The start to our week of walking in the Yorkshire Dales and we began with an easy stroll along the banks of the river Ribble. The name ‘Ribble’ is thought to derive from the Breton word ‘Ribl’ meaning ‘riverbank’. The river begins in the Yorkshire Dales in Ribblesdale, at at a spot called Gavel Gap high on the moor above Newby Head. It’s a famous salmon river and in the Autumn it’s possible to watch salmon leaping up the various waterfalls along its course.
But we’re here in May, and it’s the time of bluebells and wild garlic.
Ribblesdale is the best known walking area in the National Park and features Yorkshire’s famous Three Peaks – Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent (more about the last on my next post) – offering challenging walks and amazing views. This short walk is the easiest section of the Ribble Way.
The weir at Longcliffe.
We passed the remains of old cotton and snuff mills, industries long gone now but the houses that were the homes for many of the labourers still stand, strong buildings many built of the local grit stone.
Nearby is the town of Settle where the hydro harnesses the river to create clean, green electricity.
Photograph courtesy of settlehydro.org.uk/
The Hydro is powered by water from the Ribble immediatelyabove the weir, through a sluice gate, down what is called the Archimedes Screw (the turbine) and back into the Ribble just after the base of the weir. Electricity is generated by the falling water rotating the turbine which, in turn, drives a generator. The electricity is fed by a direct line to the old mill building which is now apartments. Any electricity not needed by the apartments is fed into the National Grid.
It was a lovely easy trail, the weather was good, a perfect stroll through the fields and on the Settle bridleway.
And perfect for the photographer to capture two of his favourite subjects… Water and reflections.
Our main aim for this walk was to see Stainforth Force,the two metre high cascade waterfallwhere the salmon leap in the Autumn.
There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.
Today I am thrilled to welcome Juliet Greenwood, a friend for many years, and a brilliant writer. Juliet is sharing her special memoriesLlyn Idwal, a lake near Snowdon in Wales.
I have so many places in my memory that remain vivid over time. The one I have chosen has been familiar since childhood, and is one I hope to visit again very soon. Oddly enough, it’s less than six miles from my cottage in Snowdonia, but because it was just outside our five-mile range from home during the pandemic lockdowns, and since these have eased I’ve had a puppy whose joints need protecting, I haven’t been there since 2019. It’s a place that’s both private and very public, both accessible and isolated, and one that is filled with atmosphere, images and stories.
The place is Llyn Idwal, a small, beautifully clear, lake that lies a short walk up from the main A5 road between the university city of Bangor, on the coast, and Snowdon itself. During the day, and particularly in summer, it is popular with tourists from all over the world. But if, like me, you live only a few minutes away by car, it’s still possible to arrive at first light, when it’s almost completely isolated, with just the occasional serious climber heading out for a day on the surrounding peaks of Tryfan, the Glyders and Y Garn.
Being surrounded by high mountains, the light and the colours caught in the lake’s waters are constantly shifting, caught within a huge silent bowl, sometimes utterly still, with a sense of vast space and silence, at other times savage with wind and rain. At the far end is a cleft in the rock called the Devil’s Kitchen. I can remember my imagination being fired as a child by the stories that, when cloud rises up like smoke above the kitchen, you know the devil is cooking up his tea. It’s always a reminder of the uncontrolled and (if you are not careful and treat the landscape with respect) perilous wildness of the mountains, where, from the tops, you can see the train chugging away, taking visitors up Snowdon, or look down on the sea and mountains stretching out into the distance, and feel your own smallness and insignificance.
My favourite memories are of those occasional calm and cloudless mornings, when the lake itself is utterly still, with occasional ripples from the breeze. Especially in the silent clarity of first light, it has a mournful air that perfectly reflects the legend of Prince Idwal being drowned in the lake by his enemies, and the saying that no bird has since flown over its waters. There’s a feeling of being in a true wilderness there, a place to breath in clean air, clear the mind and put troubles into perspective. As a writer, it’s also the perfect place to work out particularly knotty plot lines. Not that you can concentrate on anything but watching your feet and drinking in the atmosphere, but I usually find that the mind has been quietly working underneath while the body has been doing its thing, and the solution is there once I arrive home, tired but exhilarated and desperate for toast and a strong pot of coffee.
It’s one of those place I’ve always taken for granted. The last time I went up, on a crystal clear late autumn morning in 2019, I – like everyone else I met on the way down, cheerful and friendly, and enjoying this accessible piece of wild beauty – had no idea how life was about to change. Where I walk my dog each morning nearly my house, I can see the mountains surrounding Llyn Idwal. It was a weird feeling during the pandemic to have them so close, and yet forbidden. Similarly, there was an even stranger conflict of the idyllic quiet of a landscape devoid of tourists, which now belonged only to those of us who live here, and the frightening events of the world outside.
In this vast landscape of the mountains, there was a glimpse of a world without human beings, the birds louder, the seasons quietly turning without us. When my car battery went flat (the only thing he was called out to, during lockdown, the recovery man told me wryly), I drove up the valley to recharge it, turning round as I reached the entrance to Llyn Idwal and the edges of my permitted range. I couldn’t resist stopping briefly and winding down the windows. Despite not daring to turn the engine off in case I couldn’t start it again (the mortification!), the silence and the stillness was overwhelming. Unnerving, even, like a post-apocalyptic world. For all my longing to be there after so many months, and the frustration of being so close to the lake, I hastily dashed back to the busy throng of my characters, with all their noisy troubles and conflicts.
I have so many memories of Llyn Idwal, going up as a small child, and in all weathers as an adult. It will be strange going back after the intensity of the time since I was last there. Like most of us, I’m still processing the emotions of the pandemic, and I shall have sad, as well as joyful, memories of the beloved four-legged walking companion who adored it up there, and whose time came to an end before we could go again. But I shall also have my new little walking companion, who will be deliriously discovering a new world (we’ve already had the conversation about sheep). And I’ll be remembering that, in the meantime, I’ve had another two books published, with a third completed, and now on its way to being published this May, and just how amazing that is – something you forget when you are in the middle of it all!
I know that when I so go back to Llyn Idwal, I’ll wait for one of those brilliantly magical early mornings, when I can get up there at dawn, and savour the stillness and the sense of isolation, before returning down amongst the walkers making their way up, exchanging greetings, as people (and dogs) in the mountains do, and sharing the beauty of the day and the privilege of sharing this very special place. And then I shall return to my desk and corral my Shakespeare sisters into doing what I tell them, rather than heading off on a tangent. I shall fail, of course (characters always do their own thing), which may well require another dawn adventure to the calming waters of Llyn Idwal….
Bio and Links
Juliet Greenwood is a historical novelist, whose latest novel, The Shakespeare Sisters, set near Stratford-upon-Avon during WW2, will be published in May 2023 with Storm Publishing. She has previously been published by Orion and Honno Press, with her first novel being a finalist for The People’s Book Prize and two of her books reaching the top 5 in the UK Kindle store. She has always been a bookworm and a storyteller, writing her first novel (a sweeping historical epic) at the age of ten. Juliet is fascinated both by her Celtic heritage and the history of the women in her family. She now lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia, North Wales, set between the mountains and the sea, with an overgrown garden (good for insects!) and a surprisingly successful grapevine.
Delighted to share my review for the latest release by D.L. Finn – In the Tree’s Shadow: A collection of stories that exist in your dreams… and nightmares.
About the collection
A collection of short stories where dreams and nightmares co-exist.
Nestled inside these pages, you’ll meet a couple in their golden years who take a trip with an unexpected detour, a boy desperate to give his brother the Christmas gift he asked for, a girl with a small glass dragon who is at the mercy of her cruel uncles, or a young mother who has the same dream about murder.
You’ll be introduced to worlds where people get second chances and monsters might be allowed their desires while angels and dragons try to help. Happy endings occur, but perspective can blur the line between good and evil in these twenty-seven tales.
Delighted to share the news of the latest book by Alex Craigie which I know I will be able to relate to and look forward to reading. A nostalgic trip down memory lane for those born in the post war years. The Rat In The Python: Book 1 The Home
About the book
If you haven’t heard of a liberty bodice, believe that half-a-crown is something to do with impoverished royalty and never had the experience of slapping a television to stop the grainy black and white picture from rolling, then this series might not be for you. Please give it a go, though – I suspect that most of it will still resonate no matter where you were brought up!
The Rat in the Python is about Baby Boomers who, in the stability following the Second World War, formed a statistical bulge in the population python. It is a…
Welcome to the round up of posts you may have missed this week on Smorgasbord.
Glad to report that the final small bits to the kitchen and the new counter top in the utility room are complete and we are back to normal which is great. I went shopping yesterday morning and when leaving the store I knew immediately that something was wrong.. I sounded like I was competing in a drag race with a revved up engine… and clearly my exhaust had cracked.. Thankfully our usual garage can take it on Monday morning… just when you think you have finished spending….. still it could be worse.
The baby starlings have fledged. They have been making a bit of a racket for the last couple of weeks in the hedges surrounding the house but on Wednesday they took flight and joined their parents at the Birdseed Cafe and Spa. They…
I have been experiencing problems accessing my Anchor account through spotify and there have been a few issues since Anchor moved across. I am going to be recording more material in a few weeks to upload to Soundcloud but in the meantime I hope that new readers to the blog and those who have heard these stories before will enjoy the rewind.
Tales from the garden is a collection I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid where we lived from 1999 to 2016. We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden.
This first story is about two very large lion statues that…
During this series I will be sharing my reviews for books I posted during 2022
Good books deserve to be showcased on a regular basis and I hope that it might entice you to either move the books up your groaning TBR’s or add the books to its burden!
This is my review from May 2022 for the gripping psychological thriller Means to Deceiveby Alex Craigie
About the book
Eighteen months ago, Gwen Meredith left the job she loved and came back to Pembrokeshire to help support her irritable and increasingly confused grandmother.
But someone is pursuing a vendetta against her.
As the attacks become more malicious, her old anxieties begin to build.
She’s attracted to her new neighbour who is keen to help…but can she trust him?
When those closest to her are threatened, her desperation mounts.
Who can she trust?
Home is where the love, the spare tennis balls, and the dog bed are. — Peri
[Excerpt from upcoming book]
O M D!
(O My Dog) by Peri Taub, PTWP*
*Pandemic Therapist With Paws
As transcribed by her person Barb Taub (whose opposable thumbs might as well be useful for something besides opening dog food…)
Barb was gone. I’m a dog, so object permanence isn’t my strong suit. I couldn’t tell if she’d been gone a week or a lifetime, but she was definitely gone. The Hub and I would have been okay, except for the return of the Bad Thing. Those epileptic seizures I’d been having ever since we got to England were coming more and more frequently, sometimes several a day. The Hub and I went to visit Jeremy the Vet, who said we should try tranquilizers. Well, that’s what we thought he said. But his French…
Delighted to share my review for the crime novel Remember No More ( D.S. Kite Mysteries) by Jan NewtonAbout the book
Newly promoted DS Julie Kite is at a crossroads. Her husband’s new job takes her away from urban Manchester and its inner city problems to a new life in tranquil mid-Wales. It is to be a new start for them both. On her first day at Builth Wells police station, Julie is thrust unexpectedly into the centre of a murder investigation in a remote farming community. At the same time, Stephen Collins is set free from HMP Strangeways. He immediately makes his way back to mid-Wales, the scene of his heinous crime, in order to confront those who had a hand in his incarceration.
The twists and turns of the investigation into the death of solicitor Gareth Watkin force DS Kite to confront her own demons alongside those…
I received an Arc of Lyrics for the Loved Ones from the author in return for an honest review, and I gave 4* to the book.
After half a century confined in a psychiatric hospital, Matty has moved to a care home on the Cumbrian coast. Next year, she’ll be a hundred, and she intends to celebrate in style. Yet, before she can make the arrangements, her ‘maid’ goes missing.
Irene, a care assistant, aims to surprise Matty with a birthday visit from the child she gave up for adoption as a young woman. But, when lockdown shuts the care-home doors, all plans are put on hold.
But Matty won’t be beaten. At least not until the Black Lives Matter protests burst her bubble and buried secrets come to light.
Will she survive to a hundred? Will she see her ‘maid’ again? Will she meet her long-lost child?
Rooted in injustice, balanced with humour, this is a bittersweet story of reckoning with hidden histories in cloistered times.
As always with Anne Goodwin’s work, Lyrics for the Loved Ones is a good story that is well written. This is the final episode of Matilda Windsor’s story.
I have previously reviewed both the first of Matty’s journey through life: Matilda Windsor Is Coming Homehere and the sequel: Stolen Summers : A heart-breaking tale of betrayal, confinement and dreams of escape (Matilda Windsor)here. And, as with both of these books I will reiterate my words from these reviews: “I can only say how much I admire this author’s writing style and her ability to draw the reader into the world of the characters.”
None of us live in a vacuum; what goes on within our communities, and in the wider world, affects us. This is the same for Anne Goodwin’s characters. This story is set against the background of the Covid Pandemic and the protests of Black Lives Matter. So there are themes of frustration, anger, prejudices, technical and political and societal changes running through the whole book.
And, as always with Anne Goodwin’s work, every scene that portrays all of these themes, all of the reactions of the characters, are brilliantly shown. As well as the description of the actual physicality of the settings. So we are in the lounge of the care home, the cemeteries where one character goes to talk with those she knew when they were alive, the homes of the characters, and Matty’s bedroom.
The reader is also in Matty’s head; we comprehend and appreciate the confusion of her thoughts of all that is happening around her. And because the author is so expert in showing Matty’s dementia we completely believe her perspective on everything.
But her point of view (told in third person) isn’t the only one; the book alternates with other characters’ perspectives. And the backgrounds change.
And this was my only reservation about how the plot is organised. For me, how these other characters fitted into the story was initially confusing. Many times I needed to read, go back in the narrative, and re-read some chapters, some sections, to understand where and when they fitted in Matilda’s life. And, I must admit, this did slightly spoil my enjoyment ofLyrics for the Loved Ones. Anne Goodwin has a great skilful talent for maintaining a suspension of disbelief – but with some of these characters, it was sometimes a struggle to be truly involved in the story.
And one character’s dialogue is written in dialect; at first in very strong, constant Cumbriandialect, but which later on in the story, is less so. (For which I was grateful; I felt it was hard enough not knowing how the character fitted in, without having to struggle with understanding what was said) To be fair though, the author did insert a page at the end of the book which is a glossary of terms on the dialect. Perhaps this might be better placed at the front of the book, especially in regards to the eBook? Just a thought.
None of the above takes away from the poignancyofMatilda Windsor’s story. She is a memorable protagonist. Through her life, her situation (which, unfortunately, was once all too true in British society not too long ago) the reader is taken through a whole range of human emotions: happiness and sadness, anger and acceptance, empathy and indignation.
I have to admit I have laughed and I have cried whilst reading each of these books. And, despite the personal reservations I’ve noted above, I have no reservations in thoroughly recommending all three to readers willing to take the journey with Matilda.
About Anne Goodwin:
Anne Goodwin’s drive to understand what makes people tick led to a career in clinical psychology. That same curiosity now powers her fiction.
Anne writes about the darkness that haunts her and is wary of artificial light. She makes stuff up to tell the truth about adversity, creating characters to care about and stories to make you think. She explores identity, mental health and social justice with compassion, humour and hope.
A prize-winning short-story writer, she has published three novels and a short story collection with small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.
Away from her desk, Anne guides book-loving walkers through the Derbyshire landscape that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of award-winning short stories.
Llyn y Fan Fach is a glacial lake in the Brecon Beacons situated beneath Picws Du mountain, the second highest peak of the Carmarthen Fans in the Carmarthenshire section of the Black Mountain in the west of the Brecon Beacons. (The name Brecon Beacons has recently reverted to its old Welsh name, Bannau Brycheiniog, which means “the peaks of Brychan’s kingdom”)
For anyone interested Brychan Brycheiniog was a legendary 5th-century king of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire, alternatively Breconshire in Mid Wales.
Brychan depicted in a window of the church in Brecon, Wales.
There is one thing I want to say before we go any further with this post.
Never believe the stats!
Distance: 9.2 miles (14.8km) circuit (Let’s just say Circuitous! Or, if you’re really wanting to be pedantic – like a dog’s hind leg… or two!) Elevation gain: 720m (Gain is the right word. The exhilaration of getting anywhere near that height makes one feel as if one has reached the top of the world. If you can get enough breath to get that far!) Difficulty:Moderate (if you can call the initial mile of a one in ten ratio upwards on a stony, gravelly track, followed by steeper narrow paths – Moderate.
The Llyn y Fan Fach car park near is reached by a winding single track road (with the added bonus of few signposts in an area that the SAT NAV doesn’t recognise – we went in a complete circle at one point) and is remote with no facilities. At all (Am I selling it to you yet? Hmm? Well… I will… later. Honest.).
All the previous being said, we had a wonderful day’s walk. Hike… I should have said hike, here(Or even … climb!)
Actually, when we arrived there was a group of young people from London who were walking the area as part as their Duke of Edinburgh Award. Very chatty – when they stopped to get their breath – which was as often as us. So I didn’t feel that decrepit!
And, of course, we had a picnic sitting by Lyn y Fan Fach, a beautiful lake surrounded by magnificent craggy mountain peaks. Sheltered by a wall, with the sun warm on our backs, we watched the grass swaying under the clear water, the surface a glistening reflection of the sky. The only sounds were the rustling of the wind, the cries of the skylarks, and, in the distance, the faint voices of people walking along the ridges of the Picws Du mountain
Which gave the photographer a chance to peruse the area.
Llyn y Fan Fach is renowned for Welsh Folklore. One folklore legendis the myth of ‘The lady of the lake’. In the folktale, a young farmer of the 13th century spotted the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen emerge from the lake, she was a princess from the kingdom of fairies. He courted the fairy princess by baking her bread and after three attempts he succeeded in winning her hand in marriage on the condition that if he hit her three times she would leave him. He complied easily because she was so beautiful and they were happy for years bringing up a family at his farm near Myddfai, with her magic dowry of farm animals. In time the inevitable happened he hit his wife (reported as apparently playfully!?) and she disappeared back into the lake taking her prized animals with her, leaving the farmer with her sons. The sons once grown became known as the “Physicians of Myddfai” who became physicians to the English royal court..
Further to the east, beneath the peak of Fan Brycheiniog, there is another larger lake called Llyn y Fan Fawr. These lakes and peaks can be visited through a combination of mountain walks. We studied the climb to the right. A very steep climb. And decided to take the easier routeto the left.Easier for some – see below – the photographer in the distance, eager to get more photo opportunities.
It was so clear we could the rise and fall of the land for miles, it was stunning.
The path often disappeared under the mounds of long tough tussock grass and patches of boggy water. Though awe inspiring it felt very isolated: a few people far above us on the ridges of Fan Brycheiniog, a man striding, then sitting down, in the distance, a group of young men studying compasses and maps.We stopped – often – when skylarks rose and fluttered in front of us, desperate to take us away from their nests in the undergrowth. The wind came in strong cold bursts, and after we’d walked another mile, we knew, however disappointing it was, that we should turn back; not try to reach the other lake, Llyn y Fan Fawr, beneath the peak of Fan Brycheiniog, The speed we were going, we would chance being there after dark. Perhaps we shouldn’t have lingered so long at the first lake.Or set out earlier in the day. Or not got lost.
So, after a couple of photo shots, we made our way back across the land and down the track to the car. The Duke of Edinburgh students were still somewhere on the ridge. Knowing how they had dreaded the climb I didn’t envy them. And yet, not having achieved what we set out to do…
Still, a wonderful day in all.
Until the next time we attempt this walk …. or not.
When I was a child my mother took me every Saturday to the small library in our village. I was allowed six books – usually all read by the Wednesday (I was one of those kids who read by torchlight under the bedclothes – and got away with it for years!) I would then wait, not always patiently, until the weekend, when we would go again. I think it was a great relief to both my mother and myself when I was at last allowed to walk to the library by myself.
By the way…In the very olden days libraries were named from the Latin “liber”, meaning “book.” In Greek and the Romance languages, the corresponding term is “bibliotheca”. Or, if you want to go with the medieval version “Calque of Old English bōchord (‘library, collection of books’), equivalent to book + hoard.”
Just thought you might want to know that.
Anyway, when I was a child – libraries were just… libraries. The place one went to to borrow books. For free!!
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today, libraries are still one of the few free services left. Libraries are used for many different reasons; they contain not only books. magazines, newspapers, manuscripts, but also CDs, DVDs, e-books, audiobooks etc. They connect us to information.And, important in these days, they are also community hubs where authors (if they’re lucky) can go to give talks, hold workshops. It’s where people can connect with other people. They are safe havens.
Reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do, so what we need to make sure of is that future generations have the opportunity to do just that. Books represent the chance for us not only to enjoy the work of so many brilliant writers, but to also to grow, to change, to see life from other points of view. We will only ever see life through our own perspective … unless we read.
In our area, the Pembrokeshire County Council has approved its budget for 2023-24. We will have a Council Tax rise of 7.5%. It would be wonderful if the value of libraries and librarians were understood; if those in authority – those with access to their council budgets – acknowledged this importance for every generation. If enough funding were to ploughed into libraries to preserve them.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Each month on the Libraries Wales website, they focus on introducing an author based in or writing about Wales. I am thrilled to be the author for April 2023.And I am more than happy, alongside other friends who are also writers, to talk about the value of books and the enjoyment of reading.Just give us the chance!!
Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.
I hope the week has gone well for you and thanks for dropping in today and for all the visits and comments during the week. I love putting the blog together and your support is definitely the icing on the cake.
All the cupboards are cleared in the kitchen except for what we need on a daily basis and some extra cups for coffee and tea for the crew coming in soon to put the new units in.
Our office is in the diner part of the kitchen so I will decamp to the dining room where I plan to sort through all the hundreds of photos we took in America during our two years living in Houston and travelling all around the country. I have decided to publish my letters that I sent home…
In January 2016 I began a series that I was intending to publish as a book but instead I shared on the blog in a series four years ago and I hope new readers to the blog will enjoy reading.
The R’s of Life by Sally Cronin
The title came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’.
The posts are a bit longer than the average…so I hope you have a cup of tea handy!
It is always so easy to criticise and I don’t want these observations on the aspects of life that I have experienced to be completely negative. However, there are some human traits that seem to be devolving rather than evolving and I don’t believe…