Lletty's Blog

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

January 15 2021 Llanwrda Walk, Llansadwrn Walk and Stars of Hope January 15, 2021

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This afternoon the skies have cleared and the sun has tried so very hard to make an appearance….it worked to tempt me out for a walk around the garden. The temperature has raised to a balmy 2 degrees so it was a quick walk! Signs of spring are definitely appearing. Buds on many of the bushes are swelling and spears of leaves of crocus, daffodils and others are pushing up through the wet soil just perfectly placed and tender and juicy to be nibbled by mice and squirrels!

This morning it was a quick drive to Llandovery to our wonderful Coop for a weekly shop! For once I had timed my arrival to coincide with the delivery and the filling of all the shelves. Lots of fresh veg and fruit were on display to tempt one! We were advised to ‘keep going’ as due to Covid advice they were keeping an eye on the number of people in the shop and a queue outside was forming. Some shelves were bare due to non essential items being removed…again Covid advice. I wonder who decides what is non essential! I think shoes are essential and the local shoe shop is shut!!!

We’ve been fortunate and had some really bright days and we have tried to make the most of them by enjoying our local walks. We did drive two miles to Llanwrda to start one walk much against Covid advice but all other walks were from our front door! In Llanwrda we parked in the car park and looked up towards the farm that we were heading for. We followed the footpaths through the village and discovered some steps leading down into the river…they led nowhere!

The village has a lovely church which looked even lovelier with its smattering of snow.

This bird of prey had a perfect position to view the hill over the road and keep an eye on the flock of sheep there.

Reaching the farm we could look back to where we’d left the car and then walk through the farm and listen to the flock of starlings on the barn roof and trees and admire the chickens, the sheep, the wonderful gate posts and the beautiful views all around of the Carmarthenshire countryside.

The circular walk back to the car through the village was tried to be done at a faster pace as the afternoon was getting chillier by the minute, however, care had to be taken as the roads were icy…so slow and steady instead of fast and reckless became our motto!

Although we have days when we don’t have many birds in the garden when the cold comes they all come flocking back!

Another regular walk around Llansadwrn is another loop…through the Millennium Woods. It’s been a while since we did it as the paths have been under water but now with mended wellies…a patch from a cycle repair kit….puddles are no longer a problem!

On the way back the ducks hadn’t moved!

From the top of our drive we have a view over the Black Mountain which should be renamed in winter to the White Mountain as it looks amazing when covered in snow.

Back in the garden the fruit trees are covered in lichen and some of our fences are only staying upright as they glued together by moss!

The borders still have colour and interest and it’s growing!

This morning there was a bright sunrise to welcome the day.

Down the drive the first drift of snowdrops are beginning to blanket the soil telling us that Spring is not too far away. This year these little ‘stars of hope’ bring us all hope for a brighter 2021!

 

January 1st Welcome to 2021! January 1, 2021

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Thank goodness 2020 is over, Brexit is done and dusted (except for the bumpy road ahead!) , vaccines are on their way and we are getting 2 minutes 7 seconds of extra light a day now….so lots to be cheerful about!

In the last weeks of December instead of the usual crush at the Christmas Fairs and markets there were the quiet, chilly evenings standing alone the garden, looking up to the skies, to see Jupiter and Saturn get close and the last full moon of the year. Too cloudy for the planets but camera OK for the full moon, sunrises and sunsets!

Being that the weather has been variable is not actually covering the situation! It has rained…rather a lot, it has been chilly….rather a lot and it has snowed…quite a bit recently so gardening has been confined to the indoors! I have to be careful, as every year around this time, I turn my attention to indoor plants and actually look at them and water them too much…which quickly prompts them to shrivel and die!

Of course I do go in the garden to take Rufus for his walks! It’s like having a child to look after!

He was unsure about the snow! He’s such a wuss he didn’t want to leave the back door!

There’s still quite a few plants giving their all in the garden even though it’s so wet, damp and cold!

When the snow arrived it turned the garden into a wonderland of sparkle and beauty…love how a blanket of snow covers over all the not so tidy bits of the place!

Although the amount of birds visiting our feeders seems to have dropped this year the number of blue tits has doubled and the numbers of nuthatches have increased too. Many birds reappeared when the cold and the snow came so maybe with the ‘warmer’ winter there are still too many seeds on the trees to keep them fed and happy.

On Christmas Day we did venture out in the car for a 10 minute drive away to the Dolaucothi Estate. Such a treat to be out somewhere different -Wales is in Tier 4 lockdown and staying at home is advised.

We were the only car in the carpark when a bounding, happy dog raced towards us and jumped in our car!! He was wishing us a Merry Christmas obviously! He was a dog to be recognised easily! He did leave his mark in the car though!

Anyway it all added to the day’s experience and made up for the quiet day that we had expected! We loved the walk though the wood and spotted an amazing amount of hair ice ( Thanks Mr T!)

There were many miniature gardens to spot on walls and tree trunks… who needs Dark Materials when you can find a new world just by looking.

On our walk we found this ‘well’ under a tree and protected by a large tree trunk. It seemed appropriate on such a day to find a cross with The Lord’s prayer engraved on it.

We enjoyed our Christmas dinner ( turkey and veggie!) after watching the grand present opening of gifts by the grandchildren in Canada and England via Facetime. Later it was wonderful to catch up with my brother and niece in Australia and loads of relations everywhere all by Zoom! How amazing !

Just received my first seed catalogue through the post! Now that really does give me something interesting to read and to start planning the garden for the fascinating year that lies ahead…it will be different from 2020 but what will it throw at us? We’ll be ready!

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year and enjoy all those extra minutes of light at the end of each day!

 

December 19 Staying Safe but Out and About December 19, 2020

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Although Christmas is now going to be a very slimmed down affair for many it hasn’t changed our preparations as we had already planned to be home alone…plus the cat! We are very fortunate that we can get out and still go for lovely local walks.

Following the footpath through the local caravan park (Aber Marlais) is a favourite especially when the river is in full flow under the little bridges. It won’t be long before the banks will be turned white with the drifts of snowdrops carpeting the woodland floors. (Roll on the spring as well as the vaccine!)

The track is an old Roman road and the hedge posts at the side look as though the Romans put the fence in! Lovely lichen! Little cities on top of posts.

Passing down the track sheep and a goat in the next field hurtled towards the gate to see us. After a quick scratch on their heads I hid in the bushes to watch the goat to make sure he could get his head & horns back through the gate! He could…easily!

The track lead down to the main road the A40 which if you follow it right to the end brings you to London! Recent roadworks have caused days of traffic lights and a diversion. …..just had to investigate especially when the sign said ‘Wildlife Crossing’! After chatting to a very kind gentleman I was told that a culvert under the road had been replaced and indeed it was to help any wildlife who found the entrance a safe way to cross the road as well as being a drain for the small stream. Hope the badgers can cross safely now!

Aberglasney is now closed due to lockdown but I managed a quick visit before the gates were shut!

The weather over the last few weeks can generally be summed up as ….wet! However, some days the sun has managed to put its hat on to give some splendid sunrises and sometimes even cold enough to freeze ones toes!

Enjoyed a few visits to lovely Llandovery to get a pre lockdown haircut (very short hair now) and to do some shopping. The shops had made such a special effort to decorate their windows and to bring cheer to all but it was all so quiet!

Also enjoyed a drive in to Llandeilo and a visit to a new shop! Davies and Co !How exciting to open a new business at this time. The shop is based in an old warehouse that has been transformed into a furniture and coffee shop plus lots more. I loved it …can you tell!

Back home in the garden everything is still under water but a few plants and lots of birds are still trying to brighten things up. The long tailed tits are very nervous. As soon as I lift the camera up in the kitchen to take a photo through the window they fly off…I shall keep trying!! They know they are cute!

On a walk up the village this week I spotted a buzzard in the tree. It flew right over me and I ducked so I didn’t get a chance to see it in flight! The village has new road signs…30mph…which is so sensible. The signs are on all roads leading into and out of the village and I discovered even on a track. Does that mean that it’s 60 mph when you leave the 30 zone?

I visited the church to see their Christmas display in the porch. It was beautiful.

I look forward to starting the New Year with lots of positivity, lots of new plans (visit to Canada in summer to visit grandchildren- fingers crossed!) and lots of hope that life will get better for everyone.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and a happy and healthy 2021.

 

December 4 Aberglasney, Amroth, Oriel Llanteglos Gallery December 4, 2020

Winter has definitely arrived but it was preceded by some sunny dry days to bring cheer to everyone. Also brightening up the mood the news that the vaccine has achieved UK approval so it’s going to be elbows out to see who can get first in the queue!

I do try to vary my posts but I always seem to include my visits to Aberglasney …can’t help it as it really is such a remarkable place to visit whether you are outside in the woods or inside in the Ninfarium…an indoor garden using the interior part of the mansion that was left unrestored.

Opening the doors from the mansion into the Ninfarium is like entering the Secret Garden …in fact it is the Secret Garden and quite beautiful.

A sunny day dawned so a visit to the seaside and an art gallery was top of the list. Less than an hour’s drive away is Amroth and the NT Colby Woodland Gardens but before going for a walk there we called in to the newly opened Oriel Llanteglos Gallery. We received a very warm welcome form the owner and thoroughly enjoyed our look around at all the amazing art work on display.

We drove down to the beach as we wanted to save our legs for the beach walk ! Before that we had a tasty lunch in the Smuggler’s Bar sitting outside in the sunshine.It was glorious!

A drive to Carmarthen later in the week for a visit to the dentist gave a chance to have a wander round and find new things to interest!

John Nash has a fascinating history.

On the same day to get over the bill from the dentist we went to Llanstephan beach for a walk and a blow of sea air!

It always seems to happen at the same time first it’s the dentist and then the car needs a service -only to discover that two front tyres also need replacing!

Another visit to the seaside was called for to have another blow of fresh sea air to rejuvenate the spirit!! This time Mumbles where we enjoyed a lovely lunch in the Croeso Lounge.

Back home the garden is now being left to look after itself for a while… the clay is too wet! The birds have kept busy and a new bird on the bird table brought out the bird books. I believe it’s a female Black Cap ( I might be wrong!) and they are usually only a summer visitor. There’s no sign as yet of the male. It’s a very bossy bird and clears the bird table of all other birds so it can eat in peace!

I started this post by saying Winter has arrived and we did have some sleet and cold weather today but Christmas glow has also arrived with our village turning on the lights on the most wonderful and beautiful Christmas tree ever! It is a perfectly shaped Christmas tree and the twinkling lights will surely brighten everyone up. Thank you Llansadwrn villagers.

 

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!