Monday, 27 April 2015

Mountain High

The weather’s set fair so Tom and I decide Wednesday’s the day to tackle Snowdon. Armed only with sandwiches, sushi, Gala pie, Mars bars, a tray of Bakewell tarts and lots of water (yep, you can tell we were determined not to starve), we’re up at the Crack of Doom and out the door at 6.30 am to be at the car park for our walk at 9 am.

After a slight false start when one of us spots the sign which states ‘Watkin Path’ and one of us who ‘has been here before’ ignores it, we are on our way. At first, I wonder what all the fuss is about; it’s just a series of wide stone steps, isn’t it? But the ‘steps’ are high, uneven and the incline just keeps getting steeper.

Along the way we have a very slow race with two men neither of whom has climbed Snowdon before and who are both a little daunted by the path – or lack of – across the treacherous scree slope which leads to the summit. Tom’s hearty reassurances that the path isn’t as dangerous as it looks make me completely oblivious to any difficulties until we’re actually on it. Fortunately the sound of my calf muscles screaming in agony as I pin myself to the side of the mountain stops me worrying too much about falling off. I even manage to perform a daring grail quest when the two men above us stop for a breather and send the lid of a thermos tumbling down the scree. 

However, the views on this glorious day when we finally reach the summit are worth every bit of pain and effort; it’s truly sublime. Now all we have to do is get back down.

My hopes that we might somehow avoid sliding down scree slopes on the descent by taking the Rhyd Ddu Path first before re-joining the Watkin Path further down are quickly dashed, but once again Snowdon rewards us with wonderful views.

After eight hours of climbing, scrambling and walking perhaps the most welcome sight at the end of the day is that of our car. It’s been a wonderful and extraordinary day… but I’m glad I don’t have to get up and do it again tomorrow!

P.S. For anyone who hasn’t read it, Turning the Tide is the Amazon Kindle Daily Deal today at 99p.

Monday, 20 April 2015


A spell of bright sunshine here in west Wales brings bright illustrations of Dylan Thomas’s ‘force that through the green fuse drives the flower’; vibrant new leaves unfurl, pale buds unfold into blossom and the hedgerows are a jewel box of colour. But all this energy, this renewal, brings, as Thomas’s poem also identifies, a strong sense of time marching on and nagging feeling that there are things I need to get on with.

Seeing the glorious photos my seventeen-year-old niece took when she recently climbed Snowdon reminds Tom of his walk there with my stepson and me that it’s still on my ‘to do’ list. We can just see the top of Snowdon from an upstairs bedroom window so it’s high time I stopped looking at it and walked up it instead! I’ve bought some new boots, taken them out for some test walks and we’re keeping an eye on the weather with a view to heading off to the mountains this week.

Now we’ve completed our utility room, it’s time to tackle the jungle that is our garden. There are three main areas; a front garden with views over Cardigan Bay, a south-facing terrace, lawn and vegetable plot behind the kitchen, and a large sloping wilderness of overgrown shrubs which got away during a spell of very wet weather when the ground on that side turned into a quagmire. We’ve made a start, but, unlike my sister, I definitely didn’t get the gardening gene from our talented mum. I have to keep reminding myself that all the hard work will be worth it!

Looking towards Cardigan Bay
Behind the kitchen
The garden slopes away steeply to the side of the house. Lots of work needed here!

The Work In Progress. Ooh, this has been so flighty and fugitive! Like the garden, it’s rather big and untamed at the moment and I seem to have been particularly prone to bouts of self-doubt. It’s not that I don’t think I can write the book, but as regular readers of this blog will know too well, it’s all the other pressures that come with staying published that sometimes get me down. I suspect the only answer is to shut out the ‘noise’ – other writers’ successes and failures, a wobbly review, the pressure to produce more for less - and stay focussed on the work itself. Now it’s a matter of taking a deep breath and conquering it a bit at a time.

I suppose this is true of everything on my list of ‘things to get on with’. None of them matter in the great scheme – they’re all what our neighbour aptly described as ‘small things in a big world’ – but as I look out of my window every flower that opens is another reminder that time waits for no one

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Spring at Penbryn

It's a beautiful day!  Here are a few sights from this morning's walk to the beach...

The hedgerows in bloom:

The woods in dappled light before the canopy of leaves casts a shade (although there is someone lurking in the shadows!).

And a beach all to ourselves:

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Renovation and Restoration

Pre-loved but unloved
Following a brief discussion about Preseli bluestone and Stonehenge, Tom comes up with a cunning plan to shift our brand new beech worktop from the carport to the utility room. The worktop weighs nearly as much as me, but with the use of three kitchen chairs the two of us manage to slide it along and make stately progress towards the front door with only a minimum of raised voices. There is a slight hiccup when we reach the front steps and the lovingly polished worktop takes a gentle tumble into a flowerbed, but all the effort is worth it for the moment of triumph when we finally see it in place.

The utility room’s the one space we left after our frenzy of renovation when we moved here four years ago. It sort of worked, so we lived with it, but now it’s finished I can’t believe what a difference it makes; suddenly the house no longer stops at the kitchen door but feels bigger and with a better flow. And although we gutted the room, thanks to a bit of forward planning, nearly two weeks of hard work and some careful recycling the only real expense was the beech worktop…. Just as well it had a soft landing when we dropped it then!

The Belfast sink; before and after

Floor replaced, new shelves installed

That worktop!
N.B. Tom says these photos show who did all the work... I guess all the paintwork happened by magic then, eh?

I also take a bit of a tumble during the renovations; in the middle of the night , I turn my head and the whole room lurches. Hoping it will be better in the morning, I keep very still and try to sleep, but getting up the next day sets my world spinning and I find myself sitting on the bathroom floor shouting for Tom to come and help me up. And when my sinuses feel as if they’re about to explode too, I give up and go to the GP who diagnoses a sinus infection and sends me home with strong drugs which will hopefully restore me to rude health so I can look forward to getting back to normal…