Spring in Wales and Greece

Sunday afternoon, 23 March and the sun was shining.  The sun has only put in the occasional appearance recently.  Heavy showers in the morning had cleared and blue sky beckoned.  One of the great benefits of living at the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park is that there is good walking from the house, no need to drive to a mountain, there’s one out the back.

I followed a favourite route, an amble along the Abergavenny and Brecon Canal and then a steep pull up to the ridge, distracted by potential photo opportunities on the way.  I sat in the sun at the Folly Tower, but didn’t stay long, there was a cold North-easterly wind and the ridge top is pretty exposed.  Looking out of the window at home I had been tempted to walk in shorts and T-shirt but was very glad I didn’t.  The sun may be shining but after a few days of spring warmth the temperature has dropped again with overnight frosts if the sky clears.  Budburst seems to be on hold again.

Reflections in the Abergavenny and Brecon Canal

Reflections in the Abergavenny and Brecon Canal

The last pull up to the ridge-top

The last pull up to the ridge-top

Looking across the Vale of Usk

Looking across the Vale of Usk

Welsh Blacks in the top field

Welsh Blacks in the top field

As I walked down the ridge path to complete the circuit back to the house I mused about the vagaries of the weather, how different this route can be.

I remembered many years ago walking the path in the opposite direction and turning back before I reached the Folly Tower, beaten by 5 foot snow drifts and inadequate clothing.  The path drops down into Pontypool Park, home of Pontypool RFC which, in the days before the game went professional, was one of the best clubs in Britain with a world famous front row. I had gone to watch a Saturday afternoon home game.  It snowed heavily overnight and all morning.  As the covers on the pitch were laboriously pulled back by an army of eager spectators the green of the grass, framed by white, was dazzling.  But not for long.  The falling snow became heavier.  Within 15 minutes the pitch too was white, the stands on the opposite side invisible and the ball lost as soon as it was kicked.   The referee abandoned the game and I set out to walk to the Folly to salvage something from the afternoon.  I remember the occasion vividly because it was only the second time I had turned back on a walk, even today one of less than a handful of such occasions.

Last Sunday the farmers had already turned their cattle and sheep out into the topmost fields on the ridge, obviously having decided that a return to winter was unlikely.

But it was very different last year, winter continuing well into the ‘spring’ months.  Back home I checked and on 23 March 2013, a year to the day, I walked the same route in deep winter conditions, walls, trees, fences snow-blasted and frozen.  No sign of animals until well into April.

On the way to the top

On the way to the top

Snow-blasted Folly Tower

Snow-blasted Folly Tower

Ridge-top wall

Ridge-top wall

Stile into the top field

Stile into the top field

With only two weeks left before I head for Greece I wondered what the weather will be like there.  We had been on Hydra in the Saronics in April 2003 and know that the weather is likely to be by no means settled dry and sunny like it is in Summer.  Some days warm sunshine, others grey and cold.  On a return visit to the island in March 2004 we had to shelter a couple of times under the canopies of beachside tavernas as it snowed.   But what more than made up for the indifferent weather was the spectacular flora which carpeted the island.

A wide variety of flowering plants

A wide variety of flowering plants

Anemones grow everywhere

Anemones grow everywhere

Poppies contrast with daisies

Poppies contrast with daisies

Not an impressionist painting, the real thing

Not an impressionist painting, the real thing

I don’t know how Symi and the neighbouring Dodecanese islands will compare with Hydra in spring colour but I’m looking forward to finding out.  I’m taking warm clothes.

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This entry was posted in Greece, Hiking, Landscape, Monmouthshire, Mountains, Nature, Pontypool, Spring, Wales, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Spring in Wales and Greece

  1. Sally says:

    I love your ramblings. I too will be off to Kos in two weeks and will take photos of the flowers for you. I am planning to create a garden over there too. do you have any tips?

    • BarryH says:

      Hi Sally Glad that you like the ramblings. I haven’t done any gardening in Greece. The place where I’ll be staying this year has an avli (courtyard) and I hope to do some container gardening. Apparently the best things to use are the big square feta tins. Water conservation is the key unlike the UK where drainage is more important most summers. I guess the thing to do is note what other people are doing in terms of plant choice and placement (sun or shade). Keep in touch.

  2. Mark Smith says:

    You live in a beautiful part of the world Barry, much better than the dreary old cities. Hope you enjoy Greece

  3. BarryH says:

    Hi Mark I lived in a city until I was 18 and then in Cardiff for 5 years after we were married. I guess that gives me more of an appreciation of living at the edge of an urban area with immediate access to the mountains. .

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