I have spent the last month feeling unwell. It started with a "bit of a cold" which then took up residence in my sinuses and refused to go away. It prowled around my body, making me feel tired, dis-spirited and nailed me to the sofa more afternoons than I care to remember. Afternoons with the wood-burner lit, the racing on (horses of course) and a pile of books to read beside the sofa which teetered ever higher. We have all eaten very badly, far too much "boughten" food as opposed to home cooked from scratch, had no home-made bread, but I just didn't care. I couldn't even smell it nor hardly taste it. Morrisons pies or packs from the chill counter filled a corner, and that was it.
This week I finally dragged myself to the Doc's and had a change of asthma medication (and a shock when I found my peak flow was down to just 250 - eek!), was given my flu jab and a script for a nasal spray to cure my sinus problem. Two days later I feel a different person and I actually slept WELL last night. Unheard of. No waking at 12.15 or 2.15 a.m. and laying awake for hours, desperate to sleep again.
Yesterday, I thought I would put the new medication to the test and the best challenge was to climb to the top of the hill behind our house. It is a steep challenging climb - on the map there are arrows on this hill, showing how steep it is. The second stretch of it is a two-arrow hill . . . that says it all - especially to an asthmatic. I told myself, if I got really out of breath, then I would just turn around and come home. Anyway, I strolled around the first bend, camera in hand, and was bewitched by the liquid chinks and burbling of the stream as it flirted with the sunlight, dappled the water-rounded pebbles, whirled in little eddies and then shot into the culvert which took it under the lane and delivered it, breathless, into our stream by the fairy dell.
Butterflies - Speckled Woods mainly, though I saw a Comma and a Red Admiral in the garden - were whirling in a last dance of love before the colder nights robbed them of life. I picked the sweetest, juiciest last wild strawberries of the year from the bank beside the lane, savouring the flavour like a condemned man's last meal.
Across the valley the sheep were being moved from one field to another, a magpie streak which was the sheepdog hurtling into the curve of the outrun like a boy racer. The dairy herd watched me with sorrowful eyes. My breathing was good, but I didn't push myself. I faced the second hill, and could still climb it without pausing for breath. I paused at the top to stand on a gate for a photo of the distant Carmarthen Fans, and - fortunately for her - noticed a ewe on her back, struggling, panicking, panting and gasping for breath, so I climbed over and righted her and she shot back to the rest of the flock like a scolded cat. My good deed for the day.
Along top o'bank I stopped to talk to my neighbour. It would have been difficult to walk past un-noticed, since all her dogs (she has a bevy of well-grown pups right now) were barking and creating, and creeping behind me with hackles up and hopeful of an elicit nip to the heels. The sun was warm on my back and it was good to chat and put the world to rights. I announced I was only going to the corner and back, warning her that the puppy-pack would be announcing my return!
At the corner I climbed over the gate and negotiated my way between tussocks of couch grass and huge puddles of cow-poo and gazed at the view. The mountains called me. They are what I will miss most when we move. They have a very special power and magic all of their own. They are primeval and unchanging in this rapidly-changing world of ours. They are not the least impressed by celebrities or Ikea flat-packs or reality tv or fast cars. Bit like me really . . .
Sunlight dapples the leaves on our little stream. Double-click on them - they're magical pictures.
Looking back after the first stretch of our hill.
One of the last sprays of blackberry flowers.
Across the valley.
Pausing for breath at the top of the hill. Looking towards the Carmarthen Fans.
Honey bee on Meadowsweet.
Top o'bank . . .
Last blackberries, but probably not worth picking.
The long view.
Badger back door . . . I only say that as there was a very definite badger latrine barely a couple of feet to the left.
Looking across the Towy valley.
Mid picture is Dryslwyn Castle basking in the sunshine.
Umbellifer . . . I shall check which one when I next go downstairs to my botany books.
Grongar Hill - the tree-clad hill just to the right of the ash tree.
A study in brown.
My favourite view.