A daffodil greets me,
sweet, auspicious morning,
golden flower singing
rebirth, leaping from the earth.
Winter’s cloak slips away
in the light of rich promises;
Kindness, love, fresh beginnings
spring on this joyous day.
When the body is jaded, terrorised and assailed by the travails of life, just to look at you lifts the spirits. You are a restorer and enthraller, forever alive, yielding much yet concealing of your unending power. Like a stately seneschal, you stand tall. Observing your splendour throughout the seasons, scaling your slopes at various times in my life, I remain bewitched by your presence. You have as many personalities as there are moods in the weather; this is the spell you radiate. Yet you can be brutal; this too, I love. The seismic thrill of nature’s roar, a reminder of man’s paltry insignificance in the wider scheme of things.
Even in the worst of conditions you still give of yourself. How can I ever forget embracing your plateau in a raging tempest, knocked horizontal by the squalling rain, clutching a fistful of earth as a sign of reassurance. The elemental tremors far from being fear-inducing were wildly exciting, a reminder of the forces you have embraced and unleashed for millennia. Shaped and moulded, forever breathing, you are a living being that transcends man’s crudities and vanities. The folly of mankind is no match for the beacon of magnificence you transmit.
Therefore, the least that I can do is sing your praises. You who has given so much. You, who has inspired me with thoughts, such as these, and upon whom I have entertained a myriad of meditations on many subjects. A quickening presence, yet also a peak of peace, where swirling thoughts can be marshalled and brought to some kind of order. But not too regimented, for in chaos there is a latent beauty. Pen-y-fan, I salute you. For your glory and grandeur, your power and pulchritude, your mystery and mysticism, your constancy and certitude. To pay heed to the timelessness of your beauty is my ardent duty.
If you love the Brecon Beacons, Brecon Beacons by Adam Burton is a must buy. If you have never visited, I would still argue that this is an essential read and even if you never have any intention of visiting one of the most spectacular national parks in Great Britain, I would urge you to dip into this marvel of a book. The photos are simply glorious, capturing the perennial beauty of the Brecon Beacons in a variety of moods and settings. Your senses will be whetted and having devoured the stunning photographs, you will champing at the bit to head to the Beacons and taste its magic for yourself.
Photography like this makes you want to dive into the pictures and become a part of the scene. Whether it is capturing a verdant spring scene, a shimmering summer morning, an autumnal vista or a winter wonderland, Burton’s pictures evoke the magnificent beauty of the landscape with profound affection and striking clarity. The National Park encompasses 520 square miles of wild, rugged, serene and earthy grandeur. Good photography is all about the perfect blend of lighting, composition and being in the right place at the right time. Burton’s photography is sumptuous.
This is a book that captures the ever-changing moods of this most spectacular of landscapes with great love and fidelity. You will marvel at the magical moorlands, the astonishing vistas, the towering mountains, the secluded valleys, the mystical waterfalls, the mythical lakes, the sparkling rivers and the man-made dramas etched on the landscape. Burton’s photography dazzles the senses and captivates the mind. I defy you to read this and not to feel the urge to head out to the hills and embrace the joy of walking. Or, to quote Michel de Montaigne, who always has a thing or two to say about how to live, “one should always have one’s boots on, and be ready to leave.”
A few months ago, there was some doubt as to whether Brecon Jazz 2012 would go ahead. Thankfully it has and what a success it has been. A huge sense of gratitude must be paid not only to the Arts Council of Wales and Powys County Council for securing the funding but to Orchard, the main operator of the festival, who came in at a relatively late stage and were responsible for organising an exciting and eclectic line up of Jazz, Swing and Soul. On the welcome page in this year’s programme, Pablo Janczar, director of Orchard, wrote “we aim to recapture some of that magic” (that people often equate with the festival) and “bring some colour and atmosphere back to the streets of Brecon”.
Strolling around the streets, frequenting official and fringe events, it was impossible not to feel that this twin-aim had been achieved. Of course, in recent times, the nation has been basking in Olympic fever; it was equally refreshing to sense Brecon pulsing with a vibrant joie de vivre. Festivals should exude with happy memories and I’m sure that many people who attended this year’s jamboree will have positive ones. A few stick out for me: seeing young children jive with wanton abandon at The Clarence Inn (a great sight to behold, surely what festivals are all about); second, overhearing someone quip, “Brecon is heaven”, whilst taking a breather on the promenade. If there is a God, I’m sure that he would approve. Third, seeing the Stan Tracey Quartet pay homage to Thelonious Monk in the sublime setting of Brecon Cathedral. A magical experience.
This year’s chapter of the Brecon Jazz story has been transitional but everyone involved has done such a tremendous job in highlighting what a beautiful and special place Brecon is. It is oh so easy to take for granted what one has on one’s doorstep, but it is amazing how many people I know who don’t live in the area say Brecon (and its environs) is a bit of an “undiscovered jewel”. Modest but blessed with beauty could be a just description. As thoughts turn towards the 30th instalment of this most “jazztastic” of festivals, a big thank you must go to all involved for ensuring that the myriad venues in Brecon town and around were beating in the affirmative. The ebullient synergy on the streets was eminently palpable. It is heart-warming to conclude that Brecon Jazz Festival is alive and kicking.
“Jazz is about being in the moment.” (Herbie Hancock)
“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” (Louis Armstrong)
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