Posts tagged ‘Mosquitos’

February 7, 2012

Researching A Book – in late summer








Now that both of my offsprings are in gainful employment and my life is once again mine own, I got up one morning with the intention of bothering the The-blonde-with-the-legs for an hour or two. However, when I arrived at her home, freshly bathed and shaved with a glint in my eye and the sap rising, she wasn’t there!

As there was no future for me lurking around an empty house – the neighbours were watching me – I decided to take myself off into the countryside for the day. I have been researching material for a book that I am about to start writing  and a small part of the story (fiction) is concerned with the post roman period in Britain, primarily Wales. There is a hilltop settlement and chapel in North Wales that I have been planning to visit for some time and this seemed like a good opportunity. So I packed a bag with: lunch, lots of water, camera equipment, Sat Nav (Garmin Etrek Summit) Maps, waterproof clothing (just in case) and lots of spare batteries.

I arrived at the base of what turned out to be a mountain at about 10 am just as the sun was beginning to warm up. The road (forestry road) led up through thick woodland and I knew that the road petered out into a track half way up and my car would not get all of the way. I carried on and drove as far as I possibly could but the car is not four-wheel-drive and I eventually had to pull over and park up. I put the pack on my back and set off with the warmth of the sun just getting through the trees and the road and forest floor steaming.

Going up hill is bad enough, but going up hill with a heavy pack on your back on a hot day is murder. I was hot and exhausted within a couple of miles and the local mosquitoes were shouting ‘Oh goody, lunch’, all over the damn forest.

With several miles and about a thousand feet still to go, I broke out of the trees into a clearing alongside the road where a group of builders where converting an old farm building into a holiday home. They had added an extra floor and they were working on the roof with the whole thing surrounded by scaffolding.

By this time I had stopped thinking that I was going to die, because by now I knew that I was going to die. I had already sent a ‘goodbye’ text to my son and daughter that would have frightened the flamin’ life out of them if they had been at all interested. As it was I got one back from my son asking if my insurance documents were still in my old briefcase and one from my daughter asking if she could have power of attorney over my bank account.

As I approached the building I noticed that there were a couple of four-wheel-drive pickups in front of the house and three guys working up on the roof. Working is something of a misnomer for what they were doing. Two of them were leaning on the scaffolding watching me with scornful grins showing between curled lips, while the other was bent away from me showing half a hairy backside between dungarees and tee shirt.

‘Having a hard time of it’, shouted the one with black, curly hair and a tattoo.

‘Yes’, I shouted back, ‘I’m trying to get up to the old chapel, don’t suppose there’s any chance of a helping hand,’ I said, glancing, pointedly, at the four-wheel-drives.

‘None at all’ said the one with the crew-cut hair. Just then the hairy backside turned around with a trowel in his hand.

‘Any chance of you two doing a bit of work, then,’ he said.

‘Hang on, boss, we’re watching this twit trying to get up the hill,’ said the one with the curly, black hair.

‘No good you looking at them like that,’ said hairy backside to me, ‘I can’t get them to work, so there’s no chance of them driving you up the hill.’

‘I’m not watching in the hope of them driving me up the hill,’ I said. ‘I’m watching in the hope of seeing them fall off the bloody scaffold.

Over an hour and a half later, having drunk a litre and a half of water and having lost several pints of blood to the mosquitoes I arrived at the chapel to find it closed. I dumped the pack and staggered around for a minute muttering curses, before aiming several kicks at the door – during the course of which I saw the notice asking visitors to call at the nearby hill-farm for the key!

The farm was the other side of the track and it was immediately apparent that the only signs of life currently in residence were two mangy old cats with two-and-a-half ears between them and an old mongrel that growled low down and dribbled over its chin every time it looked at my ankles. Further over, down the other side of the mountain lay lush, green fields with tractor and farmer and a perfectly good road that led all the way up to the farm and chapel.

Full of disappointment, cameras unused and the pack on my back, I set off back down the hill. I got to the building under conversion and all three builders stopped to gaze idly at me while smoking and drinking beer.

‘Beats me why you didn’t just drive up the other side of the hill’, said the one with the black curly hair.

‘*** ******* ******** *** **** ***’, I said, and carried on down to the car!

The above image, taken by me at St David’s Head in high summer, has the first stanza of Sally Odgers lovely poem.