20 July 2005

WELSH WELSHIES FROM WELSHLAND

we started off on saturday morning after an anniversary breakfast (nice, but pale in comparison to friday's dinner), dropping in to tesco to pick up some sunscreen. i waited patiently in the car, windows down, music on, enjoying the sunshine, while dan went to battle it out with the queues. he came back with sunscreen. and a present. and you know what it was, don't you boys, girls and others? HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. yes sirree.

so, then we drove to uffington area, to scope out the white horse - the oldest chalk carving in britain. i'm not sure how long it took, or what the landscape was like, because i was otherwise occupied. i guess i should just say now that, out of respect for those who haven't started or finished reading it (freaks), i won't be issuing any spoilers. except that the violence is grand! nose stomping and blood spurting all the way! and notsoangry!harry is a relief. and ginny is looking to be a strong contender for seto kaiba's title (if you know, you know what i mean. if you don't, you probably don't want to know)... and there are some GOLD LINES!

but, back to the horse. it was pretty cool, to see something that has been there for so long. it's also quite bizarre, because you can't get a very clear view of it from anywhere on the ground. it looks like it was designed to be seen from the air, but who was flying around back then??? alien conspiracy theorists score another point. possibly nerdier and therefore better than the white horse is the flat-topped hill next to it. it is called dragon hill, and there is a bare patch of chalk, where the grass was poisoned... by the blood of A dragon (or THE dragon... the literature was ambiguous) killed by st george. had our picnic lunch looking out over the countryside, watching some aeroplane antics in the middle distance.

then on to wales. again, with the distraction that is HP6, the only thing i really remember is crossing the second severn crossing and paying the £5 toll to get into wales (i think it's actually for using the bridge, but it felt strange)... a very weird experience, as the highway widens into what is essentially a good couple of acres of tarmac, to pull up behind a couple of other cars and wait to give your money to a person in a little glass booth so that the flimsy 'gate' goes up and you are free to enjoy wales. i felt like driving the car really fast and smashing through the gate in a cloud of smoke and debris. i guess that's why they don't let me drive.

as we made our way to hunters moon inn, llangattock lingoed, near abergavenny, the roads got narrower and narrower, and the hedges started closing in around the car. it was a bit triffid-esque, only in a pleasant way. the plants over here really go NUTS in summertime. maybe it's to make up for losing their leaves in winter, but they sprout foliage out all over the place in what is really a most decadant and unnecessary manner. the inn itself was lovely - it's billed as a 12th or 13th century inn, and although i don't believe the building is that old (though it's obviously a couple of hundred years old), it is still amazingly pretty and cosy. the proprieters also gave us a warm welcome and invited us to join the huge BBQ they put on every sunny saturday night for the locals (deliiiiiicious). (the food, not the locals). there were also two friendly, cute, OBESE dogs to keep us company. i finished the book just after dinner... EEP! so good in so many ways!

on sunday, we woke up to a clear, crisp morning, and went for a little stroll before our full cooked breakfast. the church next to the inn is quite striking - especially against the bright blue sky. one of the major welsh walking trails - offa's dyke path (great name) - runs through the tiny village on its way from the north to the south of the country, and we has a small explore. when breakfast arrived, it was yum yum yum - and dan even got BLACK PUDDING! of course i had to taste it, having never seen it before, and possibly never having the opportunity again (congealed blood sausage is not something i'd go out of my way for)... it was quite nice, tasting a bit like the strong, salty juices you find in the bottom of a roasting pan.

after packing our backpacks with supplies, we drove over to the brecon beacons for our day of walking. the walk we'd chosen has a very defined track, maintained by local enthusiasts who volunteer time to pave the path in the ancient way - embedding flat stones vertically into the slopes, packing them tightly, to help prevent erosion. we set out from the highway, climbed directly up a large hill, then followed the path back down the other side to a small stream - trickling coldly along in a most inviting way, and just blissful on our hot faces (it was a warm, very sunny day) (yes, mum, we wore sunscreen). from there, the path began ascending agin, up to the summit of the mountain Corn Du (Black Horn), a spectacular peak jutting out above the sheer mountainside (which contains a bizarre round lake, Llyn-cwm-llwch [i kid you not!], formed in the ice age), looking into the massive sheltered valley and beyond to a huge VISTA of quilted countryside. the climb was steep and long, but the views were absolutely stunning, as was the speccy formation at the top of the mountain (if you want further evidence, check out the WALES section of our photobucket... the photos will be up in the next couple of days). from Corn Du, we followed the ridge a short way to Pen y Fan, one of the tallest peaks in south britain (ok, so it's only 886m above sea level, but it sounds better the other way!), where we ate our lunch looking out across the lower peaks of the beacons, and the lakes in the distance... very special. apart from other walkers (the trail is one of the most popular in the area), all we heard for the majority of the walk were sheep (they all still have their tails!), an occasional whinny from a pony (we passed a small herd on the way), the calls of birds (mainly ravens), and the wind in the grass. beautiful, peaceful, and amazing scenery. i would use the phrase 'awe inspiring', but as i have seen the swiss alps, i have to stick to slightly watered-down adjectives. we did the 5 miles (8kms) in 3 1/4 hours, including stops, which is pretty good, considering the ascent!!! (i think i might be developing asthma... is this possible at my age???)

ahhh, well, i've probably bored you all to tears (or jealousy) with this description, so i'll skip briefly over the other news. we had a lovely anniversary weekend in wales (3 years!), including a misty stop over at the haunting ruins of Llanthony, a 12th century priory in the Black Mountains (again, see pics). london was still here when we got back, in all its cityish glory. this glory obviously includes shopping centres, which contain HMV stores, which have DVDs, some of which are the 3 LOTR extended editions and the director's cut of donnie darko. yep, we spent a fair bit of money! we started our marathon of extended edition watching with mike, uly and david last night... and we are continuing with Two Towers tonight! yay!!! faramir! dave/sean love! heheheh... and because we will start watching at 7ish, i have to go soon!!!

today dan and i were accompanied by margot to town, where we wandered around some london institutions - Liberty (a bizarre old department store, full of lovely expensive things you never knew you needed until now - a DEADLY TRAP for sara-jane and esther!!!); a MASSSSSSSSSIVE toy shop!; carnaby street (not happening like the 60s now) - before heading to the V&A for a look at the exhibition of penguin book covers (70 years of them!). the exhibition was disappointingly small, but i spent a good half hour reading the catalogue/book chained to the table (i was a hog!).

hope you are all well, and our love to all of you! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx rachel and dan.

1 comment:

  1. Esther Von HAS ANYONE IN AUSTRALIA FINISHED HARRY POTTER YET SO I CAN TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT IT???!!!5:03 pm, July 21, 2005

    Hello,

    All sounds very pleasant and healthy - all the walking countering out the congealed-blood-eating perhaps? Can't believe you are watching LOTR without me! Isn't my lounge room good enough for you? Granted, it won't be there, I mean, I won't be there when you get back. But, hey! It's still a longue room and it still enjoys hobbit-on-hobbit action. And all the Andy Serkis it can get. *slinks off to sulk*

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