Welcome to family, friends and visitors. Here you will find interesting (hopefully) pictures of my part of the world, news of our household and probably, long ramblings about anything that catches my interest.

Sunday 30 April 2023


The view over the bay this morning was of grey skies with rain around. At least the overnight rain had saved me the job of watering the new plants in the rockery. I felt sorry for people who had come down for a break over the long weekend. However it did get warmer and sunnier later.
I've spent my day working in the back garden. I've cleared and (hand) forked the three vegetable beds. Having had enough of bringing pots in and out every day the three spaghetti squash plants got planted out and so too have the bush tomato plants though they have the protection of a cloche. Then I pulled up all the random seedlings in the herb garden. It must be the perfect growing medium as it was full of seedlings of all sorts. Apart from the Welsh poppy seedlings which are simply everywhere (a shame they can't be eaten or sold as I'd be in the money then) there were many fennel, lemon balm, lovage and aquilegia seedlings. I've transferred a fair number down to the 'oddments' bed in the front garden but the rest have just gone in the pile.
I wonder what this clematis flower will be like? Instead of the usual pairs of leaves this stem has 6 leaves and the flower bud also looks as if it is going to be a double or even triple. Looking at my stack of labels I think it might be The Duchess of Edinburgh which is a double white with large buds.
Now for a selection of my wildlife photos from yesterday. Not that I was very succesful. I'd hear a bird singing somewhere above me and then spend five minutes failing to spot the bird. Or else I'd see a bird, aim and focus only to find it had flown away.
I took this photo of a pied flycatcher before I saw the sign on the hide door.
Walking in the bluebell wood I came to an open but sheltered clearing where the heat hit me like an open oven door. Wow I thought, and then I began to see butterflies all over the place. But even though they are easy to spot they are really hard to photograph as they flutter and swoop randomly around. There was a peacock butterfly that was definitely patrolling up and down 10ft of the path occasionally sitting on the warm soil for just a micro second. But it did not like the brimstone butterflies (centre of the photo below). It would repeatedly fly up and swoop at the male brimstone which is a large bright yellow butterfly. 
As this brimstone feeds from a bluebell its distinctive pointed wing shape can be seen.

Both the robin and the red damselfly are common garden visitors but I photographed anything that stayed still long enough.
Something that didn't stay still for long was this peacock butterfly whose ragged wings spoke of narrow escapes from butterfly eating birds.
I had to use my bird guide to identify this sedge warbler as there are 21 species of warbler listed in my book of British birds. It's another west african migrant and can be recognised by its flat head and the white stripe over its eye.
I took this photo just after I had passed a couple, with telephoto lenses who said they were photographing redstarts, rarer migrants but I wonder if they were looking at this common chaffinch. They look very similar but redstarts do not have white markings on the wings. 
The board at the visitors centre had over 30 species of bird listed as having been recently seen on the reserve. I don't think proper birders would be overly impressed with my observations but I enjoyed myself spending time in nature.

Saturday 29 April 2023

A Walk Around Ynys-Hir.

When I looked out of the window this morning and saw beautiful blue skies I knew it would be a good day to head out for a walk. It was a different world when I looked out to sea as the sea mist was rapidly rolling in and blurring out the sight of the giant marker buoys that were put in place early this morning. It makes a change for the good weather to be inland but the sea mist soon burnt off.
While Peter went off to be cox for the rowers I went on my first solo walk to the RSPB reserve at Ynys-Hir (Long Island). I would sometimes drive out for a solo walk when we lived in Devon but hadn't got round to it here. It was talking to other members of the walking group who either live alone or like me have partners who are no longer able to go for walks. Hearing about their solo walks encouraged me to set off today and it was worth it.
Apart from the fact that there isn't a walk tomorrow due to a May Day party going on (A bit far for us) I wanted to get to Ynys Hir to see the bluebells that carpet the woods at this time of year. I may have to return in a week to see them at their best but even so they didn't disappoint.
With nearly 140 photos to chose from I decided that today's post will be overall views following my route with pretty pics and birds tomorrow. After all it is a bird reserve. Going through the woodlands in particular the air was filled with the sound of birdsong but apart from the whirr of a pheasant I couldn't tell you what species they were.
The first part of my walk took me through the woodland along the side of a hill that overlooks the salt marshes. Eventually I came to one of the hides where a family was watching the birds. The dad's camera had a telephoto lens that was about as long as my forearm. I asked what the magnification was but have since forgotten. It was a lot. They didn't stay long and I sat enjoying the cool air blowing in from the sea as it was extremly hot in the woods, I was glad I left my bodywarmer in the car but wished I'd worn shorts it was that hot.
Eventually I followed one of the paths down to the edge of the woods and took the track leading towards the saltmarshes.
This brought me to a small rise topped by trees around another hide. The bluebells were more in flower here probably due to the trees being more widely spaced.
I had my coffee and a bun here looking inland along the river valley that leads to Mach. Having been able to get closer to the trees I now know that the 'yellow' trees are not ash as I was told last week but are the common (sessile) oak.
After a short break as it was too hot to stay long, I carried on down alongside the saltmarsh to the large hide which overlooks a lake. Not a lot of birds on the lake but even I, a non-birder, could recognise Canada geese, a mallard and a pair of oyster catchers.
Then back through the woods to the visitors' centre and home. At home I got out the lawnmower and cut the paths around the lawn. The hardest part of that job was lifting the lawnmower over the outside boiler which almost blocks the path at the side of the house. Usually I bring the mower down via the pavement but the gate at the bottom of the garden is semi-blocked by the bag of topsoil.
I know it doesn't apply to all men but Peter certainly fits the stereotype of men who dislike shopping for clothes. He'll walk into a shop, go straight to the rack say of trousers, pick the first pair in his size, pay and leave. No looking at different styles or even trying on for size. Fast forward to this week. He bought a pair of wetboots for rowing, on-line. When they arrived, experienced shopper that I am I suggested he saved the packaging until he'd tried them on for size. This morning as he was getting ready to row I asked if he'd even tried them on yet. He hummed and hawed, said they looked okay, about the same as his last (different) pair. He eventually admitted that no he hadn't actually put his feet inside them. Fortunately he found they fitted fine. But....... later told me that as he walked down to the boat he felt they were a bit tight but that eased off once he was rowing. It was only when he took them off he realised he'd left the cardboard inside the boots. After he walked in the sea the cardboard got wet and hence more comfortable. I couldn't help but laugh. (He's fine with me telling this.)
Just had an email to say there will be a group walk on Monday as it's a Bank Holiday. Yipee.

Friday 28 April 2023

Plant Hunting.

It rained in the night, good for the garden, and today it's been cloudy and mostly grey.
I've had a lovely day shopping for plants. I started by calling in at the local garden centre. On my previous visits I had been quite disappointed with the plants there but that must have been out of season. This time I was pleasantly surprised by the much better choice of plants there. (I took photos using my new phone and so far have been unable to get them onto my pc. All sorts of updates and stuff going on.) They had plenty of rockery plants and I bought some interesting sedums and other plants using up a couple of garden vouchers that have been burning a hole in my purse for a very long time. 
From there I went to Morrisons and while they only have a small amount of plants their prices are good. I was able to find some red saxifrages, a white thrift and a couple of other plants. I was itching to get home and start planting but I stopped in town, gave a bag of stuff to a charity shop and finished off with a quick look round Lidl. There I found some beach shoes, the sort you can swim in and they even came in half-sizes. Especially handy for here where there is a small chance of getting stung/stabbed by a weaver fish. They hide in the top layer of sand and have a poisonous dorsal spine. Being stung is very painful. I looked for similar shoes in town at the end of last summer but couldn't find any which is why I was happy to find them in Lidl's middle aisle. Maybe I'll be tempted to go for a swim soon. 
One bad moment of the day was finding that somebody had left a dent in the car without  bothering to own up. I think it must have happened in Morrisons car park as from the shape and position it would have been a taller vehicle like a SUV reversing along the side of my little car. Okay I've still got marks down both sides of the car from where it was keyed by a jealous partner (nothing to do with us) before I bought it but having a dent makes it look as if I'm a poor driver which I don't think I am.
A good thing I had all this fun planting to do. I was able to split a couple of the plants into three before planting and I pulled off some of the plantlets from the house leeks and pushed them into the cracks between the rocks. The bed looks a bit sparse at the moment but if the plants were any closer it would be overcrowded in a year or so. 

 Sunset tonight.

Thursday 27 April 2023


Grey and cold today.
The day has been as grey as the fat wood pigeon that comes down to feed on the terrace.
First thing this morning I marched down to the pharmacy to collect my prescriptions. There was one they didn't have in stock so I need to go back either tomorrow or next Tuesday (after the Bank Holiday). I had so much to do today that I didn't go via the beach though the sea views walking along the road are pretty good too.
Because it was due to rain around mid-day (it hasn't yet) I put a few more plants in the rockery. They were all plants that were already surviving the local conditions. One was a big clump of campanula which when I lifted the paving slab it was growing under had roots in a flat wedge that fitted perfectly into a space in the corner of the raised bed. Another was h.geranium Roxanne which although not a rockery plant will be fine next to the hydrangea around which I planted grape hyacinths resued from a planter. The rock with all the green lichen was one which Peter carried down from the upper quarry as he knew I would like it. It's now in prime position at the front of the bed alongside a smaller lichen covered rock.
Planting done I tried to get my head around the revision we've been working on for the zoom class. I've now got so many cards showing verbs and their conjugations arranged under my monitor. I put up a new one today which includes - Mi es i- I went to, Mi nes i -I did and Mi ges i -I had (for a short time as opposed to Roedd gen i - I had for a length of time). No wonder I get confused. All too soon it was time to log in to our Zoom class. Spending so much time on Monday and today going over the questions and answers certainly helped but my brain struggles. Need to find even more time for going over the lessons.

 Finished off the day with a fun hour of disco aerobics. 

Wednesday 26 April 2023


Woke to a perfect gardening day, blue skies with the occasional cloud. With the wind picking up through the morning it was a good drying day too and I got two loads of washing out on the line.

Above is how the raised bed looked a few days ago and below is the result of today's work. Brought in half a bucketful at a time (any heavier causes problems with the old ribs) less than half the dumpy bag of top soil was needed to fill in around the rocks.The soil that was already in the bed had settled nicely and I did my best to compact the new soil. That was session one and session two had me doing the fun job of putting in the plants I bought and all the others I'd been propagating. 
So far planted are; Tulbaghia (social garlic), London Pride, aubretia, two colours of sedum, garden thrift, Atlas daisy and mouse eared gypsophila. Plenty of space for more rockery plants but they will have to survive the full force of the sea winds.
After filling the bed with soil I was having a break when I decided to ring the surgery to book an appointment as I had a few minor things I needed to discuss. Imagine my surprise when the receptionist said they had a slot free in 45 minutes if I could get there. Sure could. Got out of my gardening clothes and armed with my notebook marched down the road to see the doc. There's a new doctor at the surgery, a good thing as one of the doctors had to come back out of retirement to keep the place going and the other one is ready to retire. The new doctor seems on the ball and though I think her heart sank when I said I had a number of issues to talk about, having everything written down meant I was able to be consise and accurate. I came out with a handful of changed prescriptions but as the pharmacy is closed on Wednesday afternoons I'll have to pop back tomorrow. Such a hardship, having to walk along the beach for 10 minutes to get my medications.
On my way home two small children (5/7 years-ish) called to me from their garden gate. They had set up a 'shop' selling seedlings from their garden in an assortment of small pots. (Mum was working in the garden behind them.) I explained that I'd just been to the doctors and didn't actually have my purse with me. They were so cute and said they didn't want any money so I joined in the game and 'bought' a seedling to take home. 
It was after I got home that I had the fun job of planting up the bed. By the time it was done and the plants watered it was after 6.00 but I still had time to sit out with a coffee and enjoy the view. All day I've been enjoying the sound of the garden birds especially the blackbirds. There are a couple of youngsters around who are far too trusting. This morning Speedy was basking in the sun on one edge of the lawn while the silly blackbird was looking for worms on the other side. I got Speedy to come inside to give the poor bird a chance. Later I when I was sitting on the terrace a blackbird, maybe the same one, came down to the terrace no further than 6ft away and stayed there for quite a while. The swallows and house martins have also returned to the village from a winter spent in Africa. A sure sign that summer is on its way.


Tuesday 25 April 2023

Missed Them Again!

A proper Borthbados day today but then it clouded over and we didn't get much of a sunset.
Yesterday my FB feed kept showing photos of the Northern Lights taken the night before from Borth. They had only been visible for a short time but yet again I had been awake at that very time. I can't believe it. Having thought they could only be seen from northern Scotland and places even further north now twice in just a few months they were visible here and I missed them. So though I'd only had four hours sleep the night before I stayed up until the street lights went out at 1.30. I got so excited when I looked outside and saw a great canopy of stars above but either there were no Northern Lights or they were hidden behind the low clouds across the northern horizon and yet again I saw nothing except the stars and the crescent moon shining over the sea.
Leaving Peter to keep an eye out for the lorry delivering the top soil I drove down to the zoo for a few hours of gardening this morning. I had weeding to do here and there and tidied up the edges of the few flowerbeds. No sign of any paths being mown through the 'wildflower meadow' yet. I'm just hoping the whole lot doesn't get mown down. I finished up by digging up some brambles and pulling up the stinging nettles that were coming through the fence. Not very good if small visitors get stung on their legs. I gave some of the stinging nettles to the guinea fowl as they are about the only animals in the zoo that eat them. A treat today was to see this wallaby joey. Unfortunately she's having to be hand reared as her mother died of a respiratory infection.
She was already leaving her mother for short periods of time but at 7 months old she still needs milk to drink and spends most of her time in a fabric pouch.
When I got home the soil had been delivered and after a short rest naturally I was back out gardening. There was an awful lot of moving of rocks, stepping back to see how they look and then rearranging them numerous times. So far I think I've managed to arrange the rocks so that they don't look too unnaturally placed. 
Then it was time for Pilates, lots of stretching and work on the hips today.

Monday 24 April 2023


A showery grey day so instead I'm posting pretty pictures from yesterday.
This morning we drove to Mach for our Welsh practice session in the library. We worked hard on the revision exercises we began last week in class and which no doubt we will continue this week. Trying to get our heads around using either the past tense or the imperfect tense is still a struggle but between us we were able to work it out. Translating a 'learner level' story was much easier though at times we I got carried away with the dialogue between the police officers and a burglar which had us in fits of laughter.
Driving back along the valley many of the mature trees are now covered in new growth whilst dotted between them are trees covered in blossom. Blackthorn (above) has a pinkish tinge to the blossom which will later produce sloes while Hawthorn or May blosson looks a lot whiter. Looking across the valley the overall view looked very yellow after being used to the sharp green of new beech leaves so common in North Devon. Here the dominant trees are ash trees which have much yellower new growth. 
This afternoon I've been going through the list of wildflowers in some packets of Bee and Butterfly Wildflower Mix that had been donated to the zoo. I've already vetoed several packets as I could see they contained poppy seeds which are a definite no-no. One of today's packets had 30 varieites of wildflower which I carefully wrote down. Started checking them out and only got to numbers 3 and 4 (Bird's foot trefoil and Borage) both of which are toxic to dogs, cats, horses, cattle and sheep. I could have stopped there but just for fun went through the whole list and found another 10 toxic wildflowers. The other packet didn't have a list so I had to look on-line and seeing both poppies and foxgloves included was enough to reject that packet too. Not only is there the danger of any of the toxic plants seeding into the animal enclosures there is always the possibility of children picking leaves to feed to the animals to suppliment the cabbage and carrots in the 'feed pots'. Last week I had word with the owner suggesting that we just mow paths around the wilder areas which were already filled with bright dandelions. I'm going to bring in pink valerian seedlings from here as they grow well and are safe for all the animals.


Sunday 23 April 2023

A Walk Above The Leri.

Showers today but fairly warm.
We regularly have a pair of dunnocks coming to feed on the terrace and this morning their two fat fledglings turned up. Worryingly unafraid but they soon hopped back into the hedge. Speedy is taking things quietly today, mostly sleeping, after a cat fight yesterday when he came home with a scratch close to his eye and a torn claw. 
I was pleased when I read that the meeting point for today's walk was Tal Y Bont as 1. I know where that is, 2. it's only 20 minutes drive away and 3. we can get up into the hills from there. However as I got there so did the rain, heavy rain at that. I had just worked out that by sliding the car seat back I could get my waterproof overtrousers on when the walk leader drove up and said we were going to wait out the rain at one of the group's home just up the lane. Safe from the rain we chatted and admired her converted mill home filled with all sorts of interesting features and objects until the rain stopped. From there we took a track following the route of the River Leri but higher up.
Even though the sky was grey the view was brightened by the fresh green leaves beginning to appear on the trees that have spent the winter in muted grey hues.
The hillside is common land but last year the owners of one of the farms up the valley spent £58k repairing the road as it's their only way in.
Carefully keeping the farmers' unsightly plastic rubbish out of frame this was a pretty stream tumbling down the hillside.
All around the fields the blackthorn was covered with a white froth of blossom.
We crossed over The Leri and returned along the hillside on the other side of the valley.

From the highest point on the return section we could see down into the village of Tal Y Bont. ( There are a number of villages around with this name that translates as the bridge of/over the stream.) Beyond is the bog and then Ynyslas which is mostly a large holiday park and a few houses as this area is at risk of flooding from not only the sea but the River Leri and the much larger River Dyfi.