Friday, March 12, 2010

Bouncing bach

It was fantastic to feel like a human being again last night, no nausea or stomach cramps so we watched the weather forecast and decided to go to the seaside. If you live in Birmingham going to the seaside means going to Wales especially when the forecast tells you that the rain is coming from the east. It also means mixing seaside with ravishing countryside and once we had taken the Newtown Road, on the way to Machynlleth, (there is a hostelry there where we have had the odd excellent lunch or several in the past and we planned a return visit), the sun came out and everything was a vision of tiny bouncing lambs, glading snowdrops and rainbow coloured hillsides.

Aberdovey was our seaside destination and I managed a stroll on the beach while Stewart reminisced about camping on the sand dunes and being flooded by high tides, oh those were the days. He clearly listened in Geography because he was also heard eulogising about hanging valleys, screes and drowned river valleys as we wound our way through the countryside. I let this wash over me just as I had in Miss Day's class 45 years ago but I was searching in my own memory database for the first time I ever visited this neck of the woods. I was 13 and officially neither a Student or a Christian but me and my mates had found these holidays that you could go to without your parents run by the Student Christian Movement. Ours was in Dolgellau or Dolgelley as we called it and the amazing thing was we had to get ourselves there and back under our own steam, and it was steam part of the way I seem to remember; I know we had to change trains loads of times and we did it all on our own, four giggly girls who'd never been further than town before. When we got there there were new excitements like sleeping on palliases, lumps of straw to the uninitiated, and meeting a load of girls from Blackburn or somewhere who were 14, very streetwise and kept talking about finding local talent, and they weren't talking Eisteddfods I can tell you.

My Mom and Dad actually turned up to visit half way through just to check I wasn't being brainwashed I presume, which would have been OK except my Dad tried to chat up one of the "leaders" which was mortifying and looking back I suspect she was more interested in me and my mates than my embarrassing Dad; she used to stand over me and croon about how strong my wrists were as I wrung out the dishcloths (it was one of those sorts of holidays) well that was a first and I can honestly say no-one since has noticed this particular quality in my allure. We went on lots of walks and climbed Cader Idris and I expect we were shown moraines and cwms and all sorts but it was the tang of risk and wildness that we savoured and finding it by ourselves.

It's still there in Wales I am sure if you know where to look but today we risked no more than a barbary duck breast with puy lentils, a leek tart and a quick paddle in the sea. In 1962 all I got was a straw bed, a few spotty Welsh lads and wash day red hands. So this evening I say as the poet nearly said "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But NOT to be young was very heaven".

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