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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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..

 

and now I am in recovery mode.. Roma Part One

Well I am back

What a weekend…

First some of the not so good parts –

1.  Starting a cold on the first night away.   I have been waiting in hope of a damn good cold, or maybe even flu so that I could have a excuse to lounge around in bed all day, with books and Toastie and radio and lots of sympathy etc.  As of last Thursday I had been waiting for about eighteen months, but no luck.  No.. We have to start the cold the evening I leave for Rome – Sod’s Law I believe it is called.

2.  No sleep the first night.  The seven of us thought it was a good idea and we would get more sleep if we booked into a Travel Lodge in Birmingham as we had to be at the airport at 5am Friday morning…. When the alarm went off at 3.30am  I was still awake… what larks!

3.  Two pairs of shoes but not the right pairs of shoes to withstand the miles of hot concrete and cobbles of Roman streets – will try a lot harder next time,  and there WILL be a next time because…

It was fecking fantastico!  The most amazing, romantic, interesting, supercalafradalisticexpealadocious  place I have ever been to.  And not only was the place wonderful but so was the company, the apartment that we stayed in and the weather,  all amazing  – so lucky I can still hardly believe it.

From the left, Al with one of his daughters Holly, Jenny and Simon with the wonderful spread that Al and Liz (Simon’s sister) put on for us when we arrived at their home in Birmingham the first night. Lovely people!
Liz, Chrissy and Kelly

 

Harvey, the most beautiful creature – Liz and Al’s fur child who, along with Mr T and Toastie the dog, should have come along with us..
The Crew crossing the bridge on the way to the Vatican, second morning. Liz taking the photo and from left to right, Simon, Al, Chrissy, Mouse and Jenny
The fortress Castle Sant’Angelo – began life in AD139 as the Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum and has had many uses over the years but now houses a fifty eight room museum (one for next time). Photo taken from the bridge on the way to the Vatican.
Liz and Jenny in front of a 4 metre high 1st century bronze pine cone. Jenny’s birthday present to me was a contribution towards the fee for our guided tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel – good present huh?
Egyptian lions the oldest sculpture in the Vatican – and that is saying something.

 

I had seen this image in books before but this time it’s me taking the photo, YaY!
Nero’s wife’s bath made of red porphyry. Sorry about the quality of the photos but I was so brain dead with a cold that I forgot my proper camera and had to rely on my mobile (on a visit to the Vatican for heavens sake)

 

Gallery of maps – incredible
Your’s truly with Jen and Liz at the Coliseum

 

I do have lots more photos but that’s it for now.  Having charged through the last four days my body has given up and I am having a pyjama day before work tomorrow.  The weather in Rome was so lovely and warm, and we have arrived home to flooding and the need to put the heating on so it is a good day to snuggle down.

Oh and Happy Autumn/Spring Equinox everyone!

Happy Samhain all..

 

And happy Beltane to those on the other side of the world..

Our clocks changed at the weekend and this evening while out walking Toastie and admiring the neighbourhood pumpkins I realised that if I didn’t move my ass I would be walking in the dark.  Sure enough it was full dark shortly after we got home at 5.20.

Although we have been having some gloomy days we have been blessed by incredible autumn colours.  Everywhere there are fiery glowing trees.  I walk in wonder..

Tonight is All Hallows Eve/ Halloween/Samhain.  A night to remember the dead and to light fire.

Lighting our Samhain fire

 

Lighting candles for the dead - among them my Father, I miss you Dad..

 

 

 

And the wheel turns..

 

 

be here now..

Enough

by Jeffrey Harrison

It’s a gift, this cloudless November morning
warm enough for you to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you
when you catch yourself telling off your boss
for a decade of accumulated injustices,
all the things you’ve never said circling inside you.

It’s the rising wind that pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
swirling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and rising above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go.

Autumn - Hay Castle

This ancient building is at the heart of our small town and believe it or not there is a enormous book shop in the other, not so ruined, end of the castle.  For more information about it go here

Autumn - Hay Castle

Random Bits of Me..

Today in Kiwi Land is ANZAC day, and I was going to do a post about it but have temporarily mislaid the photos I was going to use so will do it when they are found.

Instead, as I am still going through papers, photos, and other  assorted detritus of my life, I thought I would show you a bit more of me.  Not organised in any way whatsoever however..

First up is a page I printed out from a website on the day I discovered that Douglas Adams, one of my most favourite authors, had died.  This was the first comment I read on the board  at Douglasadams.com and it was just so appropriate – I cried.  So Rob Hamilton, if you are out there, thank you for encapsulating my mood at the time, saying exactly what I wanted to say and saying it in such a Douglas Adams way.

Subject: I’ll just lie down in front of this bulldozer for a while… ( 1 of 1 )
Posted by Rob Hamilton

One of the great embarrassing difficulties I have in my life is a complete and absolute inability to walk past a bookstore as if it wasn’t lurking there, ready to fiercely spring upon me and force books into my backpack while sucking out the marrow of my financial stability with great slurping sounds and an occasional burp. My eagerest joy has always been to poke around in the “A” authors, hoping to find either a new Douglas Adams title or one I was too blind to find when it first came out. I suppose I can relax about that now.

For the record: I’m practically 48, I’ve lived in Santa Barbara, I’ve had a heart attack, my spell-check runs away screaming when it sees me coming, and I shall continue to stay the hell away from gyms in the future as vigorously as in the past.

The postings are as heartbreaking as the situation that drags us together, bleary-eyed and uncomprehending, waving lighters in the rain. Thanks.


Well into Autumn in this part of the world - image by my favorite pagan artist Jane Brideson
I love old post cards and this one has a message on the back from Herb to his sister Phylis - card is dated 1904

This is a birthday card that my friend Julie gave me.  It is from a series called ‘Meet the Mustards’ by Sam Toft.  It has a charming little story on the back about Ernest Hemmingway Mustard and his dear lady wife Violet and Doris (Her Majesty) their rather grumpy, portly Jack Russell.  Sam Toft has a website where you can see or buy her art work – here and here is a little video of her actually drawing one of her characters, and Doris of course.  She is very clever and I would luuuve one of her prints!!