Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The NATO summit

The NATO summit came to Cardiff and Newport in the early part of September. To be in those cities at that point you would have thought that Britain was preparing for world war three.

Legions of armed policemen were drafted in, HMS Duncan docked, Cardiff castle became ringed with metal, roads were rerouted and the Celtic manor where the event was held was turned into a Welsh version of Fort Knox.

Overall us British held up our fine tradition of grumbling as the overall mood became one of did two cities really have to grind to a standstill for all of this?

In spite of this the mood remained good, it was something different to see in Cardiff. And even if people did find the police presence a bit excessive, us British do have a tendency to support our servicemen even if we are sometimes a bit skeptical about the cause.

The day of the summit itself left the city ghostly quiet as any expected terrorist attacks failed to appear and any turnout for NATO based protests were rather lower then expected.

Once it was over the extra security measures seemed to melt away over the weekend. Leaving Wales to have its brief time in the spotlight.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Where are all the wild things?

I have a question for everyone in the UK, when was the last time you saw a hedgehog? Or a Slow worm? How about wasps this summer? Or bees even?

Those were the questions at the heart of this year's governmental report on the state of nature. The report's findings were rather worrying: Out of 3,148 species that the report monitored, 60% were found to have been in decline in the last 50 years and 31% were shown to have declined strongly.

This has been linked to factors such as the destruction and degradation of Britain's natural habitats and global warming. With an emphasis on the decline of species with specific habitat requirements. The fact is the world of nature is changing fast and not for the better.

When I was a child I grew up in the town of Monmouth, I'm not going to pretend it was an idyllic childhood, but the lasting impression I have was one of being surrounded by the beauty and wonder of the natural world. There were multicoloured butterflies, bees nests to be avoided, slow worms to be gawped at and swallows that nested in the eves of our houses on late summer days.

But the question is how much of this wonder will our children have left by the time they have grown? Will they have insects to pollinate their crops? Will they be able to tickle trouts under rocks? Will they still see heron's fishing on the river? Or will they turn round to their parents and ask the question where are all the wild things? Where did they go?

You can find the report for yourself in the link below.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Industrial revolution

After having moved to a less then salubrious area of Cardiff, I discovered to my delight that I was right round the corner from an industrial estate. I had made a mental note to explore it and so as the sun was setting I made my way to the grounds and began to explore.

I discovered damaged gates, rusting metal, barbed wires and electrical cables and all around it the surge of nature, an unruly tide threatening to swallow everything in its path in its quest to reclaim the land that man had taken from it.

It is these places that I love the most. Forgotten, decaying and being slowly retaken by the greenery that begins its eventable creep inwards.

It also offers fantastic opportunities for photographers, filled as it is with details, wonderful colours and dramatic shadows against the sky and it shows that for a photographer anything, even something that can be as ugly as an industry estate can be remade into something that is colourful and beautiful.