About Me

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

Wednesday, 25 December 2013


Well folks, what an interesting day it has been and a fun one too.  We were awake early before the sun came up and so sorted out a few things that needed doing before heading off up onto the mountain in the late morning sunshine and ... what a wonderful surprise.
Yes ... snow! What a lovely sight for a Christmas morning, but look at those blue skies,
it really was a treat to see the mountain looking so wonderfully,  festively decorated. But it was late morning when we got up there and already the sun had melted much of the snow and so the winter pastures were still full of easily accessible grass for sheep to graze.
 But on the higher commons land there was still even at midday, a good sprinkling of snow and on the higher ground in the distance the mountain tops were also white in the sun.
But there were even more signs of the fact that this was Christmas Day and fun things too
Someone ... had created a sort of Santa and using ones imagination ... an  Xmas pudding!
though the sheep in the in-bye fields had their own sort of Christmas feast ...
Though a few seemed not to be interested in what is let's face it, just another pile of hay
though these two seemed to be more intrigued by those passing by, like us.
One last look over the landscape , then to the pub for a mug of warming tea and a chat,
then home to a late afternoon dinner of pheasant with all the trimmings and a rest.
Now, in the mid evening we feel more like the festival turkey, tired out and well stuffed!
Wherever you are in the world & how ever you celebrate today ...
I wish you all a goodly, peaceful end to this year.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Well ... what a day of weather changes we had today, from hail just after I got up, mist turning to sleet, snow. light rain, heavy rain and then luckily this afternoon a dry break.
So ... we took the opportunity to head of to the local supermarket to get a few essentials for the next few days ... mainly dog food! Then as the dry spell continued enough to take the daft dog for a short trog ... so we headed off down to see the miners memorial. 
Now I have covered this amazing corten steel structure in a previous post on the blog and there is much mentioned if you google The Guradian of the Valleys in Six Bells. It has caused much controversy but I personally like this massive miner overlooking the valley. As we approached it the skies were dim and gloomy and I really thought that we were going to get caught in another wintery blast of the wet stuff. 
But ... the mad mutt had been patient waiting until mid afternoon to go out and run around so ... suitably dressed in the event of such a wetting we had carried on and as I took this photo the sky magically changed.

Suddenly there was a gradually expanding patch of blue sky and the wind gently faded. I was almost laid down on the small, timber landing with the camera trying to get the balance of the shot right and there it was ... a wonderfully clear reflection.
But there were other things to reflect upon as well. The 45 miners who lost their lives in the pit disaster that killed 45 out of the 48 man that were working in that area of the mine at the time. It was a day that still affects the living relatives of those that died as seen by some of the tribute wreaths I saw today.
 I know some of those that lost relatives in that pit tragedy, but also it made me reflect on others I know locally who also face Christmas without their loved ones and that also this year includes me. Now I promised Dad that I would put a candle in every window at the front of the house ... so tonight I did, all be it that they were all  fire safe electronic ones.
But there are times when I feel that like The Guardian of the Valleys, he still looks over me  and that ... is a very comforting thought at this time of year when loss of loved ones can make the bright lights of the festive season can seem rather dimmed due to the memories
of those that we have loved and lost throughout the years. But ... we must remember the love and the laughter and feel comforted that we at least have those loving memories.
So ... wherever you are and however you feel, just remember the times of bright light
and with that caring thought ... I shall wish you all  that you sleep well tonight.

Monday, 23 December 2013


Well ... what a miserably wet lead up to Christmas weather wise as the U.K got blasted with torrential rain swirling around our conglomeration of islands large and small. It was wellie wearing weather even when the rain had stopped due to all the ground water racing down the mountain at a rate of knots taking all sorts of detritus with it. Still it did a good job of giving the mountain road a good old wash and old Dafad's muddy wellies got a good clean up. It was mid afternoon before we had ventured out and we were lucky in that it was blowing quite a freshening wind with just a few spots of rain to splash on my face.
All the sheep were huddling in corners as sheltered as they could find and looking bedraggled and miserable. The cattle are probably grinning in their barns and no doubt feeling bovine superiority to their soaked ovine sufferers.
 The last of the beech leaves were getting whisked off the trees at speed, leaving the branches looking very winter bare and the trunks glistening in the weak afternoon light.
I was well wrapped up in a few good layers and a weatherproof coat but there are times I envy the mad mutt ... one coat, no extra socks, just a collar. Get wet, shake off the excess wet, get the boss to towel him down and that's him dressed ready for the next adventure!
In this case it was a wander around the old church yard.
In the barn behind the wall I could smell the warmth of a comfortable barn for cattle.
All the winter feed baled up and wrapped in waterproof plastic ready for the months ahead when we face the prospect of that frozen white stuff expected before lambing time.
The church yard was looking less festive than a week ago and definitely bare and dark.
But just as I was knelt in the wet grass taking the above photograph, a shaft of light ...
transformed the scene before me.
As I looked back at the corner of the churchyard where the dog was snuffling about I saw a really welcome sight ... that moment of extra light caught the colour in the beech leaves
blown into the shelter of the stone wall corner overlooking the Argoed fields and beyond.
But all too quickly another squall threatened so it was back in the car to get home and dry.
We made it back indoors just in time before the cold heavy rain started yet again.
It is almost hard to believe that tomorrow is Chris Moose eve!!

Saturday, 21 December 2013


Yes folks, today is The Winter Solstice ... from now on the days gradually get longer. We are only just over three days away from Christmas Day and I have been trying to get into the festive mood. Last Friday I went to our annual Carol Concert at St Illtyds ... which has been duly decorated by our willing band of volunteers and beautiful it looked too both outside .......................and........................... inside
 It's hard to believe looking at it empty as it is now but on the night this wonderful space was filled with music from the Abertillery Town Band & the Cwm Male Voice Choir as well as a fully packed audience who sang their hearts out. The acoustics of this wonderful church can take it all as well as amplifying a solo voice with no need for a microphone.
 It is almost hard to believe when I took these photo's the other day, that this space was so filled with people who had such a wonderful time & afterwards mulled wine & mince pies or tea & coffee for those who were driving home on a rather cold, wet, winter night
So ... is Dafad in the mood for the Chris-Moose Fez-Divities?
The answer is no, not really. The weather has been mostly quite cold and very wet.
Though today gave us a small welcome break when the sun came out and so we took the chance to walk up one of our favourite forest tracks to see what had changed in the many months that we have been away and oh my goodness was I in for a big surprise ...
A large swathe of conifer plantation had been felled and the results were stacked up ...
and judging by some of the rather interesting growths on some of the cut ends, this felling had happened some months ago because there were some fascinating patterns on them.
 I was busy trying to gather some fresh greenery for the festive wreath on the door and I kept getting side tracked by all sorts of other more interesting things, like this stag beetle.
But with festive preparation in mind, trying to get in the spirit, I had a little bit of fun ...
making a snowflake pattern of oak leaves.
No doubt we will soon have our fair share of snow on the mountain here, but
as I write this it is raining with a howling wind and rather cold but it it's comforting 

at least to think that the days ahead will get longer and brighter
So, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are better prepared than we are here.

Saturday, 14 December 2013


That song came to my mind this morning when we had headed up the mountain to get some very fresh air! The skies seemed not to be able to make up their minds as to which clouds to form as the main players in the atmospheric stage. Some seemed fairly static but low level ones were racing each other above our heads it was fascinating to see the sky just seeming to be having some kind of a party or festival of atmospheric fun.
It was great to drive across the mountain road looking across at the panoramic view across the commons, some 3.000 acres of it. Bare of sheep at the moment as they are all held in safely until they have safely lambed. It gives the grazing time to recover.

"Oh give me land lots of land under starry skies above. Don't fence me in."
Those are the opening lines of the song and believe me, here with very little light pollution, being up here on a cloudless night is rather magical but it is in the daytime too.
On a clear day one can see for miles and miles, the Chilterns, Malverns, Avonmouth Docks in Bristol and then back into Wales the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains etc etc.
"And I can't stand hovels and I can't stand fences. Don't fence me in."
But of course there have to fences between farmland and the commons and the two farms near me here used to be hovels until a few years ago and they now both run some livestock although far from the levels stocked by the long standing farmers here, some of whom go back generations and are sadly all past retirement age, with only a few whose sons will take up the challenge of full time farming, it will be all very sad to see this die out. Now as you know old Dafad here loves the unusual and the rotting posts along this wall have become like old friends, full of character. I almost dread the day when it is all renovated, neat tidy walls, impersonal posts holding up long stretches of shiny new galvanised wire.
I shall miss meeting all these character-full posts with their unique shapes and fences too,
look closely, see how many shapes you can recognise in the above, it has quite a few.
and so I will leave you today with one final view ...
... though the singing gate was only whispering soulfully today.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Yes folks we are back in sheep country  where the guys have been chasing the girls, having a tupping good time!
It's hard to believe that we have been back over a week already and what a lovely warm welcome we got after being away so long and how things have changed in the garden here which is now very overgrown and in bad need of a man with strong hedge-cutter!
However there was planting going on as the village Christmas tree was put into place for the carol singing and the guys were busy getting all the lights put around our little green
It was a great night, well attended and we all sang along cheerfully with the brass band.
Afterwards most went to the community centre for hot soup and rolls and to warm up.
It's the first time in years we have done it and now hopefully it will be an annual event.
Next day I managed to get the mad mutt up on the mountain where he bounced all over the place catching up on all the new scents and diving into thick piles of autumnal leaves.
We also went to visit "The Singing Gate" but the wind wasn't quite in the right direction
Standing cold  in the wintry wind but the skies were clear and visibility good for miles.
It was nice to hear the news that the red grouse population is increasing and spreading.
Even better to hear that someone else has spotted a black grouse up on the moor too.
All the ewes are in off the commons land at the moment and will be until after lambing.
The rams, having done their job are looking somewhat tired out and just resting for a bit.
Of course the nights draw in all too soon now we are well into December so early sunsets and the need to get in out of the windiness and get warmed up with hot soup and toast
but it has been good to catch up with all the various news, and sights of our area.
I've been very tired and resting a lot and yes the jackdaws are as nattery-chattery as ever in the evenings, boasting about all their acrobatic antics as they've circled over the farms.
I've been wondering what the skies have been like in the Fens, good ones I hope.
My sincere thanks to all the many kind folk who helped me through such a tough time
and also showed me such warmth of friendship and the healing of laughter.
Bless you all.