Nisyros: rambling through history

A week of trekking around Nisyros.  So much to see.  So many familiar places to revisit.  Such a warm welcome from so many people.

What impressed us first when we arrived on a day trip from Tilos in 2001, and continues to impress, is the 3-kilometre-long caldera and its craters.  The eastern end, towards the caldera-rim village of Emborios, is an open woodland of oak and turpentine (Pistacea terebinthus) trees, riven by a fissure from seismic activity in 2003, roamed by goats, turkeys and feral pigs. The western end is a dustbowl with a series of sulphur-venting craters.  Half-expect the Pale Rider to emerge from the shimmering heat, but more likely to see a lanky Welshman trudging along.

Returning from the crater on the bus on that first trip, we were let loose on the town to spend our hard-earned in the shops and tavernas of Mandraki.  Instead, we somehow found our way a short walk from the town up to the Paleocastro, the second WOW factor in a couple of hours.  As with the caldera and craters, I revisit every time I’m back on the island.  This time, once again, there were new things to see as well as be gob-smacked by the sheer size of the blocks in the stone walls.

But the historical interest is far from being just the immense structure of the Paleocasto.  Though the chapel is locked, the small, walled monastery complex of Armas has three cave chambers used for storage with amphorae still in place.

The even smaller walled monastery of Siones, is even more interesting.  I had heard reports that it was being turned into a private house with the frescos in the chapel painted-over.  Given what happened to the remnants of the castle at Emborios, I found that thought depressing.  But not so.  The work which has been done has been to protect what is a valuable historical monument.  Still open to those wanting to go inside, but with properly fitting doors and bolts to keep out the goats, nothing has been lost.  The roof of the chapel has been repaired to protect further damage to the frescos and all that has been painted over is the wall below them.  The original cave dwelling and the other rooms built on later are all intact and repaired.  Very encouraging to see.

Another fascinating place is the high-level hidden ‘valley’, really a caldera, of Nifios.  With settlement history dating back to Dorian times, there is much evidence of antiquity.  The ‘Horns of Consecration’ and the cave below. A complex of linked stone houses and a church built into the rocky crags.  Nibs for roof timbers in a crag.  Underground chamber with a central stone pillar used as a chapel. Terraced fields stretching up the mountainside. …….Frescos

At the far end of the now inactive Nifios caldera, looking straight down into the craters in the main caldera, is a rock where I perch with my camera, hoping the whole thing will blow and I’ll get the Ultimate Shot.  Never mind that no-one will see it.

A challenge every time is Oros Diavatis, highest mountain on the island topped by the chapel of Profitis Ilias.  It can be climbed by taking a hire-car or scooter to Evangelistria which cuts the climb by half, but to climb it properly should be from sea-level at Mandraki. This time, having reached the top, the challenge was to avoid being blown off by the significantly stronger than usual wind.  It was the first time I have been cold on the top of a Greek mountain in summer.  Very satisfying trek.  Challenge overcome.  I think I earned my post-walk pint.

Perhaps one of the simplest but greatest pleasures at the end of September on Nisyros is seeing the Sea Daffodils.  Coming to an end but still in evidence.  Then returning to Symi in time for the emergence of the Autumn Crocuses and the prospect of the tiny, shy, Biarums.  Fabulous.

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From the Hot Rock to The Hot Spot

After three weeks on the Hot Rock, I took advantage of a new ferry service and travelled to Nisyros for a week.  I have done this for a number of years but it has been hampered by the fact that there has been a direct link from Symi to Nisyros but not back again, necessitating diverting via Kos.  The new service is not only direct both ways but from 15 September, is free.  I travelled on the 16th.  Yes, that’s right, fare both ways, €0.00.

Nisyros is a volcano and walking is the most dramatic I know.  The bus service to the caldera-rim villages has now shifted to term-time hours, leaving the harbour at 08.00 in order to collect kids for school.  As I said in my last post, my metabolism is very slow to ease out of overnight sloth, so rather than struggling to catch the bus, I walk from the hotel, leaving about 09.30.  This means that distances are longer than I do on Symi.  First day I did 18 kilometres, second day 22.  And it’s getting hotter again. 

Given that the wind has dropped and temperatures are back up in the mid-30s, walking around a volcanic crater requires more care.  The usual check for dehydration, monitoring the colour of my pee, is more a case of noting the lack of frequency and downing more and more water.   That may be too much information, but it’s all to do with safety in the mountains.

First day I trekked up the path to Evangelistria with its great shade-tree (the reverse of Nisyros Walk 2 on the Greek Island Walks page of this blog), a climb of 250 metres, Then continued up a further 100 metres to Emborios on the caldera rim (the reverse of Walk 1).  Ancient agricultural terraces climb to the tops of mountains, now disused because of drought and massive population migration.  The path has deteriorated in recent years but is still passable and well worth it to see the awe-inspiring lava bubble rising about 60 feet above.

After a frappe in the Balcony Taverna cantilevered out over the caldera and looking along its length to the active crater at the far end, time to turn round and walk back.  Though the much-visited main crater, ’Stefanos’, is nearly 3 kilometres away, it should not be overlooked that the whole island is a volcano.  Some of the houses in Emborios have fissures underneath providing ‘underfloor heating’.  Whatever the weather, Nisyros is a Hot Spot.

Back in Mandraki, time for cold beer looking across the narrow channel towards the mounds of ‘white gold’ on the island of Yali, pumice from volcanic eruptions being quarried at the rate of up to 1,000,000 tonnes a year and shipped for industrial uses worldwide.

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In the groove

On the Hot Rock for just over two weeks and getting into the swing of things.

Walking in the mountains every day, increasingly long distances, increasingly strenuous, interspersing occasional easier days to allow recovery before the next big hit.  My metabolism is very slow to ease out of overnight sloth, so I aim to get going about 09.30 or 10.00. 

Walking conditions are extraordinarily good, mostly cloudless, temperatures now dropped to low 30s with a breeze taking the edge off even the mid-day heat.  It means that sweating appears to be reduced, skin and T-shirt drying up almost instantly except under the rucksack. It means you don’t realise how much moisture you are losing, and how dehydrated you are becoming.  One of the ways the body acclimatises to heat is to reduce the amount of sweating.  Another is to reduce the amount of electrolytes in the sweat.  But that is by no means certain and you can’t count on it, especially in the short term.  So, I’m trying to make sure I drink more water than I have in the past, carrying an insulated sleeve with 1½ litres with a core of ice.

After the unusually high temperatures over several weeks on the island before I came, the vegetation is more than usually parched and crisped.  But this is just a continuation of years of rising temperatures and drought. Fig trees from which we picked figs at Gria even 15 years ago are now dead and crumbling into the dust, being finished off by ants or termites.  Many trees are looking stressed, leaves on the evergreen holly oaks looking distinctly jaded and off-colour. By contrast, in the old ruins in the Horio, fig trees seem to be thriving, exploring sternas and vothras with their roots, ready supply of water and nutrients.

Places visited so far include Agios Emilianos, Agios Vasilios/Lapathos, Agia Marina, Nimborio Gorge, Agios Nikolas Stenou, Sesklia, and Lapotoniou Castle.  The trek up the steep ridge to Panagai Hamon was particularly pleasing, repairing the markers I put in place to indicate the tortuous route a few years ago. 

Below is a random selection of images.  I’ll try to get down to a more systematic approach soon.

3,11,21

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At last !!

After three failed attempts to return to Symi this year, I have finally made it.

A cancelled flight in May because of the pandemic was followed by another at the beginning and then another at the end of June.  I usually fly home at the end of July partly to sort the vegetable garden and partly because August is very hot on The Hot Rock.  The exorbitant cost of PCR tests in the UK and the UK Government’s insistence to having them meant a short visit was not an attractive proposition financially.  So, I decided to postpone further attempts until the end of August.

I finally made it.  Temperatures are mid-30s, a good bit warmer than the 20 degrees before I left, but significantly cooler than the mid-40’s which prevailed for the previous 4 weeks or so.  First task is to acclimatise to the heat.  Normally I come out end of April or beginning of May and then acclimatise slowly as the heat ramps up.  The body undergoes chemical changes to accommodate the heat and it remains to be seen if that change can take place over a shorter rather than longer time-scale.

For now, I’ll be doing shortish walks and avoiding the middle of the day, not usually a problem with early-season starts.  Given that the house is 50 metres above the shops, tavernas and restaurants in the village and 150 metres above those in port, there is plenty of exercise just going about normal day-to-day activities.  But I did a walk via the ridge-top with a friend yesterday.  Fighting over-confidence now.

As an intro, here are a couple of photos of the view from my balcony.

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The Year of the Parsnip

This is the Year of the Ox, to be precise, the Year of the Metal Ox.  It began on 12 February and replaced the Year of the Rat.  At least for the Chinese.  For me, 1 March marked the end of Year of the Parsnip.  And the beginning of …….. ? 

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2020 will be remembered for a lot of things that most of us wish to forget.  ‘Normal’ life was suspended, still remains suspended.  Much time was spent in solitary confinement.  Some were angry at the limitations placed on our lives. There was anger at those who behaved as if restrictions imposed in the best interests of all were for the plebs but not those with the inbuilt superiority of a privileged upbringing, those with a villa in Greece to maintain or an eye test to carry out.  There was bereavement and grieving without the usual social mechanisms for easing it.  Some, whose mental capacity I cannot begin to comprehend, denied there was a pandemic.  

It was a year of no escape from the greyness of Grey Britain sinking inexorably towards the mire of Brexit with the encouraging words of those who made their political careers out of telling lies about Our Golden Future ringing increasingly hollow as the economy sank ever lower.  

With all the Big Things in life looking gloomy, it helps to try to push the negative out of our brains by focusing on small things.  Confined to home and the local area I had a good year in the garden.  I repaired and painted the Blue House, a large greenhouse used as a Mediterranean environment.  I harvested enough fruit to eat every day for months and have over 200 portions in the freezer for winter.  I didn’t have to buy vegetables for 8 months, gave away pounds of courgettes.

But what was outstanding were the parsnips.  The previous summer, not a single one germinated despite a repeat sowing.  So, late winter 2020, I sowed parsnip seeds in the cardboard inners of loo rolls, several in each, cut off all except the strongest when they germinated, and then planted them out. Result: the biggest crop of the biggest parsnips I’ve had in 40 years of gardening.  I started harvesting them at the end of October.  Over half of them were more than a foot long and 4 inches at the shoulder, weighing nearly 1½ pounds (700 gms).  Each was enough for at least 4 meals (roasted of course!).  Two were enough for 8 helpings of parsnip and ginger soup.  I harvested the last two on 1 March, a few surface blemishes but enough for three meals from the shoulder of one and 6 helpings of rib-sticking soup.

Small things of not the slightest significance in global terms but for personal well-being it’s good to focus on the pinpricks of light in the darkness that just might lead out to the sunshine.

In gloomy times it’s also good to have something to look forward to, days of trekking around the mountains in the Greek sunshine.  In a fit of optimism, I booked a flight for 2 May.  It was cancelled.  Still hopeful, I booked another for 8 June.  It was cancelled on the grounds that the government announcement of conditions for resumption of foreign travel lacks clarity.  The conspiracy theorist in me suggests that the UK Government is set on forcing us to holiday at home to boost the economy.  Certainly, a requirement for a Covid test before flying, and again when coming back is a disincentive – given that they cost £120 each, more than the flights.  Still hoping but waiting on developments.

So, in the meantime, I draw some small comfort from the emerging of Spring: crocuses, daffodils, tulips, primroses, Purple Sprouting Broccoli (probably my favourite vegetable), and garlic and onions thrusting out of the soil.  And the fact that solitary confinement has been eased.

 

I can now meet up with a friend in the garden again, as last Autumn, warming ourselves on cold April evenings in front of a blazing fire in the cheminierre and chewing the fat.

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Rambling through the grey and rising above it …… occasionally

I’ve written before on the psychology of time, about which I read initially in Thomas Mann’s book ‘The Magic Mountain’ when I was in the 6th form and more recently in Claudia Hammond’s ‘Time Warped’, published 2012, exactly 100 years after Mann started his classic.

Basically, if time as you pass through it seems to drag, when looked back on has flown by, whereas time which goes slowly as you pass through seems to stretch back a long way in retrospect.  It’s all to do with interesting things happening – or not.  Events which interest or excite us, capture our imagination, act as milestones in the memory.  Hammond calls it ‘The Holiday Paradox’.

The effect of the pandemic exemplifies this graphically.  Locked-down, seeing no-one, going nowhere, the weeks drag.  It seems hardly any time at all since I arrived home from my daughter’s where I spent Christmas.  Yet it’s 5 weeks.  Five weeks of nothing.  Five trips to the supermarket for food.  30 treks to the top of the ridge. 45 evening meals cooked. Sporadic picking vegetables, winter digging, cleaning the house ….. not a lot.  

Why haven’t I made any progress on the next book I’m working on?  Why haven’t I written to friends – especially those who have been good enough to write to me?  Why have I not done any more woodcarving?  Made any more clocks?  Cut the hedges?

Finally, the light came on.  It’s to do with how I’m wired.  I have known for a long time that I perform best under pressure.  Hard deadlines focus the mind.  A report to write by tomorrow morning?  No problem!  Sometime in the next 3 weeks?  Ooops!  Now, with time stretching out uninterrupted into the unknown, hazy future – no chance!  That’s the effect of lockdown.  It’s difficult to break the shackles on a mind torpid from lack of stimulus.

I read a book some time ago whose main thesis was that to be truly content, we have to learn to be happy ‘being’.  That’s fine for those who can, I envy them, but I can’t.  I have to be ‘doing’.  But I can only ‘do’ if there is a goal, a deadline.  Since I retired there has not been a problem, my time has been full of activity. Until now.  Now, what we can do is severely constrained, especially in winter in Grey Britain..

As well as engendering chronic procrastination, the pandemic has had even greater effect. It has changed horizons. Being confined close to home has meant narrow spatial horizons.  When I went to the North of England for Christmas it was as if I was Magellan in fear of sailing off the edge of the flat earth. The sameness of every day has the opposite effect on temporal horizons, pushing them further into the future.  The planned trip to Greece in May is far into the future with nothing in between except more of the same grey.  May has never seemed so far away in February.

So, when overnight snow was forecast and being a chionophile, I set my alarm for 07.30 and set out up the mountain soon after, knowing the forecast was for rising temperature and sunshine so a rapid thaw.  I’ve known ever since the one-and-only time I made the mistake of changing my afternoon run to before-breakfast that my metabolism doesn’t do early starts.  It makes me ill.  But this would be worth it.  It was.

Before I set out, trees in the garden were decked with snow – and grumpy jackdaws.

The air was crystal clear, the initial part of the walk alongside the canal dramatically coloured after days of greyness.

I was under clear blue sky but ahead of me I could see a wall of mist.  Looking behind was another which seemed to be pursuing me.  As I started the climb towards the ridge-top, I was racing the pincer movement as the two advancing banks of mist met and started rising behind me.

Then it stopped and as I climbed, I was out of it again.

The ridge top was glorious.  The snow on the trees had melted by now but there was still a covering of a couple of inches on the ground which hid the morass of mud which the ridge-top path had become with the passage of many feet in weeks of wet weather.

By the time I dropped off the end of the ridge on the way back, the mist had dispersed and the garden was in sun.  A milestone day in a weeks of greyness.

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Greece, Symi: Remains of the past and a hidden valley

There are parts of Symi which are rarely seen but which at one time were hubs of activity.  I have long taken an interest on going ‘off-piste’, wandering around away from marked footpaths. In recent years I have taken an interest in the Northwest of the island and find it fascinating.  I have put information together in the attached PDF about two derelict fortifications, an agricultural enclosure, and a hidden valley.  Because they are near Toli Bay I’ve called it ‘Konda Toli’.  The document is a work in progress.

The two fortifications are less than half a kilometre apart, Kato (Lower) Toli close to the sea, Pano (Upper) Toli at the top of the hill.  It’s probable that they were built by the same community of people as they are identical in size with the main entrance on the short side to the north.  Kato Toli is to some extent hidden behind a small hillock.  However, both are difficult to see because they are made of stone from the immediate vicinity so blend in remarkably well.  Access is difficult as the ground is loose underfoot and footpaths have all but disappeared through lack of use. Built of large ashlar blocks, some remain in place but others lie around, having fallen or been pushed over.  From the amount of fallen dressed masonry it’s not clear how high the walls would have been and it is possible that the large, cut blocks were topped by random stone walls.

The area marked as Louria on the SKAÏ map is a hidden ‘valley’.  280 metres from Pano Toli over very rough ground and XX metres lower, though it is certainly hidden, critically important in some periods of history, it’s not really a valley.  The land rises on all sides, so unlike either fluvial or glacial valleys there is no outflow channel for water.  My guess is that a seismic tremor caused a localised downwards shift along a fault line.  So, instead of a stream bed draining the valley in times of heavy rainfall, there is what can best be described as a geological plug-hole at the lowest point, a cave entrance.  The cave is likely a ‘fault’ cave rather than water eroded so may well be blocked by dislodged rocks – but I hope to explore and confirm.  Whatever, the valley is certainly well hidden from the sea and so comparatively safe from raiders and has a good-sized area of flat agricultural land.

There may have been little everyday contact between these locations and the final remnant structure, Kato Kokkinhoma, which is a kilometre and a half away over difficult ground and more easily accessed on foot from Nimborio and Agios Nikolaos Stenou or by sea.  It is probable that it was inhabited more recently than the other locations, the house having wooden cupboards built into the walls and roof timbers, decaying but still roughly in place.  This is reminiscent of houses in Micro Horio on Tilos abandoned in the 1950s.  Construction of the walls of random stone rather than dressed ashlar blocks and the enclosure of smaller areas within the perimeter is an indication that it was for agricultural rather than defensive purposes.

As with Kato Toli the principal access would have been by sea, the main entrance being towards the beach.  Apart from access by foot to the immediate locality, field terraces and the like, it is probable that movement between settlements was most frequently by sea.  For centuries this was the case in Britain, communities having only infrequent contact with each other, focusing on the all-consuming processes of everyday living and in the immediate locality.  The sea would have been of primary importance both for communication and trade, but also for fishing, the staple of the economy together with agriculture.

If you haven’t come across what3words it’s a great app for locating places anywhere in the world, identifying 3-metre squares precisely with three random words.  Click on any of the links below and it takes you to the location, then click on the Google Earth icon in the bottom right of the screen – and pan in or out from there to see the structures in context.  Of particular interest to look out for are the many vestiges of long-abandoned agricultural terraces on the steep hillsides – and the proximity of beaches.

Kato Toli: https://what3words.com/impatient.unresolved.closes

Pano Toli: https://what3words.com/banknote.gardener.remake

Louria A: https://what3words.com/diviner.bottler.recited

Louria B: https://what3words.com/windbreaker.economies.landlords

Louria C: https://what3words.com/roulette.walkway.twinkly

Kato Kokkinohoma: https://what3words.com/recitals.huddled.delegating

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Rising above the grey

Rather than ushering in the Mediterranean to the UK, climate change is bringing increasing greyness interspersed with ‘extreme weather events’.  Gradual descent into winter in November used to be marked by a week of hard frosts, sometimes with temperatures lower than the rest of the winter.  Not in recent years.  It’s just been boringly uniform greyness with Covid-isolation, the slow-march to the Brexit guillotine, cronyism and incompetence in Number 10, and the blatherings and attempts to subvert democracy of Donald-the-Terrible (Loser) of the Disunited States of America, further darkening the gloom.

My way of easing the grey out of my brain is to get out into the fresh air and up the mountain behind the house.  Even when the weather is wet, windy and overcast it’s very therapeutic.  I do it most days.  But few were as exhilarating as Friday 27 November.

I woke to cloudless sky and shagpile carpet of frost.  No gardening in this.  Great for going up the mountain.  Leisurely breakfast.  Checked e-mails and newsfeeds.  Checked the conditions before changing to leave.  Shock. Thick mist had filled the view.  I could barely see across the lawn to the Blue House (40 feet) nevermind see the sky or across the valley.

I had seen these conditions before though not for a few years.  A module on climatology and weather forecasting in university gave an inkling of what was going on.  Even more excited now.  I don’t always carry a camera when I go out but I packed my Canon EOS in a rucksack and pocketed my SX720.  If this was going to be as good as I hoped I didn’t want to miss out.  A brief pause to photograph frost-fringed leaves in the garden.

I strained my ears crossing the road to reach the farm track.  The mist was so thick that ears gave more warning than eyes as the road is used as a rat run, cars rounding a blind bend and not bothering to slow from 60mph as they come into the 30 limit.  I could barely see across the width of the Mon and Brecon Canal but as the track rose towards the farm at the top I knew I was right, blue sky appearing vaguely through the whispy top of the mist. 

Climbing the field towards the ridge, the sun was breaking through, copper coloured beech and oak at the edge of the wood leading up to bright blue.  Looking back the entire valley was filled with mist.

By the time I crossed the track halfway up the slope and into the next field the colours were intense, partly because the air was so clear but partly because eyes were dazzled coming out of the grey.

The Folly Tower was bathed in warm sunlight, the whole of the Vale of Usk to the east an undulating grey-white sea.  In the far distance a pencil-thin black line marked the top of the western edge of the Wye Valley.  The end of the ridge disappeared into the mist, marked only by a small clump of trees above Pontypool Park. To the South the entire the urban sprawl of Pontypool-Cwmbran-Newport was gone.  Further south again, the Severn Estuary and beyond that England, where on a good day you can pick out individual fields, were lost.

I was soon joined by another guy who, like me, had anticipated the same phenomenon and taken his camera for a walk.  We exchanged friendly banter about the relative merits of Canon and Nikon, reluctant to leave the ridge-top.    Descending into the thick mist didn’t appeal , the temporary cure for SAD was too alluring and the warmth of mid-day winter sun intoxicating.  

But eventually it had to be. The way back along ridge drops, heading towards the gloom.  Looking back, the Folly Tower was still bathed in sunlight. 

It was still clear to the west but the great sea of mist on the east was rising and as I dropped down further it swept over in a long tongue and started crossing a field on the other side of the ridge-top path.  Within minutes I was in the grey.

I had watched the mist licking across the ridge-top but then, even more rapidly than it came, it disappeared and I was in the sunshine again.  A brief but pleasant respite before I turned to drop steeply back down to the valley and the mist-shrouded house.

But at least I had got the grey out of my brain.

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Locked-down in Wales

Since I arrived home from Greece in early September there have been various shades of lockdown.  It would be more pleasant and safer to have stayed on Symi but unfortunately not to be.  I would have been tempted to stay there over Christmas and into next year.

As it is, I’m still trying to stay out of the way of the virus, not because I’m afraid of catching it, sadly I think that at some point that is an inevitability (then we’ll then find out if I have natural immunity or not), but rather to avoid putting pressure on the health service unnecessarily.  For the first time, the health problem which led to my early departure from Greece resolved itself without hospitalisation with the result that I’m firing on all cylinders again and functioning normally within the changing parameters of Covid restrictions.

Basically, that means the same pattern of activity as during the main lockdown: walking to the shops early on a Monday morning to avoid the crowds; working in the garden; and going up the mountain every day.  Reflecting on it, though it means that horizons are significantly smaller, I’m very glad that I have a large garden with more than enough to keep me occupied and being at the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park means I get to the top of the ridge for my daily exercise, a reasonable workout.  

Autumn means another change to the landscape (see), with greens replaced by golds and browns and fungi replacing flowers.

Early return home and good weather for the first few weeks meant that I was able to complete repair and painting of the outside of the Blue House as well as enjoy the dazzling colour of giant blooms and intoxicating smell of the now 15-foot high Brugmantsia planted in it last year, still in flower in November.  I cut back the hundreds of suckers from the agave, revamped the electrics and I’m rather pleased with the result – by day and night.

The Vegetable garden, planted up with winter veg is keeping me suppled with cabbage, kale, sprouts parsnips and beetroot, and a few autumn raspberries to augment the 250 portions of fruit put in the freezer during the summer. I harvested 80 lbs of Pink Fir Apple potatoes, enough until next Spring. The bottom quarter of the garden, planted up for my decrepid old age, which I pretentiously refer to as the ‘Acer Glade’, is brilliantly coloured even when it’s pouring with rain.  

The first response to rising Covid infection rates in Wales was a ‘local lockdown’, imposed on my area on 23 September, meaning that people in areas with high infection rates were not allowed to travel outside their local authority, nor anyone else travel in. This meant that I couldn’t see my son and his family who live a mere 18 miles away but in a different local authority.  Bizarrely, my daughter who lives in the Greater Manchester area with  very high infection rates could travel all the way down to the edge of the borough but not come in.  In theory we could have seen each other 2 metres apart at the border 2 miles away, she having travelled 180 miles to do so as travel restrictions were not imposed in England.  Even more bizarrely, at that time a coachload of 30 people travelled over 200 miles from the worst affected area in the North West to Tenby in Pembrokeshire where low infection rates meant that restrictions were not applied. I’ll stop there before I get into a rant.

However, under local lockdown rules I could meet a friend from the same borough outside in the garden.  Not a very appealing prospect normally as colder, wetter weather approached, but as there is a covered area in my garden, we could sit there socially distanced, warmed by a blazing fire in a cheminierre.  A couple of evenings a week were thus spent very pleasantly putting the world to rights over a beer.

Sadly, infection rates continued to rise and so on 28 October all Wales was put under ‘firebreak’ regulations which banned all social contact inside or out. Thus my shopping/working/walking routine continues but evenings are unbroken boredom.  Indications are that when the ‘firebreak’ ends on 9 November meeting friends or family in the garden will not be allowed but four people from different households can meet in a pub.  How crazy is that !?!?.  I guess I’ll pass on going to the pub at the moment which is a sight more risky than meeting in the garden.

I’ll stop before another rant comes on.

If you are bored in lockdown and want something to read, or want an idea for Christmas, you can try my books. 

A small life in twenty memories

On Kindle:

paperback direct from me, £3.99 plus P&P

Greece unpackaged

On Kindle:

paperback direct from me, £3.99 plus P&P

Greece by Bus

Very limited edition: A4 hard copy only, 153 pages, copiously illustrated with photos and maps, full colour.

£30 plus P&P

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Posted in Autumn, Grey Britain, Grumpy Old Men, Health and humour, Hiking, Landscape, Monmouthshire, Mountains, Nature, Photography, Pontypool, Reflections, Wales, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eleven years. Still remembered. Seems like yesterday

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo. Horizontal heavy rain driving into the camera lens

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