Friday 31 March 2017

The end of an era - stupid Council

These were some library books I had from the mobile library earlier this year.  Yesterday he called (having missed a month because the van had to go in for MoT.)  I was about to go and have a look around the crime novels when he stopped me and pointed to a printed sheet, explaining that - as forewarned when users of the mobile library had the chance to fill out a form on using the mobile library - the Council had decided to give a three month trial where the van would no longer call at houses, but the service would be changed to one which stopped for two hours in a nearby village so that people could use the computers which are going to be fitted, charge their mobile phones (do they honestly think we don't have blardy electricity in our homes?!) and perhaps change books - every week, instead of a monthly visit.  I would have a choice of driving up to Llanfynydd, down to Nantgaredig, or possibly up the valley to Brechfa.  Having written a lengthy epistle on the forms they had provided last autumn, saying that this was the thin end of the wedge and I expected that people would no longer bother with the service once it became inconvenient (for all but those living in the villages where the van parked up), the Council would soon announce that the service would be completely terminated because no-one wanted to use it. . .  I think you would call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I will let you know the outcome, but the Librarian said that (like me) everyone was just handing their books in and not intending to go to the nearest village in future.

Fortunately I have a pile and a half of books to work my way through, and plenty more on my bookshelves, but I will miss taking out recipe books, novels I've not come across before and what have you, at my convenience.  What is the situation in the area you live in?

Wednesday 29 March 2017

A stroll around Laugharne

It was far too nice a day to think of going home early, so we stopped at Laugharne to show Zane round.  We got the last parking space in the little car park below the castle, and allowed ourselves to become beguiled by Laugharne's tranquil atmosphere.

Above and below: The views across the estuary are amazing.  Probably barely visible on a grey rainy day as Wednesday has brought us here (SUCH a change from Sunday), so it was just as well we made the most of them whilst we could.

As we climbed up towards the Writing Shed where Dylan Thomas worked (and doubtless got distracted by the booze as well as the views), this Comfrey was already in full bloom, much to the delight of the bees.

Above and below is the Boathouse where Dylan Thomas lived out four years of his tempestuous marriage to Caitlin.  They had three children (Aeronwy, Llewelyn and Colm).  Although he was born and spent his early years in Swansea, his family had Carmarthenshire roots.  Llansteffan (which we visit regularly and have done all the time we have lived in Wales) was also a favourite spot of his.  It was here that Dylan wrote "Under Milk Wood"

He first visited Laugharne in 1934 and described it as "the strangest town in Wales", perhaps because it was an isolated English-only-speaking town in what was (and still is) a predominantly Welsh-speaking county, and it was also renowned as having more than a few eccentric inhabitants.  Visit HERE for a few more details.

A final walk around the town, and a view of the castle from the other side, and a quick photo of the pretty clock-tower, which is approached from the castle along an old cobbled lane.

Monday 27 March 2017

Pendine in the sunshine for Mother's Day

I had a really lovely Mother's Day yesterday.  I had phone calls from Gabby and Danny, and Tam and Zane were staying, and we went out for the day down to the beach at Pendine, which has long been a favourite of ours.  When the children are young this had exactly the right combination of interests - shallow sea, big sandy beach, caves to explore, rockpools ditto, and several bucket and spade and icecream shops.

The furthest-most shop to the left is where we had ice cream after our walk (mine was lemon meringue and tasty) and you can just see the (very steep!) stretch of coast path leading up the hill behind the shops.  We didn't walk that this time but it's where Keith and I stretched our legs last year.

A distant view past the point to the tall pastel houses of Tenby on the far shore.

Tam and Zane looking around the rocks and rock pools.  Despite multi layers of clothing, it was actually REALLY warm at the beach and we were soon shedding layers.  Other folk were in t-shirts!

Stacks of shells had been deposited by the sea inbetween rocks, jammed in tightly.

A grazing beasty (presumably inside a shell) had eaten a ribbon of patterns across boulders . . .

The cliff ledges were beginning to be checked out by various seabirds and rock pigeons in their natural habitat.

Washed up on the shore was a bit of an old boat - though don't ask me which bit!

We took the steep path over the headland, and here the gorse was in full bloom, with its heady coconut scent.

One last look up the beach where the land speed records used to be set, back in the 1920s.  Malcolm Campbell established a record of 146 mph in 1924.  Later he broke the 150 mph barrier and achieved 174 mph.  The Welshman J G Parry-Jones was not to be outdone though, and on 3rd March 1927, set out to beat the record of Campbell and his car Bluebird.  Sadly, whilst achieving the required speed,  Parry-Thomas was killed in his car "Babs" when it went out of control on the beach.  "Babs" was buried in the sand dunes, but in 1969 Owen Wyn Owen, an engineering lecturer at Bangor Technical College was given permission to dig the car out and restore her and she can now be seen in the Museum of Speed at Pendine beach.  Believe me, that car has QUITE a presence . . .

These historic sands were also where Amy Johnson and her husband Jim Mollison took off in 1933 in their de Haviland Dragon Rapide, "Seafarer", in their attempt to fly non-stop to New York.  This attempt was also fated, as they ran out of fuel and crash-landed in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and both were badly injured.

(Many thanks to the Wikipedia Entry for Pendine Sands. 

Thursday 23 March 2017


I always feel a pang of regret when I take down an old header and put up a new one.  Always, and today was no exception.  However, a nice snowy spring-like (!) scene should carry us over the transition into spring, and the clocks (needlessly) change this weekend and spring forward into spring, so we get an hour less in bed.  I am very pleased with my new camera and it takes much better detail - even in distant scenic shots.

Just before it got dimpsey yesterday, I walked up the hill as I knew there was snow on the mountains and wanted to take some photos.  Here is Black Mountain with its coating of snow.  It was even trying to snow here on Wednesday and not a good day to be outside.  We quite often get no snow throughout the winter  (the past winter has been quite mild), only to have some fall late in March when the daffodils - and sometimes tulips too - are out.  And so it came to pass this year too.

There were some wonderful cloud formations last night, so I will do a special post just on cloudscapes.

We had a frost last night, and I've just driven to get the paper and still can't feel my hands, as the steering wheel was so cold. I am going to do some baking in a moment, so that will hopefully warm me up a bit.  The Primroses are in full bloom along the lanes.

Being a bit chilly, of course, matters not when measured against the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament yesterday, and my thoughts are with the friends and families of those who died or were badly injured in yesterday's attack.  Time for a reality check perhaps, and for armed police guarding Parliament.  RIP PC Keith Palmer, who it would seem was unarmed.

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage which loves the damp conditions hereabouts.

A general view across the valley, with Upton Hall in the foreground, the red of Goitre farmstead, and a larger farm beyond which is Llettyngors.  I can't tell you the translation as the Welsh - English links on the computer seem to be fairly useless.  This is the general dispersal of farms in the landscape around here.

The sunlight through these Bramble leaves was too good to be ignored with my new camera.

FINALLY, the scaffolders came yesterday, so hopefully Steve and co will be back to finish off the last of the decorating, and the final little bit of hemp and lime up on the attic window aperture.

Our new (but old!) oak settle in the front hall.  I just fell in love with it - I've always wanted one.  Of course, the cats have immediately claimed it as theirs so I've had to throw an old bedspread over the Laura Ashley cushions.

This lovely oak refectory table came from the same home (a guesthouse) and is being polished up ready for sale.  Isn't it gorgeous?  Not too big either, just 5 feet long.  It's probably late Victorian.

Right, time to go and do some baking.  Later:  I made two trays of Double Ginger Gingerbread, my friend Frances' 6 egg Chocolate cake, and a loaf of oaty bread.  Shout out if you want the cake recipes - though I think the Chocolate one is about the only one I managed to get to the sidebar!

Tuesday 21 March 2017

A new old thing . . .

This - new to us - beautiful old oak settle has come to live with us.  It is in our front hallway as I speak, where it looks as if it was always there.  Keith reckons it dates from about 1720 and with that redness to the oak, could possibly be from Montgomeryshire, where the redness of oak used for dressers there is quite specific to this county.  The fabric for the cushions (there are more) is Laura Ashley.  The cover for the bench cushion has gone straight in the wash as it stank of cigarette smoke - this used to be in a Guest House.

I particularly like the little carved knobs along the front and ends (one end is missing one, sadly).  We will try to tie it regionally with those too, although it could well just be a little quirk of the maker.

Life goes on here.  We viewed an auction today, and will attend it tomorrow as the car has to go in for its MoT and that's almost next door.  We have noted a couple of things of interest, though the item which I found fascinating and which is superb quality is probably going to head towards four figures (estimate on it is around £500!) - it's a skilfully-carved Japanese hardwood figure but a couple of pieces are sadly missing - a leg being one of them - they fitted on like a Barby or Ken figure!!  Fabulous workmanship.

It has been too cold and wet to get out in the garden - it was trying to snow at one point today.  I haven't seen the stray tom (Sam), so I shall put out more food now it is getting dark and hope he is about to come and avail himself of a free meal at some point.  There is the other Big Fat Black Tom who is sometimes around the farmyard, so they may have met up and Sam has gone off to hide (I wouldn't blame him) or a few good meals have made him feel strong enough to go in search of ladies further up the valley.

I did a stupid thing today.  Just as my sprained wrist had finally calmed down a bit and seemed to be mending, I took two wall lamps with glass chimneys from the hall, and put them on top of the cupboard in the back hall for safe keeping. Just as I was putting the 2nd one up there, it slipped and in trying to save the glass chimney from being smashed, I twisted my hand and wrist to grab it. THAT was it - oh my - it was SO painful, and I didn't know what to do with myself for a minute.  It was even more painful when I iced it.  I need to do that again now, so had better grit my teefs and do it before I forget.  The bit affected is the grip between thumb and hand and I can't pick anything up - I can just about manage a small tin of soup.  What a daft bint I am . . .

Sunday 19 March 2017

Some more lesser-known views of Hay-on-Wye

My apologies, but words will be few this morning as I have some sort of bug and just want to sleep - my brain doesn't feel like it is in residence AT ALL!  Some photos from a wander round Hay-on-Wye with the camera on Friday morning. Above - Chestnut leaves unfurling on a tree by the river.

From the bridge over the Wye, looking back across the rooftops - the Lovely pointy roof is the clocktower, and of course, the castle behind it.

Coming back up from the river, a lovely row of cottages.  They front the lane up to Clyro.

Above and below, The Three Tuns Inn, which as you can see, dates back to the 16th C.  We'll have to check it out inside some time.

Above and below, further along the same road (which heads out towards Clifford castle and then the Toll Bridge over the Wye.

There was a footpath by this plaque, so next time I shall explore.  Below are the cottages a field away below the plaque. 

Above and below: a pretty garden which is beside this stream.  The heathers look lovely at this time of year when we have been starved of colour all winter. Right, I am off to lie down on the sofa now, and hope my brain takes up residence again later. . .

Thursday 16 March 2017

Family history woes

I began a - supposed to be brief - foray into my Family History again in the cold grey days of January.  I did quite well (I thought) and even remembered to end my Ancestry membership before the appointed day - except they came back and offered my 3 more months' membership for the price of a month, which sounded a good deal.  So I carried on looking, followed my Hobbs family line back and was excited by the results.  Sent them off to my cousin in Romsey, but with some misgivings.  I had been sleeping badly, and hadn't looked properly and I had misgivings.  I checked again - wrong - someone had cobbled together about 5 different families on one family line, and whilst one was one of mine, the rest were irrelevant.  I began again, and have been continuing ever since, as Ancestry really ISN'T that user-friendly, and when your folk just do NOT appear in earlier censuses, and there are no marriages you can find which have links to banns and marriage lines, one quickly becomes moribund.  I am somewhat disinclined to order certificates willy nilly until I am absolutely certain I have the right person/people!

I am currently going round in circles with my g.g. grandfather who married Elizabeth Russell.  In one census they are in Peckham, living as relatives with a family (the wife nee Russell) , but claim to be Father-in-law and Mother-in-law, which I cannot work out to be possible unless the wife was her daughter, born out of wedlock and the only notion I have is that it might be her sister.  Which brings me a long way from tieing up my Hobbs/Russell children of which there were 9 (though sadly only 2 survived and they buried 7).  I guess I will have to bite the bullet and send for their marriage certificate to get this a step further.

Not that any of this is interesting to you folks!

Meanwhile, I made the most of lovely spring weather yesterday and gardened fitfully in between watching the jumps racing at Cheltenham (I am a life-long enthusiast).  Now some bits of my garden are minus weeds, which is a positive. I bought some seeds in Lidl and Wilko this week, so need to get them started off - peas, runner beans, green beans, purple beans and courgettes.  

I have been feeling off-colour today - heavy achey legs, and SO tired that I went back to bed this morning, but couldn't sleep.  I tried to buck myself up and made myself a Moroccan Chicken Soup from the BBC Good Food One Pot magazine I got this week (I want to cook everything in it).  The trouble was, by the time it was ready, I just couldn't face it.  In fact, the smell of it made me feel sick (tomato-y, and normally I would have loved it).  So I froze the lot and had fish and chips, and couldn't even face the fish!  Now I feel really bloated, like I have eaten an elephant . . .  Ah well, perhaps a good night's sleep will sort me out.