Saturday 31 October 2015

Another trip to the seaside!

This was JUST the photo I was trying to get yesterday, with some reasonable sized waves surging in and breaking over with a mist of spume above them.  Magical.

Following on from last night's post, we were on the beach at Newport, Pembrokeshire.  We went to view an auction not too far away, left two bids, and as we would have hours and hours to wait until the 2nd bid, as that was late in the furniture section near the end of the sale, we headed off to the coast.  Newport is a small town which we generally get to once a year and we felt we were overdue a visit.

We half-thought of a sit-down snack in a cafe, but the fare on offer was the sort my husband isn't partial to - soup, paninis, pizza etc and we decided that £3.95 for a Bakewell tart in one eatery was a rip-off, and sharing one between us might look a tad mean.  Besides, we had brought a flask of tea, so it was a bit daft sitting down to a pot to go with cake.  So, a car picnic it was.  After a fossick around in the Carn-Ingli Antique Centre, we crossed the road and bought Spelt and Honey bread, a little waxed truckle of ginger cheese (which we had cut into four), liquorice for OH and 2 Red Pippin apples for me.

We sat in the car in the sunshine, eating to the accompaniment of seagulls, childrens' excited half-term voices and the occasional manoeuvring car.  My OH did his newspaper puzzle page and I began reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book which someone had mentioned the day before and I realized was in my bookcase, still unread.

A brisk breeze shook the ivy flowers, rosehips and barely-formed end-of-season blackberries in the hedgerow behind us and when I looked up, my eyes were drawn above the rooftops to a green path amongst the spent heather and bracken, leading up to the ridge by Carn Ingli.

Carn Ingli, taken from the bridge across the river.  More about this tomorrow.

We parked up and walked up to the shops.  This old chapel is directly across from the car park and is typical of many rebuilds of chapels - many like this were built smaller initially, and then rebuilt much bigger to cope with the increase in chapel- (and church-) goers in early Victorian times.  There was a terrific surge in non-conformism which saw chapel-building reach epic proportions - the above link speaks of one chapel being built every 8 days in Wales at the zenith!  The peak was reached in the middle of the century began to decline after Darwin's "Origin of Species" was published and people began to question their absolute belief in the Church and Chapel teachings.

A lovely little cottage is just along the road.

These buildings used to be in a sad state of repair but look much better for being restored and refaced - some lovely stone-work there and buildings with a purpose again - the 2nd one along is a fishmongers.  The next building is the health food shop where we brought bread, cheese and apples for our lunch.

We had a lovely stroll around.  These cottages are up towards the Castle.

This lovely old cottage was behind the castle.  I felt I would love to live here - there was a lovely feel to this area.  Note pumpkins for sale (there were eggs too).  A beautiful unspoilt cottage.

A couple of views (and below) of the Norman castle, now a private residence.  HERE is a link to the history of it.

Then we wandered round by the church.

Lots of telephone wires over the rooftops, but a tempting glimpse of the sea and the beach we were about to head for.

I think this was Church Street, as these cottages were just below the church.  Nicely painted and cared for.

One garden was just one huge tumble of these pretty daisies.  They look lovely edging steps.

Sea and beach photos tomorrow.  I have enjoyed writing this - well, a big chunk was jotted down yesterday whilst we were having lunch.  I had written on someone's blog earlier in the week that so many things I meant to write about got lost if not written down at the time.  I plan to try and change that as I hate just writing up basic descriptions for photos when time is short.

Friday 30 October 2015

Guess where we went today.

Final clue . . .

Mean aren't I?  It's in Pembrokeshire.  Answer tomorrow.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Autumn walk along our valley - part 2

Back again.  All the leaves are on the turn now - trees, bracken and hedgerows alike.

This sturdy old barn, built into the slope, shows no sign of being in regular use.  I wonder if this will end up as someone's home in the next decade or so?  It has lovely views from the gable end.

Then this is the view from those front windows and doors.

Oranges and lemon-drops in the trees here and so pretty.

The header photo was taken here too.  A fast-flowing stream wriggles by close to the edge of the lane, and trackways lead left and right up the very steep hillside.  I've always wanted to explore but it's not a footpath or bridleway as far as I know.

Here's that little stream as it flings itself downhill, ginger with leaves at this time of year.

Round the bend and down the hill by the Beech trees.

Another lovely Beech by the cottage at the bottom.

Further on are my friend's geese, and Ned, one of her donkeys.

Here's George, the other one, who I halter broke earlier on in the year.

My friend's farmhouse and holiday cottage.  Her smallholding is also on the market, and would make a lovely home for a family who want to leave the rat race.

Then it's up a very steep hill.  I paused for breath and to let a car pass me, and climbed up on the bank to look back down our beautiful valley.

Then it was time to face the rest of the - very steep - hill.  Actually, I can climb this easier than our hill although it is steeper - each step seems to count for more, somehow.  Another farming neighbour had stopped for a chat and asked if I didn't want a lift up the hill, but I was good and knuckled down to it.

Here are some of his heifer calves.  I managed to capture the bright colours of the wild Gean trees (cherries), and also to the left, the yellowing of the Larches.  I love it when they go Lucozade-orange.

Finally, the last bend - looking down river (the Cothi) before tackling the steep zig-zag hill to home. The colours look really pretty here.

Autumn walk along our valley - part 1

I needed to clear my head this morning, so I got my husband to drop me at the top of the hill going over to Horeb, and walked home round the loop which looks across our valley.  As you can see it was overcast, but it stayed dry, and I didn't take a jacket as I knew I would end up carrying it most of the way.

Heading for derelict a couple of years back, this cottage and barns opposite have been bought at bargain prices and all being or are transformed into lovely homes with fabulous valley views.

The lane drops down the valley side for a little way, with a sharp corner where this little rivulet scampers down the hillside, through a culvert, and off on its merry way.

Autumnal colours as I look southwards (well, with a touch of east) to the bottom valley road heading towards home.  I was on the one which contours the hillside on the other side of the River Cothi though.

Umbellifers still blooming well, considering it is almost November!  I spotted some past-their-best Foxgloves too, Shining Cranesbill, Wild Strawberries and Red Campion still flowering too.  That will all come to an abrupt halt when the Winter From Hell arrives (the one they are predicting).

A little bit of green at last, and a pretty tree on the turn.  Across the valley the ash trees don't look so colourful and the ones around our land have lost their leaves already.

Back later with the 2nd half of the walk.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Some things just HAVE to come home with you . . .

. . . and this was one of them, a honey oak chest on stand, dating from about 1700.  We spotted it at the local auction last Saturday, when we popped in first thing to view.  It had some faults (you can spot there are a couple of areas on the left of the bottom drawers where something was spilt down it, so my OH will have to rub that down and oil it.) It is minus the pad feed on the Cabriole legs, and we need to replace drawer runners (which were on the SIDE of the drawers and not beneath, at this period in time). However, we thought if it went at the right price, it was worth investing in it as I was short on space for clothes storage and it was "our sort of thing".

As you can see, it is very much in residence, so it DID come at the right price!  In fact, hammer price was £90 (plus 15% on top for buyer's premium).  Looking at the construction of those Cabriole legs I do wonder if whoever made this had ever seen that style of leg before or just been drawn a little sketch. Certainly, once such a style became all the rage, Cabriole legs were very much more stylized than this.  Actually, I prefer these to the later skinny ones.

As you can see, in between photos we had a change of wooden ships, and prefer the larger one.

As is often the case, there have been several changes of handle to follow changing fashions.  It would appear it was restored around the turn of the 19th into 20th Century, and these pewter Arts & Crafts handles fitted, at the same time as a new back.  We may change back to the style of brass handle it would originally have had but those alone will cost as much or more as the chest on stand, so that can wait.

Of course, it was designed for cats to lurk under.  Little Whale was soon in residence!

We buy history.  It thrills us to think that the oak trees which were felled to make this piece of furniture around 1700 were saplings at the time of Agincourt, growing when Henry VIII was a lad, saw him married and succeeded by Elizabeth 1, and saw the rise and fall of the Stuarts.  It then became a piece of Georgian furniture and here it is being used in the second Elizabethan period . . .

Oh, and in between bidding for it (on the phone, go me!!) and paying for it, we did a car boot sale, and cleared several more piles and boxes of surplus "stuff" before getting rained off, and took sufficient money to pay for this item in cash next day.  So it feels as if it were almost free . . .

Monday 26 October 2015

Using up those apples - some toothsome recipes


1 lb (450g) ordinary plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 oz (25g) butter
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1/2 oz (15g)fresh yeast (or 1 teaspoon of dried yeast)
1/4 pt (150ml) warm milk
1/4 pt (150 ml) warm water
12 oz (350g) cooking apples
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Lightly grease and flour a deep 8 " (20cm) square cake tin.

Sift the f lour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Rub in the butter.  Stir in 1 oz (25g) sugar.  Blend the yeast with the warm milk then mix in the warm water and pour into the flour.  Mix to make a firm dough.  

Put the dough on a lightly-floured worktop and knead for 10 mins.  Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  Knead risen dough again and roll out to an oblong 15 x 10 inches (38 x 25 cm).

Peel and roughly chop the apples and mix with remaining 3 oz (75g) sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle apple mixture over the dough.  Moisten edge and roll up, starting at a long edge.  Cut the roll into 9 slices.  Put the slices in the tin, cut sides up.  Cover and leave to rise to top of tin.

About 15 mins. before end of rising, turn on over, set at moderately hot, 425 deg. F. 220 deg. C, Gas Mark 7.  Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 40 - 45 mins, or until golden brown.  Brush with the syrup and serve warm or cold.  With cream, it's a lovely dessert.


    4 oz butter or margarine
    4 oz caster or brown sugar
    8 oz flour, S-R or adjusted
    1 lb cooking apples
    1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice or a mixture to your taste
    3 oz currants or sultanas
    2 eggs

    Rub the margarine and the flour together, add the spices, sugar, peeled, cored and sliced apples,           currants and the beaten eggs.  Put the mixture in a large greased cake tin (10 inch round or 8"
    square)   and bake at gas mark 6 (425F, 220C) for 35 - 45 minutes.  The large amount of apple
    makes the cake a little fragile, so leave in the tin for 5 minutes or more before removing.
    If you do not have a large cake tin, use two smaller cake tins and reduce the cooking time
    a little.

    In the past I have arranged sliced apple around the top of the cake, but these can scorch so
    may need a covering of foil if this happens towards the end of the cooking time.  Good as
    a hot pudding too,      with cream or custard. . .

Here it is before it went in:

       And after it came out.   It is SCRUMMY!!!  


Take sweet apples (though I have used windfall cookers in the past too) - even the ones which are getting a bit old and wrinkled from storage will do - peel, core and chop. Combine with dried fruit - I used an out-of-date packet which was fine, but may have been a tad drier than any I have recently bought. Sprinkle on demerara sugar, ground cinnamon and ground cloves and add a little home-made wine if you like (I added a slosh of Crab Apple Wine). You may add some finely-chopped (and well washed) orange and/or lemon peel if you wish. I mixed mine in a bowl, but in the past I usually put straight into my earthenware jar as I am cutting the apples up, layering with the sugar, spices and dried fruit. I also usually add chopped dried apricots, but you may add whatever fruit you wish to the mix. Even without the wine, the mixture will become moist and winey and believe me it smells DIVINE. It will keep a year in the earthenware jar, which is best kept in a cool place, though having said that mine lives on the bottom shelf of a little table in the back hall. I have a recipe which calls for suet too, and is stored in jars, but this one is a lovely old-fashioned recipe and keeps very well. You will make it year after year, I promise.


2 1/2 cups/8 oz plain flour
2 cups (I halve this to 4 oz) sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tblspn. pumpkin pie spice (ground cloves)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (200ml/7fl. oz.) water
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) vegetable shortening (I use Stork marg.)
1 cup applesauce (1/2 pint) - cooked up previously and cooled
1 cup mashed banana (2 medium bananas - a good way of using up very ripe ones)
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped almonds (I leave these out)
3/4 cup (4 oz) raisins

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl of an electric mixer and blend well.  Add water and next 3 ingredients, blend, then beat at medium speed until creamy.

Add eggs and beat 2 mins at medium speed.  Stir in nuts and raisins and pour batter into a wax paper lined 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan (or use a large loaf tin and cook for longer).

Bake at 350 deg.F for about 45 minutes.  Turn out onto a cake rack and peel off wax paper.  If wished, when you have turned right side up and whilst still warm, you can sift confectioner's (icing) sugar over the top.  I don't bother.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Today's sunrise

This morning's sunrise.  I hung out of the Velux window in bedroom 5 to get it.  Just AMAZING!  It looked like the world was on fire.

Now, you remember the old saying, "red sky at night, shepherd's delight, red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning."  Why did we not heed that?  We drove off to the car boot sale, set up stall, and didn't even look at the sky, just saying we felt chilly and talked about scraping the ice off the car first thing.  Then all of a sudden it began to rain and EVERYTHING got wet.  It would be the ONE time I had taken lots of textiles, trying to have a clear out of my embroidered linen collection.  Lots of washing and then ironing is called for now . . .  Still, at least we sold a few things and were home much earlier than expected.  I have a feeling that first photo will be the new header, though I do like those leaves . . .