Wednesday, 16 April 2008


What actually happened that day in County Powys in South Wales may well remain a subject for debate, but it was all eerily unreal, and the details remain unexplained to this day. The unnerving part of this recollection is, that everything is based on the facts of that day and my very own experience of them.

I occasionally, on a spontaneous impulse, take a drive up on the M4 and across the Severn Bridge, past Tintern Abbey into the heart of Breconshire, or just beyond into County Powys. The Welsh National Park in the vicinity of Tregaron, just across from the great Elan Valley, is where I usually secret my car and grab my binoculars. You can hear the bleating of sheep and the raucous konk of carrion crows. On sunny July days, I may roam the hillsides, foraging for blueberries, or be watching the superb circles of the Red Kite. There’s not a day without the ubiquitous rooks on the rocky crevices abandoning themselves to the balmy caresses of a glorious upward drift, nor without the solitary sky-lark rising in ascending circles.

And at night there is an intensity of stars....

It’s like my idea of fairyland. A dreamy, soulful, poetic landscape with windswept clouds over green valleys. And that day was magical. For the sedentary townie, physical exhaustion is the rarest of experiences. For me it’s central to the pleasure. Accordingly, I was trekking across the high moors, in a great, sweeping detour, skirting cairns and forging brooks, when, at some point in the fading light of the late afternoon, something quite extraordinary happened. I stumbled across a giant boulder of a rock, the size perhaps of a ten-ton truck - freshly disturbed in the soil.

There it stood, silent, dark, and unfathomable, brooding dully in the long shadows of the fading afternoon.
I was greatly mystified in not being able to find any tracks in the soft ground, even though the blessed thing had been violently stirred in the mossy earth. No human could have exerted that kind of force. No animal, not horse nor elephant. There were no footprints and no tire tracks.

And yet, the rock had moved.

That was the haunting part. That and the feeling which emanated from it.I stood mute with doubt and incomprehension. The disturbance was no more than a few hours old, at best, and County Powys is not known for its earthquakes. Suddenly I found myself wishing I had not had come. The air was motionless. The silence so intense it seemed to invade my mind. In fact, I began to feel incredibly alone. Truth to tell, at this point I was beginning to worry about lots of things, but I was also getting the feeling that I was being watched. Wisely, perhaps, I turned and walked away.

And that might have been the end of it.

If my experience of hiking has taught me anything, it is this: Never lose your means of survival. I always take precautions. Without fail. Imagine my surprise, then, when all of a sudden I became aware of the fact that my keys had vanished. The entire bundle. Car keys and all. Lock, stock and barrel. How did this happen? I would now be stranded on a totally moonless night in a lonely, rock-encrusted valley of the Welsh National Park.

One of the strangest of all synchronicities then occurred - was this real. I still ponder on it. Once again, that mystic feeling was present. I almost seemed to be in a trance, it was as if I had switched over to the unconscious. It may sound extravagant or even melodramatic, but I felt I was dreaming with my eyes open. Regardless of diminishing visibility I remembered every stalk I'd ever stepped on, every pebble, every twig, every boulder, every ledge, like the pages of a cryptograph - to use an bizarre analogy. It was touch and go, a wing and a prayer - until, in one of those so strange and still so inexplicable effects, I stumbled across it, like a needle in a haystack: my bundle of keys, tidily secreted in the long, coarse grass.

Contact with my vehicle was resumed at 10 pm local time on a Friday, in the pitch darkness of a moonless night, eight hours after departure. Locals say there is a ghostly presence encamped on the slopes of the Brecon Beacons, watching with eternal vigilance over their terrain. And I’m not sure I want to go there. But all our acts have consequences. And if the universe has engineered, not just its own awareness, but its own comprehension, where does coincidence end and personal synchronicity begin?

Thus, my close encounter of an unknown kind began and ended in a mythical space, a garden of ambiguity. And my only option was to shrug my shoulders and to admit that certainty had no future here...



Anonymous said...

Wow!!! Thats freaky man !!

I once put a ham baguette in the fridge when I was at Uni and when I cam back twenty minutes later it had disappeared...spooky!!

Selena Dreamy said...

well, yeah, that's the easy part. But did you find it again...?? did the Kenyan businessman who was trying to trace his mobile phone. Imagine his surprise, when he dialled the number from his land-line and heard it ringing inside his Spaniel’s stomach...!

Griff said...

Wonderful post. I've been known to haunt that lonely part of the world myself from time to time though have never (knowingly) removed someone's keys or tossed large boulders about.