Greece: getting ready

In less than a week I’ll be back in Greece.  I can’t wait to leave the grey skies behind.

Still desperately trying to sort the garden out before I go I finally managed to rescue the potatoes from the sodden ground.  This year the harvest totalled a more modest 50 lbs compared with 110 lbs last year which far exceeded my needs and meant that friends and family were often the perplexed recipients of the blue potatoes which I grow.  This year the crop is just about right.  The ‘crop’ of leeks was depressingly poor, by far the worst I have ever had, a result of the excessively wet and cold weather just after planting.

The emptied beds in the vegetable garden are now draped in weed suppressant fabric and hopefully will be rested and ready for the Autumn planting of garlic and onions when I get back.  The winter brassicas, red cabbage, sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli, are looking vigorous but have suddenly been attacked by caterpillars and dense clouds of whitefly.  Except for slug pellets, without which there would be nothing left, I don’t use chemical controls on the veg so I have tried picking off the caterpillars and I just hope that the plants are strong enough to withstand the assault by the whitefly.

But it’s not all been domestic.   A couple of times I have escaped to the top of the mountain.  16 August is now always one of the difficult dates for me so I took myself off to the top of Garn Wen and then on up the ridge before dropping down an ancient ‘sunken way’ to the Goose and Cuckoo for a pub lunch.

Entirely within the Brecon Beacons National Park it’s a great walk with impressive views all round.  Starting on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal the route climbs up to the Folly Tower and then follows the ridge northward.  Once on the top of the ridge the showers could be seen sweeping across the landscape.  Despite periodically darkening skies the only time it rained where I was was when I was tucking into my ploughman’s’ lunch in the Goose.  I had watched one shower approaching across the valley from the West and had quickened my pace so that it passed behind me, thereby avoiding the need to break out the wet weather gear.

Knowing that heavy showers were forecast I had prepared accordingly so in my day-sack I had a lightweight waterproof cag, a thin fleece mid-layer and a pair of overtrousers.  A lot of stuff rammed into the small rucksack for a few hours walking and I couldn’t help but think wistfully about how little I would need to carry next week in Greece.  A spare T-shirt to put on should I sit in a taverna en-route so as to not subject other customers to the one I wear for walking.  And a hat to wear in the middle of the day. The rest is camera equipment, water, snack and first aid kit.  I sighed, nostalged, and then got on with dragging by booted feet over the wet ground and looking forward to walking everywhere in sandals once again.

Half an hour from the house, the Folly Tower

An hour from the house, the top of 425 metre (1,400 ft) Garn Wen with its newly painted ‘white stone’ and the ridge beyond

Heather is now in flower on the ridge

Rain shower sweeps across the valley ahead of me

Historic beech trees lining the ancient sunken way down to Llanover


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