Travels with MaryE

Most things I love best are about good light and good timing. That's where the adventures start. Don't be in no hurry here. Here you'll find a little bit about bluegrass music, fox hunting, life on the road, time on the mountain, and a whole lot about other things, too.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sun, Huffers...and whatever else enters my mind

Sun! I wish. We're having a wet time here in Wales these last weeks. The weather continues to be mostly mild, but a little sunshine would go a long way these days. Like today. I want to follow my favorite hunt as they go about their hound exercise in a place where they're likely to jump a bunch of fences. Inevitably someone will join the Huffers Club (falling off club where you pay 10 quid per spill and then have a party at the end of the year for all the "members" to drink up the profits) and they always cast an accusatory glance at me coupled with a stiff lower lip stuck out about 6 inches if I don't manage to capture the moment when the horse and rider part company with my big Nikon. Oh well, I always seem to miss those times. Seems to me like it's too paparazzified to capitalize on someone's potentially injurious landing, but no! These guys are up for a laugh and it must be that irreverent British sense of humor....they roar at stuff like that.

One guy with this hunt who surely must be Chairman of the Board of the Huffers Club (he came off three times in one day last year, never mind it was the day after a particularly brutal New Year's Eve) just climbs back on and has another go. I have to admire his stamina! They all want me to capture his magical moments on film.

As you may have noticed, I've fallen off blogging a good bit lately. I'm trying to make myself complete an article for a music magazine and can't seem to wrap my mind around the subject, though it's dear enough to my heart. Trouble is music is the "other" life I have while across the pond in America. Here I'm all about following the hunt and enjoying the countryside, visiting the lovely old churches and stopping to chat with friendly neighbors...and an occasional pint at local pubs. It's a good life.

Now I've got to go exercise Paxo and Pastime, my dear little foxhound pups. Pastime's working out well, but Paxo seems to be thought-resistant so I don't know if I'll ever get anywhere with him. Photos to follow -- when it dries up enough to get my camera out once again! Fingers crossed that it's dry enough for some jumping later on today!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks

Over in America today folks are gathering together in houses small and large to celebrate that old Pilgrim harvest tradition, Thanksgiving. And here in Wales today I'm giving thanks for all the blessings I've received in this good life of mine. Among the most important things I'm thankful for are friends and family who throw out that lifeline whenever things seem overwhelming (fortunately the lifeline hasn't been worn to a frazzle...yet). Thanks, friends! I love you all.

In a more traditional sense I'm thankful today for food (the bounty of the earth one might say in a hymnalistic fashion)...Lord knows I've eaten way more than my share...and enjoyed most of it (though my own cooking at times leaves much to be desired ). Speaking of food, I enjoyed a wonderful steak last night up at the Harp Inn situated on a beautiful hill overlooking the valley. The new landlords are young and energetic and have brought that beautiful old pub back to life. If you're ever hungry for a good meal, be sure to stop in at the Harp - they won't disappoint!

Imagine enjoying homemade french fries, a huge rump steak au jus, and fresh local vegetables sauteed just right in a (I'm guessing) 500 year old pub with great flagstone floors, mellow green walls, fresh hops hanging overhead, old foxhunting prints (you know I love those!), horse brasses on leather harnesses, and a massive old fireplace crackling with big firey logs.....I'm sitting there on plush pillows on an old Welsh settle gazing every now and then at that lovely warm fire, taking another delicious bite of that steak, maybe a fry or two and a bit of parsnip and carrots.....talking to my good pal Steve. Oh yes, much to be thankful for!

That after a good day following a local hunt as they exercise their hounds on foot across some rain-treacherous sheer hills. Every now and then the sun would peep through the rainclouds and cast a beautiful glow on the rich countryside below.

Yes, today is indeed a day to be thankful for friends, family, food, and the rich "simple" life of a very rural Welsh community.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Settling In

So Paxo and Pastime are settling in to their new home in the old stable and I'm settling in to the bunglow where I've been privileged to stay for the past six hunting/hound exercising seasons. In just ten days here it seems like I've seen most of the people I ever knew (and that's a lot!) between walking the streets of the nearby market town ducking into one little shop after another, following the horses and hounds in several nearby hill parishes and visiting several of the local pubs on weekend evenings. It's a good life here, especially between showers! It's not surprising that things stay fairly green all rains most days at some point but the photographer in me responds with awe to the light which is spectacular at times -- perhaps it is that this place is so far north from most points in the USA - the quality of the light and the angle of the sun are quite different (at least it seems to be so - I'm no scientist!)

(Just a horse I used to know...enjoyed a good laugh)

Yesterday I went over to a holistic vet friend's home near a local scenic attraction and spent a very cozy afternoon playing old time fiddle tunes and singing a song or two with pals Nigel, Tam and John. Along the way we shared pleasant conversation, luscious french cheese, nice rum punch and a few good laughs. We tried some new songs and enjoyed some old ones, too and made plans to get together again soon.

After, Tam and I decided we should head down to the Crown for a drink which turned into a bit of a port buzz for me before I found my way back home. There at the Crown on a wet and stormy Sunday night (which I'll confess I thought would be absolutely empty under the circumstances) we ran into ever so many friends and neighbors and had a jolly good natter with Colin and Ann, Trevor, Elwin, Alison, Phil and many others about everything imaginable and a few unimaginable things, too. Just the night before I'd been out far too late at the Ox chatting up lots of my "hillfolk" friends.

As I sit here reflecting on the summer of 2006 and all the wonderful memories it presents I feel so fortunate to be looking back on good times with good friends. And here I am in the midst of more good times and good friends. I am indeed a lucky person who feels blessed to be "settling in" to what is for me an ideal kind of life among friendly folks who celebrate life and work at a much slower pace than that to which I've been accustomed. Cheers to the good life!

My summertime mate, Mister Pip (through the eye of a fish)