I wander round the garden and pick some hellebores for the kitchen table. Everywhere the snowdrops, which have been lurking for weeks in tight bud, are open to the sun. Under the apple trees are the promise of daffodils in great fat snouts, green but here and there the odd one faintly flushed with yellow. There is enough warmth in the sun for me to sit outside, wrapped in my scarf and with three layers on, to drink my cup of tea. The sun on the hills is shouting at me to come out, to walk up and up. The dog has been ready for a walk, in her gentle undemanding way, for about an hour. She heard me take my coat from the hook and whizzed through into the kitchen hopefully. She has pottered about the garden with me quite happily but when I come out of the house with the lead in my hand up goes the tail like a flag and off we go. I love the way the dog's joy at a walk is renewed every day.
Up the lane we go, Ian setting a pace which has me slightly out of breath. Behind us we hear the sound of a tractor with a large trailer behind it labouring up the hill. We stand to one side on the grass and call the dog to come and sit by us until the tractor has passed. The driver raises a hand in acknowledgement.
The view begins to open out on our left, the valley gently falling away behind the bare hedge and the head of the valley rising to the ridge and the Bronze and Iron Age hillforts of Moel Arthur and Penycloddiau.
Everything is sharp and clear: the catkins on the hazels, the water running clear down the side of the lane. Up and up, I am into my stride now. I feel I could go for miles. The tarmacked road runs out and becomes a rough track. Up here are trees shaped by the winds. The sheep which live out on top of the hills for most of the year are down in the small fields by the farm, already broad and clumsy with the new lambs yet to be born. The track stops in a tiny informal car park. We go through the gate so that we can look down at the Vale, over to Snowdonia and down to the sea.
The view here is too big for my camera but right in front of me the bare trees catch the falling sun in long shadows. I think, as I often do at the moment when I walk, how much my father would have loved it up here. And we turn back for home.