It’s six months since I was in the UK and I’m getting hill-withdrawal symptoms. I was telling a friend the other day that even after being here for 26 years, I still suffer from homesickness. There’s often a profound longing to see a mountain and feel that pysical and spiritual lift that one gets from looking at or climbing a hill. Here, in North Holland everything is so flat that you can never get a fresh perspective on things and the sky often seems to be pressing down on you, opressive at times. The Dutch landscape is mainly straight lines and my spirit aches for curves and sloping meadows. I always feel the Black Mountains are calling me home whenever I drive over the Severn Bridge into Wales.
A couple of years ago OH and I stayed in a holiday let, River Cottage in the Monnow Valley. The Monnow River has a special significance for me as my mum grew up alongside it. She lived right on the Welsh/English border, perhaps better known as Offa’s Dyke, on a farm called the Vineyard in the Black Mountains. Several months before she died of cancer, we went up into the Black Mountains to picnic and visit the farm where she grew up. That day I saw a wildness in her, echoed in the landscape, that I’d never seen before. So with a contradictory mixture of intense joy and sadness I often return to the mountains that embody the spirit of my mother and represent home. Below are a few photos of The Cat’s Back, (known officially as the Black Hill and made famous by Bruce Chatwin’s novel), Longtown Castle and surrounding area.
How do you feel about mountains, do they lift your spirit or are they merely obstacles that get in the way of a clear view?