Tuesday, 19 January 2016
Here's a view of the cottage in which we stayed over the new year: a good, deep window ledge on the first floor, well-insulated windows, half-finished cake, the Guardian's prize cryptic crossword (also half finished), the strains of BBC Radio 4, and wild acres of rain-drenched Welsh fields across the valley to draw. And time.
Wednesday, 6 January 2016
We had a quiet few days over the new year in the rural isolation of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. Isolation is a relative term – it was only a few hours' drive from London along the M4 – but from the window of the converted barn at a sheep farm we were staying in we could see only one distant farmhouse in the broad panorama across the valley. When darkness fell, theirs was the only light we could see. Apart from one night, New Year's Eve, when the clouds drew back to reveal a dazzling range of stars of the kind you never ever see in London, our time there was accompanied by long periods of rain and more rain. The fields oozed under our feet, and torrents ran down the lanes.
The broad window ledge of an upstairs room was an ideal place to perch to draw the scene. Buzzards, or perhaps red kites, sometimes as many as four or five, drifted across the sky. Occasionally, the heights of the distant hills would become blurred by passing clouds. The number of cars passing outside our barn at Tircapel Farm during our entire stay? We didn't see one.
The UK is a small, highly populated country, but its green lungs, such as the Brecon Beacons, remain fantastically unspoiled. And uncrowded, too, at this time of year and in this kind of weather. But with thick stone walls and few, small windows, the barn was a calming refuge.
Happy new year.