Wednesday 30 March 2022

I'm missing the sunshine already!


At the weekend I set off down the track behind our property. Part of the woodland on the bank comes within our boundaries though it's too steep to do anything with.   Then I was off through the woods and across the fields to make the most of the sunshine.

I sat on a sunny bank and relaxed (and got my breath back!)

A neighbours' horses enjoy the sunshine. The two at the back are mum and 6 yr old son.

The sheep were enjoying the sunshine too.

The little church which serves the next village over.

This lovely house was sold (very quickly) recently and used to belong to the same family which owned ours back in mid-Victorian times.

Llandewi'r Cwm church in the next valley across.

A good stretch of cut and laid hedging, with the regrowth making it sheep-proof.

First Lady's Smock coming into flower on the verge.

The lovely chestnut Hanoverian again.

Finally, a beautiful oak tree.  I can't wait for the leaves to come through.

I'm still immersed in Barbara Erskine's The Warrior's Princess, and some family history research to answer a Canadian 2nd cousin's query.  I fear I need to go in the sideboard of doom, which is hemmed in with some of Tam's belongings.

Sunday 27 March 2022

St Eigen, Llanigon

 Bring back the light mornings!  I get so discombobulated when the clocks change.  Normally if I wake early recently, it's light already.  This morning, 6.10 a.m. and I've been up an hour and it's still pretty dark out there.  When we were going to distant Fairs (e.g. Malvern from Carmarthen) we would be getting up at 3.30 a.m. and I hated driving there half the way in the pitch dark.  Of course, in the winter, it was ALL the day and the sky was only just starting to lighten as we arrived at 7.30 a.m.  Still, it was light till nearly 8 p.m. last night so I mustn't complain.  

Last Friday we made the most of the sunshine and had a drive over towards Hay and visited the church at Llanigon. The village was absolutely beautiful - we'd not been there before, although there had been a house on the market there I liked the look of, but for the money, it was a bit too small for us and all our belongings.  Imagine grey stone cottages all higgledy-piggledy and so pretty.

    The church is dedicated to St Eigen, a semi-mythical saint, and the church site appears to be very early in origin. He may - or may not - have been a styled bishop and confessor whose mother may have been one of the daughters of Brychan (Kehingayr or Ceingair).

Just how early the  site may be depends on who you believe. Theophious Jones suggested a 1st C St Eigon, daughter of Caradog ap Bran, who was converted to Christianity with her father in Rome by St Ilid (considered by some to be Joseph of Arimathea) and then they all came to Britain together and not only founded a monastery for twelve saints which became the "most eminent cor in the world" but brought Christianity to England.  Baring-Gould and Fisher thought this was a load of old tosh!

However, if you are at all intrigued by the idea, please read Barbara Erskine's book "The Warrior's Princess" and make up your own mind.  I am re-reading my copy and can't put it down!

Ancient yew trees also suggest an early site.

Two amazing early fonts in the church porch.

There is apparently Eigion's Well not far from the church, which may be the same "Boiling Well" passed by a farmer's wife on her way to Hay-on-Wye where "on one occasion a 'spirit in white' jumped behind her on the horse as she passed this well, and rode with her until she reached home', after which it vanished." Rather her then me!!  They wouldn't have had to go far for water for the font anyway.

Beautiful stained glass.  

Apparently until the early 1800s the walls of the nave were "bedaubed with caricatures of death an time, a wretched imitation of the King's arms, and "many a holy text strewed around", instead of which a little white lime would be more ornamental."

I will do another post later in the week, as this church also has strong links with Kilvert.

Saturday 26 March 2022

Busy in the garden


I now have a gardener.  He is the chap who used to work here for the last owner.  There are certain heavy jobs I just cannot do, and giving the Rhododendron a trim was one of them.  He took about four feet off the top for me.  It took him 5 hours, including all the tidying away of branches, but was money well spent.  This cost us £80 - the "quote" I had from the rip-off gardening chap last year was just short of £400!!!!!  (That's a "widowed pensioner on her own rip-off price" - he didn't see Keith and thought I was on my own.  He gave a similar rip-off price to my friend P, saying it would be 3 days' work to replace a tiny bit of wall.  When she said she'd thought about it and reckoned that the job could be done in less time he suddenly had a rethink and dropped the price.)  HE won't be darkening our doors again.

  The gloomy area behind the pond is very much still a work in progress. I have cleared some of the ivy, removed yet more membrane, and planted one of the rambler roses I bought recently. This one is the white Rambling Rector which will grow up and through the boring conifers.  It will tolerate shade - this area doesn't get the sun the whole day.  I also planted another rambler, Violette, by the low fence below the other Rhododendron.  Easy digging as no bits of house there! I have two more to go, but they will have to go in temporary homes (potato planting bags from last year).  One's to go out the front, but I've only just started clearing the area, plus there are two Sycamores to be dropped later in the year, so I may not plant until they're out of the way.  An early birthday present from my son has also arrived, a climbing rose called Malvern Hills.  I realized when I got back from the garden centre that I had a large enough ceramic planter, but couldn't use it until the tulips I'd planted in it have flowered.

There are lots of Primroses blooming.  These are in what used to be veg plots, but will have the surrounds moved elsewhere and Perennials planted.

One of the shrubs in the garden.  Don't know which one it is (not a shrub person really), but it is hefty and has big leaves!

This is the pear tree I  planted last year, nicely established now. I have two pears, two plums, 4 wild Crab Apples, and about 10 apple trees up in the orchard now.

I went to the Garden Centre yesterday, to check out prices on ceramic planters. Lots were "half price" - well, I couldn't afford to spend £45  - £60 for "half price" ones, let alone when they had been the full whack!  So I just treated myself to a couple of plants instead.  This beautiful electric blue Pulmonaria, and below,  a little blue and white Aubrieta for the Bank. 

I'll be out in the garden again today.  I have to make the most of this lovely weather as apparently a cold spell is due to arrive next week. 

P.S.  Keep all your fingers crossed, but Keith has a little bit of energy so we are hoping that the Levothyroxine is finally kicking in - he walked across the kitchen and back about 10 times last evening, holding a walking stick for confidence  but didn't need it - and with no dragging his foot or tiny shuffling dolly steps.  I cannot begin to express the relief I felt.  Let's hope it continues . . .

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Llanfilo Church near Talgarth

 P.S.  For some reason I do not have a separate blog for churches, just a separate page I can't add to.  Brain too fuddled to sort it out now.

We couldn't resist a drive out in the sunshine on Sunday, and after a disappointing trip to Talgarth (church locked and no exciting bits outside) we headed towards Llanfilo, which is about 2 miles away, on the slopes of the Dulas valley heading towards Brecon.  It has early Medieval roots, although the actual church dates from several periods and there are possible hints to Norman architecture, although Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust query this. It was, of course, locked, so I didn't see the boulder-type font, which is almost certainly pre-Norman in date.  

It stands in an elevated spot, and the oval churchyard which measures about 165 feet x 245 feet, suggests by its shape an early site.  It is embanked to the north and east.  In some areas only the tips of very early gravestones peep above ground level.  The Zaluckyj book suggests this may have once been a defensive site.  The presence of mature yews within the churchyard also underline its ancient religious use.

This excellent report by Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust gives details of the further extended Medieval village and road, now just crop marks.

There were lots of interesting old memorial stones on the walls.  You should be able to enlarge them if you click on them.

These two were too damaged to have any memory of their  dedication.

The dedication of the church is a little confused, as in the 1800s Theophilus Jones noted that it was dedicated to St Mildburgh, abbess of Much Wenlock and daughter of King Merewald of the Magonsaete.  This was a sub-kingdom of Mercia based in Herefordshire.  

However, both Baring-Gould and Fisher claimed that Llanfilo church was dedicated to St Belyau, yet another of the offspring of King Brychan, being one of his many daughters whose saintly presence haunt most of Breconshire.  This dedication is mentioned in 13th and 14th documents.

Outside of the churchyard is a reputed Holy Well dedicated to St Filo.

I loved the pretty windows on the church and the unusually-shaped roof on the tower which dates to the late 19th C.

The Lych gate with its stone tiled roof.

Hay Bluff in the background, running into the Black Mountains.

Definitely one to revisit.

Saturday 19 March 2022

A difficult few days

Well it looks like spring is here properly, with Celandines out along the lanes (at last - much later than last year) and the first Hawthorn leaves unfolding along the hedgerows.  Whilst today is sunny and was warm first thing, there is a very cold and pretty strong wind blowing which takes the edge off enjoying the sunshine.  I have managed some clearing in the garden as my 3 rambler roses have arrived and are currently sitting in a large tub of water.  I've been clearing the overgrown-with-ivy bare area behind the pond, as that is where the white Rambling Rector will be planted.

    I have bitten the bullet and got in touch with the gardener who worked for the previous owner, and have him lined up to come and do some of the heavy jobs I can't do.  Plus mowing the lawn when I can't get out there because of heat and/or pollen.

    After having to pay the plumber last week to put the new bulb in the UV system, I have had to buy a fresh one (having realized that the one he fitted was the one we took out last year and hadn't recycled) and then go back again because the system still wasn't working.  The controller was faulty but replaced under warranty and I then had to put the new one back on the wall and install the new bulb (which is the job I'd been trying to avoid all along as it's so fiddly and with a wooden clothes drier above it, the £73 bulb is easily knocked/broken!  Anyway, it is done now and at least I can do it again next year.  Only trouble then is that the glass liner will also have to be replaced then and that breaks VERY easily.    

    Then the week got very upsetting, as unfortunately my friend P has had great sadness as her lovely old grey horse had a fatal colic this week and had to be pts.  I had noticed he was laying down a lot and contacted P, who got the vet to come. Sadly, he didn't get better.  She is devastated of course, and I am sad as I had gotten fond of him in the time I'd known him.


Thursday 17 March 2022

Progress in the garden

I took full advantage of having No. 1 son staying overnight and asked for some help in the garden.  Here is the new path across the orchard and no way could I have done this on my own inside a 6 mth!  Path is cardboard box base, then good membrane and then barrowload after barrowload of chippings from the overly deep laid driveway.  He took about a foot of chippings off one side so vehicles shouldn't struggle reversing out now.  I need to get some lengths of wood to edge this and keep the chippings in place.

A little bit of the orchard.  I have a dozen fruit trees planted now.

Turf off the strip where the raspberries are about to be planted.  I will dig it over and put some of next door's muck heap on it and edge the strip with some of the many bits of roof tile which are about the place.

Ahem, a work in progress.  This is not just grass, wild strawberries and moss (and plantings in same) this is 15 year old useless membrane with all that growing on and through it and it's a devil to remove!

One of last year's plantings, this little Primula is so pretty.

    Tam was also here overnight and we had a bottle of Prosecco and an Indian takeaway to celebrate her new job (she starts today as an Archivist) and having been picked (from 50 applicants) for a fabulous flat in a big Victorian house overlooking the sea, AND it has a garden with veg plots which the owner wanted utilised.  Tam can't wait to oblige!

    We went to the Garden Centre yesterday.  I was good and mostly just got what I went for - some more bark chips to go on the bank as I clear it, a sack of sheep's wool compost I wanted to try out for plants in tubs, and a new and larger cat litter tray.  Having left Big Black Sam at our old house (new occupants took on the 3 outside cats for us) there is Big Black Sam mark II around the garden here - a feral tom - and his presence stops the cats going out at night for ablutions, so the bigger tray a necessity.  Oh, and I may have bought 3 double Hollyhocks. Red, maroon and yellow.

    I was up early yesterday and outside gardening.  There is a remnant of an earlier and very aged shrub hedge in front of part of the holly hedge, and I can do without it, so I began cutting it down yesterday.  Getting the roots up should be fun as it's probably been there more than 50 years! In its place, once it's all dug over, is going to be a rambler rose (probably Vilette which is on its way now, along with some others).  I will put some perennials to form a proper bed out there too.  Keith is muttering "high maintenance garden" behind my back!

    At some point this week I need to really gird my loins and bring up some of the oldest muck-heap.  Danny would have done it but wanted to do it all the same day (and not yesterday morning) and I was too tired on Tuesday afternoon after I gave the lawn the first cut of the year.  So it's down to me.  I have several roses to plant in the next couple of weeks as I asked for roses for my birthday.  Danny is buying me Malvern Hills, a yellow climber from David Austin.  Tam has a short list of 6 to choose from.

    Right, let's look forward to the heat-wave heading our way.  Meanwhile, another two afternoons of the Cheltenham Festival, so afternoons will be spent watching the best Steeplechasers and Hurdlers in the business, whilst I do the hand-sewing part of the little quilt I am making for a friend.