Wednesday 13th September 2000, Anglesey, North Wales
THIS MORNING we have the whole half mile stretch of sand at Newborough Warren to ourselves. Across the bay there's a panorama that stretches from the blue mountains of Snowdon out to the Lleyn peninsula. I wish I could bottle up the experience and keep it for a short break on a dull working day.

One of our enduring memories of Anglesey will be of a black pot-bellied pig running along a path towards us down a slope yellow with Ragwort. What a charmer, grunting at us through the style, with that indispensible fashion accessory; a ring at the end of his nose, two of them in fact. His field is a hundred yards from Llys Rhosyr 'the Palace in the Sand' - the excavated remains of a chieftains household 'a royal palace of the Princes of Gwynedd during the Golden Age of Welsh Independence'.

I don't know if the black boar had a part to play in that legendary period, but, according to Robert Graves in The White Goddess, a white Sow-goddess Cerridwen figures in the Romance of Taliesin, the tale of a 6th century Welsh bard. According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable she was his mother. Her Welsh name means 'white poetry'. She is identified with the hag aspect of the mother goddess and is said to have prepared a magical cauldron of knowledge.

One of Disney's lesser known animated features was a re-working of Welsh legend which I think was called The Magic Cauldron.

The Welsh legends tell of a cruel but heroic world of birth, betrayal and death, magical transformations and feasting. As we walk back past the old palace the delicious smell of grilled bacon drifts from one of the nearby houses. No, surely it can't be!

Carnafon from AngleseyIn the afternoon I paint this little sketch as Barbara and I sit on a log on the beach looking out across the Meniai Strait to Carnafon, with its large waterfront castle.

Diesel and Dog Daisies

By total contrast on the way home we run straight into a petrol protest; a go-slow convoy along a stretch of dual-carriageway. As filling stations have mainly run dry following protests about the price of fuel at the refineries, we have just enough petrol to get us home, so instead of crawling along at a couple of miles per hour wasting precious fuel we pull up on the hard shoulder. I sketch a dog daisy on the grass verge, while Barbara reads her book.

There is a carnival atmosphere with wives and children waving admiringly from the bridge at their trucker husbands. Coach loads of smiling elderly ladies go past and wave at me as I sit there sketching. Barbara and I must be the only glum faces in the convoy.

A policeman following behind in his Range Rover explains the danger we have put ourselves in and politely asks us to move on to the safety of a lay-by a mile or so ahead, where we wait (and I sketch another landscape) until the protest moves on.

Protest aside, I find a steady 55 a more natural speed on the motorway journey home than the usual frantic 70 mph. Everyone is keeping to the reduced speed. It seems to dramatically cut down on fuel consumption.

One good result of the protest is that pollution in West Yorkshire plummets to 50 per cent of normal levels as traffic page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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