Saturday, 25 April 2015

Tyntesfield House

Tulips at Tyntesfield.

The formal approach to this wonderful Gothic Revival house.

Above and below - the way we first saw it, having approached across the parkland.

Fabulous crisp carving used on this cupboard.  Not attributable to one craftsman, but as supplied by the London company involved in the house interior.

Above and below.  The Library, with its beautiful vaulted ceiling.

Apoligies, as I intended to write this up properly tonight, but I am not feeling my best, so I will continue with this post in the morning.

Friday, 24 April 2015

In the garden

We have awarded ourselves the afternoon off after another hectic week with scarce time to draw breath, and having spent the first hour after breakfast out in the paddock, cutting up the ash tree we felled last month, and moving the logs and brash.  Early action was needed as rain was due and has come on in a desultory way since 10 o'clock. The bank where we dropped the tree is slick underfoot with Celendine leaves, and what with that and the brash, getting a footing was precarious sometimes.  Anyway, we made good progress, but my OH's wrist is even more painful now.  He has done something to the ligament which doesn't seem to settle down despite resting and icing it, and as we HAVE to get this tree out of the way to reach another, it's a case of biting the bullet.

The garden is starting to look colourful.  I have lots of Cowslips about the place.

Some have x-pollinated and gone a pale pink.

Above and below: my lovely Auriculas, which haven't made it to any sort of Theatre!

Some more hybrid colouring as I had these marked down as Goldfinch - the pure yellow.

I've uncovered the veg plot and have started digging it over and weeding it.  It will be a hands and knees and a trowel job around the Autumn fruiting raspberries to the left.  As you can see, the uncovered bit has a huge pile of woodash waiting for redistribution, and a grassy corner. . .  The usual state of play each spring here!

These tulips are so pretty - you can see why I fell  for them.

A few more photos.

Beautiful Amber-cat, who hasn't been very well recently.  She stopped eating for about 4 days and I thought we were going to be saying goodbye to her, as she must be 16 plus (not sure her exact age as she came to us when Next Door's mother went to live with her daughter, and all the cats were just abandoned.  Of course they all came here - Amber, Snowy 1 and Timmy.  The two latter are sadly no longer with us.  Anyway, Amber has perked up again and has been soaking up the sunshine in the garden.

This is Ghengis, aka Moonface (which was his first name) although now he could easily be called Fatty Arbuckle as he lives high on the hog and is an absolute P.I.G.  He has his breakfast and then goes round finishing up what everyone else has left!    He loves me very much and follows me wherever I go, but he is still a bit of a bully especially towards Lucy and Amber, who are Old Girls now.  Fluff, also an Old Girl, won't stand any nonsense from him.

This was the beautiful Lace-cap Viburnum that A's daughter bought me yesterday.  Isn't it gorgeous?

Yestgerday evening's job, after we got back from Hay-on-Wye.  Clear all the glass and slates, and remove ALL Nettles, plus rehoming the babiest of the Autumn-fruiting Raspberries.  I am loath to move the well-established Raspberries as they fruit so well in this spot.

Looking along the former soft fruit bed (all the goosegogs gone now, as they were nearly 30 years old and diseased).  The Sweet Peas are going to be planted here, but not sure what to put in the densely-Celendined area beyong the telegraph pole cable.  It's shaded, so suggestions on a postcard please.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Laugharne revisited

We love Laugharne, which will be familiar to anyone who has ever heard about Dylan Thomas as he spent the last years of his life here, and is buried in St Mary's churchyard.  We were there yesterday for the day, with a stall at the twice-yearly Militaria Fair, organized by the lovely folk at the Tin Shed Experience, a 1940s Wartime Museum which is GREAT.  If you are ever in the area, DO visit it. You won't be disappointed.

Photo of the Fair yesterday, taken by Seimon, who was running it and with Andrew, runs The Tin Shed Experience.

Unfortunately I hadn't taken my camera yesterday, and my mobile phone battery was on its last legs, and although I have photos of previous visits to Laugharne, I think they must be under dates (remiss of me) rather than names.  Drat!  Found them!

I walked down to the Spar for the Sunday Telegraph first thing, and cut through the pretty back streets.  Below: I passed this house which was for sale a few years back and has been bought and beautifully restored and is now a 5* B&B.  Dylan Thomas lived here for a while, which ups the trade no end I should think.  I will have to take a photo of the restored house next time we're down there.

Below: the view out to the estuary mouth.  Stunning.  This is what Dylan would have seen when he was writing in his shed.

Above and below, down by the car park.

Anyway, to kill some time around the middle of the day, I took myself off for a walk up past St Mary's Church, with a brief wander into the churchyard to see Dylan Thomas's grave again, marked by a simple wooden cross (one wonders was this by choice, or was he too skint to pay for a headstone?)  Then along the bridleway which gave a different perspective of Laugharne, from higher up.  I took a detour up a steep hilly footpath towards Coed-y-Mor, turning round and retracing my steps at the top as the full loop of this footpath (to the headland) was a bit too far without telling my OH what I was up too.  The footpath banks were smothered in Primroses, and the very first Red Campion, and there were early butterflies, bees and insects drawn to the flowers.  I even saw the first Bluebells in the churchyard hedgerow too.  Then looping back down into the bottom end of the village and back up the main street past Brown's Hotel where Dylan used to drink himself stupid, and back to the Village hall, past some lovely old houses.

Let's not forget the castle either.

Looking back across the small township from the castle.  I'm so glad I found the photos as a post isn't much of a post without any, even if you have seen them before!

Anyway, after a couple of months where we seem to have been playing a financial game of beat Jack Out of Doors, with all the money going OUT and little coming IN, we finally played our last card yesterday and it was a Jack.  Phew!

Today is a catch-up day, especially in the garden, as the sun is shining in a clear blue sky . . .  There is MUCH to be done out there!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Don't Put it Down, Put it Away . . . and gardening

This is a saying attributable to my Yorkshire friend Mary's late mother.  How true it is.  How I wish I could abide by it too, but life seems to get in the way, and recent weeks have been complete mayhem - I've hardly been at home it seems and it looks set to carry on this way too.  I offered to help my late friend Annie's daughter clear the house ready for selling, and last week I was there for two days, and there will be another two days next week, plus a trip to Hay-on-Wye with her (we have to have SOME treats).  She and her mother went there regularly, and I know she was feeling very emotional about returning there, so I suggested and we went together, and cried in corners together when we needed to, so that's what we have planned.

I have discovered by clearing at Annie's, that we hold on to too much "stuff" and some of us have a tendency to keep adding to it.  I am guilty too, though I think Annie's got a bit out of hand these past few years - it is easy to get emotionally attached to things which are linked so clearly to your mother or grandmother and one of the hardest things I had to do was to go through dad's clothing after he died.  Some things I associated so clearly with him that I could NOT get rid of them until years afterwards.  Anyway, we made good progress in the worst room this week, and I have come back determined to sort my Junk Room and the stables out.  The latter first, as I knew there was a lot of pure junk in the pony boxes (which used to be the calf boxes when we first got here).  So I set to straight after breakfast this morning, choosing the middle box (which was our Section A Merlin's stable) to make a start on.  I was horrified to find that there were umpteen plastic sacks in there, and even plastic wrappers from bales of shavings from when we had the horses - and they went 8 years ago now!  Oh dear, a job I have definitely delayed far too long.

I should have taken one before I started, but this is it almost emptied, and all the leaves swept out and put over the wall in the ditch.  The peculiar table legs are from a mahogany table that my OH wanted the top from, and has never got around to doing anything with the legs - partly because someone put a set of elephantine "boots" on the bottom in place of castors!  As they are solid mahogany, my husband is still averse to just burning them . . .

Just some of what came out - I chucked the useful bits of wood in Maggie's stable, which is now my OH's wood shed, though how he can find ANYTHING in there is beyond me!  And he will NOT tidy it up!  He says he works by stratigraphy (as in archaeology) and knows roughly where his individual bits of wood are.   Hmmm . . .

Quite . . .

As you can see, we have had beautiful weather again.  I was trying to get a photo of the blossom on the Damson tree before it totally went over, but you get the general idea.  The little cottagey bit you can see behind it was my mum's flat (it's where the bottom part of our house is built into the hillside slightly, so we are on 3 1/2 levels) and I have just cleared up the patio area there - which was also covered in mainly oak leaves from the winter winds, and rose prunings from last autumn.  Rain stopped play and the prunings over-wintered there . . . but no matter, as some decided to put out roots and I now have countless pots of baby roses (Banksia Rosa normalis) - which is the big bush you can see leaning towards the kitchen window.  I also dug over and planted up the cast iron pig trough with some Violas to keep the Primulas company.  I have been checking the progress of the trees in bud this last week, and it looks like the Ash and the Oak are neck and neck, so I wonder what sort of summer we shall have?  Hopefully not "Ash before Oak, you're in for a soak."  !!!

Yet to be planted are these lilac Gladiolis from Lidl.  I haven't quite decided where I will grow them yet.  They remind me of my mum, who always grew Gladiolis, Roses and Nasturtiums in her garden.

However, more Lidl special offers HAVE been started off.  Two each of these have gone in a big tub - the "Colour Spectacle" at the back, "Sylvia" in front, then (below) a White Phlox ("David") has been started separately in the polytunnel, and will go at the back between the cactus Dahlias, whilst these pretty little Begonias are front of house.  I got the idea for this planting from my gardening magazine this week.  If I had the money, there are plenty more ideas I'd like to emulate but the plants they require are NOT cheap, so I shall just have to try a couple of budget versions instead.  I was fortunate that although I missed the day that these tubers were put on sale (at £5 for 8 tubers), by the time I arrived there were exactly the colours I wanted still remaining.  Obviously no-one else wanted orange!

Finally, these Dahlia tubers (also Lidl) have all been started off in pots in the polytunnel.  I am hoping that the ones I grew last year and over-wintered will also start to put in an appearance soon.

I have umpteen packets of seeds (lots of them flowers) to get started off soon, and hopefully will make a start on that on Monday, along with potting on some baby Aquilegias which are rubbing shoulders with weeds in their nursery pots.  I have White Aquilegia seeds to sow too, saved and sent to me by my eldest daughter from her last garden.  I don't have many pure white ones here.

Well, that's the round-up, and I shall try and abide by Mary's Mother's house rule in future . . .

Monday, 13 April 2015

A wonderful birthday walk in Pembrokeshire, part II

Carn Llidi.  It looked formidable even from this distance, let alone closer up!

We continued with our walk, and were about to turn right here.  At some point in the past a few little fields had been made using drystone walls - no shortage of stone here.  Now they were largely given over to heather and gorse.

Looking behind us as we began to climb.

Another time, we keep on walking along the coastal path.  It was so beautiful.

Above and below: More stone-walled fields, but these were properly maintained and grazed by sheep.

We had the sea to our backs now, and this was the view inland, where it flattens out completely.

One of the unregistered Welsh Mountain broodmares out on the rough land.  Her blagdon markings would make her desirable to gypsy horse breeders.

Here were some of her friends.  The grey against the fence was having a good scratch and making the post squeak.

It didn't look so steep from here - but the approach was from the other side and looked much worse!

This little holloway footpath was enticing, but we stuck to our route - and all got a "bootee" at a boggy area which was unavoidable.

What you can't see were the many insects and recent hatchings of various butterflies - Peacocks for one - which were flying past and around us.

Looking at the acres of gorse and blackthorn blooming, not to mention celendines, primroses and other wild flowers, it is a perfect habitat for insects.

And Thrift was starting to bloom on the coast edge.  If I remember rightly, this plant used to be on the back of the old threepenny bit . . .

One final look at the beach before we left the headland. Lots of folk were enjoying the sand and the sea, but I bet it was cold in the water this early in the year.

We had a stroll round the tiny city of St David's afterwards, but were too late for lunch and the piece of cake I fancied was scarce too, but I found a delicious slice of lemon and coconut cake with butter icing which hit the spot.

Back to normal postings after this.