Sunday, 17 August 2014

Mountain memories, beef stew and Cheesecake

Summer is rolling by, the hedgerows are heavy now with fruit, there is a slight whiff of autumn air slowly creeping in, that little nip that heralds the coming of shorter days , 
This relentless march of the seasons makes me stop and ponder , it seems to me as I get older my perception of time  hurtles along like an express train, so different from when I was a child when the summer seemed never ending, such was the carefree life of just being able to play and imagine, a life detached from an adult world ,
So often I feel like screaming 'stop the train, world I want to get off' although to be honest I do have that freedom in the sense that as an artist I am able to spend time out of doors sitting and observing this natural world in the hope of being inspired enough to produce a piece of work that someone else would appreciate ,
It was with this thought and hardly any persuasion from my artist friend David Cowdry that a night out on the Black Mountain up on the shores of Llyn y Fan Fawr , the remoter of the two lakes was called for,
With excited vigor, back packs laden with all the necessary bits n bobs for an overnight microadventure , car loaded and off to go,we headed for the hills,
David said he would bring the supper and breakfast for the following morning, I was to supply the dessert, beer and whiskey,
My overriding thought even as we headed off from the car park, why don't we do this more often and why is it often weeks or months since we did this last,my conclusion is that we suffer from an affliction called can't-be-arsed-ness!!! That quickly causes us to find excuse not to do things that we know once we do them we would real quite enjoy, such is the mad way the human mind works,
The long haul heading up to the bothy at Llyn y fan fach really brought home how unfit we were both of us huffing and puffing , no rest for the wicked, you are straight into a good 2 mile climb as soon as you leave the car park , passing the fishery on the way up , stopping briefly to catch our breath watching the young trout leaping out of the water periodically from the net covered ponds,
Onwards we pushed the sight of our first objective looming large and impressive ahead of us , this first section a relative straight forward assent along a gravel track up to the Bothy and dam wall at Llyn y Fan Fach,where we stopped to take off our packs for a 10 minute break and camera opportunity , a welcome relief from a rather hot and sweaty first hour,
Refreshed and raring to go we continued heading in an easterly direction following the base of the escarpment of Fan Hir and Bannau Brychiniog following the well trodden path that takes you up the steepest part back and fore between these two points here it becomes quite intimidating and foreboding the sheer wall to our right ducking under outcrops of rock covered in lichen , algae and alpine shrubs , I feel like Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins on a Tolkien epic heading into Mordor half expecting to see Gollum pop up from behind on of these dark wet rocks "This way Hobbitses"
Here the going gets really tough , almost a vertical climb with heavy packs , hunched forward on all fours calf muscles feeling like they want to explode on wards and upwards we go , we know that once up on the ridge the going will get moderately better and indeed once we hit the ridge we made quick progress to the summit of Fan Hir and the Spot height that marks the second highest point in South Wales next to Pen Y Fan, it was here that we spotted our destination for the evening nestling to the east of the ridge , the larger of the two lakes Llyn y Fan Fawr, the path along the ridge now takes us down towards the lake passing along the south shore , we cut off the path to camp on the west shore tucked in between the lake and escarpment , here we made camp pitching our tents immediately before getting a brew on and settling down to our  new abode for the next 24hrs,
Supping coffee watching the sun go down casting magenta and pink hues on indigo clouds , the gentle lap of tinny waves on sienna covered rocks, the brief bleat of a distant sheep and croak of a soaring Raven the only company afforded to us in this stunningly beautiful landscape , how privileged we are to have this on our doorstep , I crack open a bottle of Old Crafty Hen, a superior aged fine Ale , I decided to change from my sweat ridden clothes into my muppet onsie much to the amusement of David, who could not stop sniggering for hours, I didn't mind , it's one comfy piece of attire and I love it so there!!
The eagerly awaited evening meal a beef casserole of fresh ingredients none of the freeze dried packet stuff for us oh no, cubed rump stake, mushrooms , diced potatoes, carrots and peas, a home made stock , fresh herbs and seasoning ummmmm!!!
Cooked to absolute perfection by Mr Cowdry,
There is something so magical about eating out under the stars, with a wedge of Raspberry swirl cheesecake and extra thick Channel Island cream it does not get better than that,
And finally a couple of shots of Talisker Storm courtesy of National Geographic , 
A wisp of cloud covered what would have been perfect starry sky , laying on our backs on the shore watching the shooting stars pondering our place in the universe and really how insignificant we really are , puts all our trails and tribulations into perspective , being at one with nature is a truly liberating experience especially after a few shots of whiskey ,
I clambered into my sleeping bag content,
The morning sun warmed the inside of my tent, I unzipped the flap to be greeted by a bight turquoise blue sky, the suns rays glistening on a still lake like thousands of little diamonds dancing to 'The Beatles-Here comes the sun' a red kite graces us with his presence gently soaring circles in the warm updraft oh how nice it is to be free,
The frying pans hisses and spits cooking three rashers each of extra thick oak smocked bacon each flipped and pressed until golden brown with a slight crackling to the rind , a fresh free range egg each from David's girlfriend Jills hens sandwiched between to thick clouts of bread , tomato sauce Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, need I say any more,
If ever there is a cure for Can't-be-arsed-ness this must be it ,get out there and do it , experience something new , try something you have never done before, Scare yourself , laugh, 
We packed our tents, donned our much lighter packs and headed for home with big smiles 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Meerkats United

Such a wonderful day spent with a family of meekats, these intriguing little characters fill me with joy and wonder,their constant vigil standing to attention like miniature soldiers always makes me chuckle,
Being allowed access into the enclosure with them to take some pictures was a great opportunity to get close to these little guys,
I was really overwhelmed how friendly they were clambering all over me checking me out, trying to eat my shoelaces and looking for grubs in the folds of my clothes,
I am really looking forward to painting a mural on the wall of the house for them, Im hoping to start it this week ,and will post pictures