It seems that we just can’t get away from anniversaries. Every day is a reminder of a particular person or event – some which are important and others which are completely irrelevant. I mean, do we really care that on 20th June, 1837 the first British stamp was issued? Or that James VI of Scotland was born on 19th June, 1556? But it is slightly more interesting (if unsettling) to know that mediaeval kings preempted the Nazis by nearly seven hundred years: in June 1269 the French king Louis IX decreed that every Jew should wear a yellow fabric badge on their clothing and would be fined if they didn’t comply, an edict quickly copied by Edward I of England.
Our local ‘on this day’ snippet of trivia is this – on 16th June 916 AD, an abbot from the kingdom of Mercia was murdered as he travelled through Breconshire, then known as Brycheiniog (I realise that this wouldn’t have been trivial to him!). As a reprisal for this crime, three days later on the 19th June, Aethelflaed (daughter of Alfred the Great and known as the Lady of the Mercians), attacked the royal court at Llangors, capturing the queen and thirty-three others. Llangors Lake this week
Llangors today is pretty peaceful, although you can hire a boat and row yourself out to the crannog if you feel the need. A crannog is a man-made island with (usually) a fortified dwelling on it and although there are others in the British isles, this is the only one in Wales or England. You can still see stone rubble and wooden piles from the ancient fort if you get your hired longship close enough.The crannog, on the right of the picture
I sort of quite like this Llangors anniversary, because it’s a nice, round eleven hundred years. Though you can find a significance to any date if you look hard enough; maybe the thing that demands notice today, Sunday 19th June 2016, is that this was the exact date in 1910 that Father’s Day was celebrated for the first time, in Spokane, Washington.
Wonderfully on this Father’s Day we had a surprise visit from all three daughters, who arrived on Thursday evening for a long weekend so that they could shower their dad with love and gin. By coincidence we’d ordered half a lamb from the local butcher, so on Friday evening we had our customary celebration meal – slow roasted lamb with roasted root veg, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and gravy (the girls would probably settle for a plateful of gravy, actually). We followed this with fruit crumble and custard and then lay around complaining that we’d eaten too much – as usual. Saturday was forecast to be a lovely day but for once (ho, ho, ho) the jolly meteorology experts didn’t get things completely right and although it didn’t rain it was very cloudy. By about two o’clock we’d worked our way through all the usual Saturday activities: we’d had a large and late breakfast and loafed around watching Saturday Morning Kitchen; we’d drunk several cups of coffee and finally finished reading the papers. Insisting that we rouse ourselves and enjoy some fresh air, Lizzie cajoled us all into walking boots and then we climbed into the car and drove off to Mynydd Llanwenarth – otherwise known as Base Camp for the Sugar Loaf.
It was a great walk, even if four of us had to stop to get our breath back occasionally whilst glaring up at Lizzie, yomping steadily uphill about fifty yards ahead. When we got to the top she was waiting for us with a big smile on her face and yes, we all had to agree that the effort had been well worth it for the views across the surrounding countryside.Michael, Lizzie and Alex on Sugar Loaf, enjoying the view
There were about a half a dozen assorted people up there and everyone was very sociable, almost as though we were all members of a club, quietly congratulating each other on having the shared common sense to get away from the rest of the world. None of us stayed up there longer than about fifteen minutes – there’s not that much to do on top of a hill that’s smaller in surface area than a football field. Katie found a packet of sweets at the bottom of her bag so after a restorative mini Daim-bar or two we set off back down the slope.
It was then that the sun decided to come out, the clouds clearing from behind us. Wouldn’t you know it, if we’d delayed by half an hour we’d have been able to see clear up to Talgarth and across to Herefordshire bathed in sunshine, and maybe even over to the Severn Estuary. Better luck next time…Looking over my shoulder as we came back down the hill
By the time we got home the garden was warm and sunny so we sat outside and tackled the general knowledge crossword in that morning’s paper, accompanied by cold cider and strawberries. The clouds soon came back though, and we had to have dinner inside – shepherd’s pie this time, followed by white chocolate and whisky brioche pudding. I’m not sure my waistline could stand a longer visit!
And so to Father’s Day itself; Bombay Sapphire Gin was gleefully unwrapped by Michael along with a surprise present in the form of a garden thermometre. Drilling holes in an outside wall on a Sunday morning is probably not the best way to keep neighbours happy – but then the church bells had already been ringing for half an hour…
It’s a day when everyone thinks of their own father, particularly if – as in my case – he’s no longer with us. Dad died in 2012, suddenly but quietly, at the age of 86. He’d been out walking and gardening the previous day and to all appearances was in good health. He just went to bed and died in his sleep – which is probably a very nice way to go, although a huge shock to the rest of us. The most important thing in his life was his family, and as a father and grandfather he’s still greatly missed xDad and me with Alex in 1994
Enough sadness – so I’ll just finish on a final piece of nonsense. Apparently the cameras of Google Earth have spotted a large, dark shape beneath the waters near Antarctica and folk are falling over themselves to provide an explanation. One of these is:
“This looks like The Kraken” …pardon me? What?
This statement comes from that august publication, UFO Sighting Daily. The author of the piece has measured the anomaly using Google ruler and it’s 30 metres from head to end, but “the end looks just like the mid area of a giant squid which means it could be 60+ metres long with tentacles. That sounds like a Kraken to me,” says the writer. Of course, QED. What other explanation could there be?
But the Kraken was, of course, a made-up beastie from Greek mythology. So if we reluctantly dispense with this opinion what are we left with? Well, some people think this shape may be due to an underwater UFO…(the clue is in the name – unidentified FLYING object – so unlikely, don’t we think?)…whilst others reckon it could be – wait for it – the Loch Ness Monster! What, has Nessie gone on holiday? Eight and a half thousand miles? or is it possible that these people have mistaken the South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula with the Shetland Islands off Scotland, so Nessie wouldn’t have had to pack a passport?