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 March 2024

A Walk in the Afon Cyneiniog Valley.

Happy Easter to all those who are celebrating this day.

Dry and not too cold here at the coast but with an icy wind in the mountains.
Today's walk was in the Afon Cyneiniog valley in the Cambrian Mountains that lie inland from here. The original meeting point was in Tal-Y-Bont from where we drove in convoy back into the hills. As I had two human passengers and a dog with me I had the fun (not) experience of driving along a track full of rain filled pot-holes.
Our walk began in front of the ruins of the Bwlch Glas mine. A lead and zinc mine that dates back to the 1800s. To me it looked like more the set for a dystopian post-apocalyptic film.

From there we crossed the valley wandering along farm tracks until we reached this abandoned farm.
While I stayed outside to photograph the scenery most of the group ventured inside the derelict building to have a look around. That could have been a disaster when one of the group leaned against a wooden post that appeared to be supporting the upper floor only to have it come away from the ceiling. Of course he moved it back into place quickly but they were very lucky that nothing collapsed.
We ate our lunch outside perched on a low stone wall or at least the remains of one.
From the farm we came to a shoulder in the hill and down into a valley with the usual fast flowing stream with picturesque waterfalls. At that point things got a bit confused when footpaths marked on the paper Ordnance Survey map and the OS phone app didn't match the footpaths (or lack of) that we could find. We were at the bottom far left of the green field below and as there was no sign of a path through the woods beyond we had to follow the fence line between the wood and the field climbing up the very steep hill to the corner of the field and then over to the right to the white sheep pens. There we came across a footpath marker that took us (to the left again) along a track through the woods. Eventually the path went through a field but as there were cows in the middle of the field and we had a dog with us we diverged from the footpath and took a (non right-of-way) track down to a ford across the river.
(Below) The rest of the group climbing up the steep hill.
This ford hadn't been in the original route because the water was knee high after all the recent rain but nobody wanted to find the way further down river to the easier crossing. Instead we took off our boots and waded across. The water was cold but bearable, worse was walking barefoot over the rough track to find a spot to dry our feet before putting our boots back on. One sensible member of our group had a small microfibre towel in her her pack and I found yet another use for the multi-way neck tube that I had put on at the last minute before leaving home.
From there we swung back towards the mine passing a small cottage with cheery yellow paintwork that had some chairs and a barbecue inside but broken windows upstairs. Maybe somebody's renovation project? We come across so many of these derelict or semi-derelict houses on our walks but who would want to live in these remote places? Not only cold and wet but you wouldn't be able to grow food in the poor ground for any sort of self sufficient lifestyle.

Saturday 30 March 2024


The day began with not a single cloud in the sky which was wonderful. The clouds soon began to blow in and then halfway through the afternoon it all turned grey and we had rain, followed by a rainbow.

Before I began shifting gravel I marked out the line of the path with some old spray paint. Then, using the right tools; sturdy trowel, coal shovel and old bucket plus my campervan step to stand on, it wasn't too hard to empty the rest of the first dumpy bag of gravel. Four scoops with the shovel filled a third of the bucket which is the amount that I am able to carry. I could carry more but not for several hours at a time. I calculate that I will need to empty at least 10 bags of gravel/stones by which time my arms will be truly toned. There was no point in starting on the next bag of gravel as delivery is only once a week (Mondays). Two bags a weeks sounds do-able. 
Afterwards I did some weeding, so satisfying when there are only a few weeds around and scooped out more blanket weed from the pond. I think I've got the bulk of it out so maybe I should buy more snails to keep it under control. 
I left the photo of the gravel for the end of this post because despite the excitement of knowing that progress is being made, right now the gravel (20ml to dust) looks like a car park. I'm having to use my imagination to the full to see past the barren waste especially when the birds land looking for food.


Friday 29 March 2024


It's been a day of sunshine and showers, and a few rainbows. Warm enough in the sun to be working outside with bare arms. 
In between showers I've been working in the garden. (No surprise there.) I began by stomping my way across the whole of the dug over area followed by raking to level off the lumps and bumps and a second bout of stomping. If anyone had been watching I'm sure I would have looked most odd as I shuffled my way round and round until every inch of soil had been compressed.
The robin and the blackbirds were there again but apart from a few worms turned up by the rake they were out of luck. The robin did his best tweeting sweetly at me from the wall of the raised bed but worm time is over.
Mrs Blackbird giving me a disappointed look.
It's not possible to tell from the photos but the ground does slope away gently towards the bottom of the garden. I had fun marking out the path by drawing lines in the soil but though I tried swinging it over more I ended up with it being more or less the same as before.  Now comes the heavy work of covering everything with the gravel which being wet is very heavy. I began by going over the path line to see the reality of the plan that has been in my head for so long. Rain then stopped play and I'm going to have to pace myself anyway. I foresee a good workout for my arms emptying bag after bag of gravel and later stones.
Another faint rainbow.


Thursday 28 March 2024


It's been a very cold day with wintry showers.
I was up early again this morning and was greeted by the sight of even more white on the mountain tops. Not only Snowdonia to the north but the Cambrian mountains to the west. Even some of the fields and roadside verges by Aberystwyth were dusted with white. As can be seen from the photo below  it's not actually snow but hail that has formed into a covering of ice but in my mind if the mountains have white peaks then that's snow.
The photo above comes from FB. It was taken at 7.00 this morning on the main A road(near the Elvis rock) that leads down to Aber the same time as I took the top photo.
I decided to go shopping this morning because much as I prefer to combine shopping with other things rather than making a separate journey we needed to get some stuff from the supermarket. When I left home it was bright and sunny, sunglasses essential but somewhere along the line the weather deteriorated. The sky turned grey and there were some nasty showers. 
It wasn't looking a lot better when I got home but I was determined to get out in the garden to finish the digging. I stayed out through a number of showers and the digging is now done. Hooray. The robin came down for worms to feed the chubby youngster who perched cheeping in the hedge and the blackbirds, who are not as brave made lightning raids to grab the bigger worms. From now on they are going to have to find their own food.

The last heavy shower gave us a lovely rainbow arching over my neighbour's house. They are down for Easter with all five of the grandchildren (I met them shopping in town.) I hope the weather improves for them and all the other holidaymakers down for some seaside air.


Wednesday 27 March 2024

Snow Again!

I got up early again today and so was able to watch the dark clouds blowing in from the west over a flat sea and drink my tea before the first drops of rain sent me back indoors. The day has been one of warm sun, chilly showers and a low rainbow in the morning.
While I was still sitting outside my thoughts turned to how there hasn't been any ordnance needing to be blown up in the last few years only to discover from the local FB page that a mortar of some sort had been found on the beach on Monday and blown up yesterday afternoon. Peter knew all about it as he had been doing his stint in the RNLI shop yesterday morning and the coastguards share the same building.
Most of my day has been spent outside, digging. Although I worked through a few short showers it was a good thing I came in for a break when I did as that's when we had some serious rain. A shame I left my boots outside the back door and had to put on some thick socks to soak up the damp when I went back out again. 
It was at that point that I saw snow on the mountains which was a bit of a surprise. An hour later it had all gone, melted by the sun and then washed away by the next shower.
I made good progress with the digging today despite the interruptions. Just another hour or so and the digging will be finished but that will have to be on another day.


Tuesday 26 March 2024

Zoo Day.

Today has been mostly cloudy with a little sun in the afternoon.
Even though my back was twinging a bit from yesterday I went down to the zoo to do some weeding. That way I've got the whole of the rest of the week for gardening. There were many more families at the zoo as we head towards the Easter holidays. Spending most of my time in my quiet little world I had forgotten just how loud some youngsters can be. I did a general tidy up of all my little areas. Nothing was too bad but it's good to get rid of any weeds before everything starts to grow like mad.
Keith the kookaburra's aviary was refurbished over the winter and is now home to fan tail pigeons and quail. (Keith was classed as an exotic animal and had to be rehomed.)
We've had the ducks for a while but I still find the bright green of the Cayuga ducks unreal. 
Mr Pea was showing off his tail feathers but the pea hens were not interested at all.
Back home I took my painkillers earlier than usual and had a restful afternoon. I'll be off to Pilates soon where I can unwind my poor muscles ready for gardening tomorrow.


Monday 25 March 2024

Buildings of Trawscoed.

Chilly and a bit showery today.
It has been a good day, not as exceptionally good as last Friday but not bad. There were two deliveries in the morning, first the bags of gravel and a couple of paving slabs came and now the delivery man knows where to put them he won't need us to be in for future deliveries. Then the last glass panel for the balustrade arrived. The builder has been informed and it shouldn't be too long before we have the complete balustrade. I'm still not thrilled with the hand rail but the storms when we get them can be pretty fierce and the advice was that the hand rail was needed for extra stability. Then I had a pleasant walk along the beach to collect my prescription from the pharmacy.
And then came the big event of the day, going out for a two and a half hour hack up and down the hills above the Vale of Rheidol. It was enjoyable enough and it was great to ride through varied countryside and see all the lambs in the fields but I think on the whole I prefer having lessons. My aching knee and back (too much trotting on the roads) agree. ( I had put my name down for a four hour ride next week but have decided to stick with my usual lesson instead.) I rode Cadno who had a tendency to lag behind even though he had the longest legs of all the eight horses and ponies out on the ride. The best bit was a long canter up on a narrow forest track. I was at the back and Cadno's canter was so steady it got me singing 'Stately as a Galleon.' Then as we cantered through the trees I got whipped across my cheekbones by a conifer branch even though I was crouching down along Cadno's neck. It stung so much I was convinced I had blood running down my face but it was only rain. Yes, it rained quite a bit, on and off. We crossed back and forth across the railway line that runs up the Vale of Rheidol to Devil's Bridge. Today was only the second day of the tourist season and it was fun when we stopped soon after we set out and turned the horses towards the line as the steam train approached and waved to the tourists most of whom were waving to us. We did the same again as we were nearing the end of the hack. Afterwards I brushed Cadno off a bit and after a few false starts got his very heavy rug on him before taking him out to the field.

More from Sunday's Walk.

Walking past Trawscoed (also spelt Trawsgoed as C mutates to G.) or the English version Crosswood Mansion led me to looking for more information about the estate. The first thing I found was this listing, now expired but you can still access the photos by clicking on the '65 photos' tab. I couldn't find a date but the whole mansion and 10 acres of land were on sale for £750k. That seems a low price but looking at the photos you can see that there was a lot of work needing to be done to renovate the property and being Grade 11 listed that would be very expensive. The grand rooms looked like they would be spectacular when restored to their former glory. I then found this listing where the central block had been renovated and was on the market for £765k.
As I guessed our walk took us through what was the landscaped parkland belonging to the estate. In the Middle Ages the Vaughans were minor officials and Crown agents accumulating land and wealth. (It's a particular bugbear of mine to think that the same few families have been in power over the people of the UK for the last 1,000 years. No wonder they think they are entitled with generations believing that it was a God given privilege rather than simply having ancestors who were good at fighting and scheming.) The estate and vast parkland and farms expanded dramatically in 1630 and the house was rebuilt by 1756. More historical details can be read here on the Ceredigion Historical Society site.

We were intrigued by this grassy mound topped with an entrance hatch and ventilation shafts. Our first thoughts were a water or slurry tank. Peter's suggestion is some sort of air raid shelter though it is a long way from the house, good if the house is being targeted but not so good if you have to get there quickly.  Having read that the mansion and lands were sold to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in 1947 (so after the war) to be used as offices and by The Institute for Grassland and Environmental Research I'm wondering if it was something to do with the research.
We passed through a number of farms with more traditional buildings on our walk.
This sturdy shelter was at the well appointed football pitch where we had our lunch. The orange things inside were nets for the goal posts. We sat at a couple of picnic tables with a barbecue of the oil drum variety just by the hedge.


Sunday 24 March 2024

A Walk in the Ystwyth Valley.

After last night's gale this morning it was at least dry though there was a cold wind blowing from the north-west. We all made sure to be wrapped up warmly on our walk only to discover that with the sun shining and in the shelter of the trees it was in fact rather warm for most of our walk.
Today's route took us along the River Ystwyth and along the lush valley through what was once the estate of Trawscoed Mansion (more info to follow).
As we walked through the woodland  we kept getting glimpses of the river. It was easy to see why the local kayaking club use this part of the river for white water training though other parts looked tranquil and perfect for a spot of paddling in warmer weather.
Unlike last week there was not too much mud to contend with even when we crossed small streams making their way towards the river.
Eventually we crossed the river across the metal Llanilar suspension bridge which was great fun. I was the last person crossing and it was hard to resist bouncing up and down to make the bridge swing and sway but resist I did as there were some members of our group whom I don't think would have appreciated that.

Once over the bridge we began heading back on the other side of the valley stopping for lunch at a well appointed football field in Llanilar. 

From there we walked along stony farm tracks, no mud! past undulating fields with dramatic single oak trees no doubt planted by a past owner of the Trawscoed estate.
In the distance we could see the grand Trawscoed Mansion which was the former seat of the Earls of Lisburne whose family the Vaughans had owned the estate since the 1200's. (More info to follow).

Eventually reaching an avenue of magnificent trees (poplars?) and back to the road which soon led us to the car park in the woods where our cars were parked.
At the end of the avenue smoke was rising from the chimney of the former lodge house.
More photos to come in the week.