Archive | June, 2013

Water To Whisky

24 Jun Work is definitely overrated!  But, to be fair, on Monday the weather was beautiful and the scenery magnificent.  It would have required more talent than I possess to take bad photos.  This was taken just down the road from the ferry ramp on Jura looking towards Port Askaig on Islay.

Many people had told us to expect wet and windy weather on Islay but we enjoyed great conditions; some overcast days but nothing that interrupted our plans at all.

We had decided to go to Jura on Monday and that turned out to be an inspired choice.  As you will see from the photos below, the weather was superb.  Not 35˚C like the south of France, but very pleasant all the same.  The crossing only takes ten minutes and then we were part of a procession of traffic towards Craighouse where the Jura Distillery is located.   Got to the distillery at 11h45 and booked for the 12h30 tour.  In the meantime we sat outside in the sun while I had two drams – one for me and one for my driver, Leanne.   Nearby an older guy in overalls, gumboots, leather gloves, etc. was doing the gardening.  We got chatting and he told us that he played banjo and mandolin in a traditional music band on Sundays and Wednesdays starting at 20h30 at the Port Charlotte Hotel.  So we put that in the calendar.  Had another dram after the tour then Leanne drove us up the coast further to Lagg where we turned back to head for the ferry.  We got to Bruichladdich in time to have some samples before heading home to Portnahaven.

The main event for me on Tuesday was the Laphroaig ‘Water To Whisky’ tour which I had booked last week.  Before that I took in another distillery tour at Ardbeg that started at 10h30 and was meant to take 90 minutes.  Leanne dragged me out of the tasting room at 12h20 to get me to Laphroaig!  The Laphroaig tour was four hours and started with a trip to the water source where we had a very nice picnic lunch, accompanied by a dram of course, the Cask Strength.  From there to the peat cutting where we tried cutting some peat. Easier than I thought it would be.  Another dram, Quarter Cask this time.  Then back to the distillery for a full tour.  Interestingly, there was no restriction mentioned regarding photography in the still room or the filling room as there had been elsewhere.  The tour ended in the old warehouse where we sampled three barrels then selected one of them for our own 250ml bottle.  One of the guys, an American PhD student named Albert, and I then enjoyed the whisky remaining in the sampling beakers.  So total Laphroaig drams must have been about seven. Total for the day so far – twelve.  As we left we helped Albert jump start his car, he had left the park lights on all day.

Just got back to the Lochindaal Hotel at Port Charlotte in time to meet Chris & Sue for dinner at 19h00. Had a fun time chatting, good food and beer.  Had another couple of drams back at the B&B then called it a day.

Now you might be thinking that I would be stumbling about with a hangover on Wednesday morning, but you would be wrong!  I felt just fine.  I had consumed much more alcohol than I would ever normally have in a day but it was over almost twelve hours and on three good meals.  Anyway, I was quite relieved to be in good shape and ready to continue the relentless pursuit of Islay distilleries.  So we headed off around the western side of Islay to Kilchoman Distillery, a newcomer on the island having started about ten years ago.   Next stop Bowmore for a sample of their 18 year-old and buy another glass.  We had a quick look in the Round Church while we were there.  After that we headed back to Caol Ila mainly to buy a glass that I had not thought to do on Saturday.  Of course I had to have a couple of drams as well, my one and one for Leanne since she was driving!  

While we were having dinner at the pub back at Portnahaven Chris and Sue arrived.  Had a short chat before it was time for us to head off to the traditional music evening at the Port Charlotte Hotel.  We got there and the place was packed but we managed to wedge ourselves in. We saw another couple who had been on the Laphroaig tour but then we saw not only the gardener from Jura in the band but the lounge manager from Laphroaig was there too playing piano-accordion.  The music was excellent including a solo vocal by the pub owner in Gaelic – quite moving.  Also ended up chatting to a Kiwi girl from Coatesville and an Australian guy from Queensland.  After an hour or so it was just too hot so we went outside for some fresh air.  There were two benches free right by the door so we sat down.  Soon after we found out why they were free – midges!  So that didn’t last long before we went home to bed.

Thursday was time to catch the ferry back to the mainland.  We got up early and packed the rest of our stuff in the car before our 07h30 breakfast.  We left Orsay House, the B&B,  just after 08h00 and had a good run to the Port Ellen ferry terminal arriving before 09h00.  There had been a bit of rain in the night and we got some spots while driving, other than that it was just grey and overcast.  We bumped into Jeff from Queensland at the ferry reception as well as a couple from Orsay House on Monday night when we got on board.  Ended up talking all the way across.  It was smooth enough on the water.  Got off at Kennacraig at 11h50 and joined the procession of cars and trucks travelling towards Glasgow.  We got to Inveraray in about an hour and stopped at Inveraray Castle, home to the Dukes of Argyll, for a coffee at their café.  Left again about 13h45 and had a clear run through to our accommodation near Glasgow at 15h40.

It was wet and cold on Friday morning but we left the hotel and headed for the coast to Ayr regardless.  By the time we got there the rain had stopped.  We continued down the Ayrshire coast to Culzean Castle and the weather kept improving.  The castle was a beauty but no photos allowed inside.  From there we went to Linwood, the location of our housesit for the next two weeks.  We arrived at 17h00 and met Tracey, who had done all the organising, and her parents, Robert and Heather.  We had dinner and started getting to know the dogs and what needed to be done for the ducks, hens, fish and Charlie the parrot.

We spent Saturday close to the house and Robert and Heather took us for a drive to help us get oriented.  They left for the airport at 07h45 on Sunday in grey weather.  We only went out to get groceries and I spent the majority of the day sorting out photos and writing last week’s blog.

Highland Cattle are a Scottish breed of cattle with long horns and long wavy coats which are coloured black, brindled, red, yellow or dun.  The breed was developed in the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland.  Highlands are known as a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands, with high rainfall and very strong winds.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_cattle

Highland Cattle are a Scottish breed of cattle with long horns and long wavy coats which are coloured black, brindled, red, yellow or dun. The breed was developed in the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. Highlands are known as a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands, with high rainfall and very strong winds. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_cattle

Even the Royal Mail gets to Jura on the ferry.

Even the Royal Mail gets to Jura on the ferry.

The Paps of Jura across the meadow.  The weather was excellent so we drove up past Craighouse, where the Jura Distillery is located, towards the remote end where George Orwell stayed and wrote.

The Paps of Jura across the meadow. The weather was excellent so we drove up past Craighouse, where the Jura Distillery is located, towards the remote end where George Orwell stayed and wrote.

Only just past Lagg we decided to turn back so we could get the 15h15 ferry back to Islay and visit another distillery.  In this photo - if the telephone doesn't work you can always send a letter!

Only just past Lagg we decided to turn back so we could get the 15h15 ferry back to Islay and visit another distillery. In this photo – if the telephone doesn’t work you can always send a letter!

These signs are common in rural Scotland.  As a lapsed mountain biker they always make me smile.

These signs are common in rural Scotland. As a lapsed mountain biker they always make me smile.

This was taken out the car window as we drove out of Craighouse at 14h30.  Apparently there are ten times more deer than people on Jura these days.

This was taken out the car window as we drove out of Craighouse at 14h30. Apparently there are ten times more deer than people on Jura these days.

Work is definitely overrated!  But, to be fair, on Monday the weather was beautiful and the scenery magnificent.  It would have required more talent than I possess to take bad photos.  This was taken just down the road from the ferry ramp on Jura looking towards Port Askaig on Islay.

Work is definitely overrated! But, to be fair, on Monday the weather was beautiful and the scenery magnificent. It would have required more talent than I possess to take bad photos. This was taken just down the road from the ferry ramp on Jura looking towards Port Askaig on Islay.

At low tide the sheep and the cattle browse the flats.  There are a mix of sheep and cattle roaming the roads along the coast and we are told that the farmers are paid to graze this area and keep it tidy.  Works for me!

At low tide the sheep and the cattle browse the flats. There are a mix of sheep and cattle roaming the roads along the coast and we are told that the farmers are paid to graze this area and keep it tidy. Works for me!

A similar shot but with Bowmore town and distillery in the background.

A similar shot but with Bowmore town and distillery in the background.

A calm evening at Portnahaven looking out to the lighthouse on Orsay Island.

A calm evening at Portnahaven looking out to the lighthouse on Orsay Island.

This is the oldest house in PortnaHaven.

This is the oldest house in PortnaHaven.

As it was explained to me, families built next to each other as children grew up and got married.  Many of these houses have been in the same family for generations, being passed down rather than ever going on the open market.

As it was explained to me, families built next to each other as children grew up and got married. Many of these houses have been in the same family for generations, being passed down rather than ever going on the open market.

The Laphroaig water source.  This reservoir is fed from a loch in the hills behind.  The water is very brown from the peat it had flowed through.

The Laphroaig water source. This reservoir is fed from a loch in the hills behind. The water is very brown from the peat it had flowed through.

Our picnic lunch up near the distillery water source.

Our picnic lunch up near the distillery water source.

Laphroaig still cut all their own peat by hand and use the latest technology to transport it to the distillery.

Laphroaig still cut all their own peat by hand and use the latest technology to transport it to the distillery.

This is the peat bank that amateurs like me get to try cutting.  Hence it is not straight like the 'real' ones!

This is the peat bank that amateurs like me get to try cutting. Hence it is not straight like the ‘real’ ones!

Work done, time for a dram!  And yes, it was a bit bright without my glasses.

Work done, time for a dram! And yes, it was a bit bright without my glasses.

Jenny was our guide and Doug (get it?) has been working here cutting peat since he was 15 years-old.  Note the pile of dry peat behind them waiting to be carted to the distillery.

Jenny was our guide and Doug (get it?) has been working here cutting peat since he was 15 years-old. Note the pile of dry peat behind them waiting to be carted to the distillery.

The malting floor where the barley is spread out to start its germination.

The malting floor where the barley is spread out to start its germination.

Barley sprouts.

Barley sprouts.

After germinating a percentage of the barley goes into the smoke room to gather that distinctive peat smoke flavour.

After germinating a percentage of the barley goes into the smoke room to gather that distinctive peat smoke flavour.

And this is the source of that smoke down below the smoke room.  The peat is not too dry so it produces copious smoke without much heat.

And this is the source of that smoke down below the smoke room. The peat is not too dry so it produces copious smoke without much heat.

All Single Malt Scotch is double distilled.  Here are the Laphroaig stills - three wash stills at the far end that produce low wines at about 25% ABV and three (of four) spirit stills that produce about 72% ABV.

All Single Malt Scotch is double distilled. Here are the Laphroaig stills – three wash stills at the far end that produce low wines at about 25% ABV and three (of four) spirit stills that produce about 72% ABV.

The spirit safe is kept under lock and key by HM Customs and Excise.  As the alcohol content varies during distillation the operator can turn the nozzle from left to right thereby directing the spirit to different secure storage vats.

The spirit safe is kept under lock and key by HM Customs and Excise. As the alcohol content varies during distillation the operator can turn the nozzle from left to right thereby directing the spirit to different secure storage vats.

This is the old Number 1 warehouse, the one with the big Laphroaig sign on the front.  Only the distillery manager knows exactly what is in here.

This is the old Number 1 warehouse, the one with the big Laphroaig sign on the front. Only the distillery manager knows exactly what is in here.

At the end of our tour we got to sample from these three casks.

At the end of our tour we got to sample from these three casks.

Extracting our sample.

Extracting our sample.

After the tour Leanne and I set off with GPS in hand to locate my one square foot of land.  As a member of the 'Friends of Laphroaig' I was allocated this land several years ago and they pay me rent on it of one dram per year.  The only catch is that I have to visit the distillery to collect it.

After the tour Leanne and I set off with GPS in hand to locate my one square foot of land. As a member of the ‘Friends of Laphroaig’ I was allocated this land several years ago and they pay me rent on it of one dram per year. The only catch is that I have to visit the distillery to collect it.

Relaxing on my estate… and overlapping onto several of my neighbours!

Relaxing on my estate… and overlapping onto several of my neighbours!

Typical scenery around the western side of Islay.

Typical scenery around the western side of Islay.

Looks great on a fine day but I'll bet it is rough here in the winter storms.

Looks great on a fine day but I’ll bet it is rough here in the winter storms.

The Kilchoman Military Cemetery which is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Most of the graves resulted from a ship sinking just off the coast near here.  The CWGC site says, "This cemetery was made for the burial of the dead from H.M.S. Otranto, sunk on the 6th October, 1918, after a collision".

The Kilchoman Military Cemetery which is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Most of the graves resulted from a ship sinking just off the coast near here. The CWGC site says, “This cemetery was made for the burial of the dead from H.M.S. Otranto, sunk on the 6th October, 1918, after a collision”.

More landscape on the western side with the Paps of Jura in the distance.

More landscape on the western side with the Paps of Jura in the distance.

Standing at the Round Church in Bowmore looking down the High Street.

Standing at the Round Church in Bowmore looking down the High Street.

The traditional music band at the Port Charlotte Hotel.  Our friend from Jura in the back right corner and Dave from Laphroaig on the right.

The traditional music band at the Port Charlotte Hotel. Our friend from Jura in the back right corner and Dave from Laphroaig on the right.

Inveraray Castle was used for filming parts of Downton Abbey.

Inveraray Castle was used for filming parts of Downton Abbey.

The main entrance to the castle.

The main entrance to the castle.

From the castle looking towards Loch Fyne and the bridge on the main road in to town.

From the castle looking towards Loch Fyne and the bridge on the main road in to town.

The ambient temperature must have been 14˚C and quite windy but this was one of two groups of intermediate school aged children going for a swim.  Perhaps it was customary to do so on the longest day because I was not able to come up with any other reason to go swimming on a day like this except that it was the 21st of June.  And even that was no where near a good enough reason for me to try it.

The ambient temperature must have been 14˚C and quite windy but this was one of two groups of intermediate school aged children going for a swim. Perhaps it was customary to do so on the longest day because I was not able to come up with any other reason to go swimming on a day like this except that it was the 21st of June. And even that was no where near a good enough reason for me to try it.

Culzean Castle was constructed as an L-plan castle by order of the 10th Earl of Cassilis. He instructed the architect Robert Adam to rebuild a previous, but more basic, structure into a fine country house to be the seat of his earldom. The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792. It incorporates a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside (which overlooks the sea), a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culzean_Castle#Film_and_television_appearances

Culzean Castle was constructed as an L-plan castle by order of the 10th Earl of Cassilis. He instructed the architect Robert Adam to rebuild a previous, but more basic, structure into a fine country house to be the seat of his earldom. The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792. It incorporates a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside (which overlooks the sea), a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culzean_Castle#Film_and_television_appearances

Looking from Culzean Castle up the Ayrshire coast towards Ayr (beyond the point).

Looking from Culzean Castle up the Ayrshire coast towards Ayr (beyond the point).

Here are all the distilleries on Islay and Jura plus some other shots…

Caol Ila Distillery.

Caol Ila Distillery.

Bunnahabhain Distillery.

Bunnahabhain Distillery.

Bowmore Distillery.

Bowmore Distillery.

Jura Distillery.

Jura Distillery.

Lagavulin Distillery.

Lagavulin Distillery.

Bruichladdich Distillery.

Bruichladdich Distillery.

Ardbeg Distillery.

Ardbeg Distillery.

The mash tuns at Ardbeg are still wooden.

The mash tuns at Ardbeg are still wooden.

Laphroaig Distillery.

Laphroaig Distillery.

Kilchoman Distillery.

Kilchoman Distillery.

At Bruichladdich I sampled three of their malts including Octomore, a 61% ABV, 167ppm peated example. It was actually rather nice, nowhere near as scary as the 167ppm suggested.

At Bruichladdich I sampled three of their malts including Octomore, a 61% ABV, 167ppm peated example. It was actually rather nice, nowhere near as scary as the 167ppm suggested.

The sampling line-up that we enjoyed after the tour.  From L-R; Blasda, The Ultimate Ten, Alligator, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan,

The sampling line-up that we enjoyed after the tour. From L-R; Blasda, The Ultimate Ten, Alligator, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan,

At the end of our 'Water to Whisky Tour' we could chose one of the three casks and bottle our own 250ml bottle which was packed with a glass in a presentation box.

At the end of our ‘Water to Whisky Tour’ we could chose one of the three casks and bottle our own 250ml bottle which was packed with a glass in a presentation box.

Laphroaig Cairdeas is a special edition bottled for the Friends of Laphroaig at the time of the annual Whisky Festival on Islay.  Most of it sold within 6 hours of going online.  I managed to get a bottle delivered to our housesit address near Glasgow.

Laphroaig Cairdeas is a special edition bottled for the Friends of Laphroaig at the time of the annual Whisky Festival on Islay. Most of it sold within 6 hours of going online. I managed to get a bottle delivered to our housesit address near Glasgow.

My haul of glasses purchased at the distilleries.  The shiny thing in the centre is a collapsible metal tumbler I got at Jura instead of a glass.  Looking back I should have got the glass.  The Laphroaig miniature is my land rent dram.

My haul of glasses purchased at the distilleries. The shiny thing in the centre is a collapsible metal tumbler I got at Jura instead of a glass. Looking back I should have got the glass. The Laphroaig miniature is my land rent dram.

Touring With The In-Laws

17 Jun Portnahaven on Islay - the King Street or east side of the bay in the late sun.

What a crammed week!  As usual I will try to provide some context before letting the photos take over.

Our assignment in Wales came to a successful conclusion on Sunday 9th June.  Lisa got back safe and well on Saturday evening as planned and seemed very pleased with how we had done with everything.  Another happy customer!

We got away on Sunday at 09h45 after seeing the geese and the goslings for the last time and having a pat with the dogs.  The weather was windy and cold.  We took the route through Crickhowell and stopped for a medicinal coffee in Abergavenny.  Already taken paracetamol and Voltaren but not feeling any better.  Caught the delicious smells of a roast bap window on the street and had a brunch snack.  Then headed to Tredegar House.  By now we had blue skies and it was nice and warm. Tredegar House is promoted as one of the architectural wonders of Wales and one of the most significant late 17th-century houses in the whole of the British Isles.

Got to our accommodation in Bristol, Malago Guest House, at 16h15.  For the next few days we were going to be touring together with Leanne’s Mum and Dad, G&Z.  Their hotel was only ~2km away so we walked to their place and then into the old city via Queens Park.

On Monday morning, Leanne bought sandwiches at the Tesco Express near the hotel to have for lunch.  We met G&Z at their hotel at 10h00. Got away about 10h25 and went to Bourton-on-the-Water.  Spent an hour there then moved on to Charlecote House.  Had a picnic near the front of the house before going through it in detail.  The gardens were good too.  Got to the pub/accommodation near Stratford-on-Avon at about 17h00 and stayed in for dinner.  I finally remembered to check my FaceBook page for the first time in weeks.  I actually don’t use it anymore.  My blog postings get automatically notified on my FaceBook page but that is all I have it for now. I even deleted most of my content from it a few months ago.  What I found there however were some comments on earlier posts that I had never seen.  Sorry about the delay in acknowledging those.  Going forward please use the comment facility on my blog site for any comments, questions and remarks.  It has the added advantage of keeping the feedback with the relevant post.  Thanks.

Tuesday – left the pub at near 10h00. Weather was windy & cold and looked like rain.  Went into Stratford-on-Avon in G&Z’s car.  Started teaching them how to use the satnav.  Got some fine rain during our two hours walkabout.  Our next stop was Baddesley Clinton. We got there at 13h00 and went directly into the house.  The National Trust staff were great as usual.  This house dates from the 15th century.   After a cup of tea and a biscuit we set the satnav for Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.  Just took a few photos from the outside then headed back to the pub for a beer.

On Wednesday we set off at about 10h00 for Kedleston.  We set G&Z the task to get there by themselves using the satnav and Leanne & I went into Costa in Stratford to get a coffee.  They beat us to Kedleston by 5 minutes and didn’t have any real problems.  Kedleston was amazing.  To quote the NT app… “Take a trip back in time to the 1760s at this spectacular Neo-classical mansion framed by historic parkland.  Designed for lavish entertaining and displaying an extensive collection of paintings, sculpture and original furnishings, Kedleston is a stunning example of the work of architect Robert Adam.  The Curzon family have lived here since the 12th-century and continue to live at the Hall. Lord Curzon’s Eastern Museum is a treasure trove of fascinating objects acquired on his travels in Asia and while Viceroy of India (1899 to 1905).  The Hall was used as a key location for ‘The Duchess’, the recent Hollywood blockbuster.”

From there we went to Batley and walked up and down the street, Grange Road, where Leanne’s grandfather was born according to his birth certificate and even chatted to some locals.  Across the road you can see the old mill buildings.  You could imagine how oppressive it might have been in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Went in to the town as well and had a walk around before getting to the hotel at about 18h00.

Thursday was our last morning with G&Z.  We went to the Dewsbury Town Hall, near Batley, for a quick look.  This is where Leanne’s Grandfather’s birth was probably registered.  We took some photos and then it was time to say farewell.

We went on to Fountains Abbey.  Got there at 12h45, just in time for a 75 minute guided tour starting at 13h00 with Sam.  He was very good as we find with all the NT staff – passionate, knowledgable and engaging.  After the tour we walked around the water garden and back to the water mill.  On the way back we were practically accosted in the middle of the path by Tony.  As he almost rushed towards us he was apologising for the weather!  Then he poured out a number of interesting bits of information about the property.  It was hard to get away from him politely.  He certainly was enjoying his job.  We had a cup of tea before finally getting on the road at 16h45.   The drive to Abington, near Glasgow was uneventful and we arrived at 19h25.

The weather on Friday was overcast, cold and windy with a few spots of rain – not enough to put the wipers on for though.  Left the hotel at 09h00 and went straight to a Tesco near Glasgow to stock up and get diesel.  Left the Glasgow area at 11h00 and had a very nice drive up Loch Lomond stopping many times for photos.  Spent some time at Luss where we found a number of Colquhoun headstones in the church graveyard.  Turns out that this is relevant to Jodi!  Small world.

We got to Tarbert just before 17h00 but there was nobody at the reception of the place we were booked at.  Leanne rang and a French guy arrived ten minutes later apologising and explaining that due to an electrical fire a week ago the hotel was closed.  He had arranged for us to stay at another B&B in town called Dunivaig but was vague on the costs.  So we headed off there to see what the damage was.  Turned out to be the same price, £70 including a full breakfast.  I don’t know why we could not have been informed of all this in advance but as it turned out Dunivaig was probably a much better place.

Saturday morning was all about getting to the ferry on time, which we did without bother.  We meet another pair of travellers at the B&B, Chris & Sue, who were also heading to Islay.  Chatting to them for the entire crossing keep our attention off the rain, wind and waves.  Most of the trip is in sheltered waters so there was very little rocking and rolling.  The crossing is about two hours and by noon we were motoring to the first distillery, Caol Ila, only ten minutes up the road.  The weather had improved out of sight so we sought out another distillery, Bunnahabhain, which unfortunately was only open Monday to Friday.  So we headed off to find our B&B at Portnahaven.   Finally got to Portnahaven at 16h30.  Found that we had been upgraded to an ensuite room with a nice view over the harbour.  Excellent!  Spent some time settling in then went three doors down to the pub for dinner.   After that I went out taking sunset photos till 22h15.

The weather was quite nice on Sunday morning so we went for a walk around the foreshore.  Found lots of different wildflowers along the coast including sea thrift and a small orchid.  We finally left at close to noon and had a couple of photo stops on the way to Lagavulin.  Did the tour for free because of the ‘passport’ we got yesterday at Caol Ila.  It was only us on the 14h30 tour and by the time we finished the tasting it was 16h30.  The glasses were free to keep.  Nice.  Went up the road to take a couple of photos before Leanne drove us back.

Some of the gardens at Tredegar House.

Some of the gardens at Tredegar House.

Tredegar House is a 17th-century Charles II country house mansion in the city of Newport. Described as "The grandest and most exuberant country house" in Monmouthshire and one of the "outstanding houses of the Restoration period in the whole of Britain", the mansion stands in the 90 acre (360,000 m²) Tredegar Park. It became a Grade I listed building on 3 March 1952.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tredegar_House

Tredegar House is a 17th-century Charles II country house mansion in the city of Newport. Described as “The grandest and most exuberant country house” in Monmouthshire and one of the “outstanding houses of the Restoration period in the whole of Britain”, the mansion stands in the 90 acre (360,000 m²) Tredegar Park. It became a Grade I listed building on 3 March 1952. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tredegar_House

The stable block at Tredegar House.

The stable block at Tredegar House.

Some fine wood carving above the fireplace in the dining hall at Tredegar House.

Some fine wood carving above the fireplace in the dining hall at Tredegar House.

The featherless shield on the front of the head gave rise to the expression "as bald as a coot," which the Oxford English Dictionary cites in use as early as 1430.  The feet look a bit unusual as well.

The featherless shield on the front of the head gave rise to the expression “as bald as a coot,” which the Oxford English Dictionary cites in use as early as 1430. The feet look a bit unusual as well.

A snapshot out the car window using an iPhone as we crossed the Severn Bridge out of Wales.

A snapshot out the car window using an iPhone as we crossed the Severn Bridge out of Wales.

Apartments in Bristol.  Hmmmm.

Apartments in Bristol. Hmmmm.

Apartments and boats along the harbour in central Bristol.

Apartments and boats along the harbour in central Bristol.

We got really lucky at dinner time in Bristol.  We chose petty much at random and ended up in this gorgeous pub which also had a very good value set menu.  Just what we needed.

We got really lucky at dinner time in Bristol. We chose petty much at random and ended up in this gorgeous pub which also had a very good value set menu. Just what we needed.

Leanne and I had visited Bourton-on-the-Water in the late 1980s.  Not the best of weather for our return visit with Leanne's Mum & Dad but at least it wasn't raining.

Leanne and I had visited Bourton-on-the-Water in the late 1980s. Not the best of weather for our return visit with Leanne’s Mum & Dad but at least it wasn’t raining.

Leanne's favourite type of old car, any model of Morris Minor.   This one is a 'Morris Traveller' and it looked to be from The Netherlands.

Leanne’s favourite type of old car, any model of Morris Minor. This one is a ‘Morris Traveller’ and it looked to be from The Netherlands.

Not far from the Morris Traveller was this Mini.

Not far from the Morris Traveller was this Mini.

The gatehouse.  Charlecote Park is a grand 16th century country house, surrounded by its own deer park, on the banks of the River Avon near Wellesbourne, about 6km east of Stratford-upon-Avon and 9km south of Warwick, Warwickshire, England. It has been administered by the National Trust since 1946 and is open to the public. It is a Grade I listed building.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlecote_Park

The gatehouse. Charlecote Park is a grand 16th century country house, surrounded by its own deer park, on the banks of the River Avon near Wellesbourne, about 6km east of Stratford-upon-Avon and 9km south of Warwick, Warwickshire, England. It has been administered by the National Trust since 1946 and is open to the public. It is a Grade I listed building. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlecote_Park

Through the gate and approaching the main entrance to Charlecote Park.

Through the gate and approaching the main entrance to Charlecote Park.

We found a quiet corner sheltered from the breeze to sit and have our picnic lunch.  Some others had similar plans.  This was the view of the house from opposite the front entrance.

We found a quiet corner sheltered from the breeze to sit and have our picnic lunch. Some others had similar plans. This was the view of the house from opposite the front entrance.

The Tudor Room is the grand entrance hall at Charlecote Park.  The ceiling appears to be timber but in fact it is entirely made from plaster and then painstakingly painted to imitate a timber finish.

The Tudor Room is the grand entrance hall at Charlecote Park. The ceiling appears to be timber but in fact it is entirely made from plaster and then painstakingly painted to imitate a timber finish.

Ceiling detail, everything you see here is made from plaster.

Ceiling detail, everything you see here is made from plaster.

The library.

The library.

In the kitchen the staff were dressed in period costume.

In the kitchen the staff were dressed in period costume.

The gatehouse viewed from inside the perimeter.

The gatehouse viewed from inside the perimeter.

Old Thatch Tavern claims to have been a pub since 1623, and to have a timeless thatched roof. Located at the Market Place, the Thatch Tavern is a traditional Tudor-style building, which attracts town visitors for its well-maintained period décor and very English cuisine.

Old Thatch Tavern claims to have been a pub since 1623, and to have a timeless thatched roof. Located at the Market Place, the Thatch Tavern is a traditional Tudor-style building, which attracts town visitors for its well-maintained period décor and very English cuisine.

Stratford-on-Avon streetscape.

Stratford-on-Avon streetscape.

Butcher's shop delivery in the High Street.  Food handling regulations?  What are you talking about?!

Butcher’s shop delivery in the High Street. Food handling regulations? What are you talking about?!

Hall's Croft was owned by William Shakespeare's daughter, Susanna Hall, and her husband Dr John Hall whom she married in 1607.

Hall’s Croft was owned by William Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna Hall, and her husband Dr John Hall whom she married in 1607.

There has been an inn on this site since 1718 but the building dates back to 1594 and the site has apparently been occupied since the early fourteenth hundreds and possibly before, First called 'The Reindeer' then 'The Greyhound' and briefly 'The New Inn' it became 'The Garrick Inn' around 1769 named after the famous actor David Garrick following a brief three day jubilee in Stratford organised by him. Good victuals and the finest ales have been available all that time and Greene King is proud to continue this tradition. So why not step inside and partake as many travellers have done before you.

There has been an inn on this site since 1718 but the building dates back to 1594 and the site has apparently been occupied since the early fourteenth hundreds and possibly before,
First called ‘The Reindeer’ then ‘The Greyhound’ and briefly ‘The New Inn’ it became ‘The Garrick Inn’ around 1769 named after the famous actor David Garrick following a brief three day jubilee in Stratford organised by him.
Good victuals and the finest ales have been available all that time and Greene King is proud to continue this tradition.
So why not step inside and partake as many travellers have done before you.

Baddesley Clinton is a moated manor house, located just north of the historic town of Warwick in the English county of Warwickshire; the house was probably established sometime in the 13th century when large areas of the Forest of Arden were cleared and eventually converted to farmland. The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the Hall is a Grade I listed building.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baddesley_Clinton

Baddesley Clinton is a moated manor house, located just north of the historic town of Warwick in the English county of Warwickshire; the house was probably established sometime in the 13th century when large areas of the Forest of Arden were cleared and eventually converted to farmland. The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the Hall is a Grade I listed building. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baddesley_Clinton

Baddesley Clinton courtyard.

Baddesley Clinton courtyard.

Looking in over the moat.

Looking in over the moat.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.

The approach road to Kedleston Hall was about a mile long and ended soon after this Robert Adam designed bridge.

The approach road to Kedleston Hall was about a mile long and ended soon after this Robert Adam designed bridge.

Kedleston Hall is an English country house in Derbyshire, approximately four miles north-west of Derby, and is the seat of the Curzon family whose name originates in Notre-Dame-de-Courson in Normandy. Today it is a National Trust property.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kedleston_Hall

Kedleston Hall is an English country house in Derbyshire, approximately four miles north-west of Derby, and is the seat of the Curzon family whose name originates in Notre-Dame-de-Courson in Normandy. Today it is a National Trust property. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kedleston_Hall

The present house was commissioned by Sir Nathaniel Curzon (later 1st Baron Scarsdale) in 1759. The house was designed by the Palladian architects James Paine and Matthew Brettingham and was loosely based on an original plan by Andrea Palladio for the never-built Villa Mocenigo. At the time a relatively unknown architect, Robert Adam was designing some garden temples to enhance the landscape of the park; Curzon was so impressed with Adam's designs, that Adam was quickly put in charge of the construction of the new mansion.

The present house was commissioned by Sir Nathaniel Curzon (later 1st Baron Scarsdale) in 1759. The house was designed by the Palladian architects James Paine and Matthew Brettingham and was loosely based on an original plan by Andrea Palladio for the never-built Villa Mocenigo. At the time a relatively unknown architect, Robert Adam was designing some garden temples to enhance the landscape of the park; Curzon was so impressed with Adam’s designs, that Adam was quickly put in charge of the construction of the new mansion.

Everything in the house screams Robert Adam.  We have seen several of his houses now and the guy was definitely OCD.  In this house he doesn't seem to have yet started designing the carpets to reflect the same motifs as the ceiling.

Everything in the house screams Robert Adam. We have seen several of his houses now and the guy was definitely OCD. In this house he doesn’t seem to have yet started designing the carpets to reflect the same motifs as the ceiling.

The rear façade of the house.

The rear façade of the house.

Terrace house streetscape in Batley, the town where Leanne's Grandfather is recorded as being born.

Terrace house streetscape in Batley, the town where Leanne’s Grandfather is recorded as being born.

Fountains Abbey is approximately three miles south west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, England, near to the village of Aldfield. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for over 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountains_Abbey

Fountains Abbey is approximately three miles south west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, England, near to the village of Aldfield. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for over 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountains_Abbey

At the time of The Dissolution the roofs were all removed to render the buildings unusable and the lead was melted down and sold.  All the black marble pillars were also removed.

At the time of The Dissolution the roofs were all removed to render the buildings unusable and the lead was melted down and sold. All the black marble pillars were also removed.

The end frame once held a huge rose window.

The end frame once held a huge rose window.

The view back from the woodland pathway.

The view back from the woodland pathway.

Again from the woodland pathway.

Again from the woodland pathway.

A small hamlet on the shores of Loch Lomond.  There were about six houses and they were all decorated almost like gingerbread houses and with very nice gardens

A small hamlet on the shores of Loch Lomond. There were about six houses and they were all decorated almost like gingerbread houses and with very nice gardens

Luss is a conservation village, with a bypass carrying the busy A82 trunk road. Many of Luss' cottages have been described as picturesque. The village has a kiltmaker and a bagpipe works. In recent years, Luss became famous as a result of being the main outdoor location for the Scottish Television drama series Take the High Road.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luss

Luss is a conservation village, with a bypass carrying the busy A82 trunk road. Many of Luss’ cottages have been described as picturesque. The village has a kiltmaker and a bagpipe works. In recent years, Luss became famous as a result of being the main outdoor location for the Scottish Television drama series Take the High Road. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luss

From the village of Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond looking across to the clouded Ben Lomond peak.

From the village of Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond looking across to the clouded Ben Lomond peak.

Looking back down the valley from the top of the 'Rest & Be Thankful' picnic spot.  'Rest & Be Thankful' are the words inscribed on a stone near the junction of the A83 and the B828, placed there by soldiers who built the original military road in 1753, now referred to as the Drovers' road. The original stone fell into ruin and was replaced by a commemorative stone at the same site.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A83_road

Looking back down the valley from the top of the ‘Rest & Be Thankful’ picnic spot. ‘Rest & Be Thankful’ are the words inscribed on a stone near the junction of the A83 and the B828, placed there by soldiers who built the original military road in 1753, now referred to as the Drovers’ road. The original stone fell into ruin and was replaced by a commemorative stone at the same site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A83_road

After descending from 'Rest & Be Thankful' to the shores of Loch Fyne we came to Inveraray.

After descending from ‘Rest & Be Thankful’ to the shores of Loch Fyne we came to Inveraray.

Inveraray from the pier back towards town.

Inveraray from the pier back towards town.

Ever since we left the built up areas around Glasgow we had been seeing rhododendrons along the roadsides and into the trees.  At last we found a spot to stop for a photo where there were enough together in one place.

Ever since we left the built up areas around Glasgow we had been seeing rhododendrons along the roadsides and into the trees. At last we found a spot to stop for a photo where there were enough together in one place.

We stayed at a nice B&B along this road in Tarbert just 15 minutes from the Kennacraig ferry terminal that we needed to be at by 09h15 the next morning.

We stayed at a nice B&B along this road in Tarbert just 15 minutes from the Kennacraig ferry terminal that we needed to be at by 09h15 the next morning.

My first distillery visit was Caol Ila which is just around the corner from Port Askaig.  Ten minutes drive at most.  The photo shows the ferry we came on to Islay.  Beyond the ferry is Jura, only a stone's throw from Islay at this point.

My first distillery visit was Caol Ila which is just around the corner from Port Askaig. Ten minutes drive at most. The photo shows the ferry we came on to Islay. Beyond the ferry is Jura, only a stone’s throw from Islay at this point.

This is the channel we sailed up to get to Port Askaig - on this side Islay and on the other side Jura.

This is the channel we sailed up to get to Port Askaig – on this side Islay and on the other side Jura.

Looking across the top of the Bunnahabhain Distillery cask warehouse to the sea.

Looking across the top of the Bunnahabhain Distillery cask warehouse to the sea.

Taken on the road to Bunnahabhain Distillery - bluebells, sea and Jura with peaks shrouded in cloud.

Taken on the road to Bunnahabhain Distillery – bluebells, sea and Jura with peaks shrouded in cloud.

Somewhere along the road to Bunnahabhain.  Jura on the right of the water.

Somewhere along the road to Bunnahabhain. Jura on the right of the water.

At the top end of the town of Bowmore is the Round Church.  The is the view from behind its graveyard out across the bay towards Port Charlotte.  The tall stack close to the water is at Bowmore Distillery.

At the top end of the town of Bowmore is the Round Church. The is the view from behind its graveyard out across the bay towards Port Charlotte. The tall stack close to the water is at Bowmore Distillery.

Looking back at Bowmore from the pier.

Looking back at Bowmore from the pier.

The view from Bowmore to Port Charlotte.

The view from Bowmore to Port Charlotte.

We stayed five nights at Portnahaven, right at the end of the western peninsula.  It was delightful.  This shows the west side of the little harbour which is very sheltered from the open sea by two islands only 500m off shore.

We stayed five nights at Portnahaven, right at the end of the western peninsula. It was delightful. This shows the west side of the little harbour which is very sheltered from the open sea by two islands only 500m off shore.

Portnahaven on Islay - the King Street or east side of the bay in the late sun.

Portnahaven on Islay – the King Street or east side of the bay in the late sun.

Fishing boats moored at Portnahaven and Orsay Island.  MacKenzie Island is just out of shot to the right.

Fishing boats moored at Portnahaven and Orsay Island. MacKenzie Island is just out of shot to the right.

Portnahaven Sunset, 22h07 on 15th June.  Official setting time for this day is 22h12.  It was still light enough to read outside at 23h00.

Portnahaven Sunset, 22h07 on 15th June. Official setting time for this day is 22h12. It was still light enough to read outside at 23h00.

We found this tiny orchid on our coastline walk.  Apparently they are rare.

We found this tiny orchid on our coastline walk. Apparently they are rare.

The lighthouse at Port Charlotte looking across to Bowmore.

The lighthouse at Port Charlotte looking across to Bowmore.

Next post I will cover the main part of our trip to Islay and I might even do a special post with just the distillery and a few related photos.  Until then…

Watching The Geese Grow

10 Jun Wales Millennium Centre is an arts centre located in the Cardiff Bay area of Cardiff. The site covers a total area of 4.7 acres (1.9 ha). The centre has hosted performances of opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals. 

Locally nicknamed "the Armadillo", the Centre comprises one large theatre and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. It houses the national orchestra and opera, dance, theatre and literature companies, a total of eight arts organisations in residence. The main theatre, the Donald Gordon Theatre, has 1,897 seats, the BBC Hoddinott Hall 350 and the Weston Studio Theatre 250.

We have just had a week in Mid Wales with no rain!  Hard to believe I know and even the locals are scratching their heads trying to think if this has ever happened before.  A couple of days were coolish, on Thursday we had something like a high fog until mid afternoon then the sun broke through.  Until then it was quite chilly, but it did not rain. So we did spend some of our days this week just being around the property and enjoying it.

We got our chores done as usual on Monday morning and since it was such a lovely spring day we headed to Cardiff.  We did our usual routine and used the park and ride then spent a few hours walking about 8km around the city – Cardiff Bay, pedestrian precinct, Cardiff Castle, etc.  It was a very enjoyable day.

On Tuesday we did something completely out of left field – we went to the ewe sale at the Brecon Livestock Market.  I was hoping the place itself was going to have a bit of character and offer me some interesting photo opportunities.  There were some characters in attendance alright but the facility is relatively new so it is all concrete and galvanised pipework and under a corrugated iron roof which made the lighting extremely difficult.  But I tried.  The whole exercise was quite amusing.  Ideally I would like to have been invisible but in fact I could not have been more conspicuous.  There I was in clean clothes, not wearing a check patterned brushed cotton shirt, not wearing gumboots (wellingtons), not wearing drover’s pants and carrying a substantial camera.  Hmmmm.  Halfway through the auction the auctioneer stopped and told everyone to behave and smile nicely because there was a bloke with a camera!  Now everyone is looking at me and the banter and laughter interrupted affairs for a couple of minutes.  And I could not understand a word of it.  I couldn’t understand more than a few words from the auctioneer either due to the speed and accent combined.  Near the end of the auction there was another amusing moment.  One of the larger than life local identities who had been mixing up banter throughout the proceedings interrupted the auctioneer with, “Hey, that bloke down the end hasn’t bought anything yet!”  That had the place in fits for a few moments.  All in all a fun visit.  We also walked around the town of Brecon spending more time than planned at the Brecon Cathedral.   They were in the midst of a visit by a school group so there were 100 or so 10 to 12 year-olds working in groups.  It was good to see the place well used.  At home again we set up a section of netting so the three goslings could spend some time out on the grass.  What a time waster, sitting there watching their antics.  Hence the title of this week’s post.  We did also get Gwen, the border collie, up the hill for a little photo shoot and that was fun too.

Friday was another cracker day so we left home at 09h00 for a drive.  Leanne wanted to get me back to Hay-on-Wye in this better weather to see if I could avoid permanently relegating it to the unfortunate category of shit hole after our last visit.  It worked.  The place looks much more appealing on a sunny day and we even had one bar of cellphone reception!   We then drove through Talgarth and on to the Common area around Black Mountain where we chanced upon a gliding club so stopped and took photos.  In their hangar there was a large framed picture of an amazing cloud formation over some hills… Middlemarch, Otago, NZ.  Turned out that their chief gliding instructor spends the northern winter working as an instructor at Omarama.  Such a small world.  Next stop was Crickhowell.  Rather nice village with the usual ruined castle etc.  The general store was some family name followed by “& Sons & Daughters & Grandsons & Granddaughters”.  Took up most of the window!  We were home for lunch by 14h00 and then spent more time being amused by the geese, cats and dogs.

On Saturday it was time to get the laundry up to date, organise our stuff and start packing it back into the car.  I am writing this on Saturday afternoon.  Lisa is due home in a couple of hours.  Sunday sees us leaving Wern Fawr after a fun two weeks and heading firstly to Bristol to meet up with Leanne’s Mum & Dad.  After our time with them we will end next week on Islay so it is going to be busy.  With that in mind I am going to post this early with the idea of squaring everything up next week.  Enjoy the photos.

I believe these mountains near Brecon are the Black Mountains, not to be confused with Black Mountain (singular) about ten miles away.  Between the two lay the Brecon Beacons.

I believe these mountains near Brecon are the Black Mountains, not to be confused with Black Mountain (singular) about ten miles away. Between the two lay the Brecon Beacons.

Wales Millennium Centre is an arts centre located in the Cardiff Bay area of Cardiff. The site covers a total area of 4.7 acres (1.9 ha). The centre has hosted performances of opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals.  Locally nicknamed "the Armadillo", the Centre comprises one large theatre and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. It houses the national orchestra and opera, dance, theatre and literature companies, a total of eight arts organisations in residence. The main theatre, the Donald Gordon Theatre, has 1,897 seats, the BBC Hoddinott Hall 350 and the Weston Studio Theatre 250.

Wales Millennium Centre is an arts centre located in the Cardiff Bay area of Cardiff. The site covers a total area of 4.7 acres (1.9 ha). The centre has hosted performances of opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals.
Locally nicknamed “the Armadillo”, the Centre comprises one large theatre and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. It houses the national orchestra and opera, dance, theatre and literature companies, a total of eight arts organisations in residence. The main theatre, the Donald Gordon Theatre, has 1,897 seats, the BBC Hoddinott Hall 350 and the Weston Studio Theatre 250.

Wales Millennium Centre viewed from the pier.

Wales Millennium Centre viewed from the pier.

Detail of the terracotta work on The Pierhead Building.

Detail of the terracotta work on The Pierhead Building.

The Pierhead Building stands as one of the city of Cardiff's most familiar landmarks and was built in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company. The clock on the building is unofficially known as the "Baby Big Ben" or the "Big Ben of Wales", and also serves as a Welsh history museum. The Pierhead Building is part of the estate of the National Assembly for Wales, which also includes the Senedd and Ty Hywel. It was a replacement for the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company which burnt down in 1892. Frame's mentor was William Burges, with whom Frame worked on the rebuilding of Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch until Burges's death in 1881.

The Pierhead Building stands as one of the city of Cardiff’s most familiar landmarks and was built in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company. The clock on the building is unofficially known as the “Baby Big Ben” or the “Big Ben of Wales”, and also serves as a Welsh history museum. The Pierhead Building is part of the estate of the National Assembly for Wales, which also includes the Senedd and Ty Hywel. It was a replacement for the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company which burnt down in 1892. Frame’s mentor was William Burges, with whom Frame worked on the rebuilding of Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch until Burges’s death in 1881.

The Animal Wall was designed by William Burges in 1866, but it was not built until 1890, after Burges's death in 1881. The work of the restoration of Cardiff Castle and the building of the Animal Wall for the Marquess of Bute, was continued by his former assistant William Frame. The original nine animal figures were sculptured by Thomas Nicholls, they were the hyena, wolf, apes, seal, bear, lioness, lynx, and 2 different lions. They were painted in naturalistic colours, although since then the paint work on the sculptures has been removed.  The wall was moved about 50 metres (160 ft) from outside Cardiff Castle to its present location outside Bute Park in 1922, due to road widening in front of the castle in Duke Street and Castle Street (now the A4161).  In 1931 a further six animals were added; the pelican, ant-eater, raccoons, leopard, beaver and vulture.  They were all sculptured by Alexander Carrick.

The Animal Wall was designed by William Burges in 1866, but it was not built until 1890, after Burges’s death in 1881. The work of the restoration of Cardiff Castle and the building of the Animal Wall for the Marquess of Bute, was continued by his former assistant William Frame. The original nine animal figures were sculptured by Thomas Nicholls, they were the hyena, wolf, apes, seal, bear, lioness, lynx, and 2 different lions. They were painted in naturalistic colours, although since then the paint work on the sculptures has been removed. The wall was moved about 50 metres (160 ft) from outside Cardiff Castle to its present location outside Bute Park in 1922, due to road widening in front of the castle in Duke Street and Castle Street (now the A4161). In 1931 a further six animals were added; the pelican, ant-eater, raccoons, leopard, beaver and vulture. They were all sculptured by Alexander Carrick.

Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian architecture Gothic revival mansion, transformed from a Norman keep erected over a Roman fort in the Castle Quarter of Cardiff. In 1947, the Bute South Wales estates having all been sold, the castle, and surrounding park, was gifted to the City of Cardiff by the fifth Marquis. It is now a popular tourist attraction, and houses a regimental museum in addition to the ruins of the old castle and the Victorian reconstruction. It sits in the expansive grounds of Bute Park.

Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian architecture Gothic revival mansion, transformed from a Norman keep erected over a Roman fort in the Castle Quarter of Cardiff. In 1947, the Bute South Wales estates having all been sold, the castle, and surrounding park, was gifted to the City of Cardiff by the fifth Marquis. It is now a popular tourist attraction, and houses a regimental museum in addition to the ruins of the old castle and the Victorian reconstruction. It sits in the expansive grounds of Bute Park.

Another glimpse of Cardiff Castle taken over the animal wall.

Another glimpse of Cardiff Castle taken over the animal wall.

The new Cardiff Library with a sculpture in the foreground.

The new Cardiff Library with a sculpture in the foreground.

This was on Monday.  The goslings still had some of their down.

This was on Monday. The goslings still had some of their down.

Cliff was one of our neighbours at Wern Fawr.  He celebrated his 70th birthday last week but is still out working before 07h00 every day.  Very nice guy too!

Cliff was one of our neighbours at Wern Fawr. He celebrated his 70th birthday last week but is still out working before 07h00 every day. Very nice guy too!

This was the scene just after 09h00 at the ewe sale (because it was Tuesday) at the Brecon Livestock Market.

This was the scene just after 09h00 at the ewe sale (because it was Tuesday) at the Brecon Livestock Market.

The grounds of Christ College in Brecon looked so good as we walked by I just had to slip in for a better look.

The grounds of Christ College in Brecon looked so good as we walked by I just had to slip in for a better look.

Here is the man on his 10 year old, £40,000, five cutting head mower.  That's why Christ College in Brecon has such nice lawns.

Here is the man on his 10 year old, £40,000, five cutting head mower. That’s why Christ College in Brecon has such nice lawns.

I don't see many Reliant Robins around so I had to have this photo.  Mr Bean wasn't anywhere to be seen.

I don’t see many Reliant Robins around so I had to have this photo. Mr Bean wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

It seems that towns around here don't have a traditional town square - they have a town triangle.

It seems that towns around here don’t have a traditional town square – they have a town triangle.

Line of cottages in Brecon.

Line of cottages in Brecon.

Another streetscape in Brecon.

Another streetscape in Brecon.

Getting away from the main street in Brecon we came across this delightful scene.  To quote the local website… This landlocked canal runs for 35 miles (56km) from the old market town of Brecon to Five Locks, Cwmbran, following the scenic Usk Valley. It offers glorious views of the Brecon Beacons and passes through fascinating villages including Talybont-on-Usk, Llangynidr, Llangattock, Gilwern, Govilon and Llanfoist. Unlike many others, this canal has trees along much of its length, an array of wildflowers on its banks and is home to mallards, moorhens, carp and bream, kingfishers, herons, dragonflies and butterflies.  http://www.breconbeacons.org/visit-us/things-to-do-and-see/special-places-to-visit/monmouthshire-and-brecon-canal

Getting away from the main street in Brecon we came across this delightful scene. To quote the local website… This landlocked canal runs for 35 miles (56km) from the old market town of Brecon to Five Locks, Cwmbran, following the scenic Usk Valley. It offers glorious views of the Brecon Beacons and passes through fascinating villages including Talybont-on-Usk, Llangynidr, Llangattock, Gilwern, Govilon and Llanfoist. Unlike many others, this canal has trees along much of its length, an array of wildflowers on its banks and is home to mallards, moorhens, carp and bream, kingfishers, herons, dragonflies and butterflies. http://www.breconbeacons.org/visit-us/things-to-do-and-see/special-places-to-visit/monmouthshire-and-brecon-canal

A narrowboat in the terminus area of the Brecon Canal.

A narrowboat in the terminus area of the Brecon Canal.

Another steeetscape in Brecon.

Another steeetscape in Brecon.

A partial view of Brecon Cathedral.  To again quote… The Cathedral was, until the establishment of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in 1923, first the Benedictine Priory of St John the Evangelist, founded by the Normans in 1093, then the Parish Church of St John from 1538 at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. It is highly likely that the Norman Priory was built on the site of a much older, possibly Celtic, church.   http://www.breconcathedral.org.uk

A partial view of Brecon Cathedral. To again quote… The Cathedral was, until the establishment of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in 1923, first the Benedictine Priory of St John the Evangelist, founded by the Normans in 1093, then the Parish Church of St John from 1538 at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. It is highly likely that the Norman Priory was built on the site of a much older, possibly Celtic, church. http://www.breconcathedral.org.uk

Some more of Brecon Cathedral.

Some more of Brecon Cathedral.

This is just wrong!  A Toyota van with a Kombi front.  What were they thinking?!

This is just wrong! A Toyota van with a Kombi front. What were they thinking?!

Brecon Castle is mainly a hotel now and we could not see where the public could access it.

Brecon Castle is mainly a hotel now and we could not see where the public could access it.

This is the view from Lisa's place, Wern Fawr.  Just to emphasise how nice the weather has been during our stay.  This was at 14h41 on Tuesday.

This is the view from Lisa’s place, Wern Fawr. Just to emphasise how nice the weather has been during our stay. This was at 14h41 on Tuesday.

A shot of Gwen on the move.  You might notice the barn compost all over the ground behind her.  The two paddocks east of the house on Thursday last week.  Since then the breeze has been from the east!  Smelly indeed.  Thankfully with the dry conditions the smell subsided in a few days and we can still run the dogs without it getting stuck to us and them.

A shot of Gwen on the move. You might notice the barn compost all over the ground behind her. The two paddocks east of the house on Thursday last week. Since then the breeze has been from the east! Smelly indeed. Thankfully with the dry conditions the smell subsided in a few days and we can still run the dogs without it getting stuck to us and them.

Gwen's white side.

Gwen’s white side.

She is excitable!

She is excitable!

View of the house from part way up the hill.  Barn on the left, carport on the right with the glasshouse just visible.

View of the house from part way up the hill. Barn on the left, carport on the right with the glasshouse just visible.

There are two hens - a red one and a black one.  Guess which one this is?

There are two hens – a red one and a black one. Guess which one this is?

Martha coming in to view.

Martha coming in to view.

A rather scruffy looking Blue Tit.  A pair were nesting in the wall of the barn and using the digger as a perch.

A rather scruffy looking Blue Tit. A pair were nesting in the wall of the barn and using the digger as a perch.

This is Simba, the suspected bunny catcher from last week's post.

This is Simba, the suspected bunny catcher from last week’s post.

The clock tower at Hay-on-Wye, again, located on a triangle rather than square.

The clock tower at Hay-on-Wye, again, located on a triangle rather than square.

A streetscape in Hay-on-Wye.

A streetscape in Hay-on-Wye.

Scenery in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Scenery in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Brecon Beacons in the background.  (The camera was level - the landscape is sloping!)

The Brecon Beacons in the background. (The camera was level – the landscape is sloping!)

A punter about to take a trial flight at the Brecon Beacons Gliding Club.

A punter about to take a trial flight at the Brecon Beacons Gliding Club.

We have lift off!

We have lift off!

The Piper Pawnee tug plane pulling the K13 in to the air.

The Piper Pawnee tug plane pulling the K13 in to the air.

The Piper Pawnee passing over the field to drop the tow rope, which landed practically at the feet of the guy waiting for it.

The Piper Pawnee passing over the field to drop the tow rope, which landed practically at the feet of the guy waiting for it.

Piper Pawnee on landing.

Piper Pawnee on landing.

This house in Crickhowell had a pretty impressive front fence!

This house in Crickhowell had a pretty impressive front fence!

The main street of the market town of Crickhowell located on the River Usk, on the southern edge of the Black Mountains and in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The main street of the market town of Crickhowell located on the River Usk, on the southern edge of the Black Mountains and in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Crickhowell castle was initially a motte and bailey castle built from 1121.  It has a colourful history.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crickhowell

Crickhowell castle was initially a motte and bailey castle built from 1121. It has a colourful history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crickhowell

We have started shutting the three young ones in the run once the others are out in the paddock.  It was nice an sunny so we put them in this water tub - they were not too sure about it and clambered out fairly quickly.

We have started shutting the three young ones in the run once the others are out in the paddock. It was nice an sunny so we put them in this water tub – they were not too sure about it and clambered out fairly quickly.

Friday evening at Wern Fawr.

Friday evening at Wern Fawr.

Saturday morning and we are invaded by John Jones!  There is no escape.

Saturday morning and we are invaded by John Jones! There is no escape.

 

 

 

Living With The Jones’s

3 Jun Llanbedr Hill was the closest landmark I could identify on the Ordnance Survey map.  This walk was across the Common that occupies this entire plateau across the Wye River from our housesit at Wern Fawr.

As I sat down to write this today I noticed Simba, Lisa’s Norwegian Forest Cat, taking a lot of interest in the couch.  Or more specifically, some noises coming from behind the couch.  On investigation I found a small rabbit staying well out of the way of Simba whose bulk prohibited him from going in after it.  Lucky for the rabbit I managed to poke him into a corner with a broom and reach down and grab him.  He did not appear injured but he was very shaky on his feet when I put him out in the paddock.  I have no idea how he ended up inside.

The bunny just before release.

The bunny just before release.

Now back to what I sat down to write.  We have been here just over a week and we have a good routine with all our co-residents – the two dogs, Fennel and Gwen; the two cats Martha and Simba; and the ten geese.  Part of that routine is having to get up at 06h00 everyday to take Gwen for a walk, let the hens out (since the automatic door on their box went on the fritz) and let the geese out of their box and feed them.  I guess I am most pleased with how the geese have accepted having me around.  They are friendly and look just hilarious when they come running across the paddock in response to a call to dinner.

The sun doesn’t set until nearly 21h30 now so it is light until after 22h00 which is a trap that I fall into every day not realising how late it is, especially after a relatively early start.  So I do admit to taking a few afternoon naps of 90 minutes or so.

Monday was a Bank Holiday, not that these things usually affect us very much.   So we went to the International Book Festival at Hay-on-Wye.  The only ‘event’ we got in to was a presentation on the art of Titian – Diana and Callisto, Diana and Actaeon, The Death of Actaeon.  Perhaps I was having and off day, but overall I found the festival to be underwhelming and Hay to be a dull town without much in the way of interesting architecture or nice streetscapes or squares. Besides, how can they be serious when they are a medium sized town and they have thousands of visitors for the week and they don’t even have basic cellphone coverage in the centre of the town or the festival site?  Let alone 3G data.  It is just a joke.  We were relying on using cellphones to meet up with some people but we had to drive halfway back to Crickadarn before we could make a call.  If the locals are too apathetic to push the network operators for a decent service then the festival organisers should at least get a temporary base station in place to service the site for the week.  My conclusion is don’t go to the festival, they don’t deserve your patronage.

The weather has had its moments.  Tuesday was a bit miserable and I ended up spending  big chunk of the day sorting out my Flickr accounts.  Long story, two accounts, bit of a mess.  It’s much better now, I just have to get brave enough to delete the old account.

We stopped at the Wheelwright’s Arms in Erwood on our way home from a drive on Thursday.  Half a dozen locals in there were entertaining to listen to.  A couple of them were the same guys we had see here each time we’ve been in.  One of the regulars walks up to the bar, “Dave, I better get home but I’ll just have another pint for the ditch before I go.”  The Welsh version of ‘one for the road’?  This is the same guy who pronounced, “I come here for a few pints after work to quench my thirst and so I don’t cry when I get home!”

The weather on Friday was great – sunny and warm, without much wind.  We sorted things at the house and set out for a drive ending up on a big Common on the other side of the River Wye.  It was a very nice day out.

Saturday was pretty quiet and on Sunday we went for a visit to Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells, some photos are included.

This is the sort of countryside we are surrounded by - gorgeous when the sun is on it!

This is the sort of countryside we are surrounded by – gorgeous when the sun is on it!

The three goslings from the second clutch on the morning after we arrived aged 5~6 days.

The three goslings from the second clutch on the morning after we arrived aged 5~6 days.

Out walking the dogs.  Gwen is on the lead and Fennel is standing behind.

Out walking the dogs. Gwen is on the lead and Fennel is standing behind.

The sunny side of the cottage, south facing.

The sunny side of the cottage, south facing.

Thankfully there is an English translation.  All these Welsh signs and place names is making French look pretty comprehensible.

Thankfully there is an English translation. All these Welsh signs and place names is making French look pretty comprehensible.

For me this was the highlight of the Hay-on-Wye Festival - some overpriced asparagus.  I am afraid I could glean no inspiration from the event at all really.  Leanne mildly enjoyed what we saw but was not terribly excited about it either.

For me this was the highlight of the Hay-on-Wye Festival – some overpriced asparagus. I am afraid I could glean no inspiration from the event at all really. Leanne mildly enjoyed what we saw but was not terribly excited about it either.

On Wednesday the little goslings graduated from the laundry to the glasshouse and they seemed chuffed with the move.  I cut a piece out of the end of their box and put a tray in place as a doorstep and they took themselves to bed under the heat lamp at night.

On Wednesday the little goslings graduated from the laundry to the glasshouse and they seemed chuffed with the move. I cut a piece out of the end of their box and put a tray in place as a doorstep and they took themselves to bed under the heat lamp at night.

Crickadarn is our nearest village, only about a mile away. It has roughly 6 houses, two churches, two cemeteries and a telephone box. This was apparently the ideal qualification to be used for some scenes in the movie 'An American Werewolf in London'.

Crickadarn is our nearest village, only about a mile away. It has roughly 6 houses, two churches, two cemeteries and a telephone box. This was apparently the ideal qualification to be used for some scenes in the movie ‘An American Werewolf in London’.

Just to the left of the church, two of the six houses in the village. By the way, what's the difference between a hamlet and a village? In Britain a hamlet is defined as generally smaller than a village and it does not have a church.

Just to the left of the church, two of the six houses in the village. By the way, what’s the difference between a hamlet and a village? In Britain a hamlet is defined as generally smaller than a village and it does not have a church.

View to Wern Fawr from across the valley (on the other side of the River Wye).  It is the 6-acre block in the centre of the photo, including the paler paddock and the two small woods above the house.

View to Wern Fawr from across the valley (on the other side of the River Wye). It is the 6-acre block in the centre of the photo, including the paler paddock and the two small woods above the house.

Llanbedr Hill was the closest landmark I could identify on the Ordnance Survey map.  This walk was across the Common that occupies this entire plateau across the Wye River from our housesit at Wern Fawr.

Llanbedr Hill was the closest landmark I could identify on the Ordnance Survey map. This walk was across the Common that occupies this entire plateau across the Wye River from our housesit at Wern Fawr.

The Common is quite swampy in places with small lakes dotted all over.

The Common is quite swampy in places with small lakes dotted all over.

Plenty of horses and sheep roaming.  Not sure if these horses are wild or just free  range domestic.  The sheep were certainly farmed - they were ear-tagged and most had blue or red raddle markings.

Plenty of horses and sheep roaming. Not sure if these horses are wild or just free range domestic. The sheep were certainly farmed – they were ear-tagged and most had blue or red raddle markings.

The vegetation on Llanbedr Hill Common was mainly less that 300mm high and was mostly a mixture of heather and this berried bush.  The berries are about 6-8mm in diameter.

The vegetation on Llanbedr Hill Common was mainly less that 300mm high and was mostly a mixture of heather and this berried bush. The berries are about 6-8mm in diameter.

The route of our walk on Friday on the Llanbedr Hill Common.

The route of our walk on Friday on the Llanbedr Hill Common.

It was just a beautiful day for such a walk - warm sunshine and a cool breeze.

It was just a beautiful day for such a walk – warm sunshine and a cool breeze.

The road down from the Llanbedr Hill Common which is on the right in this photo.

The road down from the Llanbedr Hill Common which is on the right in this photo.

Being elevated, the road down from the Llanbedr Hill Common gave some great views over the farmland.

Being elevated, the road down from the Llanbedr Hill Common gave some great views over the farmland.

This 1922 suspension bridge just east of Erwood crosses the River Wye.

This 1922 suspension bridge just east of Erwood crosses the River Wye.

I was too slow to notice these few sheep being driven along the road past the house and they were almost gone by the time I got outside.

I was too slow to notice these few sheep being driven along the road past the house and they were almost gone by the time I got outside.

This row of houses is at Erwood and just looked cute in the late afternoon (i.e. 19h32!) sunshine.

This row of houses is at Erwood and just looked cute in the late afternoon (i.e. 19h32!) sunshine.

The first clutch of goslings are really growing fast now… well, except one who has been named 'Mini' and is one week younger than the other four (31 days cf. 38 days).

The first clutch of goslings are really growing fast now… well, except one who has been named ‘Mini’ and is one week younger than the other four (31 days cf. 38 days).

This is the goose - she came and sat right against my leg when I sat down after leading them out of the run and into the paddock for the day.  She sat with me for ten minutes or so while the gander and the goslings all sat about 2m away.

This is the goose – she came and sat right against my leg when I sat down after leading them out of the run and into the paddock for the day. She sat with me for ten minutes or so while the gander and the goslings all sat about 2m away.

This is the largest of the three goslings in the second clutch, now ~14 days old.  They usually squawk vociferously when picked up but this time he was quiet - Leanne was feeding them dandelion and he had a mouthful that he didn't want to lose!

This is the largest of the three goslings in the second clutch, now ~14 days old. They usually squawk vociferously when picked up but this time he was quiet – Leanne was feeding them dandelion and he had a mouthful that he didn’t want to lose!

According to the local we meet on the path, the tower is 10th century and is much older than the church itself.  I don't know how many churches there were in this small Victorian spa town but from where this was taken I could see four.  Builth Wells is also an ancient market town.

According to the local we meet on the path, the tower is 10th century and is much older than the church itself. I don’t know how many churches there were in this small Victorian spa town but from where this was taken I could see four. Builth Wells is also an ancient market town.

Bridge across the River Wye at Builth Wells.

Bridge across the River Wye at Builth Wells.

The River Wye in a scene looking very much like summer.

The River Wye in a scene looking very much like summer.

There were a lot of interesting buildings lining the high street.

There were a lot of interesting buildings lining the high street.

Llandrindod Wells is only a few miles from Builth Wells and has an even better collection of Victorian buildings.  It was also a spa town.

Llandrindod Wells is only a few miles from Builth Wells and has an even better collection of Victorian buildings. It was also a spa town.

Built in 1882-4 as the rectory of the nearby Holy Trinity Church for the newly appointed Archdeacon de Winton.  It was set in two acres of gardens with stables and a coach house.  After being used by the Army during WWII, it was refurbished and opened as The Commodore Hotel.  The style of the house is Arts & Crafts a movement which flourished from 1880 to 1910.  The exterior is fish scale terracotta tiling.  Other features include Elizabethan chimneys and on the second floor, the fine example of protruding windows under small hoods, called oriel windows.

Built in 1882-4 as the rectory of the nearby Holy Trinity Church for the newly appointed Archdeacon de Winton. It was set in two acres of gardens with stables and a coach house. After being used by the Army during WWII, it was refurbished and opened as The Commodore Hotel. The style of the house is Arts & Crafts a movement which flourished from 1880 to 1910. The exterior is fish scale terracotta tiling. Other features include Elizabethan chimneys and on the second floor, the fine example of protruding windows under small hoods, called oriel windows.

Streetscape in Llandrindod Wells.

Streetscape in Llandrindod Wells.

Another streets cape in Llandrindod Wells.

Another streets cape in Llandrindod Wells.

We have seen telephone boxes in the most unlikely places in Wales. Miles up country lanes half hidden in hedges and the like. This one was in a 'normal' location in Llandrindod Wells but it was unique for another reason - there was somebody using it. This we had never seen before. In fact, who does not have a cellphone these days. Or perhaps they do but coverage is so bad they can't often use them (see my venting about Hay-on-Wye).

We have seen telephone boxes in the most unlikely places in Wales. Miles up country lanes half hidden in hedges and the like. This one was in a ‘normal’ location in Llandrindod Wells but it was unique for another reason – there was somebody using it. This we had never seen before. In fact, who does not have a cellphone these days. Or perhaps they do but coverage is so bad they can’t often use them (see my venting about Hay-on-Wye).

The Jones reference in the title was twofold in meaning.  The obvious Welsh connection but also around here we keep seeing heavy machinery and vehicles emblazoned with “John Jones”.  He seems to be everywhere and his equipment all seems very modern.  He must be the surviving transport and heavy haulage contractor.  I guess quantitative easing has to be good for some folks, at least in the short term.

I am starting to toy with the idea of making another change to how I present this blog.  My thinking is to perhaps post the photos on to Flickr instead of on this blog site and just do a brief diary here with perhaps only one or two photos.  My logic is that the main thing I use this blog for is to ‘show’ people some of my pictures.  That is just what Flickr is for.  Or maybe I should still put the pictures in the postings but also upload them all to Flickr (I have been uploading a selection there already as a trial)?

I would be interested to hear some feedback.  Just jot your thoughts in a comment below.  Thanks and see you next week.

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