Sunday 27 February 2022

Busy gardening - and Nasturtium fabric listed


I've just listed this on Ebay.  Starting price £30, as it is beautiful fabric (linen) and you'd be hard pressed to find any more I think.  If it doesn't sell, it will go to an Antiques Fair with me. Sorry RP - tried the address you gave me and my email was returned.

    I was planning a post about the church we went to yesterday, just off the Rhayader road, but am just TOO tired tonight - have spent 3 hours gardening today, taking advantage of the weather.  It really did feel like the first day of spring and the sun was beautifully warm.  I got some weeding done in several areas, removing stones and digging through, and got thoroughly tired pulling up lengths of ancient weed supressing membrane with its inches deep covering of soil, grass roots, grass, and weeds.

    I struggled to get all the bits of Beech twig from the plastic pond cover mesh we used last winter.  Won't bother again as I nearly fell in trying to drag it out of the water with its burden of twigs and saturated leaves.  Anyway, I managed and it is now ready to go to the tip, wrapped in a bin bag to stop any birds getting caught up in it.

    I couldn't face digging a hole for planting another fruit tree today - will do that tomorrow. Tam has been packing up the stuff she needs for the week as she is moving out today. She'll be back next weekend to collect more. I am looking forward to having some food cupboard space again and a lot fewer herbs and spices!

    She and J moved our big chests of drawers for us as we are having a new bedroom carpet fitted tomorrow and the lino (finally) laid in the two bathrooms.  They also drilled the wall and hung another of my bedroom pictures - another print by Gillian McDonald.  It will look lovely in there tomorrow.

    Off to collapse in a heap now.

Saturday 26 February 2022

A horsey walk start to the day


I noticed my friend P taking her horse B for a walk, so I decided to go and join her.  It  is such a lovely morning here - too good to waste.  I plan to be out in the garden later. Another 4 trees to plant.

B was pleased to have a bite of sweet grass from the vergeside, whilst P and I chatted.  

The view, as ever, was stunning.  We walked about a mile and then B powered up the hill, and I dragged myself up in his wake!

I discovered this book this week, and bought myself the cheapest copy I could find.  It was in tidy condition but then the dust jacket got ripped in the post when something heavy must have been put on top of this parcel and twisted.  It's still perfectly readable and I shall settle down with it later.  Just dipped in so far.

FINALLY, my expensive wallpaper arrived.  It took 6 weeks!  It is just as beautiful as shown.  I haven't decided which of the spare bedrooms to put it in yet.  Will ponder and get back to you.

Right, onwards and upwards.  I have filled several bags with Tam's kitchen stuff (sauces, packets, tins, spices etc) and there is still more in the fridge to go.

Wednesday 23 February 2022

John Lloyd of Towy


This is John Lloyd, of Towy, who died in 1585.  The Lloyd family held substantial posts in Royal circles on and off for centuries.  There were several branches of the family but their roots appear to have been in Cardiganshire, crossing the border into Carmarthenshire.  

    There were Lloyds at our old home, and when I couldn't sleep at ALL last night, I came downstairs and spent a couple of hours reading the notes I'd written when researching the history of our old home.  I couldn't totally connect them root and branch, but in Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families by Francis Jones, Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary, he mentioned the family tracing back to Cardiganshire Chieftain Gwyddno Garanhir Lord of Cantre'r Gwaelod, the sunken land off the Cardiganshire coast - a fertile lowland hundred and 16 cities.  One Owain ap Sir Gruffydd was esquire to the body of King Edward III (d. 1377).  When Henry Tudor's ships of invasion landed at Dale in Pembrokeshire in 1485, he and his men travelled through the Welsh heartlands, calling the faithful to battle - that battle was of course Bosworth, the final battle in the Wars of the Roses, which took place on 22 August 1485, and resulted in Henry Tudor becoming Henry VII, after the Yorkist king Richard III was slain.  Because of his part in the battle,  Gwilym ap Sion (of Ynyswen, where we lived) became Esquire to the body of Henry VII.  

    John Lloyd was the only son of Thomas Lloyd, by his 2nd wife.  His father answered the call to arms, being a partisan of Henry Tudor, and he brought with him a considerable number of Cardiganshire men, for which he was rewarded with possessions and also appointed Lord Lieutenant of the County of Brecknockshire (modern day Breconshire).  John was a young man when he went into England and served "in the French and Scotch wars, under Henry VIII; he was afterwards 'squer to the bodie of Queen Elizabeth', and made the first sheriff and justice of the piece and steward of the manor or lordship of Builth."

    Yet John Lloyd wished to just live simply, in his mansion of Forth y Crwys, or the gate of the cross, in Llanynis.

We saw this gate on our first walk here last year, and thought it was an alternative approach to the church, but it marks the field where John Lloyd's mansion stood - no sign of it nowadays, not the least unevenness of grass where walls might once have stood.

    This looks like a stream, as there is still a lot of storm water running off the hills above and  along the lane.  In the summer it is completely dry and appears to be an ancient holloway -probably the approach to the mansion and perhaps on to the little church across the fields.

St David's Church at Llanynis. 

    John Lloyd's will stipulated that his body should be laid to rest at nearby Llanynis church, and I hope this happened, and yet his tomb at St Mary's in Builth suggests that "here lieth the body of John Lloyd."  I wonder if, like Thomas Hardy, his heart is in the churchyard and his body in a more populous place . . .

I think it starts "Here lieth John Lloyd" but I gave up after that!

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Playing catch up


Firstly, the heads up on some more fabric to go on Ebay soon.  You saw it here first!

Colourful vintage linen fabric in a Nasturtium design.  4 yards and it measures 34 1/2" wide.  

This vintage Laura Ashley fabric (1977) is actually more terracotta than it looks in this photo.  6 metres of it x 48"wide so plenty for a big pair of curtains or a wholecloth quilt.

How annoying THIS was.  Had we cut more carefully when leaving a little over so we didn't cut too short, we would have had enough to do this.  Ah well . . . (P.S.  It's behind a bookcase and I'd have bodged this!!)

This is the only upper-wall part of the room which was papered (all the rest is wooden tongue and groove).  To the right is the other strip which needs to be finished - when the wallpaper arrives.

I need to get busy with a paintbrush and do the shutters and windowsill when I have time, carefully covering the newly-decorated walls of course.

All the pictures have been temporarily taken down  but the Best Mirror has been taken out of wraps and is finally in place - just in time for her to move!  The paint colour is Moroccan Mint.

Waiting to go up - and we have been waiting 3 months for the frame - first one arrived damaged, and then we had to send it back, get a refund and order again. . .

Now, believe it or not there is a very strong link between this photograph and this one I showed yesterday.  All will be revealed tomorrow . . .  

Monday 21 February 2022

'twas wild and woolley here

 Hoping you are all ok.  I was tracking the rise and rise of the River Wye yesterday, wondering if it was going to beat the highest level of 5.05 m above normal, achieved in February 2020.  It got very close (4.922m) and flooded the bottom part of the town.  Co-op at Llanelwedd is shut (water across the forecourt) and the garage opposite also had flood water around its tanks.  Shan't be buying fuel there for a while, in case it's full of water.  The river came across the War Memorial in the Groe, and flooded Barclays Bank car park and started heading up the hill towards Eco Chic.  Lots and lots of roads closed across Wales today including the major ones in and out of Builth, due to flooding and fallen trees.  We certainly knew Franklin had been visiting - it was much worse than Eunice and Dudley.

We had our own personal lake forming in the yard!

When I went into town late this morning to post some Ebay parcels, I couldn't get closer than the very top of the main road through  and ended up parking by the church. On the way back, I popped in to see if there was anything in the porch there.  I found this, which reads:  

Jane ye daughter of John Will Esq, wife to Marmeduke Lloyd Esq deceased ye 26th February 1696 aged 76.  

She's entrd into Glory free from Strife, Courtious Mother and a carefull wife, Five pious Children Did survive her here To imitate her Till they shall appeare Since entred in to Glory One of five God Grant long life To them that do survive.

You may remember we came across another memorial mentioning Marmaduke Lloyd at Disserth Church recently:  

Another Lloyd here - this is John Lloyd of Towy (we lived near the Towy Valley in Carms).  I will tell his story tomorrow.

Sunday 20 February 2022

I wish it would stop raining

UPDATE: Storm Franklin has arrived and we had very heavy rain all day, but especially this afternoon.  The Wye is close to its highest levels since 2020 - currently on 4.729 metres above normal and rising (has 5.05 to beat).  Don't think we'll be going far again tomorrow.  Various roads have been hit by flooding across Powys and that's BEFORE this storm has arrived in earnest.  Hoping you are all safe, wherever you live in the UK (and I hope you're not at the mercy of the weather if you are elsewhere in the world).

Well, another very wet and somewhat windy day.  It hasn't stopped raining since daylight.  I diligently did the ironing, whilst listening to the Archers Omnibus (for a change).  For most of my life I never missed an episode, then it lost its way in the first Lockdown and I have missed much of what has happened since.  I'm still waiting for Pip and Rex to realize that they are a match made in heaven . . .

Since that I have been photographing and listing things on Ebay, craft items and there will be some more books I can bear to part with.  Gosh, everything takes SO long and 3 times I lost an entire posting just because when I got to changing it from auction to buy it now, everything I'd written and all photos disappeared.  Frustrating to say the least.  You have to check other postings, where they were listed and sold prices, descriptions for headings etc so you can try and match with an earlier posting which saves some typing out of details in the erm, details. I must persevere though, as I have SO MUCH to pass on and would you believe I have found yet MORE curtains and vintage Laura Ashley fabric, which I will put photos of on here later in the week before I post them.

I am trying to pluck up courage to get soaked to the skin topping up the bird feeders and emptying the litter tray.  Both have to be done.

Tam is working flat out to tidy her belongings and sort out what she can't do without when she moves out in a week's time.  She SO NEARLY finished decorating her bedroom - then ran out of paper.  There were some long "bits" but none really matched.  The last tiny bit is behind a cupboard and I'm afraid my take on it would have been - match as best you can - it's not going to show until the house is sold and we're pushing up daisies!  But she needs about a 2"strip down the last bit of the big wall too, which has meant another roll of wallpaper . . . Photos tomorrow. It's looking lovely.

Meanwhile some more photos from yesterday's walk. If you look very closely on the hilltop, you can see a trig point, which appears to be on top of a barrow. (To the far right of photo).  Must have a walk up that way this summer.

Spring isn't far  away now - the first Dog's Mercury is putting in an appearance along the hedgerows.

The old boys knew a thing about siting a house - always chose a spot on the middle of a hill, so you didn't flood and had shelter from the worst of the gales.  This old farmhouse is a steady uphill climb from our house.

D, if you are able to read this (and I have a feeling that on Exmoor - unless you are at the top of a hill you won't!), I hope you found that the power has returned to your holiday cottage and you aren't spending the week in a dark, cold place with only a camping stove to cook by and candles to light you.  NOT good walking weather either!!!  I hope that the river wasn't up too much either . . .

Saturday 19 February 2022

Scrumptious Sticky Gingerbread


I went for a proper walk today - my legs and lungs definitely needed it - the weather has been so unpleasant recently and not at all conducive to going for a walk, however short.  As you see, there was even a little bit of sunshine about.

A Thrush was singing his heart out up in this tree, surrounded by lovely catkins.

I was able to walk into an open field and actually get a photo of our house (white on right by BIG tree). So you get an idea of how fortunate we are in our beautiful surroundings.

I've saved more photos for another post.  I hope you will give this cake a try - it's divine!


 100g golden syrup

100g black treacle

75g unsalted butter

75g light soft brown or muscovado sugar (I omitted this)

150g plain flour

1tsp round ginger

1/2 tsp ground mixed spice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg, lightly beaten

75ml milk

Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

75-100g finely chopped preserved stem ginger in syrup (drained) - though I did add about a tablespoon of the syrup too

Icing (Optional) 50g icing sugar, sifted 1 tblspn lemon juice or water 50g whole stem ginger (2 pieces) 

Equipment 1-litre (2 lb) loaf tin, greased and lined with baking parchment Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3.

Put the golden syrup, treacle, butter (and sugar) into a small saucepan. Place over a gentle heat and stir until the butter has melted and the ingredients are evenly blended. Set aside to cool. Sift the flour, ground ginger, mixed spice and cinnamon into a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the cooled treacle mixture, egg, milk and lemon zest. Using a wooden spoon, beat well until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 1 tblspn. hot water. Add to the mixture with the chopped ginger and mix thoroughly to create a pourable batter. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 mins before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool. When cold, if you wish, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice or water and drizzle over the cake, then top with slivers of stem ginger. This cake is best stored for 3-4 days before eating. It keeps well for 2 weeks and freezes beautifully. 

Friday 18 February 2022

After the Storm


This was a glimpse of tonight's sunset after Storm Eunice had been bothering Wales.  Fortunately it wasn't too bad where we are, as we are fairly inland (e.g. 1 hour and 1/4 inland!) but the red alert along the South Wales coastline meant many people followed advice and stayed at home, only making essential journeys.  None of the trains were running, which was probably just as well - Carmarthen railway station lost its roof!  Both the bridges across the Severn into (and out of!) Wales were shut, a couple of high-sided vehicles on the M4 were blown on their sides and it was not a good day to be out and about.  I see it was a tad breezy on the tip of the Isle of Wight too - recorded wind speed 122 mph.  Enough to suck your false teefs out! I hope everyone in the UK reading this is ok and didn't suffer any damage.  I know there were lots of fallen trees and thousands of people without power.

Meanwhile, the cats soon found out the snuggest places to be (Theo here).  

Tam has been interviewed for and got a job 2 hrs' drive away so will be moving to the coastal town where her boyfriend is. Several months ago I laughingly said to her about the decorating of her bedroom, and said, "You'll just finish it and move out" and blimey, that will come to pass. She is on the last half wall in her bedroom - one more coat of paint on the top and 3 half strips of paper across the bottom and it's done. Looking lovely too.  I will take a photo when it's finished.

Keith got his Blue Badge this week, so parking will be easier for us when we go out. (Many thanks to - was it Joan? - in Devon for her encouragement as I nearly gave up.)  There are only two Blue Badge places in town (by Boots the Chemist) and sometimes I have to drive round two or three times before any parking space becomes available, or else I have to drive up to the Main Co-op and park there and walk down.  Not ideal.  The medication for Keith's Hypothyroidism is taking its time to kick in but some days we have little glimpses of things improving.

Back tomorrow with a recipe for a toothsome Ginger Cake.

Thursday 17 February 2022

Llanbadarn Fawr Church, Radnorshire


We have driven past this church, with what I thought was a circular churchyard (but isn't totally), many times, but after I had visited the nearby plant nursery recently, I had no excuse not to pull over into the layby and go and explore.  Imagine my delight when I opened the porch door and was faced with this amazing Norman Tympanum, one of only two in the whole of Wales, and believed to be connected with the Herefordshire school of Romanesque Architecture.  Of course, looking at the church from the outside it appears totally Victorian, and indeed was rebuilt almost from scratch in 1878.

There is an estimated date of 1100 - 1150 for this and it is rather sniffily described as "a weak copy of the Herefordshire school" in Malcolm Thurlby's book on that subject.  He suggests that whilst it is possible that the tree possibly grew upwards onto a (now missing) as at Kilpeck.  The head below it does appear to be a cat, although Rita Wood's article in Archaeologia Cambrensis 156 (2007) suggests that this could be interpreted as "the face of the ascended and triumphant Christ" based on the full scene symbolising the life in Paradise after death.  If the beasts are correctly interpreted as a lion and a lioness, then "both men and women would have been encouraged to imagine themselves in heaven."  The 9 pointed star "probably refers to Relevation22:5, which explains that there is no need of either sun or lamp in heaven because God himself lights it."

This head on the right hand lintel was the only one to survive - that on the left was virtually wiped from existence.  Again Thurlby isn't particularly impressed by the standard of carving and just mentions it having a long pencil moustache and a goatee beard.

These two in the photograph below, were put in high up in the porch wall, and are of a similar style with big moustaches.

In the other corner of the porch is a putative Sheela-na-gig with the bottom half of her body hacked off to make her more decent.  Unfortunately my photo was a very poor one and unusable.

Possibly Adam, Eve and the tempter, but both figures have male dress - Rita Wood suggests that it could be Bishop Padarn with his shaven head and "the rapacious tyrant Arthur" with long hair.  

You can just make out St Padarn raising his hand in benediction.

Chip-carved fragments above a winged snake -which, had I taken a better photo, you might have seen it is apparently regurgitating another snake - they are known to represent rebirth - the old physical body being discarded for "a new spiritual body which the soul will enter and reanimate."

Two more snakes, one winged, possibly along the same theme , are included on the left capital.  Possibly popular theme for the Herefordshire school, as two are included on the jambs of the doorway at Kilpeck.

No mention is made of this piece which looks like an Airedale terrier being attacked by a Monster!

Incidentally, Gerald of Wales (Geraldus Cambrensis, who lived so happily for a while just outside Brecon - see recent post) visited Llanbadarn Fawr in his new appointment of archdeacon.  He wished to establish his authority over the church, despite having been warned by the Dean and Chapter NOT to visit their churches in person but to "act in accordance with the custom of his predecessors, namely through his messengers and officers and above all through the dean, of whom they spoke amongst themselves as their archdeacon".  He was also warned that there was an ancient feud between his family and various nobles in that area.  In fact, he was warned that an ambush had been planned.  Indeed, as they approached Llanbadarn Gerald an his party were attacked and he was obliged to seek refuge in the church, managing somehow to get a message to Cadwallon ap Madog ab Idnerth, ruler of Maelienydd, whereupon the 6 or 7 unruly clerks who "after the Welsh fashion shared the church between them" were brought to heel.

Above: another example of the Hereford school is to be found in this church (now a family home) at Willersley, Herefs. We were going to view it, but size-wise it was small, right on a main road and net door to an enormous farm. My thanks to Cobb Amos, estate agents, for this photograph which accompanied the original listing.