Saturday 30 January 2016

Getting out for walks again - Part I - Colomendy walk

Firstly, if any of you follow Dawn over on Doing It For Ourselves In Wales blog, she is going to be quiet for a while as a log transporter managed to take out three poles holding the phone lines where she is.  Knowing how BT and Openreach have a rather tenuous relationship, and Openreach sub-contract the polework out (we've had folk down from Scotland and Newcastle in the past), she may be gone some time.  The goats haven't had their babies yet, and the Alpacas have had to come into the barn to dry off as they have Mud Fever (which is what horses often get - the bacterium lurks in the soil and waits for an oportunity).  It has been an exceptionally wet winter (following a summer ditto).  I hope to get up and see her next week, so I will keep you posted on here.

As you can see, we had sunshine today.  I have finally been able to get back to doing a little walking again.  I have done two short walks on Thursday and Friday, so today I raised the bar and took myself out and around Colomendy, which is an hour and a half's walking, with several good hills - including starting off up our very steep one behind the house.  This is the view across the Park field.

Looking across in the direction of  Dryslwyn Castle at the top of our hill.

Black Mountain in the misty far distance.

Some of a little herd of breeding donkeys, who have good winter shelter and plenty of haylage to eat.

Looking WNW across the valley which runs parallel to ours and goes up to Horeb and then Brechfa.

Looking in a SE direction, the flood plain of the Towy Valley above Nantgaredig.  Standard flooding for the time of year.

Of course, there are Snowdrops to be seen all along the lanes now.

Daffodils about to join them - I think these are the little wild Daffodils.

There were quite a few Primroses out too.  It's a sheltered lane along by Colomendy.

More snowdrops.  I am short on words tonight as I've been awake since 3.45 a.m. this morning so feeling slightly bejeebered.  More tomorrow.

The header photo, btw, is half way down the Colomendy Hill, looking towards Merlin's Hill and Carmarthen.

Wednesday 27 January 2016

A shoreline wander at Burry Port

The view of Burry Port familiar to us, as there is a car boot sale on the grass the far end of the harbour, every Saturday through the summer.  I doubt Amelia Earhart was terribly impressed by her first view of Wales.

Not a lot of people know this.  Burry Port is such an unremarkable little village (not even a town) near Llanelli, but for one day in June 1928 it was EPIC!  Amelia Earhart put the name on everyone's lips. However, what the plaque doesn't say is that she was mainly a passenger on that flight - the actual pilot was one Wilmer Schultz and there was a mechanic on board too.  She just took the controls a couple of times, though she would have preferred to pilot it herself.  They ran out of fuel and landed at Burry Port, quite a way short of Southampton, which was their planned landing point.  Their starting point had been Newfoundland.  Heaven knows what the locals thought when the little plane landed.  I can just imagine a few old fishermen mending their nets,  puffing their pipes and saying "Dduw, Dduw" to themselves.

She was a determined lady, however, and in 1932 single-handedly flew the Atlantic, sustained by soup and smelling-salts (always a good combination!)  Sadly, her Round the World flight in 1937 ended in disaster over the Pacific and neither she nor the wreckage of her plane were ever found.

This was the view from that spot, so she must have put her little plane down here, pre Gin-Palace Park.  The harbour was built between 1830 and 1836 to replace the one at Pembrey, which had been about 1/4 mile further West.  It was once a very busy place where coal was exported from the nearby valleys.

Seagull with breakfast.

The little stumpy lighthouse.  It was built around 1842.

Misty views across to the side of the Gower peninsula.

The breakwater beyond the lighthouse, looking west towards Pembrey beach/sands.

There was a brief glimpse of sunlight as we strolled along.  The wind was a trifle . . . brisk . . . but blew the cobwebs away.

I took half a dozen photos trying to capture the wind blowing spray back into the harbour - this was about the most successful one.

Sulphur-coloured lichen growing on a stone slab.

The view west towards the very end of Pembrey beach.

A row of colourful cottages overlooks the harbour.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Chocolate and Cranberry Biscuits

For the first time in my 28 years of marriage, I have baked something my husband goes back for MORE of.  Mind you, he says he is poorly and it's made him hungry, so that's the reason.  A wee bit short of praise there dear.  Anyway, herewith the recipe, to see if you can tempt your loved ones without sweet teefs.  I hope you will think I am wonderful to pass it on to you as the publishers of this book - Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros - chose a light silvery grey for the print of the recipes and being of a certain age, whilst I don't need reading glasses yet, I DO need a good light and a clearly printed page!  I'm sat here with a spotlight on said page.


75g (2 3/4 oz) softened butter
50g (1 3/4 ox) soft brown sugar
50g (1 3/4 oz) caster sugar
1 egg
A few drops of Vanilla extract
160g (5 3/4 oz) plain flour
1/2 tspn. baking powder
110g (3 3/4 oz) dark semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used a bar of Lidl's dark raspberry chocolate)
50g ( 1v 3/4 oz) dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 190 deg. C/375 deg. F/Gas 5 and line two baking trays with baking paper.  Mash up the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until well mixed, then whisk with electric beaters until smooth.  Mix in the egg and vanilla.  Sift in the flour and baking powder and add a small pinch of salt (I forgot).  Beat with the wooden spoon to make a soft sandy mixture.  Stir in the chocolate and cranberries.  (I will here confess that I used my food mixer and abandoned any wooden spoon beating).

Lightly moisten your hands and roughly roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls (this was strangely satisfying!)  Arrange them on the trays, leaving a fair space between for flattening and spreading - I used larger amounts and mine didn't spread much, so I obviously did something wrong!)  Bake for about 12 - 15 mins, or until the biscuits are golden and darkening around the edges.  Remove from the oven but leave them on the tray to cool and firm up.  These will keep in a biscuit tin for a couple of days.   Makes about 30 biscuits.

A me-treat from Laura Ashley when I went in for paint in their sale.

We had a walk round Burry Port harbour to get some sea air yesterday.  I'll write it up tomorrow.

Sunday 24 January 2016


I have been naughty and purloined a good term from a bookseller of that name, but it suits today's post.

Here are two books I returned from Hampshire with.  When we were in Ringwood, there were lots of Charity shops, and one in particular had some excellent books.  I was Very Good and put back two Archaeology ones (one was on Material Culture and was a follow up to a book which seemed to be on every reading list I had for my Mat. Cult. course at Uni, and I could never get my hands on it as someone had always got there first).  This was The Past is a Foreign Country - the new one is the same title with Revisited on the end.  It was £3, but it was VERY heavy and I know I wouldn't ever have time to devote to reading it properly.  These I will read and pass on.

Two of my recent Library books.  I haven't started the Serpent Papers yet, but The Utopia Experiment is the sort of book which sounds like it aught to be better than it is, so you plod on waiting for "the good bit" but it's more about his psychological stance than actually day to day living in the wilds of Scotland in an experimental post-apocalyptic community.  To be honest, I could tell it was going to fail before he even got there because a) it was in Scotland, and b) they arrived about July with only very naive thoughts about self-sufficiency.  I would say - don't bother.  I'm not surprised to find he is now living in - I think - Guatamala.

Current bed-time reading.  I bought Growing up in Kilvert Country recently (probably at Hay-on-Wye) and was reading it when the Library came round again.  It tells of a fairly typical rural upbringing and isn't one to keep.

The First Murder I can heartily recommend.  5 historical crime writers (as detailed on the cover) deal with the murders associated with the performing of a Medieval play, spanning a thousand years.  Excellent.

When I go on journeys I see images which just have to be recorded.  If I am driving, I quite often tell my husband to write something down for me.  When I get home, i write them into my Commonplace notebook.  The one above is my travelling one, which lives in my big handbag.  On my train journey to Hampshire, the windows were filthy and I ended up just reading my book.  The pages above and below are from a past journey to So'ton - just little snippets.  They may end up as poetry eventually.  I  am copying them into a lovely hardback journal which middle daughter gave me for Christmas, but last week's journey is what made me want to look back at last year's entries.  Apologies for my scrawl - these are just notes.  Does anyone else have a Commonplace book?

Friday 22 January 2016

Some very lucky ponies

After our walk, WD and I went back to her house and went out to make a fuss of her ponies, who were bought off the Forest or rescued, and live such happy lives with her.  Here is Woody, snug as a bug in his rug.

The chocolate pony and the ginger pony take their job of reducing the grass in the rested field very seriously,.  They are good examples of the sort of mish-mash of bloodlines in New Forest ponies, many different sorts of stallions having been released onto the Forest in Victorian times to "improve" the breed.  The chocolate pony has a mealy nose which shows that he has Exmoor blood in him.  The ginger pony has driving cob, as he has an upright shoulder and more bone than most Foresters (ooops - sorry, if you're not horsey, more bone means he's got chunkier legs and an upright shoulder holds a harness collar well.  For a riding horse a long sloping shoulder is preferable).

The rescue pony, who came as an unweaned foal after his mother had been killed on the Forest roads, is now 9.  I can remember him as a dark grey foal.  He mobbed me the moment we went into his paddock, licking my hands in great delight!  We had great Pony Cuddles.

This is his friend, who spent quite a few years happily roaming the Forest before being brought back up to do some work again.  He is The Boss in this field, and let the grey one know it when he pulled a face at him!

I also met WD's lovely puppy, who was so well behaved, bless her.  We had soup for lunch, and chatted and bird-watched from the lounge, and I was lucky enough to see one of the Redpolls which has been visiting WD's many bird feeders.

Ponies of a different kind.  Tricia, John and I went into Ringwood on the Wednesday and this stunning bronze mare and foal canter across the square.  So much movement in those figures.

A corner in Ringwood, looking towards the Church.  There was a nice little shop here where I got some more Bamboo socks.  They are SO warm . . .

This is Tricia's ginger pony.  Again, quite a chunky chappy and with the large head common to the breed.

He was hopeful of Food.  Ponies, especially the barrel-shaped ones, have a one track mind!

Another ginger one!  He is also a New Forest pony, although he was bred on a German stud and imported when his owner moved here.  He is a great age indeed (32 or 33 I think) and only has one toof left.

He is very grey on his face now, with big salt-cellar hollows above his eyes.  He was snug as a bug under his rug though, and pleased to see us and be made a fuss of.

Sorry pony, just an apple core today . . .

So now I am back at home and back into my routine, though that was spoilt yesterday when this wretched fluey cold bug returned (a combination of a day's travel, followed by sharing a bottle of vino).  This will be my FOURTH week with it, and I had a temperature yesterday (I regretted wearing my new bamboo socks by the time we were in Tesco's and I nearly took them off to cool down!)  In the night I woke up sweating like a race-horse again, so I am hoping I will feel a bit brighter today.  I know I daren't do anything much until this has finally left me as any exertion (gardening for example) brings it out of the woodwork once more.

It was lovely to see Tricia again and I'll be going back down again in March.

A stroll round Blackwater Arboretum in the New Forest.

If you go to my friend's link, you will get an erudite commentary on our lovely walk around this little bit of the Arboretum.  Away from the massive Sequoias I remember seeming even more massive in my childhood, we were able to enjoy more modest plantings.  In the sunshine it was warm, but in the shade, brrrrrrrrrrrrr.

The blue skies were quite a novelty, as was the sunshine and frost underfoot.  It has been so wet and soggy in Wales we had quite forgotten what the sun looked like!  The planned plantings in the Arboretum gave us a chance to see the shape and perspective of trees better.  In the Forest Proper there is an undergrowth of holly and the trees which don't mind wet feet (willows and alder).

We chose not to go further along this gravel drive, as WD told me that it ended in a rather muddy area.

Sunlight between the rides lit up the golden and tan in the bracken.

In some areas it was mossy.  You can see this is fenced against the deer who roam on the Forest, and who would probably do damage to these lovely trees if they were able to get in.

Peaty water running close to the pathway.  Blackwater indeed.

The light lifted my spirits.  It was so good to be back in the Forest I still love so dearly.

More photos tomorrow of my friend's ponies and of Tricia's pony too.  I am sidelined today, having pulled a muscle in my back whilst hefting my rucksack on and off travelling back yesterday.  My head does not feel very clear either, which is why there is such a paucity of words on today's post.  My apologies.  Must Do Better!