Saturday, 21 April 2012

Brecon Beacons

We had hoped to go and see some friends in SW Shropshire but it was not convenient for them, so we went up into the Brecon Beacons instead. The day was so astonishing, visually, that by the time we got back to our base in Hereford I was completely exhausted. In fact I think I have been cooking an infection - an inflamed gum, painful knee, and weariness. This is so unlike my normal experience, and so unexpected, that I know I will not really be able to do justice to this episode of the blog - sorry! I must take back some of my dislike of the River Wye, because up here where its banks are less steep and its floodplain a little broader, it acquires some of the restful qualities I feel I need from a river. In fact, at Glasbury, for instance, where you can launch a canoe and float downstream, there are wide gravelly shoals and beaches and it reminded me of the River Ceno in the Italian mountains above Parma, where we go and stay with our friends Suzanne and Pietro ( near Bedonia. The river makes powerful meanders across its meadows, but the road is often quite far away from the water, and the occasional glimpses you get are surprising and sought-after. We criss-crossed, over and across, up steep lanes, through farmyards, staring at the phenomenal rich colours and contrasts. It was like being in some sort of 1950s movie, with super-saturated colours - brilliant yellows from the poplars and willow buds, deep purples from the distant shadowed hills, radiant greens from the fields and hedges, stark black outlines of trees biding their time, the reds of the ploughed fields and the mud spilling down the lanes, the smatterings of white and pink blossoms through the hedges, the white bundles of sheep-bodies and their wiry babies, the grey stones of the church towers and cottages. It was stupendous. In Hay we had a coffee, I fell in love with an actual magic crystal wand but felt so rubbished by Andrew's disdain for such things that I didn't buy it (I will ring ask her to send it to me). It was made of stone and silver, from Thailand. I loved an 18th century upstairs wooden wall in a trendy antiquey shop owned by two rather alarming women who could possibly be rather occult. We liked the place and thought we will go back, but later over a supper an old friend who lives nearby said 'Hay is a poisonous place!' (and would not elaborate). On to Brecon, taking a tour round the Cathedral where we found a warm welcome, and I liked the almsot African-looking Cresset Stone with its rows of little holes to take night-time candles to light the monks to their services. We wandered around the town looking for somewhere to eat lunch - in the covered market, the microwave in the cafe had caught fire. Everywhere else looked a bit flat.... really all the cafes and bistros now base their cooking on BREAD - pizzas, sandwiches, paninis, baguettes, etc. If you are avoiding gluten as I am this is means you are hardpressed to find something to eat. Jacket potato again, back at the Cathedrals' Pilgrim centre, where a busload of old ladies was having a gay old time, having been to communion earlier on. We avoided the torrential rain which burst down from time to time.... explored the Canal down the valley, and set off again to the mountains. Oh dear - I know this is not a very scintillating report. Nothing much happened. We loved the high moors, saw almost no-one up there (like Dartmoor). We went to the Brecon Beacons Visitor Center and A bought two delicious ice-creams (mango yoghurt and then coffee) from Llanfaes Dairy - superb. The lady who sold us a pretty jug to take to our hostess (who had broken hers last night) had a black eye. Back home, crash out. Supper and laughter shared with another old BBC friend Lyn Webster who lives up here and is planning a new film project marrying Indian and Welsh myth and riddle. It sounnds wonderful. We sat and watched the famous Tyger Band film, made back in about 1973, featuring Andrew and Stewart and the rest of the gang - the film is a bit hard to follow but very well made and the music is superb. All shot on a clockwork Bolex 16mm camera using snitched stock and very well edited. Very funny and also very moving to see our menfolk reincarnated as young 20s again. Sigh. Bed, oblivion. Now we have had breakfast and more chatter, with the sun streaming over the smooth lawn, and Stewart standing and doing more wiring om the extraordinary loom which will be slotted into the organ, sometime soon. We are going down to Cardiff tonight to see South Pacific (ENO production) - a real treat. Then home tomorrow. I am not feeling very well. Not good. This is not how I should be.

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