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WE may be heading for the heart of winter and the Christmas lights are glistening but on Langland Bay at the weekend the sky was a wonderful, summery blue.

Jets heading to and from America scored white lines in the heavens that looked down on the bay's iconic, 1940s looking green and white, palm fringed beach huts.

Gulls circled hopefully overhead and canoeists in their wetsuits defied the time of year.

Dogs of all breeds including my faithful Jack Russell Maisie and newly acquired, death defying (my wife rescued him from a river when he forgot he couldn't swim) Dachshund Stanley ran for sheer joy across the golden sands, their ears pinned back as they splashed again and again through the sun sparkled pools.

As the surf pounded ashore, pure white flecks exploding off the rocks on either side of the bay, there was an exhilarating smell of ozone.

As we headed back to the promenade, the dogs now dog tired, diners sitting outside the attractive seafront brasserie, the sun gleaming against its big glass windows and stainless steel chairs, knocked back glasses of fizz as they took in the view.

And there was a feeling of optimism in all this, that maybe the big bad recession had huffed and puffed and gone away and everything was alright again.

But there's a long way to go of course, the blue tarpaulins scarring the Langland seafront where PS400,000 worth of coastal erosion repair work is going on acting almost as a symbol of the financial problems that still have to be overcome.

Swansea council alone has this week identified an unpalatable raft of austerity measures aimed at bridging the PS45m gap in its funding over the next three years, something that's being repeated with varying figures in various parts of Wales.

Charges and fees could go up, jobs are under threat, funding to long standing institutions such as the Grand Theatre could be cut amongst a host of things none of us want to see.

I'm convinced though that Swansea Bay is as well equipped as anywhere to recover from the financial storm we've been through, with its mixture of huge investment in heavy industry, a large stake in the knowledge economy, an ever growing tourism offer, a bourgeoning film and TV production industry and a quick witted, hardworking population which has produced some of the world's best actors, writers, politicians and sports stars.

And as I drove back home, the sunset growing redder against the palms and the twinkling Swansea Bay lights, my dogs now contentedly asleep back to back on the passenger seat, I couldn't help thinking : "It looks pretty good, too."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 13, 2013
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