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On the weekend, Mr G and I put hot drinks in flasks, packed a blanket and went up to the Brecon Beacons National Park for a drive. It's only 40 minutes away from our house and has some stunning scenery at the best of times; even more so when it's sprinkled with snow.

I took some photos, which I think are rather pretty.

Then I put them behind this cut because they're quite big and I don't want to break your internets )

And that is all I have to say on the matter of frozen precipitation in the South Wales area.
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Travel plans move on apace, and Mr G says visa applications are sent. I have a list of things to do in preparation for the trip as long as my arm. Dull stuff, including sorting insurance, telling the bank withdrawals will be made from exotic locations and booking airport parking. We picked up the tickets on Saturday and await the arrival of the tour itinerary to I can go through the travel books we have and annotate them like the crazy control freak I am.

The fun part, which I have yet to sort, is what reading matter I will take with me. I like to take series books. Last year I made my way through all four Twilight books (not so good) in Mexico (also not so good) whereas the year before I read all of His Dark Materials (unbelievably awesome) in Thailand (best holiday ever).

With that in mind I'm seeking recommendations for books to take. Grown-up books or young adult is fine. Ask me any questions on what I like to read you think might help and I would love to hear what you suggest.

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I have no real time or energy to describe my week in London, and plan to do that on Saturday, maybe on the coach back to Cardiff. However, my mind is full of the sensory experiences of the past few days.

The city in bright sunshine looks so different to when the streets are grey and slick with rain like the skin of a seal. Dust and pollen swirl in shafts of light that penetrate between tower blocks, motes that dance in upward drafts of warm air carried through tiny parks and squares of green littered across the map of London. Gusts of wind channelled down alleyways whip tawny fallen blossoms into cyclones of brittle, spent flowers where the walls meet at angles. The Tube in the summertime has a heavy, cloying heat of a thousand breaths; strange bodies pressed and swaying rhythmically against my own are intimate and anonymous.

A walk through the streets smells of charcoal-grilled meat; of stagnant water near the Thames; of exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke as workers gather in tiny tribes outside their office buildings in the streets around the business districts. The taste of fresh-brewed peppermint tea made sweet with coarse brown sugar mixes on my tongue with the spicy liquorice-and-apple flavour from the smoke drawn through the long, rope-wound hose of the shisha pipe at our feet. As the sun sets, the leisurely click of counters on the wooden backgammon board ticks away the last minutes of the day. The swish of a silver tray of charcoals, swung from a metal chain by a waiter to make them glow red hypnotises me as I recline on fat cushions under a canvas canopy in the dwindling daylight.

Whatever other good things have happened whilst I've been in the city can wait for a practical description. Right now I lie in my borrowed bed, unable to think of chronology or events, only feelings and reactions.

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