Friday, 28 March 2014

garden posy - march

Wallflowers - what a wonderful scent they have. I was given this lovely vintage glass, now vase for my birthday earlier this week - a perfect match! (thank you Ruth!)

Garden Posy: January : February

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

walking down memory lane(s)... bwlch-y-sarnau


It is becoming quite a tradition to celebrate my birthday by going out on a 'Birthday Walk'. This year I wanted to rediscover the hills and lanes of my childhood. 
Bwlch-y-sarnau translates to 'pass in the hill' and is a tiny hamlet consisting of a handful of farms and cottages high up in the Radnorshire hills. We moved here in the 1970's from the Midlands and were one of the few English families to move to the area. We embraced rural life here - a way of life that has barely changed over the centuries. My sister and I attended the local school (see a celebration of the school here) and went to Sunday School at the chapel at the top of the hill.

As a family we helped out on the neighbouring farms at shearing time and to bring in the hay. We roamed the hills, collected wood from the forests and picked berries along the lanes - a wild and free childhood! It was these hills that helped to shape me into who I am today and to share them with my family and dear friends now was very special.



While searching for the correct footpath (they are rarely waymarked!) we stumbled across this wonderful old farmhouse. A new farmhouse had been built next to it. The original house was hauntingly beautiful in its slow decay. The front door was ajar, almost inviting you in... 

Back on the right path, past lichen covered trees and posts and up to the top of the hill. The skies up here are huge - this is why I love big skies...

And here is the house where I lived... how blessed I was to of ever lived here!
I think a return visit is needed with a sketchbook as I'm feeling very inspired to rediscover and record this area further - the hedgerows, the wildlife, the farmhouses, the chapel.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

the field - march


In between the rain/hail showers, a walk around The Field to look for signs of spring... 
What was immediately apparent was the change in birdsong. Chiffchaffs having arrived home after their winter absence, joined the songs of robins, wrens, chaffinches, blue tits and plenty more.
The moles have been busy with lots of fresh molehills. We always make a bee line for molehills to see if they've dug up any interesting treasures! You can often find broken pottery and old clay pipes.


We went up to the top of The Field with the hope of finding blossom on the blackthorn trees, as I've seen some elsewhere. However these trees are obviously a little behind being in a less sheltered spot maybe.
Down through the wood and this mighty beech tree caught my eye. I love how others have obviously been drawn to this tree as well, and left their mark.

Bluebells are beginning to emerge through the leaf litter.
Leafbuds are bursting on the elder.

And the sticky horse chestnut buds are springing open with the freshest of green leaves.


Luckily I had the camera in hand when a pair of long-tailed tits arrived. What amazingly long whiskers they have!

New leaves are emerging on the brambles. The hawthorn leaves are still curled up tight in their buds, waiting awhile...


Celandines sprinkled the grassland all over the field. A couple of early butterflies were out too, a small tortoiseshell  and this comma above.
How wonderful to see all these signs of spring!

The Field : January : February

Saturday, 8 March 2014

a humble hawthorn tree

Over in The Field is a hawthorn tree, standing alone on the slope of the hill. It catches my eye for the reason that it isn't part of a hedge or copse which is where hawthorns tend to be with most of the surrounding area dedicated to farmland.



It's twisted trunks are protected by a mass of long thorny branches.



I just love the colour and forms of the lichens growing on the bare branches. The early spring sunshine picking out the spots of red - the leaf buds. 


The bird's feather (wood pigeon maybe?) caught on the branch is testament to some bird activity in the tree, though at the time of visiting there was none apparent. Having a small child and a cat with me may have influenced that!
If you look closely there are spider webs, glinting in the sunlight.


Growing up through it's branches is a bramble, with new leaves unfurling.
Around the base of the hawthorn there is evidence of rabbits having dug about in the earth, possibly to reach tender new shoots/roots to eat. Some hawthorn roots were exposed.

The grassland underneath is sprinkled with last years browned curled leaves.

Standing out on the open  hillside does mean this hawthorn has a fine view over Powis Park and beyond.

I'm linking in with Lucy over at 'Loose and Leafy' with her Tree Following project. The idea is to record the changes your chosen tree each month... when it's leaves unfurl, what grows on/underneath it, how it looks in different weathers etc.
I'm looking forward to getting to know this unassuming hawthorn tree a little better over the next few months!

Monday, 3 March 2014

ancient forest at borth


There has been a lot of press coverage recently about the ancient forest at Borth which has been exposed by this winter's storms. Borth is one of our nearest beaches, so a plan was hatched to go and visit this weekend as the tides were perfect.
The forest dates back to the Bronze Age, around 4000 - 6000 years ago. It contains the tree stumps of pine, oak, alder and birch. They have been preserved in a thick layer of peat, which is normally buried under the sand.


It feels like an alien landscape with the tree stumps rising out of the sand. The mixture of materials was so very strange to see: wood; peat; clay; pebbles; sand; shells; seaweed.


It's incredible to see bark; birch still recognisable after 4000 years. 


Underneath the peat was a layer of clay, which was slowly washing away before our very eyes.


This area is steeped in myth and legend and it's not hard to see why. The ancient forest is connected to the story of Cantre'r Gwaelod - The Lost Land of Wales. One version of the story goes that the land was protected by a seawall. The opening and closing of sluice gates in the wall was supervised by two Princes. One of them, Seithenyn, who was renowned for his heavy drinking, forgot to shut the gates one night and consequently the kingdom was flooded. It is said that the church bells of Cantre'r Gwaelod will ring in times of danger.


The boys occupied themselves with metal detecting and sand castle building, while I took a gazillion photos. The ancient forest was attracting a lot of photographers, at times all getting in each other's way.


For once a beach trip for us that didn't consist of piercing winds or torrential downpours. A great day to fill your lungs with sea air and greet the arrival of spring.