In the lee of the hill, a small face smiles upwards. Blossoming in the early sunshine. A pale yellow carpet decorates the grassy bank. Primroses have emerged, blinking their way into light.
The stream has overflowed on to the road. Frozen water coats the surface. Gingerly I cross, digging each step into the iron hard ground. Heavy clouds hover over the valley, silver light reflecting from the estuary. The first flakes of snow spiral down, dancing around me as I walk. Despite hat and gloves, the wind nips at my nose, and toes and fingers start to freeze. I turn for home, hoping to arrive before the storm begins in earnest.
The grey slab rears up on top of the mountain, a landmark to focus on. Slowly I pant my way to the top of the track. The dog runs ahead – and back – and ahead again. At last I reach the summit. Relaxing, I rest my back on the sun-warmed stone. Face turned to the winter sunlight. From here Eryri is seen in all its beauty, snow-dusted peaks glowing. Behind me the sea is blue under clear skies. The Great Orme stretches out lazily in all its glory. Dog growing impatient, I shoulder my rucksack and move onwards, savouring the view.
NB: Eryri is the Welsh name for Snowdonia.
The walls of the town march round, no longer a defence but a viewing platform. The streets of the place are quiet today. I perch on my vantage point. People scurrying from cars to shops, huddled against the biting wind. Rain is heading in, sweeping across the bay. The bulk of the castle shields me from the worst of the weather. A shelter in the storm.
The water’s ebb exposes mudflats. Dotted with mussels, purple blue in the light. Razor shells lie on the surface of the mud, pearl white inside. Clouds scud across the blue sky, reflected in the sea. A gentle breeze bobs the boats up anddown. Beyond the harbour rears the Great Orme, basking in the winter sunlight. A leisurely afternoon.
A wet day. Rain drips down from the clouds, a seemingly endless supply. Clear skies over the mountains hint at better things to come. But the damp dawn sulks its way into mid-morning. The dog is waiting for her walk. Across the playing field we go. A boring green expanse becomes an exciting playground. Full of different sounds and smells. Tail wagging, ears twitching. Head turns at my call. Back on the lead to turn down the hill. Pavements, it seems, have an endless fascination. ‘I wonder who passed by there?’ – You can almost see the thought. Round the steep bit and on to the old mill. A brief stop at the paper-shop to buy the newspaper. A patient dog waits outside, greeting the passers-by. Then onwards, along by the side of the stream. Splashing in the puddles. Up through the old orchard. She covers twice the distance , bounding about. A slow progress along the road, then back through the playing field. Pausing to chase the ball. Returning to base, we sit by the heater in the summer-house, drying out. I check emails. She tries to read them. Then, bored, she falls to sleep across my toes. A successful morning.
NB For those who are wondering – no, I haven’t acquired a dog! Back in North Wales for a month, house and dog-sitting for friends while they visit Australia.
The town is cradled in the valley, nestling between hills and sea. On the edge of the community, the mountains seem so close you can reach out and hold them in your hand. A glance out the window, and there they are. Waiting patiently. Snowy peak peeking out shyly from behind green foot-hills. There is space to breathe here. Iced air fills my lungs. For now, I am content to sit and stare, to be in the moment.