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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

I had to stop writing quite abruptly on Monday. I’d planned an afternoon out with my son, and the clock was ticking. So there are one or two loose ends from my account of the weekend away.

North Wales is much wetter than our side of the country. I’ve been trying to track down statistics for the area where we were staying, just off the Conwy valley, and haven’t got very far. On the lower-lying parts of Anglesey, which can’t be more than 20 miles distant, they get about 33 inches annually. If you cared to climb to Crib Goch, up in Snowdonia (we could see Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, from the cottage: it’s no more than 10 miles distant) you would reach the wettest place in England & Wales: it receives a remarkable 176 inches a year. I repeat: 176. Basically, then, Wales is wet, but as we walked over the moors I kept seeing colours and textures that reminded me of the Sandhills. 



There was even the occasional echo of the blues and greens you see around the   sandhill lakes - but maybe that’s a bit of wishful thinking on my part.


What I like about walking in these mountains is the fact that you generally aren’t very far from a welcoming green valley, and a village - in which there is generally a pub. In  this view you can just make out the cluster of houses that is Penmachno. Not that we needed the pub on this occasion: we were well provided for. After our walk we dined on the pheasants we’d brought down - cooked in white wine, served with roast potatoes and parsnips - and then settled down by a roaring log fire.

The one major drawback to our occasional weekends in Wales is the journey. There’s barely time to unwind after the drive down than it’s time to re-pack and start back. We make the trip, two or three times a year, because A and her family have a lifetime association with this particular house. When she was a teenager they spent a year there, on leave from Australia. In those days the house had no electricity, nor any running water, so there are some vivid memories for her, and of course a strong emotional attachment to a wild and beautiful place. It’s just that four- or five-hour trip across the country, usually in the dark, often in the rain, and almost always on crowded roads. Still, we got home in reasonable time on Sunday evening. We even found time to call in on my elder daughter and her husband in Leeds. They still haven’t had the baby - due at the end of October. We understand that he or she should arrive today or tomorrow, whereupon I will join the ranks of grandparents. I’ve been practising my skills, and reviving a lot of memories, with A’s 17-week-old grandson, who is an absolute charmer.

Despite my son being here yesterday I managed to compose another 1000 words for the new book, and I have to say I found that rather disturbing. I did it between arriving at my desk (about 0645h) and preparing his breakfast (1030h) - which doubled as my lunch. And bear in mind that I spent a good hour or two, as usual, catching up on news, sport results, email correspondence and random You Tube clips. When I’m alone and have all of the day stretching ahead of me it often takes me eight, ten, twelve hours, occasionally longer, to reach the daily target. Under pressure, I seem to manage it perfectly well in a couple of hours.

The rest of this week is about that 1000-a-day target, and the one job I keep putting off: compiling last year’s income and expenditure figures for the accountant, who’s suggested the end of the month as a deadline. I have tried running; I have tried hiding; in the end there’s little option but to get on and do it. I think it’s the one fleeting moment in the year when I half envy people who work for an employer and don’t have to worry about all that stuff.