No Man’s Land

March 17, 2013

2013-03-17 14.19.53Today I went down to the Gwent Levels, a post-industrial landscape of muddy ditches and dykes running alongside the Bristol Channel,overlooked by chimneys of Newport and the massive steelworks at Tremofra. Not exactly picture postcard country, but nevertheless fascinating. This is a non-gentrifiable area of scruffy smallholdings, scrapyards, cheaply built houses, and untidy fields that seems curiously Dickensian, or perhaps outside time altogether. Small ponies graze by the roads; cows amble along the levee by the sea; old men wander on the beach with buckets, looking for shellfish. At one roundabout, we passed a car going the wrong way, full of children, with a pony on a lead trotting alongside it. We walked for about a mile by the sea, then came to this old lighthouse, which happened to have a Dr Who tardis on the balcony. You can just see it in the picture above. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the tardis – a couple of years ago, it appeared in the park opposite where I live. It’s one of the curiosities of Cardiff and its environs that it pops up from time to time when least expected.

This week, I also drove across country to mid Wales, in freezing rain. Despite the cold, there were signs of spring everywhere: clumps of snowdrops by streams, banks of daffodils, wobbly lambs feeding from their mothers, their tails wagging furiously. I watched a field full of them running about in a bunch, playing together, getting up to mischief, like children in a school yard. It made me feel quite guilty about the lamb shoulder we ate last night (delicious). Still, I suppose there wouldn’t be any lambs if we didn’t eat them. If that makes sense.

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