with a footnote by Malcolm Lindley
This year we penetrated further into "Wild Wales" to Snowdonia, where we were welcomed most generously by hosts Malcolm, Jayne and Angharad Lindley, with the assistance of Malcolm's mother, nine assorted cats and one dog.
The train journey was interesting, passing lots of castles, and Malcolm kindly drove me round Caernarfon on the way. A dozen TS members plus one cat, one dog and one baby arrived at various times on Friday, whereupon tents mushroomed in the adjoining field from which the cows had obviously been hastily exiled, and I took up my residence in the very comfortable caravan. This idleness on my part proved very useful since it gave us somewhere to socialise into the early hours of Saturday without disturbing our hosts, while we awaited the arrival of various latecomers, and also provided some very welcome hot showers on Saturday evening. Further, in deference to the susceptibilities of the resident cats, Goldie elected to share my bed and board in equal purring and hair shedding quantities.
On Saturday, after the deceptively leisurely breakfast in the sunlit garden, I was informed the Snowdon train party had departed and it was "shankses' or nothing! Under the stern gaze of Mike Towers we all donned boots and trousers, stowed food and drink in our packs, grabbed our thick jackets and departed. Goldie and the nine walkers remained to guard the premises, but the two dogs escorted us while Angharad directed the proceedings from Malcolm's back.
It all commenced as a typical Hobbit walking-party with lots of chat, pauses for photographs, and mild hysterics over stiles, but gradually we were sorted out as we toiled upwards over the shale, and dodging sharp-jutting slates, with guess-who at the tail end. Generously the leaders called a number of refreshment halts in the middle stages which enabled the rear to catch up. The temperature had by then reached some 80 degrees and certain mild animated versions were directed at Mike's instructions regarding suitable costume, though it was agreed that you never could tell, and meany envious as well as lascivious glances were cast at one young woman descending the slopes in a bikini. The final stages were bare and steep and I regret that I had to pack it in when I found myself on a long narrow ridge with very little footage and a nasty drop on both sides! Annie kindly oversaw my shuffle (on my bottom) back to a slightly flatter section, and then toiled to meet the others at the top. I was sorry not to finish the last lap, but was afterwards assured the view was obscured by heat-haze and that the bar had run dry! So I missed the dark and dangerous journey, but apparently Rivendell was not all it might have been
Meanwhile I descended, steering hopefully by the cairns and was relieved when Malcolm and Jayne appeared, with backpack and dog, heading back to start the barbecue and to welcome some kind and helpful neighbours. Once there they all rushed around to great effect - scattering interested cats at all junctures - and keeping a watchful eye for the rest of the party. They arrived at the last minute, having fallen into the nearest watering-hole at the bottom and then found that their muscles has seized up! After various pleas to sample the hot shower and calls on the experts to illuminate the scene, we enjoyed a magnificent meal in the garden, which gradually dwindled into a slow filling up of corners by everyone, including the suddenly sociable cats. Eventually the helpful neighbours departed and we all cleared up and collapsed into bed.
Sunday breakfast was again late and leisurely, except for Goldie's which I dimly recall she insisted should take place very early. Then Malcolm set up his "Sales" table in order that we could view and comment on the Tudor Mint collection. The figures were variable but interesting and will doubtless be reviewed in detail elsewhere. I found the crystals rather obtrusive but conversely felt that some colour was badly needed. Sadly, I had to depart early and Malcolm again drove me to Bangor, affording another view of Caernarfon Castle and the Menai Strait en route and I embarked on the long train journey home. This was not so peaceful as last year's since the schools were still out and the engine expired at Crewe! I understand that the remaining members indulged in an afternoon's hay-making, in case of threatened rain, so a good time was had by all and I trust that our hosts have since recovered.
Beware all ye who attend Summermoot at the North Wales main base of the "Bywater Post-Office and General Store" smial. It maybe that, just as you expect to leave for home you'll find that some Farmer Giles has clamped the wheels. Why would he do that?
"The man from Del-Monté, he say yes!", was the reply, and he pointed a gnarled hand toward a tractor bouncing over a field gathering loose hay at one end and dropping heavy bales out of the other.
"What has this to do with us?", the tired ascendants of mountains asked. It appeared that the keys to free the wheel-clamps were inadvertently attached to the twine currently being wrapped around the increasingly large number of bales lying in the field. It appears they had no choice.
Another tractor and trailer was summoned while Helen and Marian gathered loose hay missed previously for bailing while the others stacked the bales. Then everybody (Helen, Marian, Mike, Andy and Richard) loaded and unloaded three trailers full of hay and passed them into the barn to Mike who, true to his name, made towers of hay that reached the barn roof. Over eighty bales were moved in just over an hour.
Only after all was safely gathered in did the wheel-clamps mysteriously disappear - to be replaced by coffee, showers and shaking of straw from clothes. Strangely enough, as they all left in convoy for a large "filling up of corners" session at some Misty Mountain retreat, they said of some Farmer Giles: "You just wait. We'll be back!"
First published in Amon Hen 112.