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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Wales in Winter

A few weekends ago my wife and I went to North Wales for one of our semi-regular long weekends.  As usual, we had a great time.

Not as usual, we fell victim to the unseasonal cold weather and were semi-snowed in.  We were able to get out for walks from our hotel and had some really fun and stunning yomps across moor and through forest in several inches of snow.  Going anywhere by car, though, carried too great a risk for us to chance it until we went home (and had to detour an extra twenty miles, but that’s a different story).

So, what have our holiday woes got to do with writing?

Well, it made me think about the hardships some of my characters living in North Wales must have faced.  Even in the modern age we saw the difficulties of farming in unseasonal cold weather, with the lambing season underway in deep snow and sub-zero temperatures.  It’s difficult to keep animals alive in these conditions with barns and heaters and the like; it must have been horrendous in centuries gone by.

And travelling is near-impossible.  We needed walking boots just to get out of the hotel, and our thick coats were no insulation against the wind whistling down the Llanberis Pass.  Such luxuries weren’t available in years gone by; wet shoes and near-useless cloaks would have been the order of the day.

All that surely breeds a special type of person; hard working and resilient.  It’s made me realise that my ancient Welsh characters need to have these sort of characteristics as well as the frivolous, Devil-may-care attitude to life I tend to give them.  They can still be fun, though.

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