Monday, 15 January 2018

Yesterday's walk

This Catkin photo was taken last week, when the sun was out.  Yesterday was overcast, but the sun peeped through at times, and made everywhere look more cheerful when it did.

The first Primrose - well, there was another one but that had been almost entirely slug-nobbled and wasn't worthy of a picture . . .

These Snowdrops are growing on the bank by the remains of Annie Stockings' river-side cottage.  I can imagine her planting a few bulbs, which have now spread.  There's a Periwinkle which struggles over everything in season too.

Sun on mossy trees along the river bank.

The bend in the river as it heads away towards Pontargothi.  Just around the bend there used to be an iron bridge where you could cross the river (to visit or leave Holy Trinity church) but this fell into disrepair many years ago and only the metal supports remain.

At Lletty Stud Farm, there was a cherry picker and a man with a chain saw . . .  It was suggested I took a detour through the stable yard to avoid having a branch on my head!

Across the other side of the valley (and river) is Alltyferin, which used to be the home of the Bath family, who imported Copper from South America to be smelted at "Copperopolis" - Swansea. They also imported guano, and exported coal from Swansea docks.

Looking across to Grongar Hill in the distance, the subject of John Dyer's poem.

Cow Parsley in bloom.  In various sheltered spots, I have seen it in bloom pretty well all winter.

All the roadside trees have been cut down up at Lady P's.  I don't know if her farm has been sold, or whether it is just maintenance.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The First Celendine!

I found it on my walk today, up near Lady P's.  It looked a bit shell-shocked (we've had some frosts this past week), but a delight to see it.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Protection (I hope) - Elderberry Rob (Syrup)

With the flu season upon us - and a particularly nasty version of the flu this year -  I thought I would make a batch of Elderberry Rob to help kill the germs.  Make up with hot water 1 part syrup to 3 parts hot water.


4 lbs (1.8 kg) Elderberries, weighed on stems (mine weren't as I had already strigged and frozen them)
2 x 5 cm (2 inch) pieces cinnamon stick
1 piece root ginger, bruised
2 chips nutmeg (I used about a teaspoon of powdered)
5 ml (1tspn) cloves
5 ml (1tspn) allspice berries
275 ml ( 1 1/2 pints) water
350g (12 oz) honey to each 375 ml (1 pint) liquid
150 ml (1/4 pint) brandy

I only had half this amount of Elderberries, so halved the ingredients, though I've just realized I used the full amount of water, and the full amount of brandy.

Take the elderberries from the stalks and put them into a saucepan with the spices and water.  Bring them gently to the boil and simmer them until the pan is full of juice, about 20 mins.  Put a piece of muslin or an old linen tea towel over a large bowl (I used my old jelly making net).  Pour the elderberries through it, and gather the sides together and squeeze out as much juice as you can.  Measure it and return to the cleaned saucepan.

Bring the juice to the boil and add the honey.  Stir to dissolve it and then boil the syrup for 10 mins.  Take the pan from the heat and wait until the syrup stops bubbling.  Pour in the brandy.  Pour the hot cordial into hot sterilised bottles and cork it tightly.  Fills about 1 1/2 wine bottles.

Recipe from "The Countryside Cook Book" by Gail Duff.

I had bought some plums last week so made a pan of the Plum, Orange and Ginger Blondies . . .

As a change from a breadmaker loaf, I put the ingredients for a 70% Wholemeal loaf on a dough setting in the Panasonic, and then sknocked back and shaped this loaf and let it rise again before bunging it in the oven.  Nice and crusty and really tasty.

Finally, the cold weather has bought both the "passing strays" back into our orbit.  This is the Big Black Tom.  He does a good line in glares when he still has biscuits in the bowl, to tell me he wants MORE tinned food please, and jump to it!

There is meant to be a return of the colder weather again on Monday/Tuesday, so keep warm everyone.

Meanwhile, I thought I had got well stocked up, only to find that THREE things need AAA batteries (I have none of those, only AAs).  Let's hope the car is fixed on Monday.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Yesterday's walk

Yesterday we had sunshine, and it was far too good to waste, so I set off on a walk up the valley a little way, not intending to go far.  Here our some local lambs - that big one is a real bruiser!

The red farmhouse on the hill.  I think these folk have knitters knit some very upmarket jumpers which go on sale in airport shops.  They had a visit from HRH once (I think it was Princess Ann) - arriving by helicopter of course.

Above and below: looking up the valley.  The mist/low cloud was thinking about coming down again, as you can see.

Then I thought I would walk just a little way up the hill, slowly, to get a better photo at the first gateway. . .

The view back down the valley . . .  The light was just lovely on the fields.

Above: this is how Wales would have looked in days gone by - trees everywhere.

The Italianate tower which is all that remains of the very grand Pant Glas house which was built around the turn of the 17th into 18th C.  It is a holiday village now.

Above: I was glad I hadn't cut across THAT field!  Slurry tanker at work . . .

The lane towards home.

Back tomorrow with some recipes.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

More Dinefwr Castle Photos

The rest of the castle photos.  I was late up (again!) this morning, so am chasing my tail.  Enjoy the photos.

Above and below: Views from the ramparts.

View up the Towy Valley again. You can just make out Paxton's Tower on the left of the centre of the photo (and just make out the hill with Dryslwyn Castle atop it.

A fallen giant in the park.

Newton House.  I used to volunteer here, as a room steward, volunteering information about the house and families who had lived there and I really enjoyed it.  Sadly I had several years of recurrent chest infections and one of the ladies in the house was very unpleasant, telling me that I was spreading germs etc (which you don't, with a chest infection), so in the end I left.

This is the old church, now abandoned, which was used by the occupants of Newton House - it was just a short carriage-ride away.  You can just see the little strong-running stream which flows past the church and over the wall.

Christmas Lambs!  Definitely the first of the old year!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018


Living where we do we need a car.  We are three miles from the nearest bus stop.  Our lovely Doblo has now reached the age where things start to go wrong.  After a few recent replacement bits, we now have problems with what we think is the earth cable to the starter motor which means it won't start.  It is currently with a busy garage in town, waiting to be worked on, but that is unlikely to happen before next Monday . . . 

When it was still working, we had a walk across the fields and through Castell Woods to Dinefwr Castle.  The view above is looking along the Towy Valley towards Carmarthen.  The lump in the middle is the site of Dryslwyn Castle which we climbed the week before.

When the railway ran past this (before Beeching did for it), this was called the Whistle Pool as it was where the trains always sounded their whistles on approaching  Ffairfach (Llandeilo) station.

Another watery view along the Towy valley.

A view across the castle.

The bit on the top of the tower which was added as a sort of summer house in late Victorian times (if my memory serves me correctly).  Some lovely views from up there.

Back tomorrow with a few more photos.

Friday, 5 January 2018

A Friday sort of post

It's a Friday.  When I check my stats for this blog, Friday is always the worst day for people checking my blog out.  I guess  people are busy saying T.G.I.F. and having weekend plans.  So this post will be a little lightweight, and I will do a better one tomorrow, promise.

This afternoon, once it had finally stopped raining, I set off to walk to the top of our hill to look across at Black Mountain.  It was a little hazy, but I could see there was still snow there.  I was feeling OK after the first hill, so set off on the next, much steeper, section which has two V's printed on it on my map, to show it is seriously steep.  I managed that too (though I didn't push myself and stopped to look at the view a couple of times).  I carried on walking for half an hour, to the Colomendy turning just past the farmhouse that was Isaac and Rosina's, but now they are pushing up daisies, now belongs to his son, and the land is still farmed in the same way, mostly sheep.  They have donkeys too, which throw a few foals each summer, and guinea fowl, geese, ducks and a few chickens.  Oh, and two barky-Collies whose only entertainment seems to be in alerting their owners to passing walkers . . .

I have spent lots of hours hand-quilting my Twister table topper this week and am getting towards just having the little squared border to do.  The quilting is acceptable - I can see a few wonky stitches, but I'm OK with that.  It's not going to be entered in a competition.

I started the New Year as I mean to go on and when we were in Swansea earlier this week (darling middle daughter G was treating us to a wonderful meal to celebrate our (large number) wedding anniversary) I persuaded my dear husband to drive us across to the Mumbles where there is a lovely little patchwork shop.  I left him naughtily parked, engine running (no pressure then!) and shot along the promenade, noting how far the tide was going out, and noticing a few brave souls who out in the mud digging up bait with what seemed like feverish haste. 

Once I got to the shop, I didn't even LOOK at the bolts of fabric but went for the Charm Packs as I could make up my mind quicker and they didn't need cutting.  These two came home with me.  I said to the proprietor, "New Year, new quilt."  "Ah," she replied,  with a twinkle in her eye, "You'll have finished all your other ones then," and of course, got the answer, "Don't be silly!!!"  Apparently I was not the only new year/new quilt customer also with w.i.p's waiting . . .  I have a feeling I will be revisiting the Moda William Morris fabrics pretty soon . . .

Above and below: the WONDERFUL selection of fabrics which were sent to me (several years ago now . . .) by my good friend Sharon at Morning's Minion blog for me to make a quilt with.  I laid them to one side, intending to make the quilt once we had moved.  Well, that's not going to happen any time soon, and so finally I have given myself a shake and made a start cutting out. That alone will take a good few hours.  I shall show you the pattern once I've sewn a couple of blocks, but it is very simple and so hopefully will make up quickly. 

 So, watch this space . . .