Novelty snow..

Where I grew up in the North Island of New Zealand, snow was a real novelty.  I remember as a small child being taken up the mountains to see the sparse snow that had fallen but it was many years before I saw snow actually falling and then I was smitten.  It’s easy to be smitten with snow when you have warm clothes and a warm house to snuggle in of course.

This week we have had snow for the last several days on and off.  In fact for the last two days my late afternoon compulsory walk with the dogs has been enlivened by the weather.  Both days we have left the house in bright sunshine with the odd flick of the white stuff and both days we have been hit by mad, blizzard conditions before we were half way down the road, turning myself and the dogs into ambulatory snow creatures. Today the weather is properly cold, it’s been snowing constantly all morning and on our walk this morning I noticed that there was coagulating ice floating down the river.

You would think then that there would be few people about for the usual Thursday market day but surprisingly there has been a steady stream of customers at the few market stalls that did brave the conditions and I bought the last three remaining, locally baked, gorgeous hot cross buns at the Londis.  I also stopped at both bakery stalls buying Portuguese custard tarts from Kate the Bread  (which, by the way, you take one bite of and have a moment of utter bliss as your brain realises just how truly delicious they are) and a massive Chelsea bun from Sue bravely womanning the stall at Gooch’s.  I am eating to stay warm of course, not because of my massive greed 😉

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Something odd happens to people when it snows – they suddenly become a lot more friendly, not that Hay people are not normally a friendly lot but snow means that everyone talks to everyone, whether you know them or not.  I have found myself on several occasions standing in a snowstorm having conversations for long enough to cause drifts to gather around our legs.  Also nationally it brings out the utter unselfish goodness in people who look out for their neighbours, help people trapped in cars and aid those in need.

So, how am I spending this snow day?  Well I have chosen today to defrost the freezer because why wouldn’t you when you can just pop the frozen food outside the door to keep cold?

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I have taken the opportunity to slow cook a shoulder of pork using the Pulled Pork recipe from the Guardian so I will have that in the oven on low for the rest of the day.  There will be some crochet done this afternoon and maybe some stitching and listening to the radio before I have to drag myself and our furry friends out for a walk.

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Where I will be crocheting.. and dreaming of spring.

Mr T is driving a bus in the frozen wastes and I am hoping he is ok and furiously hoping that the weather will mean he can come home early and have a snow day tomorrow.

I am also furiously hoping that everyone stays warm and safe and that all the wild creatures find food and shelter over the next couple of days until sane spring weather returns.

Until then – let’s be careful out there..

STFU

So many thanks to you Katy for saying so well what I wanted to say – you are wonderful and fierce.

Katyboo1's Weblog

I rarely write blog posts about the news or politics any more. It’s not that I’ve stopped caring. I have found in recent months, with being ill, that I care too much, that I simply cannot get past the overwhelming tragedy of this fucked up world to write anything much that makes sense.

What I really feel, most of the time, is a huge, anguished howl inside me if I engage with the news for more than a few moments at a time. I feel like if I start writing/talking about it all, I just won’t be able to stop, there is so much that is wrong and ugly about the world my children are inheriting and it is painful, truly painful to think about it for too long.

Today though, I feel I must say something about this outpouring by women in light of the Weinstein and parliamentary news…

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So what can I say about today?

It’s been one of those..

Picture this.. even though I feel like hell I am being good, getting extra exercise by walking the dogs to the Co-op. Grabbing my bag of groceries and thankfully turning towards home.

I let the dogs off lead on the river path for a free run and just before we get to the turn up to the road – Toastie goes AWOL.  My cries to no avail, I perch on a bench to gather myself and wait out the surge of pointless anger I feel towards the dog and discover my nose is bleeding – and not just a little bit, and I have no cloth, no hanky, just my scarf which I very sadly use.

And then there was the farcical effort to attach Charlie to the lead, find Toastie and attach her as well, all the while trying to hold my scarf to my face whilst carrying a bag of groceries with Toastie lunging at invisible squirrels and Charlie shying from the swinging bag and wrapping himself around my legs.

Yes that sort of day..

I can laugh about it now.

Crunchy Leaves..

I have unearthed my favourite green, woolen cardigan and today for the first time in many months I have worn it and the poncho and beret I made last year.  There is something about these much loved garments that brings comfort – like old friends you haven’t seen for a while.  And I love that it is cold enough to meet them again.

It is autumn – just over a year since we travelled back from New Zealand, and I found myself appreciating all over again how stonkingly gorgeous the changing countryside is, even though everything is withering and dying – it does it so beautifully.

This is my favourite time of the year without a doubt and I suspect that is partly because the introvert part of me likes the excuse to hide out, cwcth up ( a welsh cuddle) and hibernate.  But also – I like the way the air feels when we are out walking, the crisp, clearness of it.  The colder weather makes me feel more alert, almost as if there is a hint of danger,  perhaps it is an ancient memory stirring – beware the cold and dark are coming.

I have to be firm with myself not to rustle up memories of childhood ghost stories when I walk the dogs in the graveyard in the gloaming, in order not to give myself the creeps..

I love the changing colours of the plants, the bright glossiness of the berries, the activity of the animals and insects as they rush to fatten themselves and to store food for the coming months.

Toastie has gone squirrel mad lately as the little, furry blighters spend as much time as possible hunting for food, often down on the ground.  To our scruffy terrier, squirrels are  fair game as well as very annoying, the way they sit up on their branches making harsh cawing noises at her and giving her the furry finger, so she rushes up and down the woodland river banks peering up in the trees with not a hope in hell of catching anything.

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Yesterday’s brief post was an attempt to sort out the technology around Google photos, because I now use my phone and ipad as well as the camera to take photos and I can store them all together.  I hadn’t yet worked out how to upload from Google onto my blog so a bit of experimentation was needed.

WordPress kindly tells me it’s four months since I last wrote and my previous post was so depressing that I needed to get rid of it for something more cheerful.  Oh and Charlie has totally recovered from his broken leg – thank you for asking 🙂

Despite our disastrous attempt at a holiday back in March we have managed to get away from Hay a few times without any major incidents.  There is one thing about bad things happening – it makes other occasional misfortunes seem like nothing in comparison.

We had a week camping in Rhandirmwyn, Carmarthenshire, at an incredibly beautiful camping spot down by the Towi River and despite rain and the attempt by the local insect population to eat Mr T alive, we had a great time.  In fact because of the rain and the well bitten Mr T, we got to spend a night in a pub in Llandovery in the middle of the week just to have some respite, which was most enjoyable.  The next day we visited one of our favourite towns just up the road from Llandovery – Llandeilo, which has lovely shops and eating places.

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By Llandovery Castle

 

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Camping with Gin and Snacks
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I bought along a sun lounger for myself
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Talley Abbey

We made it all the way up to Lampeter and visited the ruins of Talley Abbey on the way.  The Abbey was built in the 12 century and the Canons that lived there wore white robes. The place is lovely and spooky and I could imagine a dark night and the robed figures haunting the place.

We also visited the medieval Cilycwm Church, just up the road from where we were camping – very worth going there if only for the 18th century paintings on the walls, which were redone in the 1980s.  I particularly loved how the powers that be thought so much of the paintings that they just bunged other monuments on top..

 

We have managed a few other trips away – a day trip to Rhossili Beach on the Gower which started out as a quick visit down to Swansea with Sunday lunch at The Ancient Briton on the way and turned out to be a proper day out, not getting home till 10pm that night.  We haven’t been to the Gower since we got back to the UK last year and Mr T being in a driving mood we got to Swansea and just kept going.  We made the long walk down to the beach watching the hang gliders and peregrine falcons hovering above us and spent a lovely hour or so on the beach before heading back up the steep walk (not for the faint hearted) for a pint and chips at the pub on the cliff – spectacular views and the sun came out to cheer us.

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toastie at rhossili .

I will post this now as it has taken a couple of days to get this together and will write again soon about our latest break away.

 

Bain and Murran’s World Famous Emporium.

I could moan on about the state of the world, or get all droopy about the greyness of the sky – but I’m not going to.  It’s all got a bit much lately, so instead I’m going to write about something that cheers me up, another post about a friend’s fantastic shop in Hay..

I heard about Becky before I met her.  A woman came in to my work wearing a beautiful embroidered, felted wool bracelet, and I was like – Oooo! where did you get that?Information gained, I soon enough made it up to Hay Castle where Becky had her shop.

Since then Becky and her partner Tom have moved down to Castle Street and the shop there is an absolute wonder.  Like Simon in my previous post, Becky is enormously creative, knowledgable and has the magpie eye for finding interesting and unusual objects, clothes, shoes, jewellery and all manner of fascinating things.  I wander around her shop with my mouth open and you could easily spend an hour or two fossicking for treasure.

She is also one of the best friends you could have, kind, wise and a hoot, with a London background in magazine and T.V. work, she is an interesting person who is interested in other people – how lucky I am to have been able to come to the other side of the world to meet her.

Oh and Tom is lovely too!

Some photos folks…

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Here is the woman herself under a waterfall of vintage scarves..

These are some of Becky’s own creations, beaded and embroidered brooches and bracelets, which you can’t buy on the net, so you’ll just have to come to town and visit..

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Two floors of Amazing Emporium!

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Something for the boys..

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It was fun taking the photos but once again I don’t think I’ve done it justice.  So if you are in town and have had your fill of books, you can always take a wander into Tom and Becky’s shop and you might just find some lovely thing that you  can’t do without 🙂

This evening a nearly full moon rides serenely in the sky with a pale, petrol slick coloured halo glowing as the slow clouds pass.

I’m feeling pretty serene as well which I am curious about.. Most of the day has been spent in tired despair, brain fogged and irritated  at myself, continuously forgetting what it was I was about to do, dropping things, knocking things over, snagging my clothes, dribbling my scarf in the washing up, remembering just what an utter arse of a person I am then getting cross for calling myself names – and generally getting in my own way, and then suddenly, about four in the afternoon, and for no earthly reason  that I can think of,  I find I am completely and utterly fine..

I watch myself in wonder as with returned energy I walk Toastie and Charlie through the grave yard, calmly spending time reading the grave stones and allowing the dogs to sniff to their hearts content.  I feed my friends cats, stopping to sit and talk to them and stroke their lovely fur.  I sort the recycling and actually don’t hate doing it.  I think of something for tea without effort and cook it well, sausages and onion gravy, potato and swede mashed with warm milk, garlic butter and loads of parsley, steamed carrots and brussels sprouts.  And then I eat it at the table, enjoying that I have made myself good food, appreciating it, thinking that Mr T will enjoy it too when he gets home from his chess club later tonight.

And then I step outside and watch the moon and think it may be the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life.

 

it’s great being back..

One of the first things I noticed when we arrived at our new home in Hay-on-Wye, just over two months ago, was this stone doorstop covered in a crochet cozy by my dear friend Em who had found us this flat in the first place.

It is always a bit worrying when you rent a place sight unseen and although the flat has a few small downsides it has turned out to be a great, little bolt hole.

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And it is wonderful to be back in Hay!  Really so good.  We arrived back to a spectacular autumn, warm and beautiful.  Our house lacks a garden so we have to walk our dogs a lot and we have visited quite a few of our old haunts, up on the Begwns (where it is possible to see all of the Brecon Beacons National Park from the roundabout at the top), Cusop Dingle where I was happy to greet my favourite, majestic Copper Beech, and the castle at Clun on the way up to Montgomery.We live close to the Wye River so that is the default walk of the day.

 

Two months has been enough for the weather to slide into winter and so far we have had one furious storm and yesterday and today the temperatures have dropped to well below zero and even though the sky is clear blue and sunny  the frost stays on the ground all day.

Our flat is in an old, stone building that used to be the work house, it has massive thick walls and is amazingly warm so that even though it is minus 5 outside I don’t need to have the heating on.  I was not best pleased to hear of the buildings horrible history when I got here but I like to think that we will be adding some happier atmosphere to it, besides Em tells me she smudged the place before we moved in to clear any negative energy and whether the smoke helped or not it’s the intention that matters.

Mr T is working back in his old job and has found a welcoming chess club based in a pub in Presteigne, not far from his work.  I am back making things to sell and consciously working on keeping the Black Slug of depression at bay, which is made easier by good friends, beautiful surroundings, our lovely dogs who need lots of walks in the fresh air and it’s nearly Yule!!

This weekend the Christmas lights were turned on on Friday night and that plus the Hay Winter Festival, Food Festival on Saturday, Vintage Market on Sunday meant that the town was full of happy wanderers even more so that usual.

It is lovely living here, we are so very lucky..

 

like a phoenix..

I have been awake since 5.30, and up since 6.15, full of energy and surprising Mr T who’s already up for work.  This early awakening has been happening for a month or so now and I have to admit, I quite like it.  Extra time to sit and drink coffee and read or surf or wonder at the world outside my window before it wakes up.

The energy I feel on waking and throughout the day is complemented by sudden surges of fiery bodily heat that has me casting of clothes in all directions.  I appear to be arising like a Phoenix from the flames.

It is amazing to me to have all this energy, I am immensely grateful for it, especially at this particular time when I am packing and organising and having to be ‘on to it’.  I try to remember not to regret all the years spent living in the grey mire.  After all, I couldn’t fully appreciate how I am now with out experiencing the opposite.

In addition to all this unexpected menopausal energy is the fact that I am no longer able to drink alcohol the way that I used to – and that is so weird. I have gone from easily drinking the best part of a bottle of wine at a party with little or no ill effects to cautiously drinking one glass of wine because two will not only give me the start of nausea but also give me the hangover of the century.  Why does no-one tell you these things may happen?

What is even weirder for me is that if this alcohol intolerance thing had happened a year or so ago I would have been devastated – no more social crutch, boo hoo, throw my toys out of the cot time.  Now however, I feel quite calm about it and that is so odd – almost like I am on some kind of hormonal valium.

In my down time I am stitching and enjoying it so much.  Around 5pm, after dog dinner time, I seek my spot on the sofa, gather the fur babies around me, cue up what ever I am binge watching (at the moment it is The West Wing and The Great British Bake Off), adjust the Anglepoise and happily stitch away.  I have finished one piece  –

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and working on another..

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and trying to organise supplies of embroidery cottons, fabric and yarn etc so that I have enough to keep me going after everything is packed.  Then doing the classic of realising that I have packed something that I am actually going to need and then not being able to find which box I’ve put it in, grrr.

This morning I have dogs to walk and a fridge to clean before a prospective buyer visits this afternoon so I am off and running – hope you all have a happy, energetic day too.