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.

Thursday 31 August 2023

Jam Making.

A wet night, showers in the morning and drier in the afternoon.
The outside chairs were too wet so I had to bring a chair out for my morning wake-up with a mug of tea and the cat on my lap. I should have brought my camera out straightaway (I usually do) so that I could have captured the reflections of birds flying low over the water or our resident robin perched on the wizard's staff by the garden gate but hey, I was still waking up. Instead I got a nice shot of a young herring gull none too happy at being parked on next door's roof while its parents went off fishing and was letting the whole world know with its piercing peeping.
There must have been a few fish around because amongst the floating herring gulls some black headed gulls were diving into the sea. They're not as tidy divers as the gannets with their missile like plunging into the depths.
It took me a while to work out that this was a juvenile cormorant. It stayed floating on the surface while the nearby adult bird surface dived for fish.
I kept changing my mind about cycling to the community gardens and had finally decided to take a chance when down came another shower. So I drove instead taking a large punnet of plums for anyone who wanted them. There I helped cut back the brambles and willow that were making it difficult to get the mower along the grass paths between the allotments some of which seem to be nothing but brambles. To be on the safe side we had our cake, a Victoria sponge, in the watershed.
Once home I spent the whole afternoon making plum jam from a kilo of the smaller plums that I had kept back. The recipe I found said to cook up the plums, stones and all for 25 minutes before sieving and cooking with sugar. Being me I went my own way, brought them up to the boil before I left in the morning and just stuck the lid on while I went out. The plums were nice and soft but I hadn't cooked away the liquid and had to spend a very long time cooking and stirring the sieved plums until they reduced to the volume the recipe said I should have. Another hour of boiling and stirring once the sugar was added and I had ........ a whole two small jars of admittedly tasty plum jam.  It's not as if we eat jam often, only when I've made some. But I couldn't let those plums go to waste. Making jam on such a small scale isn't very efficient, how on earth do they knock up jam so quickly on Bake Off? More sugar perhaps? 
Cleaning up wasn't too bad, nothing like the carnage when I used to make large quantities of blackcurrant jam by the same method. I gave away my jam kettle and I doubt if it would work on the induction hob anyway.
And then it was time for aerobics. Much fun and exertion as always.


Wednesday 30 August 2023


It's been a dry day, windy with much brighter patches of blue showing between the clouds.
The plums our neighbour gave us yesterday, just a few....
In the morning I cycled down to the zoo for my usual few hours of weeding. I worked in the larger of the play areas which I think many children find the best part of the zoo. The turkeys are nearby and the male turkey is constantly drumming and gobbling much to the children's amusement. One child told his parents that the turkey had his brains on the outside of his head. I suppose the wattle does look a bit like a brain though it did make me wonder if the comment was related to the type of films or games the child watched.
I didn't have to cycle home as Dean, one of the owners was finally able to come round and collect the pallet that has been sitting by our drive for a while and offered to put my bike in the back of the van. 
At home I did some more work in the garden reinstating some windbreak plastic at the end of the garden. It wasn't the neatest of jobs but I hope it will shelter the new shrubs (once they go in) for a year or two.
I finished my day with choir at Tal-Y-Bont. Not so many of us tonight, only 13 but after working on Lan Y Mor which is taking a while to get to grips with we sang some more familiar songs. Afterwards I caught a glimpse of the large Blue Moon but by the time I got home the clouds had hidden it from view. It's full moon tomorrow night so maybe I'll get to see it in all its glory.


Tuesday 29 August 2023


There was almost no view at all this morning with the rain, which did get heavier, obscuring most of the village from sight. It slowly became drier with a touch of sun and a pale blue sky towards evening.
No point in going to zoo in that weather or even popping out to do some gardening and for that I'm sure my back was truly grateful. All that hoicking out of brambles in awkward positions had not done it any good at all.
Yesterday evening, as we had been eating our supper the doorbell rang. By the time Peter got to the door there was nobody to be seen. But on our doorstep was a large bag of cooking apples (about two shopping bags full). Although I'd accepted some cooking apples from one of my fellow walkers on Sunday I have no recollection of anyone saying they would bring me more apples. That may have been the case as I do forget things these days but I don't really think so. That said it was an awful lot of apples for two people. I used up some of the apples making stewed apples in the slow-cooker and as soon as it stopped raining I put the rest outside the garden gate with a sign saying 'Free, cooking apples. help yourself.' I think some had gone as I went down to Pilates but on my return most of the rest had gone too. It's good if somebody else can make use of them. Not only that but they had put £1 in the box. I'll put that in a charity box somewhere as I wouldn't feel right keeping it.
We're getting plenty of tomatoes from our garden so most of this lot went in the freezer to be used for cooking later on. Peter was worried we wouldn't have any left for his lunches but there are still loads on the plants. Later on in the evening our neighbour came round with lots of plums from their farm and some plants for the garden. I foresee more cooking and freezing but there are so many plums I'll take some with me to C&C on Thursday to share as there aren't many plums left in the orchard. The rest of the cooking apples, which are the smaller windfalls, will go to the zoo.
I found out a bit more about the fireworks we saw. It wasn't a wedding as I thought but just a Bank Holiday event at the holiday park with music and funfair type stuff for the children.
A funny sunset tonight. The setting sun appeared then slid away from view behind a lower cloudbank.

Monday 28 August 2023

Bank Holiday Monday.

Fairly typical Bank Holiday weather, cloudy and not too warm. At least it hasn't been raining.
I was up early so after I'd done all the usual jobs I went off for a walk along the beach. I haven't been on the beach much this summer, mostly I've been too busy and when the weather was nice the beach has been crowded with holidaymakers. 

Early this morning there was hardly anyone on the beach, a couple of people and a few gulls.
And a lone oystercatcher rootling about in the rockpools.
This fledgling has learnt the trick of keeping at least one foot warm by tucking it up in its feathers.
After breakfast I was out again, this time in the garden digging up brambles. I wear a long sleeved top and gloves but still the various branches seem out to get me and my hands and arms are covered in scrapes. But there are only two bramble roots to get out and they can be left until later in the year when the hydrangeas have finished flowering. But before I can start moving more shrubs I need to repair the windbreak mesh on the side wall as the supports have given way. I think they've been in place for 30 years so that's not bad.
When my back had had enough I came inside and made five damson and apple crumbles. I looked on-line for tips to get the stones out of damsons but I don't have an olive stoner or a metal chip basket which apparently does the trick. I cooked them up to soften them and then wearing latex gloves tried mashing the stones out of each one which worked for me. Four will go in the freezer but the last one is for now. Of course that meant another march down to the shop for some cream. Custard would do but I can't bring myself to buy the ready made stuff and it's too much faff to make some up with powder. Cream is so much easier and in my view nicer.
 Almost forgot- last night we were treated to a wonderful fireworks display. It was far along the beach, maybe as far as the caravan park at Ynyslas but they were as big as and possibly better than the town fireworks in Barnstaple at New Year. We think it must have been for a wedding as there were several heart shaped fireworks amongst all the giant ball type fireworks. It was lovely watching the display from our terrace. 

Sunday 27 August 2023

Walk from Bont Goch.

A cooler day with drizzle/ light rain at times.
Our walk today began at Bont Goch (Red Bridge,) historic name Elerch (swan) up in the Hinterland at the start of the River Leri. It was a easy drive there. I just had to turn off the main road with its uninteresting ribbon development and straight away I was on a single track lane that went up through woods and took me up to to a high ridge. I love the ridge roads with their far reaching views to either side and it wasn't long before I reached the isolated village and our meeting point by a bridge. We parked near a building that is currently being restored by a couple from London. The house is done and now they are working on the outbuildings including a mill complete with waterwheel that still turns. (The wife has done all the pointing on the stonework.) They invited us to come and have a look around and there was much excitement at seeing the cogs and levers that regulated the turning of the wheel. 
The River Leri and stunning waterfall were also in their garden.
The village has 53 properties. Twenty years ago they were very run down but since then most of them have been renovated to a high standard and the village is thriving. You read about its history here. The church school was built in 1856, designed by the architect George Edward Street who went on to design the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand (near my old college, King's.)
Soon we were were heading out into the wilds of the Hinterland. With such good access to tracks across the hill you see why we passed so many properties with schooling arenas and stables.
I could just see myself riding along this track.

Behind the trees I spotted another arena set up with show jumps.

We stopped for lunch looking across this upland valley at an abandoned farm. On previous walks they had eaten lunch by the farmhouse and been in to explore but rather than risk our more foolhardy adventurous members falling through rotten floorboards the rest of us voted to stop at a safe distance.

The rain began as we set off walking again so my camera was safely stowed away in my backpack, inside its own plastic bag inside a larger plastic bag holding all the contents of my backpack and for good measure a rain cover over the outside of my backpack. You can see I take no chances with my camera. By this time I was wearing a light rain jacket and waterproof over trousers. It didn't rain that heavily and eventually I stopped and took off the over trousers which luckily slip over my walking boots. 

But before then we had walked to the end of the hill for a great view down to a hidden valley which once held a lead mine. (It's still there but defunct now.)
From there we turned round and went back the same way to the village. Before driving off there was the usual exchange of garden produce that happens at most meetings at this time of the year. I came home with more cooking apples and several pounds of damsons and we had eaten two varieties of cherry tomatoes with our lunch. I foresee some cooking of damson and apple crumbles to go in the freezer soon, maybe tomorrow. 

Saturday 26 August 2023


The forecast for today was heavy showers with possible thunderstorms in the afternoon.
They were right about the showers but those petered out by midmorning and instead of thunderstorms we had sunny and very windy weather. I held off putting the washing in the machine until late afternoon by which time I realised that even an hour in the strong wind would blow most of the wet out of the washing.
I was up reasonably early and had my morning caffeine hit out in the garden wrapped up in an all weather coat. (The garden chairs were too wet and I couldn't be bothered to take a kitchen chair out.) Lots of staring at the end bed helped me to formalise my plans though I keep swapping the placing of a hydrangea (I never knew there was an 'n' in there.) and a ceanothus. Having more or less worked out the layout I then went through all the steps I'd need to achieve it. Sort of on the lines of "If I move this to there then I'll have to dig up those plants which can be moved to (a different) there" and so on. That got me to a starting point and off I went. I began by weeding near the boundary wall and planting a fennel which if it grows will help screen the neighbours' sitting room. Next I cut down all the mint growing in the end bed so that I could see what I was doing. I'm keeping the mint but in different places. Then came the awkward task of crawling between the hydrangeas and digging out a couple of large bramble stumps along with their roots. More weeding and then I moved the tomato red azalea to between two hydrangeas. I cut it back quite hard and moved it with a sizeable root ball so hopefully it will survive. Now I've got to decide what to do with the bright pink azalea. It has some very long branches that I could train along the ground away from the yellow euonymus as the yellow and pink are a horrible clash. I'm not keen on yellow variegated plants but the euonymus makes a good windbreak. In the spring I'll cut off the branches that have gone up into the hedge. I still don't know what the green shrub next to it is but I noticed my neighbour has one in her garden so I'll see if she knows. Again it's a good windbreak. Now that I've cleared the bed I can see through to the wall behind, not very attractive. It does have that plastic wind mesh to help break up the power of the wind but I'm going to put another layer in front of the hedge for the winter and hopefully the shrubs I plant will cover up the gaps. Those will be a transplanted hydrangea (50/50 chance of success), also a buddleia with better chances and a ceanothus that is still growing in a pot. But first there are three more brambles to dig out so for the meantime I have bare messy earth to look at.
With the afternoon being so nice I wrapped up well and sat out crocheting and then knitting. No doubt there'll be many wet days when I have no choice but to stay indoors. Peter is cooking up sauerkraut, potatoes, onion and Polish sausage for supper tonight so my jobs are done for the day.


Friday 25 August 2023


The morning was chilly and grey making me grateful to have Speedy as a lap warmer while I sat outside with my mug of tea. It got much brighter and sunnier as the day went on but with a distinct chill in the shade.
In the morning I went off to the dump with a carful of bags from the garden. From there I went on to Morrison's. It was as I sat queueing on the roundabout, a large roundabout that has two main roads going into it, that I remembered it was a bad idea to go shopping on a Friday but I had no choice with Peter's knee being so bad. If I hadn't planned to buy petrol as well I would have carried on around and skipped Morrison's. The supermarket itself wasn't that full and there were plenty of places in the carpark. It's that there's just one small access road shared by Morrison's, the garage, Charlie's, Comet, Halford's and B&M. 
I had a quick walk around the town shops and found a few things in the charity shops including this paperweight. Normally I only consider clear or cobalt blue glass but this one is up on a shelf with a blue and green paperweight. I also found a black polo shirt to wear riding. That was in a charity shop after I'd been unable to find one in Matalan. Shock, horror! - it's still August and Home Bargains has aisles full of Christmas decorations. Not what you expect to see in the summer.
My final stop was Lidl where they were selling a selection of medium sized grasses. Exactly what I will need for the shingle in the front garden, when it's done. For now I'll plant them up in bigger pots. Instead of doing any gardening I sat and started another crochet square while contemplating the shrubs under the hedge. My neighbour has offered me arum lilies which I love. I'll go and dig them up once the flowerbed is sorted.
Speedy has a perfectly good bowl of water in the kitchen but pond water tastes so much better.
The bog bean, which I put at the bottom of the pond has finally made its way to the surface. Now it should start to spread out stems which will float on the surface of the water.

Thursday 24 August 2023

Mostly Sunny.

Once again we began with a grey and damp morning. Being optimistic I cycled down to the Community Gardens for cake & cultivate and sure enough the day kept improving until we ended up with a lovely sunny afternoon and evening.
At the community gardens I cut back nettles where they were encroaching on the path. In general the nettles and brambles are left to grow to encourage the wildlife unless they are seriously getting in the way. I managed to do that job without getting stung but later on when I was picking blackberries without gloves I got stung on my thumb which is now throbbing away. As well as the blackberries I brought home some apples and damsons. On the way home I called in at that nice shop and bought a carved driftwood oystercatcher as my anniversary (in October) present to Peter. 
In the afternoon there were a lot of people on the beach and in the water. The group that runs surfing for people with special needs was there. They have a surfboard fitted with a seat for people with mobility problems.
As I'm going to town tomorrow to do the shopping and to the dump (the MRI showed that Peter has damaged ligaments and cartilage in his knee and needs to rest for the moment) I filled up a couple more bags with stuff from the garden. Then I carried on trying to sort out the bit under the front hedge. I dug out more bramble roots but one went far out of reach. Instead I used kitchen foil to keep it off the soil and then painted on a gel root killer. That might be enough to stop the bramble without affecting the hedge. I'm still puzzling over what to do about the existing shrubs in front of the hedge. The horribly clashing pink and red azaleas, the golden privet and a random green shrub that I can't identify. It has big green berries on it but I don't remember seeing any flowers.
I wasn't going to waste the good weather so I stayed outside, this time on the terrace knitting a few more rows of the  cosy until it was time to walk down to the hall for disco aerobics. 
Quite a nice sunset this evening. Above is how it looked to the naked eye and below is what the camera saw when I zoomed in.

Even after the sun had gone below the horizon the sky was very pretty.