Saturday, 19 April 2014

Costa del Cymru

We walked along a short (4 mile) stretch of the coast line between Clarach and Borth last week.Nature was putting on its finest spring show

And, the tide was really low, allowing us to admire the natural (or man-made?) wonder of Wallog (pronounced Wacklog), a stone spit that extends 2Km into Cardigan Bay

The weather was lovely, but there were still some very steep bits

(That's the same hill from the bottom and top)
Mike was chuffed because he finally got to see (as opposed to hear) chuffs, with their red beaks and feet. I was chuffed because a red kite circled about 10m over my head. I didn't even try to reach for my camera, just wanted to stand still and enjoy a closer proximity than ever before. Afterwards we adjourned to a sea front hostelry in Borth ('The Victoria') where we soaked up the (unseasonably warm) sun and a couple of pints of local bitter.

The next day those steep bits kicked back could hardly walk up the stairs!!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Country living

Settling into my new picture postcard cottage house-sit

The views are stupendous

And the light is just luminous (that's probably a tautology)

My days have a new rhythm: lighting the stove in the evening (a ritual I have not performed for almost fifteen years)

Feeding 'the girls' in the morning

Who in turn feed me

There's a couple of raised beds to be dug. It's not a 'condition' of my stay but it would be a nice gesture

Monday, 14 April 2014

Travelling to West Wales (part 2)

The second half of the journey to west Wales was a bit fraught. It took an hour and half to get around 40km of the M25 (normally less than half an hour), then my Tom-tom sent me via Birmingham (a route I would never chose as it’s the least scenic and involves the most motorway driving). Finally, when I got to the mountain pass between from Llangurig to Aberystwyth (already running late) it was closed – due to a fatal pile up on one the many dangerous bends. I had to make a 50km detour through the next valley north, via Caersws and Machynlleth.

Still my journey was made more pleasant by seeing England and Wales in spring bloom. Hawthorn and Wild Cherry seemed to brightening all the hedgerows and fields . I don’t know whether the blossoms are particularly vivid this year or if we just don’t enough of these species in Flanders and Holland. And I saw pheasant wander nonchantly in front of my van across an A road just outside of Llanidloes.

I’m staying with friends of more than thirty years who live between the sea and mountains, looking after their chickens and cat while they will be away. I lived close by for several years so there’s a sense of coming home and much catching up t be done, about the changes in people’s lives: the daughters away at university, the builders who came to a sticky end and the politics of the local university.

But mostly its nice to be in the countryside again: the sea is a ten minute walk away, the air is replete with bird song, the wild garlic is in full leaf and there are innumerable different wild flowers to be found in the hedgerows. I could get used to this.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Dreaming of (Bhutanese) temples from Brussels

Do you think these painters knew something about nuclear physics 'avant la lettre'?

Back in Brussels

Back in Brussels. Beers in Place Luxembourg, snacks in Place Jourdan. Last night there was a Euro summit so all the roads around Schuman Metro were closed. Took a taxi from Jourdan to Art-Loi, because it too far too walk after a couple of beers. The next week is going to be chaos in BXL with Obama, the Chinese Pm and the Heads of African states visting in the space of just over a week.