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.


Greentwinsmummy said...

brrrr! that photo of the icy lane should be in an advert for why you should drive slowly in lanes(grrrr!) imagine the usual nutters belting along & hitting that patch gulp!

That pipe is wonderful,simply wonderful & the orange story what a contrast to the excessess we see all around us now sigh.

I am loving this cold weather,we have gotten used to it now & I am happily bundled in woollys day & night lol!!!!
love GTM x

nita x said...

Happy new Year jennie :o)

your pelmet looks lovely ,the scenery is gorgeous you do live in a lovely area :o)

Kim said...

That's a lovely pipe BB, and you are so right about how things have changed!!! Your pelmet looks sumptuous and it will be lovely to see it for real, but maybe when the weather has warmed up a bit ;)

Kim x

hen said...

Lovely photos! It's not quite -6 here in the Cotswolds but I think we managed a measley -4.

That pipe! I can almost feel it in my hands. I love the way you bring history back to me. Always in such intimate human terms. Thank you x

Arlene Grimm said...

The pelmet is wonderful Jennie...hope you all warm up soon.

nancy said...

This is a wonderful post! I love your commentary about your walk evoking reflections and the story at the end. What an eloquent observation! I treasure this blog, you know! I knew it would be awesome, and it's surpassed my expectations.

Bovey Belle said...

Bless you Nancy and Hen - it's nice to know I can bring the inanimate alive and provoke a little thought for the everyday . . . I have other tales to tell too . . .

GTM - I'm NOT happily bundled up - don't seem to get warm until I leap into my HOT bed (electric blanket - couldn't live without it!)

Nita, Kim and Arlene - glad you liked the pelmet, and I'm pleased it finally got used.