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.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Country Church, A Lamb and the Bull's Head

The sweet little church at Craswall.

The first time I visited this church, I made the mistake of leaving the door open for a moment. Little did I know that a local farmer rents the churchyard to graze his sheep and he had his pairs of twin lambs, all carefully numbered, grazing in the churchyard with their respective ewes.

I was quietly looking around the inside of the church when I turned to see a newborn lamb approaching the modest altar in this simple country church. I scurried up to show the lamb the way to the door which I then closed. But I was thinking about the Lamb of God and all the things I'd learned as a child in the Methodist church and I couldn't help but smile.

That fine spring day the altar was brightened by daffodils that my friend Christine had placed there earlier in the morning. All was quiet and I found a few moments to be still and wonder and to give thanks for the simple things.

Years later, I often find myself passing Craswall church and I always smile to remember the first time I opened the creaky door and stepped inside to appreciate the solitude of this tidy little church.

Just up the road is a wonderful old pub, the Bull's Head at Craswall, where my friends and I stopped last March during the final meet of the season. The narrow road that passes by the Bull's Head was clogged with merrymaking equestrians and we all made the most of the fine weather.
A quick pint at the Bull's Head, worth a visit!

Just across from the Bull's Head this inviting bench awaits you. Be sure to call by here and ponder the slow pace of life in the Herefordshire hills. You may experience Rush Hour (when the local farmer passes by with his steady border collies and a flock of a hundred sheep. The sheep fill the narrow road and spill over the sides and all tractors, Land Rovers or whatever traffic may be on the road come to a screeching halt to allow them to pass by).

Blowin' in the Wind...Rivers Risin'

Over here in the U.K. the wind is up and the rain is down. Flood warnings dominate the news but here on the farm things are just well...wet and windy! The roofs on the old barns are slate tiles and they've been blowing off at an alarming rate; I have this picture in my mind of my two hounds out in their pen dodging slates as they fly off the roof. Poor hounds. The worst of the damage is occurring directly over their pen with the slates rocketing down to the cobbles below, inside their pen. I hope they stay out of harm's way.

The weather is getting to folks around here, even the locals who are used to a lot of rain. Depression is a big problem in the farming community (read about farming these days and you'll understand why). You get to work 365 days a year and most likely you'll come out poorer at the end of those 365 days than you did at the beginning. You know the scoop - look at American farming history and you can write the script for what's happening here in the U.K. Sad.

On a happier note, I had a nice time out on some local hills yesterday guessed it...the horses and hounds. While it's easy enough for most of us followers to stay in our vehicles when it gets wet and windy, those hounds, normally white with a bit of brown or black, look more like black and tans.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Llanbadarn y Garreg

The little church at Llanbadarn y Garreg in Radnorshire.

I was out following one of the local hunts as they exercised their hounds up on the hill you can see in the background. It was treacherous up there with all the rain and deep, deep rain-filled ruts in which it was very easy to get stuck. After having to be rescued from a cliff-edge once that day I decided to get myself down on the "main" road (still only one lane wide) that runs through Llanbadarn y Garreg.

I stopped inside this sweet little church. This view is actually of the back corner, but the photo has a little more interest, I think, because it shows the situation in which the church exists. It was rather a gray and dreary day with the old tombstones standing in silent testimony to the lives of the people of that parish - and to the power of moss and lichen to live in these wet conditions and cling to whatever stands still for more than a minute.

Someone Somewhere Needs This...

Well, I was just sitting here looking out this big ole picture window at the rain and the rain and the puddles everywhere and I was thinking that someone, somewhere needs this rain. I think we have enough here at the moment in beautiful, wet Wales. Someone somewhere is praying for rain. We're praying for dry! And a little cold weather wouldn't hurt either, it's practically shirt-sleeve weather here in Wales, providing you don't mind being sodden - or that you have a rubber shirt!

Still, there are advantages of the wet weather. I'm sure there must be. I'm trying hard to think of some . Everything is very green on this January 9. There. The colors are rich and saturated - good for photographs. Too bad anyone in their right mind would leave their camera home on days like these.

Paxo and Pastime (my hound puppies) are growing like crazy and we've been having some nice walks. When we walk the lanes they have to be on leads since they don't seem to recognize what dangers cars or tractors pose when there's only one narrow lane to begin with. I grab them by the collar and hoist them into the ditch as the vehicles pass by. But mostly there aren't that many vehicles.

These are the days for reflection and doing all those indoor projects I've been putting off. At the moment I'm sorting through tens of thousands of hound exercising and bluegrass festival photographs trying to determine what I can remove from my maxed-out laptop computer. This takes time.

This time of year it seems right to have plenty of snow around and I suppose my American friends and family are enjoying (?) that right now. Enjoy it for me, too! If I ever spend another winter back in the States I am going to return to my old love, cross-country skiing. Some of my happiest memories are of cruising through the upstate New York woodlands on a pair of skiis. It's cold but you're burning enough calories that you don't notice...then you go inside and have have some mulled cider or hot chocolate - the real kind made of cocoa and whole milk, sit by a crackling fire and you know the rest. Ah, now that's satisfaction.

When there are slow moments out following the local hunts I stop off and photograph churches and interesting I guess I'll upload some of those photos for you here from time to time so you can enjoy some of what I like.