Easter, Shakespeare and Stone…

willow theatre

Me, the Wall and one of God's loveliest people, Sue

I spent the Easter weekend (I regard toil as very much God’s work so there !) repairing some collapses in the dry stone wall at the Living Willow Theatre near Llandrindod Wells.(www.shakespearelink.co.uk / info@shakespeare.co.uk)  The old estate is now home to the Shakespeare Trust and they have the most magical outdoor theatre surrounded by a living willow hedge.  Sue and Phil hosted me – and crossed my palm of course – in this most sublime of environments and yet again I found voice as I worked stripping out and repairing a number of collapses in the wall that surrounds a precious hay meadow in the front of the house.  I guess it was originally a kind of Ha Ha (a word used to describe a barrier – often consisting of a wall or bank and a ditch sufficient to stop animals jumping into the garden / lawned area but invisible from the house, thus presenting an open panoply or vista across apparently unfenced ground – in essence a ‘trompe d’oel’ – to optically delude visitors – and render them uncomfortable should they wander over and fall into it – hence ha ha ha ha ! methinks).

Whitney and I spent an uncomfortably sublime weekend building a gateway into the nature trail back in a very wet November, and despite being soaked, mud caked and damaged – she had a very badly hurt finger (caught in my gate fastening) and I snapped a tendon in my right arm/hand/finger – we were overjoyed and overawed by the place,  the people (an eclectic mix of volunteers), the ambience and the food !!  For her it rescued a thoroughly bad few weeks where the only (quasi) human contact of low intellectuality was me !

The walls in this part of Radnorshire are built with heavy, and then some, boulders which have little in the way of discernible ‘bedding-plane’, they are rather too smooth for good wall building and hence even my inestimable skill is challenged !  Having said that, the ha ha dates from the early to mid 1700s and is in overall good condition.  I so enjoy going to work in such a setting, and despite nearby traffic – not at all bad considering it was a Bank holiday – the two days passed in blissful one-ness, sometimes two or three-ness because Sheila and Stanley, two wonderful volunteers, were around helping on Saturday.  Sue was singing at the nearby Llanwyrtd Food festival (you missed that one Whitney Brown !) and Phil, having done his shepherding bit, had gone too.  Sunday, by far the nicer day weather-wise, saw me finish quite quickly and then Sue – having plied me with tea – showed me around the soon-to-be-opened nature trail come wildnerness theatre.  Oh boy.

AEntrance to the nature trail
‘Whit’s Gate’ into the nature trail, those boulders were too heavy for us to move What a fabulous experience this will be for people.  Mature Chestnut and limes intermingle with conifer, american (western) ground ivy, and of course ‘ the little people’.  How entrancing and inspiring, what inspiration this will bring.At one clearing there is the old chestnut tree, absolutely Sherwood Forest meets Malvolio, here I dowsed the tree for energy and ‘plugged’ Sue int it, she drank its charge like a good Port !  On then into nooks and crannies and then the most secret of secret places, Sue’s hideaway from robbers – should they dare come this way – like Jonah into the whale, we entered the intestines of  a centuries old Boxwood hedge, unseen and unknown, a corridor of spooky subterranean ‘gordian knots’ which we could not undo…  Hobbit, Potter, Dr Who, Triffids, Quatermass, oh yes, and definitely Toad, just as you like it, definitely not much ado about nothing, bsolutely everything  here is magical.  Though cunning’st pattern of Excelling Nature – a old Chestnut and a much younger Chestnut !
That is the beauty of my job; mostly I’m alone on some hill-top, and that’s basically where I’m happiest, albeit I still mourn and miss my little Molly.  But every now-and-then I get to go to somewhere extra special, to meet extraordinary folk who have goodness running through them like a stick of Barry Island rock !  over the years they have been many, in most cases I return time and again, sometimes to work, sometimes to chat, but always, so I hope, as a welcome and trusted ‘friend’ not just as ‘the Waller’ – though I’m flattered and happy to be known as that too.
I suppose the gregarious inner-self comes through, and of course it has never got worn-out really, most weeks I can count on one hand the conversations I have – mostly at the shop.  And it is ‘the shop’ in truth, that I can thank for that side of my character – the side that emerged on the Mall but rarely surfaces much these days;  my Grand-father’s grocery shop in Pontnewydd (Cwmbran) where I was raised and where AJP’s mother-in-law’s father – Tom’s grandpa, my uncle Bryn (yes he lives on in that household for sure !!) held court and regaled all who entered there, and where, I guess, I was imbued with the ability to ‘talk’ to strangers.       Tea n Talk, forsooth....

‘Well met good friends’ Sue and Phil. Of the 6 million people I’ve met in my life, these come in the top 1%.

What a lovely Easter weekend, topped off by watching ‘South Pacific’ – the very songs I had spent two days singing – now how spooky is that, when was that film last on…… “Now, now I’m alone, still dreaming of paradise”…..

Sue's secret 'intestinal tract' in the Box hedge

Because I had those two fairly tiring two days, pleasure takes its toll too, I had the Bank holiday to myself.  I slept in, had a leisurely breakfast – oh what I would have given for a certain person’s ‘buttermilk pancakes and maple syrup’ with crispy egg and bacon….
Then I decided to ‘potter’ – its a much loved activity of mine, which basically means I do a great deal but, at the end, very little seems to have been achieved, but I’ve enjoyed, and that’s the main thing, isn’t that what a ‘day-off’ is supposed to be ? 
I planted some hazel around the place, had a little bonfire, messed with some old tool or other, took Gladys (the name my illustrious American interloper gave to my 1953 Series 1 Land Rover) for a little r & r, to blow the cobwebs and dust out of her.  Its my nostalgia surfacing, it does so often, I know its not supposed to be what it used to be but… I think its pretty harmless.  That’s not to say ot doesn’t worry me now and then, am I OCD’ing on it ?  Well I’m not alone in this instance, Phil is well on the way to a full restoration of Sue’s dad’s Series 1 88″.  We share that passion with hundreds of others (according to the present membership numbers of the Land Rover Series 1 Club !).  In fact he and I spent some time considering the sensibility of purchasing an 80″ (the rarest of the Series 1) which is for sale locally.  To that end (possibly…) I also, on my day off, put some items on Ebay (something I’ve only recently gotten into – mainly buying I’m afraid) an old John Deere tractor (a very rare Lanz 710) which has already gone past my reserve and has over 30 people ‘watching’ it; and, most amazingly, an Omega Speedmaster watch that I bought way back in 1978 for £150 (a lot of money then for sure), which sold immediatley at £1250 !! Wow, maybe a look at a 80″ landie on the way to work tomorrow….  I should point out that here at ‘Land Rover Manor’ as Whitney called my little homestead, Glady doesn’t sleep alone, oh no, in total there are five examples of Solihull’s finest….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: