Wednesday 28 February 2018

Attempt 2 at photos AND history for Crickhowell

Firstly, a photo of the remains of Crickhowell Castle.  It was originally a wooden edifice (as they all were when the Normans began controlling Wales), built around 1121.  The name of Robert Turberville is linked with its building.  Around 1242 the castle began to be rebuilt in stone, the instigator of this work being Sir Grimbald Pauncefote who had married the Turberville heiress Sybil.  On a tourist board in the car park, it mentions Lady Sybil cutting off her hand and sending it in payment as a ransom in order to free her husband (who had been captured when on Crusade).  But perhaps all is not as it seems, as this wonderful blog which I've just discovered explores.  I hope that the blog owner does not mind my linking to their blog.  The Turbervilles (John) also had land holdings in Dorset, and are linked with Bere Regis.  If you know your Thomas Hardy, you will remember that Tess of the D'Urbervilles was also descended from them . . . on paper anyway!

Sker House, almost on the beach near Porthcawl, also has links with the later Turberville family, and a Jenkin Turberville lived there in the 16th C. 

All Turbervilles are descended from Sir Payne de Turberville who came from France in 1066 at the time of the Norman conquest.

Here is a LINK to more information about the castle.

We had a little perambulation around the town, and came across this little tower on a side street, but I don't know its significance.

Then we turned left to look down the street.  This reminded me of Chagford.

I couldn't resist a photo of these beautiful flowers in the flower shop window.  We went into a nearby charity shop and I found a woollen jumper for me and a man's down jacket, so 2 good bargains were had!

A view over the rooftops looking N-W.  I think this is Table Mountain.

Heading West down this little side-street, which led . . . .

. . . . to the Church.  This is St. Edmund's Church, which was built by (or caused to be built and funded by) Lady Sybil Pauncefote - she and Sir Grimwald are both buried here.  We must go and check this out next time we are down that way.


The Bear Hotel, once a coaching inn, as you can see, dates back to 1432 in its history.  It was one of four overnight stops on the route from London to West Wales (and on to Ireland).   In summer it as the most amazing display of hanging baskets.  The whole town does, come to that. 

Finally, the road home.  This is the A40 and that crenallated gatehouse is where my husband would dearly love to live!

Oh, and before I forget, Crickhowell get its name from the Iron Age hillfort above the town, Crug Hywel, on top of Table Mountain.  Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good) - 880 - 950 - died as king of much of Wales.  By 920 he was the sole king of Seisyllwg and then established the Kingdom of Deheubarth.  Eventually he controlled all of Wales from Prestatyn to Pembroke.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Crickhowell - the words!

Well, I don't know what I did wrong but once I got the photos up and rearranged them, Blogger then wouldn't let me insert any words! Sorry for the delay in this posting but we have had our eldest daughter and her boyfriend here for the weekend, and so things have been busy. It has also been perishing cold, and we virtually ran out of both heating oil AND wood for the woodburner this weekend, which was not a good plan as it has been wickedly cold (and getting worse). We had ordered oil last Wednesday but apparently they were a week behind with their deliveries and we were told tomorrow was the earliest we could have any. We phoned yesterday to say we had had to turn the heating off, and as I had asthma, this wasn't a great idea. When we came back from Carmarthen, bless them, they had been and topped up the tank. We have also been wooding up the valley and picked up a goodly lot of firewood – from roadside trees which had fallen in storms, been cut up and left. So now we have enough to see us through and with any luck it will warm up next week and lighting the woodburner won't be so essential as it is at the moment. Enjoy the photos of Crickhowell. It has quite a history, so I will put up another photo and some words tomorrow. Keep warm.


Saturday 24 February 2018

Abergavenny Castle

Last Wednesday we fancied a day out, and drove to Abergavenny, had a wander round the castle and the Fleamarket, and then came back and stopped to explore Crickhowell shops properly.  I'll do a post about that tomorrow.

Abergavenny Castle was built in timber around 1087, by Hamelin de Ballon, in the traditional motte and bailey design. However, just a few years later (1100) work was being carried out to replace it in stone.

It is probably most famously linked to the Marcher Lord, William de Braose, who features large in the book “Lady of Hay” by Barbara Erskine, and is a jolly good read. He was a very belligerent chap, Norman of course, and set a plan to . . . eradicate . . . the thorns in his sides – the local Welsh lords who resented the intrusion of the Normans on their land. Seisal ap Dyfnwal of Castle Arnallt near Llanover, in the Usk valley was his biggest protagonist and at Christmas 1175, on the pretext of setting all the troubles to rights, de Braose invited Seisal and other Welsh lords and princelings to Abergavenny Castle to feast on Christmas Day, all the while planning to kill them all under his roof.

You can imagine the scene in the Great Hall, with beer being quaffed in large amounts, huge joints of venison and boar's heads set out along the oak refectory tables, slavering hounds being cuffed and kicked under the table away from the food until a bone was thrown their way, the Court Jester capering about in his harlequin clothes, and de Braose' men drinking little, waiting for the signal from de Braose to slaughter their guests. Even then, with every last one of them dead, de Braose was not satisfied until he had Cadwalladr, Seisal's remaining son, hunted down and killed too. Cadwalladr was just 7 years old. De Braose was the sort of bloke my mum would have called “a nasty piece of work.” He held many lordships besides Abergavenny – Gower, Brecknock (Brecon today), White Castle, Grosmont Castle, Skenfrith Castle (the triumvirate I have mentioned and visited before), Builth, Radnor, Kington, Glamorgan plus Limerick (Eire) and Briouze in Normandy.

Fortunately none of this history lingers in the castle ruins. The walls still standing are later ones. There is a beautiful view across to the Blorenge, the massive hill (not quite a mountain!) which dominates the Usk valley at this point. There are some beautiful trees close by below the castle and it is now a peaceful spot. One does wonder, however, if there isn't a mass grave somewhere nearby where the Welshmen were buried.

LINK to page with further information on de Braose.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Llansteffan walk part II

I'm afraid this will be a rather sketchy post as I have been awake half the night and out all day (doing the driving too), so I am feeling a bit whacked now.  Anyway, this is the turn-around area - Wharley Point.

The entire beach looked like this - lots of little Cockle shells (empty ones) littered all over the beach.  This area is vast at low tide and is and has been for a long time, the place where people come to pick cockles to sell in the town (and further afield too these days).

The top tower of Llansteffan Castle is just in sight.  I chose, rather than walk back along the beach again, to walk along the little bit of coast path.  The photo below shows what it looks like - not too muddy, I was glad to see.

Leaves of Lords & Ladies (Wild Arum Lily) which have been showing their faces for the last few weeks in sheltered spots.

Above: the photo which I had as the Header until ten minutes ago when I chose another view.  I always feel a pang when I remove one of my Header photos as they are always my favourite photo until I take one as good (or better).

Above the footpath everything is very overgrown, but an absolute haven for wildlife of course.

The new header photo, only smaller!

Looking out to sea - well, looking out to wet mud really!  These are the Cockle Beds (when the season's right).  The sea is really out a loooooooooooong way.

Finally some information board photos for you.  I hope you can read them OK.

I'll be back after a - hopefully better - night's sleep.

Monday 19 February 2018

The Frog Chorus

Theo - The Frogmaster General!  He was trying to look innocent after I had tapped on the window to stop him trying to catch the frogs!!

The frogs in the Wildlife Pond - about 25 - 30 of them if not more.  Perhaps one female to 15 males . . .

The main pond - which has probably 40 or so.  Again, females vastly outnumbered!  I am hoping that the tadpoles will survive this year - last year they hatched and after a couple of weeks were all gone.  Frog Pox or similar I suppose.

Apologies for a short post but I have been pulling my hair out over a Planning Application today.  I have never had (let alone tried) to draw on a plan before today - straight lines are IN and I couldn't fathom out a way of getting a curve in one place, and it took forever to fathom out how to edit out the areas of shading which had appeared with no help from me!

Sunday 18 February 2018

A longed-for beach walk at Llansteffan

All this year, I have wanted a seaside walk but since it has rained almost every day, or been so perishing cold we didn't want to leave the house, let alone go to an open beach with a rip-roaring bitterly cold wind, it has been put off.  Llansteffan will be familiar to many of you who follow my blog as it's our nearest beach, and when we fancy a bit of sea air, it is the default place to go to, as is Pendine, just along the coast.  No chance of an ice-cream here on Friday, as the kiosks and wee shop were still shut, but we enjoyed a walk instead.

I am not sure if I am looking at the right little white blob, but there is a cottage on the hillside on the right of the river Towy, which is one I stayed at in 1971 and 1972 when visiting a dear pen pal of mine and her family (father and sister).  I fell in love with Carmarthenshire and when we were looking to move from Dorset (and after Devon had got beyond our purse as prices were shooting up week on week) we looked at a few properties in Wales and fell in love with and bought the house we live in now . . .

This turned out rather well - shooting into the sun - but ideally the figures should have been closer to the centre to my mind.  In the far distance are the trees of Pembrey (and beyond them the fabulous sandy beach of Cefn Sidn).

I couldn't resist this photo - Sea Foam.  There was a lot of it on the beach.  When I was small I had a big collection of plastic horses, some of which I painted.  My favourite was a strawberry roan I called Foam Fleck.  Looking at this foam on the sand I was transported back to being about 9 years old . . .

The row of cottages along the little lane which leads to the beach car park.  Many are let out as holiday homes now.  Not so dissimilar to the days of the Miners' fortnight (when my grandfather and his family may well have been amongst those who caught the train down here to Ferryside, and stayed there or crossed to Llansteffan on the little ferries across the river.  Not hard to imagine just about every room in every cottage being let, and sub-divided with sheets or sacking to cram in as many families as possible.

As you can see, the tide was WAY out.  In glacial times this must have been a very flat plain at the edge of the glaciers which stopped just short of the Gower.

Scotts' House in Scotts' Bay.  Yes - it did once belong to a relative of THE Captain Scott.

Some interesting geology here, where layers of rock have been thrown up at angles when the earth was being formed.

Looking back towards Ferryside.  For once, not a close-up as I wanted to give you an idea of the distance I'd walked.  A short walk for me, but probably a couple of miles by the time I was back at the car (Keith turned back early as he was feeling tired.)

Finally, view by Wharley Point, looking across to the very end of Pendine Beach where the red flag was flying and there were occasional sounds of firing from the ranges.  I had intended to walk around the corner up on the river inlet which leads to Laugharne (on the far back) but it was a bit wet underfoot from a river which flows onto the beach by Scotts' House, and I only had non-waterproof trainers on, so I turned back.

A few more photos tomorrow.