'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

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Friday, 21 June 2013

A short trip on the longest day

I had to be outside.  A primeval urge pulled me like a magnet up to Moel y Gaer hill fort.  At 10pm there was no-one else about.  I stepped over black slugs on the grassy path to the top of the hill and stood on the ramparts.  When the wind stopped buffeting me for a moment and I could hold my binoculars steady, I could just about see Blackpool Tower lit up and in the foreground, the steely River Dee and all the glowing lights of Liverpool.  I turned around and traced the dark, gentle mounds of the Clwydian Range, like soft scoops of chocolate ice cream.  And then the rain came, great big spots thwacking on my down jacket.  The wind picked up and blew the long grass in waves across the flat topped hill fort and murderous clouds covered the wavy-edged moon.  

I circled the ancient ramparts, paying my respects to Mother Nature on this longest day, apologizing for anything I may have done to upset her.  I did squish a slug last night as it made its way over a fresh green lettuce leaf in my veg patch.  Normally I lob them over the hedge.  When I had completed the circle, I headed down the hill with just enough light to avoid squishing any more slugs.
A blackbird sang in the gorse scrub, oblivious of the rain and the wind and the murderous clouds.

I’m going up again on Sunday to see the Supermoon.

Friday, 14 June 2013

A Short Break - Sixty Minutes from Home

Last week we holidayed all of 60 minutes away from home -  on the edge of the Menai Straits. 

Day one - from Is Helen camp site, a stone’s throw from Caernarfon Castle, we cycled past fields of glossy buttercups and verges fizzing with wild carrot to the windswept beach at Dinas Dinlle, ate mango ice cream, climbed a hill fort, drank tea in Caernarfon airport, watched tiny planes take people for an eagle's eye view of Snowdon.  Back at the campsite we watched swallows swoop for insects, and the sun set over the blue isle of Anglesey. 

Day two -  my reward for cycling to Rhyd Ddu via the Nantlle pass was a cream scone in our favourite tea room and sublime views of Snowdon all the way, complete with ant people and a miniature puffing train.

Day three – over the Menai Bridge to Llanddwyn Island. 
 ‘Nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness,’ according to Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. She lived as a hermit on the island (I wish).  Shelly coves, wild violas, pale blue squill, sea pinks, creaking terns, it’s a special place.
Neither sickness nor sorrow will follow a man from Llanddwyn.’ Dafydd ap Gwyllm, 1320 -70

Sixty minutes later, we’re back home, watering courgettes, dead-heading purple pansies, smiling at the memory of crunchy sand, frothy hedgerows, squealing swifts.

Thursday, 13 June 2013


I’m like a teacher on playground duty.  The garden is full of baby birds, squabbling, fluttering, squawking and pecking – at anything that might be food.  I’m on cat and magpie alert.  I need a whistle.

Baby sparrows hurtle - head first after their parents.   Fluttering their wings like crazy they crash land in the laurel with a great rustle of leaves. 

A baby blackbird with a punk hair-do and a stubby tail squats under the garden bench, his beady black eye darting all around.  He emits high-pitched squeaks, like an electronic gadget.

The clattering noise behind my chair turns out to be a pale yellow frog, making its way along to, who knows where?  We eye each other through the trellis.  We had a fibre-glass pond about 25 years ago, for a short time, perhaps the frog remembers it?  I can hear it jumping across sacks of compost and old flowerpots.

There are baby plants in the garden too- feathery carrot seedlings, tiny velvet apples forming, clematis buds about to burst and lots and lots of nasturtium seedlings in places I didn't put them.

Birds are very vulnerable when they bathe.  So I am honoured when a blackbird bathes about three feet away from where I’m sitting.  Pearly drops of water roll off his black feathers and the yellow ring around his eye is the same yellow as the Welsh poppies growing in the gravel path.  We know each other well, this blackbird and me.  I cut up apples for him, he sings when I need it most.