Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The View from Paxton's Tower

This is Paxton's Tower, a Neo-Gothic Folly which stands high above the Towy Valley and has fabulous views in every direction.  It was built around 1805 by Sir Thomas Paxton, who lived at nearby Middleton Hall (burned down long ago in 1931) in memory of his friend Nelson. There were originally commemorations in English, Welsh and Latin but these are long gone.

Looking behind us from the Tower, you can see the wonderful dome of the Great Glass House, which is where we do our big two-day Antiques Fairs.  It is the largest single-span glasshouse in the world. The yellow house to the right of it is Principality House, which housed the servants. 

I can't call this a walk as such, as Tam and I just walked across one field from the car park, but the views are spectacular in every direction.    Here this (which is also the header photo) is the view towards Dinefwr Castle near Llandeilo.

The next castle in the chain of command - Dryslwyn on its hilltop above the river Towy.  Carmarthen was the end of the line to the East and Carreg Cennan 4th in line to the West.  We are so glad they have re-opened the car park so that we can climb up there again.  Covid restrictions were very . . . restricting.

Looking towards Black Mountain in the East.

The undulating Towy controls the lines of the fields and sometimes cuts across its loops when it is getting lazy and makes ox-bow lakes and new meanders.  Finally I understand what I was taught in Geography at school!!

Panning Westwards from the steep slopes of Dryslwyn Castle and looking towards our valley in the distance. (Above and below).

The houses middle left are Nantgaredig's Station Road.

We are no longer on a 5 mile Lockdown here in Wales and are planning various walks and outings - where there aren't likely to be many other people as we are still Shielding.  The list of  Friends of Friendless Churches we want to visit will probably have to stay on hold as I am sure they won't be open but plenty of other places to go to - including the beach . . . but not on a hot sunny day!

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Some recent baking


1/3 cup (2 oz/56 g) softened margarine)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I use 3 oz/85 g)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (4 oz /115 g) all purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup (1 oz/28 g) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (ground cloves, or I used ginger in this instance)
1 cup applesauce
Confectioner's sugar (That's icing sugar and I didn't bother with it)

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F/170 deg C.  Grease and flour a 9 x 9 inch baking tin (I used a round cake tin with a liner).  

Cream first two ingredients together until well blended.  Beat in eggs and reserve.

Combine next 5 dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add dry mixture alternately to first mixture with applesauce.

Beat only until blended and pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake about 30 minutes, remove from oven, cool in pan on rack and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Photo to follow . . .

Here's a Rhubarb and Custard cake I made a couple of weeks ago when we had a good picking of Rhubarb.  Recipe can be found on the BBC Good Food website.  It is DELISH!

Chocolate apple cake with added ginger bits (Keith loves ginger).

Friday, 3 July 2020

In search of Carreg Castell y Gwynt

That translates from the Welsh to:  Rock Castle of the Wind.  Isn't that beautiful? It falls within the current 5 mile limit of travel and has views across to the mountains on one side.  The low cloud masked Black Mountain a little.

Below: on our way back home, it was only slightly clearer but you could just make out Pen-y-Fan to the left.  We are looking across the Sannan valley here (where the wind turbine is).  That leads from Llanfynydd up to Abergorlech.  Llanfynydd was a site of early Christianity and the impressive Eidon's stone was found there (in what is now a marshy unremarkable field.)  Here's a post I did a while back. Five years ago in fact.

So, into the woods.  One teensy corner of the vast Brechfa Forest.  Sadly these vast pine forests are not much good for wildlife . . .

It is very damp up here, and the trees densely planted and there is no wind blowing through to dry it off (the trees are moss-free on the side which gets the wind.) There is a lot of moss underfoot too and it is so wonderfully soft to walk on- like a green pillow.

A weird ghostly picture - I must have shaken the camera good and proper without realizing it!

Down the hill, round the corner and voila - the view that was seen by folk in prehistory is spread out before us.  The Forestry Commission have kindly chopped down a lot of trees recently and restored the view to us.

Looking Westwards, here is Brechfa village.

Foxgloves and landscape - keep going and you will eventually reach the Cambrian mountains.

There were lovely views as far as the eye could see.

Only the gigantic capstone of Carreg Castell y Gwynt is left, and that lies flat on the ground.  It took a little bit of finding but there was a narrow pathway which led to it.  It measures 3.9m x 2.1m x 0.5m thick.  In 1938 the stone stood in farmland and a probable "marker stone" stood some 30ft to the NW.  It is part of a group of burials in the area - there are several cairns marked on the slopes above Llanfynydd.  It dates to the Bronze Age.

It is on land like this rough moorland grazing that the cairns are situated.

Now I must go and do some heavy duty gardening before heavy rain arrives in a couple of hours.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

When the paddock is cut we have a Visitor

We had the paddock cut this week.  The cats were delighted and so were the birds, all out there hunting for grub.  Then along came Mr Fox (a youngster).  Cats weren't bothered by him but he sat and looked at the cats for a while, puzzled.

He found a squished mouse or vole I think, as he ate something.

Then he just sat and looked at the cats for a while.  

Saturday, 27 June 2020

A Different Walk, Part II

Walking across the boardwalk by the lake, with marshland either side.

The beautiful natural lake with yellow Water Lilies.

Potentilla - Creeping Cinquefoil, I believe.

There were lots of Whinberries growing, and we sampled a few.

Looking back across the Towy valley hills towards our valley.  In the photo below it starts about half way across the photo from the left and has a dark "shoulder" to it.  The beginning is in line with the darker tree in the middle.  The fields here are grazed by Exmoor ponies, but we didn't see any up this end at all.

Large Skippers mating.  I seem fated to discover the sex life of butterflies this week, as I saw a couple of Meadow Browns at it too the other day!

Finally, view across the Towy Valley on the way home - here is Dryslwyn Castle and FINALLY the car park has been unlocked and you are allowed to climb up to the castle again . . .

Fingers x'd, Keith seems to be on the mend due to a course of steroids - annoyingly, he sleeps really well with them and isn't eating like a horse!

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

A different walk - at a local country park

Here is Ragged Robin growing in a damp ditch.  It has many other country names including Cuckoo Flower, Cuckoo Gilliflower, Cuckoo Hood, Indian Pink, Marsh Gilliflower, and Wild William. In Shakespeare's time it was known as "Crow Flower" and was one of the flowers in Ophelia's garland.  It is dedicated to St Barnabas, as his feast day was 11th June when hay used to be cut, and these flowers would often be found amongst the hay.  Long-tongued bees love it.

You can never have too many Foxgloves - here these were putting on a show amongst wild grass and fern, with self-seeded young trees in the background.

Common Spotted Early Marsh Orchid.  Apparently these Orchids can hybridize, which is something I didn't realize.

So now you know where we went - as the crow flies 5 miles - as the road winds, a little more.  Allowable, when you live rurally anyway and the nearest shops and your GP's surgery are 10 miles away!  Not many people about - they started arriving just as we left, and we were careful about social distancing - I had my back towards and stood well off the track if we met anyone.

This woodland path led a short way through the woods and down to a Hide to watch birds on the lake below.  There wasn't a single one when we arrived.

Purple Moor Grass, gone to seed.  I don't remember seeing this before, but I probably have down on Dartmoor.

There will be some more photos tomorrow.  I have been distracted out in the garden once it cooled down and it's time to go down and watch the next episode of The Luminaries which, if you haven't watched already, I can heartily recommend (catch it on BBC iPlayer.)  I had the book but didn't get around to reading it and I am pretty sure I gave it to the charity shop . . .  Someone kick me!