My final experience at Trericket Mill is a visit to the ducks. They are out on their lawn, which is also an exclusive camping pitch for some lucky holidaymakers, by the brook edge, with the chickens. The ducks though, are on a mission, waddling on mass. When I have finished admiring their castle folly home I discover they were headed for the brook and are now busily eating, stretching their beaks and ducks under the water to seek out tasty morsels under brook smoothed rock s. It is wonderful to watch how they behave in a clearly natural habitat.
One of my longings is to keep ducks and I have always thought they should have their own stretch of stream. Nicky has explained that if they don’t ha ve this they make a real mess of any other habitat.
I set off on the days journeyhappy and tranquil. That soon changes. Erwood, the nearby village proves not to be a pleasant experience. The gallery which is on the wye valley walk is pretentious and a parody of what was once the work of a visionary, who changed the small settlements Beeching destroyed train station into craft workshop for himself and a collective of local artists.
Now so called works of art, many that smack of some one having nothing better to do, rather than being divinely inspired as real art is, sit on plinths or on other precariously balanced exhibit stands in the disused railway carriages along with signs saying children must be kept under control and that damages must be paid for. Prices are around the £1500 mark. Nicky n Alistair have told me the owners come from Hay. London via Hay I suspect. The gallery, surrounded by CCTV cameras is hardly contributing to the local economy. Tourists sit drinking tea and eating homemade cakes that look nothing special. Inside I feel outrage. This place could be feeding into the local economy. It could be selling farmers produce, it could be a community centre where local young people could be encouraged to develop their creativity. It could be so many things that capture the imagination but an exclusive art galkery with long thin chains dangling between each doorway, catching on my small pack as I walk through is not doing the trick for me.
I leave ,saddened , that outsiders can come into a place with such a blatant disregard for the community they have joined, and to put what was a community asset to such poor use. Old photos on Powys county council info boards show what a lifeline this station once was to Erwood.
People would trade by means of it tells an elderly lady interviewed after it closed in the 1960s.
Further back along the disused line the wye valley walk has been put onto the road as landowners have revoked a permissive path along it. Alistair has told me the once clear line past which off comers did not usually pass, the soft grey buildings with slate roofs of the Welsh farmers showing the traditional way,has begun to blurr with more and more people moving into the west; a clear sign, to me, that things are amiss in England. Would that the incomers would leave the values they are escaping behind with them instead of bringing them with them. We don’t escapoe values we are no longer in agreement with as long as we have not done the inner work to er.adicate them from our psyches. We will carry them with us and impose them on others, however unconsciously that may be done.
I suspect many move to the country side with romantic notions not founded on the reality at all bringing with them most of the ingredients to produce a copy of what they left behind and in doing so begin to destroy tge idyll they moved to enjoy. I have seen it over and over in my life. I have moved to out of the way places for I like the quiet life and in each place after several years watched the paradise change as the wealthy, attracted by the bohemian ways that create such an inspiring creative and authentic feel to a place, buy up all they can and change the character of the thing they so wanted to be a part of through reluctance to let go of, or perhaps simple ignorance of, the values they have brought with them, the very things they seek to escape, the very things absent in a bohemians vision.
I begin to wonder if perhaps having an inordinate amount of money is either a protection against inner pain to deep to want to delve into or with such a strong association with love and security that to let go of it and the values it escrews is impossibly difficult. Either way the spread of all that doesn’t work in our society, all that damages true community, is inevitable so long as wealth is allowed to buy its way into each project that began with such vision.
Leaving Erwood is a reminder of one of my high horses. I rant to myself all the through my painful escape. Some short sighted, no dou bt money fuelled decision has created the main A road through to Buikth Wells over a mile of the original back lane. The wye valley walk directs its walkersup high, half a mile of steep incline, to cross an area of moorland to avoid the very fast road. I try this. Not far into the moor is a large bog.
I walk back down, disgruntled. I will walk the main road and woe betide any driver that incurs my wrath. Interestingly it is this burst of anger that gives me some new insight into the work I am gradually sorting in my mind about my next book. I have been puzzling for several days now about what the 13 treasures of Britain that Merlin carried to Bardsey island represent. I have four of them now:
The staff – which represents asking for support when we need it
The horn of plenty – which appeared when my visioning for what is coming next in my life included plenty for me and for others,one that fed the other
The fire brand – which represents recognising the energy of anger as a force for good when it is aimed at injustice
The whetstone – which sharpens and hones any blade, any purpose to have clarity of vision
I can see that inner qualities develop piece by piece, beginning with our own wellbeing, our own ability to ensure our livelihood, by doing something that is in service to the greater good, our energy focussed on what needs to be made right, and our purpose sharply defined. Without these elements what we do is misguided, doomed to failure , detrimental to the whole. I can see how i am going to be able to weave these elements into my next book.
I find as I walk on the grassy verge besides the monstrous road of go faster metal boxes on wheels containing disconnected humans that beneath the knee high meadow plants is a pathway. I walk deliberatately, one step at a time, making my path as I go, sometimes finding a little remnant of the stony walkway beneath. Nettles sting me but I barely feel them in the anger at the traffic that zooms past with no regard for what it drives past sending out slip streams and noise that disturbs and disrupts all it encounters.
Finally I leave the verge of glorious meadow flowers and join the next back lane. Within feet is a gurgling brook and the wild countryside is returned to me. I walk all day on the back lane to Builth. I see no one but sheep and buzzi ng insects. The views take my breath away. I think of the film they made of Lord of the rings in New Zealand, I think of the film Avatar that had some young people commuting suicide over lost paradise, and I sigh for all those who think the green and pleasant land if our fire bearers is gone, buried beneath tarmac and concrete. It is not. It is here, pushed west by alien values over centuries. Here is virgin untouched pure pristine wild British land. The oaks that I have followed all the way along this warriors way are mighty and full, unharmed and glorious. There are ash, beech,Birch, rowan,hawthorn ,yew and elder, all left to become the huge creatures they are born to be.
This landscape, this perfect beingness, this nature are the backdrop to my being able to define my next steps in the world. It takes this degree of aloneness this magnificence as mighty valleys carved by the Wye and its children amid the massive rocks and boulders the ice age left behind, the hills mountainsmoorlands that tower over the tiny farmsteads and ribbon like road far below me to be able to see clearly.
Hay has cured me of my egos desire for recognition, for fame. I have seen its wounds upon the faces of the inflicted there. The pure air of the mountains has given me my vision back.
The place of refuge I want to create shall be this thing for me and because of that it shall be that for others too. The book of this journey to that place shall have 13 chapters, shall be 13 small volumes of different colours each describing the journey to the heart. It will be sold or given at the centre I will found.
My first book I shall give away, or for donation, till they are all with people who would treasure them not languishing under tables waiting to be sold at retail price. If you would like one make me an offer, cover the postage and one shall be yours, The Tales of Our Times. They willbegone from me by the end of the year,in the spirit of abundance, so that I am free to create the next.
As I complete my walk into Builth I can see that part of the responsibility of having a place of refuge along a pilgrims route shall be ensuring the pathways either side of it remain open and safe for walkers.
I write this from my cosy caravan in the garden if my lovely host Steph who I met on Facebook when I put out a call for support. It is great to meet her and her friendly family and dog and goose.
It is great to hear her tales too. The blackbird she had to rescue from the dog when it fell from the tree because all the blackbirds from all the nearby trees called and called for her till she saw and realised what needed To be done. She has saved a young bird before and perhaps birds remember these things.
Over a delicioois Dahl and then chocolate cake I meet friends and neighbours and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. Steph tells me about the artwork shed like to take up when the children are grown. she did it when she was going, painting a dragon on a friends wall. It is something I ha ve always wanted to do on my wall and am inspired by her tale. Perhaps she can help me when the time comes. I have been collecting pieces of coloured pottery for several years now ready to create this creature.
I hear of the nearby inspirational arts centre, and I learn a new Welsh word so for now I will leave you with:
‘a dewi sant’
Have a good day!