Monday, 5 September 2016

Gwaith 1: Starting My Residency

Haia Pawb/Hi Everyone

This blog entry is the first of my 2016 trip to Britain. Its title, Gwaith 1, refers to the Welsh word for ‘work’. This trip is all about working on and conducting research for my dark ages novel, with occasional visits with friends, and the Gwaith blog postings will record my journey for the five or so months I will be in the country.

Today (Sunday, 4 Sep 16) is the first full day of my second residency at Stiwdio Maelor in Corris, Wales. I arrived in the UK last Wednesday and travelled by train from Birmingham International (which has a great shuttle service from airport to train station) to Machynlleth. As I looked out the train window to watch the countryside fly past, with its masses of foxgloves, the deep, vibrant greens of oak and beech, the flat fields giving way to hills to mountains, I felt contentment at being in this land of my ancestors, which in turn filled me with hope for the task I had set myself, to finish the third draft of the novel.

In Machynlleth, Veronica, who established and runs the welcoming and inspirational Stiwdio Maelor, picked me up and took me to Dolgellau to stay with her until my residency started on Saturday. From Wednesday to Saturday, I battled jetlag, did a little research, and helped Veronica set up Maelor for Helfa Gelf, Art Hunt/Art Trail, a scheme where artists open their studios to the public. Maelor will open each Saturday in September, though not many people dropped in yesterday, mainly because of the weather. It was raining ‘old women and sticks’, as they say in the Welsh (Mae hi'n bwrw glaw hen wragedd a ffyn).

This morning, the weather had cleared and I went for a walk along the road leading out of Corris and then went up an old forestry track. As I strolled past hawthorn and blackthorn hedges, past oak, ash and rowan trees (with their bulging bunches of red berries), past stone channels and water courses jostling with rain burst, as I scrambled through a birch and fir wood along a soggy trail, as I listened to gossiping robins and finches, all the while foraging for blackberries, their juicy sweetness bursting in the mouth, I felt jetlag and creative concerns drop away, my whole body slowing to the open rhythms of the land. A good omen for my own ‘art hunt’.

Below are some photos taken during my walk:

A view up the valley towards Corris 
Tasty blackberries. If they come off the branch with a slight tug, they are juicy and sweet.
If more pressure is needed, they sometimes have a slight hardness and bitterness to them.
Rock and moss
Vigorous undergrowth

Rowan berries
Part of the forestry track

That’s it for now. I hope you will enjoy my postings from Britain and, as always, I welcome any comments.

Cofion Cynnes/Warm wishes


Hannercymraes said...


Anonymous said...

As you explore the hills and search the valleys I hope the Celtic sounds come bursting out in beautiful words for you. Love John I.

Earl Livings said...

Thanks, Liz and, for your kind words. I went for a walk yesterday and felt quite at home. Cheers, Earl

Earl Livings said...

That should have read 'Liz and John'. Damn autocorrect. All the best to you both for your own writing. Love, Earl

Cattyrox said...

Raining old women and sticks! What a great phrase.

Earl Livings said...

Yeah, I love it, too, Catherine. Best

Christine Thillaimuthu said...

Great you've settled in, lovely descriptions and phots.
You may know it but I noticed the last 4 chapters of the Emma Jung and Marie Louise von Franz
book The Grail Legend are about Merlin, all Germanically footnoted. Might be of interest

Enjoy Christine

Earl Livings said...

HI Christine, Thanks for your comments. I didn't know about the chapters on Merlin. Thanks for that. I'll have to look it up when I get a chance. All the best.