Published 29th May 2019
This morning we’re walking into Cardigan to explore the town for the first time. Getting there along the road should take about an hour. We set off around 08:45, looking forward to getting breakfast once we arrive.
In the week since we arrived to Ferwig for my residency, we’ve so far only walked two different routes from the studio — one taking us to Gwbert, where we get a drink and a portion of chips at the local hotel, the other a running route to Mwnt beach — so it’s good to be adding a third to our collection. We take a road to the left of a small disused building, its sign reading ‘John Player Special’, making our way uphill along the narrow road for a while.
There is so much space here. So wide open and green, all lush and alive. The thick hedgerows that line the roads are peppered with yellow, white, purple wildflowers that seem too delicate to survive in the wind but hold on somehow. Made up of long grasses and countless ferns, they look dense enough to swallow you should you fall in. It’s like walking through a perfectly imagined vision of the countryside.
When nearing a downward bend in the road we hear what we think is a woodpecker — though neither of us has seen or heard one before, so in retrospect this seems a strange assumption to make — and spend some time being still, listening. We want to locate the noise so we might catch a glimpse of the bird but have no luck. Further on we pass a farm with lots of buildings in varying sizes and materials, a mix of in-use and not. Some of the buildings are just full to the brim of stuff — chopped wood, bricks, old machinery, small gates and things like that. I watch the cows stare at us as we walk by.
For maybe the next 10 minutes or so the scene around us is largely unchanging, rolling hills in the distance sitting behind the river. We move through the view, passing the occasional idyllic countryside house.
The next part of the walk is different — not a town, maybe a village at a push. Really though, it’s a road with more houses on either side; people have neighbours here. Some places have neat front gardens, cordoned off from the road with red brick walls, while others are left wilder with longer grasses. Pretty much everyone seems to have a greenhouse. The architectural style is very varied, newer homes tower over the bungalows opposite, but the space around them prevents them from being too imposing. It’s interesting to see new build homes in this way, resisting homogeneity. I have gotten so used to seeing them appear in bulk, each one barely different from the last. In a place like this, maybe one or two plots of land become available at a time, as opposed to whole fields succumbing to developers plans. It makes for a much more interesting setting. The newer homes also tend to have pavements outside them — presumably because they have to — so there’s a sort of stop/start rhythm to the path.
Up ahead a blue metal fence runs along a grass verge that sits above the road. I assume we are approaching a primary school but am surprised to discover a bungalow. I don’t associate this kind of fencing with residential buildings — it seems so ill–fitting and bizarre, striking me as an unlikely choice. We talk for a bit about how something so simple as the colour of a fence can so clearly influence the assumptions you make towards a place. It’s strange that such small moments like this can feel significant, somehow becoming the most intriguing part of a walk. Occurrences that you don’t expect manage to command your attention, anchoring you in the moment you’re moving through, forcing you to slow and notice them. ●
Published 29th May 2019
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