Archives for the month of: October, 2012

The scouts look after the track because it runs to the campsite they use in the summer. Gordon made the site back in the 60’s when scouting was great and boys went to the country hanging on the backs of lorries. He’d come up to the track most days for just a few minutes scratching and patting at the gravel, bent with age. We thought he just loved the place.

Every evening the farmer drives down and turns at the end after feeding his sheep, and last month a young wood-craft couple slid their camper van half hanging off the edge and into the field. Chris had to pull them out with his mini digger, the driver was mumbling something about the gold.

But mostly it’s used by the animals. Cats from down the lane, Jasper the dog on a walk. I’ve seen badgers in the evening, squirrels and shrews. A vole crossed from the stream and up into the bracken and in early summer a brave young fox just out in the world like a teen in a new leather jacket.

This week it’s all mad in colour, smashed orange and red. Hazel, beech, ash, larch, alder, cherry, holly. There’s a bracken stand to the right and the willow we planted is yellow, a single buttercup lingers on the grass.

It’s just a few months since Gordon retired aged 90, and the track is full of pot holes and puddles.


Gerald said I should knock on his door, but I don’t have his address. I emailed from Bangor suggesting he might look out of his window about tea time, but I’d got the hours and miles all wrong anyhow.

Are the rocks really so red? The coast was all storm light and silver, I camped just south of the stacks. The clouds were stone angels, and I watched them as long as I could.

All round Holyhead Irishmen are parked up in cars facing the sea, waiting for the boat. The one at South Stacks wants to know how far it is across the sea and where I’m walking to. He says I’m braver than him, camping in the dark. He’s going to Limerick to find his family, it used to be the city of stabs but it’s all AK47s now. We wish each other luck.

I walk over the donkey path. The sea is silk and the bracken is brown, curling over the heather and making the hills red too. There are the Skerries. Interesting word, yacht. Gerald’s story walks along with me, and this wild lovely coast is richer for it.

The trees are waiting. I watch one leaf fall, it has some weight to it and turns as it does. Each sound vibrates. An unhurried bee avoids me on its’ way to the ivy. The scutter squirrel I’d seen traversing the beech with stealthy grace and dropping clumsy through the conifer, is now visiting the oaks causing avian alarm.

From my crouch stone cold seat there is just enough subdued light on the swell of the road to see last years leaves mushed into the tarmac.

I cross the lane to the house and garden where twelve more learner writers wonder at roses and poke in the fridge, finding words to describe scientific reason or emotional response.

We assemble to share what we’ve written, and hear each word as the author intended – with spirit and cadence. I will remember each voice, rich in life, and cherish the week when we made this gentle journey of such kindness.

We got to know our countryside better for all the wrong reasons. Every sodden footprint. We scrutinised ditches and bracken, found new paths, old swamps, strange views. Our eyes ached, our heads throbbed.

Still now on Anglesey, our minds race with angst. Did we come away too soon, is there something we haven’t remembered, somewhere we’ve forgotten to look? It will take time not to flinch at the sound of a helicopter, or view flattened grass without suspicion.

I watched the oyster catchers rise and swoop, pipe-calling up the Menai. The Snowdonia mountains are blue, fringed by crimson fireweed. In one pebble cove are hundreds of popcorn yellow periwinkles, another is scattered with razors. And washed up in a salty inlet of Newborough sands, are dozens of little pink shells.