Back in ’91 I rented my first flat with my then girlfriend, in the middle of Llandaff. From the 3rd floor we had fine views of the Cathedral spire, Llandaf fields and 4 lanes of dual carriageway. The road aside, it was a fine place to live.
Being on the 3rd floor, my mountain bike required careful handling. One false move and the shared landing would bear the hallmarks of misadventure. One memorable evening I headed North on the Taff trail for a late Autumn excursion on the Garth. It was quite blissful. Days of hard rain had given way to high pressure and settled weather, the carpet of red-brown leaves matching the hue of the waning sun. In those days, night time mountain biking meant heavy headlights with weak beams, necessitating support from Peztl headlamps. It was – as it always is – a blast. Two hours later I returned grinning from ear to ear. My girlfriend looked at my mud splattered face, lowered her eyes to look at my mud splattered legs and gazed over my right shoulder at the mud splattered carpet. She was not happy. I spent the next 40 mins retracing my steps and cleaning up all evidence of my misdemeanour for the benefit of the neighbours (and rightly so).
Wind the clock forward almost 25 years and I find myself climbing that same mountain, at the same time of night and picking up on those very same colours. Being Spring, there’s not a dead leaf in sight, but nature has painted from an identical pallete and lavishly daubed the hills vermilion, cinnamon and copper. Squint Westward and witness the golden sun give up the hill reluctantly. Gaze East and drink in the sunset bounty; a fleeting oil painting.
I haven’t thought about that flat or the mud incident this side of the new millennium. Yet that sunset gift, coupled with crisp fresh air and an invigorated mind, displaced time in an instant. I can thank nature’s artistry for taking me back.