Kitchenwatch 4 – When things come together

It’s called a living room, but that doesn’t mean you have to live in there all of the time. Both Rufus and I have struggled a little bit remaining in one room during kitchenwatch. We’ve had walks together and I had considered leaving him out in the garden while I went shopping. The threat of thunder storms and the need for me to be around some of the time as the builders discover more little legacies from the guys who built the kitchen extension meant I didn’t want to do that. So we’ve lived in the living room for most of the last 10 days.

Today, the builders were due back to finish off the fitting the bits and pieces, check the water and replace the fridge and washing machine. As we wouldn’t really be needed I decided we’d head off for a morning on the hills. The weather forecast was for a cooler morning which meant better conditions for both of us. So after making sure the builders had everything they needed, we set off.

The plan was to revisit the waterfalls on the hill above the River Tawe near Cerrig Duon stone circle. We set out from the car and there was a chilly breeze but we soon warmed up as we walked. It didn’t take long to climb the side of the hill on an old sheep trail. They’re always the best way to ascend a hill as sheep take the easiest route and we often follow their tracks for this reason. Today, in the cooler weather, Rufus was ranging far and wide, enjoying the freedom to investigate interesting aromas without me calling him back.

At the crest of the hill, we surprised some green sheep, their wool dyed to identify them. A few years ago I saw pink sheep, the red dye having run and faded over time and once I saw a flock of multi coloured sheep. There were reds, greens and blues and with the fading creating subtle differences in shade, the effect was surreal.

The sun had warmed the morning up as well and it was pleasant as we walked over the flat of the hill. We found the stream and followed it against the flow. I stopped to take photos of the waterfalls and Rufus waded and paddled and lapped at the fresh water. Suddenly, I realised we were fairly close to Llyn y Fan Fawr. This circuitous route had brought us close to the southern end of the lake and although we still couldn’t see the water, I knew from previous times (when I’d been lost in mist and had passed the lake without realising) exactly where I was. I took the executive decision to head for the lake. Rufus was already ahead and I knew that once he saw the lake there’d be no stopping him anyway. So off we went, a little further than I had planned. We’d done the climb and the going was flat with a few little ridges. On one of those ridges, I saw the water and Rufus charging towards it.

We sat on the bank of the lake for a few minutes and I threw stones for Rufus to chase or catch. He seemed to be doing well with plenty of energy and I was feeling good and over to my left was the path that led up to Fan Brecheiniog. It was very tempting to set off but I wasn’t sure as I hadn’t planned it and it was only a few weeks ago that Rufus was seriously ill. But all the time we’ve been walking this past two weeks he’s been strong and although his right knee is stiff when we get home, it’s never stopped him from charging out into the garden at the least excuse.

So we set off slowly up the path. It’s steep and rocky and I kept a careful eye on Rufus; as he was ahead of me it wasn’t hard. He was pulling away and at first I called him back to try and ease his pace. But he was happy, and eventually I let him go. It’s a short but sharp ascent and although I’ve done it many times, it’s not often I do it without at least one pause for breath… ahem… to take photographs. This time I managed to do it in one go. I think it was because I kept my pace slow and steady. At the top of the path, we stopped to chat to a trio of walkers also making their way up. Rufus was keen to get going so I left them behind and we set off for the final pull to the ridge.

I love the top of Fan Brecheiniog. It’s my favourite mountain in the Brecon Beacons national park. The views are stunning and on a day like today, they were all visible. The lake was a deep turquoise blue and clear enough that I could see the bottom of the lake around the banks. A breeze kept the sun’s heat at bay. We walked along the top with a sense of space and freedom that is one of the reasons I love it here. There were more people on the mountain today than I have ever seen in one go before. We passed a group of about 20 young walkers all chatting away; I overheard one say he loved this mountain because of the solitude and I chuckled at the irony. We passed two small spaniels and their owners and there was much wagging of tails as Rufus said hello.

At the far end, Foel Fawr, we sat and enjoyed the view from the cairn back along the way we’d come. Rufus was looking bright and still had energy to wander about but I didn’t want to push things, so we turned around and headed back down. I’m constantly on guard looking for little signs that his blood disorder is coming back to the point of paranoia but there was nothing. At the lakeside, we chased stones again and then set off on the direct route back to the car. Despite days of fine weather, it was still boggy underfoot and I struggled to find a fairly dry path through it all. Above us, two Red Kites wheeled and soared in the warm air. By the time we reached the river again, we were both starting to tire a little but as we neared the car, Rufus was still walking faster than me. He was glad to get onto the back seat and have a lie down, though.

The journey home was uneventful and every time I checked on Rufus, his eyes were shut or drooping. We got home just in time to speak to the builders. They had just finished and were clearing up. Everything that was planned to be done had been finished, apart from the wiring in of the oven, underfloor heating and sockets, which is due to be completed on Monday.

I have a kitchen!

Although I was tired from the walk, I managed to clear the living room of it’s temporary kitchen (kettle, toaster, sandwich toaster and water) and started to fill the cabinets. As there are so many more of them than I had before, I still haven’t filled them all and I’m still trying to decide where everything should go to make the most of the new layout. It’s all strange at the moment and I’m sure I’ll change my mind before the week is out. Rufus has indicated his approval by having his food and drink there.

There is still work to do to finish it all off. I will be having the gas fire and boiler replaced later this year and all the existing pipework runs through the kitchen, so that has been left for the time being. I haven’t decided what to do with the space by the window where the units used to be, but they left me offcuts of worktops which I can use to make a breakfast bar of sorts. And I have to decide on the tiles I want so that I can get the builders to come back and do those.

But I have a kitchen. Now all I need to do is learn to cook!

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What to say?

I’ve been trying to think of things to blog about this week. When I started this blog it was going to be to showcase my photography but it very quickly went beyond that. There’s an argument that says if I want it to be successful popular I should pamper to the masses and do things that generate likes and followers and re-posts. But to me, that’s false because there is an inevitable change in the things I write and the way I write them. I would rather have 100 followers who do so because they like what i wriote than 1000 followers who do so because I write what they like to see and hear.

I could easily add video (one of the current popular things on social media) or blog endlessly about work related stuff (to tap into the professional side of my life) but that’s not what interests me on this site.

So today, some random, unconnected stuff that I feel I want to say. You may agree, you may not. It probably won’t get me followers. That’s ok, too.

Everyone has the right to believe in what they want, in terms of religion. One god, many gods, no god; it’s ok. But regardless of your opinion no one should die because of someone else’s beliefs, because they are just beliefs. All the major religions are, or have been guilty, but the recent issue of the pregnant woman being condemned to death because she renounced the major faith of the country she lives in is wrong.

How come, with all the research and study and highly paid people, that no one spotted many decades ago that we are all living longer? After all, it was on the news and in all the TV popular science programmes. Suddenly, the people responsible for managing our pensions realised that they were going to have to pay out for longer because the average lifespan of a UK citizen has increased. That didn’t happen overnight – it’s been a trend for hundreds of years. If I made such a fundamental mistake in my job I would quite rightly be encouraged to leave the company.

A friend pointed out to me after the final of Masterchef last week, that a large proportion of the world’s population are considered by the UN to be undernourished. Now, while it’s unlikely that the food on Masterchef would make a dent in that (although with the calorific value of some of the dishes, I wouldn’t put any money on that statement), I bet more people tuned in to watch it than have donated to a charity addressing the food issues (and I’m not talking about emergency famine relief, but long term projects). This is not a political grumble, by the way, and nor is it a plea for you to donate. It’s a comment on the state of the world.

Am I the only person that looks up into the sky, see’s a high flying jet, and wonders about the people on board and their destination and what they are doing? Its a rhetorical question, I know I’m not because I’ve spoken to friends about it before. In an uncharacteristically warm summer’s morning, I was out in the garden having a cup of coffee and watching the birds fly high above me. I saw three plans fly over head in a short space of time. My house is above on of the corridors for aircraft flying to and from the USA so it’s not unusually to see many planes. I used an app on my phone to see where they were going. The one that caught my imagination was the London to Dallas flight, climbing to it’s final altitude of 33,000 feet. First I realised that it was only 4000 feet higher then Mount Everest. Then I thought about the people on the plane and what their stories were. Business, holiday, celebration, misery. There would be some people on there frightened to death of the flight itself, and some excited about the time in the US to come.

Finally, for now, Rufus is back with me after a couple of weeks in his temporary home with his permanent family. Despite a comprehensive collection of fences, gates and wooden rails, he managed to escape several times and it seemed better for all concerned if he came back to stay with me while we create a permanent place for him to stay during the day when no one is around. It coincides with a week off for me, so some adventures are on the cards. I’m happy to have my buddy with me for company. I think he’s happy too. There is a lot of tail wagging going on!