Sunday, 18 March 2018

A job well done this morning

I thought it would snow in the night, and indeed, when I got up at 6.30, there was a sprinkling of snow on the ground (more than last time) and it was snowing steadily.  It carried on snowing until after lunch but wasn't settling on the lane or the paths - well, what did settle soon melted.  This was the view across the top of the yard and the farm buildings about 8 a.m.

Around lunchtime I had a walk up the hill and took a few photos - as you can see, some fields seem warmer than others!  These are the fields above Dyffryn, further up the valley.

I kept myself busy whilst listening to the Archers Omnibus by recovering this little 1960s lidded box which had got rather grubby.  I painted it a couple of days ago and today I took the old fabric off and replaced it with some I got in an array from offcuts from the Curtain shop near Lidl.  This was perhaps originally a sewing box.

I stuck with the grey/black/white theme and used this fabric, with a black and white ribbon which only just covered the edges of everything I wanted to cover (5m) - I had just an inch left!  All neatly glued in place with Copydex.  It will either go to the next Fair we do or else go to the Unit.

The 4 fabrics I chose - £10 worth in total.  The lovely grey silky looking fabric had been a sample made up into a little curtain so it may just end up in the revamped shower room.  Keith has been tiling in there today and it is going to look lovely when it's done.

Not much else in the way of news, except I have nearly finished Rose Tremain's "Trespass" which I can recommend. 

Keep warm.

The view down the farm track from the top of our yard.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Soup Weather

I think wherever you are in the country today, it will be cold.  Very cold. With a stonkingingly cold N-E wind.  The Son of the Beast from the East.  I can do without it - I want spring back.  We had a day and a half of it this week and it was LOVELY.  I even got hot on my walk yesterday.  Now we have been having flurries of snow coming past the window in a horizontal fashion, courtesy of the fierce gusts of wind.  On such a day as this, staying indoors as much as possible sounds like a plan, and making a pot of soup for lunch a must.  I made mine last night, so I could make a gammon steak make several meals - half went into a risotto which did for two meals - and the other half into my standard Minestrone soup.

Recently though, I made a sort of Scotch Broth only using cooking bacon as the meat in it, rather than lamb (or traditionally mutton).  You could use any scraps of meat really.

I am trying to remember the proportions of ingredients I used to make it.  I know I had a 60p pack of cooking bacon, and 2/3 of that got frozen in two packs of 1/3 in each, so I will have used 1/3 pack of bacon, chopped, in the soup.  There were two carrots, peeled and chopped into rings, a medium potato, peeled and chopped, and a good size onion, peeled and sliced. I put about 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil in a Le Creuset pan, and fried the onion and bacon, then I added about 1 1/2 pints of chicken stock, and put probably 4 oz of red lentils in to cook and added the carrots and seasoned.  In a separate pan I put about 4 oz of pearl barley in hot water, boiled for 10 mins or so and then simmered for another 50 minutes, before draining and adding to the soup.  Then I stirred well, cooked for a further 5 minutes and served.  Yummy!  Especially with a slice of buttered fresh bread.

Let's hope this cold weekend is the very end of winter and we can move forwards into spring.  We had one day where we had the front door open all day (bliss), and I managed to get some gardening done.  When we went to Wotton-under-Edge last week, alongside the motorway (just as we crossed the Severn) I noticed the first tiny flowers of Blackthorn flowers showing the smallest white margins in the buds and yesterday alongside the A40 there were green smudges on the stretches of Hawthorn along the hedgerow.  I had only just been remembering when we used to take the children up to see Manchester granny at half term and Easter, and the hedgerows would be the brightest of lime greens, and when boredom set in we would have counting competitions for Magpie houses (black and white timbered cottages), brown cows, cherry trees and when the edible distractions were running out, I would get them counting sheep (THAT kept them busy!)

Friday, 16 March 2018

Show and tell

I ended up taking off half the buttons as it was overkill.  There's a picture over on Dragon Quilting on Facebook which shows the finished thing (this is our tutor's site).  Link HERE.

I am still hand-quilting the red and white lap quilt when I feel in the mood/have time but currently there is the vague possibility of a viewing in the offing (probably won't happen as she wants twice as much land as we have) but of course, that means lots of work, including mending a stable door and also the post and rail fencing at the bottom of our top field, as the cattle have rubbed against it and it has stopped being upright!

Meanwhile my dearly beloved has reached the floor stage of the shower room revamp - I had to help him with the door yesterday, which ended up being taken off and rehung twice after being made shorter. It did my back in good and proper - it was complaining from gardening, then yesterday I had to scrunch down on my haunches and exert pressure on a chisel which was under the door raising it to the level of the screw holes for the hinges.  Ouch!  I have promised my OH no more big DIY jobs as we are both getting too old for it!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Catching up

With a little help from Little Whale I laid out yesterday's progress at Patchwork Class . . .  This is a quilt for daughter Tamzin.  I FINALLY got to grips with the many mistakes I'd made and put them right, and am now getting it finished at class.

Above and below - a strip of Tam's quilt, using the quilt as you go method, and what's more, my first attempt at machine quilting.  I have to say, it was not as difficult as I thought it would be and I am quite pleased with my first efforts.

A close-up of my efforts.

This is the top of the little box on legs I bought at the Fleamarket.  It needs completely repainting and recovering but I'm onto it!  I woke at 5 a.m. this morning and came downstairs to use my time constructively.

As I bought it - needing a complete revamp.

Current work in progress - as you can see, the new white shows up the very shabby old paintwork.  Keith will have to make me up a new piece of beading to go on the front of the grubby door.  Now I am away into town for yet more paint (3 lots I need!)

Hello to new followers.  Lovely to have you "on board".  For some reason I have been stuck on 184 followers for months - it never gets any higher though I must have an extra 20 or 30 who have joined me.  Ah well, I know you're there anyway!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Pantglas Hall walk

I asked to be dropped off here this morning, so I could start my walk up and around the back of Pantglas holiday village, then down through it and back along the steep hill I regularly walk.  On my 1:25,000 map this used to be called "Black Lion" so I am assuming it was a pub at some time in the past. For many years when we first moved here it was empty and becoming quite derelict.  Then someone bought it (cheaply I imagine) and did it up and then it was sold on and someone with sense has come along and replaced the concrete mortar with proper lime mortar throughout, and doubtless done a sympathetic restoration inside too.  It is now called "Preswylfa".  Sounds nice but simply means "Residence"!

The lane ahead.

There are Celendines flowering everywhere now and the Primroses fast catching up.

This is the farm entrance to Ty-lwyd, with lovely views across to Black Mountain.  This translates to Grey House.

A view across the fields to the right of Ty-llwyd, looking along the ridge which backs Black Mountain.

I loved the sun shining on the moss on these trees.  Like a Pre-Raphaelite style painting.

Llywnfedwen (I think) in the distance.  This appears to mean "shrubbery"! according to the translation tool I am using.

A misty Black Mountain again.

Through the trees, the Italianate tower which is all that remains of the once-splendid Pantglas . Although on a very much earlier site (dating back to Llewellyn Foethus of Llangathan (1330-1350).  He has links with our house too.

This is "just" the stable block, now housing a restaurant, gym and coffee house.  When the children were smaller we would come up for the Pantglas firework display on 5th November.  A fabulous setting.

A little pond which once fed down steps into the lake, which is on a lower level the far side of this pretty bridge.

The lower lake, which has some lovely specimen tree plantings including a huge Weeping Beech (below).

Through the trees again, all that remains of the house.

It looked better through the trees.  How are the mighty fallen . . .  The refashioning of the old mansion took place after Pantglas was sold by Nicholas Burnell Jones (who succeeded to Pantglas in 1806).  He became High Sheriff in 1814. The new owner was David Jones, of Blaen-nos, Llandovery, who was a wealthy banker, and who decided to demolish the old mansion and build a new house on three storeys, with this tall tower in the centre, very much in the Italian style.  His son was also a High Sheriff in 1845, as well as MP for the county between 1851 and 1868.  His son was also High Sheriff in 1887, although he died unmarried in 1903 and bequeathed the house to his sister.  The house was sold on again in 1920 and became a hospital run by the County Council until 1972, when it was sold privately to a "speculator", who subsequently demolished the house (bar for the tower) and the estate became home to various holiday homes built in the Swiss Cabin style and available by Time Share. . . . .  It roughly translates to "blue dip".  Pant is dip and glas is blue.

Looking towards Llanfynydd - which translates roughly to  "Llan" - meeting place, and "fynydd" is mountain.

Finally a view up the Cothi valley as I was walking down the steep hill leading to it. 

Thanks to "Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families" by Francis Jones for the information on Pant Glas.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

A Rainy Day Walk

I finally managed to get a short walk in today - shorter than planned as the moment I stepped outside it began to drizzle and by the time I had got to the bottom of the hill it was raining steadily, so I got wet, even though I only went as far as the junction.  Here is our river from the bottom of our hill.

We've had a bit of rain recently, as you can see by the force of water in the river.  Sometimes it doesn't take much for the river to rise several feet in just a few hours.

If you fell in here you'd be in Carmarthen Bay in very quick time!

Not a good day to stand on the mossy rocks and look up river . . .

My favourite view, taken from the bend, back up river. 

Sorry to be short on words, but we've had a busy week.  We drove up to Wotton-under-Edge on Thursday to put some bits and bobs into auction, and we had lunch there, as usual.    There will be a few photos in due course.  I have also been baking (recipe for Chocolate Banana Cake to follow) and doing some painting in white of various walls and ceilings which needed smartening up.  I still have a long list of Fings to Do though!

Friday, 9 March 2018

The Long Tailed Tit survived!

One of the little gaggle of Long Tailed Tits which are hefted to our paddock and yard.  Two or three have been coming daily to the feeders though sometimes there are about 7 of them doing a fly past.  This is just one of them, who looked either desperately tired or on his last legs following the blizzards we didn't get and the Siberian wind, which we did.   (I think this was taken on Monday).  I was very worried about this chap, as he sat on the branch for about 5 minutes  - which is why I was able to take this photo of him.  I seriously thought this was the last I would see of him, as he seemed he might be at death's door.  I thought he might be one of the low status LLT's, who didn't get poll position in the middle of the cwtch of birds at night (they sleep in rows, close together, on a branch) - this was an Outside Bird by the look of things, so got most chilled, poor wee scrap. 

Anyway,  on Tuesday I only saw one until the afternoon, and then there were two again, full of energy, so I am hoping that this wee one survived.  There were three out there yesterday so it looks hopeful.