Hello everybody! It’s been a while! How’ve you been? We should go for a pint sometime, you know, catch up and all that.
As mentioned before, we returned to the UK somewhat precipitously as a result of a crisis in K’s family. This, tragic as it was in itself, turned into a collection of crises. I dont feel like it’s my place (or that this is the right format) to go into any detail, but suffice to say that we felt the only reasonable course of action was to stay in Wales to help resolve things.
Now, barring a few distinct loose ends, the crises that can be resolved have largely been resolved. The house is sold, stuff moved and building work well on the way for the new place.
In the midst of everything, the stress, worry, exhaustion, strain, loss and difficulty, there have been good experiences. I’ve never spent much time living in the country before, or on a smallholding, so I was very much taken with it. Standing outside in the sun during a break in the work and having red kites flying overhead at the height of the barn roof is beautiful and memorable the first time, and somehow equally so every time it happens thereafter. Getting a cup of coffee in the morning and meandering out to say hello to the ponies with an aging red setter at your heels also comes pretty close to idyllic for me.
I tracked down a chainsaw rumoured to be stored in the barn and, having put it together, pored over the instruction manual, acquired some safety gear and watched a number of online videos, began using it to turn the vast amount of felled wood on the smallholding into usable logs. In films and computer games, the chainsaw is one of the quintessential zombie-combat weapons and looks deadly, efficient and, not to beat around the bush, a whole lot of fun. I was pleased to find that in this case popular culture has it spot on. I’m pretty sure that the scarcity of fuel would make it next to useless in a zombie apocalypse situation, but when it comes to cutting logs it turns out to be an easy and fun tool to wield. Heavy, awkward, remarkably dangerous, but fun. It’s also extremely hot work, though maybe that was to be expected from an activity that involves holding a running petrol engine in your hands.
Speaking of engines, K and I have also spent our time starting to sort and sell off the mighty and jumbled collection of classic motorbikes and parts that had taken over the top barn. It began as an impenetrable muddle of bits of oddly shaped metal. Then, as we picked through it, aided by guidance from some of K’s friends and family and from Haynes’ excellent Motorcycle Basics Techbook (which starts with ‘each has two wheels, and engine and a transmission system, which are all held together by a framework’ – setting it at a perfect level for the total neophyte), we started to recognise different parts, to recognise different bikes and manufacturers, and to have an appreciation of what does what. I can recognise a clutch now. I understand (in basic terms) what it does. I can tell a two stroke engine from a four stroke. It’s been a learning curve that hopefully will continue as we work on the few remaining bikes.
Speaking of bikes, I have been able to act on my growing wish to again own a mountain bike, and have had time to ride a huge amount. I had forgotten what great fun it was, and what an excellent way to see the mountains and woods. I’ve ridden many of the trails in the area, terrified myself at Bike Park Wales, and ridden classic routes from Machynlleth and in the Brecon Beacons. It is, in a word, awesome.