Sunday, 24 April 2016

Dancing with the chickens and walking with ladies

Dear Monty,

This Spring weekend was not what was forecast. Instead of cold wind and rain - warm sunshine and hope in the veins - enough hope for this day - as this day counts as do all days.

We walked a part of the hills that we have not walked in our 20 years here, with the staff and friends of our local GP surgery and their dogs. A walk for health organised by Gail Edwards.

The familiar valley and surrounding hills were seen from a different perspective. Walking is good not just for the body but for the soul, walking with other fellow humans also strenghens what it is to be human and the need for companionship.

Dogs also need walking !

This morning I felt more alive after yesterdays walk. I danced and sung with the chickens - like the fool I am - I feel sorry for my neighbours.

Spring has started late here in the Upper Tawe Valley, but it is such a welcome sight again.

Every year when the plants wake up - it is as though I have never seen them before - how quickly we forget. We need renewal. I need renewal.

I am opening my tiny one room studio this June, and will also open the garden. I have the anxiety provoking visit of the local NGS assessor on the 17th May - I keep thinking - this garden is too limited to be accepted - too scruffy, but then I remember all the gardens I have visited - and the ones I relate to best are not over- gardened - not too pristine.

I am alive today - thank God - alive in the depths of me.

I recommend dancing and singing with your chickens.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

More ups and downs

Dear Monty,

This experience was uplifting - a walk with two other men coming to terms with the issues that are put our way - the changes wrought by age and retirement, the pain and joy of memories both good and ill. Uplifting though because it is so true that burdens shared really do lighten the load.

Forest Coal Pit to Twmpa.

I wound up the road from LLanigon in my battered car to the foot of the Black Mountains.
I saw a mountain hare
A red kite circling
A raven
And skylarks

Over the Gospel Pass to meet
Two men
Like 'Last Of The Summer Wine'

Hedgerows were bursting into new life
Arum, sorrel, aconite, digitalis, primrose and budding branches

We walked past Journalists houses

We pulled up to the ridge on a sunken lane

Unburdening on our way
Stress and anxiety
Passion and dreams
and the real things of this strange life

Llanthony Priory like a miniature medieval ruin
We try and pronounce Capel y Fin and

Easier to say Lord Hereford's Knob

With a smirk we finally mount the priapic mound

And big skies greet us in the evening sun.


Sunday, 10 April 2016

The ups and downs of hill country

Dear Monty,

If you read this blog you will already know that like the rest of us I have both high and low points in my life experience.

Here in hill country the topography seems to rhyme with my internal sense of self - a symbiosis of the external and internal world.
I sometimes think that being a human is a largely painful experience especially when we can see the damage we cause to both our environment and one another. Then there is the exquisite painful joy of watching the light over the hills - a kind of deep yearning to be free.

Sue and me walked the old Swansea to Brecon railway line - now a cycle route and footpath. The views of this under appreciated valley are magnificent.
My mood lifted by the hills and that sudden changing light - patches of sunlight chasing the mountains lighting up the blond grasses and red bracken dried by Winter winds.

Just as suddenly my mood blackens like the sky as we drive back down to the valley floor.

Plastic bottles, take-away cartons, wrappings, plastic bags all litter the roadside verge, (the main route to the Tesco store) interspersed with daffodils and primroses trying to present themselves to bees.

This is the reality of living here. These extremes have to be tolerated otherwise it just drives you insane.

Have we become so disconnected from the hand that feeds us ? Is this the 'Land of my Fathers' that we so passionately sing about ?

This soil this earth is bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh - we work, live and die in it.

Is it that we are suffering a kind of post-industrial malaise ?

In contrast I walked the hills above Crickhowell in snow and rain with Charles Hawes. In that rural town there was no sign of litter in the byways.

This valley could be the same - beauty is here - it is just unseen by so many.

I will continue to point it out - open eyes - and continue the struggle to make beautiful spaces. I will press on to make a garden and paint frescoes of the life that my eyes see, as long as they are open.

As another confirmation - perhaps a gift - a pair of long tailed tit have decided to nest in our cypress.


Caravan for Charles (in the distance)