Saturday, 28 November 2009

Where's the Snow in Snowdonia?

The converted chapel in Snowdonia sits isolated high up in the mountains of North Wales. It is where I have been staying for the past few weeks with no access to the internet (hence no recent posts) and free from every day concerns. Dolgellau, where the nearest shops are, is a twenty minute drive down steep, winding and narrow lanes - there is no incentive to drive there when you can be out walking or sitting snug by the wood burner.

The weather started out unseasonably mild with beautiful blue skies from dawn to dusk giving clear views of the tops of the mountains. Of course, compared to the mountain ranges of the world, the mountains of Snowdonia are not high, Mt. Snowden being the highest at 3560ft. The photo below shows the Cadair Idris range at 2831ft, one of the most popular areas for hill walking. Often mistaken for an extinct volcano because of its crater like top, it was actually formed by glaciation during the last Ice Age.

The Pecipice Walk is less well known and being close to 'our' house is a favourite walk. The path clings to the side of the mountain with a sharp drop to the valley and river below. Further along the path the view opens out to give wonderful views to the sea in the far distance.

The return route, on the other side of the mountain, gives the totally unexpected view of this small lake. The water is quite clear and tranquil and with its reflections of forest and sky, a pleasant place to rest and ponder.

Then the weather broke with torrential rain and flooding.....

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Friday, 6 November 2009

About Frost Free Flowers and a Bomb Plot...

I know the mind plays tricks as you get older but when I was a small child Bonfire Night was always bitterly cold and frosty. Afterwards, it would turn milder and wet - my father told us it was because the bangs from the fireworks frightened the clouds and made them cry.

a frosty morning in the secret valley

Whether it really is due to global warming or just chance, (probably a bit of both), but this year has been milder than ever. We have had a couple of slight frosts but not enough to do much damage other than to the really tender plants such as dahlias. This post is really more of a photo shoot of plants that ought to have been long finished. In between, for the benefit of overseas visitors, I will explain about the tradition behind Bonfire Night.

fuchsia megallanica

"Remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot" starts the old rhyme that children learn, recalling the day in 1605 when a group of men tried to assasinate King James I by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. The main conspirators were Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes and it is the latter that is remembered because he was the one that got caught.

allium triquetrum - don't they realise it isn't Spring?

The burning of the guy, as the effigy of Guy Fawkes is traditionally known, represents the death of Fawkes and right up to the recent past (trick or treat seems to have taken over) children would take their guys, which they made, from house to house asking for 'a penny for the guy'.

a stunted but proud Foxglove

The bonfire is always accomanied with a firework display, these days usually organised affairs by charities or village committees. What happened to the real Guy (which is where the modern day name for any man originates)? He was tortured and taken to the gallows to be hung, drawn and quatered - the baying crowd were cheated of this spectacle as he jumped to his death before the noose was placed around his neck.

a tender Salvia - not sure which one - any thoughts, please?

As for Catesby, he and the other conspirators escaped, but were found three days later and shot.

this surely has to be the last butterfly of summer?

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