I learned to be wary of cows in Northamptonshire. I doubted that Powys's bovine population would differ too much. Frozen with indecision, I did what instinct told me to do. I took a picture for Zazzle.
Well, what would you have done?!
Let's reverse here a moment and go back to that summer's night in Northamptonshire, England. I was driving along with a friend, when we saw a sign to the village of Harrington. That's my surname. I saw my whole heritage stretched out in surreal brilliance.
Harrington Post Office. Harrington Road. All of these things named after me! Well. Sort of. Give or take the Earls of Rutland, who shared my surname too.
Parked up in Harrington, we discovered another hidden gem. It was the ruins of a Medieval hospital out in a field. Tourist signs showed us the way and we meandered on over to take a look. It was mostly foundations and the odd half a brick, but handy display boards told us what it would have looked like back in the day.
Out on the ridge, about half a mile away, was a herd of cattle. We acknowledged it as features on a landscape, bearing no more mind than we did the distant bushes and trees. There were much more interesting things to see close up.
After a few minutes, there was no ignoring the fact that we were being watched. At first glance, the cows on the ridge had merely been looking in our general direction. They'd noticeably come closer now. Still a fair distance away, but certainly not quite as far. It was a little like watching the Dr Who episode, 'Blink'. They didn't move when we were looking. They were much nearer when we turned back again.
But that stage was soon over. Now we watched as these cows ambled towards us. I think I laughed. After all, there were no bulls there. They were just cows. Gentle, grass-eating mammals, prone to turning up in children's stories wearing straw hats. Cows couldn't hurt you.
While such attacks are relatively rare, Health and Safety Executive figures show that over 481 people have been injured by cows in the past eight years.
Taking care around cows
"Shall we go?" My friend asked mildly. He wasn't particularly worried either, but we had been there long enough to see the ruins. We were done anyway and we appeared to be upsetting the cows. I agreed and we began to wander back towards the gate.
At some unspoken, unmooed signal, the cows began to charge. My friend and I went from a slow dawdle to instantly fleeing. The gate was about 50-70 yards away and neither of us were dressed for this. We were both wearing flip-flops! And he was wearing red.
Turns out, the color red isn't what causes bulls to attack. In fact, bulls don't seem to have any color preference at all. They'll charge whichever object is moving the most, which means this old myth can get tossed right out of the ring.
Mythbusters: Does the Color Red Really Make Bulls Angry?
Naturally he reached the gate first and vaulted it, yelling at me to get a move on. I wasn't too far behind and scrambled over seconds before the cows reached us. (It wasn't that we were much faster. They just had further to run.) They filled the yard just behind the gate, bellowing and rushing desperately towards us.
You know how, in cartoons, an angry bull has that mushroom cloud of hot air snorted from its nose? Well that's true! They actually do that, and paw the floor with their hooves too, at least cows do. I saw it happen that evening in Harrington, Northampton.
But that was then and this was now. I had no-one with me and the footpath cut straight through them. Just like that English footpath had. On the far side of the cows was Sycharth. I'd come a long way to see it. I waited. The Welsh cows waited. I watched. They watched. I took a photograph. They posed. This was going nowhere.
I climbed down from the stile and walked through them to Sycharth. They let me go. Y gwir yn erbyn y byd.