Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Driving through the memories - a trip to Cardiganshire

Yesterday we decided to have a Day Off - in fact, it was a Day Out.  Instead of heading East as we normally do, this time we headed west, to see a friend in Cardigan.  It's absolutely years since we were last there, and it made a refreshing change to go somewhere different for once.  (Please excuse the change of font/colour, but I typed much of this up last night in Office.)

(Some very stunted Yarrow at Mwnt yesterday.)

Sometimes the most insignificant things can evoke distant memories of happy days. Driving along the Cardiganshire lanes yesterday, the sight of Toadflax growing on a field bank took me back 60 years, as along with Yarrow (also in flower at the moment) it grew in the wild parts of the garden of the house where I grew up.   

These same field banks were also home to purple Knapweed, various of the Bedstraw family, blue Scabious and the “bluebells of Scotland” - the Harebell. Sadly, the lane was far too narrow for me to stop and take photographs but they are there in my head and reminding me of similar lanes on the way to New Quay, which was one of our favourite beach destinations when the children were small.

There used to be a regular auction in a little parish hall just outside of New Quay, and we would go and bid - or sometimes just check around – and then always drop down into New Quay afterwards for a wander on the beach with the kids and a chip supper to save cooking when we got home late. I shall have to ask them if they remember going there. One thing I recall with absolute horror was going there one busy day in August, not for the auction, but just for the beach, and we lost Tam amongst the crowds of holiday-makers. I went straight into panic mode, imagining her beneath the waves (she was only about 5 then) but fortunately another mum had found her crying and searching for us and we were re-united.

We parked in the Cardigan Car Park behind the Market Hall.  These lovely old cottages are on one side of the car park, and I couldn't help wondering what it would be like to live there - would you simply not notice the comings and goings in the car park after a while?  

This lovely house was at the top end of the car park, built into the hillside.  I looked at the plantings, and wondered what I would have there if it were mine?  Climbing roses for certain, and probably a Clematis Montana to scramble over that outshoot roof.  I'm not mad on Hostas, so wouldn't have those, but some nice Cottage Garden flowers would look pretty in tubs all the way along.  Perhaps an espalier apple grown up the wall too, though that might be a temptation to anyone passing by . . .

Here are a few views around the town.  There were some colourful buildings, and I loved the fan light strangely placed above the bay windows of the building above . . .

This HUGE cannon was one of a number captured at the battle of Sebastapol and this one was brought back to Cardigan because it was Lord Cardigan who led the Charge of the Light Brigade.  The captured cannons were probably brought back as ballast on the ships returning home, but were distributed to towns around the country - a public relations exercise which underlined Britain's success against terrific odds.

Above and below: examples of Edwardian architecture.  I was surprised to find a date of 1916 on the building above (I thought it looked quite Deco) and wondered what workmen were about to construct it in the middle of WW1.

The building below, with its pretty stained glass, dates from 1902 and looks much more Victorian in design.

After having a quick lunch (courtesy of Greggs bakery chain) we went in search of Mwnt, which I had wanted to explore for a long time.  Unfortunately, when we got there we discovered it was owned by the National Trust and it cost £4 to park for the day.  We got there at 2 p.m. and hadn't intended to stay much over an hour or two, and then discovered we didn't have any change anyway, so I took a few photos, and we are going to go back another time - probably NOT the summer holidays though as the lanes to it were very narrow, with the occasional passing place.

This is the little church at Mwnt, beloved of local artists.  I think it was originally a fishermans' Chapel of Ease.  Here is a link.

This is Foel-y-Mwnt which gives the area its name.  I am looking forward to climbing it when the weather is cooler - it was probably cool enough yesterday, had we been able to park.

Above and below: quick snaps seawards from the car park.  We decided we would go a little further on to Aberporth, another place we had never been before (photos from there tomorrow).

Our route home yesterday from Aberporth took us through Beulah. We had been to a busy car boot sale there on a couple of occasions, and then heard they were doing one on a Wednesday evening which “was very good”, so we decided to have a clear out and see if the rumours were true. Were they heck! It was the biggest load of rubbish I've seen in a long time, and half the stalls were market traders trying to offload dodgy batteries, old stock videos (it WAS that long ago), cheap childrens' clothing and the like. We only went the once . . .

Newcastle Emlyn – over the bridge into the town, and memories of my dear friend Kim who was all set to move to Wales to a property near the town, only to have it fall through on the day before contracts were due to be exchanged. I cannot imagine how gutting that must have been.  She is happily settled in France now, but it would have been easier to visit her in Newcastle Emlyn!!  We drove past the lovely plant nursery, scene of visits to browse, or spend birthday money – one year it was a BIG pot of mixed Auriculas and I still have some of their offspring about the place in pots.

Past the little chippy where I once took my mum for lunch on a day out. Quite a novel experience for her as when I was growing up there was just never any money for anything like that – the very occasional stop at a pub where mum would have a stout and dad a shandy (as he was driving). For some reason it is always one in North Hampshire which springs to mind – I can see it so clearly in my mind's eye, but can't remember the name of the pub. The village name suddenly came to me – Vernham Dean. I've looked it up and the name of the pub was The George and it looks pretty much as I remember it. I can remember we parked on the right of the car park, and I had crisps and then a sip of dad's shandy!

Back tomorrow with photos from Aberporth.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Photos of Whitby-cat at long last

This is the latest stray, who I call Whitby, because he is jet black.  Keith, of course, has chosen another name - Sambo! (as in little black . . .)  I think when he goes for the kindest cut of all in the not-too-distant future, he will just be "Sam"!  It has taken me a long time to get his confidence, and for him to allow me to even put a finger near enough for him to sniff, but as long as there is food around, he will now let me stroke him and make a fuss of him and he purrs happily.  The moment the food is eaten though, he goes back to being wary.  Daft animal!  Mind you, at least he is already purring.  It took the really wild and completely feral Ghengis 2 years to learn to purr - or feel happy enough to do so.  Now he is my little shadow and is with me wherever I go and the moment I sit down, he comes up on my lap.

This very intense stare is something he used when he arrived - there was NO WAY he was going to be chased off, he had decided he was going to STAY and that was IT.  He has been someone's house cat, as he knows about houses and cat-flaps, but he obviously left home to find love, and never went back.  It's hard to tell how old he is but his coat is brown in parts - which suggests he may be older than 5, but that said, black coats can be brown from poor nutrition and so we will see if he goes jet black again now he is being fed right royally.

A happy planting.  I sewed an entire packet of Love in a Mist in this pot and only ONE came up.  Then I put this Coleus in there (Henna I think it is called) and the blue of the LIAM (in sunshine) is amazing against the rusty foil of the Coleus.  Both plants remind me of my mum - she always grew LIAM in the garden and she was always given a Coleus plant at Christmas, which she promptly put on top of the gas fire, and by New Year it was somewhat dead . . .

Finally (it is late and we have had a lovely but tiring day out today) an evening picture of one of my Hydrangeas.  It starts off quite a bluey purple but then goes pink.  I would rather it stayed bluey purple personally but . . .

Back tomorrow with a few pictures from our lovely day out today.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Beautiful stitches

These photographs were all rather hastily taken at the Botanic Gardens last weekend.  Hastily as there were people walking from stall to stall and some of the nicest had been covered over by the back of someone's stall.  These are all worked to a theme and showed individual interpretations in needlework.  I thought they were wonderful and so skilfully done.  If they are still up on the wall at the next Fair, I will remember to take my camera along when we set up so I can get a proper collage of them. 

What I loved were all the different techniques used to create these pictures.  The skills involved, the mix of painting fabric and overlaying, and stitching, and stumpwork, and 3-D (with that lovely butterfly and the embellished hexagons) - so many different skills and so many different interpretations. 


The picture above was my favourite.  The stumpwork trees were amazing, and I loved the map-like depiction of the fields in a particular corner of a parish.  Beautiful.  Which is your favourite?

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Looking tidy - and wildlife

When we had the horses, this was the paddock.  It is no longer fenced and the border of trees would let determined ponies through with no problems whatsoever!

Now we are restoring it to be part of the garden here again, and today the gardener (doesn't that sound grand?!) came to mow it for us.  Of course, with the drought, it hadn't grown too much so didn't take him anything like as long as it did last time.  He also rotovated the last bit of the veg plot.  Now I am torn between planting it with green manure over the winter, or digging in the lawn clippings - of course, we should have thought to get him to rotovate them in at the time, but didn't know this was a good plan (I was thinking if we got grass seed dug in there, it would be back to grass in no time).  

Above and below: Ash trees suffering from Ash die-back.  We have several around our land.  Great for firewood, only at the moment Keith still has his frozen shoulder and just can't fell the trees and cut them up as he used to.  Which is a pain because this is perfect weather for getting them dried quickly - like being in a kiln!  We will have to see about getting someone in to do it for us - perhaps the local firewood chap might come and cut several down and be paid partly in firewood.

Anyway, I spent much of today indoors as the humidity levels were such that it felt just as it was in the Dome last weekend.  I am only just starting to come right from that, and even so, my peak flow isn't good.   I will try and get up very early tomorrow and do a walk as that helps more than anything to improve matters and clear my airways.

I finally watched some Tennis today (women's finals) as it was obvious that England weren't going to be 3rd in the Football which Keith was watching.  I haven't watched tennis for several years, but as it was the womens' final I thought I would.  I was very good and did the ironing and everything is tidied away, and windows have been cleaned, fresh bed linen on the beds (dirty linen washed with fingers crossed that the water wouldn't run out!) and tomorrow I will finish the tidying - though that includes the Junk Room, so I May Be Gone Some Time doing that!

Edited to add - I've just been looking out of the half-landing window, and the young rabbit who chances his arm most days, was out there again.  I fear that one of these days Alfie is going to catch him . . .

There has been a family of Thrushes nesting in our copse along the stream bank too.  I have two out there most evenings - not sure if they are the parents or youngsters but probably the former.

There have been a goodly number of Mistle Thrushes along our valley too this summer, so obviously something suits them here.

Right, off to read my book now.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Evening at the beach

Tam wanted to go to the beach whilst she was here, so when she had finished working yesterday we set off for Pendine, but were quite surprised when we got there to find that the tide was totally in - normally you have to walk half a mile to paddle in it!  This is the view to the East, with the long beach of Pembrey in the distance.

Looking in the direction of Tenby here, which you can just see in the distance beyond the headland.

Looking along the front towards some of the buildings along the front at Pendine, and cottages on the hillside overlooking it.

There were a couple of families paddling and bathing with children and dogs - the dogs were really having fun chasing a ball into the water.

A view of Caldey Island, which I still hope to visit this summer.

You can just see the spire of one of the Tenby churches in this photo if you look closely.

Above and below: we ate fish and chips and watched the waves coming to shore and breaking on the rocks.  It was so peaceful, and we just sat and watched folk swim, and it was a wonderful way of unwinding after a busy week (and last weekend's stresses).

We drove through Laugharne to get to Tenby and when we sat down to watch tv last night, there was a re-run of the series "Keeping Faith" which was largely filmed in Laugharne, and we knew all the places they had filmed.  It looks like being a good drama.

Below: I have finally been able to get out and do some tidying up in the garden, and got down 3 bags of bark chippings.  There were only a few sparse weeds which have survived the drought, and I pulled them up and covered the area to keep any moisture in and stop the weeds growing.

I have been very tired this week and not up to doing a great deal - I just wanted to sit and read, so I have done just that, plus watching the racing from Newmarket on a couple of afternoons.

We are still having to be very careful with the water supply and the threatened heavy rain hasn't materialized here.  There are some clouds about, but none looking like dumping the sort of quantities of rain we are desperate for here.  The fields are all scorched now and I expect farmers are far more desperate than me for rain to give them more grazing as well as topping up water supplies - thirsty cattle drink an awful lot of water.

Have a good weekend all.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Out and about at the Botanic Gardens

Above: Paxton's Tower overlooking the beautiful Towey Valley.

Looking towards the far side of the Towey Valley - our river valley leads off this.

I believe this was originally the servant's quarters.  On Fair days, it is full of dealers selling their lovely finds.

Some of the lovely plantings where you can wander at will.

Looking down towards the Vintage Village.  They had a bit of a breeze down here - definitely better to be outside than in!

A sparrow family in residence at the back of the old stable block (now turned into a cafe area.)  The babies will have flown by now.

A lovely hexagon quilt on one of the stands in the vintage village.

This lady turns up regularly at Fairs, and is always immaculately turned out in swish 50s style.  She has the figure for it too.

One of the areas sown with wild flowers.  So pretty.

Apologies for the lack of words this morning but I am running late (having caught up with Poldark before getting started on this post).  I didn't sleep at all well past 2 a.m. last night and I feel a bit groggy as a result.  There were about three spots of rain at 6.30 this morning and some is threatened for this afternoon - it is overcast and cooler, so fingers crossed, though of course it would coincide with a planned beach picnic with our eldest daughter!