'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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Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter Solstice Celebration

On the shortest day the dawn chorus filled my bedroom and for a moment I thought I was lying on a mossy woodland floor looking up at the bud-thick branches of oaks against a spring-blue sky, but it was only my CD alarm clock, set to wake me slowly and easily at 7.30am. I stretched and smiled thinking; from now on, little by little, the days will get longer. 

Clutching lemon tea, I watched the birds on the feeder – mostly blue tits and sparrows, swinging and clinging and swapping places like an acrobat troupe, I could almost hear circus music.  And then, in a flurry of pink, a puff of long-tailed tits appeared.  With slight-of-wing, they landed, lifted off, landed, criss-crossed each other and seemed to alight on each branch of the old cherry tree for seconds. Then suddenly, they were gone.  Fleeting, exciting, breathtaking – a bit like life.

A plump female blackbird maintained her dignity as she balanced on a thin branch of the new crab apple tree, leaned across and plucked a tiny yellow fruit.  She brought it to the patio and chased it over the paving slabs before stabbing it with her knife-thrower's beak.  Later I found the empty skin glowing like a tiny sun amongst the dark and slimy leaves.

A ringmaster dunnock strutted around the base of the tree, piping in the next act.  I glanced around to see who would enter and spotted a nuthatch in its steely-blue cape, mousing down the tree trunk before it completely disappeared –no drum roll, no smoke, no mirrors.

Ambling around the garden I found some early Christmas gifts...


Saturday, 13 December 2014

More Slow Adventures from Home.

We had a hard choice this morning, fight our way to the shops and get mixed up in craziness or wrap up warm and head for the hills.  No contest.  And when you only live a hop, skip and a jump from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the sky is as blue as a robin's egg and the earth is all crunchy, it's even easier to choose the hills.

We didn't take a flask and buns this time, we knew the Shepherd's Hut would be at the top car park at the start of the walk up Moel Famau in the glorious Clwydian Hills.  

The little corrugated hut was tucked into its usual corner and the chimney was smoking.  But we had to earn our treat, though it was no hardship walking up that lovely hill.  We had plenty of smiling company as quite a lot of people had chosen to walk the wide aisle to the top of the hill rather than struggle up the supermarket aisle.

In the distance, the hills of Snowdonia glistened.  We watched a kestrel looking for a meal.  He hung in the ice-blue sky like he was being dangled from invisible wire. If it snows, he'll find it very difficult to find food.  Kestrels see in ultra violet and they hunt by following the ultraviolet light reflected off the urine trails of dribbling voles!

And then a human kestrel came into view!

Back down at the welcoming Shepherd's Hut, we had thick hot chocolate with gooey marshmallows and THE most delicious little cakes.  I had lemon, Charlie had chocolate.  We were supposed to share but they were so good, we didn't. 

The wood burning stove was full on and even though we sat outside in the icy air, the lovely Hut owners had thoughtfully placed the table and chairs next to the nifty little hole in the side of the hut and we could just feel the heat from the cosy stove. I rummaged through the fabulous local products they have on sale, rubbed on some muscle and joint oil (smelled delicious), flicked through the stunning hand made cards then picked up leaflets about wilderness skills and the history of Moel Famau before leaving, with the promise to return on New Year's Eve when the hut will be twinkling and serving warm fruit punch to welcome in 2015.  Fancy joining us?





Friday, 5 December 2014

December's Slow Treats...

No Black Friday in the Clwydian Hills, only gold and copper and red and lilac.

And if you half closed your eyes, the landscape could even look a little like this collage I made at a lovely community art class in my village...

with scrunched up magazine pages, hand-inked paper and Ferrero Rocher wrappings, which of course I had to eat first!