Monday 23 August 2010

Walking into the weather . . .

I have had a satisfying day today. When we got back from town I racked my Gooseberry wine into a clean demijohn, and then carefully strained my Blackberry wine into another demijohn. That is now working very busily and I feel like an alchemist! The Gooseberry is sulking, but it didn't work much to start with - since this was made with a sparkling wine yeast I expected more action! Now I have some Blackcurrant in the wine bin, and will add the yeast this evening now it has cooled down sufficiently.

This afternoon I managed an hour's walk between the heavy showers. The route out was uphill pretty all the way, but as I had taken my asthma inhalers just before setting off, I coped just fine and didn't push myself on the steepest bits. There is no shame in stopping when you are unfit, after all.

The clouds were racing across the landscape like galloping mustangs. Over Black Mountain, they were stacking up in steel grey layers, like a pile of overcoats thrown on a bed at a student party. The moor grass, faded to ecru now, must have been rippling in the rising breeze which was probably blowing half a gale up on the moorland above Llyn-y-Fan. I strolled along in the sunshine, the breeze kicking at small dessicated leaves already cast off by the Hawthorns, bowling scarlet Gean leaves from side to side of the lane and making the blackberries dance on their stems.

The red Campion jittered in the hedgerows, whilst the bees were even tempted by the small pink flowers of one of the Cranesbills.

I stopped for a moment to watch the ducks at Old Isaac's - or the holding that used to be Old Isaac's when he was alive. The old bothy which had once been home to probably his grandfather's family is now more than half crumbled onto the turf. Once the back was broken on the roof, it was the work of but a few harsh winters for the end wall to follow it earthwards. A small window now leans crazily in what remains of a side-wall, the mortar between the stones which once held it upright cracked with the efficiency of a hammer by consistent wet and cold spells. The twisted corrugated iron sheets hide what remains of the thatched roof and the cruck beam which supported it for two centuries or more is now bed and board to woodworm and Death Watch Beetle.

This photograph shows how easily much of the Welsh countryside would return to feral woodland given half a chance. A dense covering of trees such as those in the foreground would have been a familiar sight to Roman legionaries marching up the A40 towards the next fort at Llandeilo or Carmarthen . . .

The sun went behind the clouds and the view towards Black Mountain turned grey-green.

There was a lot of sky today . . .

The lane ahead - but I turned for home.

The views through this walk are just breathtaking.

The road home with the Italianate tower of Pantglas in the distance.

Dryslywn Castle in the centre of the photo. The curtain walls, what remains of them, can be seen on the right, and there was a village to the left of the castle in Medieval times. The buildings are just bumps beneath the sheep-nibbled turf now.

This bee was obliging enough to stay still long enough for me to photograph it.

There were an uncountable number of small black flies which reeled off the fruit like drunken sailors, and tumbled groggily into the undergrowth. A plate-sized roundel of tiny flowers on a late Umbellifer tempted dozens more. I have never seen so many of these little flies in one place before.


  1. I so enjoyed your walk BB - yes at present the skies are wonderful aren't they - that is the plus side of this changeable weather - the less said about the minus side the better.

  2. I would have loved to take this walk with you through a landscape "plotted and pieced."
    I don't have asthma, but be assured I would have huffed on the hilly bits.
    You have such an eye for natural beauty and a gift of words for sharing--"the red campion jittered"--and the bittersweet description of Old Isaac's place.

  3. What a wonderful walk and gorgeous steel grey skies, ever changing. We once ran into those little black flies on Flamborough cliffs an were covered with them. The locals call them Thunder flies.

  4. MM - I haven't felt in a "writing mood" for many months now, especially recently with all the nonsense of the ninkompoop agent. It was nice to unwind yesterday, enjoy the scenery and really LOOK at nature.

    WoG - I am making the most of the sunshine before it TOTALLY gives way to the average Wet Welsh Winter . . .

  5. Thoroughly enjoy "walking" with you today. I liked your picture and description of what Wales would have looked like when the Romans came.

  6. Amazing pictures and yes, an awful lot of sky :D I love the new header, it makes me want to move to Wales more than ever. I'd be there tomorrow if I could.

    I've revived the Eriskay forum and could do with someone else to chat with if you can remember your password. I've tried to drum up interest, but people seem sooo shy! I'll put a link up on my blog soon, but I'm not advertising here, that would be too rude :D

  7. I did actually note it down Kim! Glad you like the pictures - I was quite pleased with them too.

    Mac n'Janet - wall to wall trees, that's what it would have been like. There were native camps up on the higher ground - the Roman legionaries at the fort at Llandeilo would have seen the Silurian campfires (or better put, the campfires of the Silures - lest you think this was overrun with Dr Who beasties!) at the vitrified hillfort of Garn Goch . . .