I know: it’s been over a month since I last blogged from Swansea. Why the silence? Partly busy, trying to write/read/research. Partly inertia – just the ordinary of business of life (e.g. cleaning, shopping for groceries, preparing food, distractions from Facebook) takes up a lot of time. Partly there was nothing very new to write about, when much of February was cold, dark, dreary with clouds and often stormy  —  even if there was no rain, there were quite a number of windstorms of over 40 km/hour, guaranteed to cause a lot of howling (both natural and manmade).

Pale daffodil, Brynmill Park, Swansea (28 Feb 2017)

But finally, spring is in the air.  Nowadays, sunrise is circa 6.30 am and sunset is around 6.15 pm. The three layers of coats when I go outside is beginning to feel quite heavy and burdensome to put on. Gloves are not necessary anymore for me, and soon, ditto for a cap on my head. Thursday 9 March 2017 was the first really warm day for over two months, requiring shedding at least my two outermost layers, and tons of undergrads were just walking around campus around wearing t-shirts. As I am writing this blog on Sunday 12 March afternoon, I have my balcony door open, the wind is wild, and is helping dry my clothes (the dryer on my floor is on the blitz again, I daren’t put out my laundry on the balcony lest the wind blows everything away), but I am not too cold. Oh yes, it is actually sunny, on and oft, as the wind blows the clouds to and fro.

Swansea University, Singleton Campus (9 Mar 2017)

Regarding Spring Flora

Due to global warming, daffodils started appearing in late January (I posted my first sighting on Facebook way back then). Aren’t snowdrops supposed to come out first? But apparently, snowdrops are not as popular as daffodils as I’ve only seen one batch and that was in a forest park in February.

Now, everywhere I go, there are daffys popping up all over the place. It’s really weird because where I thought were just grassy fields, now those places are covered with daffys or even white or purple crocuses blooming. (Hmmm… What other patches of ground will sprout summer/autumn flowers later on?) And it is very interesting to see the varieties of daffodils: bright yellow vs. light yellow vs. yellow with bright orange centres, big ones vs. miniature ones vs. small ones on long, thin stalks like anorexic models. Me: I just love the big yellow ones — more meat, so to speak.

daffodils, Swansea University, Singleton Campus (9 Mar 2017)

crocuses, Swansea University, Singleton Campus (9 Mar 2017)

snowdrops, Parc le Breos, Gower Peninsula (18 Feb 2017) — insignificant little things compared to the big bold daffy

There are of course lots of other flowers blooming, but I do not necessary know their names. The big tall trees have yet to show any leaves. But there are shorter, more ornamental trees that have a curious showy habit of blooming flowers first before their leaves come out; I presume then these trees will rely on their soon-to-appear leaves to help produce their fruits by autumn…

Some Sightseeing Around and About Swansea

Courtesy of fellow student-friends with cars, I’ve had the opportunity to visit and see more than the walk between Beck House and Singleton Campus and the route between Swansea town centre and Beck House over the last few months. Many thanks to DH, SH, MA and MHP!

View of Swansea Bay from Townhill (20 Jan 2017)

View of Swansea Bay from Townhill (dawn of 8 Feb 2017)

The neighbourhood of Uplands, where Beck House is situated, is midway up a hilly range on the seaward side of Swansea. The topmost part of this hilly range before it dips down to the valley side of Swansea is called Townhill. There are marvellous views from that vantage point.

The seaward side of Swansea has traditionally been the more upscale part of the city. By comparison, the valley/landward side of Swansea was blighted between the 17th to early 20th centuries with the negative effects of the copper mining/smelting industry, and if I’m not mistaken, the coal-mining industry as well. Nowadays, this side of Swansea is occupied with malls, warehouses, and modern industrial parks. The housing in this area is not as picturesque as seaward-Swansea, given that many of the old cheap terrace housing for 19th and early 20th century workers still exist.

The waterfalls at Penllergare Valley Woods (5 Mar 2017)

Parc le Breos, Gower Peninsula (18 Feb 2017)

Gower Peninsula (18 Feb 2017)

Gower Peninsula (18 Feb 2017)

Apart from getting to know the layout of Swansea, I’ve done a few scenic explorations. I’ve walked through Penllergare Valley Woods (outside of Swansea) with MA.  SH kindly brought SL and I to visit the Gower Peninsula and we walked through a park and some of the countryside.

Yesterday, I accompanied MHP on an amazing coastal trek from Mumbles Head to Southgate. Over several hours, I witnessed different aspects of the Gower coastline. Alas, I’ve been so sedentary recently that the last hour or so of the trek (going up a muddy and rocky path that did not seem to end) was hard going. Oh, my aching butt, knees and feet… But it was all worth it.

Gower coastline (11 Mar 2017)

Me along the Gower coastline (11 Mar 2017)

Hiccups and Progress?

Time passes so fast. I’ve passed into the six-month mark of the PhD programme at Swansea University. And it feels like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of things. There have been times when I’ve felt like what I’ve been writing is so blah and that I’m not getting anywhere… However, my supervisor seems happy with whatever has been produced thus far. So I presume I’m on the right track.

During the past week, there were a few heartwrenching moments. My computer decided to go wonky and not start properly. Fortunately, I was able to get a computer shop to help fix the graphic drivers that interfered with Windows 10. Phew… The two days of anxiety was completely draining.

And within the next month, I will be back in Singapore for a few weeks (between 12 April and 2 May) to celebrate my mother’s birthday and do some background research for my novel. Man… Time really flies…


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