I was going to do a review of the woolly year, and then I decided it had been just too patchy. No trips to Shetland, unlike 2010; instead I started it unwell, finished it unwell (with the same thing, and if anyone reading this is diagnosed with BPPV, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, is offered treatment and thinks ‘nah, it’ll go away, anyway’ – don’t fool yourself: like Arnie, it will be back, and will be much more of a bastard to shift), and took in a hand op along the way. So I’m not dwelling on last year. It’s gone.
Time to look ahead.
And, amazingly, the rain was gone too, yesterday, for a brief spell. So I put my work and my knitting aside, got on my boots and walked up the hill to check that a friend’s house hadn’t been flooded during her absence. Water was running down the sides of the lane, and occasionally across it, but it had stopped raining.
The domed hill behind us is called Moelfre. ‘Moel’ translates as ‘bald’ – no surprises there.
The whole landscape is littered with Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age remains and several of them do seem to be aligned with Moelfre, so my betting is that whatever vegetation covered the slopes in the past – few pollen studies have been done, unfortunately, the whole area is begging for more investigation – the top was just as visible then as it is now.
More recently, drovers’ roads criss-crossed the area. One went up the hill here, then joined others winding round the base of Moelfre. You can still walk whole parts of the ‘roads’, following clear trails and passing from one stopping point to another. These can be identified by the Scots Pines; according to one source the changing number of trees delivered different messages: ‘bedding and fodder for men and beasts’, ‘fodder for animals only’, ‘watering point’. And these wandering trails led thousands and thousands of beasts – and their accompanying humans – all the way to from Cardigan Bay to Smithfield and the London meat markets for hundreds of years.
But I was on a checking-up mission. No drovers’ road for me; probably just as well – they’re not tarmacked unless a modern lane overlies them, and the ground was very, very squishy. Can’t think why. I wandered round the house making sure that none of the nearby springs had burst their banks, and then I started colour spotting:
I am so easily distracted from the path of doing what I should be doing, or perhaps I was just overexcited by the sunshine. I love these colours, and I love the old stonework. One rule of thumb with trying to date houses round here is that the larger the base stones, the older the house. Some of the stones in the walls of this house are massive.
And then I became distracted by some nearby barns. Again the colours of the local stone, not to mention the local slate, call to me.
Even I, fascinated as I was, couldn’t fail to notice the disappearance of the unfamiliar big yellow thing in the sky. I took one last look inland, decided I’d better finish doing what I came to do and then beat a hasty retreat.
Those are Welsh Mountains, they’re tough. Unlike me – house fine, time to go back, finish my work and settle down with the knitting and a good film. At least there was some let-up in the weather for the start of 2013, and once the stove is lit and the kettle is boiled… I’d still like a little more sun, though.
Whatever you’re doing to mark the change of the year – if anything, of course – enjoy it. And may 2013 be a corker for all of us!