On the way to Crickhowell (Crug Hywel)

Today, I had a little jolly with Liz to Crickhowell. Unfortunately, we got terribly turned around and confused on the way. Missed the turning that would take us to Crickhowell via Llangynidr and ended up having an adventure along Hafod Road above the Clydach Gorge.

Neither of us knew where we were going, but as the road rose, we left the fog behind and drove into bright sunshine. That was soon followed by the glorious view of fog shrouding the valley below.

It was amazing! The photos don’t capture how it roiled and caught the light with subtle changing hues. Nor did they capture some fog starting to seep down the side of the hill from behind us a little further along the road. It was beautiful to take some time to stop and watch the wonder and gloriousness of nature. I wish I had the photographic skills to capture it better. However, these will serve to jog my memory of the feelings I experienced – wonder, gratitude for seeing such a sight, the warmth of the sun, the beauty of the natural world, and more I can’t put into words just now.

We found our way to Crickhowell with the help of the satnav. But, fair play, the satnav outperformed itself today in terms of a lack of logic. Sometimes, I think all the satnavs I encounter are possessed by little, mischievous imps!

Fog veiled the sun as we completed our journey to the little market town at the edge of the Brecon Beacons, not far from Abergavenny (Y Fenni).

We visited a little shop called Natural Weigh – Zero Waste Shop. Loads of products, all organic! I picked up some face moisturiser, and Liz did a good shop of all kinds of raw ingredients.

Next, it was time for brunch/lunch in the cafe at Book-ish. As well as a pot of tea for me and a coffee for Liz, we both had the Book-ish dhal – a sweet potato, cauliflower and spinach dhal served with natural yoghurt, a lemon wedge and a toasted flatbread. It was lovely if a bit unusual, for my breakfast (even though breakfast for me is often at lunchtime for others!).

Eventually, after much chatter, it was time to move along. So, into the Book-ish bookshop, we went. I could hold off buying any stationary or chocolate, but I couldn’t resist buying The Sad Ghost Club 2 book. That will be read later today, no doubt! I may have to get the other two volumes in the series so far!

So, after a little wander around some lovely shops, it was into the Latte-da Cafe and Kitchen for tea and a piece of a rather delicious carrot cake that we shared. It was very light, with plenty of raisins and nuts in it.

Then it was time for the drive home, in bright sunshine.

A nice few hours out, for sure.

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.