Monday, 13 May 2013

Family on the Rocks.




The restorative power of Welsh rocks........
Nearly all our family holidays when our sons were young were in Wales. In a specific area of Wales where we kept a caravan for many years beside this, which was endlessly interesting for small and even quite large boys and their father.
I liked it, too.

Tywyn boasts not only the Talyllyn Railway, but also the only working Wurlitzer organ in Wales. What a place! There are beaches and rivers, waterfalls and mountains, sheep, rain, sun and honey ice-cream.
There is a timeless magic about most of Wales.

The rocks and the beach in the photo above are not the same small area, but are the same small country with the same wind and rain and sun and restorative powers and I watched my son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter (in her back-pack) walking across the pristine sand. My son was warming up after a quick swim in the roaring surf, his first for ten months.

It's been a tough ten months for my daughter-in-law, both sons and for me by transference and maternal anxiety. Some very painful things have happened, but they are all still smiling and being wonderfully positive. I  am so proud of them all for their courage and strength - and I don't just mean by wading into a foaming sea when the temperature is in single figures.

My daughter-in-law is an excellent organiser. She is keen on a company called Under the Thatch and organised for us to have a few days in a charming farmhouse high in the hills. So high in the hills, so windy, that when I arrived I had real difficulty in opening the car door.
Inside the house was warm and there were spectacular views over rolling hills. We could watch the lashing rain in comfort. Then the sun came out, as it nearly always does, and there was a magnificent rainbow, arching low over acid green fields.
When the rainbow faded we could watch lamb Number Seventy force her way through the wire fencing into the house garden where the grass was even more lush. No other lamb could do it, but Number Seventy did it at least once daily, and got back in time to butt her mother off the ground in a demand for milk.

We did things.
I did my daily drawings. I drew sheep in the rain, more sheep in less rain and multiple studies of different aspects of sheep. Then I drew a castle.
We read the leaflets in the house. We could have gone to a watermill to have a tour and then to watch the process of wheat being ground into flour. We could have gone to a woollen mill to have a tour and buy a blanket.
We did other things. We visited a National Trust house and garden and discovered that even a Barbour is not totally impervious to Welsh rain.
We walked beside a river in sunshine and saw a castle and some beautiful beaches before the rain started again.
But the best thing of all was seeing and hearing six-month old grand-daughter helpless with laughter at the sight of a log-fire and the sound of logs going 'pop'.
You can't get more restorative than that.





17 comments:

marigold jam said...

Wales certainly has its own magic restorative magic doesn't it. I go regularly to visit a friend who lives in Pembrokeshire and always return rested and restored. Glad you had a great time together and hope that whatever problems your family has/have had will have been helped by the restorative powers of Welsh Magic!

Elephant's Child said...

Oh my. That sounds like a truly wonderful break - and I hope it worked its magic on you all.

Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold: thank you for the kind thoughts. Yes, Wales is special no matter what the weather is doing.

Elephant's Child: thank you too. Lots of water and sea-air cannot fail to help everyone.

mm said...

I love that stretch of coast around Towyn. May you all be restored and refreshed - and I'm intrigued to read about your drawings!

Relatively Retiring said...

mm: if you like sheep you'll appreciate my sketchbook!

Zhoen said...

Sounds like my ideal vacation. sigh

Jenny Woolf said...

I liked the way you wrote about this - enough detail to get a feeling for "being there". Being so high you can't get the car doors open...

I am sorry that things have been difficult for some of your family members and I'm glad they're coping.

Oh and there is truly nothing more delightful than the laughter of a baby. One of the world's best sounds!

Jee said...

How lovely to get away and see the sea. Do you know the poem 'The Small Window' by R S Thomas - sorry can't post link as writing this on my phone. It sums up Welsh landscape for me. It's been busy here but hope to see you soon.

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: Maybe you can get to Wales sometime?

Jenny: thank you. It might be worth your while exploring 'Under the Thatch', especially as they are now doing some European properties.

Jee: I'll find the poem - thank you.

Molly said...

You should write for the Irish Tourist Board! They could use someone who makes drain and drizzle sound so magical! I also think it's time for another post about your daily drawings...

Beth said...

Wishing you and your family al the best. This was a wonderful post -- and I'd love to see those sheep sketches!

Peregrina said...

This brought back nostalgic memories of a summer holiday we had in a caravan beside a beach near Barmouth when our sons were aged two-and-three-quarters and eight months. We explored mainly northwards and one day, with the baby in the back-pack, the older child valiantly walking, we climbed up to Tre'r Ceiri, the Iron Age hill fort in Caernavonshire, reaching it just as fog rolled in off the sea. No-one else was there. No doubt it was the surrounding silence and the eeriness of the fog-shrouded ruins that made it seem as if the ancient past was very much present, but there does seem to be a quality of timelessness in the Welsh countryside.

Thank you for evoking those memories. I hope that you, your son and your daughter-in-law will still remember the pleasures of your brief holiday long after your little grand-daughter has grown up. However, like our sons, she herself will have to make do with stories and photographs of her first visit to Wales. It's good that you have recorded it.

Leslee said...

Wonderful! Yes, you certainly do make even the wind and rain sound magical! Glad you had such a lovely time with your son and his family.

Relatively Retiring said...

Molly and Beth: thank you for reading and for your comments but I don't think I can show you any more of mine after seeing Beth's!

Peregrina: Do you know the walk across Barmouth bridge, my all-time favourite walk over the estuary? You evoke the misty timelessness of Wales with your memories.

Leslee: it could be called making the best of things, but the variability of Welsh weather makes for drama (and a huge appreciation of sunshine if it appears).

Isabelle said...

Glad you're feeling at least a bit restored. Nothing like weather to take the mind off the problems.

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle: thanks you - you know all about the restorative powers of grand-children.

Peregrina said...

No, I didn't ever do the walk across Barmouth Bridge, but what you say makes me wish I had. We went there only the once for our family holiday.