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.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Celebrating Spring, Rambling and Rosettes

Okay so I've fallen behind on this blog thingie but I've been out in the field stocking up on countryside photos. Seems I can never have enough! These days I resent intrusions on my "sacred time" - that's the couple of hours just before sunset, though sadly in recent weeks I've had far too many intrusions...that's how it is when you're trying to pack up and leave after six months here and planning to be away at least six months if not forever. Lots of things to think of and ends to tie up. Ah well, despite having to give up a lot of photographic "prime time" to commitments and things I have found time here and there to pursue one of my life's passions (looking at the world through several layers of high quality glass!)

So here are just a few things I've been enjoying looking at this spring...this day we were walking up on some of my favorite ground just a few miles from where I stay. If you've been around cattle much you know that just one animal with a bad attitude can be very dangerous indeed (a man around here was recently killed by a bull) but thankfully these cattle were more interested in lazing and grazing than attacking a bunch of old age pensioners so we passed by without incident.

Here is a place called the "Black Yatt" by locals; it was once the home of Mr. and Mrs. somebody-or-other whom the leader of our walk knew back in the 1940s when he was a lad!!! I loved the situation of this former homestead though surely it would be a bit too "lonesome" for many.

It's amazing how the scene changes as one pivots in a circle out in this wild countryside. But these days the scene usually includes a whole lot of sheep and lambs. They were here in all these areas but I actually decided to have at least a few springtime photos that didn't include the woolly creatures!
On another day we had a nice walk through the woods and surrounding fields of Croft Castle. The thing that impressed me the most were many of the old oaks. This one was for me starkly beautiful framed against a rich blue sky with some lovely puffy clouds. I'd have stopped a long time with those trees but the ramblers like to get back in time for their lunch so I just snapped a couple.

One of the great things about walking in the U.K. is that you see SOOOO many extraordinary sights that you'll never see from a car. This particular group don't often do very strenuous hikes and often folks way up in their 80s are among the group of 20 or so that walk regularly. There's always plenty of time for nice conversation, bird watching, or, if you prefer, reflection.

I just couldn't pass by these lovely weathered oaks at Croft Castle without a making a photograph. I hope to return!
I Couldn't pass by this glowing field of oilseed rape under the rich blue cloudy sky without a few photos. These lichen-covered stones on top just had to be in there, too. A few days later the owner of the field said, "I saw you out there photographing my oilseed rape the other day but didn't have time to stop," funny...I thought I was in some stranger's field as I was about 20 miles from where I stay and over here that's a long, long way.
Below: Just some of Dave and Angie's rosettes. These hang from the walls and ceiling of their entry room in the converted stone barn where they live. What a sight to see! They raise champion Welsh cobs.

Labels: , , ,

Huffers and Bluebells

It would be appropriate to separate the topics of Huffers and Bluebells but time constraints keep me from giving each its proper due. Saturday after going to a local point-to-point race (rough description: racing a grass course consisting of a series of about 20 brush jumps over 2 and a half miles on Thoroughbreds and other nutty horses with your knees up around your ears) to say goodbye to a bunch of friends I went up to a local-ish pub where I've spent many a fun Saturday night in the company of friends from a local hunt. This bunch were having their 2nd annual "Huffers Party." Each time one of the mounted field of this hunt fall off their horse FOR WHATEVER REASON they are charged 10 quid (pounds) and all the money goes toward an all-you-can-drink party at the end of the season. Folks such as I who not only didn't fall off a horse but can't think of anything I've fallen off recently got to pay 20 quid and have just as fine a time at this party. There were 40 or so of us there and while I gave the alcohol a miss I did enjoy the passionfruit J2O mixed with soda water very much. Several of my mates there may have taken it VERY easy the following day! We had bangers and mash (my American friends are saying HUH???? just as I did - that's sausage and mashed potatoes) for a meal before having too many of those free drinks. Well, folks, let me say that I've been around mashed potatoes all my life and the plate I was served (as well as everyone else at the table) had at least an American family of six's worth of mashed potatoes on it topped by plenty of gravy and 3 big fat sausages. Yikes, and they say Americans are all fat. Well, nobody complained about going away hungry and I wasn't able to eat more than 1/3 of what was on my plate - if that much - I'm happy to say. After dinner the awards were given by two of the nice ladies of the hunt (you know who you are) and they included some "interesting" prizes, most notably the pair of silver butterfly wings with flourescent pink fluffy furry kind of material all around the edges and the headgear that had same pink trim and looked like something Dolly Parton might wear on her chest and two separate pair of some kind of old age pensioners heavy duty support panties with these big hard hip protector cups on each side, too funny. Anyway, refer to the photos....I'm not naming names here, but it was a pretty funny and spectacular night with one of the centerpieces being a man who turned 40 just a couple of months ago and was the subject of an earlier blog entry (see February) as well as a local estate agent who was pretty silly by 2 a.m. when these photos were taken. Thankfully we were all kicked out of the pub (for our own good, no doubt) not long after these shots were made.
To sort of cleanse my soul after such frivolity I spent part of the late afternoon the next day in a 26-acre bluebell wood on a nearby farm. I was supposed to be walking with the lady of the house but she was having knee problems so she sent her youngest son as my tour guide. He cheerfully came along though I have to think a 31-year-old would rather be almost anywhere than in the woods with someone my age! Never mind, Stephen acted as if he enjoyed himself and I certainly did as we walked among the oak and beech, masses of bluebells, wild garlic and everything else that has decided that springtime is here! Along the way we saw a hare, a whole lot of pheasant and the songbirds in the wood at 7 pm were nearly deafening! Neither of us have heard a cuckoo yet, but that's sure to be just any day now. We were on the lookout for roe deer but though they live in and around the wood we didn't spy any. I was probably making too much noise crashing through the bluebells with my cameras.

There cannot be a prettier place on earth this time of year than right here in good ole Radnorshire in a bluebell wood full of songbirds and very late afternoon light...these are memories that will linger long.

Labels: , ,