WALES 2013. An interlude in which I introduce Local Issues and Mrs. Manure.

An interlude:

Last year when we arrived here we discovered that the people who own the bungalow had put a notice up claiming that part of the ground just beyond the front garden was reserved for parking for the bungalow. This followed all the work they had carried out extending the bathroom and kitchen, so presumably they had gone through all the planning permissions and everything. In fact we only used it once, discovering that with the new car being larger it wasn’t convenient for getting the girls in and out of the back. This year we arrived at found that while that notice was still there, one of the neighbours had parked their car in it, while another space was marked out in white spray paint with the number of another of the bungalows, number 70. Another area was sprayed with the letters F.A.

As we were unloading the car an anxious looking lad suddenly appeared and said, hastily, that he’d move his car for us despite us explaining that it really didn’t matter because we wouldn’t be using it anyway. Nevertheless he did move it.

Turns out there is a Local Issue going on. We found this out because one afternoon we became abruptly re-acquainted with a neighbour we first met last year when she needed help shifting stuff she had got delivered to our garden but which was for hers. She is, it has to be said, disabled in some way and uses a wheeled support frame to negotiate the loose slate path from her garden to where she parks her car. And it is the parking of her car that is the Local Issue, for it is she who claims the space for number 70, while the other neighbours park wherever they like.

As I said we first me this lady last year when she had arranged for some stuff to be delivered to the garden of our holiday bungalow. Whether she had agreed this with the owners we will never know, we didn’t see any need to trouble them with this even if she hadn’t, but she didn’t say that she had. What she did do was ask us to help move the stuff.

Did this seem unreasonable? Well, the items in question were large and heavy and the company that had delivered them had clearly refused to take them down the awkward path to her own garden, yet here she was asking complete strangers to do it instead. I have to say that I mentally bristled at this. And, straight away, we noticed that she didn’t listen to a thing we said about having been to Wales before. In fact Drew explained that he had been visiting the area for the best part of 30 years, but this seemed to go in one ear and out the other because she kept advising us about places we had already said we were familiar with which we perceived as an attempt to curry favour.

We had forgotten about all this until one early evening when the dogs started going beserk. She had arrived home, parked her car in an available space, not her own, and was seeking assistance in carrying her shopping from the car to her bungalow. This, it turned out as Drew carried it for her and I tried to calm the girls, gave her a marvelous opportunity to lay out the Local Issue of the parking in great detail in which she was portrayed as The Victim and made mention of legal action. Drew made some neutral noises and said we weren’t going to use the official space for our bungalow so if she wanted to use it she was more than welcome.

Imagine my surprise, though, when he came back wearing a slightly shell-shocked expression on his face. Somehow, in the five minutes of being a personal courier he had not only heard (again) about all the local attractions and the Local Issue but had agreed to go with her in her car to a local stables and collect bags of manure and then lug it from her car to her garden! From that moment on she has become known as Mrs. Manure, or Manure Lady.

She is, it seems, one of life’s perpetual victims who is willing to use other people and has spent years honing the skill of seeming to be really interested in other people (specifically the ones she wants to get something out of) while not actually being interested in them at all. For example when she asked me what we thought of Barmouth, I said “Oh, it’s great. We’ve been there loads of times before,” she had already turned away to fiddle in her car. She resolutely fails to remember that the dogs are both girls and that Charley doesn’t like being fiddled with by strangers. She also told us that she had purposefully parked her car in an awkward place just so that we could put ours in its official spot, when in fact we knew that the only reason she had parked there was because the other neighbours had parked in the space she claims as her own. Perhaps her name should be Mrs. Disingenuous.

I also had the misfortune to overhear a confrontation between Mrs. Manure and one of the other neighbours and it has to be said that although he could have put his car somewhere else very easily, she still had plenty of room for hers, he remained very calm and reasonable while she chuntered on and on and on until he just walked away leaving her in a state of self-righteous indignation. (She also blames all the un-picked up dog-poo on their puppy!)

Interesting, too, that she has built her fence higher than any other fence on the estate, effectively screening herself from the outside, and that she apparently has no contact with any other person living here. In fact, when she was talking to us one afternoon as we were trying to get the dogs in the car her immediate neighbour, another lady who lives by herself and who is not involved in the Local Issue because she doesn’t have a vehicle of any sort, walked past. Mrs. M pointedly said hello to her, but this lady glared at her for a moment and kept right on walking. I think that says it all.

Fortunately Drew did not have to move any manure at all. It rained all that weekend and Mrs. M. has not mentioned it again whenever we’ve seen her. Perhaps she found some other mugs to do it for her. It has put a little bit of a blight on things because we have made an effort not to run into her, although she seems to have an uncanny knack of appearing whenever we set foot outside, and we don’t really want the other people to think we’re siding with her over the Local Issue. We’re only here for two weeks every year and quite frankly, don’t give much of a shit either way!

So, interlude over. Normal service will resume very shortly.

Saturday morning.

Good Saturday morning to you, dear readers.

I am currently sitting on the sofa in our front room feeling a little chilly because the back door is open and a cold breeze is intruding on our cosiness. Lola is curled up and leaning against my left hip and Charley is across the room, sound asleep on Drew’s armchair. Around us there are several bags of clothes and bedclothes, packed and ready to be loaded into the car. Out of sight in the dining room the table is crowded with tins, jars and many other food stuffs as well as cleaning materials and a bag containing some DVDs, books and magazines. I will leave the packing of the food and so on to Drew, not through any laziness on my part but because he is very particular about the process, just as he is when packing the car.

We are not as far advanced in our preparations as I would have liked to have been, but we are aiming to have set off in the next three hours so we arrived in Fairbourne at a decent time. And, more importantly, in time for this week’s episode of “Doctor Who.” I have that pleasant bubbling sensation of excitement in my belly. It scarcely seems believable that today has come – I’ve been anticipating it since the evening we arrived home last year.

Late yesterday afternoon we went down the road for tea with our good friends. This was great because we hadn’t seen each other for ages and we didn’t really want to have gone away without seeing them. Going round earlier than usual meant we got to play with their son, who is adorable. He is one of those little boys who already has a grown-up face, if you know what I mean. Some kids faces change as they mature but others seem to have their features already fully developed, albeit in a smaller and softer way and he is one of this little group. That he is very bright there is no doubt and he already shows a great interest in how things work, from the mechanism that controls the parasol over their garden table to his parents’ phones. I predict a future in design and/or engineering.

Ah, I’m back after a break of doing stuff. Drew is about to embark on packing the car and I need to turn this off. I will check in when we arrive, probably.





Snow In The Afternoon

Hello, Dear Readers.

Well, yesterday afternoon we finally had the snow that the weather forecasters have been warning us about for a week or so. Parts of the country have had at least ONE WHOLE FOOT of snow and we got…. about one centimetre, if that.


I like snow, you see.

In fact I like extreme weather conditions (extreme by British standards, that is) because you cannot help but be reminded how no matter how thoroughly humans might surround themselves with technology there is no escaping the machinations of Mother Nature. My parents were always amused by the way my usual reluctance to leave the house would vanish if there was a thunderstorm, gale force winds, fog or snow. And I’m still like that; I love nothing more than leaving the house at 6.30 in the morning when the fog has come down or if it’s belting down with rain or when a ton of snow has been deposited overnight. I should point out here that I’m equally as happy to walk to work of a morning during the summer when the sun is already out and the air has yet to be tinged with the smell of petrol from the morning traffic.

By mid-morning yesterday’s snow had vanished where the sun had hit it, just clinging to the roofs of the houses opposite and the bonnets, roofs and boots of the cars still in the shade. What an anti-climax. I felt sorry for the child I heard yesterday saying to her Mum that she was going to use left-over Christmas wishes to wish for there to lots and lots of snow while she was asleep so that she could make a snowman. She must have gone eagerly to her window this morning hoping to see a winter wonderland and instead been confronted with a damp, slushy disappointment. However at about half two this afternoon I looked up and noticed that it was snowing quite hard and this time it was laying. I found my camera and took some photos out of the windows. Lola followed me upstairs and sat on the bed looking at the snow falling through the blind.

Our car (it’s actually more of a terracotta colour than this photograph shows.)

The view down the street.

Our cold car, Fennella the Ford Fusion.

Lola watches the snow intently.


There is a video of her grumbling away and eventually barking at the snow, but I can’t get Xanga to upload it, which is really annoying.

There will probably be more snow overnight although I’m not sure how much. I’m on the early shift tomorrow which means I shall be up at 5am and leaving the house at 6.30 when it will still be cold and icy! By then there will be frost and freezing fog as well as the new snowfall. I’d better attach the crampon thingies to my trainers before setting off (and hope I get to work still wearing both of them, unlike last year when I arrived at work walking rather lop-sidedly.) It could be an eventful trek.