Rufus and Dave’s Fortnight of Fun part 8: Chill out

After yesterday’s marathon peak bagging session, we both needed a quieter day. So while Rufus dozed, I went back to the local museum to see their 1914-18 exhibition. It was interesting to see the local aspect of how the Great War had affected lives at home. Panels detailed a number of individual’s experiences of the war, and of course, many of them didn’t survive the conflict. There were also a number of personal exhibits that emphasised the role of the individual rather than the anonymous numbers that appear in the history books. Letters home, written in pencil, sounded hopeful (in the sense that you always try and make light of a bad situation, plus you don’t want to scare your loved ones). But alongside the letter was another from the commanding officer to the parents expressing his sympathy at the loss of their son.

I shared the exhibition with a bunch of schoolkids. I hope they were able to pick up on the reality of what they were seeing. These are the people who need to remember and understand what war is really like so that the likelihood of it happening again is lessened.

When i got home, Rufus persuaded me that a short trip out was required and we ended up at the Tawe. It was a gorgeous evening with deep blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Rufus splashed about tin the river and I managed to get some photos of the sky. At one point, a strange wispy cloud passed over head. We got home a little chilly; Rufus’ paws were cold and so were his ears! I’ve never seen that with him before, so I spent some time warming up his feet before making tea.

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Back to the river today. I am drawn to it by the photographic possibilities of so many little waterfalls and streams. Rufus just wants to be in the water, and catch or dredge for stones in it.

The stretch of the Tawe near it’s source, when it is still young and not really sure what it wants to be, is one of my favourite places to go. In the winter, it can be desolate in the snow and mist. In the spring and autumn, it can surprise with beautiful conditions like today, or it can be windswept and bleak. In the summer, it can be packed with tourists or if I’m early and lucky, quiet and still. A stone circle stands above the river, watching over it. In the distance, a standing stone directs people to the circle, and the path that has always existed through this valley.

There is a variety of wildlife on offer. I’ve have seen Red Kites wheeling in the sky and Pied Wagtails flying low along the course of the river. Many years ago I saw a Weasel or Stoat on the river bank but I wasn’t able to get a photograph. In addition to the inevitable sheep and lambs, there are horses and very occasionally, cows. Lizards squirm through the marshy ground near the riverbanks.

Ever since I started bring Rufus up here, he has loved playing in the water. He swims when it’s warm enough but he is mostly content to paddle or jump between stepping stone boulders. He enjoys chasing the stones I throw for him, as I’ve mentioned numerous times before.

I find the whole area very photogenic. I never tire of wandering the riverbanks with a camera and taking on the challenges it suggests. This morning, I took long exposure photos of the river, black and white shots of the valley and some close ups of Rufus (a challenge all of its own as he is rarely still). Then I watched as the wagtails flew around and I tried to capture them in flight, unsuccessfully. Finally, as we reached the car, I took a lovely shot down the valley.

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It’s taken me a week to fully recover from the bug I had. In that time I’ve watched the weather improve and I’ve become more and more frustrated that I haven’t been able to get out. So on Friday, I was determined to get some fresh air. Aware of the dangers of over doing things, I called for my walking buddy, Rufus, and we took a leisurely stroll through the Lliw Valley to the reservoir.

Rufus hasn’t been well either so both of us took it easy. There was no rush and no sense of urgency. We went where we felt like, which meant an early departure from the usual path down to the River Lliw (a stream at this point) and a muddy squelch along it’s bank. You can guess who was leading this part of the walk. Eventually we returned to the path in the face of a barbed wire fence blocking our way.The weather was warm and sunny and it was a pleasure to be out.

We reached the reservoir and headed of to our favourite spot on the bank, where Rufus can paddle and swim and I can throw stones for him. He knew where he was heading and raced off in front of me. They’ve built some steps and a little platform there now, presumably to stop erosion and to provide a spot for anglers. It was ideal for both of us in our semi invaild state.

Stones were thrown and skipped (I’m a kid at heart) and there was a lot of paddling and swimming and some barking when I concentrated too much on taking photos and not enough on Rufus. Then it was time to head home. Reluctantly we both left and made our way back at the same leisurely pace. Fresh air is great!

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