To Hay (on Wye) and back again

Angela Hay on Wye 11 Oct 2018
Market place, Hay on Wye

Today, I took a little jaunt to Hay on Wye.

I wanted to drive through the Brecon Beacons as summer turns to autumn. I needed to visit Bartrum’s, the stationers in Hay on Wye and to have a bit of a walk around.

Typically, after a couple of days of gloriously sunny autumn days, I decide to go on a wander on a day where the skies were leaden and rain was threatening.

However, the sullen grey backdrop of the sky helped the autumnal colours to shine against it, especially on the way home. The colours of nature had changed with the rain. Reds were clearly apparent in the brown reeds at the foot of the mountains. Water darkened the bark on the trees so the glorious colours of autumn seemed more vibrant. Wet foliage always seems brighter in colour.

I cursed myself for not being able to take photos as I drive, and there was nowhere to stop safely so I could take quick snaps of the glories of autumn.

I travelled the A470 between Merthyr and Pontypridd on Tuesday, and the change in colours of the trees and the land was noticeable indeed.

More trees seemed to be crowned with their autumn gold. There are more fiery flashes of trees resplendent in their autumn finery. The brown bracken and reeds on the hills had more red, magenta and purple tinges to it than just a few days before.

I felt quite sad that some trees have already lost their leaves, missing out on joining in the great, colourful celebration of the turning of the seasons and another productive year.

There’s more changes to come and I hope I’ll find the courage to visit Westonbirt Arboretum this year to wander through the woods in their autumn beauty.

I also enjoyed seeing the clouds forming mantles around the heads of the mountains of the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains. There’s something mystical, secretive about it, and a lot of power in the strong winds today and the eddying and swirling in the low clouds was particularly visible today.

One particular highlight of the day was when a red kite swooped in front of my car, turned and returned in the direction it had come from. Seeing them close up always takes my breath away!

When I got to Hay, I popped quickly into Satori to have a look at their pretties (crystals, jewellery) and did pick up a piece of hypersthene to add to my collection.

Angela Porter Lunch Hay on Wye 11 Oct 2018
Oscar’s Bistro, Hay on Wye

My next stop was Bartrum’s for a look around. I do have a bit of a thing for stationery. I did restrain myself from visiting the downstairs area of the shop where they have soooooooooo many beautiful fountain pens. I did have a good look around the upstairs section where there are pens and pencils, notebooks and sketchbooks. They have a huge selection of Moleskine and Leuchturrm notebooks, as well as other brands, along with all kinds of other stationery supplies. They do have a small selection of sketchbooks and I picked up a 25cm x 25cm Blue Acorn sketchbook (I’d forgotten to pack a sketchbook to take with me).

After that, it was time for lunch and I thought I’d revisit Oscar’s Bistro.

Liz and I went there before our trip oop t’Dales and we had a pleasant lunch in nice surroundings.

Today, I had a big pot of tea all to myself and for lunch I ordered a veggie burger with cheese and some chips. I forgot to ask them to leave out the bread bun, which I left anyways (my preference, I’m sometimes not in the mood for bread). The veggie burger was delicious. They make them themselves and I could detect mashed swede, parsnip, leek, onions carrots in my burger. They were beautifully seasoned and not at all bland, unlike so many commercial vegetable burgers.

The chips were lovely; hand-cut, still had the skin on (which I like), and golden and crisp, freshly cooked.

I did say that I would’ve been more than happy with two veggie burgers (no bun) a scattering of chips and some salad.

The time I was there with Liz, I had a vegetable curry and it was delicious too. A little spicy heat but not so much that you couldn’t taste the other spices or the veggies.

It really is a lovely little place!

I sat there and made some notes about my thoughts on my drive there and started drawing my illustration for Inktober 2018 day 12 (the prompt is ‘whale’) in the sketchbook I’d bought in Bartrum’s. Well, I mean, you just gotta try out a new sketchbook!

Once I’d finished my pot of tea (which was also lovely and much needed), I planned on a wander around Hay, but as I took the quick pic of Oscar’s it started to rain, and the heaven’s opened as I took a pic of the market.

On my way back to the car I stumbled upon a little shop called The Thoughtful Gardener and I just had to have a wander.

As well as pretty flower pots and cards and so on, they had a range of soap, scented candles, room fragrances and skin creams made by themselves.

I had a sniff of some of the soaps and creams and ended up with a pot of Wild Mint balm which is deliciously minty and the tiniest bit softens/smooths the skin. I’ve tried it on the touch of very dry skin I have on my forehead to see if it’ll help. I couldn’t resist some soap ‘flavoured’ with patchouli, and delicately done too.

I’ll certainly be visiting The Thoughtful Gardener again!

I had thought to wend my way towards Hereford, maybe visit Kilpeck before returning home, but the dark, dark glowering clouds suggested I should think otherwise. So, I made my way back home, driving through strong winds, heavy rain and the start of the rush hour traffic!

Oh, strong winds – that reminds me, flurries of autumn leaves were fun to drive through! Far nicer than snow as far as I’m concerned.

A little jaunt to Neath

Approximately once a week I have an appointment in Neath. I enjoy driving, but today I wished there were places on the way there and back I could pull over and snap a few piccies of nature.

The places I could pull over and stop were places where I lost the view I wanted to catpure.

So, instead of pictures, I’ll try to use my words to paint a picture of my journey.

My route was from Pontypridd, up the A470, past Merthyr Tudful to join the A465 which I then followed until I reached Neath.

Along the way I get to see the mountain tops of the Taff valley. They currently look like a rich tapestry of abstract patterns in a rich russet tinged with purple, dull yellow-greens and straw-yellow.

The trees that line much of the road are no longer the uniform green of summer. There’s flashes of yellow, brown, orange, magenta and purple along the way that break that unformity up. Rowans and hawthorn are so bedecked with berries that they already appear bright red-orange and red in colour.

Traces of morning mist lingered about the trees beside the A465 in the Vale of Neath, and low cloud wreathed the moutain tops to the east. Definitely an autumnal view.

I got the sense that nature is trying on her new wardrobe, working out what looks best in different places, what colours work well together.

I feel the anticipation of seeing nature in all her glorious, majestic, blazing autumnal colours in the coming days and weeks. All to celebrate the end of the year’s harvest, the warm, glowing colours clothe the world like a snuggly quilt laid down to help it ease into it’s winter slumber.

The colours also act as a memory to remind us in the cold, dark, bare days of winter the world will wake up once again.

 

The Old Barn Tea Rooms, Ponsticill

This photo of The Old Barn Tea Room is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Not all journeys involve a lot of travel. We often forget to visit or mention places of interest that are close to home. We think they’re ordinary, uninteresting, familiar, but to others they may be of great interest.

Today was one of those days where a short trip was taken, around 25 miles in total.

I needed some time with Liz to sort out details of our journeying around the Yorkshire Dales, so we decided to meet up for lunch and went to the Old Barn Tea Rooms at Ponsticill, Merthyr Tydfil.

The drive there was lovely, in bright, golden autumn sunshine along tree-lined country lanes once we left the main roads. Part of the trip was along the edge of the huge Ponsticill Reservoir and we had tantalising glimpses of the water through the trees that lined the road.

A little earlier in our journey, we’d driven over the road that goes along the damn that holds back the water that forms the reservoir; I always feel a little nervy as my mind worries that the dam may fail with me in a car on it. There was a fab view of the water treatment works from this road, however; something that can fascinate a pair of retired science teachers!

The Old Barn Tea Room is, as the name says, in an old converted barn. The decor is simple and charming, in fitting with a tea room in the countryside

We were greeted as we entered the door and given a menu and asked to choose a table and someone would be over soon to take our order.

As a vegetarian I was heartened that there were some interesting choices for me. When our waitress came to take our order I inquired about the fresh, home-made soup and was told it was carrot and parsnip, so I plumped for that along with a hummus and roasted vegetable sandwich along with a pot of Assam tea.

Later on, I indulged in a slice of lemon cake, which was very light and had just enough lemony yummy-ness to make it totally delicious.

Liz went for their lighter afternoon tea and she had half a tuna sandwich, a plain scone with cream and jam and Welsh cake. She had a cafetiere of coffee.

There was a group of three men there, one of whom played the harmonica from time to time and the others sang softly. That was rather nice and atmospheric.

We were not rushed at all during our visit, which was great as I needed Liz to help me name the places I took photographs of as well as mentally retracing the tyre-tracks of our daily journeys around the Dales.

I even managed to do a little knitting as we finished off our second pot of tea or cafetiere.

It really was a lovely setting for a tea room, off the beaten track, set in the countryside and today it was nicely quiet.

My sat nav took us on a slightly different route back home. We had a fantastic view of the face of a quarry, the old limestone streaked with dark grey and flashes of white.

As we made our way back along the A470 we passed Trago Mills opposite the Cyfarthfa Retail Park. Liz said it was on her list to visit out of curiosity. I asked her if she wanted to pop in and had the time to. She said, ‘why not!’. So we did.

We both ended up with more knitting yarn and we had a wander around completely perplexed by it all. However, we can both say we’ve been there.

I will be making more posts about our Yorkshire trip, once I get it all sorted out in my head (and with the photo labeling and editing too).