That said, they’ve probably done him a favor – he may now be seen as not quite so ‘Red Ed’. His speech certainly spelled out some of the tough decisions ahead in creating a ‘One Nation’ Britain.

We headed back to our coach at around 4pm, stopping off for a quick pint and to pick up a few cans for the journey home, content that we’d made our point.

Perhaps, the time has now come for less posturing and more action. The activists’ calls for a 24 hour general strike certainly make you think.

Adain Avion

Adain Avion - Citrus ArtsAdain Avion - Citrus ArtsAdain Avion - Citrus ArtsAdain Avion - Citrus ArtsAdain Avion - Citrus ArtsAdain Avion - Citrus Arts
Adain Avion - Citrus ArtsAdain Avion - Citrus ArtsAdain Avion - Citrus ArtsAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban Spaces
Adain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban Spaces
Adain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - Bodies in Urban SpacesAdain Avion - part of the London 2012 FestivalCome on inAdain AvionAir con

Adain Avion, a set on Flickr.

London 2012 Torch Relay

The flame's in the lamp, look!Olympic FlameLondon 2012BasketballInspired by London 2012Slam Dunk!
Swansea Air Cadets BandHolidays... we mean the Olympics are coming!We are Premier LeagueEnjoying the rideCarrying the torchWenlock
ZumbaKissingLondon 2012London 2012 Olympic TorchLondon 2012It's your moment to shine now
Hitching a rideLondon 2012 in SwanseaHigh five!Hiya!Kissing torchesTwist and Pulse

London 2012 Torch Relay, a set on Flickr.

I’ve just got my hands on my first digital SLR camera and these are some of the first pictures I’ve taken.

My years commissioning photography are coming handy and I’m getting a great buzz from chasing the shot.

Who knows, I may be able to add photography to my set of skills? Then again…

Bendylegs Granola, a great local brand?

How well do you know your local business community?

It’s fair to say that most of us are aware of the shops on our local high streets – the baker, butcher, or fishmonger – but how well do you know the myriad of other businesses that exist, some thriving, many struggling, in your community?

I thought that I knew my local village, Mumbles, pretty well. However, today I discovered that a brand I once thought of as national, coming from somewhere in west London, actually calls Mumbles home. That brand is Bendylegs Granola.

Bendylegs Granola - a great brand born in Wales

Bendylegs Granola

Bendylegs Granola is the brainchild of mother-of-two Jo Watkins. Jo explains on the business’ website how her family loves the outdoors, how they like to shop local, and how they like to know what they’re eating. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that dissatisfied with the taste of supermarket granola she decided to produce her own.

Needless to say Jo’s granola was so tasty it caused quite a stir (no pun intended!) making the decision to step up and produce it commercially an obvious one. Now you can buy Jo’s Bendylegs Granola at a range of shops and cafes around Swansea.

A great brand?

The design is certainly pitching at a young, health conscious audience. The font used is often seen on Tumblr blogs with images of open seas and skies, striking a chord with VW Campervan and surfing enthusiasts.

A quick read of the Bendylegs website and you warm to Jo’s experience and passion for good wholesome food using locally sourced ingredients. The tone of voice is spot on.

However, I think that in its present form, closely associated with granola, the brand is fairly limited in its scope. It’s fair to say that Bendylegs has legs. By dropping the granola and diversifying one can imagine see a range of Bendylegs clothing, made in Wales using organic cotton, possibly to rival Howies, but I may be getting a little excited.

Meanwhile, Jo’s got a great brand with a strong wholesome ethos. It appears good and hearty, qualities that ring well with more affluent consumers.

Walking around Oxwich Point in January

‘An exhilarating ramble through woodland and along delightful coastline’ is how the walking guide described the 4.5 mile circular walk around Oxwich Point, and after a three hour trek through the less explored part of Gower I couldn’t argue.

A windy day at Oxwich Bay

A stiff south easterly blew across the Bristol Channel to greet us as we stepped out of the car mid-morning on a Sunday – a great way to clear the head after a glass or two on a Saturday night.

We walked past St Illtyd’s Church, a medieval church built on a site used for Christian worship since the 6th Century, and began our ascent through the ancient woodland. The church is open to visitors during August, and a quick peep inside will reveal a selection of 13th Century monuments including effigies of a knight and his lady.

The ancient woodland clings to the the north-east facing cliff, sheltering it from the prevailing south-westerly wind, but making it quite shady. Part of the Oxwich National Nature Reserve the woods offer a spectacular display of wildflowers in the spring, such as bluebells and ramsons. Budding botanists will also get excited by the several rare species of plants such as the Purple Gromwell, Herb Paris and Butcher’s Broom (or Knee Holly).

Straight to the point... Oxwich Point!

Alas, whilst this winter has been rather mild bluebells were out of the question. However, we were treated to a sighting of a rather unusual fungi growing among some moss clinging to old plastic Coke bottle – I know Coca-Cola are big on branding, having turned St Nic red, but red mushrooms?

The fungi in red...?

We continued walking a little while through the woods, up then down, before finally emerging into the bright sunlight and a stunning view out to sea. It literally was breathtaking, or was it the climbing up and down? I pulled out my flask and we stopped for a quick coffee and to enjoy the scene.

Pennard ahoy!

After our caffeine fix we were ready to hit the trail again. Thankfully (for the sake of my marriage at least!) the path is easier from this point forward – it’s open, wider and pretty much flat. As you’d expect the views out to sea are brilliant. The sounds, especially the waves crashing on the rocks, soothing (ta-ta syrah!). We walked some way before turning Oxwich Point and gaining our first sight of Port Eynon in the distance.

Oxwich Point looking toward Port Eynon

Beyond this point the coastal path really widens, we’re virtually walking through fields, and being bombarded by constant reminders of why Gower was the UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

However, not even the remotest parts of our coastline can escape the effects of life in a throwaway society. The strandline on the pebble beach below was littered with debris, plastic bottles, and this crate!

A beached crate!

Not far from where I took this photo, at Slade sands, we stopped again for coffee before heading inland away from the coast and up the hill. A short walk along a track and we picked up the lane leading from Slade back down to Oxwich, stopping only to admire the fine-looking cows grazing hay in the paddock of a farm.

What a mooverlous day!

With journey’s end in sight, we picked up the pace, walking briskly down the hill past the entrance to Oxwich Castle and Greenways Leisure Park.

Our ramble was exhilarating, the coastline delightful, and we shall definitely be returning to this part of the Wales coastal path again, maybe in May to check out those bluebells!

A walk around Rhossili Down in January

EmsSunset over RhossiliA happy coupleRhossili Down OS trig pointLooking good?Neigh!
Iron Age defence ditch?HillfortRhossili Sunset

Rhossili Down (January 2012), a set on Flickr.

I’ve been quite active this year – going to the gym, and heading outdoors to make the most of the stunning countryside on my doorstep.

A few weeks ago, on a stunning Sunday, my wife and I headed for Rhossili Down, here’s a few pics from our walk.

I’ll be posting more in the next day or so 🙂