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Croeso! Welcome to Lletty Cottage a lovely five star holiday cottage for two in Carmarthenshire. www.llettycottage.co.uk

November 20 Aberglasney and Home November 20, 2020

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It is November, it isn’t cold but it’s been wet.

It is November sunny days have been few and far between.

It is November and Wales is now out of lockdown.

It is November and gardening is difficult in clay soils.

It is November and life becomes somewhat repetitious……

It’s nearly December…some good things to look forward to! Yay!

Walks have been limited to local trails and tracks but a visit to Aberglasney was a delight even if it did rain!

A short walk up Bishop Rudd’s Walk passing the stunning colours of the acer trees brings you to the new pergola with clematis planted around the base.

Walking from the top of the Garden passing planted woodland borders and following a rushing, bubbling stream, leads you through the Upper Walled Garden, to the Lower Walled Garden and then …..down to Pigeon House Woods…..a favourite…but then everything in Aberglasney is a favourite of mine!

Just a flavour of the colours in the wood enhanced by the splashy effect of the rain…all done on purpose…of course!

Time for coffee and a dry out! The cafe has moved to the mansion for more space during the covid restrictions. It’s all very welcoming.

Back home there’s colour and variety in the house plants

and colour and variety in the garden too…

Some years ago I bought a small shrub from Farmyard Nurseries – for about £5. This shrub is now a small tree and it’s my most treasured tree in the garden…it has variegated leaves, it’s evergreen, has flowers in the summer and red berries in the autumn and is alive with bees and insects through the spring and summer…it ticks all my boxes!! To top it all it’s so pretty all through the year!

Did I say…it’s a Photina Davidiana palette…I bought it as a birthday present to myself and choose it as it has David…in its name…the name of our son and palette…as I like art….now that’s as good a reason as any to buy a plant! I love it!

Watching the birds helps to pass the time!

Surprisingly the first hellebores are showing their buds…so not only do we have the excitement of a vaccine to look forward to, there’s also Christmas (maybe just the two of us…but we are still talking so that’s not too bad!) and now the promise of hellebores…things are definitely looking up!

Thank you for reading.

 

November 6th Local Living Llandovery November 7, 2020

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Monday brings the end to our Wales mini lockdown…yay! We’ll be able to travel anywhere we like…in Wales …but in reason. Over the last fortnight we have stayed local. It has been pleasant over the last few days with the weather improving to blue skies, sunny but chilly and a night time frost. We’ve been on local walks around the lanes and hardly seen anyone. We did have some wonderful visitors though…long tailed tits …chirped their way into the garden and just looked their cutest …as ever!

A great deal of rain preceded our spell of dry weather and the local streams are full of cascading water and some even have ‘new’ waterfalls. Plenty of lichen and fungus to see in all the damp areas

We are very fortunate to have such lovely local walks around here.

Our Pond Field and garden also has some good autumn colour and interest.

No wonder I keep painting trees!

As well as trees and bushes in the garden there are many different hips, haws and berries being enjoyed by all the birds. They’ll get too fat to fly as they are eating all the windfall apples too!

The day before the frost arrived was a day of great activity! Canna lilies and ginger plants all moved into the greenhouse and some geraniums brought into the porch. However, protecting the gunnera causes the most problem! It’s the years spent being a commodore at a sailing club that has given Jim the expertise to ‘sail’ to the island and cut the gunnera down and use the leaves as an umbrella protection. Thank you Jim…your gardening help is now finished for the year! Promise!!

The veg plot is still being productive…it just seems to take care of itself and springs surprises all the time!

A daily visit and happy chat to our fantastic local shop in Llanwrda, The Old Post Office where one can get all necessities including Christmas stamps…which are just in is backed up by a weekly visit to our local town, Llandovery, where our local ‘big’ shop is the Coop. Throughout this strange year it has been open and shelves have been full and the staff have been friendly and helpful. Instead of diving straight in to do the shopping this week, with the sun shining and wrapped up warmly, a walk around the town seemed a good option. We walked along the river bank and met three different cats but all ginger…Rufus would be very jealous!

We crossed over an empty playing field but could hear the children playing in their school playground just across the way…it was lunchtime for them!

Our tracks led us up to the old church Llanfair-ar-y-bryn. St Mary’s was built inside Alabum, a Roman fort, on top of Llanfair Hill. 

The views all around the church are beautiful especially on such a perfect autumn day.

The hymn writer William Williams Pantycelyn (1717–1791) is buried in the churchyard, where there is a memorial to him.

He wrote, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer”.

Graveyards are fascinating not only for the gravestones and their historical and family interest but also for their natural interest as they are often have a good variety of flora and fauna.

The town has many interesting shop fronts that show the history of the town. All the shops are closed at present but window shopping is still great fun!

The river was flowing very quickly especially over the little weir that we discovered. It’s amazing what you find when you are walking.

As entry to our village church is not allowed at present a lovely display to help commemorate Remembrance Day tomorrow has been beautifully arranged in the church porch by a very kind villager.

Thank you for reading.

 

October 22 Botanic Garden of Wales, Dylan Thomas Laugharne, Pendine October 23, 2020

Not long now until 6pm today when Wales starts its own lockdown…a firebreak -to try to halt the spread of the Covid virus.

Thank goodness we are surrounded by beautiful countryside to walk in and enjoy all the autumn colours…that is when it’s not raining or too cold!

The local walk around our village lanes is called ‘The Loop’. How ever many times one walks it there is always something new to see and enjoy.

There are the wildflowers, the trees with fairy doors and the rushing streams.

The friendly donkeys are always there at their gate and always ready for a happy chat and a photo…they know they are gorgeous!

After the Loop it’s a downhill walk passing the field with the friendly bullocks, who are all safely behind the gate, and then a view over the hedge of our house and that cup of coffee!

It’s the season when the lichen are looking interesting and being noticed around our garden and on all our apple tree branches.

On a visit to the Botanic Gardens there was an excellent embroidery display in their gallery and some of the amazing work showed many of the types of lichen around…a very useful resource for me! There are so many talented folk around!

On my visit to the Gardens I was accompanied by my friend and the sunshine came too! It was a glorious day.

After another visit to the Gallery to see the other work on display we walked down through the wood to see the new bridges.

My very knowledgeable friend told me that this year is a mast year for acorns when oak trees produce a bumper crop. There are certainly a great many acorns around and squirrels to pick them up!!

October is also a bumper month for friends and family birthdays! A visit to Laugharne to do the Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk is becoming quite a tradition.

The walk starts in the village and follows the shoreline which leads up the hill to St John’s Wood, where there are lovely views over the castle and the estuary of the River Taf.

Who needs man- made decorations when nature can provide the prettiest decorations ever!

Back in the village we walked up to Dylan Thomas’s writing shed which was having a facelift! Usually one can only peer through the window but this gave a chance to have a nosy inside!

The Boathouse, where the Thomas’s lived was closed to visitors but open for refreshments in the garden. Passing under the fig tree and pausing by the garden bench it’s no wonder that Dylan felt inspired to write with such amazing scenes all around.

Another visit to Pendine, to have a walk along the seafront, brought back many happy memories of our childhood holidays here in a caravan. There are now huge caravan sites all around the village but the beach hasn’t changed at all! It’s still seven miles long and wonderful! The plaque, detailing the world land speed records on the sands, is still on display on the pub wall.

Back home the garden is till giving pleasure. I have stripped the borders of all the ‘thugs’ that although quite beautiful were dominating everything else and have planted some more evergreens and smaller perennials. We’ll have to wait and see next year if I’ve been too fierce!

Delighted that I have finished writing this blog before the lockdown! Our wonderful pub in the village is closing at 6pm!

Thank you for reading.

 

October 9 Dinefwr, Spitfire Museum, Aberglasney October 9, 2020

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Our Walking Well walks have all been postponed due to Covid. Now another blow, that our walk leader, Philip, has decided that after leading our group with amazing walks supported by Lewis, it’s time for him to leave and take another path. Thanks Philip for all the walks- you’ll be really missed.

On a sunny Saturday we decided to take a quick drive to Llandeilo to visit Dinefwr National Trust. We hadn’t been here for a walk since April due to lockdown and then laziness! We parked in the Home Farm carpark and noticed a circular metal display depicting the history of the Towy Valley. We followed a different path from normal through farm buildings and noticed all kinds of interesting things: a barn with a lovely cobblestone floor, a kiln of some kind and an open barn with the hay harvest all collected!

History of the Towy Valley

We recalled that the last time we were here we were enjoying the vast display of bluebells in the woods. Now the trees were in their autumn colours and conkers were on the ground under the horse chestnut trees and acorns all round the oaks. The ‘bird’ tree looked perplexed and wondered where the year had gone!

Newton House could be seen in the distance and it was only a short walk to the front of the House to discover that although the cafe and house were closed an order for coffee and scones could be made through the window! Hooray!

After our refreshments, we headed off to complete a circular walk passing the cowshed where there were two of the treasured white cattle…only calves. Maybe they’d been naughty and kept in as the rest of the herd were out grazing in the fields.

Two further cattle were on their own in a field…socially distanced! Apparently they were being kept separated from the herd as a quarantine precaution for TB.

This post wouldn’t be the same if Aberglasney wasn’t mentioned!

Once where the pig sties used to be is now The Piggeries! The Bonsai Group meet there every Sunday either indoors in one of the rooms or outside. There is a wonderful greenhouse catering for all the needs of the garden. Just to walk through the greenhouse is a joy noting all the plants that are growing for the next season and seeing new ideas!

Elsewhere in the Garden is a melon house – lots of seedlings growing there at present.

On my visit to the Gardens I fell into a conversation with a lady who was on holiday from England. She said she had enjoyed her holiday very much especially her visit to Aberglasney and to Haverfordwest , where she had visited the smallest museum ever for a Spitfire!

Last time we had visited Haverfordwest the museum had been closed so this seemed a good opportunity to try a visit again. Luckily, Pembrokeshire isn’t in lockdown and although unnecessary travel isn’t recommended I’m sure a drive to see a Spitfire would be regarded as very important!

A part of my childhood was spent in Haverfordwest so a walk around the town and a coffee in the library was a very enjoyable part of the visit. We walked up the road we had lived on and it was lovely to see the old haunts again. I have always loved castles and bridges and maybe seeing the castle most days on my walk to school and all the lovely bridges in town can explain my interest in them.

Interestingly, my old school is now flats!My brother’s school, which was next door- had disappeared!

At last we reached our destination…The Spitfire Museum! Well, actually it’s a shop and at the back of the shop behind a curtain there is the museum! Small but perfectly interesting with many pieces and a Spitfire fuselage with a seat.

It really was fascinating to see it all and to talk to the gentleman in charge. They now need to raise two million pounds to put all the pieces together and to buy parts before the Welsh Spitfire will be ready for flying. I added £2 to the kitty!

Back home the weather has been the perfect combination of rain, warmth and chill to make our hedges grow! A professional team was needed to help sort our problem out! It came in the form of three hard working gentlemen from D.T.S. Tree Services Lampeter who cut our hedge, bushes and laurel down to a manageable size!

All the lovely wood chippings piled up ready to use!

Under the hedges plants that had been hidden began to emerge!

Flowers are still flowering even though we have had some chilly days and nights. Plants have their fruits and the holly bushes are full of red berries.

Although there are old wives’ tales about an abundant crop of red berries  indicating a harsh winter ahead- it could just be that the weather conditions have been perfect for hedges and berries to grow…see above!!

Some roses from the garden have brought some cheer into the house through the rainy days and miserable news days!

The sky has brought interest too with many strange cloud formations during the day and a very bright Mars and shooting stars in the night.

Thank you for reading.

 

September 25 Aberglasney: Discovery of Witches, Llandovery September 25, 2020

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Today the sun shone and the wind blew and a trip to Llandovery for a hair cut was on the cards. Llandovery is a lovely little town and caters for all one needs. It’s a good feeling to park the car overlooked by the old castle. The carpark now has a battery charger next to the playground. I’m sure that all the children’s energy could be adapted to energise all the car batteries…they never stop and only occasionally need refuelling with chocs and such like.

Walking through the park, up the slope to the castle, the town lies below the gaze of the shining stainless steel monument to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan. He was executed in Llandovery 1401  by Henry IV of England in punishment for his support of Owain Glyndŵr‘s Welsh rebellion. Oh dear!

Back in the town, which was quiet except for some shoppers shopping all wearing face masks and queuing neatly outside the Post Office.

Newly decorated and looking very smart

Back home with the sun shining a good time to have a look around the garden. The last weeks have been busy with a great deal of cutting down and tidying up. There have been days full of butterflies, dragonflies and bees and other days when the early morning sun has caught the cobwebs glistening with dew.

Another few visits to Aberglasney were enjoyed. For the first time since March the mansion was open with an excellent art and craft exhibition and the Bonsai Group had a meeting outside The Piggeries.

Preparations were also being made in the garden by the production company that were filming the series Discovery Witches Sky TV. Very exciting news for all those who know about these things…sadly I don’t!!

The A for Aberglasney on the plant container has been covered with a motif in preparation for filming…just one tiny example of how things are done!

The garden has looked particularly beautiful with all the summer flowers and now autumn hues are taking over.

On entering the garden one has to pass under the bough of a magnificent Western Red Cedar, Thuja Plicata 150+ years old!

Walking up Bishop Rudd’s Walk to the top of the garden there is a new feature that looks bare at the present but one which will be planted with many clematis. Another place to sit and enjoy the view over the borders and towards Carmarthen.

Getting ready for Hallowe’en!

The news today is full of local lockdowns and a rising rate of infections. Looks like lots more days staying in the garden and remembering how fortunate we are to have clean fresh air, home grown veg and enough land to have our own space…Jim in his workshop, me in the garden so still talking! Stay safe!

 

September 12 Botanic Garden of Wales, Tregaron, Strata Florida, Betws Y Coed September 12, 2020

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What’s the weather like? Dry and bright and we’ll definitely go out somewhere, damp and chilly…well there’s always housework!! Cloudy and dull… a visit to the Botanic Garden which is great in any weather ! Can’t wait around for sunny days for too long!

At the Botanic Gardens a walk up to the Great Glasshouse passes examples of many rocks of different periods and gives a good distant view, over the meadows, of the Butterfly House.

Some new bridges have been installed in the Gardens. Walking through a lovely woodland area we reached one new bridge but it was fenced off and won’t be open for walkers until later this year.

Lovely to see all the colourful autumn flowers in the borders still standing upright even after all the wind and rain.

Another new bridge in the Gardens spans across a wetland area which is just being replanted. It was very muddy! Children would love it!

On the way home we stopped at Pont Felin Gap, which used to be another entrance to the Gardens. Now it is all closed off and one can only peep ( I had to scramble up a wall…wish I was taller!) at yet another new bridge. This one looks quite rustic. Looking forward to when visitors can walk across all these new bridges and see the new features easily.

Dry and bright on another day and we drove to Tregaron…50 minutes away.

We parked the car in the carpark where there was still free parking. That’s one of the great benefits of lockdown…no parking charges! Hope it lasts for ages. The town was buzzing and full of trailers and people…it was the start of a hunt!

A hunting we will go!

We left them to it after a tickle on each nose and a whispered ‘Sorry’ !

My Dad came from Tregaron and Welsh was his first language. It’s a pretty town with a river running through it and a good pub and art /craft gallery.

We headed to the art/craft gallery where there was the usual collection of all wonderful crafty things that I wanted to buy! Also a lovely coffee shop where we sat outside chatting to some bikers and enjoyed the view over the church.

There was an enjoyable guided tour of new art work by Welsh artists led by Philip Huckin. He is having an exhibition in the autumn in Fine Art Gallery Llandeilo….looking forward to seeing it.

Painting by Philip Huckin

Not far from Tregaron is Cors Caron Nature Reserve. A marvellous area of raised bog and on a sunny day the best place to visit ever!

First ever slideshow….Tregaron Bog!

Whilst walking along the board walk there were numerous Common Lizards warming themselves in the sun. The butterflies were out surfing over the heather, the cotton grass was blowing snowily in the bog and the ponies were keeping an eye on us!

As we were near Strata Florida we popped in to see it again. The abbey was established by Cisterian monks in 1201. It became the most famous church in Wales after St Davids. It is the final resting place for generations of medieval Welsh princes.

A day drive up to Bethesda in North Wales for a dear friend’s funeral was ended by a stop off on the way home at Betws-y-Coed…prayer- house in the wood.

The town was packed with tourists and with the sun shining we walked around and over the bridge and enjoyed the view of the river. We also enjoyed the tastiest Welsh Rarebit in the world courtesy of the chef in The Royal Oak Hotel. The drive through the Snowdonia mountains was breathtaking . Wales is such an incredible country with so many wonderful natural beauties to enjoy and all so near!

There was also a selection of old railway carriages to enjoy at the railway station and a fine collection of railway dioramas and model engines in an exhibition.

Back home the garden continues to grow wildly and my secateurs , shears, hedge cutters are now all at the ready to start cutting everything back! Then something new begins to flower to give delight ( especially the flowering ginger!) and everything stops again and I take time just to enjoy the garden and all the creatures in it.

Thank you for reading. Having to wear face masks in shops starts in Wales on Monday…something new to remember again…as well as my shopping list, keys and purse!

Thank you especially Quiet Solo Pursuits!

 

August 28 Myddfai, Craig y Nos, Dragon’s Garden. August 28, 2020

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Bank Holiday weekend and hopefully it will stop raining for a day or two! All those people on holidays need a bit of sunshine before they all return to work!

Fortunately we chose a relatively dry day to visit Myddfai and its Visitor Centre. A village not too far away with a lovely cafe, which was open, and an easy walk around the village lanes. The village is well known for its connection to the Physicians of Myddfai, a medical tradition that dates back to the 13th century often relating to herbal remedies.

The ‘Physicians’ apparently used many of the wildflowers and herbs growing locally to treat many ailments. Walking around the village there were a number of wildflowers in the banks and along the verges. Not sure if they used any of these in their treatments.

A look into the Visitor Centre shop is always enjoyable as they have lots of interesting goods for sale most of them locally made.

Thank goodness for all the information signs as a low grassy mound in the adjacent field might be a moated medieval homestead…I’d never have guessed!

On a visit to Carmarthen to visit the dentist…where I had a tooth out…we stopped for coffee, before going to the dentist, in the new cafe that was once the Magistrates’ Court in the 240 years old Guildhall! We sat outside and looked at the monument in front of the building from the back and then the front!

The coffee and cake were fine and afterwards we had a sneak upstairs to look at all the paintings displayed on the walls and to see if we could peep into the old court room…we could!

The first of our local village walks around the Loop started up again recently. It was very enjoyable to be walking out again with friends and we were able to stay socially distanced and yet keep up a steady chat all the way round!

Creativity seems to be the norm in our village, Llansadwrn, as an enterprising villager has turned an old stable block into a wonderful book shop. The setting in a glade, with a market garden attached, off a country lane is quite perfect….a shop of delights.

Listening to the weather forecast earlier this week the words ‘ dry with sunny spells’ sounded out loud and clear! Another visit out was definitely on the cards! Just a short hop over the mountains (40 minutes drive) brought us to Craig y Nos Country Park .

Craig-y-Nos Castle and grounds were once the estate of the celebrated opera diva Adelina Patti who during her lifetime ( 1843-1919 ) became one of the worlds most famous and highly rewarded entertainers.’ 

The walk around the park and round the lakes was most enjoyable even when it began to rain!

Sadly the castle where weddings are frequently held looked as though Covid had caused problems as it was all closed up.

Driving home we enjoyed the sight of the heather covering the vast expanse of the hillsides …wish the sun had been shining though!

Back home the garden has received a severe flattening with the storms, wind and rain but it’s fighting back and still giving lots of colour and enjoyment!

Thank you for reading and I hope you have a lovely, dry and sunny Summer Bank Holiday. Next 2020 Bank Holiday is Christmas Day!

 

August 15 Tredegar and Aberglasney August 15, 2020

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Good to be back on the computer after all the amazing thunderstorms we’ve had locally and lightning flashes, one of which , zapped our router! BT were very good and replaced it very swiftly! It has been very hot and humid and as it was too hot for the beach or the mountains, a visit out to a town seemed on the cards!

An artist friend of mine has just painted a great portrait of Aneurin Bevan and Derek, our Weatherman Walking, had visited Tredegar, where Nye was born in 1897, so using the information from the Weatherman Walking website we set off! Only an hour away and a town we’d never visited before so although hot outside, the air conditioned car seemed the best place to be! A very welcoming entrance to the Park.

We started our town tour by visiting the lovely Bedwellty Park. The paths were lined with a range of trees which cooled our short walk up to the house and cafe where we enjoyed a socially distanced and Eat Out to Help Out snack!

Tredegar town has an industrial and cultural past. To mark the people who helped shape the town there are a number of stainless steel artworks placed around the town to tell their stories.

Following the paths through the park we stopped at a large building which houses the biggest lump of coal in the world!! It was huge and wouldn’t have fitted into any coal house I know!

The coal should have been shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace but weighing in at 15 tonnes it was too heavy to transport so came to Bedwellty.

Also in the park was an icehouse, a grotto and a large kitchen garden with an ornate gate to enter by …so lots to see and enjoy.

Leaving the park we walked up to the town keeping in the shade of the houses and passing newly decorated businesses on the way. Very smart!

The centre of Tredegar is dominated by a fine town clock. The tablet saying how the money was raised to build this magnificent clock made me think that Mary Davis definitely knew how to run a money making bazaar!

Mary Elizabeth Davis

Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960) was a Labour MP, who in 1948 implemented the National Health Service. He’d been inspired by a local society which provided healthcare to miners and ironworkers, who paid into a subscription. He said in Parliament:  ‘We are going to “Tredegarise” you’. And he did!

He gave up his seat for me! What a gentleman!

Good to see that our Chancellor of the Exchequer is highly thought of in Tredegar!

Leaving the town centre we visited the other park in the town, Parc Brynbach, which had a splendid lake plus wildfowl and a cafe with icecream…we were sorted!

Earlier in the week we had visited Carmarthen to collect my new lawn mower!

We crossed the Towy river over the Pont King Morgan pedestrian bridge and stood and watched in one direction the new rolling stock chug into Carmarthen station and in the other direction there was the three span bridge that we were heading for. This bridge had replaced the seven span bridge in 1937. There’s a good view of the Carmarthen County Offices from the bridge. The lawn mower shop was nearby and all was in order so collection was easy in the car!

I might have mentioned before that I rather enjoy my visits to Aberglasney Gardens!! My visit last week was with a number of good friends from an art group I belong to. There was a great deal of social distancing and lots of coffee, chat and enjoyment!

Back home it’s becoming hard work saving the garden from becoming a jungle! The hot humid weather followed by lots of rain are just the perfect conditions for growth!! The veg garden has been productive and we are now enjoying many dinners with runner beans, peas, turnips(!) courgettes, leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers and spinach! The apples and pears are coming along well and the birds think so too!

During lockdown I made up some hanging baskets just using ‘old’ begonia tubers. They have turned out to be very easy to grow, no maintenance just watering and they are colourful…so I’ll plant them again next year!

Thank you for reading this post. Hope this helps you plan all the places you can visit whilst staying in Lletty Cottage when it reopens next spring.

 

August 1 Pinch Punch, Colby Woodland Gardens, Amroth, August 1, 2020

I haven’t a photo of a white rabbit to start the month ( maybe you don’t say ‘white rabbit’ or ‘pinch punch, first day of the month’ but I do!) anyway, I do have a photo of the new occupants of the field in front of the house!

The weather has been up and down or rather wet and chilly or dry and hot!

We’ve enjoyed a couple of visits out and recently went to NT Colby Woodland Gardens where we found free entry! ( We are NT members but in case others aren’t check before you visit!) 45 minutes from home!

The cafe was open so before we set off anywhere it was a treat to have a proper cappuccino and cream scones with strawberry jam! Sadly the wasps were out looking for a treat too!

After a wonderful walk through the woodlands we strolled down the driveway towards Amroth and the beach.

On the way we passed ‘the money tree’! I wonder if anyone has ever thought what they will do when the trunk falls down!