Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From a Cottage in Wales

This is the view from our cottage in Wales, The Granary.
Miles of rolling hills with a thousand colors of green. Paradise, indeed. Ron and I have come to Wales for a rural adventure. So much of our travel in the past has been rushing around. This time we both agreed: "Let's go somewhere and BE there for a time." So we are renting this "self-catering cottage" miles from a paved road. We wake to the hens clucking and the family horses clomping down the cobblestones. Last night a nearly full moon rose over the hillside across the way which is the site of an iron age fort. Ron climbed the hill during one of his walks.

I am here to do some watercolor, and there is no shortage of subjects.

Last night I filled the tiny cottage with the smell of roasting potatoes and Welsh spring lamb chops in raspberry sauce. We are able to enjoy the fresh eggs laid by their dozen feisty hens, who have been gobbling down the table scraps which we drop in the compost pile near the henhouse.

The cottage is near the village of Bala, a Welsh town near a very large lake. We're not that far from the town of LLangollen famous for the yearly Welsh music and culture festival. We visited Plas Newydd, the 18th century home of some famous ladies, early trend setters in fashion and the arts.

Last week I took part in a wonderful course in watercolor painting with the artist, Judi Whitton. Her book, Loosen Up Your Watercolours is a brilliant guide to freeing your style as an artist. Here she is demonstrating her technique.

Her style of painting is very much in keeping with the spirit of improvisation so I found a kindred spirit.

Ron is enjoying running in the Welsh hills, meeting sheep, cattle and the odd farmer who look at him with wonder. In addition to his jaunts around the countryside he is spending time in local registry offices hunting down facts and figures of our ancestry. His genealogical database now holds just short of thirteen thousand of our closest relatives. We've spent quite a bit of our time walking in truly lovely small churchyards, observing gravestones.

Before coming to this part of North Wales we spend a few days in Hay on Wye, the village of BOOKS. When we leave our precious cottage we head for Blackburn and then the Lake District. We are staying in an Inn in the town where Beatrix Potter lived.

Here we stopped at a small cheese factory along the way. It was a charming teahouse as well and we savored the fresh lemon cake made by the owner.

The last image, which captures Wales for me is this of the family of sheep. Cheerio from the UK!