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November 2010


Posted by Danielle Cowell on 29 November 2010
Cheeky robin begging for food.
All puffed up.
Winter berries in the snow.
Ice melting on crab apples.

How the weather has changed since my report last week!

Temperatures have dropped and there is snow all over the country. Many schools have closed and many others are reporting 'rain gauges - full of snow'!

Maesycwmmer Primary School cleverly melted the snow in their rain gauge then recorded it! See the comments below.

Last night, temperatures plummeted to the coldest on record for November. In mid Wales, a record minimum of -18C (0F) was reached at Llysdinam, in Powys. Dr. Fred Slater reported: ‘I’ve been diligently recording the weather at Llysdinam Field Centre for the last 30 years – last night was the coldest on record”.

If you are able to get into school please send in your records and any snowy pictures you may have.

This cheeky little Robin reminded me of how hungry the birds are at this time of year. He came right up close to me this morning at St Fagans. Luckily, I had my lunch box so I gave him a few crumbs in exchange for a few close up pics.

If you would like to help the birds this winter remember to put some bird food out in your school or garden. I made some fat balls at the weekend. It was easy to do and good fun.

For details on how to make bird cakes and fat balls see

If you would like a good spot to watch birds why not visit our new bird hide at St.Fagans

Professor Plant.





Your questions and comments

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 25 November 2010
Professor Plant
Professor Plant

Here are some of your questions and comments.

Here are some very good questions from some very good scientists! Plus many more comments from schools below.

Oakfield Primary School asked: 'What is the tallest daffodil ever recorded in this experiment'? The tallest was recorded by Ysgol Sant Dunawd on the 15/4/2010. It was a whopping 80cms tall!

Ysgol Nant Y Coed asked: 'If these results are similar to this time last year?' A very good question. I've answered this question locally for Nant y Coed, for Wales and looked at the long term patterns.

Locally at Nant Y Coed school: On Average the first two weeks in November 2010 had less rain and were warmer than in 2009.

Rainfall: 2009 - 20.9mm. 2010 - 14.6mm.

Temperature: 2009 - 7.7degC. 2010 - 14degC.  

Was the pattern the same in your school?

Study 2010 results: 

Study 2009 results:

For Wales: This October was slightly colder than last year and had about the same amount of rain as in 2009.

Mean temperature in 2009 11deg C and 2010 9.8degC.   

Mean rainfall 128.3mm in 2009 and 123.8mm in 2010.

Looking at the long-term patterns: The monthly average for October between 1971-2000 was 6.5degC. The last two Octobers have been much warmer in comparison.


Have any schools had snow yet? If so let me know.

Many thanks. Professor Plant.

Visitors to the bird hide

Posted by Hywel Couch on 23 November 2010
Greater Spotted Woodpecker feeding on our peanut feeder outside the bird hide.
A Great Tit and a Blue Tit feeding together.
Male Chaffinch enjoying some seeds.
Female Chaffinch feeding. Note the difference in colour to the male.
» View full post to see all images

As the woodland birds get used to the new surroundings, the feeders outside the bird hide have been getting busier and busier. At times the feeders are covered in assorted tits, with the occasional nuthatch, chaffinch and robin to keep them company. Every once in a while a greater spotted woodpecker has been appearing too, forcing the smaller birds to hide for a short time.

The hide is very close to being ready to open to the public, still on schedule to be open before the end of this month. If you are thinking of visiting, remember to wrap up nice and warm, it can get quite cold in there at times. Even better, bring along a nice flask of tea!

The hide is a great place to get some great pictures of wildlife, here are some that we have taken of birds we have caught feeding outside the bird hide.


Wales for Africa - the final countdown

Posted by Mari Gordon on 22 November 2010

Had a strange last week in the office; as my colleague Ediwn was on his course all week it left me feeling a bit at a loose end, despite the fact that I had so much writing up to finish. I was also still very conscious of my host, at home recovering from her car crash, which was still casting a nasty shadow over everthing. Strangest of all, and bitterly disappointing, was that Edwin couldn’t make it to my presentation on Wednesday morning. I was presenting the principles of the strategy to the various member organizations, including board members. In a sense it was the culmination of most of my work. I wanted Edwin there so that he make sure the members were taking it all on board, but I also wanted him there to support me, and for everyone to see that it’s his strategy too.

Anyway, true to form, we kicked off 30 minutes late. (Apparently to a lot of people ‘9am’ means anytime that starts with ‘9’, so, basically I suppose it can mean any time up to ‘9.59am’.) Still a couple of people wandered in half an hour or so later, and I also broke off a few times as people took phone calls. However, I think I covered everything I’d meant to, to a full board room, and in the planned 2 hours. I finished by throwing it open for discussion, including getting the members to help draw up the Civic Forum’s tagline.

I don’t think I’d realised how nervous I was: I’d taken the Civic Forum’s old logo, which was actually quite new, scrapped it and come up with something radically different. I told them that just because they’re NGOs doesn’t mean they’re amateur. I said the strategy means that the Civic Forum has to live its values: if you say you’re inclusive, then you must communicate in relevant language via a relevant platform; you make your offices open and welcoming – right down to having clear signage to the toilets. Given the immense constraints and challenges these people face, I’m pretty lucky that the strategy was received on the whole with enthusiasm (if also at times with some mild confusion!)

Technicall I'm on holiday now, but I'll be returning to Lusaka in a couple of days to the handover I couldn't do lsat week. I've also got a couple of last-minute jobs: after the presentation I was asked to write a brochure for one organization, who do rights awareness with people facing forced eviction. I was also asked to design someone a logo! Luckily, it was one of the easiest things I've had to do here - explaining that no, I can't, as I'm not a graphic designer!

Tudor Music at St Teilo's Church

Posted by Sara Huws on 17 November 2010
Just a quick post to let you know that our first ever Liturgical Re-enactment at St Teilo's is now online.

Lead by the Centre for Research in Early Music, University of Wales Bangor and Exeter University, this was an attempt to see if the rites of pre-Reformation Wales could be performed in our day today. They were interested to see what kind of questions and problems came up, as well as testing their theories on how Christians worshipped in Tudor Britain. We hope you like the outcome:

You can find more information on the project here.

Wales for Africa, some pics at last

Posted by Mari Gordon on 17 November 2010

This is us interviewing the Residents' Development Committee at George Compound in Lusaka. They were the most articulate and motivated group of people I've met. The house is an example of what people are living in.

Also, here's me with the RDC in Kawala Compound, 200 miles north, in Kitwe in the Copperbelt Province.

Wales for Africa

Posted by Mari Gordon on 16 November 2010

By some miracle we have half-decent internet connection at the office. Actually it’s not a miracle, as I happen to know that the server providers were working on the problem over the weekend. I guess I just didn’t believe it would make any difference, any more than I believed that the designers I was supposed to be seeing on Friday would turn up, or that my ‘office’ would really only take a day to ‘decorate’ (the day in question being last Monday) or that my mail will ever turn up.

Ooh, all sounds a bit harsh I know. But I’ve just had my third frustrating visit to immigration, thinking I finally had everything I need to renew my permit, only to be told I have to return on Thursday, after ‘the boss’ has had time to check my file (so what have they been doing?!). Was also sheepishly informed by my colleague that he won’t be here most of this week as he’s on and M&E training course; this is my last week of working with the organization, and I should be crossing every t and dotting every single I with him.

But what really set a bad tone for me this week – while also putting my whinging right into perspective – was finding out on Sunday evening that my host had been in a car crash. She, some colleagues – and her baby – were travelling to Livingstone. Seeing as she was being made to make the 8-hour journey, on a Sunday, she’d decided to treat the time there as a couple of much-needed stress-free days out of the office. Instead, they drove through a downpour for about half the journey until the car slipped off the side of the road and flipped over. I don’t know who I felt more sorry for, her in Livingstone with the baby, suffering from shock and fright, or her poor husband at home waiting and worrying until the next morning when he could travel down to join them. They’ve all been discharged from hospital with, apart from the shock, nothing more serious than cuts and bruises. The fatality rate for road accidents in Zambia is notorious, partly due to the driving in the cities and partly due to the terrible condition of the roads outside the cities, especially now that the rains are here. The fact that they escaped with nothing broken – or worse – really is a miracle.

Celebrating Moel y Gaer

Posted by Ian Daniel on 12 November 2010
Pupils from Ysgol y Berllan Deg, Cardiff with Dewi Pws Morris, Children's Poet Laureate
Pupils from Ysgol Rhos Helyg, Flintshire performing with Dewi Pws Morris
Opening the doors

A big thanks to the pupils of Ysgol Rhos Helyg, Rhosesmor, Flintshire and Ysgol y Berllan Deg, Cardiff for celebrating the opening of the new Moel y Gaer with us yesterday. We were all inspired by Dewi Pws Morris, Children's Poet Laureate. He worked with us in creating a performance and a poem. I'm going to carve the words of the poem on a wooden slab over the next weeks and it will be on display next to Moel y Gaer for all to see. You can read the poem which talks about home, memory, invention and a sense of continuity between past and present

Ti yw cartref y Celtiaid

Yn llawn o atgofion henfyd

Pobol cryf a dyfeisgar ein gorffennol

A ni? Dani yma o hyd

half term art cart

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 10 November 2010

I keep forgetting to take some photos of our quilt designs that the children made over half term! They are looking wonderful in the gallery, so i'll try and remember to get some photos next time i'm there and will blog about it as soon as I can!

Wales for Africa - flagging not blogging

Posted by Mari Gordon on 5 November 2010

Blog’s been a bit neglected recently, partly due to my travelling and partly because of incredibly bad internet connection in the office. Also no pics, due to more technical break down – my laptop has stopped talking to any external devices so I’ve no way of getting my photos off my camera. Disaster. All this, on top of the relentless struggle of getting from A to B whether through the gridlock that is Lusaka or over the bone-crunching out-of-town roads, is becoming wearing, if I’m honest.

Luckily the temperature has improved, as the rains finally arrived on Sunday night – and what rains! It was as if Lusaka had relocated to underneath the Victoria Falls, complete with thunder, lightning – and power cuts. Then, next day, back to intense sunshine and clear blue sky. It’s spectacular, but apparently we haven’t seen anything yet.

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