Saturday, 21 December 2013

Festive Powis


One of the traditions that marks the beginning of the festive celebrations, is a walk with friends up to Powis Castle to pay a visit to Father Christmas, who just happened to be in residence...


Sitting on hay bales waiting... full of anticipation.

And finally getting to meet the big man himself! A lovely Father Christmas he was too.

Back home the tree goes up and the Christmas preparations begin in earnest. It does seem harder each year to fit it all in and this year is no exception. It'll happen somehow though I guess!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Up ...and up... through Hafren Forest to the source of the River Severn

I briefly visited Hafren Forest a few weeks ago, and vowed to return and explore it further... soon! So on what seemed to be a dry-ish day during Half Term, the boys and I drove up to 'the mountains' along ever decreasing road size, to park in Hafren Forest and walk up to the source of the River Severn.
The walk starts alongside the fast flowing river, which is already surprisingly quite big considering the proximity to its source. The path winds through the moss rich forest, steadily climbing higher.

As you meander along the clearly marked (phew!) paths (very well maintained too I must say!) you catch glimpses of Plynlimon, the highest point in Mid-Wales and our destination. Babbling brooks and dripping rock faces give you sense of the huge drainage basin - this is river geography at its best. The trees start to thin out, the river gets smaller and smaller and the land gets distinctly wilder. 

The final stretch of the walk is along the moorland or perhaps bog-land might be a better description, of Plynlimon, until you get to the end of the path, the source of the river, marked with a simple post. The whole area is like a sponge, slowly releasing its water. Everything is wet, oozing and dripping. You can understand why Plynlimon is the source of not just the Severn, but over to the south, the Wye as well.

We were the only people there, having been the last of the days visitors to arrive. It was a little disconcerting, to be all alone in an almost moon like landscape, but incredible too. You do feel as though one misplaced step off the path and you'd be sucked into the bog, never to be heard of again! I was very appreciative of the slabbed path and the efforts undertaken to put it there. How wonderful to be able to safely access such an extreme landscape.
The post at the source, also marks the official start of the Severn Way , a 210 mile footpath following the river to its mouth at Bristol day!

We hastily began our retreat back down the path and through the forest to get back to the car before darkness fell. We just made it back in time. My panic was beginning to show with the constant 'hurry up!' to the poor tired boys, oh dear!
We will return again, maybe when the days are longer and we don't have to rush the walk to enjoy more of this amazing scenery. 'One of the best walks ever!' declared Son #2 - hear, hear!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Fading flowers

A misty autumn morning heavy with dew...


With flowers fading away... 

I was quite struck by how beautiful decay and mold was! It was quite a revelation to see the garden in this way, instead of feeling sad about the beauty that's passed. Though maybe rays of sunshine make anything look beautiful. As I write it is now pouring with rain, so I'm very grateful to have captured some of this beauty before it gets washed away...

Friday, 11 October 2013

Autumn trees



Copper Beech with their beautiful leaves and abundance of nuts.

Horse Chestnut with their prized conkers ripe and bursting from their shells. A good shake of the branch and they all come raining down. I was a hero in the boys eyes for a while after doing this!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Hedgerow foraging

As the leaves begin to turn and summer comes to an end, it's time to grab the basket (or cardboard strawberry punnet as I tend to use!) and go out into the fields to scour the hedgerows for berries.
Blackberries are the first to be sought after - a little late this year, but so plump! I don't think I've ever seen such big juicy ones. Most of them were popped straight into the freezer for pies and crumbles.


Next was elderberries. I just love elder trees as they are so productive and beautiful. The deep colour of elderberries and their scarlett stalks is stunning. They were put into the pan to make elderberry cordial. Flavoured with cloves, it's a really nice drink made with warm water - perfect for when you're suffering with a cold, though maybe you'd be better off drinking it before hand to prevent you getting a cold in the first place!


Soon after the elderberries come the sloes. Last year there were none, so it was with some relief to find some this year. They are now in a kilner jar full of vodka and sugar, slowly infusing to make the most delicious liqueur, Sloe Vodka, or Slodka as we call it.


Whilst exploring local hedgerows in search of sloes, I made the happy discovery of not one, but three damson trees! And they were weighed down with fruit - a beautiful sight to behold! Boxes and boxes were picked, most now in the freezer waiting to be made into Damson Vodka (Damka... can you spot the theme here!)


I did use some of the damsons to make chutney and to make a start on that dreaded Christmas present list!

And finally, just when I'm starting to flag with all this picking, boiling, straining and bottling, come the rosehips. Sons 1 & 2 were really happy to hear that rosehip syrup making day had arrived, as they love drinking it neat from a spoon, like medicine. It was lovely to hear their enthusiasm for it! Rosehips have huge amounts of vitamin C, so hopefully this syrup will see us well through the winter months.

All of this foraging has inspired Littlest in doing his own gathering of leaves, pine cones and in particular acorns and a result is getting very good at spotting oak trees - fantastic!

It's been a wonderful year for berry foraging and the store cupboard is very well stocked. A very satisfying feeling indeed. Bring on winter - though not too soon!