Thursday, 1 January 2009
Happy New Year and a string of thoughts . . .
It is a very brisk start to the New Year here. If you look at the weather maps today you will see that Wales is about to break off mainland Britain because it's so cold. It was so bad here overnight (about minus 6 I think) that our washing machine pipes froze up. They are lagged everywhere apart from one bend, and that's where they froze. My husband's had to thaw them out by putting a lighted candle inside the drum and we'll have to do the same again overnight tonight and until it warms up again.
I finally remembered to take a photograph of that Medieval style pelmet I was wrestling with for days. I think it dresses the archway well.
Anyway, around lunchtime, he and I managed a walk up to the top of the hill (me without stopping, which was an improvement on the other day). At the top it was a sheet of ice and so completely devoid of colour that the only brightness was in the red of a "no shooting" sign. We found some dead branches which we brought back for fuel - we are getting through double the amount of wood during this cold spell.
There was a drizzle of sunshine on the hills above Llanfynydd.
But in our valley, drear and cold.
I was discussing with him on our walk how hard things must have been for the poor peasantry back in Medieval times, living in mean hovels, with barely enough wood to make a fire to huddle round, and a fairly lean time with food besides. It reminded me of the time when people had no alternative but to live on their own resources, and the little wooden pipe, hand-made from hedgerow sticks, that was a memento of a beloved father or grandfather, and came in a "box of odds" from the auction last summer.
As you can see, it is made from Hazel, and worn away by years of being gripped by the old boy's teeth, the bowl smooth from the work-worn hands. It must have been treasured and stowed carefully away, as any normal house-clearance would have seen it in the bin . . .
In the paper today was a seasonal piece about a lady who had no money to buy her late teens/early 20s children a Christmas present. She blew her last £5 on a scratch-card and amazingly, it was a winning card - she won a million pounds. That reminded me of the old lady I met in the queue at T*sco once. She said her mother had once kept a shop "just over there" - beneath what is now the Bus Station. They had a little stock of oranges to sell over the Christmas period, and if they were lucky there were enough left over for the children to each have one as their present on Christmas Day . . . This would be the 1920s I think. Hard to imagine now. No winning tickets for them.