I live in Wales, a land rich with cultural tradition and history. A land that was inhabited by the Celtic peoples in their westward migration out of Europe. Frequently under attack by the Romans, the Vikings, the early English royal households and even by the French, this is a land of rugged terrain and poor soil, and the would-be invaders generally left the Celts and their Welsh descendants to their own devices. A part of the United Kingdom now, but still fiercely independent, having its own political assembly in the city of Cardiff, in the south, but, whilst I was born and brought up just 10 miles from the busy capital city, that is not the Wales that I chose to live my adult life in.

For the last 30 years or so, I’ve lived in the north of Wales, within the Snowdonia National Park, where the pace of life is much slower than it was in the industrialised south. This is a land of mountains, of water and of rugged moors. A land of ancient rock formations and of marine fossils trapped high on mountainsides, echoing their former life on the sea bed before the shifting of the earth’s crust thrust them upwards over 50 million years ago.

It is a land of myth and legend, into which the invaders of the south rarely reached, and of some of the finest castles. Regretfully, for me and my current obsession with turning, it is not a land of trees!

 

If inspiration is born of the experiences of life, then this is an episode of my life that is providing a wealth of inspiration from the other pastimes that I have enjoyed and the landscape in which I live. The two photographs, above, show typical views of this landscape, the former being the Ogwen Valley, with its lake, Llyn Ogwen, spilling out into narrow outfall at the western end of the lake, and the latter picture shows the Aberglaslyn Pass and its intimidating footpath that is, in places, hewn out of the rock with mind-tormenting, sheer drops into the icy river below – not a footpath for the faint hearted!

Since time-immemorial, man has been shaping this landscape, taking his inspiration from it and leaving his mark upon it. One of our oldest relics is the stone circle, known as Bryn Cader Faner, a 30ft wide structure built in the Bronze Age, about 5,000 years ago, comprising a mound of stones with erect slabs, pointing towards the sun and radiating around it. Who could fail to be inspired by turning something round after viewing this amazing structure?

 

Of course, trees do grow here and there, but they have a stark existence and struggle to hold on to a ground that is often barren and rocky. Top soil is thin, and poor. Our uplands are mostly boggy places, where coarse grass, moss and lichens abound. The occasional tree dares to show its head above the undergrowth, and when it does, the prevailing south-westerly wind that whistles through our hills soon takes hold and shapes the tree to its own design.

 

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Thursday the 21st. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.