Wednesday 30 September 2015

Some seaside photos from Newgale (and very few words!)

One of the beauties of Welsh beaches is that on a sunny September weekday afternoon there is scarcely a soul to be seen on them.  Here is Newgale, enjoying a day borrowed from summer.  When the surf is up in summer, it is a surfer's paradise.

Sunlight prickled the water and made it glare, so that the horizon with Milford Haven to its back was just a grey smudge, punctuated by the islands of Skomer and Skokholm, and a tanker (one of several) standing off waiting to offload at Milford.

My lovely husband.

I took dozens of photos trying to capture the waves breaking, but it was so dazzling I couldn't really see what I was aiming at!  This is one of the better ones.

St David's Head in the distance.  I would love to go for a wander round there again.

One last one, looking east.

I am up for an early night tonight as I was awake over 4 hours last night, watching Escape to the Country programmes and knitting . . .

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Thoughts on shopping elsewhere

I sit in the garden, taking a break from some heavy-duty gardening, my book (Mr Mac and Me) open on my lap, but my thoughts elsewhere.  A Red Admiral butterfly and several bees take advantage of the sunshine and the bounty the Sedums have to offer, and behind me I am aware of the grumbling of the Sparrows and the flutter of their wings as they fly between the rambler rose and the guttering on the house.

My mind travels back to this morning, when I stood and proudly watched (along with many other folk who lined the streets through town) the Welsh Guards parading, headed by their brass band as they marched in the sunshine up towards Notts Square.  Several were nearly as red in the face as their Uniforms and those bearskins can't have helped their temperatures either.

When I went into the main Health Food shop in town, which I have long patronised, the young man behind the counter was . . . sounding off . . . to a woman whom he was serving, and she looked rather embarassed, although she said not a word.  He was obviously anti-Royalist and his rhetoric had my hackles up, and when he called our Queen "the German woman", my lips were being firmly bitten.  I was within an inch of walking out.  It was only the fact I could not get that particular brand of bread flour elsewhere in town (and I had run out of it) that kept me in the shop.  Had he said ONE word on that same theme to me he would have had MY opinion on the matter and I would have walked out, never to darken his door again.  Having now given it thought, I intend to take my patronage elsewhere and having checked where I can get that flour online, that is where I shall buy it now.

There are times when people should keep their notions and beliefs to themselves.  I don't often discuss politics or what I believe in on here, but I can tell you something for nothing, that young man and I are polar opposites.

Monday 28 September 2015

Solva in the sunshine

Today we had some sea air as we had to drive down to deliver a table  to a lady in Pembrokeshire. We had a lovely talk with her about local artists, local history, ghosts, life in general and then headed back to Solva to get some lunch.  What is it about the English who are so tolerant and polite  at times, to the point of stupidity?  Well, that was us today.  We decided to have a bite to eat at a little cafe beside the car park, as they offered fresh fish and chips, and our experience of seaside fish is that it is normally very fresh.  Well, the nearest thing to fish and chips on the menu was seabass, as a main meal!  We decided to opT for crab sandwiches (me, although I shouldn't be eating shellfish, but the rest of the menu was extremely dairy-heavy) and OH just wanted a BLT but without the L or the T! No change there then.

Well, first of all the crab was off - fair enough, you have to have a fresh catch of crab and obviously they hadn't had one.  She offered smoked salmon and a rocket salad sandwich.  I didn't like to say I shouldn't have smoked fish either, so I went with that and we sat down with our drinks.  We thought we had our sandwiches when the young lad bought two rounds out and gave them to us, but no . . . they were the cheese and chutney for the table behind us.  A table of 6 ladies who were there before us got served, then food started to go outside - several platefuls, and as only one couple had been out there when we arrived, we twigged we had been forgotten. By this time half an hour had passed (I said we were over-tolerant!)  I mentioned this to the lad who promptly came out with our sandwiches - OH's stone cold congealed bacon WITH Lettuce and Tomato so wrong on every count, especially the stone cold bit!  I ate mine and OH got a refund and when we got back to the car, made do with a melting chocolate bar I had bought him earlier on.

Anyway, then we decided to walk along the harbour and I was pleased to find it had been yarn-bombed!  My husband was most perplexed and couldn't understand why someone should do this!

We went a little away along this inviting path, only to find that it went onto the coast path towards St David's.

The harbour mouth was just so inviting, so we retraced our steps and walked along the beach on the far side, past 4 or 5 old lime kilns, and onto the beach.  There was a southerly wind and it felt like mid-summer and I really didn't want to leave!

Taking photos was difficult as the sun was in the wrong place, but I got some nice sunlight-on-water effects, along with what appears to be a thumbprint on the lens . . .

Looking back across the estuary to Upper Solva.

Looking back towards Lower Solva and the harbour, once a thriving place, as the board below tells you.  I would have loved to have done a long walk round there (I had the Pembrokeshire Walks book in the car today), but it was 2 p.m. by this time, so we went on to Newgale Beach instead (tomorrow's post).

We should come down to Pembrokeshire more often but St David's is 1 1/2 hours I think from home, and we would need to have an earlier start than today.

Saturday 26 September 2015

Today felt like Christmas came early!

Today I had a parcel arrive from a good friend of mine (you know who you are!)  It was a stash of books she had mentioned and asked if I would like as she had read them.  Well, of course the answer was yes.  I hardly know which to read first, but am drawn to Emma Freud's novel, set in wartime I believe.

Above is a book I would have liked to buy when we went to the Quantocks last year, and visited Coleridge's cottage.  Richard Holmes has written two excellent biographies (the 2nd is Darker Reflections, about the mature Coleridge, and his friendship with Opium), and I was fortunate to have been given both by my friend Annie's daughter yesterday (along with a lovely old Patchwork book too).  These were some of the books still needing rehoming fron Annie's cottage and I was so thrilled to be given them.  I have started reading this one, and am thoroughly enjoying it as I know very little about Coleridge's life other than he wrote poetry, was once interrupted by the Person From Porlock and he wasn't a very good husband.

When I was feeling unwell on Thursday, and had an enforced sofa day, I got out the nearly-finished woolwork embroidery (for a firescreen) which my friend Annie hadn't been able to complete before her death.  I had promised her and her daughter that I would put the final stitches.  A couple of flowers needed finishing (above) and the border needed a bright colour to finish it off.  It was all in chain stitch, which is fortunately the embroidery stitch I am most competent at!

The finished embroidery.  The keen-sighted amongst you may notice the ceiling is where the floor should be, mainly because this was hanging over the door and Annie had sewn it from the middle down, so to speak.  Isn't it lovely?  Her daughter was very pleased.

When I was in the bath tonight it looked pretty dimpsey outside, but a Robin was singing his heart out, as if he was trying to impress a gal!  It was uplifting to hear him.  I wonder if it was the one who was perched on top of the telegraph pole earlier?  We have several about the place so it might not have been.

I hope you are enjoying your weekends.  I'm off to read now!

Thursday 24 September 2015

A couple more pieces of Torquay pottery and an embroidery

First, this beautiful embroidery which I bought at Malvern on Sunday.  I just couldn't resist it and thought it was worth the £10 I paid for it.  I will probably get it framed later.

Then a pretty piece of Torquay, with a slight glaze problem so probably a Friday afternoon piece.  It makes it mortal anyway, and it came cheaply enough.

This lovely big piece came from Builth, where it was just £8.

These I just HAD to have.  I didn't have a pinch-top piece like the vase on the left, and I am still trying to pin down the pottery that made the nearly pair of vases - I have NEVER seen that eel/snake shape on anything else.

I am feeling under the weather today and had to have a sofa day, though I have been sewing and finishing off a lovely chain-stitch wool embroidery that my dear late friend Annie had been working on for her daughter.  I am seeing her daughter tomorrow so need to get on and complete it.

Monday 21 September 2015

Malvern again

Yesterday was a Malvern Day, as in Fleamarket of course.  We dragged our weary bodies out of bed at 3.15 a.m. and drove steadily through the night (I hate driving at night at the best of times) and the low-lieing cloud which was pretending to be fog (a pretty good impression too).  Anyway, we were glad to arrive in good time at around 7.15 a.m. and as you can see from the photo, as the day unravelled, the sun came through and burnt off the mist.  It was pretty warm by around 11 a.m.

Now yesterday seemed to have been THE day for pond yachts, as I must have seen well over a dozen about the place (normally one would be the rule).  However, they paled into insignificance against this monster - now THIS is what you CALL a pond yacht!!!  It was enormous.  I am guessing scale model rather than something to have on the water, but it got a few admiring glances from the menfolk present.

Some people say they find rocking horses scarey.  I never agreed with them until I saw this chap yesterday.  Oh dear, I should imagine he would terrify most kids.  He looks like he should audition for Dr Who!

One of a pair of big Torquay bird vases I spotted on the way round.  I could live without these.

I've not seen this heather-coloured background used before on such a big pot AND with the "angry budgie" motif!!  I easily resisted this too.

There were a lot of hours of sewing went into these beautiful x-stitch designs.  There were about 20 of them on offer, but no takers.  I liked the ploughing team bottom right.

Cute cutwork cat.

This pretty painted box with cranes took my eye.

An oddball collection here.  Wild boar's heads were on offer all over the place - I think some have come in recently with European sellers - I know the Dutchman who is there regularly had a whole pile of taxidermy last time.

Speaking of which - this boyo looked fierce. . . .

. . . and these were European too.  Splendid horns chaps.

This was such a pretty little scrapbook from a long time ago.  1920s perhaps?

A little hunting figure with hounds from a horsey-orientated stall.

A general view of the top stalls, mainly people who are in the sheds, but were lured out by the sunshine yesterday.  Who can blame them?  Plus the money gets spent outside before folks go into the sheds, as a rule (last month's monsoon weather proved the exception of course).

This is the view the posh houses in Malvern have.  You can see for miles and miles and from what we have noticed, houses overlooking this view soon sell.

Back tomorrow, hopefully having caught up on missed sleep, and with a couple of photos of what I bought for me.

Sunday 20 September 2015

R.I.P. Amber

Night-night, beautiful girl.  I'm so glad you chose us to live with, all those years ago.

Friday 18 September 2015

Gathering in the harvest

"It was a fine autumn.  The blackberries were ripe, and the nuts were ready, and the mice of Brambly Hedge were very busy.  Every morning they went out into the fields to gather seeds, berries and roots, which they took back to the Store Stump, and carefully stowed away for the winter ahead.  The Store Stump was warm inside, amd smelled deliciously of bramble jelly and rising bread, and it was already nearly full of food."  Jill Barklem: "Autumn Story".

I love autumn, and I am just like the mice of Brambly Hedge here at the moment!  Several "spare" hours have been spent blackberrying down the track (I have found that my old favourite spots are finally full of fruit) and collecting Elderberries from the bottom of our stable yard.  The latter have been strigged and frozen, ready for turning into winter medicines for coughs and colds, or adding to pies or jams.  Some of the blackberries have been turned into Bramble Jelly and the rest flash frozen and then bagged up and tucked away in the small freezer down in the larder.

Now the tyranny of the runner beans is dieing down, I have the tyranny of the jelly bag replacing it!
I usually stew up the fruit late afternoon and then put it in the jelly bag overnight.  This particular haul made 4 pints of juice.  The rule of thumb is then 1 pound of sugar (preserving is better for jellies, as you want them clear) to one pint of juice.  I'll put the methodology up at the bottom of this post.

I finally got out into the garden yesterday to continue with the autumn clear up.  There are always barrowloads of detritis.  As you can see, the Monbretia has gone over.

Afterwards.  I just need to rake the gravel and take out  any stray weeds and unwanted Welsh Poppies.

This is the overwhelming bit in the paddock plot.  Planted for the bees (and the teasels for the Goldfinches) but the wild bees who were here in the spring must have swarmed and gone elsewhere as there are very few around now, and the Goldfinches came in late spring and haven't been seen since (they weren't here in the winter when I put out Niger Seed feeders for them).

Here is the end which is supposed to be the herb garden (note the sprig of Rosemary - everything else is buried!)  I removed all the dead leaves and flower stems of the tall Elecampane which has been growing here for over 20 years now and yanked up armfuls of spent grass.

Afterwards - all the "thugs" removed and I have decided to take a mattock to their roots and remove them completely.  My husband just wants it grassed over for ease of maintenance so I will dig up and move anything of interest there, just leaving the fruit trees, Elecampane and the Potentilla.  The other side of the "path" is a soft fruit area which will stay, although I desperately need to try and find the Raspberry plants again, it is SO overgrown.  The grass ALWAYS gets the upper hand over there - it's never forgotten it was a paddock before it was a garden plot!  I think I took about 10 barrowloads of leaves and stems away yesterday!

Here's some I made earlier!  I picked some of the last Sweet Peas and also last Purple Loosestrife and a couple of broken Dahlias to make this little jugful.  I love having picked flowers from my garden.


2 lb (1 kg) blackberries
2 lb (1 kg) cooking apples
2 lemons, sliced
2 pts (1.2 lirres) water
approx. 2 lb (1 kg) preserving sugar

Rinse the blackberries and place in a large pan.  Wash the apples, cutup into pieces and add to the pan with the lemon slices.  Pour over the water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 - 40 mins or until the fruit is very soft.

Strain through a jelly bag and leave to drip for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Measure the juice, pour into a large jam pan or saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add 500 g (1 lb) sugar for every 600 ml (1 pint) juice.  (Note: I always warm the sugar first (oven) so that you don't have a sudden reduction in temperature in the pan when you add it.)  Heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Bring to the boil, then boil rapidly until setting point is reached.  Remove the scum immediately (I have a flat slotted spoon) and pour into prepared jars.  Cover and label.  Makes about 4 lbs. (Taken from the St Michael Preserves Book by Jackie Burrow - publ. 1979!)

Sterilize your jars and lids by washing in hot soapy water and rinsing, and then put on a tray in a low oven (140 deg C, 275 deg. F, Gs mark 1).  After filling jars, placed a small waxed disc to cover the surface of the jam completely and press gently to exclude all the air.  Put lid on whilst jelly is still very hot.