Sunday, July 19, 2009

stars, raspberries, whisky and wind

It was really windy this weekend. We went up to usual sheiling for an overnighter again with Mauro whose photos these are and boy was it worth it. Wind is not something we get much of and I love wind. It’s always good to be out in wind especially, like this one, it is a warm wind. It cleared the air leaving perfect views all over the place. It got a bit hairy and a bit cold after the sun started waning but we were in a hollow and it abated just before we retired for the night anyway so the best of all worlds. It was great just to stand on the moors that high up and get buffeted by the wind as we waited for the night to arrive. As it did the starlight performance started up in grand style. Crisp, twinkling sky, the sort you only usually get in winter, deep and wide and full of stars and milky way. Our house faces south south-west so the east-facing sheiling sky is something I am not used to seeing. To lie in bed and see the plough wheeling round is something I haven’t done for ages. Though I took the binoculars there were that many stars they didn’t really make much difference.

Looking down into the valley below it was quite weird to see just how empty it is. It wasn’t something I had noticed before now oddly. There is a lot of black space; blackness with an occasional point of light from a lonely sheiling or isolated weekend cottage. A different view though when you turn to look at the plains. Without the usual heat haze and mist what looks during the day like a relatively empty plain full of grass and trees, at night suddenly and sadly comes alive not with houses like you’d expect but with streetlights casting that sickly orange glow over everything. Dis bloody gusting and better ignored which thankfully is quite easy unless you deliberately climb up to look down on it.

It was a lovely evening all round. Some excellent whisky, lots of companionable standing about being slapped by the wind and gazing up at the crowded sky and the empty land and generally doing not much at all in pitch darkness. There’s nothing as bracing as wind over moorland especially when it’s you, the moor and the wind and nothing else; for a brief moment you get to forget the existence of the seething mass of humanity below.

Quite an uneventful night on the whole. Apparently I fell asleep immediately though Mauro had some problems sleeping in his tomb. He has a bothy bag and it was just like a colourful version of those loculi that they slide your coffins into in Italy so he resurrected at dawn and was off taking photos.

The early start meant we had plenty of time for a wander. That’s another thing I like, getting back from a nice long walk and find that it is only half past nine

One of the dominant plants in the mountains is wild raspberry. I have raspberry bushes in the garden so I know what a raspberry tastes like and they are nothing like the wild ones. The wild ones are minute, not particularly abundant but the taste when you get on in your mouth is a-mazing. An explosion of taste. They actually taste of raspberry. So strong that you only need a few to feel satisfied. Not with the fullness of your stomach but with the experience of taste. As an after breakfast snack there’s nothing better.

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