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 31 December 2023

Still Raining.

A wet start to the day with a drier afternoon.
I was up by 5.30 and had my first cuppa sitting inside the open door with occasional glimpses of Venus and a few stars beyond whenever there was a break in the clouds. With so much cloud around it was still pitch black at 7.30 with not a peep from the birds when I began ironing yesterday's washing. I'd already done my Duo and prepared the breakfast so there wasn't much else to do. The sky eventually began to lighten at around 8.00 but Peter isn't sleeping well at the moment so we didn't have breakfast until later.
I went off for a beach walk in the afternoon but I didn't want to take my camera in case there was a sudden downpour (there wasn't) and I'm blogging early before my energy fades. As it was still dry on my return I changed into gardening clothes and spent some time fishing blanket weed out of the pond. I'm hoping that the snails survive the winter and start multiplying in the spring to eat up the blanket weed but I'm removing what I can now. I scoop it out and swirl it in a bucket of water first to make sure I don't take out any snails but I'm counting on their defence strategy of dropping to the bottom when the water is disturbed to keep them out of the way of my fingers.
We're not partygoers, or at least only occasionally so are planning a quiet night in tonight. Hopefully the rain will hold off and we can go out on the terrace to enjoy any fireworks displays in the area.


Saturday 30 December 2023


The day began with light rain and a flat sea and progressed to very heavy and even torrential rain at times and stronger waves rolling in. Right now (6 pm) I can hear long rumbles of thunder out at sea so I guess the rain is here for a while longer. Oh the relief in not having to run out to check that the drive isn't being washed away by the rain.
I've had a much quieter day, as near to a rest day as I'm likely to get. After an ironing session and one more load in the washing machine I'm almost there with returning my room to a study and a state of readiness for the next visit. Now that the throw is in its new home and there aren't completed squares and balls of wool scattered around the study looks so much more calming and peaceful. I shall try hard to keep it that way. This year I shall begin the New Year Clean (like a Spring Clean but starting in January) at this end of the house and sort my study first. 
This afternoon I was able to unpack two more tubs of clothing, hanging some in the wardrobe and putting aside a whole lot to take to the charity shops. I'm giving away of all the smart but comfortable tunic tops that I used to wear to work. They're not really my style now and I would like to get rid of any reminders of those very unpleasant last few years at work. I have hung onto some light cotton tops in the hope that maybe one day I might be on holiday somewhere warm and sunny. You never know, it might happen.
Speedy this morning eating bits of old toast I had put out for the birds. Peter cleared away the remainder so as not to attract the seagulls and encourage them to hang around in the hope of more. (I hadn't realised they had been down on the terrace yesterday.) I threw some seeds out instead and later saw a dunnock feeding on them.

Friday 29 December 2023

Shopping Day.

More very heavy rain this morning which eventually cleared to give clear skies. Those clear skies and winds from the north have brought a noticeable drop in temperature.
Christmas finally caught up with me yesterday evening and I slept like a log. It was a wonderful sleep only spoiled at the end by dreams full of worry probably caused by a severe sinus headache which has been rumbling on all day. I could have retired to the sofa for a 'rest' day but I had plans and I find that being occupied takes my mind of my head when it's like this. 
My plans were to go and do a little food shopping to supplement the bounty we already have, check out the sales (not clothes but small stuff)  and go and spend the vouchers which Romas had sent me so that I could buy some new jodhpurs or whatever else I needed for riding. I had a wonderful time in Charlie's trying on all the styles of jodhpur and finally settled on a traditional style in navy blue. It was those or a more modern version, think heavy duty gym leggings with grippy areas on the seat and knees. I liked the fact that you could just pull them on and that they had a very high waistband which held in my stomach but they weren't quite as comfortable to wear, didn't hide my less than trim figure and were a brighter blue. So the cheaper pair it was and I went on to buy some riding gloves and a short sleeved riding top that was on sale as well. I look forward to being smartly turned out for my next riding lesson though I had liked the thought  that I had ridden my own horse and the ones I looked after in my old jodhpurs.
Naturally I had a look along the Christmas decorations too as they were all half price and these three came home with me. I may have to find more branches for the driftwood tree next year so that I can fit everything on. I also bought some more lights. I put them up to check they were working but they are quite bright in the window so I think next year they will go on the top of the bookshelves in the hall.
Out in the garden the bluebells have already put out their leaves. It will be nice to see a swathe of blue under the bare hydrangea bushes. Elsewhere other bulbs are appearing. These were all rescued from the original garden so I'm not too sure what they all are.
Nearly forgot to mention almost the best find of the day - tubs of sweet pickled herrings in Morrisons. I'd gone to look for roll mops and there they were. I was chatting to a man at the fish counter where I had gone to ask for some plastic bags as the tubs were a bit sticky, and he said they have them all the time. Result.

Thursday 28 December 2023

Storm Gerrit.

We've had some wild and stormy weather these last few days. The sea, when it's not been hidden from view by torrential rain, has been whitecaps as far as the eye could see and far too rough for even the brief dip that Vytas and Sally had hoped to take.
We've had a lovely couple of days with Vytas and Sally visiting. Yesterday, despite the steady rain, we drove to Devil's Bridge to walk down and then up the many steps stopping frequently to admire the thundering waterfalls. All the recent rain had increased the amount of water forcing its way through the rocks and the waterfalls were much more dramatic than on my last visit with Peter. And we were treated to bonus waterfalls as the water poured down the slate steps as we made our way up. Unsurprisingly we were the only people visiting the waterfalls (there's an automated turnstile at the entrance). I took a cautious approach and made sure to hold on to the metal rail at all times. I don't trust wet slate and there were a lot of fallen leaves on the steps as well as all the puddles. How daft would it be to slip and twist an ankle? No mishaps occurred and Sally and I were both wearing waterproof over trousers as well as heavy raincoats which helped keep out the rain. By the time we got back up to the top we were ready for a hot drink in the nearby hotel. (Peter's bad knee stopped him from joining us on the trip and he's just had a letter postponing his knee injection to March which is very disappointing.)
The storm began to worsen in the evening but we were all nice and cosy at home enjoying a veritable banquet of a Chinese takeaway meal. We were all startled by a flash of lightning which was so bright it was as if somebody had used a camera flash through the window. Afterwards we played a LOTR escape room type of puzzle game which was difficult but fun. Lots of lateral thinking and collaboration required.
The storm raged on this morning with thunder, lightning and torrential rain which made Vytas and Sally delay their departure until they could actually see the road.
Vytas trains hard for his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and likes to keep up his daily stretches and exercises which is why I kept finding him taking up strange positions often combined with going out for a run.
There was a short sunny interlude after they left but by the time I had cleared up the kitchen and then restored the spare room back to being my study and thrown the first lot of washing in the machine the storm had returned. I was just settling down to checking out the village FB page and seeing somebody reporting their power had gone out an hour before when click - off went our power. It was off for awhile with much complaining from Peter when at last it returned but who knows for how long. With that thought in mind I did my Duo and then blogged.
And as promised here is the Boxing Day Dip filmed by Dave B. If you watch it I appear (purple jacket with my back to the camera) right at the beginning when 'The Gathering' appears on the screen.

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Boxing Day Dip.

I've got some time before Vytas and Sally arrive so I thought I'd post photos of some of the things I made.
First - the famous throw which turned out quite well if I say so myself. It might not bear too close an inspection in terms of crocheting skill but it's the creative process that I enjoy. I set myself the challenge of working with wool bought from charity shops which added a chance factor to the design element. Also I like the thought that every ball of wool bought put some money into a good cause. I did buy one ball from the wool shop's oddments bin but ended up not using it because it was too thick. I avoided anything that was 100% acrylic but really colour was the main factor. I started off looking for reds and purples, (Sally likes deep red). I call them jewel colours but then the greys crept in adding a cool tone to some of the 22" squares. And that is what I ended up with. It could have done with another three rows of black around the outside which was the original plan but I just ran out of time. I really hope they like it.
And some chocolates as well.
Since the stormy weather is due to return this evening I thought I'd go for a walk on the beach for some fresh air.  I'd forgotten about the traditional Boxing Day Dip, or at least I'd thought it was at 10.30 not 12.00. My walk got no further than a large beach bonfire at the bottom of the steps where I stopped to chat with friends. Then our neighbours came down in a group though only one was going to venture into the water. 
Suddenly there was a crowd of people who were soon heading down to the water.

There's an informal group of wild water swimmers here known as The Badasses who swim most days (I know some of them and they really are 'wild women') but I have to admire all those who turned up without wetsuits for this cold dip. The young men were being very macho while some of the older guys were probably trying hard to hold their stomachs in. There were a number of children going in as well but I keep them or at least their faces out of the photos I publish.
With the water at 8C/46F there were varying degrees of enjoyment evident on people's faces.
There was a chap filming with a drone so if it comes up on FB I'll add the link. 
The house is clean, Duo done, hearty soup started so all I need to do now is await the arrival of our visitors.


Monday 25 December 2023

Happy Christmas.

A Happy Christmas to you all.

I should really have put the first two pictures on yesterday's post. They are lovely and give an innocent child's view of Christmas, Father Christmas flying through the sky to bring wonderful presents, or maybe it's the mice who fill the stockings. But below the nativity scene in Bethlehem is the reality for so many living in war torn areas. The dreadful state of our world is brought home to me by the fact that Christmas is not being celebrated in Bethlehem this year. 
Signing out now for a few days while family visit.
PS If you're wondering what our weather is like .... this is what it was like at Mach yesterday. The new bridge is not yet open to general traffic and the old bridge is under water in the centre of the screen.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Christmas Eve.

While not that cold it has been very wet and windy all day long with the sea looking extremely rough. That didn't stop a few hardy surfers from braving the waves though it wasn't until the end of the day that we saw any of them actually catch a wave.
This morning as we sat nice and cosy in bed (for once free of any aches and pains) listening to the sea and drinking our tea we started to reflect on how fortunate we are. We have a home that is warm enough for our needs, plenty of food, each other, friendships and plenty of things to do. In other words we have sufficient for our needs and what more could we want? In my mind the troubles of the world or at least most of them happen when people look to satisfy their wants rather than their needs. Their wants for power, or for possessions become their excuse for lack of empathy/ cruelty call it how you like or maybe just sheer evil. We live on a world where there are enough resources for everyone's needs but right now the greed of a few keeps the majority in poverty. That is the same whether you look at individual countries or the world as a whole. Oh dear I'm off on a rant, better call a halt now. 
My day was mainly spent preparing for our Christmas Eve meal which in our tradition is an important start to the beginning of Christmas. I still stick to no meat/no dairy which is one of the main features of the meal. Due to being unable to find any pickled herrings in Aber, not even roll mops, salmon featured heavily. My traditional dishes included smoked salmon, vinegretas (beetroot and mixed bean salad), devilled eggs, rye bread and tinned herrings in sauce but then I included vegetable spring rolls, tempura prawns, prawn toast and salmon kebabs with teriyaki sauce. I can't bring myself to do less than the twelve dishes so of course there is a lot left over when there are only two of us at the table. We've decided that the salmon we were going to have tomorrow can wait (it's frozen) and instead we'll  finish off tonight's food.
Better post this now as it's nearly midnight. have a good Christmas everyone.

Saturday 23 December 2023


Grey and frequently wet today but not too cold.
In the morning I baked a Bara Brith and sewed in the last ends of wool in the throw before wrapping it up. Then in the afternoon I went back to Aber for a last carol singing session this time outside the bandstand. Despite the grey weather quite a few people were around walking along the sand strewn promenade. We were also joined by some musicians who play music for twmpath, the Welsh version of a ceilidh. We would sing a few carols, they would play some tunes and then we'd sing again. Although there were about twenty of us singing there were only three of us singing the tenor parts. We didn't mind too much as at last we could sing at full volume rather than having to hold back a bit so as not to drown out the sopranos. We sang for an hour and hopefully raised some funds for the medical charity. While we were singing the flocks of starlings made their way to the pier and did their murmuration thing. Later I tried and failed to take a photo on my phone but here is a decent video that I found.
This shop - Polly's, which sells quirky clothes, always has the most lovely window displays.
After singing I walked back through the town calling in at Tesco's to pick up the last few things we need for Christmas. I'm still on track with my schedule, more or less. Why is it that I could always do with one more day? I guess that I try and fit too much in and I'll probably never change.


Friday 22 December 2023

Winter Solstice.

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year when our ancestors celebrated the gradual return of the sun. Even living as we do with all the modern conveniences I feel a lightening of the heart knowing that each day brings a little more light. How much more important when the only light source would have been a camp fire and fat burning lamps. No wonder that the early Christians decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus at this time too. 
Vytas and Sally (from whom I've borrowed these photos) were able to go to Stonehenge this morning to watch the sunrise from within the circle. The Solstice is one of the few times in the year that it is possible to get close to the stones and entry is free too though not parking. You can read more here.
Here on the coast of Wales there were few signs of the sun apart from one longer spell mid-morning. I managed about five minutes sitting outside steadying my mug of tea against the strong gusts blowing from the sea before the rain began and forced me to sit in the doorway.
It felt quite chilly at the stables so I kept my light top on over my polo shirt for the lesson and then wished I had taken it off as I usually do as I had to work hard in the lesson. This was because I was riding Seren. (Star). She's a lovely horse with a good nature but she is often ridden by people just learning to ride and isn't used to being asked to be 'on the bit'. The rider's aids for this are more use of the legs to create energy in the horse and working the reins gently in a half-halt to encourage the horse to lower its nose and round its head. For Seren any pressure on the reins means her rider wants her to slow down and squeezing with the legs means 'go faster' which would be the case with a rider in the early stages of learning to ride. Having both happening at the same time must have been quite confusing for Seren. However I was able to make some improvement in the way she was going and I'm sure all that extra work was good for my legs too.
After riding I did my usual run around the shops which were chocablock with people getting all their Christmas food shopping done. On my search for a bin for the bathroom in Matalan I couldn't help checking out the 70% off shelves and ended up buying this gnome and stocking for Peter simply because they made me smile.
Once home I boxed up truffles and biscuits for gifts. I'm with the Japanese in the thought that a gift beautifully wrapped/presented gives so much more pleasure. I have a stock of lovely wrapping paper, tags, ribbons etc all bought in the sales and enjoy making each present look as nice as possible. I haven't yet got around to some of the more origami style ways of wrapping but maybe one day.
Later I managed to find time to begin sewing the crochet squares together. All that's left to do now is to sew the strips of squares and then it will be done. At last.

Thursday 21 December 2023


Wild and stormy today but not too cold.
I finished the last square for the throw this morning ...... or so I thought. When I laid the squares out ready to sew together in the afternoon I noticed that one square didn't quite match. Although laying nice and flat, cracked that puzzle now, I had inadvertently added an extra row half way through not only making the overall square bigger than the others but the difference in the pattern was also quite noticeable. So I spent the afternoon redoing the bulk of that square. Only four rows around and it will be done. I'm glad I did it as it already looks so much better.
We had our last Zoom class of the term and not surprisingly we spent a lot of time talking about Christmas (in Welsh of course.) It was quite challenging finding the vocabulary to explain that because of our heritage the most important meal is on Christmas Eve and doesn't contain any meat. Lots of switching between past and future tense needed for that. The first class after Christmas will be even more complicated as I can see from a sheet we've already downloaded that we will be talking about 'Christmas when I was a child'. I have almost no memories of Christmas when I was a child apart from the Christmas Eve meal and going to Midnight Mass. We didn't have a television nor did we ever have a tree. At least I made up for the tree when I was married and living in our own home.
Off now to finish those last rows of crochet.

Wednesday 20 December 2023


Rain at times today but always grey and very windy. Another storm is heading this way from the north.
More crocheting today and yay! I'm on the last square. There were times when I wondered if I'd have it done in time for Christmas especially as I've been trying to keep up with as much of my routine as possible. Late at night sitting up in bed has been a good time to work and during the day I alternate between sitting at the kitchen table watching the sea and tucked away in my cosy study with a podcast or Radio 4. As I sat in the kitchen I could here the familiar thumping of a recycling box blowing down the road. I'd already rescued our box once and tucked it in behind the street wall. Sure enough when I looked our box was still in place but somebody's box had blown down the road and was heading for the edge of the cliff. I retrieved the box but couldn't see where it had come from (it's bin day today). I've left it on the pavement with a stone inside to stop it blowing away again but so far nobody has claimed it.

The postman brought more cards today including this lovely card painted by my talented cousin. 

Tuesday 19 December 2023


Once again the day began with a lot of rain then halfway through the morning there was a hint of blue followed by a lovely sunny afternoon.
Driving to the care home the sun was almost blinding at times, literally that is. The low sun combined with driving up steep hills meant that a couple of times I had to slow to a crawl as even with dark sunglasses and the sun visor down I just couldn't see the road ahead. The roads themselves were still very wet and all the recent heavy rain has caused a lot of damage to the road surface while water pouring off the fields has gouged out ditches along the side of the road. Small ditches but deep enough to cause damage or trap you should you drive over the edge of the road. This afternoon we sang carols at the same care home we were at yesterday. There were some new faces amongst the audience and it looked like more people joined in with the singing today.
Driving home the sun had spread a golden glow over the countryside but of course once home I was back in the shade.
The mirror frame is finally on. The side pieces went on in the morning and I stuck the top piece on when I got home from singing. I still need to run a line of white sealant to close the gap between the wood and the glass, a job I am not looking forward to. I don't mind the fact that the mirrors are not perfect. The age marks are a reminder that they have been in the house much longer than we have. The rest of my day has been spent on boring housework; washing floors and ironing with a bit of crochet in between.


Monday 18 December 2023


Grey and very wet today.
I was back out again singing carols this morning. Today we were at a care home for dementia patients on the edge of Aber. Not counting the care home staff the audience equalled the choir (25) and from what we could see they enjoyed carols and of course Calon Lan. I think the care home also does respite care as we are singing there again tomorrow afternoon.
On the way back I drove to the village Post Office and sent off two parcels. That's one deadline reached and so far I'm still on schedule. I had to smile at this poem by Brian Bilston. I can really empathise with it.

On and off I've been painting the wood pieces for the bathroom mirror frame and this afternoon Peter helped hold the bottom section in place while the impact adhesive stuck the wood to the glass. I'm taking my time and will wait until the first piece is secure before sticking the rest on.
For the rest of the time I have been crocheting though I did also decant the sloe gin and made fancy labels. There was some left over for us so we both had a tiny sip, very tasty and pretty strong.

Sunday 17 December 2023

Parcel Packing.

Grey, windy and some light rain today.
I slept in this morning as I'd stayed up late last night, crocheting. Even if I didn't have the crocheting to do I wouldn't have been able to get to sleep as Peter has a cold and his snoring is even worse than usual. I like listening to The World Service on the radio apart from one thing and that is the news. It isn't the news that's the problem but the fact that it's the same tape every time. Oh well. at least it's something to listen to though I don't get on very well with ear phones. (Just spent five minutes trying to find out the correct word, earphones/ headphones/ ear buds? Those little things that plug into the radio and stick the other end your ear. I'm amazed I don't know the correct term.) I just can't get them to stay in even with the smallest of the soft bits that go over the little tube. I've tried headphones like ear defenders but they're not comfortable to sleep in.
The job I had scheduled for today was packing up some parcels to post tomorrow. My collection of suitably sized boxes is up in the loft and as it's damp up there it's not worth bringing anything down. Luckily I was able to find a couple of boxes stashed away and then the fun began. With the different edible goodies carefully packed and gift wrapped I packed them into the larger boxes which I knew were the correct size for posting as 'small parcels'. I secured them with lots of packing tape and then checked the weights. Shock horror, the larger parcel was 80gms over. I had to unpack the box and contents and reduce the number of items to get it all to the correct weight. At least now it's all done, addressed and sitting ready to take to the Post Office tomorrow.
In the middle of all this I went out carol singing with the choir again. This time it was in a local care home and we outnumbered our audience by about four to one. This was because a lot of the current  residents are bedbound. However the staff did open the bedroom doors so hopefully our lovely singing floated down the corridor to provide some Christmas cheer.  Even though there were only a few people in the lounge we could see them joining in with the carols especially Calon Lan. If we managed to cheer those few people up then it was still worth it.

Saturday 16 December 2023

Chocolate Day.

Grey and wet for most of the day with the occasional patch of blue sky and a single muted section of a rainbow.
I like Saturdays. My Fridays are so busy with riding, shopping and dropping into town itself that a whole day to get on with home projects feels like a real change.
Today has mainly been about chocolate though I also baked two Bara  Brith and iced the lemon biscuits. On the chocolate side I dipped all the truffles in chocolate, then decorated them, made some marzipan chocolates, drizzled chocolate over biscuits and dipped others into chocolate (all very indulgent). Even the last of the chocolate was poured onto a sheet and topped with cake sprinkles and tiny cubes of marzipan. Can you tell I like marzipan? I decided not to show any photos of these treats as it is possible that some of the recipients read this blog and although they may have an idea about what I've been making I like to keep some element of surprise. 
I don't think Speedy enjoyed today. In the afternoon he wandered into the kitchen having woken up from his daytime sleep and was promptly put outside as the table was covered with trays of biscuits. He then sat with his face up against the glass door and in the end I felt so guilty I gave him an early dinner outside. I let him back in when I took a short break and he sat purring on my lap while I watched horse videos. But as soon as I resumed work, this time with white chocolate out he was shoved again. It wasn't until everything was put safely away that I let him back in and he's now sleeping in his cosy nest once more.
It's the finals of Strictly tonight so we've brought forward our weekly evening eating finger food in front of the telly to tonight as no doubt the winner will be announced on the news. Such an important news item I'm sure. We forget who the winner is quite quickly (and don't really care) but it's fun to be caught up in the hype just for the evening.