About the Photographs

(1) Old stone figure
This old stone figure is set into the wall of a house near to the town Abergavenny in South Wales, where I live. It could be Celtic, or maybe Roman, because there is evidence of a Roman camp nearby. The Welsh are mainly a Celtic people, and Welsh (Cymraeg) is one of the Celtic languages that are still in everyday usage, though now only by a minority of people living in Wales.

(2) In the Black Mountains
The area where I live is wonderful walking country. This is taken from Offa’s Dyke Path, which forms the north-south boundary between England and Wales, and dates back to the 8th century AD.  Just out of sight in the Ewyas valley below is the village of Capel-y-ffin, where the English  artist-craftsman Eric Gill (1882) -1940) lived for part of his life.

(3) Ancient sweet chestnut tree
Ancient trees can be recognised by their girth. The Woodland Trust is mapping ancient trees in the UK  (www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk) This one, near the village of Llangenny in the county of Powys , is a veteran tree with a girth of 7.6 metres, or 5 hugs.

(4) Table Mountain
This distinctively-shaped hill is the site of a 2,500 year-old hill fort called Crug Hywel which gives its name to the town at its foot, called Crickhowell  in English.

(5) Fly agaric mushrooms
Although found wild throughout the northern hemisphere when conditions are warm and damp, these mushrooms have a particular Celtic connection. They were used by the Druids of the ancient Celtic tribes for medicinal and spiritual purposes.  They are hallucinogenic.

(6) In the Grwyne Fechan valley, near Llanbedr 
These photograph was taken in late September, but the woodlands of oak, beech and other deciduous trees in the Black Mountains are beautiful at all seasons.

(7) Sheep
Wales is sheep country. Lamb from the sheep which roam the hills is the sweetest meat!

(8) Daffodils
The national flower of Wales, photographed here in March in a wood near Crickhowell.

(9) Wildflowers on Skirrid Fach
Red campion  (in the foreground) and foxgloves flower in profusion in early summer on Skirrid Fach  (Little Skirrid), to the east of Abergavenny, which, like Rome, has seven hills.  The one on the left is called the Blorenge.

(10) Patrishow churchyard
Patrishow is a tiny old church, hidden along a minor road in the Black Mountains.

(11) Patrishow Church
The sun shining through stained glass throws colours onto the stone of the window alcove.

(12) Green Man
The Green Man – a sculpture of a face surrounded by leaves – is found in many cultures as a symbol of rebirth.  There is a Celtic deity called Viridios, meaning green man.  This one, in a visitor centre in the Brecon Beacons, has been made literally green by the moss growing on him!

(13) A sea of mist
Sometimes in the Welsh hills, especially in the mornings, there is a blanket of mist at low level, but when you climb up you can get above it, into the sunshine. Looking down, the mist is like the sea.

(14) Newport, Pembrokeshire
The real sea!  West Wales in early December.

(15) The Pembrokeshire coast
Walking the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in the south-western corner of the country gives you ever-changing views.  In April the gorse flowers in profusion.

(16) On the coastal path
The walking isn’t easy – steep ups and downs!

(17) Cliffs, Pembrokeshire
You can see clearly how the rocks have been lifted from the horizontal to the vertical.

(18) Seals
Seals gather safely on a beach inaccessible to walkers – we peer down from the high cliff edge.

(19) Wood in West Wales
Magical and mystical trees.

(20) The southernmost point of Wales
The coast in South-East Wales, not far to the west of Cardiff.  This and the next two photographs show different aspects of the shoreline in this area.

(21) Rock pools
Rock  pools left by the retreating tide on Southerndown Beach, a favourite with families.

(22) Ogmore-by-sea
Lots of sheltered nooks and crannies – a place to while away an afternoon with a good book.

(23) Franklin’s
The place to eat in Ogmore.  Fish and chips coming.  Sauces at the ready.

(24) St Fagans
The  Italian garden at St Fagans’ Castle, near Cardiff.

(25) Sweetie jars
The glass jars are no more, but you can still buy old-style sweeties to remind you of your childhood.

(26) The Sugarloaf
When we’re driving back to Abergavenny and this hill comes into view we know we’re nearly home. The Sugarloaf is so-called as its shape from this angle resembles the shape of the old loaf of sugar.

(27) Oak trees on the Deri
The Deri is one of the foothills of the Sugarloaf.  Deri is Welsh for oaks.

(28) A remote track
Wales may not be a very big country but there are lots of places you can go where you’ll meet no-one.

(29 Abandoned
One that didn’t make it.

(30) Aberglasney Gardens
Long-neglected but now restored to glory, one of the three walled gardens at Aberglasney near Carmarthen.

(31) Buddha and hand
A friend’s garden near Abergavenny.

(32) Ancient oak tree
This ancient oak is in the grounds of Raglan Castle. Its girth is 4.5 metres, or 3 hugs.

(33) The Cat’s Back
It’s not difficult to see how this hill got its name. It’s a tradition in the Abergavenny Women’s Walking Group to walk here just before Christmas.

(34) On the ridge
Literary connections here – although it’s brown with bracken, this is The Black Hill of Bruce Chatwin’s “On the Black Hill” and just to the west is the Olchon Valley, the setting for Owen Sheers’ novel “Resistance”.

(35) A different wood
A brief excursion to North Wales.  Rhododendrons and acers in late November, in the woods at Portmeirion.

(36) Rhododendron stems
Growing fat as tree trunks.

(37) Portmeirion village
An Italianate village on the North Wales coast, created in the 1920s by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis.   It was the setting for the cult TV series “The Prisoner”.

(38) The Welsh Dragon
The national flag flies at Portmeirion. 

(39) Winter 2009
We can go for a whole winter in South Wales and see no snow. Not so recently.  In 2009 the snow coated the Castle Meadows by the River Usk in Abergavenny before Christmas.

(40) Abergavenny in the snow
In 2010 the snow came in November, even before it was officially winter!  Here we are on the lower slopes of the Sugarloaf, looking down over our town to the Little Skirrid.