Sunday morning was frosty with a chilly wind, but the sun was shining, which was the main thing. I woke at 5.30 a.m. so came down and baked a half and half Spelt loaf, and yet another apple concoction for my menfolk. This one is stewed apple, sprinkled with some frozen mixed berries which were on special offer at the supermarket a few weeks ago. OH doesn't do sweet anything, so the tartness of the crumble was just right. I had run out of Jumbo oats (we collect a big sack today) and so I used a bowlful of Dorset muesli to add to the crumble mix.
I am still working my way through the 30 lb box of cooking apples we bought a couple of weeks back for just £5.
We had shopping to get, but started the day with a short walk in Green Castle Woods, on the Llansteffan road out of Carmarthen. I was hoping for a better view of the castle ruins, which are only vaguely visible from the road as you drive past - and then only if you are the passenger! Sadly you cannot get near to take photographs as it is on private land, so the only photos I got were of romantic - and distant - ruins . . .
A little of the history of the place would not go amiss, however, and for this I am relying heavily (entirely in fact!) on Francis Jones' "Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families", a book originally purchased as a necessity as our house figures in it.
Possibly built on an earlier fortified mound, its earliest name was Castel Moel ("moel" = dry, bare hill), although by 1435 it was also known as Green Castle and the duality of name survives to this day. The ruins stand on a bluff overlooking the Towy and once must have been a large impressive later Medieval manor house - and although called a castle, was never actually one. (Although it is believed that this L-shaped first floor hall house originally had crenellations and there was certainly a tall stair turret adjoining the main part of the house). The Reed (or Rede) family were the first-known owners, dating from the early 15th century, and local bardic poet Lewys Glyn Cothi (who stayed at our house in fact, being friendly with the Lloyds) sang the praises of the Reeds. In 1624 the entire estate passed out of the family to a rich Bristol merchant, Humphrey Browne and his heiress Mary married into the Vaughan family of Golden Grove. She must literally have been a child bride as she died without issue aged just 18! In 1674, Lord Vaughan sold the estate to Richard Brett of London and the history of the Castle sadly involves it being sold onwards to increasingly disinterested owners who spent their lives living in England . . . It was ruinous from Elizabethan times onwards.
An even more distant view of the ruins of the house. Presumably this had been the stair turret.
It made a real change to be able to walk through woodland. Something we took for granted when we lived in England, within a short drive of the New Forest.
A vague view of Carmarthen in the distance. Believe me, you're not missing much. In recent years it has changed from busy Market town to mini-Swansea . . .
The week has flown by, but I was Keeping Busy, so not that surprising I suppose. Yesterday I worked myself to a standstill, sweeping the yard and clearing up leaves and bits of degraded concrete which the frosts and snow of winter have seen out (NEVER employ a navvy called Shane . . .) I dry-swept it, then I wet-swept it. Then I dug and heaved a wheelbarrow full of muck heap uphill to the strawberry patch which was cleared and weeded last week. I now have two rows of young (self-runnered) plantlets in, and watered, and as there was a hard frost forecast, I put them to bed beneath a plastic cloche I bought last year in Lidls. I plan to get the other two rows planted today.
Finally, do you remember the BIG pot we bought at Builth Antiques Fair last Autumn? Well, OH did a brilliant lid for it using two old bread boards (a pound apiece at a car boot sale). The smaller one is out of sight inside and stops the lid falling off. This now contains my bread flour.