Monday, January 15, 2007

"Walking In Wales On A Wild And Wonderful Day"

Yesterday morning we went walking in the Clwydian Hills. They are within swift and easy reach of Chester; we don't visit them often enough.
It's a New Year Resolution that we walk regularly, so Watch This Space*** ( See end of this post)
Yesterday was cold, thanks to a bitter Celtic wind, but sun shone, sky was blue and once we'd decided to forego the higher path across the hills (where perilous gales blew and my hat was almost lost) we set off in high spirits.
In 1985, the Clwydian Hills were designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty along with four other parts of Wales. Running for about 20 miles, they rise between the Vale of Clwyd to the west and the Dee Estuary in the east.On the summits Iron Age Hillforts were built. It's an area of diverse landscape; there are hills, moorlands, forests and plains. There are pleasant villages, there are superb uplifting views.
The Offa's Dyke National Trail ( which runs from Chepstow to Prestatyn) folllows almost the whole length of the Hills. The Dyke, built by Offa, the powerful King of Mercia ( he died in 796) was built to mark the border between England and Wales.
This border country is magic to me; it dates back to journeys to Cornwall from Cheshire. In early summer mornings or glimmery summer evenings, we'd pass those border landmarks;we'd drive through towns with castles, quiet empty streets, where people slept in houses with tightly drawn curtains or we'd see daylight creep in as we travelled through lush valleys and serene woodlands where the sunlight danced between pine trees. We'd watch the sky change, we'd see the passage of light as the day or the night moved on. Once, with our children travelling to a cottage near Bodmin, we past Tintern Abbey at midnight; a snowy white owl flew past the windscreen and we watched as it glided towards the abbey..
One of my favourite novels is Bruce Chatwin's " On the Black Hill".
It's set in the border country, towards Hereford. Describing the house where the main characters live, Chatwin writes: " One of the windows looked out over the green fields of England: the other looked back into Wales, past a dump of larches, at the Black Hill."
And the book begins:" For forty-two years, Lewis and Benjamin Jones slept side by side, in their parent's bed, at their farm which was known as 'The Vision' "
Chatwin tells their story in language which is moving, beautiful and frequently funny...
***Years ago, I decided never to divulge New Year Resolutions; by February( and THAT'S good going) they've shrivelled to nothing, so forgive me if mine doesn't last long.
Recently I discovered an ancient diary containing my Resolutions at age 14:
"Do my History.
Be nice to The Aunts ( Wasn't I always?? I wonder if Philippa reads this?!)
Have Long Hair.
Keep Room Spotless And Tidy, e.g. put my tops on my bottles.( This refers to makeup, I hasten to add. In these Olden Days, 14 year olds drank coke and thought themselves lucky. And makeup was only allowed on Saturdays. )
Groom Dog.
Eat Jelly Cubes.
Give Up Seat On My Bus for The Elderly.
Give up Riding. ( The horse usually bolted )
Get off with SS. ( This meant: Stand under Abbey Gateway with SS after school. Or drink Espresso with SS in the El Vista Coffee Bar, Watergate St, on a Saturday afternoon. But WHO was SS?)
Eat Ryvita...."
The List Goes On.....


Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

What a wonderful window into your world. LOVE the decription o fht e walks - that owl must've been amazing to see.
And that list you wrote when you were 14 kills me!

9:49 am  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Jan at last from the horse's mouth so to speak - where my sister's partner hails from ... Here I quote him in full:(excuse the description of you as 'she' ... Ah …. Cheshire is the county ..Chester is the main city within the county of Cheshire …

So I came from both :O) …Well actually I come from a minute village called Bruera between the villages of Aldford and Saighton about 7 miles south of Chester ……

Awesome picture of the fields …… From Larkton hill (she mentions she did the walk there ) if I remember right she would have looked over the Cheshire plain and the fields I wandered as a lad in the distance towards the hills of wales …

6:44 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

This is so interesting. THankyou for all this and please give him good wishes. This world of ours is pretty small in the scheme of things!!

7:02 pm  
Blogger Philippa said...

So, you vowed to "be nice to the aunts". If that includes my Mum, as far as I can remember you were always nice to her, but Auntie Ruby & Auntie Ethel were enough to test anyone's resolve!!! We all tried very hard but didn't always succeed did we?
I used to make New Year resolutions but now just try to keep going for another year, make the most of every day and stay healthy.

4:33 pm  
Blogger Philippa said...

Sorry, just mum was your cousin, not your aunt!
Isn't it strange what we all remember from our childhood? I, too, remember travels to holiday locations, to the Welsh coast (Newquay, Tenby) as well as to Devon & Cornwall. In those days my dad only had a week's holiday in the summer - a set week at the end of July, as soon as the schools broke up - so we always set off in the middle of the night to get to our destination in daylight on the Saturday. Susan (my sister) & I were always offered a prize -usually a few pennies towards some ice cream - for being the first to spot a milkman!! How rare they are these days with the monopoloy of the supermarkets! There was always a prize (a half crown?) for the first to spot the sea. I still get a tingle when I catch a glimpse from the car whenever we go to our local beach - Blackpool Sands near Dartmouth. It reminds me so much of my dad and the fun we had as children. In those days the little things meant so much.

5:37 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Philippa: Thanks for this and yes, Joan, your mother, was my cousin, although much older. I think there was a good 20 odd yrs between HER father and mine, although they were brothers. This was often the case with large families of siblings born at the beginning of the 20th century. And then of course, my father married late, at well over 40.

6:25 pm  

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