Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Time to rest occasionally and return trip to Manorbier

Here is one of my "resting" projects for the summer, when I decide to sit in the shade and put my feet up.  I hate to be idle, but will allow myself embroidery or a good book to read.  Obviously, this is the embroidery project, a half-finished linen tablecloth which came in a bundle from a car boot sale.

Yesterday I had arranged to take a dear friend, who sadly is in poor health now, to Manorbier, as she had never been there.  Her grandson had been staying the night and came with us.  It was lovely to be surrogate grandparents for a day!

This is looking back at the castle from the path to the beach.

The inner ward of the castle and the hall-range, now available for weddings.  This was built in the 12th C by Gerald of Wales' father, William de Barri.

The enormous fireplace and chimney in the Great Hall.  They knew how to impress in those days.

This kitchen hearth was equally impressive.  In between this and the hall is a deep well, which also gave access to the beach . . .

Bear's Britches, with A just in the picture.

Another stretch of long border.

Hardy Fuschias.

Looking back towards the gatehouse (far left), with the cafe (open door) beside it, and the holiday home with the tower behind it.

A close-up of the holiday home.  Isn't it lovely?

Then, having eaten - and I have to say that the Rhubarb and Elderflower Cheesecake was DIVINE - we made our way down to the beach.

Barnacles and beadlet anemones sit it out until the tide reaches the rock pools again.  Fortunately it wasn't too hot a day - just right.

In a wetter rock pool there were some tiny fish darting about.  Not that you can spot them here!

A's grandson proving he was brave enough to put his head under water (braver than me then!)

Oops - I think he opened his nostrils too soon . . .

But it didn't deter him.

The high spot of the day was him wishing he could see a Grasshopper for the first time, and me stopping to shake the sand from my shoes and finding myself surrounded by them.  He was delighted.

Rosebay Willow Herb which I stopped to photograph on the way home.  

Friday, 25 July 2014

Kale chips and Coconut flour . . .

We went into town on Wednesday to do a "Healthy Shop" at the Health Food Shop (of course!) and on the way, got some fresh apples and others to top up the fruit bowls.  Green bananas, a pomegranate,  organic pears, some manderins (I'm not meant to have those, so my husband will eat them), lemons, and then the apples which I eat about 4 a day of.  They are high in quercetin which is good for my lungs.  Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxident (asthma is much about inflammation of the lungs).   Cranberries, plums, blueberries, blackcurrants, cherries, are all fruits high in it, and vegetables onions, green chilli peppers, kale, broccoli, lettuce, chicory, sweet peppers and french beans are also high.  All of these, I think I am correct in saying, I can eat.  But there's a long list of stuff to avoid as well!  Which leads me on to . . .

Remember my post back in January, when I wrote of "eating myself well"?  Follow the link if you don't!  Well, here we are again, and this time I have a very strong suspicion (shared by my respiratory nurse) that I may have histamine intolerence, probably (hopefully) caused by my gut flora being depleted after so many courses of antibiotics.

So, after doing a lot of research, I have decided to go for a month without as many high-histamine foods/drinks as I can, eating a diet which is low-histamine, and with limited foodstuffs which release histamines into the system.  A difficult balancing act and at first the diet looked like it was going to be SO BLAND.  Not even any curry powder, so I'll have to blend my own mix, no soy (Soy is a REAL bad guy, as is anything fermented).  I have yet to start smoothie making but in the meantime I am not starving.  Last night's supper was salmon steak with grated ginger and red chilli, and a pile of purple French beans from the garden and the last of the garden-grown runner beans I bought from a stall at Malvern last Sunday.  Scrummy.

As you can see, I have alternative gluten-free flours for baking, though I don't think I have Gluten intolerence, but for a month . . .

I prefer organic fruits and vegetables when I can get them, although of course they carry a big premium in price.  I have always been careful to wash/peel fruits and vegs because of the hideous sprays used on them which I am sure are the cause of a lot of illness/deaths.

My "treat" from this pile was the Nakd banana bread bar.  Hardly two mouthfuls but really tasty, and nearly . . . well, almost . . . as nice as a bar of chocolate (which I'm not allowed, chocolate that is).  The bottle with the illegible label is toasted sesame oil for stir fries.

I shall be back to say more about this I am sure.  It's early days yet, but I am hoping, when I start on a course of probiotics, that things will really start to change for the better.  I am following an excellent blog called the Low Histamine Chef and have downloaded one of her books to my Kindle.  Onwards and upwards I hope . . .

Monday, 21 July 2014

. . . and Ledbury Photos

Ledbury is a lovely little town, full of "Magpie"half-timbered houses.  This is Church Street and the Church is St Michael and All Angels.  In the 8th C, the Bishop of Hereford deemed it necessary to send some of his clergy to establish a church on the site of a pagan shrine and by the 11th century there was a large and important Minster church on this site, which was rebuilt in the 12th C and altered down the centuries.

On the right is the old Grammar School (now a local history museum).  It has the most enormous inglenook fireplace I have ever seen.  Imagine the last few feet of a room, spanned by a beam and then open to the roof behind it, literally from floor to chimney, the width of the house.  It dates from around 1480.  Inside is a good guide to Ledbury's interesting history and famous people, who include Poet Laureate John Masefield, who was born here, and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, who lived with her family at the curiously-designed (by her father I believe) Hope End.  It had turrets all around it at intervals, extending above the roof of the house, and looking for all the world like Smartie tubes . . .  The Barrett fortunes were tied up in Sugar Plantations in the West Indies, and income declined (around the time of the death of Elizabeth;'s mother in 1828).  By 1832 the house and 500 acre estate had been sold, much to Elizabeth's distress, and the family relocated to Sidmouth in Devon.

Illustration from a book, copied from an internet link, originally on a blog called Tinsmith's Cuttings. Weird Weird house!  Had it been still standing, they would have used it in the Harry Potter films I'm sure!

This lovely building, Butcher Row House, is now a Folk Museum (and free entry too).  Apparently it was removed from the High street, where it originally stood, and rebuilt here, many years ago now.

Next month when we are there again, we will look around it.  My husband thought I was just taking a couple of quick photos, so I couldn't linger too long.

Another lovely building close to the Church.

At the top of Church Street.

I can never resist peeks along alleyways and into back yards . . .

No time for tea and cake today, but what a lovely spot for it.

Malvern Fleamarket and Ledbury photos

We were up at 4 a.m. yesterday morning to get an early start at Malvern Fleamarket.  We had missed the last Antiques Fair there (which has outside stalls too) so were really looking forward to our day out.

It was quite foggy first thing and didn't really start to improve until we got to Llandovery.  Hence the rather arty-farty picture above (LOVE it!) which I think I took just outside Brecon.

We arrived just before 7.30 a.m. (when the gates open for buyers to come in) and were surprised to see a long queue of sellers' cars going in too.  It would seem that the fog had been widespread and held up those buyers from much further afield. Normally everyone is through the gates at a little past 6.30 a.m. and soon setting up and the most desirable items get sold between dealers before the public get a sniff of them.  On this occasion we struck lucky and got our best bargains first thing. 

 I was banned from going near the plant stall ...

The usual general view though if I had had room to take it from head on, this stall was more decorative than most.

This unusual stall claimed to do "sculpted taxidermy" - as per the pictures.  I don't think he realized that Zebras have short manes too.  

This is for my friend Kim over at Oakmoon Studios, who loves Unicorns.  I think her Araby paintings of Unicorns are much prettier than this one though.

This old Victorian picture of Thoroughbred stallion St Simon was one of a couple of dozen, taken from a book, for sale at the Fleamarket.  I looked through them all, and unfortunately they were nearly all marked by damp and mould.  I asked the price - £10 each!  I am afraid I snorted at the price! and then walked way.

This made a great photo!  I'm not sure I would enjoy these "dummies" on a chair in my house though . . .

This lady had turned ordinary pieces of furniture into ones that children would love.  The Wind in the Willows theme here.

Horses - she wasn't quite so strong on her horses . . .

This was my favourite, the Beatrix Potter chest of drawers.

Various views painted on old saws.  I think she had taken "side-saddle" a bit too literally, but I think this was a really good idea - upcycling at its best.

I was chatting with another stall holder, and admiring some of the things she was selling and she got out this very old Paisley shawl, a proper one made in Paisley, Glasgow.  It had seen better days and a previous owner had "mended" a tear with HUGE stitches and a full 6 strands of red embroidery thread, bless her.  Obviously her eyesight was going.  A real piece of history here.

I didn't ask the price on this, but what a wonderful old vintage street vendor's popcorn-maker.

I will have to add the Ledbury photos later, or do a separate post, as I need to get SOME work done today.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Capel-y-Ffin - this translates to "chapel of the boundary" and indeed it is right on the border between Wales and England.  The little River Hondu runs along the valley bottom and Offa's Dyke still guards the boundaries between the two countries. It has long been one of my aims to walk a good stretch of it.

Apparently this little hamlet was the last Welsh-speaking community in this area.

The sculptor Eric Gill spent 4 years here, setting up a commune (I bet that upset the locals!) before deciding that the area was too remote - especially from London.  However, it had served its purpose as a rural retreat, and was not totally remote as the Doctor arrived on horseback once a week, and there was a postal delivery.  Other artists, including the poet and painter David Jones.  Perhaps the serenity of the area, and its religious roots back to the 12th century, gave the area an ambiance which drew in sensitive people.  It is not hard to imagine them dining by the light of oil lamps, clad against the cold in Trench Coats.  The Gill women folk wove clothing and the only water supply was the River Hondu itself.  See HERE for the source of these facts.

The curate-writer the Rev. Francis Kilvert also loved this place and regularly walked here from his home in Clyro (9 miles to the West).  He said it reminded him of an owl.  The interior is small - about 26 feet x 13 feet, although it does have stairs and an upper gallery.

I hope you are able to read this piece about Kilvert, though it's looking dodgy this end!!!

I loved this teddy family on top of the organ - obviously a very family-orientated chapel.

This little mouse on the top of the font, was carved - I assume - by Robert "Mouseman" Thompson, a British furniture maker from Yorkshire.  The mouse was his signature on each piece he made. Apparently the first mouse came about following a conversation he had where the expression "as poor as a church mouse" was used, when he was carving a cornice on a screen for a church.  He added a wee mouse, and the rest, as they say, is history.

There are always flowers in the chapel - usually a little bouquet of wild flowers.  The light was against me in this photo but I am sure you get the idea.

And some more, against a better backdrop.

A beautiful East-facing window inscribed with Psalm 121, which I had read at my mother's funeral, inspired by this view and mum's family connections in the Welsh mining valleys.

Date on an old pew right at the back.

A plaque on the wall outside the chapel, in memory of Jane P?? who died February 27th 17(7?)96 aged 84.

A quiet corner of the churchyard.

A simple gravestone for Charlie Stoner, Carpenter, who died in 1935.  I like that he was remembered for his trade and I think he must have been very good at his trade.

I love the flowers and motifs carved on this 18th C headstone.

The remains of an early preaching cross in the churchyard.

Out along the tiny narrow lane (with passing places) under a tunnel of trees and that back out onto the mountainside and beautiful views again.  A lovely lovely day.