Monday 28 June 2010


This is the weather for bimbling, and bimbling was what I did on Saturday, after handing Katie over at Checkpoint Chav, deep in the West Midlands motorway network.

So I headed for the Malvern Hills, which manage to look even more dramatic in close up than they do from the M5, whence I usually hail them in passing. I didn't try going up and over the top, though, as I'm being kind to my gearbox. It is surprisingly easy to get along without using third gear, but even so, you can't be too careful...

...and then through Herefordshire, and to the flanks of the Black Mountains, and Llangua, on the bank of the Monnow. Unusually, the village is on the east bank but is in Wales, with Herefordshire and England on the West bank. The border follows the river, and the river, in these parts, follows its inclinations. As far as Monmouth, anyway.

The church stands on its own, some distance from the village. It's very small, but, on this hot summer afternoon, bustling with activity; there was a wasps' nest on the bellcote, and the wasps were zooming to and fro in a piratical manner.

A buzzard drifted by. I walked along the river, admiring the big brown trout that glid silently through the brown water in the shadow of the trees. Sand martins flitted in and out of their nests in the sandy bank at the river's bend. A kingfisher swooped away from its branch as I approached. A train passed invisibly, on its way to Abergavenny from Hereford. There was an outbreak of bleating from the local sheep.

I slid into the river and swam gently against the current for a while. The water was just cool enough to be refreshing and welcome after the heat of the afternoon. Then I got my camera and balanced gingerly back into the water for the photograph up there at the top. Then I splashed out onto the opposite bank, inadvertently trapping a huge shoal of tiny trout in the shallows; the water frothed furiously as they tried to evade me. So I circled round, and shooed them back out into the deep water.


  1. As ever, your writing makes us feel as if we had been there with you - thank you.

  2. A cooling post on a hot day.

    wasps nests are nasty but very impressive.

  3. Euch, you have just brought back the memory of having to stop at chav festivals at motorway pitstops on our journey home. How I miss the strength of a young sphincter which cut down the number of such horrific meetings dramatically.

    Caroline xxx

  4. Ah yes, just the post to read while cooped up in a grey office dealing with grey people.

    I'd much rather be bimbling.

    You're courageous to take a 'box with no third on the motorway.

  5. Ah, memories! I once had an old Triumph with a wonky gearbox - I couldn't change up to 3rd or down to 2nd so the order was 1,2,4,3,1. Got a bit interesting in traffic, I recall.

  6. All sounds good. I once had my feet nibbled by a small shoal of Corfiote Bream. Juveniles of course. They know no better.

  7. Thank you, Delia! -it's raining today, and I'm hugging the memory of that afternoon to keep me warm.

    I've seen nests like that inside attics, Anji; I'm surprised that it is sufficiently weatherproof to be located outside like that, especially as it is right next to the Black Mountains, which are a very dark blue on those maps showing how much it rains. Coincidentally, I saw a bees' nest at Dore Abbey a short while before I took this picture; but their nest was deep in the heart of a Cistercian wall. I think bees are more monkish.

    The service station was fairly chavvy, Caroline; but it was mostly elderly women, debouching from coaches; all pretty much of a height, so that I was looking down and out on with a sea of blue-white helmet hair. Odd.

    I think tackling the Malvern Hills was a bit more bothering than the motorway, Jennie; but then tend to drive with 'faith et blind hope'...

    That does sound like an interesting arrangement, Angie; it is funny what you can get used to, isn't it? -I once did a motorbike journey with the throttle cable clamped to a Mole wrench held against the tank by my knee; fortunately, it was mostly open roads...

    I had to look up 'Corfiote', Graham. Gosh. Something similar happened to me in the Wye in the hot summer of 76; a very tingly sensation. Though I couldn't name the fish in question.