When men were all asleep the snow came flying…
To begin at the beginning…
Early on a December morning, a bedroom in the Usk valley:
1st Voice: “Oh my . . . look, look! They were right! Look, look!”
2nd Voice: “****!! *********************!!!!!” . . . Insert various expletives of your choice and no doubt you’ll strike lucky with one or two
SNOW!!! We’ve been living here almost four years and this is the first decent snowfall that we’ve had – it’s usually confined to the surrounding hilltops. After reminding Michael that although we no longer had to traipse through it to go anywhere we didn’t want to (such as work), we actually needed to traipse across the river to collect the car from Crickhowell High Street, having left it there the previous evening after celebrating a friend’s birthday in the pub. Best laid plans…but while we were battling against the elements we managed to take plenty of pictures (along with the rest of the population).A very excited Michael making his way from the churchyard to the meadow
Snow? What snow? Nothing stops sheep from eating
Crickhowell basking in the snowlight
By the following day the sky had cleared, leaving us with a freezing cold day and roads which were now passable but dangerous. Sadly this meant I had to ring the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny and cancel the Afternoon Tea that I was planning with my friend Susanne – we’d both agreed that althought the A40 was in fairly good nick (according to local news/police/motoring organisations), we could well break several bones before we reached the highway. So Michael and I went out on foot again…The main road through the village
Evidence that the artistic community had been out and about
The freezing waters of the Usk river at Crickhowell
By Tuesday we were almost back to normal. We had a brief visit from a couple of guys who were coming to install a wood-burning stove for us; they departed after about 20 minutes, leaving us to mull over the disappointing news that unless we were prepared to pay an awful lot of money to have half of the chimney breast rebuilt, we were going to remain stove-less. We consoled ourselves by driving up to Bwlch, less than five miles away but (significantly) several hundred feet higher, to buy a Christmas tree. It says a lot about Michael’s state of mind following stove-gate that he voluntarily drove back into Narnia. Once home we unwrapped the tree, decorated it and spent the next three weeks trying to protect it from two new, lively and very curious kittens.Dave George
By the time the girls arrived home on 20th, all trace of the frozen white stuff had vanished but we got into the Christmas mood by going across to St Ed’s for Nine Lessons & Carols, followed by a bit of a knees-up in the Bear Inn. Yes, I know we should really have stayed at the church and enjoyed the mince pies and coffee on offer but we are wicked people – what can I say?
As ever, having the house full was a joy, with days and evenings spent cooking, eating, playing with the kittens, eating, playing board games, eating, walking and eating some more. Classic FM unknowingly provided some fun when we all did their quiz “If you were a Christmas Carol, which would you be?” I say all but Michael had better things to do; and none of us can remember the carollic incarnation of Katie but Lizzie and I both got In the bleak midwinter whilst Alex hit the jackpot with that well known ditty: Tomorrow shall be my dancing day. Needless to say she was delighted by this and is now constantly looking forward to tomorrow.
Christmas Day was wet and grey but we went out anyway, because Lizzie had organised a treasure hunt for us. She’d planted clues around the village the previous day, in various kissing gates, tucked into dry-stone walls, stashed in the castle ruins and buried beneath rocks. Anyone watching must have wondered what on earth we were up to. We got back into a warm house and finished preparing lunch, which this year was forerib of beef – with all the usual Christmas trimmings! An improvement on last year was that I had stocked up and we didn’t run out of coffee or eggs – though we forgot to watch the Queen…
Later we settled down to more games, with the girls all wearing the socks that I’d laboured over. I have to thank my pal over on My Making Do Adventure for getting me into sock-making, which turns out to be totally addictive and a cult in the making…
Katie and Alex left on 27th, Alex because she was returning to work the next day, Katie because she was flying out of Heathrow that evening to join Garth in South Africa for the New Year. But fear not, we had replacements lined up! Lizzie’s friends Lisa, Tegan and Bethan arrived to celebrate New Year’s Eve with us. There should have been a fourth arrivee but Tom rang at midday to say he was…locationally challenged, shall we say? Setting out from his parents’ house in Stratford-upon-Avon he’d caught what he thought was the train to Abergavenny. For those of you not familiar with the geography around here, I shall explain that Abergavenny lies on the Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire) to Manchester line, and that Tom was attempting the difficult feat of catching the train at some point north of Abergavenny. Somehow or other he ended up going not south, to Y Fenni, but travelled for three hours in the opposite direction…so when he rang Lizzie from what he had discovered was Manchester, he wasn’t terribly happy. He sent us a picture of the cheese and wine that he’d bought us and returned to the bosom of his family.
(I have no comment to make on this – I daren’t say anything at all, given the debacle back in July when Michael and I caught the wrong bus.)
Lizzie’s ex-colleague Sam manfully turned up to fill the breech (he was coming anyway- as it happens he’s a local boy) and we finished off our New Year’s Eve paella then walked across to Crickhowell and an evening in the Bear. We met up with other friends, all had too much to drink to remain sensible, swarmed out of the pub to enjoy the midnight fireworks and completely obstructed the A40 to sing Auld Lang Syne.
The year came to an end with all of us intact, although things were to take a turn for the worse the following day when one of Michael’s brothers was taken into hospital. As I write he’s improving, thank goodness, though there’s a little way to go.
So let’s hope that the coming year fills us with cheer, and I leave you with what were apparently my most popular Instagram pictures of 2017…
Happy New Year, all! Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi gyd!