Before dawn’s early pearlescence,
I was up, about & with my arms elbow-deep in suds, in an attempt to conquer the weighty pile of washing up before anyone else emerged from the arms of Morpheus. Michelle joined me for an early morning cuppa before the children bounced down the creaking stairs in their pyjamas, Neil emerging shortly afterwards.
It was the characteristic struggle to get Tony out of bed; however, he appeared just after 9am with Erin’s freshly-wrapped present under his arm whilst I hastily lit the candle on her birthday cake so we could parade it into the parlour, with a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’. Funnily enough, just as Michelle & I had chosen identical birthday cards for Erin last year, this year our wrapping paper was exactly the same. Great minds think alike, eh….??
Shortly afterward, our neighbour Lloyd appeared to clear our rapidly-growing muckheap & spread it onto our most needy pasture – that of Parc Banc – one of our larger, heavily-worked hay meadows. Tony proceeded to assist Lloyd with forking the peripheral muck forward so it could be loaded into the spreader whilst we got the children ready for our trip to Cenarth for lunch, fulfilling Lucas’ wish to visit somewhere with a play area.
And Lucas – pleased by our surprise gift of the book, ‘Tractor Ted in the Autumntime’ was especially thrilled to have his photo taken with Lloyd’s tractor whilst clutching Bradley Bear – his classroom teddy, who’d joined him on half-term holiday. Lucas trotted off to collect the eggs whilst Tony & I finished off the chores & bid farewell to Lloyd, who by this time had already shifted the last of the muck, the only task now left being for me to clean up the yard, which looks like a bomb has hit it, being covered in steaming piles of partially-rotted manure (lovely).
However, I decided to forego the pleasure today & instead we headed for the ‘Nag’s Head’ in Abercych, to enjoy a final hearty & nourishing lunch with our friends before they headed home to the Cotswold hills. We sat outside in brilliant & unseasonably warm autumn sunshine whilst the children played, the adults idling away a couple of hours in comfortable conversation.
Neil & I took the children to the river’s edge to skim stones; at this time of year the water is usually fast & ferocious but owing to the lack of rain the water slipped softly by, murmuring over its bed of smooth-washed slate, young trout sending showers of diamond droplets as they leapt at cinereal clouds of flies hovering over the glassy surface. The sun filtered through the pale canopy of tawny leaves, dappling the water with colour & shade, dancing patterns of gilded light shimmering shadows of honeyed brilliance onto the smooth tree trunks that rose from the river’s edge.
All too soon it was time to leave; we returned to the Ffarm & bid our friends a fond farewell before resuming the drudgery of searching out receipts for the impending VAT return, Tony then taking Nanuk out for her afternoon walk whilst, exhausted, I caught up on a few ‘Z’s.
Then it was time again for the evening chores; the perfect cerulean sky contrasting the charcoal massif of the mountains in myriad colour – a soft, rubicund blush deepening in intensity to hues of deepest, vibrant pomegranate & titian, the brittle hush of evening air hearlding a clear, cold night ahead. It was one of those sunsets where the senses are treated to such an opulent feast, it is impossible to do anything but pause & drink in the majesty of the scene.
The musty scent of woodsmoke drifted across from the cottage chimney, heralding a modest supper of cheese & wine in front of the fire, curled cosy & warm against the brittle darkness on the other side of the door.