Country diary: a red-hot rhapsody in blue

·2-min read

Across the valley, the succession of hills fades into a pale blur of haze as the heat of the day begins to build. The fields at the limit of vision are pale now, dry where the silage has been cut, wilted and gathered, leaving the matrix of deep green trees and hedgerows skeletally prominent.

There is no breeze to relieve the rising temperature, so I travel south along the coast in search of respite – hoping that the great thermal buffer of the sea will cool me down. I pause on the clifftop above Aberarth, looking across the expanse of Cardigan Bay to where the sea and sky merge. Both elements of the scene are an almost uniform blue, made slightly milky by a thin veil of insubstantial cloud. Only the darker, moving surface far offshore gives any real substance to the horizon; the nearly flat calm of the inshore waters leaves a white-sailed yacht with barely enough forward movement to maintain a heading.

At the shoreline itself, the brightness and heat are oppressive, both reflecting harshly upwards from the water surface. The tide is exceptionally low, leaving only a few inches of water in the river mouth. Gulls search without obvious enthusiasm around the weed-covered rocks at the margin of the stream, as the heat haze shimmers over the newly exposed boulders at the harbour entrance. While the coastal path is peaceful, and redolent with the coconut summer scent of the rampant gorse, I quickly begin to crave solid shade – something in short supply on these low cliffs.

Evening brings some relief as a sea breeze begins to build. The temperature is still much higher than seems reasonable, but as I retrace my route northward, the sun lowers through the thickening cloud on the horizon. As I watch, the light on the coastal plain near Llan-non fades from golden to blue, the curve of the coast beyond fading once again into mist and half-remembered features. Then, slowly, I carry on – driven by thoughts of chilled beer and the cool of a night-time garden.

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