The ‘working day’ started in the early hours of the morning,
with Tony literally doped up to the eyeballs in a desperate attempt to force his sinuses clear in order for him to be able to go to work (he had a trip to Jordan pending). Once it had transpired this truly was a fruitless exercise, he reluctantly concluded he was not honestly fit to fly & contacted his operations desk to advise them of the fact. Exhausted, I dropped off to sleep on the sofa until around 2am, when I snuggled up beneath the seclusion of the duvet until the alarm shrilled at 0600, proclaiming I had to get back to work immediately. Somewhat snuffly myself, I hauled Tony out of bed a couple of hours later to carry out the morning ffarmyard chores for me, as I rolled up my sleeves & commenced cleaning the house from top to bottom in preparation for our guests. Some frantic scrubbing & a big bottle of wax polish later Michelle, Sandi & Aafkhe arrived – just as I’d finished my gargantuan hoovering effort, & Tony had shut down the drying cycle on the milking machine. We relaxed with a cuppa & gave our friends a quick tour of the Ffarm before making the most of the unseasonable sunshine to head out for lunch & a trip to the beach at beautiful Tresaith. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the Ship Inn shortly before 2pm, we were advised no more food would be served until supper. As the girls were ravenously hungry (& we hadn’t had a chance to eat thus far today either) we shelved our plans for a bracing walk along the beach & over the rocks to Tresaith’s famous waterfall – which crashes dramatically down from the cliffs & into the swirling sea below – opting to head instead to Gwbert, where we discovered a lovely little bistro with far-reaching views across the sparkling waters of Cardigan Bay & over to the golden stretch of Poppit Sands beyond, which were fast disappearing beneath the afternoon’s racing tide. A leisurely, late lunchtime snack & a pleasant bottle of Rioja later, we meandered back to the Ffarm with an en-route pause at the majestic Cenarth Falls; up until now literally a ‘bridge too far’ – or rather, a bridge too busy to ‘stop & stare’ for Tony & I – & what a treat we’ve missed. How many times we have hurried past with yearning glances at the famous foaming cataracts; yet have never dared indulge in the leisure & pleasure of fully appreciating this beautiful place. Today we were so very glad that we finally took that opportunity: whilst the unusually benign river slipped along tranquil eddies & weed-strewn streamlets, we strolled the rocky river banks in delight at the gentle wonder of this watery paradise; although Michelle is now hoping for a tumultuous fortnight of weeping rain so that on her next visit with husband Neil & their two children in a couple of weeks, the river will be sufficiently swollen for us all to marvel at the remarkable sight of the Salmon’s Leap when the fish return upstream to spawn. The determined salmon propel themselves over the foaming cataracts in dramatic style, hurling their pearlescent bodies up out of the water, flicking many metres higher to the tranquil pools above the fearsome waterfalls; a spectacle for which Cenarth is particularly famous. The picturesque Village Shop & Post Office, host to a multitude of hanging baskets dripping with colourful flowers was the next stop on the impromptu agenda – the lovely little shop sells not only the exquisite Pen Lon cottage ales, but also pretty little stoppered bottles of New Quay Heather Honey Mead – not to mention plenty of conspicuous copies of ‘Smallholder’ magazine, in which we were delighted to discover that Part Two of our latest article has been published in a three-page spread. In celebration of his new-found fame in the article, Tony allowed me to ‘splash out’ on a few choice bottles of Pen Lon ale & lager (there’s a lovely photo of him at the helm of Toto & Sabe’s carriage, chaffeur of bride & groom at our friend Clare’s daughter’s wedding); & the ladies bought us a beautiful bunch of flowers to grace the exquisite, ancient cobalt blue vase our ‘hooligan’ goats unearthed earlier this year.
Once we’d arrived home, after a enjoying an indulgently creamy mug of our goats’ milk ‘capriccino’ coffee the evening chores demanded our attention: I undertook the general yard jobs whilst Tony & Michelle worked on the milk recording for which she acts in her capacity as our official independent checker. Aafkhe & Sandi opted to go for a walk to make the most of the stunning sunset: however, Sandi wanted to take our new dog with her, & ended up spending a protracted period attempting to bend Nanuk’s will to hers, making the dog lie down in a posture of canine submission. Unfortunately for Sandi, Nanuk’s previous owners frequently encouraged her to lie on the floor in play; so she assumed it was all just a game. By the time Sandi had managed to attach Nanuk’s lead, dusk was already casting heavy shadows over the Ffarm & the sun had disappeared behind the mountains which was such a shame; & Nanuk, having never met Sandi before, was by now so over-excited she was not interested in walking to heel at all, although I understand she did settle eventually. By the time the girls came back a short while later they were indeed ready for a glass of wine, although they were persuaded to come down & join in with the ever-amusing activity of bottle-feeding the goat kids, always our last duty of the day before we put the Ffarm to bed.
Sandi had thoughtfully prepared a vast pot of deliciously thick, homemade spicy parsnip soup along with some ciabatta-type bread rolls; welcome sustenance indeed as the chill of the autumn evening closed in on the Ffarm. Tony lit the fire & we retired to the dining room for steaming bowls of the tasty, satisfying soup which was followed by a cheese board, my modest selection including an unctuous brie; a rinded, runny chevre log; a crumbly white Caerphilly; a tangy innkeeper’s cheddar complemented with the spicy crunch of pickled onions; my favourite mature, oak-smoked Quicke’s cheese; a full-flavoured wedge of vintage Cadog & a pungent blue Stilton (Michelle’s favourite). This was accompanied by biscuits, celery & grapes & washed down with a full-bodied, robust red wine. Our appetites thus sated, we recharged our glasses & retired to the parlour to relax in front of the roaring hearth, full of cheery conversation before people were eventually overwhelmed by a heady combination of an afternoon of fresh air, & the warmth of fire & wine, dozily drifting off to the comfort of a warm bed & the sanctity of a typically silent night’s slumber at Ffarm Fach, nothing more disturbing the peace than than the soft rush of the river in the valley & the lonely echo of an owl’s hoot over the snoozing wood. All too familiar with days of extended hours, Tony & I stayed awake quietly read the papers in front of the comforting warmth of the gently glowing embers, catching up with the rest of the world as the brittle light of the stars watched over our tranquil little farmstead before we, too, ultimately succumbed to sleep’s persuasive charms.