Archives for the month of: December, 2012

I know it’s time to get out and walk when the sherry and sugar have corroded my teeth and my belly has turned into brie.

We took to Stretton where the hills are lively with water, so good to feel the stretch of muscle and the long lost pangs of an appetite.


We eat normal sandwiches unwrap tin foil, sit on our rucksack fresh and happy in the drizzle, getting damp and breeze whipped. There’s a gleam on the lake and a shirt blue hole in the sky.

This is where we family tumbled back when summers were scorch hot, making grassy flower islands in the streams and beating off the guzzle sheep we thought looked like Gran. That’s the stone wall where I took a picture on Mum’s birthday – Clare in a pink straw hat.

In the moss and water peat are chocolate lime citadels and the flash of my Christmas purple socks anticipate the heather as we schluck and squelch and laugh on the Mynd.

All about us the streams are noisy and gushing  and fizzing with effervescence.



There’s no room for an oven, but it makes us more creative. Grilled ginger flapjack gets a good sticky crust if it’s got enough treacle in it.

We do have a Dutch oven Tom rummaged for in Potters, rusted for £1. We scoured, oiled and baked it and now it’s proud and black. Rebecca wondered if we’d take it camping – it’s a cast iron bulky cooking pot too mad for my rucksack but, she said cowboys used them for cooking up beans in the desert, in fire pits. We use ours for roast potatoes on the woodstove and Rob’s man jam chicken surprise.

I simmered up some mincemeat in a whisky zest steam. We hadn’t made oven-less pastry before.

Pies are the wrong shape but pasties work. I made three batches for the trial – one each for the Dutch oven, grill, and frying pan. The results were clear. Fried mince pasties had a festival Jamaican patina, cooked quick like the grilled, and kept their shape well. Dutch oven pastry was butter mouth melt crumbly but took so long to bake I had to fire up the stove to face sweating hot. All were delicious.

It rained all night. The valley is sheltered but in the dark were howlings and buffets. I thought there might be floods so I didn’t get up for the early train and we listened to the cricket in bed, Aggers and Boycott crackling in and out of ice needles, droning in and out of half dreams, from somewhere warm and dry – from India.

And then the wind dropped and there was storm light.

scan0001I walked the long way to town climbing the valley road to the forestry tracks and round to the final hill. Oak limbs were torn and strewn on the road where the banks are mossy. Halfway up, Tarren y Gesail was revealed beyond battered branches stark and white and blasted, the cold sky there a moodier blue just for a moment before it was gone.

Up on the forest tracks sky behind gothic larch lace was pale. The hill pines whipped about in the wind and I wondered where I’d be safest if they fell, hugging the slate or making a jump of it.

The truculent weather danced and dithered. Behind me the sky was ink but the conifers dazzled wet green and rainbows flashed among the hills and vanished. At the top and in sight of town, a white light beam picked out the river and water fields, the far mountains snow stricken and dissolving.