Under Idris’s Clouds

A visit to the Cross Foxes near Dolgellau, North Wales.

view from the cross foxes pubA chilled-out weekend, what a treat. The Cross Foxes is lovey, a really old farmhouse done in the usual re-done style…still got some of the old features like the big open fire, but mostly super crisp lines, wooden floors, local artwork and great views. We went straight into the bar and sat there for the rugby, a few beers and dinner (the plaice fillet and cheese & biscuits were heavenly).

a treeWhen the hail let up, I took Cymro for a nice walk. It was icy cold but we soon warmed up and did four miles. We turned up the little lane opposite the pub and walked around, then back on the main road for half a mile or so. Tabor is a tiny hamlet a mile from the pub, with a few cottages and an atmospheric old Quaker meeting house and graveyard.

There were very few signs of life apart from some chimney smoke, not even tyre tracks in the snow that day. We saw zero people apart from one angry-looking woman with a couple of dogs. Sometimes it takes me ages to decide whether to say hello in Welsh or English, but she didn’t answer anyway…

Wind-bent trees, fairy groves, bogs, granite outcrops, hail, views of Cadair Idris’s lower peak to the south (north shrouded in snow clouds) and other mountains to the north. It’s wild and beautiful country; makes Llangrannog area look a bit cutesy!

quaker house

The graveyard was full of families – the Prices, Evans’s and Jones’s of Tabor, up until about 2009. Someone lives in the house, but the meeting house itself looks fairly unloved, rather like my vestry. Fluffy snow on the way down the hill, then a slog up the grassy side of the main road. I think I could have gone a bit further and onto a parallel B-road, but I didn’t want to be out much longer with Cymro starting to limp, and it was a bit cold to get totally lost!

house

The road parallel looked like it had some wonderful houses on it too – a deep valley then steep ridge with some imposing houses set solidly back into the hill. I really fancy staying in the one pictured left.

On the way home we saw some tents on the lower slopes of Cadair Idris. Now that would have been a cold night! I wonder if they were on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition or training for something. Quite a few silhouettes walking on the ridgeline. A tough day to be heading up there; good boots and poles would be needed. Tal-y-Llyn looked cold and silent under a grey sky. I fell asleep happily until Ffos-y-Ffin. We will return when it’s not so cold, in the camper van and with all our walking gear. The air up there is so clear, and the views so starkly stunning, it always refreshes me.

lichen rocks
Lovely Lichen
corgi at the gate
There’s a Corgi at the gates!

Second biggest cause of workplace sickness

Lord Dennis Stevenson, CE of Mind, and Paul Farmer, chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce, have written an independent mental health review which says 300,000 people lose their jobs over mental health every year.

300,000? Three HUNDRED THOUSAND?! This is the second biggest reason for workplace sickness. Wow. And yet…why does it surprise me?

From a personal standpoint, this issue has affected every stage of my life and career. College, where I was paralysed for about six months, doing nothing but reading books (that were nothing to do with my A-Level subjects) and rearranging my room. The deputy head was a saviour there, but they had no particular path to help available.

Two jobs, both of which I had to leave because I simply couldn’t do the work any more. One job was a major factor in my depression; the other team couldn’t have been more lovely and supportive. And the latter part of my PhD, where I had more than the usual amount of ‘I am never, ever going to get this done’ (the institution were great about it, and I did get there!).

It’s taken so, so long for me to be diagnosed, deal with and manage depression. Even knowing it isn’t just ‘a bit of a bad time’ or ‘moodiness’, and that it is a chronic condition. (Chronic just makes me think of Snoop Dogg and his blunts…I prefer ‘longtime’.)

Theresa May said: “It is only by making this an everyday concern for everyone that we change the way we see mental illness so that striving to improve your mental health – whether at work or at home – is seen as just as positive as improving our physical wellbeing.” Yes. Just yes. Which is why I ain’t gonna hide it from anyone I work with again. (Difficult anyway, if I blog about it!) Sometimes I’m not very well, and I need to do whatever I need to do to feel better again. Simple enough…but often not. 

So the review has lots of good and positive steps, though we’ll see how they will translate into real action in real organisations, where managers are already stretched and maybe don’t have the capabilities to come up with a mental health plan. And it has to happen in smaller businesses too – they need support in order to be able to help employees.

Applause for the review, and of course for the Royals and other notables who are getting involved, and also the people like the ones on the Sky page, putting their experiences out there. On video. I ain’t brave enough for that!