Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Family




Apolologies for absence, but I had to make a mercy dash up to Sheffield to console our eldest daughter, who has problems with her relationship.  Well, SHE is fine, it's him who is giving the problems.  I shall keep my lip buttoned, but she knows my take on this matter.  Update: they're back together, so let's hope he has woken up and smelt the coffee.

I drove up on Saturday, after we had had a viewing of the house.  The couple loved it, which is a positive, but it is a BIG life changer for them if they decide to go ahead with their plans, so we will just have to wait and see what unfolds.  Meanwhile, fingers crossed.

I drove up North when it was raining in Biblical proportions, yet again.  It was dark as I passed through Ashbourne, and I had to cross the Derbyshire hills (which I know well enough in daylight) cautiously, especially as I was very tired by then.  Imagine my dismay when I arrived and discovered I had to reverse into a tight parking space, in the dark and rain, and UPHILL.  I have never been so glad to turn off the keys at the end of a journey.

Anyway, T was better once I arrived, and we had a really lovely walk above the Rivelin Reservoir the following day.  We climbed (clambered is probably more apt) up the steep valley above the reservoir, beside a brook in full spate.  A tremendous force of water was hurtling over rocks and boulders, stained rust, ginger and dead bracken brown by the peat above it.  I bitterly regretted forgetting my camera (and also taking my running trainers instead of walking boots, as it got pretty muddy underfoot towards the end.)  T has taken some photos and forwarded them to me, but they didn't turn up so I will post them after she has sent them again.


Sheffield in the distance.

Now I'm back at home and looking at the jobs that need to be done here.  We have found some stuff which you paint on algae on walls, and it works very efficiently at getting rid of the stuff.  We just need a good dry day to go round with a paintbrush.

I bought a copy of The Book Thief from a Sheffield Charity Shop, and have just started reading - the first few pages are . . . different!  I have just finished The Miniaturist, which I greatly enjoyed, and am still reading The Serpent Papers.

There's a frost here this morning, but the skies are now looking rainy, which isn't a good combination - sleet later perhaps?  It was sleeting and snowing over the Brecon Beacons when I drove home on Tuesday.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

All change


These pine trees overlooking our paddock have been our neighbours for years.  Yesterday a bod turned up to reduce them to firewood and woodchips.


He was obviously a very skilled tree surgeon and had no fear of heights.  He cut the branches off as he climbed (he was well attached by ropes to the tree.)  His chainsaw dangled, purring, from his waist as he manouvred, ready to be picked up and used again.  The branches were dropped to his man on the ground, who fed them straight into the chipping machine.


Up the tallest of the trees (two smaller ones had already come down).  He would lower himself ten feet or so at a time down the tree, and slice through the trunk, which had a rope attached held by the guy on the ground.  As he cut right through, the chap on the ground would pull it out of the way (and hopefully not onto his head!)



A close-up of the procedure.  Level with his left should is the starter cut he had made with the chainsaw.


After - a different skyline.  Fortunately there are still two pine trees left which we can use as a weather gauge for how blowy it is out there.



We had friends round for tea and cake and a good chat yesterday.  Most of this home made (bread, Apple gingerbread cake, Sugar Biscuits and some more Dark Raspberry Chocolate and Cranberry Bisuits.  It was lovely to catch up on their news.

We discussed areas we were consider moving too, and the dearth of interesting properties on the market at the moment, especially in Herefordshire.  I hope this will improve a good deal come March, when the market traditionally kicks off again.  They asked what we would do if we got a buyer but couldn't find anywhere.  This is our last move, and the property HAS to be right for us.  We would rent somewhere and put our stuff into storage - although putting the cats in a cattery isn't ideal whilst we did that - but at least then we could look at leisure and be in a very strong position when buying.


The bias binding for the hexy runner arrived yesterday so I spent a good while yesterday evening pinning it in place.  I'm now tacking it whenever I am sat down long enough.


We have a house viewing this weekend, so have been busy tidying up inside and out.  I went to Matalan for scented candles - £3 each -  I was not prepared to pay £18.99 for a Yankee candle!  Whilst in Matalan I saw this duvet set - SO pretty, and I couldn't resist it.  I had been looking for a new one for a while now and this was just perfect.

I hope I can sleep tonight - I have had two VERY bad night's sleep and feel quite desperate.  I was still awake at 2 a.m. last night.  My mind was just going round and round about all sorts of worries and lists, and a rather petty comment from someone I had considered a friend - it was the last thing I needed on top of other worries.  Time to move on I think. . . . all change.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I'm glad it's February

One month closer to spring and our last month of winter.  The daily walk is very enjoyable - at least half an hour a day, and some longer ones interspersed.  We have sunshine today, so I had best get out quickly!


Here is yesterday's half and half loaf (using a tasty seeded wholemeal flour and white organic).  I was watching For What It's Worth on tv and nearly forgot it so it had an extra 5 minutes baking time and is very crusty!


When I was in the Range recently, I couldn't resist these beautiful little butterfly labels which I will be using for pricing the smaller items in my Fleamarket stock.  The necklace kit I got with the idea of making stitch markers, but it hasn't worked out - the nylon thread doesn't tuck away neatly.  Ah well, I'm sure I'll put the beads to good use.


I am finally nearing the end of this table runner.  I did some stitching on it when I was on the train down to Hampshire recently which was a mistake as I shall have to unpick and restitch most of what I sewed as the light wasn't very good (I work under a blue daylight bulb at home) and trains are bumpy!  I have some maroon bias binding in the post to me from Fleabay and am just turning under and hemming the edges.  It was much bigger than I realized and has taken a lot of work.

Other than that, not a great deal happening here.  A Fleamarket later in the month to sell at, and the first Malvern for us since October - I have been having terrible withdrawal symptoms this last week or two.  It is always such an enjoyable day out for us.

Right, this won't do.  I have some baking to do (a Blueberry and Banana cake and biscuits) and I need to clean the kitchen as we have friends round for coffee and cake tomorrow.

Monday, 1 February 2016

2nd half of the Colomendy Walk


Back again, half way down the Colomendy hill, and looking across the wooded Towy Valley in the distance.  This is where the wild flowers were in full bloom.


At the bottom of the hill, having turned left and looking back the way I had come.   Colomendy farm in the foreground, and the lane climbs up to the other buildings at the top, by the tall tree.


Another bit of a hill.  I had forgotten quite how many little bits of hill there were walking it this way round (which avoids having to climb UP Colomendy hill).


The Black Mountain in the far distance, half shrouded by clouds.


If you look carefully just in the gateway you will see a big dog fox.  I watched him cross the field and follow the sheep paths in the next field, before disappearing from view over the next hill.


Ponies at Allt-y-Ferin farm.


Above and below, winter trees.  I like the one below, which is managing to grow another crown, having lost its first in a storm.



Allt-y-Ferin with, just behind it, the Norman Motte and bailey.


A nice old wall covered in small ferns, ivy and navalwort.


Another steep bit of hill (this one finished me off).


Another beautiful tree outline.


Winter landscape across our river valley.


Finally, the downhill road home.

Sorry this is short on words, but I am fuming at the moment, about a certain person in my eldest daughter's world, who does NOT deserve her.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Getting out for walks again - Part I - Colomendy walk


Firstly, if any of you follow Dawn over on Doing It For Ourselves In Wales blog, she is going to be quiet for a while as a log transporter managed to take out three poles holding the phone lines where she is.  Knowing how BT and Openreach have a rather tenuous relationship, and Openreach sub-contract the polework out (we've had folk down from Scotland and Newcastle in the past), she may be gone some time.  The goats haven't had their babies yet, and the Alpacas have had to come into the barn to dry off as they have Mud Fever (which is what horses often get - the bacterium lurks in the soil and waits for an oportunity).  It has been an exceptionally wet winter (following a summer ditto).  I hope to get up and see her next week, so I will keep you posted on here.


As you can see, we had sunshine today.  I have finally been able to get back to doing a little walking again.  I have done two short walks on Thursday and Friday, so today I raised the bar and took myself out and around Colomendy, which is an hour and a half's walking, with several good hills - including starting off up our very steep one behind the house.  This is the view across the Park field.


Looking across in the direction of  Dryslwyn Castle at the top of our hill.


Black Mountain in the misty far distance.


Some of a little herd of breeding donkeys, who have good winter shelter and plenty of haylage to eat.


Looking WNW across the valley which runs parallel to ours and goes up to Horeb and then Brechfa.


Looking in a SE direction, the flood plain of the Towy Valley above Nantgaredig.  Standard flooding for the time of year.


Of course, there are Snowdrops to be seen all along the lanes now.


Daffodils about to join them - I think these are the little wild Daffodils.


There were quite a few Primroses out too.  It's a sheltered lane along by Colomendy.


More snowdrops.  I am short on words tonight as I've been awake since 3.45 a.m. this morning so feeling slightly bejeebered.  More tomorrow.

The header photo, btw, is half way down the Colomendy Hill, looking towards Merlin's Hill and Carmarthen.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A shoreline wander at Burry Port




The view of Burry Port familiar to us, as there is a car boot sale on the grass the far end of the harbour, every Saturday through the summer.  I doubt Amelia Earhart was terribly impressed by her first view of Wales.


Not a lot of people know this.  Burry Port is such an unremarkable little village (not even a town) near Llanelli, but for one day in June 1928 it was EPIC!  Amelia Earhart put the name on everyone's lips. However, what the plaque doesn't say is that she was mainly a passenger on that flight - the actual pilot was one Wilmer Schultz and there was a mechanic on board too.  She just took the controls a couple of times, though she would have preferred to pilot it herself.  They ran out of fuel and landed at Burry Port, quite a way short of Southampton, which was their planned landing point.  Their starting point had been Newfoundland.  Heaven knows what the locals thought when the little plane landed.  I can just imagine a few old fishermen mending their nets,  puffing their pipes and saying "Dduw, Dduw" to themselves.

She was a determined lady, however, and in 1932 single-handedly flew the Atlantic, sustained by soup and smelling-salts (always a good combination!)  Sadly, her Round the World flight in 1937 ended in disaster over the Pacific and neither she nor the wreckage of her plane were ever found.


This was the view from that spot, so she must have put her little plane down here, pre Gin-Palace Park.  The harbour was built between 1830 and 1836 to replace the one at Pembrey, which had been about 1/4 mile further West.  It was once a very busy place where coal was exported from the nearby valleys.


Seagull with breakfast.


The little stumpy lighthouse.  It was built around 1842.


Misty views across to the side of the Gower peninsula.


The breakwater beyond the lighthouse, looking west towards Pembrey beach/sands.


There was a brief glimpse of sunlight as we strolled along.  The wind was a trifle . . . brisk . . . but blew the cobwebs away.


I took half a dozen photos trying to capture the wind blowing spray back into the harbour - this was about the most successful one.


Sulphur-coloured lichen growing on a stone slab.



The view west towards the very end of Pembrey beach.


A row of colourful cottages overlooks the harbour.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Chocolate and Cranberry Biscuits


For the first time in my 28 years of marriage, I have baked something my husband goes back for MORE of.  Mind you, he says he is poorly and it's made him hungry, so that's the reason.  A wee bit short of praise there dear.  Anyway, herewith the recipe, to see if you can tempt your loved ones without sweet teefs.  I hope you will think I am wonderful to pass it on to you as the publishers of this book - Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros - chose a light silvery grey for the print of the recipes and being of a certain age, whilst I don't need reading glasses yet, I DO need a good light and a clearly printed page!  I'm sat here with a spotlight on said page.




CHOCOLATE AND CRANBERRY BISCUITS

75g (2 3/4 oz) softened butter
50g (1 3/4 ox) soft brown sugar
50g (1 3/4 oz) caster sugar
1 egg
A few drops of Vanilla extract
160g (5 3/4 oz) plain flour
1/2 tspn. baking powder
110g (3 3/4 oz) dark semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used a bar of Lidl's dark raspberry chocolate)
50g ( 1v 3/4 oz) dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 190 deg. C/375 deg. F/Gas 5 and line two baking trays with baking paper.  Mash up the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until well mixed, then whisk with electric beaters until smooth.  Mix in the egg and vanilla.  Sift in the flour and baking powder and add a small pinch of salt (I forgot).  Beat with the wooden spoon to make a soft sandy mixture.  Stir in the chocolate and cranberries.  (I will here confess that I used my food mixer and abandoned any wooden spoon beating).

Lightly moisten your hands and roughly roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls (this was strangely satisfying!)  Arrange them on the trays, leaving a fair space between for flattening and spreading - I used larger amounts and mine didn't spread much, so I obviously did something wrong!)  Bake for about 12 - 15 mins, or until the biscuits are golden and darkening around the edges.  Remove from the oven but leave them on the tray to cool and firm up.  These will keep in a biscuit tin for a couple of days.   Makes about 30 biscuits.





A me-treat from Laura Ashley when I went in for paint in their sale.

We had a walk round Burry Port harbour to get some sea air yesterday.  I'll write it up tomorrow.