Friday, 11 January 2013

11th January 2013 - An Icy stroll.

A clear sky and the promise of a good sunrise. Crisp air and a touch of "huff" breathing through teeth. For many years I have spurned the use of gloves, always warm handed, but this morning the old black woollen offerings found in an old raincoat are welcome as I reach the galvanised gates at the bottom of the garden. Delft, the Blue Merle is bouncing like Scrat the Squirrel from Ice Age despite her 15 years and Rusty is yelping like a demented soul. The problem is that the lock to the gate has frozen!

Unwilling to retrace my steps back up the garden, I persevere by blowing into the lock. Finally the key slides in but fails to turn in either direction. By now, Delft is bouncing on my feet and Rusty is chasing his shadow around the van. A few more gentle exhalations, and the lock releases and two canine tumbleweeds bowl in to the back lane. There is ice in the broken tarmac, and the ground is slippy. We pass cars glistening with icing sugar frosting, and agitated drivers scraping windscreens as they check their watch or phone to see how late they are....

No work this morning for us...   But the light looks as though it may catch the morning scenery, so I head off past the old Stradey Grounds, up Denham Avenue and into the woodlands below Stradey Castle. The ground is crisp, but after all the rain in the last weeks, the woodland paths are saturated and muddy, the cover of the trees preventing the ice reaching the ground.
Path into the Woods - Council Houses to the left & Castle to the right
The grounds of Stradey Castle are private but unfenced at this point, and there is clear sign that the paths are well used, though the woodland needs clearing and the stream beds are blocked. Looking straight ahead, you travel a woodland path, but ever concious of the contrast of the Council houses to the left and the Castle to the right.

At the end of the woodland, the land opens up into fields, bordering the Castle and forming a boundary between the Stradey Welsh School and the Sixth Form College formerly known as the "Boy's Gram"
The light is just right to catch the russet glow of the trees in winter in contrast to the white frosted grass...

Crossing the fields, there are remnants of the summer growth, glistening in the sunlight.

It is at times like these that I realise why my friends - the "professional" photographers, always carry their best camera with them - but I have only brought my handheld Samsung. But, note to self, this is a good time to be up and about to get a different light. I find the fields are well fenced and stock proof and wander around looking for a way across and come across a stately old tree - lying on the ground.

Further on we skirt Stradey Castle itself, the ground too boggy to cross, so we follow the playing fields of the two schools and out towards the front entrances. The Castle can be seen through the trees, but the sun has gone by now, and it will have to be another day to try to catch the stone and setting.

The day turns cloudy, still cold, and the ice starts to soak into the feet and ankles. Time for a cup of tea and some home made bread and cheese. I think I will have to put the central heating on when I get home ...

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