2012, two months to go, will we survive ?!

Throughout the year comments have been made about ‘the end of the World’ – as predicted in the ancient Mayan calendar – and each time some disaster occurs those comments become more thought provoking.  As I write the most devastating storm for some years is bearing down on the heavily populated east coast of the United States.  New York is under threat and over 375 thousand people have been ordered to evacuate.  Names familiar to me from my contacts and journeys in the Carolinas, names like Ocracoke and Cape Hatteras, the ‘Outer Banks’ and Charleston, are all facing a serious attack from an angry storm.  Certainly, wherever one looks, the notion that we may well be facing the truth of that Mayan prediction is not too far fetched.

Even though I have been in mud for several months, even though I am on my third pair of Wellington boots, even though my goretex has finally surrendered and started to leak, walls have been built.  The month of October has seen two major jobs completed.  The mindless concrete block wall needs no mention but the the wall at the old lluest is of interest.

A field wall comes into being

The old field stone wall has been moved and rebuilt on the other side of the square. Mud is omnipotent !

The demolishing of the old wall was a simple matter of a 3 ton digger, a large bucket and a driver who understands how I like to have walls taken down and the stone spread-out ready for me to put it all back together again.  It does have a resemblance to poor old Humpty Dumpty; except I do have to put it together again.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the stones are so heavy in these parts, impossible to move by hand are those that make up the foundation.  The genteel shunting motion achieved by ‘Les’,  my good and faithful digger driver, soon has a new line of massive foundations.

One thing about a wall built of ‘field clearance’ stone is that they are generally much wider than is necessary to achieve a stable structure.  That is merely a factor of the quantity of stone that was won from creating the field.  The other issue is the rounded and weathered nature of the stone which makes them less than ideal for building a dry stone wall.  Friction and gravity are the glue which holds such walls together and without it they are generally not stable.  However, the sheer weight of the stones in that part of the world holds them in place.

There is still a warm sense of achievement that courses through my cold wet body at the accomplishment of another challenging task.  It just seems that every task is challenging this year.  I’m certainly thankful to be away from the remote valley before the weather really gets bad !  I can only look on in awe at the power of ‘Sandy’ (the slightly ironically named ‘Frankenstorm’).

November comes in with a storm of our own which is going to curtail a planned walk I was to lead into the Radnor Hills as part of the ‘Walking through History’ programme I am involved in.  My partners in the venture have been working hard at getting the web site up and running (www.tygwynfarm.co.uk) and this week is to be a sort of press launch.  I did rather suspect that a date at the end of October was not a good choice; history teaches that is always a week of wild weather.  Unfortunately the real bad day is the one we have chosen.  A ‘dress rehearsal’ on a bright autumn Saturday showed just how stunning the walk could be with many an interesting landscape feature to explore.

The hills of Radnorshire are always spectacular whatever the weather, the light, the sky. I hope we can persuade others to come see !

On the practise walk I discovered some more old field systems and a large bank and ditch which I rather suspect is the old boundary between the two ancient cantrefs of Elfael and Malienydd.  That’s the thing with landscape history, every bump and ridge, every wall and track is the product of someone’s effort a long, long time ago.

The end of October is, of course, the change to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) from British Summer Time (BST).  In other words it is the weekend when I suddenly find myself working to a different time frame from the rest of the country.  Not a problem this way around – clocks going backwards – as it just means I am early for everything.  I found myself commenting on the ‘late breakfast’ some friends were having as I phoned them at 9.45am… alluding to the lazy Sunday morning languishing in bed doing a crossword that my sister was enjoying, wondering why none of my TV programmes came on when they were supposed to – meaning I then missed them totally.  Most embarrassing of all, I arrived an hour early for a lunch invite, very bad form, especially as I assumed they were disorganised !  I eventually cottoned on and realised that once again I had not stayed in bed as long as I might have.  Can you believe that even having found out my mistake I still forgot to change the clocks and ended up getting up too early next morning.  Idiot !!

I think part of the problem is the dozen or so major influences that are ruling my head just now.  I have to prepare several talks which are due to be delivered in November;  I have to sort out a very troublesome problem with my Land Rover Discovery which refuses to start for me and which is threatening to prove costly;  I have to get the heating appliances finally put back together to get the house warm for what is the most distracting influence, the imminent arrival of  a ‘long-stay’ visitor from a far away land.  Chaos rules OK.

So, apologies all, a very short post this week, a hurricane is heading my way and I need to get A into G !!


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