Wednesday, 7 December 2022

A little breath of Christmas


Some photos to prove I made it to the Old Railway Line Garden Centre, which always has an amazing array of Christmas goodies each year.  (Note to self: go back in January when the Sale's on!!)  These reindeer moved a little (well more like twitched actually!)

Two fat donkeys - part of the animals in petting pens.  Along with pygmy goats and alpacas in different "loose boxes".

If pink is "your" colour this year, look no further. Not sure if Roses in Christmas trees is the right seasonal combo though.

All sorts of meeces, feathery angel meeces, feathery reindeer . ..

Then resin pieces.  I couldn't bring myself to pay those prices though.  Skinflint!

I thought the Mouse (Christmas RAT?!!) in the middle with the bobble hat was something I could make from salt dough . . .

If feathers aren't your thing, there was a good choice of hairy Gonks, Hairy Reindeer etc.

Bigger Gonks for shelves.

I would have loved several of these hanging decorations, but wasn't going to fork out £17.99 or so for a dozen pine cones and a few bits of greenery.

I'd have liked a needle-felted mouse, but they were quite pricy too - £7.99 or more.  I have always been a make-it-yourself sort of person.

The same goes for these lovely arrangements.  I need to get the dehydrator going with some orange slices. Even a bag of the dried fruit slices to make your own was £15.99 . . . .

There were moving parts on this.  Not as good as the one in Charlies in Carmarthen though, as that has a moving train going round the set.

What I bought - £1.99, £1.99 and £2.99.  To go on my wreath. I didn't have to go far for the Willow as I realized the Kilmarnock willow (which is a weeping tree) had put out long shoots this year and in cutting them back (necessary) I have the base for the wreath.  Those are in the hall, and I'll start making the wreath base tomorrow.

And Mathilda Mouse.  I missed out on buying a long legged shelf Mouse last year as no longer near TK-Maxx, where I used to find them.  This was £9.99 so made up for not having one last year.

Now, Shhhhhhh, the babies are sleeping so I will creep into the living room and sew the quilt binding.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Slowly getting oganized

 My cards are all written and posted now.  I dropped them at the PO before leaving the car to be mended.  I had to walk home - it's uphill nearly all the way and didn't expect to collect it until this afternoon, but I'd only been back an hour when they phoned to say come and collect, so it was walking shoes back on and a walk in the opposite direction (just one steep hill that way).  Another chunk of money out out - it's been an expensive year for motoring this year, with all the repairs, and more due out in January as it needs two new front tyres and brake pads.  Yeesh. It goes like that sometimes though, and it is an old car.

Sleeping kittens.

Whilst the babies were Zzzzzzzzzzzzing, I managed to finish the machine stitching on the binding of the lap quilt which is going as a gift to a friend.  Then I sewed two sides on the back (slip stitching) whilst we re-watched The Witcher on Netflix, as a new 6 part series starts on Christmas Day, so it would be good to be up to date again.

A rather gloomy photo of a little bit of the Pineapple Log Cabin block surrounds on the lap quilt.  All hand-quilted, as usual. 

Right, I need to make myself an edible curry sauce to go with the virtually inedible beef and tomato curry I made in the pressure cooker last night. It ended up really watery and tasteless.  These days  I have gone right off cooking evening meals.

Sunday, 4 December 2022

Death of Daniel y Merched (age 97)


"A noted Carmarthen character has passed away in the person of Daniel Jones, better known as Daniel y Merched, who died at the Carmarthen Workhouse  on Wednesday afternoon. Daniel was a native of Pontynyswen, in the parish of Llanegwad and was born in the year 1805.  He is said to have earned his soubriquet (which being interpreted is the girls' Daniel) by the fact that he was bought up by two maiden aunts.  At any rate, he was never known by any other name and many Carmarthen people who knew him 3 score years never knew his legal name.  The most wonderful stories were told of his great age and Carmarthen men aver they remembered Daniel 60 years ago as old and grey as he was this year.  However, we believe that he was only 97 years of age.  He was a tailor by trade, but had led a very unsettled Bohemian way of life; since he was a boy he would spend the whole of the summer and the autumn fishing.  He had also served in the Militia.  He was one of the best trout fishermen in the whole of the Three Counties.  There really seemed to be something almost diabolical in his luck, for he could bring 12 or 15 pounds of trout, when the best fancy anglers in the district could not take six ounces.   He always fished with a worm, and it is said his success is due to his treating the bait with saliva in a manner which would not appeal to the fastidious.  Until within the last fortnight, he looked as well as ever, and was popularly believed to be immortal.  He was a prime favourite with angling gentlemen, as he had a skill in making flies coax the shyest fish onto a hook.  He had latterly spent his winters in the workhouse, and his summers wandering about the brooks and streams of the country with his rod and line.  On Saturday the 21st inst., he entered the workhouse in a general state of breakdown, and passed peacefully away on Wednesday the 4th June."

My daughter sent me this clip  from the Carmarthen Weekly Reporter newspaper of 1902.  I can't find him in the Workhouse, I can't find an obvious one that is HIM in the census records, there are lots of marriages for a Daniel Jones, but I doubt he ever married, if he was so footloose and fancy free. I don't know where he lived in Pontynyswen - and I have the census records printed off.  He may have been living in a bender or a barn somewhere.  He was certainly a  fascinating character - they've thrown the mould away of folk like him.

Obligatory kittens photo - they have just been yelled at for turning my legs to ribbons again, little wretches, attacking me from both sides at once!  They're only good when they're fast asleep!!

Saturday, 3 December 2022

A somewhat disappointing morning out

 We had planned a day out today - to visit a little Antiques/Vintage Fair at Crickhowell, and then to go on to Llwyn Celyn to see it decorated for Christmas.  Well, the 2nd part (which I was looking forward to the most) had to be cancelled because the work wasn't done on the car.  Which left the Vintage Fair.  Well, my gut feeling said it wasn't going to be our sort of stuff, and on the whole, it wasn't.   Some nice things offered by dealers, and some craft stalls as it was before Christmas, but only one stall interested us and Keith bought two Moroccan style lamps there.  The other stalls I just wheeled him past as he's not interested in jewellery, or knitted goods!  I noticed a lovely Labradorite pendant but sadly it had been broken in half, as the honest dealer pointed out.  Such a shame as it was lovely.

I have to say, access was a bit awkward though - we followed the wheelchair access signs, but couldn't open the white side doors into the building, and had to go around the front, where Keith walked up four stairs and I managed to get the wheelchair up them.

This must have looked stunning in the summer - still some colour there now, in December.  I had a quick look round the charity shop and bought a bowl for £3, then went to look for a Pie for tea in the butcher's but the small ones were £5 each and so I just bought some Russet apples.  I had hoped Keith might fancy  a pub lunch but he didn't seem the least bit interested, so I didn't pursue it.  He's not a great one for food in general, and eating out isn't high on his list of things to do.

This was the church I wanted to go in - I checked my watch.  I'd left Keith in the car for more than 20 minutes and it wasn't very warm.  I will have to visit it on another day.  A shame as it has the memorial to Lady Sybil Pauncefoot, who had her hand cut off and sent it as ransom for her husband's release, after he had  been captured in the Crusades.  They lived in Crickhowell Castle.

I had hoped to get us a nice lunch to take out but couldn't find anywhere that wasn't sit-down in the town (perhaps I didn't look hard enough).  I didn't have time to go into the shop which stocks good local ciders and beers either. Another time.

So, all in all, the day didn't pan out as planned.  As I am virtually as housebound as Keith now, as I don't like to leave him for long, I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself now.  Ah well, can't be helped. When the weather is better, I shall hopefully get to see a few churches again. 

Friday, 2 December 2022

A plain little Welsh church - St Afan's, Llanfechan


I have passed this little church, set back from the A483 on what was probably the "old" road before they upgraded the A483, many times, but decided I would actually go and visit - it's not very far from here.  It dates back to the 13th or 14th C, although it was pretty well flattened and rebuilt in 1866.  I imagine this huge programme of rebuilding/renovating old churches in Victorian times was probably deemed necessary by their perilous state.

At first I thought it was locked, as the door wouldn't budge.  But a farmer moving sheep (this church has a farm to one side and farmyard in front of it) said it wouldn't be locked and jumped up the wall into the churchyard and put his shoulder mightily to the door which, though swelled with damp at the apex, finally gave into to his weight and allowed me through.

Judging by the age of this Yew tree, I would say that this was a very early Christian site.  The church is situated on a mound, though it's not that obvious in the photos and immediately beneath the church could well be the rubble from the earlier demolished church.  The churchyard is also circular, another pointer to antiquity.  This church, Llanafan Fechan (the lesser) and its neighbour Llanafan Fawr (the greater) a few miles Northwards, are dedicated to the Celtic Bishop Afan, who was usually named Afan Buallt, showing a close link with Builth Wells. He was a 5th or 6th C Bishop, so an early site indeed.

The view Northwards.

The 14th C font was very plain.

Indeed the church was plain and utalitarian. Its size echoed that of that Medieval church which had preceded it.  If there had been any obviously medieval parts, those were long gone.  The modernization was carried out by Charles Buckeridge, who also carried out the work at Llanlleonfel Church, the other side of Garth, which I also visited earlier in the year.

        What I missed, I now discover, is an early stone in the churchyard marked AVANIUS EPISCOPIS. Bishop Afan . . . So I will have to return and seek it out.

        Well, I have had to re-schedule the car repair as it became clear it wouldn't be done this morning (I got it down their for 8.45 too) but might be done before they shut this teatime.  Since leaving it there involved walking the 2 miles to and from home each way in freezing fog, and then again this afternoon even further across to Pam's to let her dog out for his ablutions whilst she was out for the afternoon, I thought it was better to leave it till I had a clear day.

        So, back to binding the lap quilt, now that I have buttoned everything together.  Heaven knows what tea is going to be - I had better look in the freezer for some inspiration.  

        The garage said we should be ok to drive to Crickhowell and back tomorrow, but I think we will have to cancel Llwyn Celyn as that adds another 30 miles to the journey.  Ah well, it will still be there next year.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022


 Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz - that was ALL of us in the living room this afternoon.  I had to have a nap - Ghengis was cwtched up by my tummy, the babies by my feet and Keith in his chair.  I never did find out how the ancient Western film I was watching ended! I'm not surprised Keith fell asleep as he has had a bad night on Monday - awake half the night with his legs going into spasm.  Yesterday he could barely drag himself around and it was such a worry.  Then the Surgery refused to do a repeat prescription on a slow release dopamine prescribed by the PD Nurse.  It would seem this happens EVERY time something new is added.  She informs the Surgery by letter and it never gets added on to his list of repeat medications.  The PD Nurse has just phoned to say she is faxing a prescription to Boots and we can collect it tomorrow.  I think I need to have a word with whoever is the Manager at the Surgery though, as it is very worrying, time consuming and frustrating to have this happen repeatedly.

Today the car went in for its MoT.  It failed - the ??? arm to one wheel needs replacing.   I had said there was a noise last time it went in, but then we had the replacement air conditioning unit.  I was hoping the noise would be sorted by that, but no.  It's back in on Friday.  She wasn't sure if they would do the other repair which involves the hanger for the spare tyre beneath the car, but I will settle for one wheel not falling off ! so we can use it at the weekend.  I've booked tickets for Keith, Pam and I to visit Llwyn Celyn, the lovely Landmark Trust property which is having an Open Day weekend, all decked up for Christmas. We plan to take in an Antiques/Collectables Fair in Crickhowell on the way.  Keith's been looking forward to it so it would be a shame to miss out.

Anyway, I had a couple of hours to kill - and arrived at Pam's when she was still out with her rescue dog.  So I wandered slowly back down to the town and did a little bit of Christmas shopping, and spent a lovely 15 mins or so chatting to the lady manning the Local History Society rooms.  I had seen this book in the window, and of course, HAD to have a copy (I expect you will come into town on that mission next time you're down Billy Blue-Eyes!)  It's very good and a new localish church has shot straight to the top of my ones to visit.  You will see it in due course.

Yesterday afternoon I finally got my act together for a Christmas cake - gosh, it was nearly ALL fruit.  The Recipe comes from the BBC Good Food pages .  There was so much mixture, I had enough left over for a small one in a loaf tin, which Keith can enjoy this week.

This new brushed cotton duvet set arrived today from Dunelm.  Keith had requested a 2nd brushed cotton duvet set as he finds the sateen finish ones I have heavy rather than warm.  I changed to the autumn weight duvet too, and we are snug as bugs under the Paisley one we already had.  This had gone in the wash, ready for the next change in a couple of days.

The obligatory kitten photos.  Really must learn how to use the video button on the camera - if I can follow them fast enough, as they hurtle round at warp speed!

Time to sleep . . .

Ghengis looking offended.

Ghengis about to be even more offended as Pippi goes to wallop him!

Lulu - what do I do to boxes?  I EAT THEM!!

Was it Debby who asked about the Tornado here.  I found a link - it was a waterspout from the river Wye! Glad I wasn't driving along there then.

Friday, 25 November 2022

Not the best day to go to Hay . . .


I decided to go to market in Hay yesterday.  There were several things I needed and haven't been to Hay for months, so I had rather set my heart on going.  I don't often watch the local news, so when I got into town and found the A470 shut to traffic, I was surprised.  It turns out that a mini-Tornado (v. localised) the previous day had bought lots of trees down across the road, blocking it nearly as far as Erwood.  

I turned round and headed out on the Brecon road, taking the first turning left for Erwood, which takes you across the last stretch of the Eppynt.  Not a very direct route, but better than going to Brecon and turning Left!  The scenery was lovely, even on a wet day and I noticed two signposts for driving carriages!  Never seen those before.  Bridleways and footpaths too of course.  The Wye Valley Walk also crosses this lane.  Lots to explore next year.  

I have to say, it was a single track lane, and in some stretches turned into a stream or was covered in mud.  There was a steep zig-zag towards the end, but then I could see scenery across the valley which I recognized and finally got spat out just before Erwood and another road-closed sign blocking the road back to Builth.  I wish I'd been able to take more photos - there weren't many good places to stop.  Some of the Birches along the slopes had held onto their leaves and were guinea-gold still.  Beautiful.  A statuesque Ash tree in a gully begged to have its photo taken, but of course, I couldn't stop there.

On to Hay, and the rain began in earnest, so I had a quick gallop through the town, stopping at the Health Food stall just long enough to buy two packs of their excellent dependable curry powder (having bought a Tesco Medium curry powder and had two curries ruined when I discovered it was Vindaloo hot, and forgot it and used it again to ruin another curry this week.  It's now in the bin.)  I needed a bag of the lovely big chunks of preserved ginger too (to cover in chocolate for Keith) and also some glace cherries for the Christmas cake.

Down to see Rob, but he was shut (perhaps for the season, as Hay gets very quiet over the winter months), so I took a photo of his shop window instead.

The lovely shop opposite has now moved on/shut down, and been taken over partly by the chap who used to have a market stall selling pattiserie goods (I of course came home with an apple strudel for Keith and a Tart au Citron for me).

As I came out of the car park it began to really hurl the rain down and it meant slow driving as you could barely see the road ahead.  I had a vague memory of a yellow weather warning for wind and rain - oh yes, NOT the best day to come out, and I had to go home via Brecon too, and over the Eppynts!

"Uncle" Ghengis is supervising play time on the stairs.  He was playing with them too - pat-a-paws! Alfie is finally starting to accept them but L. Whale still inclined to yowl and run away, or else stand his ground and hiss menacingly.  Hopefully we will get there for Christmas.

The little darlings have just been helping me attach the backing to a small quilt top. You can imagine the sort of "help" this has been!  Including running underneath it, and trying to pull my curved safety pins out, and then grabbing the edge of the quilt and pulling it back!  They are so funny :)