Thursday 25 February 2021

Hello disembodied voice!!


These first three photos came from an early morning walk with Keith, up the hill to stretch his legs.  We've been going up there most days this week to improve on fitness.

Last week I was wondering where the frogs and toads were - we used to get them earlier at our last home, even in January sometimes, and their frogspawn would get frozen, but still thaw out and hatch. Yesterday I noticed that our pond here was absolutely HEAVING with amphibians in a high state of lust.  It was like a Froggy Bordello!!  Here below is the result of their days and nights of passion, so far.  It's mostly frogs in there, but I've seen a few toads at the far end, and when the light was right the other day, lots of Newts too.  Pleased about that.

I did some gardening this morning and put in another couple of roses up on the bank.  I  thought I had planted Roserie de l'Hay the other day at the side of the house, but then found it was The Lark Ascending I had planted.  So today, Roserie de l'Hay DID get put in, on the bank overlooking the stable yard, which has some nice small shrubs and trees in.  First though, I dug out and replanted (at the back) 3 clumps of grass.  I have a suspicion it is Pampas grass - if it is I think it will go for a further walk . . . hate the stuff.  I also planted Boscobel a little higher up and further over, and gave both plants a feed and a good sprinkling of DA Microcryzome on the roots.

I also got busy with the storage cupboard upstairs, where much was bunged when we first arrived.  It needed sorting out, and anything still in a bin bag taking out.  So now I have all Tam's bed linen on one shelf, the overflow of ours (all the king size bedding goes in the coffer in our bedroom) and sheets on the next, and some other quilts now put away in the coffer in the guest bedroom.  Getting there, especially as stuff still in boxes in the pink bedroom is slowly being tidied away in under the bed box storage.

Then Tam and I had a walk, the one across the fields and back along the lanes that we did when we first arrived here.

The two Hanoverians were turned out again - when we met them a few weeks ago the chestnut was hopping lame and awaiting the vet.

The brown-black horse in the front is 21, but the chestnut only 5 and full of beans!  After being made a fuss of by us, they headed into the next field and we heard the sound of much galloping!

This funny-clouded picture was the result of my trying a panoramic scene.  The views up here are just AMAZING. Pretty well 360 degrees.

We reached the road again, and this is looking in the general direction of Brecon - though that would be quite a hike as it's about 15 or 16 miles away on this route, and even further on the main A road out of Builth.  Tam and I want to go exploring along those mynydds in the summer.

Looking more northerly, this is the Aberedw, another one to explore.

These lambs were born when the Beast from the East was here (what a welcome to the world) and then had to endure days of heavy rain and wind, but now are enjoying some sunshine for a change.

I did a double-take the first time I saw this, as it is made of metal and quite large.  I think the nearest thing to it is a European Black Woodpecker  -   here's a link to a post about it.  I assume it is to scare other woodpeckers away - ones who might have ideas about pecking the telegraph pole, so they must have problems with this!

    Just as we were climbing the hill, Tam and I were looking at the leaves of various wild flowers showing in the hedgerows and on the banks.  We had just found some well-grown Aquilegia leaves, and were saying, it is going to be an early spring, when a man's voice from the garden above us agreed!  I said, "Hello disembodied voice" and thus we met another - very friendly - neighbour.  On each of our walks we have met a neighbour, and they are all really friendly.  Can't wait until Lockdown is done with and things are safer again and we can get to know one another better.

    All in all, another LOVELY day here, which ended with a fabulous evening chorus of birds - some of them unfamiliar to me.  We are so fortunate.

Monday 22 February 2021

Spring is here and a local walk to an ancient church

This is what I like to see - lots of routes to explore!  There were a couple 3-way splits on today's walk.  We couldn't resist the sunshine and birdsong and feel of spring (especially as there is rain due the rest of the week).  So we set off to visit the little church we had seen in the distance recently.  It was a good choice.

We walked past a pond with Bullrushes, but no water birds availing themselves of the spot.  It was pretty muddy on the track, and Iwas glad I had my walking boots on.

The river Irfon again - our footpath led along the bank.

It was indeed a day stolen from spring and reminded me of a Pre-Raphaelite painting, as the colours were so sharp and atmospheric.

This Oak Moss grows on all the trees hereabouts and shows the purity of the air (free from nitrogen pollution).

A view of where we walked recently  (up through the woodland on the left).

The little church, of some antiquity, but sadly restored in Victorian times, as was often the case.  It is hard to tell how much of the original building survived.   An ancient spot, and well chosen - although it is approached when it is open these days, across two fields.

A local lass who sadly died aged only 13.  The stained glass image of her makes her live on.

Taken through the plain glass window at the back, the trees are reflected and the window looks like it is floating.  Tam took a much better photo like this and I hope to borrow and add it later.

There were masses of Snowdrops blooming in a corner of the field the burial ground and church are set in.

A reproduction of the Early Christian Monument associated with this parish.  We saw the real thing when we were in Brecon Museum a while back.  It ended up in the adjoining parish, built into a house there - but had previously been built into a high-status Elizabethan house (which didn't survive the centuries). It dates from the late 9th/early 10th Centuries.

One of the earlier headstones propped against a bank.

Looking back at the church as we walked across the field. . .

Above and below:  First Daffodil (Yay!) and first Dandelion.  The bees will be happy. A lovely walk, over 4 miles and we had a chat with another (horsey) neighbour on the way back.  We plan to meet up for a good chinwag when it is safe to do so again.

Sunday 21 February 2021

Cornish Fairings (ginger biscuits) and Oaty Ginger Biscuit recipes for Morning's Minion

Sharon - No photos (yet!) but see if either of these may appeal.  We find both far too moreish to bake regularly!!

 Cornish Fairings

4 oz plain flour

Pinch of Salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons Bicarbonate of Soda

2 o butter

2 oz caster sugar

2 1/2 level tablespoons golden syrup

Sift the flour, salt, spices and bicarb in a basin and rub in the butter.  Add sugar.  Melt the syrup and stir in to make a soft dough.  Roll the mixture into balls about the size of marbles and place them on greased baking trays with a space between them to allow room to spread.  Bake at 350 def. F, 180 deg. C, Gas mark 4 for 10 mins.  Take the tray out of the oven and hit it on a solid surface to make the fairings crack and spread.  Put back in oven for another 5 mins to finish baking.

Ginger Oaty Biscuits

150g butter, diced if cold

1 tbsp syrup (I substituted runny honey instead)

175g granulated sugar

125g self-raising flour(I used plain flour plus 5g baking powder)

100g porridge oats

2 tsp ground ginger


1. Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/ Gas 4. Line a couple of large baking trays with baking paper. 

2. Place the butter, syrup/honey, and sugar into a large saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved and well combined

3. Remove from the heat and add the flour, oats and ginger. Stir until well incorporated, then tip onto a clean flat surface, flatten out and leave to cool for 10mins.

4. Scoop up teaspoonfuls of the mixture (which will be slightly crumbly and buttery) and roll into small balls. Place on the prepared baking trays, spaced well apart and lightly push down to flatten. Bake for 10mins until golden colour.

5. Leave until cool on the baking trays. 

Friday 19 February 2021

Woken by cats and some photos of rooms at our new home


Theo on the favourite windowsill spot (Alfie is sat there as I type).

Butter wouldn't melt would it?!!The little wretches managed to open the door between the kitchen and the stairs to the bedrooms about 4.30 a.m. this morning.  I know who did it - Alfie! He who is always opening cupboard doors in the kitchen at night and letting them slam shut again (poor Tam - her bedroom is over the kitchen).  Alfie came on our  bed, and laid, purring like a grampus (very pleased with himself!) just where I wanted to put my legs.  Then someone else started to scoot up and down the hall.  Then Theo (as it turned out) decided it would be wonderful to make a nice snug pussy-cat bed in the discarded sheets of newspaper outside our room (waiting for someone - it is bound to be me!- to take them downstairs for disposal.)  Then Alfie went into the hall and I could hear him retching with a fur ball.  That was the bit that got me out of bed . . .

Alfie reclining in Tam's room.  I thought you'd like to see how the rooms are slowly evolving.  It's a lovely light room, with a dual aspect (and shutters!)  The whole house is so light, which is wonderful after the gloom of our last home - in the kitchen you had to have the lights on all day long in winter.  Turn them off and you couldn't see across the room.  I don't miss that.

Little Whale across the lane (he had to be dissuaded from going exploring down the lane . . .  He wants to go out in the dark, morning or evening, he doesn't care.  We haven't put the cat flaps in yet - Keith will have to instruct Tam how to use the jig saw as he is finding bending down low difficult (hands and knees job this one).

Ghengis in his favourite spot, the steps up to the side garden.  He likes it over here.  He was out helping Tam and I in the garden a couple of days ago (when it stayed dry long enough).

This is the Guest Bedroom (or Garden Room as Tam likes to call it).  Still a work in progress, but much LESS of a work in progress than it was first thing yesterday morning!  More boxes have gone upstairs, and the two small chests you can see are now full of my patchwork fabrics, and four empty fabric boxes which used to clutter up the pink bedroom have now gone up to the attic.  When our new Emma mattress arrives next week, our current mattress will go on this bed and then I can make it up and the use of 4 pillows, a duvet, a bedding set and a quilt will empty the coffer you can just see a corner of on the right . . .  That will then free the coffer up for more storage for stuff from the pink bedroom.  It is a slow old process.

Our new bed made up using the repurposed carved headboard (below).  It is fastened to the wall and the new bed base made up (a MUCH quicker process than the rather flimsy - but cheap! - pine bed now in the Guest Bedroom.)  Not quite a half hour job but only ten mins or so more - the other bed took most of an afternoon!  My favourite bedding set on it (William Morris's Strawberry Thief) and a quilt I was given after my friend Annie died.  She had never used it and her daughter gifted it to me.  It's a single but is big enough to dress our bed.

The Library is where Keith has his favourite pictures and his old muskets on display.  Several things have come out of stock, since we can't do Fairs (we wonder, can we ever again?)  The big burr walnut bowl on the yew wood table is one of those things, and the bobbin-back chair against the back wall.  You can't quite see it, but beside that chair is a Tramp-Art bow, also from stock.  The bits on the windowsill (below) are two ancient candlesticks and the central piece of treen once jammed a door shut in around the 17th or 18th C (probably from central Europe).  It has a well-worn scooped out centre which held a length of wood which slotted into a recess in the wall/door frame.  There was a set up like this in one of the houses we viewed (and which was a real contender until I felt a presence (ICY cold) near a blocked-in doorway.  It was NOT a welcoming presence and I couldn't have lived there.

Finally, Theo and Little Whale helping some cushions of Tam's to "be aired".  I think this means they are now cat beds . . .  This is the pink bedroom, which has a lovely deep windowsill, south-facing, and just perfect for seed trays.  I think the cats will have to find comfy new nests when we get the seeds started!

    Right, that's a quick roundup anyway.  Now I have to do some baking as I promised our next door neighbour a cake for mending a small hole in the stable roof (two or three new tiles).  He didn't want paying, bless him, so I promised a cake, and will do some biscuits too.

One final photo of the back of the house showing my kitchen window at the same height as the back lawn!  Great for bird-watching  :)  You can just see a bit of the view of Aberedw hill between the trees.

Monday 15 February 2021

A Longer Walk


Since having my Covid jab, my lower back has been yelling-out-loud painful.   Painkillers won't touch it.  Tendons and ligaments, upset by lifting in the first couple of weeks we were here, suddenly flared into inflammation.  Sitting for any length of time was not an option.  I pottered around, ironing, tidying, and a short walk to the post box half a mile away seemed to ease it over the weekend.

    On Sunday it had eased up enough for me to carefully sit (and get up and move around) for several hours at my computer (which now lives on the kitchen table - no room for an office here) and dive into Ancestry, researching the history of the Big House next door, and the cottages the other side of us, and trying to work out when this house was upgraded from a small 17th C carriage house to something twice the size and habitable.  The Big House next door (17th C) was rebuilt in 1891, so I imagine the improvements here were carried out at the same time, but other improvements done well into the 20th C.  We have a Georgian door into the kitchen (no longer used) and I imagine that a steep staircase once led from where I'm sitting up into what is now the bathroom.

    My daughter came in and remarked I was in my element, as indeed I was, I love to research and follow up leads and discover things.

    The Ancestry foray led into a link which took me to an on-line copy of a 2-volume History of Brecon book from Victorian times, all sorts of snippets of information which have become forgotten down the years.  House names altered, abandoned dwellings became working farmhouses again, other high-status buildings disappeared completely as the families who owned them died without issue, or married out of the area and the dwellings fell into disrepair and were then robbed for building other houses.  I got a good feel for this vicinity, and was amazed that John Wesley was a regular visit to our local church, where he leapt onto a fallen tomb to preach, and he married his brother to a gal from a respectable local family ("it was a solemn day, as became the dignity of a Christian marriage".  Gosh, no booze-up afterwards then!)

Anyway, I was heard to say yesterday morning that as I couldn't sit, I could at least walk and that had freed up my back the previous day, so Tam and I planned a longer circular walk.  These photos illustrate the route.

My back, however, was not co-operating, and although the middle lower back was a bit better, my hips decided they would really play up next and by the time we had gone a couple of miles I was regretting saying, at least I can still walk!

The gate above, with its Christian crosses, and this ancient and deep holloway both lead to a small church dedicated to St David - although there was an earlier dedication to a largely forgotten and unusual saint.  It was "rebuilt" (or at least, extensively renovated) in Victorian times.  A lot of churches seemed to be renovated or "improved" then, not always to their historical advantage.  Anyway, this wee church is approached across the fields or down the holloway and we will visit it when it is a little drier underfoot.  It is still in use, but only in the summer months . . .

We left the lane and began to climb through mixed woodland, along a bridleway, and that was when my hip to leg tendons/ligaments at the front really began to complain.  How I wished I could be on my darling horse at this point, as he would have relished this hill and going off piste!  Still, the views were worth the climb (about 250 feet, heightwise).

At the top it opened out into rollicking fields and the beginning of the Eppynt range behind.

We walked about 4 1/2 miles and I was fit for nothing when I got in, but today everything has eased up a bit and hopefully I have seen the worst of this bad back business.   I daren't lift anything though so Tam will have to take the next load up to the attic . . .

    As you can see, we have fabulous walking country on our doorsteps - just wish we had moved here many years ago so I could take better advantage of the walks.  Never mind,  I will do my best!