Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Well there's a surprise..

                Well yesterday the forecast for today was rain, torrential and unceasing rain – with some showers thrown in for good measure. Now with a problem of pooling water in Fluttering Heights due to the type of slaps that the chicken run I built stands upon I spent the majority of yesterday laying twenty new slaps to enable the water to run off and drain freely, surrounded by the extra wet relief security of six bags of gravel. I’ll let you into a secret dear reader after completing the job in my usual meticulous manor I was bloody well knackered.  So with the deluge of biblical proportions anticipated, the chickens no longer in fear of having to start saying quack instead of cluck and my back in more than two pieces I laid plans of the internal type for today, which did not impress the Warthog as a decent walk was off the cards. So settling my head upon my pillow I drifted off to sleep with thoughts of cider making and adding some more sloe gin to my already burgeoning collection of homemade liquid refreshment.

                Once awoken this morning but still on remote I stumbled to my keyboard, a very large mug of tea grasped vice like in me mitts, and commenced upon uploading a few photographs onto face book in a vain and pointless attempt to impress folk with my artistic and technical brilliance – not. Yes before you start, I do know that I have an inferiority complex, but it’s not a very good one at that! It slowly dawned on me that there was absolutely no sign of the forecast rain whatsoever, no patter of raindrops on the roof, no tsunami like wave threatening to wash Buckley into the abyss, nothing not a sausage not even the tiny but tell tale specks of water upon my upraised face. Mmmmm well the apples will keep awhile and the sloes can be done tonight thought I as Willow looked on expectantly. Ten minutes later we’re thrashing the Fun Cruiser through Mold (thank god that police car didn’t turn around) heading for the deserted quarry at Hendre. Err... where trespassing is not allowed, but then again if it was it wouldn’t be trespassing then would it, I suppose!

                The walk was wonderful, not because of heights traversed; indeed the real hills could be seen only in the distance.

Moel Arthur

                Not because it was of any distance either, in fact in the hours that we were out us probably only covered four miles, if that. Well ok Willow probably covered twenty as she really hit top speed today and it was with sheer pleasure and a good deal of chuckling that I watched as she tore around the spartan grasses. To be honest I don’t really know why it was so wonderful, it just seemed that for the first time in a long time that I stepped forth on a trail with a little glimmer of hope here about the future. Of course all expectations and even the dared dream can be smashed and torn from us by this sometimes cruel life, but not today. So instead of the trail lifting my spirits it simply added to my feeling of wellbeing, it won’t last I know but to have a few moments of inner calmness once in awhile is something that usual eludes this little rotund Hobbit so yes, this was a wonderful walk.
                Not even the Warthogs persistence in trying to ruin every waterside shot I tried couldn’t dampen my spirits, and it looked as if she was going to be the only creature near water that I’d capture for you (nothing new there then).

                So there are not too many pictures this time to tell the tale of the walk just these few;

                Oh but I very nearly forgot! Regular readers here about (up to eight on a weekend) will know of my frustration at my lack of fauna photographs with only able to capture some grainy shots of mostly uninteresting flora. But not this time aha for this time we have....wait for it..... a.... bug.  Well actually dragonflies. We’d settled by one of the small pools, ok I’d settled by one of the small pools whilst the Warthog made merry once more to watch the mating dance of these incredible flying insects. Not for one instant did I think of taking a picture until that was I spied a solitary one (probably all sexed out) resting in the rushes, so snippety snap and hey presto a dragonfly for your pleasure;

                I then even tried to capture them on the wing whilst they were... err... distracted in their antics. And bugger me the shots didn’t turn out so bad after all;

                Could this be the beginning of an improvement in pictures here on this excuse for a blog? I doubt it but hey ho life goes on.

                We arrived back at the Fun Cruiser in a buoyant mood, which was really nessary being as it did rain today.

Did I not mention I'm Welsh?

 ‘Till next time, take good care my friends,


Sunday, October 23, 2011

A favor to ask of you....

Mmmmm, I know that you folks out there in the great old blogosphere may not believe this but, if I’m perfectly honest with you, I’m a hobbit of little confidence. There I’ve said it, world shattering news eh? Ok to most folk this may not be a great deal but for one such as me it can dictate to whole course of one’s life; backing away from the edge, taking the easy option even if it’s not the right option, failing to speak out when I’m hurting, going along with the flow because it’s easier or even taking a step backwards when somebody could use my help. So why do I mention this now? After all I can bluster with the best of them, projecting an aura of confidence, of calmness even of threat! But that’s just it, its bluster whilst inside my stomach is churning, my thoughts are racing and I look for the easy way out! I’m absolutely crap at meeting folk for the first time; it sends bloody shivers down me back with my mind questioning how I come across to them – foolish? Maybe, but it’s a difficult thing to live with. So repeating myself, yes why do I mention it now? Well I have a favour to ask of you fellow bloggers, no don’t worry I know I’m Welsh but it doesn’t involve sheep. Some of you I have come to know well, as far as electronic communication may allow, others may well be full of bluster like myself but hide behind the monitor, but it’s hard to tell sometimes who are genuine folk or not. Ok I’ll stop rambling and tell today’s story of the walk and then put to you my question.

For the last few months I’ve been feeling more than the usual disconcertion with the road my life has followed, here I am in my mid forties (guess you didn’t think that from my youthful looks?) spending my working life grovelling around machinery trying to keep it running, funny thing – the engineer doesn’t produce a bean, keeps stopping the machinery to fix it and is intelligent enough to be a pain in the arse for a management team that doesn’t understand what we bring to a factory and also thinks we can fix absolutely anything with glue and bleedin’ fairy dust! Sorry off tangent again. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want to be mauling my decaying body around heavy bloody machinery on a god damn awful shift rota any longer. But what options do I have? I’ve worked in factories now for too many years to change, or have I? Yes I have other issues with my life, don’t we all, but work certainly seems to be the main bug bear at the moment.

One thing that the hills around Moel Famau do for me is help clear my mind, they may not provide answers but they give me a sense of calm and it has been far too long since the hills here felt my foot falls upon them. It was afternoon before I managed to drag myself and the Warthog up there and on arriving the car park was absolutely chocker – bugger me thinks; half school term, people, little people, red faces, stupid questions about my gear, fat dogs on their yearly walk and an avalanche of detritus left by folk who have no understanding of, or just don’t care for the world outside their own four brick walls. I nearly turned around, I nearly did but I didn’t. I know enough of the area to know where the rarely trodden paths are, where even on a busy day like today the likelihood of meeting folk is minimal and these are more than likely of a similar mind to me. So off we trudged, leaving the clamour of the car park behind and soon forgetting the earlier frustrations as we’d arrived.

Our pace was not fast, I’d forgotten how little serious walking that I’d done lately and my breath at time was hard to come by. The woods alongside the trial were showing the colours of autumn in abundance and my thoughts grew less troubled and I was able to think more simply and more clearly.

As I walked today thinking upon my plight once more I came back to the same thoughts that have touched my mind with more and more regularity lately. Since been on this blogging journey I’ve come to realise that I love to write, love sharing my thoughts and having people respond to them. Some of you know of my other blog, Tails from the Fish, where I did try a little writing other than the drivel found here. One story there I enjoyed writing immensely, Something Under the Sea, a childhood tale of an evening adventure in Anglesey.  So I turned the thoughts around once more in my mind, could I write well enough for folk to want to read my stories so much so that they would pay for them? Confidence it’s a bugger, the lack of it makes you pull away from a path late you cannot see to clearly ahead and I have dismissed this idea so many time in the past. The trial continued....

Sorry about the clarity of the pictures but the warm air was laden with moisture.

We came across familiar a friend, pictured many a time on previous posts and once more thoughts turned briefly to the Bog monster as we were approaching some of her favourite places where she used to play ‘the spook game’ with me.

But as in all things change comes about, where once stood old pine trees casting forbidding shadows on the path and if you had the courage to glance into their depths as you scurried past you’d be reminded of fairy tale woods. No, not the ones with shimmering elfin lanterns and the sweet singing of the little folk – no these trees reminded you of the darkest depths of primeval fears where the talon and the fang lurked in the shadows awaiting to pounce upon the unwary traveller. it was here always that Lucy would inevitably play her games.

But no more, for Lucy has gone to tread other paths and the trees stand tall and dark no more, the landscape left does indeed resemble ‘the desolation of Smaug.

Further on we broke clear of the hills, descending to the fields that skirt them where the exposed Hawthorn trees have been twisted and torn by years of harsh weather found here in the winter months.

Clinging to one was a large fungus, one I do not know but it may be called the ‘beef streak’ fungus.

My thoughts drifted as I watch Willow stalk a pigeon on the path, it taking off far later than I thought it would. I thought about how animals perceived colour through their eyes and wondered that if some do see just in black and white would the Warthog’s coat allow her to blend more;

She is in there honest

I sometimes wish that my life could be more black and white, but I guess I’d soon miss the colour of not knowing the future.

The walk was all too soon at an end, as we crested the last hill we could just make out the trig point a couple of miles away at Nercwys, me thinks that we’ll be heading there Monday, before the light fails, and try to catch a sunset.  

As we sat the catch breath once more sitting in the fun cruiser, thoughts once again turned to my plight and I decided the ask what I’ve been mulling over for some time.  I am going to have a go at writing, stories from my youth and later, hopefully told with warmth and humour and perhaps with some poetic licence. What I would like is to have some folk as proof readers to help me along and give advice. So there you have it, if you’d seriously like to take the time to read my struggling future attempts and pass back constructive feedback, good or bad as long as it is constructive, please let me know and do not let confidence hold you back! Take a look at the ‘unpolished’ story here and then decide if you’d like to help and receive stories to study and remark upon. As I’ve already mentioned I have received a kindly offer to help with my photography so now it’s your turn! I have a couple of folk in mind whom I hope will reply with an offer but me thinks that it would be best not to ask and just wait and see (confidence again)

Fingers crossed, your friend,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Not what I planned.....

                I well have mentioned this afore times, but sometimes I get so lost in myself, trying to achieve things that are absurdly out of my reach, trying to perhaps be somebody that I’d like to be but that fate and circumstance degree otherwise and so I remain this searching soul. With that I then become morose with feelings of failure and of losing the sense of who I truly am and what the hell is the point of all! Perhaps for all you more ‘well rounded’ individuals out there this does not make too much sense, well perhaps it doesn’t. I find it hard to explain the inner turmoil that sometimes threatens to overwhelm me and just make me give up on everything like walking, blogging, fishing, and generally trying leading a life that is morally right and just say "stuff it, work the grind, go home, get pissed sleep and get up for the grind once more". Well why not? It seems to work for so many numpties that I know so why should I be any different? Why should I give a damn? Why the hell should I give stuff about anything and instead just bury me head in the sand and say bollocks to it all?

                I’ll bloody well tell you why, it’s because I do. Something, that I cannot find the words to explain, courses deep within me making me look around at all the shit that this living bacteria that is the human race does to this planet and to each other, without a second thought for the consequences and the hell that we’re eventually going to bring crashing down around our ears and if this rotund Welsh Hobbit can make the smallest of differences then I bloody well should, and if I can convince just one other person to make a small difference then even better – acorns n oak trees come to mind..... Whoa hang on a moment is this the rambling, blustering and generally filled with nonsense blog that my fine readers have come to expect, me thinks the answer to that would be a huge no, after all I did mention in a previous post that I’ll try and keep this an uplifting type of blog, at least I cannot fail at that dear reader.

                But having said that I am human (well sort of), with all the failings and neurosis that comes with it. So saying, even I am apt to have an off day or three. Take this morning; oh please do, last night I went to bed with my head filled with notions of being an accomplished photographer and sharing such dazzling images of wildlife with you so increasing my standing before my fellow men. Idiot, fool of a Took even!  I have enough trouble finding adequate words for this blog let alone try to be something else that I’m not! Anyway back to the plot, awoken by the alarm droning in my ear I realised that I’d already made a mistake as a quick look outside revealed a lightening sky, not sun up yet but getting brighter – I should have been ensconced in my pond side location already, awaiting all manner of wee beasties to photograph. So the mad rush began; feed the bloody chickens, make a brew (I really cannot function without at least one gallon of tea in the morning), gather the gear together (really should have done this last night), pat the mournful looking Warthog on her head  and set off in a sedate manner. Erm... well not quite sedate the poor ol’ fun cruiser has not seen a turn of speed like this for some time and by the time that I’d reached Nercwys woods the adrenaline was racing through my body. What I have not mentioned so far is that I purloined Clare’s camera for this sortie hoping indeed to improve the photographs taken. Ah pride cometh before a fall as they say, although the same make as my own little snappy camera with very similar functions I has absolutely no idea how to get the best out of it. Entrenched beneath a hawthorn bush, sheltering from blustering wind and drizzle, alongside the pond where I hoped to take some photographs other than my usual fair, i.e. something that moved instead of static stuff, I floundered woefully. When the one real opportunity to take a really good shot arose I only managed to get the blurriest image imaginable. It was a badger and I’ve never been so close to one in my life! And yours truly managed to drop the ball totally, missing the shot and also spooking the animal before I could reorganise myself. Instead of feeling honored as I should to have been so close to such a beast my mood darkened and I decided to call it a day. Heading at first back towards to the car I tried taking photographs of the usual fair with Clare's camera but whether it was my foul mood or just the lack of familiarity with the camera absolutely nothing went right. I was exasperated and began asking myself as to whether it was worth it all, hence the ramble at the start of the post.
Supposed to be the sun through trees?

Not good are they?

                Funny thing nature as is friendship you know, as I sat down trying to collect my thoughts I caught sight of my staff laid to one side. 

                Staring at me was the carving that a true friend from across the pond had sent me the design for many months ago. This person has certainly been through the mill but their words and care for others never stopped. I hardly get to speak to them now as their path has taken a turn for the better and their life seems to be filling with joy once more, which makes me sad for the lack of contact but overjoyed that they have turned the corner and find life good again. Looking at that design first made me think of the pain they have been through but then of the love for life and others that shines through them so brightly. Taking hold of that staff this morning was like taking hold of Leigh’s hand and the joy that came with it was immense, chasing those demons that once more threatened my mind away once more. Thank you Leigh and fare ye well.

                I turned around and headed back into the woods, just wandering and soaking in the air, smells and feeling of belonging once more. In my hand I found my own camera once more and I wondered why on earth I had wanted to be bigger, better – after all it’s not me is it? So yes there are some pictures for you to glance at, not brilliant as usual but at least they tell the tale of the walk and show the world as I see it.

Vanity, tis a terrible curse....

I'm suspecting mice....

                As I strolled I found myself singing! Yep lung burstingly singing as I strode beneath the whispering canopy of the trees, perhaps they too thought that I was unhinged? But I’d found my balance once more. Some more sights to interest you;

                Interestingly though this tiny oak, together with a fir in another, were growing in bowls of a beech tree where its branches had been removed some time ago, funny thing nature.

                There were signs of death, firstly a pigeon had met its demise, probably at the talons of a raptor as the quills of the feathers had been pulled and not chewed off.

And secondly what I think may be a magpie’s remains – this time I suspect a furry culprit as the quills here were chewed. Oh whilst I think on if any of you fly fisher folk would like these green oily coloured feathers drop me a line and I’ll post them along with some patterned chicken feathers, yes even to America ya buggers.

And at the end of the walk yours truly even caught something furry on his camera, not a badger maybe but at least it counts;

Told you so......the fungus nibbler...

So there we have it from morose to happy in the length of a walk in the woods. Oh and with the promise of some photographic help from a new acquaintance, Max, maybe someday I’ll get that badger. But it does not really matter in the great scheme of things in the end. My balance, for now, is restored so all is good. Even the Warthog forgave my walking without her.

Thank you once more for your indulgence, ‘till the next time take good care.

Your friend, John