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An itinerant observer and thinker about life in general, sharing some moments of wandering and wonderment.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


 And what a lovely way to start the last day of November, with bright sun, clear skies and sou-wester sea breezes. Remember those old, heavy, bright yellow oilskins? No I wasn't wearing them! It was just a light fleece wearing morning, unlike yesterday: but I could actually taste the saltiness of the air today as we meandered along the old wall ...
and where there are fields around here, there are invariably sheep ...
quietly munching away, or having a bask in the lovely warmth of morning sunshine.
until someone comes along to shake up the scene
Carrying along the boundary line, I noticed several old telegraph poles that had been cut down to size, to make sturdy fence posts. In the field below, is the only area around here that I have seen bog cotton blooming, the delicate white heads looking like sheep wool.
It is also land belonging to the farm where Ffin was born, on Good Friday 2007.

There were a few surprises in store for us today, two young Parasol Mushrooms...
and masses of Blewits, I arranged one cap-side up for the colouration contrast.
Here's another contrast, tiny lichened stones, each about the size of a one pound coin.
But as if I needed reminding that the month of seasonal festivities starts tomorrow ...
Beautifully, heavily berried holly, blazing brightly in the warm sunshine!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


 Yep, the weather forecast for late morning was accurate ... direction  down .. condition wet. Very wet! Just managed to give mad mutt some muddy exercise before heading back home into some warm and dry. Photography almost impossible today due to dreary, dark skies that   brought in a deluge, but a few photo's I took are worth sharing, just for interest.
Yes, this is still used by the farmer that owns this land, old fashioned maybe, but still functional, though definitely no longer mobile. So many sheep have passed through this piece of agricultural engineering. And with this view over the mountain, on a bright sunny day ... what a pleasure it must be to work with the flock. But, in heavy winter snow these fields can be impossible to reach at times.

And as for these ramshackle old ruins ...??
A friend tells me that his mother and grandmother lived there when three small houses stood here. No running water except that which they brought up from a lower brook and no electricity. Tough times and so very bitter in winter.

 Now it is just a shelter for the sheep and a regular perch, used by a watchful buzzard.

The mood of the moors changed as the the rain rolled in and I tried out the sepia facility,
 which captured my mood too.
 Time to close the gate on the day.

Monday, 28 November 2011


  The gritter was out last night, for a touch of frost, by midnight when the mad mutt posted his latest on Dog-blog, the glitzy shimmer on the car had melted. Awoke this morning to sun and relative warmness. It has rained most of the afternoon and strong gales are forecast before tomorrows dawning. So ... what was the gritter all about? Practising? Learning the route? It's beyond me. A waste of our council taxes that's for sure!
  Had to take said motor, over the garage today. A small brake system problem that needs be sorted out before the gritters really ought to be out and about. Wish my undercarriage problems were as easy to get fixed! But ... gentle exercise helps, so ... on the way I decided to take Ffin up a local valley with a gentle incline.. It is O.K if,  it's taken very slowly.
As we went through the footpath gate, there was a thundering of hooves as a black and white (three quarters shire) horse, headed up towards and past by us. Later on it stopped for a quick nuzzle to say hello, then stopped for a drink from the mountain stream.
He was not the only one to overtake us at speed, a local farmer with a quad, followed by three working dogs was heading up the mountain to check on the flocks in the top fields.

Now, when I tell you he has had two hip operations and just turned 81, it kinds of put me to shame. We didn't have a chance to talk then but have just caught up on the phone. We had a chat  about this strange November weather and what a waste of money, having the gritters out last night. He is the one I mentioned previously, who can  so very vividly, still remember the extremely bitter winters of both 47 & 63.
He's lucky in that his son is now taking over and restocking the land with Welsh and Texels, but it's great to see him still actively involved and ... one of the three dogs, is his.

He is also a mine of information ... 
This area you see, is called The Target because during both World Wars, it was used as target practice for local troops. Remnants of some of the old structures for moving the targets up the valley to get shot at, and back down to mark accuracy, still remain. In his time he has collected many old shell cases.
Just off to the left, is a stile leading on to the commons. Now I love little fence post top gardens and this one with a tiny whinberry plant caught my attention. We clambered over it to explore some of the lower commons ground. New scents for Ffin, new viewpoints for me ... and as we tried to climb a wee bit higher, Ffin heard something and like a gun-dog  went to point . He'd heard the quad coming back down the mountain, I think he maybe misses working.

Descending slowly back to lower levels, there was one last surprise. A tiny orphaned lamb I named Midge, that I had briefly, bottle fed and had sat contentedly on my stomach during a summer B-B-Q on the farm, seems (though still small) to be doing O.K. 

At the moment, every day brings surprises. When I think that maybe there is nothing worth commenting on ... by the end of the day, there's always something to be grateful for.
And that ... keeps an old soul going!

Sunday, 27 November 2011


  Last night I am sure Thor was having a heavenly party, without  the Thunderclap Band!
By 'eck was it noisy! Even my normally placid dog (who doesn't even respond to fireworks or clay pigeon shooting) was well out of sorts as the noise level of wind and rain reached  several crescendos. The boards leading up to the attic spaces lifted and banged back into place, as the wind, sneakily accessed under the eaves. We slept badly due to the racket.
  There were many gale warnings all around our shores on the shipping forecast and off the North Coast of Wales, Air Sea Rescue were called out at 02.00 this morning in Gale force 8 conditions, for a cargo ship, in trouble, suffering from a cracked hull. Sadly they were only able to rescue two of the beleaguered crew before the ship sank, five are still missing but a brave attempt was made by the pilots, Prince William being one of them.
  So, imagine my surprise when this morning bloomed sun-bright  and quiet except for a hushed breeze.  The jackdaws were noisily discussing their traumatic tree-top night and all seemed so peacefully normal. Even now as I type with an uneventful sunset happening outside, they are nattering loudly from their roost, about what a fun day they've had.
  An old and loved friend was due to visit today, so a brief trog in the forest with a much more contented collie and wow, what a difference! Blue skies, warm sunshine ... bliss!
The forest was alive with activity, croaking crows and various small birds. Squirrels that taunted Ffin and then scampered up into the canopy, clearly laughing at his inability to climb and ... flies, lots of them, more than I have ever seen this late in this 11th month.
As always there were small details that captured my eye, like this earthball fungus, atop a stone and a beautifully back lit hazel leaf  with the grass stems silhouetted behind it
and a very interesting oak leaf with an infestation of something I can't identify.
Even stranger as we carried on along the gorse overgrown track, a prickly prospect ...
I heard a sound that I thought might be a lazy woodpecker, but this late in the year?
As I got closer. I thought it might possibly,  be escaped farm chickens loose in the forest.
You think I'm  joking? It was a very strange noise that I just couldn't identify which seemed more fowl than freaky. I got closer to the wind moving pines pines and finally
 found the source of this very strange noise. Look closely at the two trees ...
Where they cross over near the top, they were rubbing together, creating sounds that honestly, even so close to them, sounded like happily  foraging chickens.
If only, like the singing gate, I could have recorded this for you all and for me too.
One last thing ...
Wild strawberry plants, but today ... I ate some ripe blackberries. Amazing!

Saturday, 26 November 2011


Just up the mountain is a lovely medieval church, with a wonderful history, though now de-consecrated. St Illtyds is surrounded by farm land and was once part of an old Cistercian sheep farming Grange.
Last year, in the November snow, though not as seen here, it looked like this, a white pre-Christmas scene.
A year on and things here are unbelievably different. Yes, this morning we had  deep dark skies and very blustery winds but inside this recently designated, wild flower conservation area, I was to find a few very unexpected, late flowering surprises.

Such as holly in flower, when we should be gathering red-berried branches to decorate the inside, ready for the December festivities. The annual Carol Concert is only two weeks away. But that was not all I witnessed today, new buds on the Knapweed >>>  
and a sturdy, small but seasonally defiant Hogweed has managed to produce these late flowers ...

An old, remnant of a gravestone, against the drystone wall ... just a few days ago had a small group of tiny Oxeye daisies, white with their lovely, egg-yolk coloured centres, warming gently in late autumnal sun.

But today, the most surprising find of all was this wonderful, bright yellow cowslip.
There is however, a perpetually flowering Lilly of the Valley to be seen here ..

Next door and as I have mentioned before, also known locally as "The Old Church" the landlord is now well prepared for keeping his regulars warm with a wood burning stove in the bitter winter nights ahead of us or on dark, cloud racing days like today when the westerly winds and rain are having a rare old time, creating havoc all over the country. A good time to be inside safe, warm and dry.


  I just had to share this with you. Passing by a gate the other day, I saw a Welsh Ram, seemingly fast asleep in a field full of well raddled ewes. He's been working extra hard recently, earning his keep and made his first star appearance here on Thanksgiving Day
Whilst I got the camera out to zoom in, he had turned himself around to face me, poser!
Then he decided that he needed a really big, weight lifting stretch, just to show off a bit ...
But  all that effort was obviously too much for him, so went to forward kneeling position,
"Comfortable again, might as well have a quick sniff, could have missed a ewe or two".
"Maybe these two? ...nope ... think I've seen a fair bit of these girls recently."
"Hmm...no ... nothing doing, so I might as well just doze off again."
"So if you've got enough photo's now, we'll call it a day shall we?"

Friday, 25 November 2011


  Today was one of those lovely days, awakening to a golden glow. Temperature ... a wee bit nippy, but hey this is late November. A late outing with the mad mutt, only to find that up on the mountain, despite cerulean skies and virgin white clouds the wind was gusting, at times so strongly that trying to take photographs nearly saw me blown down on the ... grass! Take away the first two letters and you get my drift. Twas a wee bit blowy today. 
  But it was a westerly wind and that to me, means one special thing, The Singing Gate. and right next to a stile, here it is ...
and this is the reason why it is such a musical gate, it has "note-holes" rusted in it
To most musical folk, this may not seem like an instrument suitable for an orchestra, but this gate is a multi-dimensional soloist. Sometimes sad and mournful, occasionally as today, light and uplifting and on other mornings in mysterious misty conditions I have heard the  almost religious sounds of plainsong and on one particular day, I sat for half an hour, with the changes in musicality  sounding like a choir. It's a wonderful sound to hear. I only wish I had the technology to share with all of you some of the tunes I have heard.
Now, before you think Dafad has gone soft in the head, other sights bring me back down to more earthly reality and my sense of humour kicks in. I was trying to photograph some of the more unusual things that attract my eye, such as this rusty roll of barbed wire, and the wind-blown bareness of the beech trees with the stand of, needle-less larches behind.
.As I edged along the dry stone wall that separates  the farm pasture from the commons, my attention was drawn to the Welsh Mountain and Texel sheep. Next spring there will be Wel-tex lambs bouncing all over this area of pasture, an interesting mix that will be. I have to admit Texels are not my favourite breed, useful as they may be for extra market weight & thicker fleece, they remind me of rather thuggish, rugby prop forwards!
As I mentioned the wind was blowing me almost flat and I just captured a moment that later, when uploading the morning photo's, amused me. One can imagine the caption ...
"I think you've got that the wrong way round mate!"

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


 When I started this mini adventure, it came about by accident really. I had only wanted to post a comment on another blog and to do that I had to sign up for an account, which I did, then I was given the option "Create a Blog". Intrigued as to how all this this worked I made a mug of tea, had a deep think about what to call it and continued on to create Dafad's Days. 
  That was a mere month ago and I had to start by navigating my way through all sorts of jargon, choosing a design, how to set up the layout as I wanted it etc, etc. and so a toddler blogger, started taking the first wary footsteps into a new and slightly scary world.
  I hadn't really intended it to do a post a day. Initially it was just a platform from which to share a few of my meandering thoughts and photographs with friends rather than sending lots of emails all over the place, so ... "All in one space" it seemed an ideal solution.
  And so my journey began tentatively, with much muttering about lacking computer skills, (I still don't understand half the jargon). But by a process of trial and many errors ... such as managing to completely delete a whole post just as I was trying to do a final edit , to create a better effect. I'm slowly getting there and learning all sorts of new things as I do. At one point, to my baffled amazement, the whole layout of the way this blog  was arranged, had changed ?? Even more mad mutterings of the confused little brain!!
  For all you well established blog buffs out there who are possibly smiling, to me it reminds me of learning to ride a bike with stabilisers on. Then having them taken off, only to find the wobble factor increasing, but instead of bruised knees, It seems I've now got blogitis! I hope it's not a serious ailment for which there is no restorative cure, though a "wee dram" and a hot bath eases the aching body and brain at the end of the day.
  The other thing that's made a big difference to the quality was a generous present from Dad of a compact digital camera. More new technology to get used to but I've enjoyed learning what wonderful things this pocket sized companion on my small outings can do.
Yesterday, I used it to capture this very late flowering Fuscia. Wow what bright colours!
  To my utter amazement, it seems from the page view count that old Dafad here already has quite a few interested readers, who click the little boxes at the end to indicate what they think about "Wot I've writ" having browsed through the entries. Some from as far away as The States, Canada and even regular viewers from Russia. It's very uplifting.
  Now ... this has changed my life slightly, because as I'm slowly pottering out and about getting muddy and wet with the other half, I think differently. I still get great pleasure witnessing the changes in nature, I still notice something new every day, but now I am thinking of what to share and how to write about it when we get home safe and sound. Then there's the challenge of digiting, reviewing, editing to make it look tidy on the screen.
  It has been a warming thought over these last wet and misty weeks to know that there are folk out there who like checking out the latest wafflings of  this meandering old soul. 
It has encouraged me to continue in ways I never possibly imagined I would do when I started this initially tiny, tentative adventure into the wide world of the web space.
This silver fleeced old sheep is learning new things,
 and I am enjoying the challenges too.