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 17, 2007

Xmas Dinner, Fox and Stuff

One thing I love to see in the countryside are foxes and today I saw a few. This one was trotting by about a field away. He heard us talking about him and stopped for a couple of split seconds and stared at us. Then he trotted over to that fence in the background and leapt through it -- somehow...those holes don't hardly seem big enough for a nice healthy fox like that. He's still out there running around somewhere.

Up on the other side of the hill were about 50 horses. After a nice meet this morning with maybe 100 foot followers, plenty of food and delicious beverages, the huntsman and masters had the horses and hounds out for some much-needed exercise. Though I missed it (always in the wrong place) I heard that the mounted field had a good time going over a bunch of jumps over on the Jones's farm. Me? I got to see this fox and another and got to ride and walk around some beautiful countryside in the most incredible light (it looked like the sky was going to bust open just any second). At one point a horse and rider parted company and we saw the big chestnut kick up his heels and run free for a few moments while the rider, tail between his legs, sheepishly tried to catch his naughty horse. But horses like to be around other horses and they never run off far. Soon horse and rider were reunited and other than maybe a wounded ego no harm done!
Later I was driving by another Jones farm. They're known around here for serving up some mighty fine birds for Christmas dinner...they're looking mighty tasty, no? Several neighbors were gathered there on the roadside gazing up at the hill watching the horses and hounds as they leisurely made their way across having had about enough exercise for one late fall day. These are good times; this is how you keep up with local news, enjoy some fresh air and spend time in the company of pleasant people!
Later I attended the 40th birthday party for a nice woman named Mary in a nearby village. There was a fabulous band from Cardiff playing at the party - a mixture of Celtic and klezmer music, very rhythmic indeed - they were called The Bucket Band. Check 'em out. And still later I stopped up at my favorite local pub where predictably a few folks were passing the evening away chatting about this and that, downing pints of bitter and laughing about old times. There was a lovely fire in the hearth and a rosy glow in more than a few cheeks; if those old oak pub tables could talk!
On Friday I traveled maybe 20 miles from "home" to follow a different hunt as they enjoyed a day of exercise on the hills. This was a special day for the huntsman, his 60th birthday. He's been with that hunt for many many seasons and is clearly loved and respected by his peers and hunt followers alike. Several other huntsmen honored him by riding or foot following all day on some of the loveliest country around! And the hospitality at that particular meet was unparalleled. After a day out in the fresh air on some of the highest points around, I stopped home for a bit then headed out to the huntsman's 60th birthday party in a nearby town. There must have been 150 people or more at the "do" and we had a night of "disco" (any kind of music really, played by a DJ and too LOUD), pig baps (big soft rolls full of roast pork), dressing, roast potatoes, and in these parts people put their applesauce right ON their sandwich...just because most folks speak English in these parts doesn't mean they're just the same! I remember how shocked I was to see someone put applesauce on a pork sandwich but try it sometime, it's actually good!
When I left the party sometime around 2 am, the huntsman was still leaning up against the bar but it didn't seem like his eyes were focusing too well! More than a few of his cohorts seemed in much the same condition. But in this country folks are generally pretty careful to either hire a taxi or have a friend along as the designated driver. In this country the drink driving laws are very strict indeed. And when you're out in the country losing your license pretty much puts you out of business...there's precious little public transport available.
But I digress...anyway, it was a fine weekend of horses and hounds, friends, parties, music...and snow!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


This morning was a beauty. Woke early to see the world outside all clothed in white; not snow, but a heavy frost. It didn't linger too long, but I did manage to grit my teeth and step outside with my Nikon and catch a few shots before the bright sun washed away the lacy frost.

It was so lovely and crunchy outside that I couldn't resist a stroll down the fields and then the lanes with my camera. I was kind of lazy so only took along my 17-55mm; I don't like that lens as well as the 70-200, but it's a lot lighter!

On the way back to the bungalow to cook some lunch, I had a cowfrontation with a redhead...heifer that is. I was going up a nice lane on the farm between a couple of tall hedges and I could hear about 20 cattle on the other side of the hedge charging along in step with me...they are curious creatures. When I got to a gate, I went over to have a look, and this is what I found! She actually licked my hand though it took a couple of minutes' patience to win her trust. Like most redheads she was bolder than the rest of the herd!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Another day with the was a bit of a dull day, really, but I couldn't resist sharing this shot of a magnificent hound. Hope if I ever come back as a hound I look as fit as this one. Love the way their ears flop up when they run, and of course the tongue hangs out...what superb creatures these fox hounds are. They are always out exercising...I should learn from them.
Seriously, after seeing this hound I was inspired to get some exercise myself so I drove on up the road, parked near the entrance to a lovely public footpath (they are EVERYWHERE here in Wales) and made my way up the track. In fact as I parked I saw two riders fumbling with the broken gate just ahead so I went and acted neighborly and opened it for them, then shut it behind me so none of the sheep and cattle would escape down the lane.

I seemed to be in the wrong place most of the morning, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I got to chat with a whole bunch of (mostly) retired folks who were also in the wrong place and we had a big time. And I got to visit with a couple of lovely young ladies who seemed to enjoy having their pictures made whilst sitting on a nice old gate (won't share those pics because they say there are strange people out there and I didn't ask permission to put these photos on the internet, though they are sweet)...

Later I decided to head down the hills into a nearby town and visited my dear friend who has an antiquarian book bindery there...we ducked into the pub next door and sat in a couple of great old armchairs in the window looking out over the old town and enjoying a two hour natter over hot chocolate and coffee. Yum! Life is good.
In case you're wondering, I didn't take the photo of the sheep today; it's from a couple of years back; no snow on the ground yet! The sheep are marked so that if they get out (or if they're kept on a "common" mixed in with other farmers' sheep) they can be returned to their rightful owners. Local farmers know each others' marks. There are other things the various colors on their backs may indicate, but I can't tell you that since some of you may be underage!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More Horses, Hounds...and a Double Rainbow

This time of year is a busy one for me. Besides keeping up with things around the house and trying to undo the damage done by six months of neglect in my flower beds I'm out following the local hunts as they exercise their hounds and snapping photos of just about anything I like, which is a lot.

Sunday mornings I usually take a walk with the girls who live across the farm (ages 10 and 12) and in past years we had hound puppies to take along with us, but this year it seems I won't be able to keep any pups because of construction on the farm. Darn it! It's my favorite thing about being here, I think, though I probably have about a million favorite things here come to think of it.

This afternoon my friend Kmo and I went out driving around some of the little lanes within 20 miles of the farm and we visited several of the beautiful old churches that are located out in the countryside. On the way back we happened to be driving from Llandrindod Wells up over a big hill called Rogo (probably not spelled that way!!) and over to Hundred House, then along that road that leads back to the A-44. Well, just as we started up onto the Rogo we spied the most vibrant rainbow (well, to me -- the folks over here don't seem to think much at all about rainbows!) and I asked to pull over. I got my camera out and began snapping away at the rainbow, the stone walls, the beautiful trees and oh yeah, the sheep. It began to rain, of course, and my lens got really wet so don't know how the photos will turn out, but it wasn't long before there were TWO rainbows fairly close to each other. I tried to get both ends of the rainbow into the picture, but my wide angle wasn't wide enough, sadly, so I had to just try to be creative with one end at a time. Guess I got soaked, too, but I never pay much attention to that!

My little 10-year-old friend K. and I had a nice walk this morning through the two small woods on the farm. The walks are fun not only for what we see and hear and smell but maybe especially for all the things we talk about and share. You may remember that I wrote about these woods a few months back...the girls and I always took the hounds there for walks. Each girl has a "fort"; L's fort is "Leaping Hound Lodge" and it was once a pheasant pen. K's fort is called "Hound Haven" and it is a lovely place with lots of laurels and other trees - such as K's "Koala Tree." We will probably always take walks to these forts but it sure is sad and lonesome without some hounds along to keep things interesting.