Meet You at the Crossroads
In life we all come to many crossroads. The one I was at today is one of my favorites..."The Cloggau" as it's known around here; also called Cloggau Crossroads or the Cloggau Turn, just down from Mike the Cnwch's farm (pronounced "nuke"). Anyway what's special about this crossroads is that it is several miles from nowhere and about 50 or 60 people meet there once or twice during the hound exercising season around 11:oo in the morning. For the next 30 minutes we all talk a lot, eat too many sausage rolls and welsh cakes, sausages rolled in honey and mustard, and other little finger foods.....and drink more than our share of port and whiskey, too. Again, this happens at a little old Welsh country crossroads, not a building in sight, and all the ladies who follow the hunt bake the whole night before to provide us with all these delicacies. We all stand there in our wellies and waxed coats and rain parkas and whatever, eat, drink and have a jolly good time. Now I've been lucky the last 5 seasons I've shown up at the appropriate time at the Cloggau....it was nice. Not so today. Despite an unusual forecast: sunny and dry, what we actually had at the Cloggau was pouring down cold rain. Tell the truth, I didn't want to get out of the Land Rover, but the sausages were calling! So I threw on another little coat and braved the cold rain and said hello to a bunch of folks I haven't seen since last year and even had a kiss off Mike the Cnwch. Of all our meets, this is one of my favorites because it is just so country, down home if you like. Like something ladies might do down in Tennessee (except for the drinking part!)
Here in Wales we have lots of showers and clear spells in between. Well lately the showers have been longer and the clear spells shorter. So much so that I'm not sure it's not just one continuous shower that gets worse and worse. At least the wind was a bearable 30 mph or so up on the hills today - a vast improvement over yesterday.
So I'm riding with Mike and Charlie and it isn't long before we get called to come and pick up an injured hound. Not sure how she injured herself, but she appeared to have dislocated (or worse) her hind hip. Poor girl. So she got put up in the back of the Land Rover with me and I petted her all the way back to the box (which, considering the very rough and slippery hill we were on at the time was quite a long while). With her safely back and comfortable, we headed on up to the nearest village, a truly lovely place, and tried to figure out where all the horses and hounds had gone while we were back down the road with that poor hound. Hmmmm....a car rounds the blind curve and here's Conway wanting to know could we give him a tow - in trying to miss some of the water lying about in the road he sailed off the edge and into a fence. Conway has just retired from farming a place up the road and he's got one of those country faces that I find absolutely fascinating. Of course he's dressed all in green as is appropriate to his age and station - today it's green waterproofs, like most of the other farmers we bump into during the course of the day, out tending their sheep - like Mike the Cnwch.
We go to bail Conway out so to speak and find that he's not exaggerating! His Land Rover appears to have careened through the mud for quite a way, heading ever more toward the fence, hit a telephone pole, and taken out some fenceposts before stopping to rest at....you guessed it...a 45 degree angle to both the road and the pasture below. Yikes. This brings back recent memories though you COULD see the bottom of the water HE was tryin to avoid.
Anyway, moments later, Conway decides maybe it's better if he comes down with his tractor to pull himself out and meanwhile the guy who owns the fence comes along, thinking someone has wrecked his fence and then run off and left it for him to fix. There's a bit of laughter as he learns its his neighbor
We eventually found the hounds, the horses, Betty Cotton the eagle owl and her handler John, and a few more neighbors. We ate our sandwiches in the relative comfort of the Land Rover watching the wipers go back and forth while the mounted field, I suppose, felt the rain rolling down their backs. Not a day I'd have wanted to be on a horse.
Meanwhile, Conway is back on the road again, I'm just about dry now, and all is well.
On the homeward trail...