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.

Friday 30 June 2023

Giddy Up.

It has been raining all day long which put paid to my morning plan of going out to work on the raised bed.
Instead I did some admin and got myself organised for my riding lesson. I can still get into my johdpurs which I think says more about the strtech of the fabric than my ability to keep my weight steady. My feet have widened over the years but I can just about squeeze them into my long riding boots. They are lined but an awful lot of brown dust came out when I took them off. I had kept my hat but it no longer conforms to the latest safety standards so instead I wore one of the school's hats. I think it was a bit big because it kept sliding forward and threatening to cover my eyes.
This is the horse I rode, a sturdy cob called Alice. She was a bit ploddy but I think simply holding the schooling whip kept her focussed. My instructor was a very sweet girl, probably in her twenties, who was very positive and professional. I really enjoyed the lesson but as I suspected sitting trot was hard. That's because you absorb the horse's bouncing in your lower spine which is my weakest point. And in lessons you always go into canter from a sitting trot. (Back in the day my horse would do walk to canter.) I kept on doing short bursts of sitting trot which gradually got easier and had one canter which was much better. I'll keep on with the lessons for a while to see how things go. I'm justifying the expenditure as not only does riding give me a lot of pleasure but it's also good for strengthening my back and core muscles.
On the way home I called in at the one and only garden centre in the area to look for plants for the new raised beds. Unfortunately they seem to have cut back the stock again and they didn't have a lot of choice. They do have pond plants so I had a look at those for when the pond is done. Nothing really appealed, I liked the papyrus but as it can grow 2.5m high it would be a bit out of proportion with my little water feature.
While preparing to order the bathroom tiles I had another look at the patterned tiles we had chosen to go under the toilet. I had many samples arrive through the post but most of them had far too grey a background. We settled on one but when I checked the website they are no longer available. I took that as a sign to look again and we decided that we will go for the same tiles that we have in the 'blue loo'. The tiles themselves are not expensive, less than £4 each 45 cm tile but the delivery charge on any order is £39.  I only need four tiles but have ordered eight as we might be able to use them elsewhere in the bathroom. I kind of would have liked them for the whole of the bathroom floor rather than the grey safety lino but the white background does make them hard to keep clean and falling on tiles would not be good.
Fingers crossed that tomorrow stays dry enough for me to get out into the garden.

Thursday 29 June 2023


Very windy today with plenty of sun.
Now that our Zoom classes have ended I was able to cycle down to the Community gardens for Cake and Cultivate. That was where I suffered the ouch. As I cycled the last few feet to the gate something landed on my wrist and stung me. It took a moment before I could stop the bike and brush off the wasp by which time it had well and truly got me. Apparently a wasps' nest had just been disturbed in the gardens which was why the wasp was aggressive. I rubbed my wrist with a dock leaf, you never know, and waved it around in a bid for sympathy from everyone which helped. Then I carried on complaining and worked with a couple of others shifting pebbles from dumpy bags to one of the paths. Eventually the pain subsided only to resume later on. (Once home I took an anti-histamine and rubbed on some sting relief ointment.) I began moving the stones using a spade but found it was easier on my back to slide the stones into my barrow with my gloved hands. We got one path topped up before the rest of the crowd turned up for lemon & coconut cake and chat. It was good to talk with that group of people again. I've spoken to some of them around the village but it is nice to have a bit more of a relaxed time.
I cycled home and I made it all the way up the steep slope beside our house. Much easier now that the brakes are not catching on the wheel. After a break I thought I would be able to start cementing down the blocks for the new raised bed. But first there was the matter of one wobbly paving slab. The slabs had been laid on top of a thin layer of sand on top of the original slabs. I know how to level the sand when it's a large area but it's a different matter when it's only one slab. I levelled and replaced the heavy slab so many times and still it wobbled. In the end I got a small spirit level carefully checking in every direction and on the second attempt the slab stayed solid. Next I had to dig out some concrete from the areas I've left clear for drainage. It was only then I could begin placing the blocks on a dry run to see if they fit. And that is as far as I got today. I have enough blocks to place them 3 high but I think that is too high once you factor in the mortar and the coping stones so I'll stick at 2 blocks high. That leaves me with 8 blocks left over. Will have to see what I can do with those.
It was still sunny as I sat out on the terrace trying to work out where to move one hydrangea and make some sort of plan for the rest of the garden. I'm loving the way the long grasses look in my 'meadow' but I don't think I shall be keeping the grass or at least not all of it.


Wednesday 28 June 2023

Busy as a Bee.

Today has been wet. Starting with a little bit wet, moving on to very wet and finally to may be wet soon.
I think that busy as bee or to be accurate a white tailed bumble bee of which there were many in the hypericum, describes me well this week. I had thought that with a number of my usual activities; Pilates, aerobics, Zoom class and RDA not happening this week I would have lots of time to get on with the garden. But no, as well as the rest of my normal schedule I have/had 7 other things scheduled for this week. I will just have to fit the garden work in when I can. The sand and cement were delivered this morning as I was leaving for the zoo so I was able to make sure the cement which comes in paper bags, plastic inside, was safely covered up.
When I got to the zoo I was informed that there were a couple of rhea chicks to be seen. One of the zoo staff was cleaning them out so I was able to go inside their room/hut/cage? to take photos.
We have two white adult rheas but they are not normally seen in the wild. Presumably white chicks are too visible and get picked off by predators. These are two and a half weeks old and completly fearless. One even gave the lens of my camera a good peck. They are both thought to be females which is good as any males would have to be found new homes.
Once the excitement with the chicks was over I returned to finish weeding the gravel I'd been working on last week. But then another of the volunteers brought over a wheelbarrowful of freshly chipped wood for me to put in the safety moat around the cages. I had assumed I was going to be given a standard sized wheelbarrowful of chippings but this was a giant 200L wheelbarrow. About the size of a quad bike. Originally there had been woodchip laid over old carpet in the moat but over the years this had turned to dust and when I took out the weeds that kept growing in the dust, I had to spread it carefully to try and disguise the carpet. Today I had to dig out some bindweed first, either I missed it last time I had a good dig under the carpet edges or it had crept in from the animal pens. Then came the fun job of spreading a good thick layer of woodchip over the carpet. There wasn't quite enough for the whole length but it looks so much better. I then returned to digging weeds out of the gravel. By this time it was raining steadily but being old means you don't have to be sensible. I carried on until I had done at least another strip before admitting I was indeed too wet. Luckily I had a spare jumper to change into before driving home.
With the rain continuing to fall I had a sort out in my study and after the doctor finally phoned back (she had phoned when I was out) had a shower before getting ready to go out to sing.

Tuesday 27 June 2023

All About The Brain.

Cloudy and variations of light rain for most of the day. The change in pressure has given me a headache which has lasted all day. I don't like to take extra painkillers or re-arrange the times that I take my already hefty amount of painkillers. That said my headache returned soon after taking the early evening dose so it wouldn't have made a lot of difference if I had taken extra. I find the best thing is to be busy, particluarily outside.
Since it looked too damp to be working at the zoo I rang the doctor for an appointment and was offered one within the hour. One benefit of having a surgery in the village. It wasn't the doctor I saw last time but I didn't mind. I began by asking what had happened to the results of my brain scan and was told it was clear which was why I hadn't been contacted. I was pleased about the result but thought I should have been told. After all TIAs can be the first step towards dementia. I was all set to email the practice manager pointing out how stressful not knowing can be but then the doctor looked at the computer again and said the results only came in yesterday and my GP would be phoning me once she was back at work tomorrow. I might have been sceptical but she did show me the screen with message. At least now I can stop taking the daily asprin.
The other reason I wanted the appointment was to wave the ever growing cyst (on the side of my toe) at the doctor. She advised me to ring the hospital to check on the referral but there's not much else to do. Hey, ho.
Once I got home I packed up the truffles in the last of the silver gift boxes from my stash and included a tiny ceramic hedgehog. Back in the car to drive down to send it from the Post Office at the other end of the village.
 On my return I began the difficult task of working out how many tiles we  need for the bathroom. If I wait to order them until the builder finally gets round to doing it they may no longer be available and it took such a long time to find tiles that I'm happy with. They have a light grey 'marble veining, the background is not as white as I had hoped but will do. Two walls will only have tiles half-way up, one with the window almost to the top and the last wall is part high and part medium. Not forgetting a small 60cms partition between the sink and the shower which also needs tiling. Working it all out truly sent my head into a spin. I'll have to double and triple check my calculations before I actually order the tiles.
My final head related item is more a case of brains over brawn. To clear my head after the tiles I escaped to do some gardening. To start with I emptied the last of the top soil from the dumpy bag leaving a space by the gate at the bottom for tomorrow's delivery of sand and cement. A little weeding and pruning was done before I tackled moving some of the concrete planters out of the way of the new raised bed. These planters are so heavy that it took two strong builders to lift a square planter down from the steps onto the paved area. With no builders to hand I had to work out how to move that and two slightly smaller planters. After years of moving furniture and other similar heavy objects while only a weak and feeble female I know how to pivot and 'walk' or drag items that I could never hope to lift. It wasn't that hard to move the big planter over to the corner of the pebbled area. Then came two slightly smaller planters that needed to go up to the first and third steps and by golly I managed those too. 
So ended a day of a sore head, a stroke free brain, a confused brain and a useful brain.

Monday 26 June 2023


There were times today when the wind felt quite chilly and then suddenly it would become very hot. Strange weather.
This morning we went over to the library in Mach for our usual Welsh practice with our friends. First thing was going through part of the next homework. Much laughter when one friend, who had already sent her homework in, realised that instead of translating I used to drive a Ferrari. had translated I used to drive a Fiesta. As  morale booster we turned to a page of random questions from the end of last year's work and surprise, surprise we could understand and answer them easily. Afterwards, to celebrate the end of our second year we went across the road to what was the Caffi Alys and has now opened as the community run Caffi Glyn Dwr and had lunch. Being holiday season it was very busy in the cafe and the two ladies running the place had extremly loud voices as they rearranged tables and took orders. The food was good though. I had a bacon, Brie and cranberry sandwich served with salad and crisps.
After much chat and my usual skip around the charity shops it was much later than usual when we got home. The rest of my afternoon was spent baking a Bara Brith for Peter and making truffles for a birthday present. I've made two sorts, some with crystalised ginger and the others with dried raspberries.
Back garden flowers.
Crocosmia Lucifer.


Sunday 25 June 2023

Sunshine and Showers.

Warm and cloudy in the morning with a few showers later on.
As usual the lifeboat crew were out training and in addition the coastguards were having a cliff rescue practice too.
I didn't have to drive to the walking group's meeting place as it was at the home of some of our members. A whole two and a half minutes walk away for me so no need to use Google Street View.
With rain forecast we headed along the lane that goes up the hill behind the village, up towards where we keep the camper. While we were still in the woods we turned onto a bridlepath that brought us out into the fields at the top of the hill. From there we had great views over the bog and across the river to Aberdyfi.
And on into Snowdonia, the views that is not us.
Peter had checked the Met Office site for me and it gave a lighter shower at around 1.00 and heavy rain for fifteen minutes for 2.00. The light shower passed while we were still assembling at our friends' house and then at five to two the heavy rain did indeed arrive. I was wearing shorts and a sports vest which dries quickly so I didn't bother to get my pack a mac out. What I did do was make sure that my phone and camera were inside plastic bags in my backpack which I covered with a bin bag to make extra sure everything stayed dry. Which it did. I ended up sheltering under an unbrella with two other people until the rain stopped twelve minutes later. It soon turned hot again so it didn't matter that I was a little damp round the edges for the last part of the walk down the lane.
Instead of our usual stop for a bite to eat we brought stuff for a salad/ vegetarian buffet lunch at our friends' home. It was nice to spend longer chatting and enjoying the good food. They have a small but very nice garden and I've spotted a few plants that I will ask for pieces of in the autumn. I had brought along some of my fennel plants that my friend has asked for.
In this meadow there were many Meadow Brown butterflies but they are hard to photograph as they will keep flitting about. And I forgot to enlarge the photo before taking it off the camera. There were also biting insects, I know this because I forgot to use the insect repellant spray and have bites on my neck and ear.
I managed to fit in a bit of gardening before and after going out for the walk. I was mainly taking up slabs and then replacing them which was a lot trickier. I found one of the slabs with a quarter of a hole in but the other three are under the brick raised bed so I left it in place. 
Surf was up, as they say and along with the surfers was this wing surfer. I got a photo just as he jumped out of the water which shows the strange keel structure that usually stays under the surface.


Saturday 24 June 2023


The day began damp, hazy and windy but still warm and even hotter later when the sun came out in force.
Lots of people on the beach and surfers too as the waves began rolling in.
After a quiet morning I was back in the garden mixing up mortar again. I have now finished all the sand and almost all of the cement but I managed to get the 'turned around' row of blocks on and everything pointed.
Although I have reluctantly decided to keep the red paving slabs as there is no knowing how far the grey slabs underneath extend and what state they are in I'm still having to take up some of the slabs. I discovered that in the lower layer there are 2 sets of 4 slabs made with a circle cut out of the middle. They would originally been either side of the gates (which are now the street gates) but one set is now in an awkward spot. So I'm taking it up and will lay them on top of the other 4 so that I still have one of these features. I also need to take out some of the slabs for drainage in the new raised bed and to get to them I need to take out the rest of the row first.
It was hot work but I made sure to give myself a few breaks to sit and watch the froth being whipped up on the sea.
You may be wondering what that strange object in my neighbours' drive is. It's a hyperbaric chamber, as used for treating divers with the bends. The lady who used to live next door had MS and used the chamber for high pressure oxygen treatment. At 3 tons it was too heavy for our new neighbours to remove until they had the sliding doors to the room taken out as part of replacing all their windows. It's not something that can be sold on and they're hoping our local scrap man will take it. The front which faces the gate, is covered with dials so there have been plenty of comments and questions from passers by.  

Friday 23 June 2023


Light rain all day and unusually warm.
The morning began with drizzle that was light enough for me to still do some tidying up in the garden, mainly sorting out bags of rubble and plant waste to take to the dump after the RDA lesson.
The rain picked up once I set off for the stables which might account for why I missed the turn-off which is only about a mile along the main A road and instead I carried on on auto pilot. It's quite a scenic route and I was enjoying the views through a forest and then up into the mountains. I didn't realise my mistake until I got to the turning for Devil's Bridge. Then it was a matter of finding a spot to turn round and driving all the way back down the winding road. 
I still got there before the children arrived and the rest of the group laughed with me about my long detour. It was quite an eventful or shall I say lively lesson today. For three of the children it was their first time on a pony and all three started with screaming melt-downs for different reasons. One issue was wearing a riding hat especially once the chin strap was clipped shut. For children that are unsettled by new experiences and are also touch sensitive it's a lot to take in. We suggested they spend some time getting used to the riding hat they have at school before coming to the stables. Hopefully by the next time they come all of the children will be able to sit on a pony as they are led around the indoor school.
And .... big event for me, I shall be riding next week. After 25 years of not riding (too costly, then a bad back) I want to see if my back and knee are up to being back on a horse again. I thought a gentle 1 hour hack would do but there wasn't anything available for next week. Instead the girl suggested I might be better with a half-hour private lesson so that is what I will be doing next Friday. I still have boots, jodhpurs and hat though the hat doesn't conform to the latest safety standards. To celebrate the occasion I bought a new schooling whip (like a riding crop but thinner and twice as long and just used to touch the horse on the flank) in Charlies but as hats are around £100 I wont get one unless until I ride more. I can always borrow a hat from the stables if they veto my old one.
We spend quite a while on a lesson debrief so my journey home coincided with the end of the school day which is a busy time on the roads. No problems getting to the dump and disposing of a car load of rubble and plants but from then on I was caught in traffic. The kind of traffic jam where more time is spent at a standstill than moving. After about half an hour I made it to the supermarkets which were not only very busy but Lidl in particular had a lot of empty spaces on the shelves. I usually indulge in a chocolate brownie or two but the only one left in the self-serve trays looked as if it might have been handled so I left it. I was so late that I got to Huws, for some more cement at 6.00 and they were already shut. So while on paper it looks simple to nip in to town after RDA I've now decided to abandon that plan. Avoiding town and going straight home takes a quick 20 minutes. We'll just have to fit shopping in with other things.

Thursday 22 June 2023


Sunny again but the late evening sky is full of black clouds so a change may be on the way.
Today was one of those days when I woke, went to the bathroom and then never returned to bed. Okay, that was only a 7.00 start but after not getting to sleep until after 2.00 for several nights in a row that's good going for me. (I'm writing this very late at night so please excuse any typos or general weirdness in my writing.)
Having had my first mug of tea sitting outside I was trimming the overgrown hedge next to the terrace when I realised I'd left my secateurs at the zoo yesterday. I wasn't worried about the secateurs themselves as they are very old and quite blunt but as I knew exactly where I'd left them I was concerned that a child might pick them up. So I drove down to the zoo, got them and was home before breakfast.  And also before breakfast, our neighbour had noticed a bag left on the pavement in front of her house and thought it might belong to the chap that lives behind us. He walks down to the shop once or twice a day but goes very slowly as he has COPD. I took it round and sure enough it was his.

Being Thursday it was Welsh class day which takes out the middle of the day but there was still time for an hour's gardening before preparing for the lesson. Most of that hour was spent topping up the raised bed with top soil from the dumpy bag inside the front gate. It wasn't until after class that I started on the step. I thought it would be relatively quick to lay the slabs on a dry mix of sand and cement but first I needed to tidy up the blocks under the step. Then I needed a lot of the dry mix to even the levels across the old step and the demolished wall. It took forever but eventually it was done and I could collapse with a coffee and the first set of evening painkillers.
Today's class was the last one of our second year of learning Welsh. No more classes until the end of September. Instead of starting the next unit we just did revision mostly of I was and I had (2 forms). Not only is there all the conjugation to remember but .... if it's a positive statement the verb begins with R but if it's a negative statement the verb begins with D and if it's a question the verb begins with O. Confusing or what? We've come a long way but there is so much more to learn. 


Wednesday 21 June 2023

Summer Solstice.

Solstice Sunset.
After weeks of sun, summer has officially started. You would have thought the longest day of the year would mark the middle of summer but I'm sure there are good reasons why it is the first day of summer. I'm just trying hard not to think about the fact that the nights are now going to be getting longer.
There were a lot of dark clouds around in the morning but the Met Office map showed the rain passing to the south and west of us and this is exactly what happened. 
I rode my bike down to the zoo and spent four hours weeding most but not all of the gravelled area by the guinea fowl. Since Peter adjusted the brakes on the bike to get rid of the terrible squeaking I've found pedalling the bike a lot easier. Peter admits that having the brakes rubbing on the wheel might well have been at least part of the reason why I was struggling rather than my general lack of fitness. And of course going to aerobics every week will have strengthened my legs too.
I've been in a mixture of moods today, cheerful with the good weather and being able to get so much done in the garden plus being around horses again but then ...... In the conversation about the camper going in for its MOT I was told that we will be selling it because ........ we have everything we need here in Borth so don't need to go on any holidays, not even a few nights away in the camper and anyway we're too busy! Yes we have a good life here but to have my dreams of going on holiday now that we have the time and money for modest holidays knocked down like that is pretty depressing. At least with the camper I had hoped we might start with a few nights away visiting places like Anglesey, then further afield maybe Scotland and then who knows, Ireland or Europe? Now I know for certain that's not going to happen. There's no point in arguing over it because if we did go away either with the camper or on a proper holiday should one small thing not be perfect it would prove the point that it wasn't worth going in the first place. Perhaps I should consider going on holiday by myself, not too keen on that or with a group? I don't know. Apologies for venting like this but it helps to keep me from spiralling into a really black mood.


Tuesday 20 June 2023

No More Block Bashing.

Although the day began quite grey and looking as if it might rain at any moment we ended up with a hot and sunny afternoon.
I didn't have a good night so it took me a while to wake this morning which led me to postpone going to the zoo until tomorrow.
Instead, after a number of cups of coffee and a late breakfast, I carried on working in the garden. And at last the old wall is finally demolished. I expect the neighbours will be glad not to be hearing the constant banging of lump hammer on bolster. The next thing to do is to create a wide step and then turn and replace the row of blocks that keep the gravel in.
I finished off with a bit of actual gardening as some of the hardy geraniums needed the flowering stems cut down. The hedge is growing wildly but it was easy to climb up on the raised beds and do some clipping with the secateurs.
A brief rest and then it was time for Pilates. 


Monday 19 June 2023

When do you eat dinner?

We started off with a lovely sunny day so I filled up the washing machine. Then as the washing was ready to hang out the rain began. We had a morning of heavy showers and eventually a hot and sunny afternoon.
In between the showers I went out and finally managed to free the golden privet from the ground and got it moved over to the side of the garden. I had to do a fair bit of hacking off of the roots so I've no idea if it will survive but at least I'm giving it a chance. It still had a lot of roots and I had to move the hawthorn and the cotoneaster before I could dig a big hole. They're all back in and the ground is nice and wet after all the recent rain so they should be okay.
I also prised out and cleaned some more of the blocks. Not too many of them left now though there is a row that need taking out so that I can turn them round and replace them. Don't worry, it will all make sense once it's done.
I finished off with some ironing and then a couple of small admin jobs that had been bugging me for ages. There should just be time to sit out on the terrace in the sun with a cup of coffee before supper is ready. Last week we had a long discussion in Welsh class about the word 'dinner'. There is a word for supper - swper, and a word for lunch - cinio which can also mean dinner. But when do you eat dinner? Some say in the middle of the day, same say in the evening. Schools say both lunchtime and dinnertime for the middle of the day meal. My view is that dinner is a formal meal and supper an informal meal and both are eaten in the evening. And what about people who call the main evening meal tea? Oh the complexities of the English language. And according to our tutor they don't have dinner parties (evening) in Wales. 


Sunday 18 June 2023


We had a lot of rain in the night after a thunderstorm at bedtime. Today started off hot and muggy but with the possibility of rain later I decided to take a light mac when I went on the walk. A good thing too as for most of the walk a thunderstorm raged overhead.
While we ate our breakfast and listened the The Archers we watched our local lifeboat team up with the Aberdyfi lifeboat for some towing practice.
Today's meet-up point was the car park of The Osprey Centre on the way to Mach so I had no problems with getting there. We didn't go into the centre but headed up the hill through a mature wood. The rain got worse after I had taken the above photo so as well as putting on my mac I put my camera away for safety.
For once our walk was a there and back instead of the usual circular route so the photos are not in true chronological order. Having walked up through a dripping wood we found ourselves on the old turnpike road with excellent drystone walls on either side. It was originally the main road from Aber out to the north of Wales. Looking at historical records I found that the 175 mile road was built in 1770 and had 12 toll booths. The modern road is right down in the valley and has a number of sections where the steep rock face had to be blasted away.
In the rambling garden of a cottage we saw a large group of beehives surrounded by mesh fencing. We wondered why and my guesses were that either it was to make the bees fly up and away from people or else to keep out sheep. Looking on-line I've found that my first suggestion was correct. 
We turned off the turnpike road and went even higher, still with the thunderstorm going on overhead, until we came to a good viewpoint. This would normally have been our lunch spot but it was too wet and exposed for that today. Instead we turned back and ate our lunch standing under some trees.
Looking eastward up the Dyfi vally to Mach.
Looking northwards to Snowdonia.
After a wet walk back we went into The Osprey Centre cafe for refreshments and to dry off.
There they have large screens with live feed from the nests where a wet osprey was keeping her three chicks dry.
You don't have to pay to go in the cafe/ visitors centre, only if you want to walk to the different hides. We went upstairs where there are good views across the wetlands
When I got home Peter said he hadn't heard any thunder though there was some rain.