Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The green, green grass of Wales

When Tom Jones sings about the green green grass of home, he's pretty bloody accurate about his beloved home country of Wales.

The Welsh countryside is indeed very very green. Which can mean only one thing...it gets very very wet there, very very often. Sobering thoughts as we embarked on a camping/socialising weekend in mid-Wales following the wettest June on record.

Heading out, cross-country from Oxford, our trip to the county of Powys and the mid-northern town of Rhayader (or a rural property just outside this village) took us through the rolling (green) English countryside and towns like Worcester and Hereford.

After a three-hour drive, we reached the property, a huge estate on which friends Nick and Rhian were based. Their cottage was nestled amongst vast green fields, some with sheep grazing, some with hilly forestland, and all by the River Wye. It was an idyllic setting.

Living in London, you get used to not seeing much wildlife, so after a few minutes in "the bush", it seemed that every sort of bird known to man called this place home. Ditto the sheep, who were to become the alarm clocks in the morning.

We spent a leisurely evening sitting around the fire (as you mid-Welsh summer), eating yummy vegetarian curries. Were it not for the copious amounts of alcohol we consumed, I'd have felt like I was at a health retreat.

Next morning, Rhian offered us some of her home-made elderflower champagne, which had been merrily bubbling away in the kitchen.

As Nick loosened the cork, the bottle practically exploded and elderflower champgne sprayed throughout the loungeroom. It was even fizzier than what appears to be the current craze of dipping mentos mints in coke bottles...

Most items in proximity copped an elderflower shower, including Nick, who dashed outside with the spewing bottle. It was pretty amusing.

Later, we set out for a drive through the (green) rolling hills in the heart of Wales, and into the Elan Valley. Sheep roam the roads in these parts, and we had to stop a number of times to let a little sheep family amble past. They don't seem to dock the sheep's tails here like they do in Australia, and it was really funny to see sheep with big woolly tails dangling behind them.

Out there, it's peaceful and the air is crisp and fresh. It was an unusually sunny day and it was so good to be able to look out to the horizon and not see people or buildings. We meandered round the little country roads, checked out a few quaint pubs and heard all about sacred geometry, which I intend to investigate in much more detail.

The weekend continued much in the same way, although I was feeling much less like I was at a health retreat when I awoke on Sunday morning to the sound of sweet little birds crapping sweetly on the side of the tent, and the all-the-more rather disturbing sound of my head about to explode. Pesky hangovers...at least I didn't have to resort to dunking my head in the River Wye, unlike one of us.

It was a very relaxing weekend - great company, food and scenery, and tainted only by the usual horror show drive back down the A40 to London.

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