It’s been a beautiful weekend here in Wales with morning mist and fog clearing to leave stunning blue skies and real warmth. Working in T-shirts in the garden in November! The heather is out in all its purple glory on the mountain and as the light fades in the evening the Blorenge is lit up with red. If you missed it, we made elderberry vodka last week. This week we mulched leaves and made a cage to store them in – more on that to come.
If you’re a Guardian reader you might have noticed the Country Diary yesterday came from our part of the world. Llangattock escarpment is a few miles from here, an other-worldly landscape of grassed-over limestone quarries and caves. It’s a tortuous drive up there with switchback lanes. The writer, Carey Davies, captures eloquently how I feel about the physical and cultural pull in this area between the industrial south of the valleys and the agricultural north of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons:
“The Llangattock Escarpment is a three-mile-long outcropping of the limestone which buffers the red sandstone of the agricultural Black Mountains from the coal measures of the (post-) industrial South Wales Valleys. The cultures corresponding to each are close physically but worlds apart politically. It is a striking study in geopolitics, in how culture grows from the ground, as affected as crops by the bedrock beneath; as if socialism and strikes thrive in certain soils.”
You feel this buffer as you travel along the Heads of the Valleys road – a feat of human engineering from the 1960s which cuts the Beacons from the Valleys, topping the valleys towns of Brynmawr, Tredegar, Ebbw Vale and Merthyr Tydfil before veering left at Pontneddfechan down through the Vale of Neath to the M4. I often think the road is worthy of a piece of work along the lines of Iain Sinclair’s psychogeography take on the M25, London Orbital, or his more recent work on the Ginger Line. I wonder if he can be persuaded?!