Fearing the heat, I set off even earlier than yesterday for a walk to Pomport and back. As I began my return journey I could see rainclouds over Sigoules, and very soon the lapis lazuli canopy under which I’d begun my outing had turned into a slate roof. The sweat I’d engendered on the way up had become decidedly cool. Now I feared for the washing I’d left out in the garden. No rain came, and the sun soon re-emerged.
I met the donkey with its goat family mentioned on 8th. June. In order to be more precise in the preceeding sentence, on my return I attempted to ascertain the sex of this creature. Although I swear all I’d done was stand and stare s/he seemed to take exception and started up an horrendous honking until I moved on. Quite fearsome really.
As Charles bears witness, vines are strung out all around Pomport, which is a most attractive village. Walking through it, I was surprised to see an antique Austin car standing in a covered alley beside a house. Wandering inside, I encountered a group of four having their breakfast. They were English. Unfazed by my intrusion, one of the men proudly informed me that he had renovated the vehicle, ‘every nut and bolt’, himself. I should have asked him what model it was, but I expect some of my readers will know. He then opened a garage door and proudly displayed a vintage Vauxhall that he planned to drive back to England next week. I think he was rather pleased someone had taken an interest.
People were playing tennis in the now half-completed Leisure Centre in the valley between Sigoules and Pomport.
Last night and this afternoon I was deeply engrossed in ‘A Welsh Childhood’ by Alice Thomas Ellis. This is a very well produced Mermaid publication enhanced by Patrick Sutherland’s evocative black and white photographs. I imagine my friend Alex Schneideman, himself a first-rate professional, would find these illustrations inspiring. The writer’s descriptions of her childhood, and diversions into Welsh myth and legend, are enthralling.
Given Ann and Don’s nineteen years in N. Wales; the family in whose company I spent last evening; and the many holidays I have enjoyed, and occasionally endured, there, the book, donated by Don, is rather pertinent. It will stay on the coffee table in the sitting room of No. 6.
What I was quite unprepared for was the similarity in style of a well-known writer to that I have been cultivating in my blog. Many of her memories sparked more of mine, for which I may find future space. Today I choose to recount some with which I believe Ms. Ellis may be out of sympathy. Although she loved the thrill and freedom of playing in the hills, she doesn’t seem to have appreciated sport. In this she is not alone, but I make no apologies.
I enjoyed numerous training runs in the hills around Gaeddren, Ann and Don’s Welsh home. (If necessary, correct my spelling, my old friend). Perched on a hill above Cerrigidrudion, this house was an ideal point from which to engage in fell running. Since I used the roads, this wasn’t actually fell running, as I had done in the Lake District, but it felt like it. Watching the changing light as I ran up and down roads cut from this rocky terrain, passing streams and rugged trees sometimes indistinguishable from the granite they clung to, was a truly exhilarating experience. It was on one of these two hour marathons that I felt my only ‘runner’s high’. No pun intended. Please don’t think I could, even on the flat, run a marathon in two hours. Here, I use the word figuratively. A ‘runner’s high’ is a feeling of intoxicated elation, said to come at one’s peak. No further pun intended. Well, I never tried LSD. I did, however, find it useful pre-decimalisation. Pun intended.
When I did seek an even route I ran the complete circuit of Llyn Tegid, known to the English as Lake Bala. Having three times, once in 88 degrees fahrenheit, managed the Bolton marathon, which ends with a six-mile stretch up the aptly named ‘Plodder Lane’, with a vicious climb at the end, I thought I might attempt the North Wales marathon. Imagine my surprise to find it boringly, unrelentingly, flat. Here I will divert, as I once did in the Bolton race. My grandmother, then in her nineties, was seated on a folding chair in order to watch me come past. I left the field, nipped across, kissed her on the head, and quickly rejoined the throng. She seemed somewhat nonplussed, as did a number of other competitors. After all, why would anyone willingly supplement, even by a few feet, a distance of 26 miles 385 yards?
The other day, in Le Code Bar I had met an Eglishman with a Birmigham accent. He had bought a house in Fonroque because he had a French girlfriend. Feeling sure Judith would know him I mentioned him to her. She did. When he turned up for a meal this evening, I saw what had attracted him to France. As they were glancing in my direction I got up from my usual table and approached the couple. I told the gentleman I had a friend who knew him. He didn’t know what I was talking about. He was French. Whoops. Undeterred I told him he had a doppelganger. Since Flaubert’s use of the word is the same as the English one, confirmed by my dictionary, I thought I was on safe ground here. I wasn’t. Fortunately the beautiful woman he was with translated and told me it wasn’t a problem. I slunk back to my duck fillet and chips followed by creme brulee, and found the two glasses of red wine quite comforting.