Thursday 27 February 2014

This walk was Hard Work!

It was dry again yesterday and I set off for a walk along the valley, towards the A40.  The river had dropped but there was still a fair bit of power there.  It wouldn't do to fall in, that's for sure.  I never tire of the river - it changes from day to day, and when it has been raining, from hour to hour.  The speed with which it can rise is quite frightening.  Our friends along the river live in dread of the phone call in the wee small hours, warning them of a red alert . . .

The lane ahead, with sunlight brightening the olive green of the moss on the steep banks and changing it towards emerald.  I think I can just see a couple of leaves on the bushes atop it (on the left).  Possibly honeysuckle or more likely, elder, as I have big buds on my elder shrubs in the paddock and yard.

 For once, I even got droplets of water in the spume!  

 As I said, it was DRY . . . rather than sunny.  Yet this photo of the tree shapes has tiny highlights - only of shades of green - which enhance rather than underline the drabness of a February afternoon.

 And again - this is a tree I would scarcely notice in summertime.

 This splendid chap is beside the lane leading up to Llanfynydd.

Recent storm damage to one of the riverside trees.  There are a lot of beeches here and also a fair bit of disease in the trees.

In falling, it side-swiped this tree too.

The lane ahead, and another winter tree.  I took the little lane by Fynnonau leading me up past Eisteddfa.  Eisteddfa means, from what I recall, "meeting place" and may have been associated with St Egwad, back in the early days of Celtic Christianity.   Ffynnonau means "springs" (as in source of). 

Snowdrops crowd together on a bank top.

LAMBS!  There were quite a few of them in this field, and for once, some COLOUR - even though green is the way to go . . .

Back to virtual monochrome again for this view across the valley.  Section A's in the front field from the same stud where we bought our little palomino Merlin 25 years ago now.  He would be 26 this year, if he is still around.

I have to say, by this point on my walk I was struggling a bit.  Just not really in walking mode, and my lungs were starting to complain (my fault for not drinking enough water I suspect).  Anyway, I phoned my husband to come and rescue me, and noticed this Primrose just as he arrived. 

This was where I was heading before I got tired. To the left of the picture is Wern.  Straight ahead are the flat fertile fields of the Towy Valley.  Llanegwad village may just be visible on the right, and the A40 is out of sight beyond the fields.  The green of the grass suggests it is just starting to grow again, and whilst we had a chillier day today and a downpour of hailstones this afternoon (just as I was outside cleaning the bay windows), spring seems a step closer.

Monday 24 February 2014

A walk up the valley

After FINALLY tackling some long-overdue housework this morning, I took advantage of the sunshine and had a walk up the valley, surprising a bevy of sunbathers as I did so . . .

Here they were before they noticed me.

The two greys are mother and daughter.

I was trying to capture some beautiful tree shapes again.  Here is one earlier in the walk.  I had just stopped to take a photo and then watched a pair of Long Tailed Tits playfully following one another along the hedgerow.

Nettle Soup anyone?  These are the first of this year's crop, in a sheltered hedge bottom.

Nother first sighting - Dog's Mercury, a sign of ancient woodland.

Foxglove leaves are putting on some growth now.

Rafts of Saxifraga oppositifolia in the wet alder-carr woodland.

There's an old trackway runs through these trees (you might just see the bank edging it on the stretch of deciduous woodland).  It used to go to an old cottage, whose name eludes me, but all that is left of the place now is half a brick.  I wrote a poem about it once.

Leaves of Lords and Ladies enjoying the sunshine.

Beside my neighbour's farm, an ancient Medieval holloway which takes you into the next parish.  I used to ride up here sometimes, and more recently, walk - either from this end going up and in a circle, or sometimes the other loop.  It has a real feeling linking you to the past, and the landscape looks totally different from this ancient trackway.

At Nant Gwilw, this huge old oak tree must be 600 years old or even more.  It is vast around the trunk.

The really spooky Nant Gwilw which has SUCH an atmosphere to it.  I think I have told its story before, but will have to try and find it in my "back issues".

Another winter-bare tree - an oak  - which has seen many a winter.

Lastly, found in a charity shop on my recent travels.  C. 1980s Laura Ashley hexagons.  £2.50.

And from the same household I presume, some 10 or so blocks, beautifully pieced, along with material for more . . .

Just £1.50 for all these.  it must have been my lucky day!

Had I not paid full whack for them at Christmas, I could have got a big cutting mat and an Omnigrid too (£4.99 each).  Ah well . . . someone else will benefit.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Our house, Gwyddno Garanhir and the sunken land of Cantre'r Gwaelod

The sunken land of Cantre'r Gwaelod  . . . .

These 5,000-year-old trees have emerged on a beach in Mid Wales after peat was washed away during the recent storms

 HERE is a link to an article about how the recent storms have uncovered more of the Bronze Age forests off the Cardiganshire coast near Borth.

The oak and yew stumps were once part of a forest that covered the whole area before it turned into a peat bog and was eventually overwhelmed by water

Scientists knew the forest was there as stumps could sometimes be seen at low tide, but these new remains have appeared further north than the previous sightings
Amazing photographs, and many thanks to the Daily Mail online, from whence I have copied them.

The tale of Cantre'r Gwaelod (the "Lower Hundred") is an interesting and ancient one, possibly far older than it has been given credit for, given that this is a sunken Bronze Age Forest (e.g. around 5,000 years ago this sank beneath the waves), and indeed, the legend may well chronicle the rising sea levels following the final melting from the Ice Age which finally ended about 6,000 years ago.  Cantrer Gwaelod is the Welsh equivalent of Cornwall's Lyonesse going beneath the waves - our equivalent of Atlantis.

The first written record of this legend appeared in The Black Book of Carmarthen, which dates back to about 1250 and this stretch of the coastline (between Bardsey Island and Cardigan - basically, beneath what is now Cardigan Bay) was known as Maes Gwyddno (the Plain of Gwyddno). It extended some 20 miles from the present coastline.  It was apparently low-lieing land which was protected from the sea by a series of sluice gates and a dyke known as St Patrick's Causeway.  Its capital was Caer Gwyddno (the Fort of Gwyddno).  In the Black Book of Carmarthen legend, it is a well-maiden, Mererid, who neglects her duties and because of this the well overflows and floods the land.  In another version of the legend (the one I am familiar with), it is one of the two Princes of the realm (Seithenyn), well known for his drunken ways, who neglected to shut the floodgates and thus the land was inundated by the sea.  A very similar tale is told of low-lying land higher up in Wales, Llys Helig (from what I recall "Llys" is always connected with a - high status - court).  They both have the same link of the church bells being heard tolling when danger threatens. HERE  is a link to the Widipedia page on the subject.

 This ancient forest has been known about and monitored in the past, and storms have removed its preserving (anaerobic) bed of peat, but never to this level and this has now extended further north towards Llys Helig?.  Species of trees include Yew, Oak, and Pine and the recent discoveries, near to Ynyslas, were Oak and Pine trees.  More excitingly, stretches of a wattle trackway have also been discovered and will be subject to dating tests to establish in which period it was built.  HERE  is a link to the Daily Mail article with further photographs. HERE  is the BBC's take on this Legend.

There is some doubt as to whether Gwyddno Garanhir actually existed - or at least, in the land of Cantre'r Gwaelod.  Historians have placed him in Merionethshire.  Be that as it may, the basket of Gwyddno Garanhir was one of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain .  This is a variation on the Christian loaves and fishes, as food for one man would be placed in the hamper, yet when it was opened, it was found to contain enough food for 100 men.

Anyway, after his productive lands (one acre would produce the same food as 4 acres would elsewhere in the Welsh kingdoms) were beneath the sea, Gwyddno Garanhir had to seek his fortune elsewhere in the less productive areas of Wales.  His son, Elffin ap Gwyddno, was the foster father to Taliesin, who became one of the most famous of Welsh poets, who flourished in the 6th century.  His name, translated from the Welsh, means "shining brow". 

Now what, you may be asking, is the connection with our house?  Well, when we first moved here, and our children went to Mother and Toddler Group in Brechfa, the Vicar, now Canon Patrick Thomas wrote a paragraph in the parish magazine, something along the lines of welcoming us to the parish, and how amazed he was that we had come to live at Ynyswen, as the Lloyd family (I think it was) were descendents of Gwyddno Garanhir, of ancient days.  Gwyddno Garanhir's name may be translated thus: Gwyddno Long-Shanks;  Crane-Legs or, Tall-Crane.  Anyone who knows us by name, will instantly make the connection!  Perhaps we had returned home?!

Anyway, I am hoping that my husband and I will get a chance to visit Borth at low tide in the next week or so, weather permitting, and get some photos to share with you.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Off in search of spring . . .

Today's post is over on my other blog, Dust on the Nettles, about Edward Thomas.    I hope you will visit.

Meanwhile, normal service should be resumed here shortly.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

SPRING has sprung!!!

This is the Liberty fabric I bought.  Couldn't resist it!  Don't have any plans for it yet, but it would look beautiful as the centre for some Cathedral Windows . . .

My lovely Scandy pattern Torquay Pottery teapot stand.  Now I have to try and find a teapot to go with it!  The folk selling it had come all the way from Plymouth to sell there! 

The first of the Doulton series-ware pieces - I couldn't resist the ploughing team.  Ancestral links and all that.

Doulton series-ware sandwich plate.

5 Doulton series-ware side plates.  This whole lot (all the Doulton photographed here) came to £10.  Not that long ago you could have added a nought to the end as Doulton was SO desirable).  May as well buy what we like whilst it is still so cheap.

Meanwhile, the birds are singing their hearts out in the garden and we saw Rooks nest-building the other day, and this morning Herons were carrying twigs back to the Whitemill heronry.  Out in our pond . . .  the frogs have suddenly taken up residence, with the inevitable consequences.  Frog spawn!

And the wildlife pond is even busier : )

Yesterday we saw the first silver paws of pussy willows out as we drove to Whitland, the other side of Carmarthen.  On Sunday we saw the first Primroses on a roundabout on the outskirts of Abergavenny.  This has lifted my spirits so much.

Meanwhile, my Super Tastebuds and heightened sense of smell, forced us to go into town again today (why didn't I think of this yesterday?) for fresh fish from M&S (where it CAN be relied upon to be fresh and toothsome), a huge head of fresh Broccoli also from M&S, and then a stop-off at Abergwili for fresh fruit - £4 worth here.  £1 for the vine tomatoes; £1 for 15 big apricots; £1 for 7 Mineolas and £1 for the box of Russets (my favourite apple).  I am losing weight, which I need to do, for the sake of my asthma and my general health, and need to grab the bull by the horns whilst I don't fancy eating much at all.  I have just chucked out for the birds, 2 chocolate fresh cream eclairs as I can't face anything sweet at the moment.  I thought they might tempt my appetite last week, but no . . .

Monday 17 February 2014

The February Malvern Fleamarket

Yesterday my beloved and I had a day out at Malvern Fleamarket.  Of the half a dozen photos I tried taking on the way from the car, this was the only one which turned out.  Excuse mucky windscreen!  I thought I had taken some good ones, but the delay on my camera (and the lack of brain present after yet another week without much sleep) meant that the "perfect picture" always, without fail, ended up with a speeding tree or a beautifully-positioned telegraph pole in the middle of it!

Outside were a reasonable number of stalls, though obviously nothing like the numbers you get on a sunny day in summer.  We had a good wander round before going inside.  This would be one of the Welsh stalls (hence the Welsh blankets on it!!)

I liked the smile on the Crocodile head!

This was obviously the Posh End of the proceedings, as they had HEATING in here!

There's always plenty of jewellery on offer.

A bushel measure.  Stamped with VR too.  Not something I have ever come across before.  This would have been used for measuring grain and held 8 (DRY) gallons of grain (which are 4 PECKS.)  Gosh, that takes me back to my school days, along with rods, poles and perches for linear measurement.  4 bushels made 1 coombe.  Basically, a bushel of corn would weigh roughly 56 lbs - half a hundredweight.

Who you looking at? !!

Sundry bits and bobs.

I think this is a Dik Dik.

Of course, the weather brought people out and if they weren't wandering round the Fleamarket, they were out walking the Malvern Hills, and who can blame them?  I'd have loved to be up there myself.

I persuaded my OH to stop so I could take some photos of the view across the Worcestershire fields.  Stunning.

I will add a P.S.  later with some photos of what we bought (Tana Lawn Libery fabric - it is SO PRETTY!)  Right now, my body is still trying to recover from thie virus and I have a shocking headache.  My mental capacity is on a par with a road-kill Frog right now . . .