That this Autumn has been the most beautifully colourful for many a long year has been my theme for some weeks now. I’m not alone in thinking this way. Apart from Rosie, other friends feel just the same.
I try to put my non-observation of previous Autumns down to having always been too busy working to notice. But, surely, that cannot be the real reason: most of my working days over the last thirty-three years have been spent out in the open air – cabbying and Kleeneze-ing.
And, in any case, whatever I’ve been doing and wherever I’ve worked, I’ve had to drive to my workplaces through some of our marvellous Welsh countryside.
The last Autumn I can remember which was as colourful as this was when we were living in Cannock all those years ago. Cannock Chase is, and deserves to be, an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Late Summers and early Autumns there were one blaze of heather blooming (if “blaze” is the right word to describe how it looked!).
Yes, we have similar displays of heather in Old Cardiganshire – up on the hills along the Rheidol by Ysbyty Cynfyn are an example. But Cannock Chase in full heather-bloom is a memorable sight, intermingled as it is with the yellow flowers of gorse.
Rosie told me a few years back that there’s always one or other species of gorse flowering all year round, and I’ve carefully observed it is so. She’s enhanced my enjoyment of the countryside so much over the years with her knowledge of botany.
Wish I’d known as much about plants and trees as I know now when, as a teenager, I would walk (lonely as a cloud) from 71, Dunstall Road, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, twenty miles on nearly every Saturday and Sunday just to see the countryside.
Back then, I once mistook a stretch of bluebells under a copse of trees across a field near Worfield for the smoke from somebody’s fire; and a yellowhammer in a tree by the old gypsy camping-ground not far from Codsall for an escaped canary. Dad – a born and bred country-boy from a family of farm-labourers – put me right on many things like that!
Both of those places have changed now – fifty and more years does things like that. To judge from the Google satellite pictures, Codsall has spread and spread all over the fields to the mail Shifnal Road near The Foaming Jug pub (if that edifice still exists) and getting on for half-way to Albrighton.
That saddens me greatly: I cannot revisit the quiet country lanes along which I once took my solitary, enjoyable walks. I cannot show my Family the places I used to love passing through.
But I must not dwell on that sadness. My parents, and certainly my grand-parents, wouldn’t even know Wolverhampton these days. Indeed, during the 1960s, Gran’ma Bayliss went into town just after the first remodelling and was fairly lost near Brick-kiln Patch, which she’d known almost unchanged for half-a-century, because the new Market Hall occupied the Patch itself and there was a pedestrian-underpass nearby.
This piece has been inspired (is that the word?) by the accidental seventy-mile round trip which Rosie and I took today.
The weather was fine and sunny, so we decided to drive up the Abergwesyn Road from Tregaron and give the Bess the Dog a bit of a run. At most, that should have taken us less than an hour.
Heading out of Tregaron and starting the climb towards Dyffws ex-YHA place, we let a couple of “dressed for the hunt” equestrians to come down the sloping and narrow road to pass us. Further on, we were surprised to find that road littered with badly-parked cars and little clusters of people lining the fence on our left-hand side. There must have been some sort of hunt going on.
As their Tregaron-style parking made it difficult to pass, we thought it might be an idea to come back a different way. We – well, I, really – forgot what a long and circuitous journey that would be!
Up and up the Abergwesyn Road we went, gasping at the magnificent colours and spectacular views. I do not have words to describe those things properly, not the feelings of pure joy they engendered in us.
I more-or-less knew the lengthy route which we were going to take. We passed Soar y Mynydd Chapel and got a bit . . . not lost, just mislaid after that. Then we realised where we were, and saw – for the umpteenth time – those superb views over the sunlit Llyn Brianne.
Carrying on – and missing a turn which would have taken us to Pumpsaint and cut off lots of miles – we enjoyed those same bright colours and marvellous views all the way to Llandovery. That was a place I’d intended to visit this year – but on a planned visit! I made the error of turning left instead of right when we reached the town, corrected my mistake about a mile further on when I realised we were on the way to Brecon, and headed back through the place where The Bank of The Black Horse (now Lloyds TSB) was started back in the droving days.
From there, we took the old, familiar A40 towards Llandeilo, etc., and turned off at Llanwrda for our usual – and well-known to us – route back to Lampeter. The loveliness of the journey did not diminish all the way home.
As the old lady on Wilfred Pickles’ ‘Have A Go’ radio show said back in the late 1940s or very early 1950s: “Lord – keep my memory green.”
These pics were taken on today’s trip but do neither the views nor the colours any justice at all!
This “article” also appears in my private Journal stored in My Documents on my PC. Members of my Family are allowed to read the rest of that Journal – perhaps there you may learn something, Family, about me and just how daft I really am!