Long time no speak! It feels particularly autumnal here right now. I've already consumed the lion's share or not one, but two, crumbles (an apple and blackberry and a cherry), have had hairy encounters with a couple of muscle-bound spiders and the nights are most definitely drawing in.
|Betws-y-Coed, "False Autumn", August 2022|
Events have conspired in recent weeks to keep me from the keyboard. I'm now pretty familiar with the labyrinth of corridors and departments that is our local hospital after accompanying Mom to various appointments and also suddenly being called in myself for a minor op I had been waiting almost a year for.
I went in bright and early a couple of Sundays ago and almost had the ward to myself. The staff were attentive and thorough and by lunchtime, I was done. So far so simple I thought. Not so. I was prescribed a course of antibiotics - a belt and braces approach to infection avoidance, which I started taking later that day. But on Wednesday morning, I noticed I had what appeared to be a black eye. As I examined my reflection in a mirror, the area around my eye was swelling before my eyes (well my good eye), transforming me into the Phantom of the Opera.
I hurriedly arranged an appointment with my GP and was told to stop taking the antibiotics and immediately start taking antihistamines, as there was no infection in my wound. I had a tense 7 days, waking each morning and wondering where the swelling would be that day or if it would worsen. It seemed to move around my face each morning until eventually, it dissipated. I was told that it could possibly have been a reaction to the antibiotics, but that such swelling is also a very common reaction to illnesses such as flu (I have had a sniffle). Who knew?
My latest look was born of necessity until my stitches were removed.
I have also been busy organising my forthcoming photoshoot, which, now falls on a designated UK Bank Holiday, courtesy of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral. Mercifully, not one member of our little team of suppliers has backed out. We've all invested far too much time and effort to abandon our plans at this late stage.
Consequently - and with our first Autumn ground frost this morning - it seems like an age ago that we were basking in the balmy Welsh sunshine.
I'm going to rewind to the final couple of days of our getaway and our pilgrimage, on foot from the village, to one of the most remote churches in the UK, Llangelynnin Old Church. Positioned high on the hills above the Conwy Valley, some 900 feet above sea level, the church is dedicated to a local Saint, St Celynnin who lived in the 6th Century and probably established the first religious settlement on this site.
The views on the ascent were stunning.
It's hard to convey the isolation, but I did my best with some wide angle shots and a short video.
Within the church grounds, lies the Holy Well. It's possible that this was used by the Saint in the 6th century as a water supply or to baptise those who converted to Christianity. As time passed, locals believed the water to have magical healing properties, particularly for sick children. Clothing belonging to the sick children would be tossed into the water. If they floated, it was assumed that the child would recover.
People lived in the uplands before the wooded lowlands were cleared and the present hill tracks would have been the main routes in Celynnin's time. The church as it stands today dates from the 12th century and was in regular use for worship until 1840 when a new church was built down in the valley. In 1932 and 1987 major restorations of the church were carried out and now services are held here during the summer months and on special occasions.
The chancel is probably 14th century. You can just glimpse the remains of a boarded barrel roof in the photo above.
This fascinating skull and crossbones detail was discovered a when layers of time and whitewash were removed, revealing the Ten Commandments in Welsh.
Back outside, the clouds were playing to the camera...
A special place indeed...and for the record, after this particularly energetic workout, I should have doused myself in water from that Holy Well to ease my aching thighs for the next few days. For more on St Celynnin's, here's a short video.
Of course, we couldn't leave this part of Wales without paying a visit to Bodnant Garden, an NT managed, Grade I listed horticultural gem comprising 80 acres, just 10 minutes' drive from our cottage.