Wensum, by Jim Harding, Tuesday, June 6

Borth, near Aberystwyth, Wales, by Paul Harding
Borth, near Aberystwyth, Wales, by Paul Harding

Borth, near Aberystwyth in Wales

This is some 200 miles north at an isolated farmhouse in ‘the middle of nowhere’.

Familiar from past family holidays and the same hosts it’s good to arrive and find milk in the fridge, Welsh cakes in the pantry and flowers on the kitchen table.

Other newcomers are swallows and martins who have been circling the house daily and clinging to the eaves in search of places to nest.

A bird-feeder outside our downstairs window is regularly visited by the common or garden varieties but also a woodpecker, siskins and my favourite of all, a redstart.

The nearest town is Rhayader which I think of as a 1970s version of Fakenham.

There are no big supermarkets, lots of small shops run by independent owners and just a couple of takeaways, including the inevitable fish and chips.

Everybody seems to know everybody.

There’s also a weekly market although the emphasis here is very much on the buying and selling of livestock.

The surrounding hills are home to thousands of sheep. What I particularly envy is the presence in a community of roughly half the population of Fakenham of a fine 20 metre swimming pool.

This is enjoyed by all ages from early morning until late evening.

I need hardly tell you that the closure of both our school pools has left us with nothing.

On my daily walks I’ve been fascinated to watch the farmers at work as they corral their animals from one field to the next or drive them back to their farmyards.

These days the men either sit behind the wheel of a Jeep or astride a quad bike as they career up hill and down dale but they still place a heavy reliance on their dogs.

The athleticism and skill of these animals is superb.

On Sundays we’ve made a point of joining our hosts for the regular afternoon service in the nearby chapel which they help support.

One significant difference between these occasions and their counterparts at home is the length of the sermon.

Accustomed as we are to about ten minutes, in Wales the usual chapel offering goes on for at least half an hour.

But I must say it’s invariably been worth every minute. Maybe we’ve been lucky but for eloquence and passion and the ability to communicate, the Welsh preachers we’ve heard have been terrific.

And this time Mrs Heather Jones was no exception.

Our farmhouse sits right beside the Owen Glyndower Way, a long distance path which tracks a winding route from the border with England right up to Machynlleth.

My favourite section takes a couple of hours into the neighbouring heights with just sheep and cattle for company.

The reward is to drop down to the valley in which the hamlet of Abbey Cmwyr sits and find the door of the Happy Union pub and a waiting car to get me back to base.

An abiding memory of this week’s walk will be of reaching my highest point to be able to spot four red kites circling overhead.

I presume I was much more interested in them than they were in me.

Our final port of call will be the one-street resort of Borth, just north of Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast where I hope to meet up with an enterprising friend I made about this time last year.