It is so easy to keep your nose far too close to the grindstone. This is a beautiful place but it is full of jobs to do and things to sort out. The house fills with ever increasing lists and half of what we do doesn't even make it to a list but yet takes all day. So on Thursday we had promised ourselves a day out, of the old fashioned variety with a packed lunch and a flask.
Probably about thirty years ago (gulp) Ian had been to a beach on Anglesey called Newborough Warren and had recommended it to younger son Chris and his girlfriend as a place to visit. Chris is not one of life's natural gushers so when he came home and said it was one of the most beautiful beaches he had ever seen, it had to be good. It features from time to time on the nature programmes on BBC Wales which I never knew about until I came here but which are a lovely and gentle way to settle into an early evening. The beach has a colony of wild ravens which live in the pine woods by the dunes and there is a plan to reintroduce red squirrels.
I made ham and chutney and cheese and tomato sandwiches with homemade bread and homemade chutney, local ham and our own tomatoes, made up a flask of coffee and packed bananas and Green and Blacks Chocolate. First we went to Ruthin, one of my favourite places around here, to its fabulous deli and then to a material shop packed like an Aladdin's Cave with rich and glowing fabric. As soon as I have made the cushion covers with my last haul of material I shall allow myself a trip back all by myself to linger and feel and come home armed with folds gold and red.
We drove slowly, through Betws Y Coed and over the high mountains, beautiful but bleaker and harsher than our soft green hills. Crossing the Britannia Bridge into Anglesey - Ynys Mon in Welsh - the landscape changes, is flatter, windswept, feels like an island. Newborough Warren is on the south west side of the island, a huge nature reserve of pine woods, sand dunes and wide sandy beaches. To the south are the mountains of Snowdonia, today barely seen looming darker grey against the dark grey sky. To the west is Ireland. Standing looking west across the sea in Cornwall or Wales or Scotland always gives me a strange tug at the heartstrings. However far west you are there are always more westerly islands just beyond the horizon, either shimmeringly seen or just out of view, towards the sunset, the promised land.
We walked to the lighthouse, the ravens flapping silently past us out to sea, talking and catching up with each other after too much time focussed outwards on other people and other duties. The wind whipped our faces, warm for the first day of November. Out towards the lighthouse stood an ancient celtic cross, inscribed more recently in the last century with a Welsh beyond my infant understanding.
Dark when we got home, the clocks gone back and winter around the corner. Time to light the stove and close the curtains. A good day out.