10 of UK’s best spring walks

Pubs and restaurants may be closed and dark, but all over the UK wildlife is bursting into the light of longer days and it’s never been more important to get some fresh air. Nature writers select their favourite seasonal destinations

Land of poems and stories: the Cotswolds

“If ever I heard blessing it is there. Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are.” In April and May the Cotswold landscape still speaks in the soft, calm tones of Laurie Lee. For a first-time visitor it can take a while to tune into the hard, spare, wall-bound fields of the Cotswold plateau. Yet in the valleys and on the scarp edges, there are bluebells and wood anemones, clear spring-fed streams and a soundtrack of willow warblers and blackcaps, fresh back from their winter travels.

The deep valleys around Stroud hold hanging woods, filled in April with the scent of wild garlic. At the National Trust-maintained Woodchester Park, where the half-completed Victorian manor stands mysterious in the valley bottom, it feels as though the clock has stopped and no one has yet arrived to restart it.

Further north, in my home patch, the same timeless feel pervades Hailes Abbey, with, above it, a monument marking Thomas Cromwell’s seat, from which it is said he watched the Abbey burn almost 500 years ago. From here you can walk a couple of miles along the Cotswold Way to Winchcombe.

Spring is a wonderful time to explore smaller towns and villages, many of which are the subject of poems and stories. For me, each name conjures a memory: a village cricket match in April snow at Guiting Power; my childhood love of Bibury,

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Rodrigo’s “Concierto d’Aranjuez” from the film “Brassed Off”

One of THE HOBBLEDEOY’S all-time favorite films is writer/director Mark Herman’s Brassed Off (1996). This scene features the legendary Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald, Stephen Tompkinson, and Ewan McGregor, but the true star here is the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, who perform the music.

The Concierto de Aranjuez is by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Written in 1939, it is by far Rodrigo’s best-known work, and its success established his reputation as one of the most significant Spanish composers of the 20th century.

Usually performed as a guitar concerto, the flugelhorn arrangement of the Adagio was by Kevin Bolton.

If you have not seen this film, you must. Not currently available on Netflix or Amazon, it’s worth a trip to borrow from the local library.

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Welsh Music prize won by post-punk trio Adwaith

Carmarthen band win award previously won by Gwenno and Gruff Rhys for album described by Huw Stephens as ‘personal, beautiful music’

Welsh-language post-punk trio Adwaith have won the 2019 Welsh Music prize for their album Melyn.

Announcing their win, BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens said the album was “a very exciting and deserved winner from an exceptional shortlist. Adwaith have made a real impact with their personal, beautiful music that captures what it’s like to be young, female, frustrated and bewildered at the world we live in.”

The band, made up of Hollie Singer, Gwenllian Anthony and Heledd Owen, and whose name translates as Reaction, formed in 2015 in Carmarthen. They beat more established artists such as Cate Le Bon, whose album Reward was also nominated for the Mercury music prize.

The Welsh Music prize, founded in 2011 and voted for by music industry figures, “celebrates the finest music made in Wales or by Welsh people around the world”. Previous winners are Boy Azooga (2018), the Gentle Good (2017), Meilyr Jones (2016), Gwenno (2015), Joanna Gruesome (2014), Georgia Ruth (2013), Future of the Left (2012) and Gruff Rhys (2011).

Receiving the Welsh Music Inspiration award were Phyllis Kinney and the late Meredydd Evans, who together charted the history of Welsh folk music and were Welsh language activists.

Adwaith released two new songs this month, including a relatively rare foray into English called Orange Sofa.

Welsh Music prize nominees 2019

  • Accü ­– Echo The Red

  • audiobooks – Now! (in a minute)

  • Carwyn Ellis – Joia!

  • Cate Le Bon – Reward

  • Deyah – Lover Loner

  • Estrons – You Say I’m Too Much I Say You’re Not Enough

  • HMS Morris – Inspirational Talks,

  • Lleuwen – Gwn Flan Beibl

  • Lucas J Rowe – Touchy Love

  • Mr – Oesoedd

  • Adwaith – Melyn

  • VRï – Tŷ ein Tadau

Source: Welsh Music prize won by post-punk trio Adwaith | Music | The Guardian

Record Review: Osian Rhys “Autumn Shades Of Gold” 

Autumn Shades Of Gold is a remarkable debut by Welsh singer-songwriter Osian Rhys, a thing of grace, elegance and beauty.

Backwater Records – 13 December 2019

The release of the Autumn Shades Of Gold marks the recording debut of Welsh singer-songwriter Osian Rhys.  Produced by Richard Woodcraft, (Neil Young, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead) it will be released across a variety of formats.

Blessed with a disarmingly irresistible voice, the music presented across the four tracks in many ways defies categorisation, suffice to say that Autumn Shades Of Gold is a thing of grace, elegance and beauty, bringing a welcome warm breath of folk-psych air to the rapidly falling winter temperatures.

The opening track, The Ballad of Mr Withers, is, in essence, a waltz, albeit a foreboding waltz like no other.  The opening gentle guitar notes entice the listener in and before long one is enveloped and snared by the soaring strings which herald the chorus to maximum ethereal effect.  Each stanza presents an almost photographic scene, a device echoed in the official video release, created on Super 8 by artist Clare Marie Bailey, which accompanies the song.  Whilst the chorus melody and arrangement are tenderness and sweetness personified, this belies the somewhat dark lyrics

‘Lovers embracing on bridges

Her jumper lies about the bruises on her arms’

The next track up, Tour Of Bedlam, presents almost as a modern-take on plainsong, celestial layers of vocals effortlessly weaving their way, for an all too brief two minutes and ten seconds, creating an alluring, hypnotic effect.  If there is such a thing as ‘diaphanous sounding music’, then this is surely it, although, once again there is an intriguing incongruence between the music and the lyrics, the somewhat bleak words painting  grim dystopic pictures, in a rather stark contrast to the sound

‘Come stroll through the slum

A tour of Bedlam

See how we live

Behind the pain and misery

There’s a crumbling country’

Track three, or first track on side B of the vinyl, is a re-recording of Osian’s debut single, ‘Long Time Gone’.  The opening harmonica notes, sharply Continue reading