You can even enter on the day – memorial Half Marathon … come on…

8 Oct

…and Do Do the Ron Run…

It’s the 11th Memorial Half Marathon in Llanwrtyd Wells on 23rd October. a 12.5 mile fell/mixed terrain run in a figure of eight from and to the town square twice.  In memory of the late great Ron Skilton, co-founder of Green Events Ltd (who bring you Bog Snorkelling, Man v Horse, Chariot Racing , Real Ale Wobbles and Summer Cider Cycles)… A fabulous family run event, marshalled entirely by member of the Skilton family who reunite here annually in his memory.  Open to solo runners or two person relays.  All ages from 14 up.  You can even enter on the morning of the event.  This year its on Sunday 23rd October.  So all I can say is come along and Run Run Run Run…

all the details are on my original blog about it from 2013…


Did You know….Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and its link Wales?

6 Oct

Here’s a little known quirky story about our amazing home in the Heart of Wales:-

the Good Earth, Manfred Mann, Earth Band, album, 1974, music, recordIn 1974 Manfred Mann released an album titled “The Good Earth”.

Those who purchased the album were entitled to rights over one square foot of the earth situated at Llanerchyrfa, in the Abergwesyn Valley, Brecknockshire, Wales. That’s just up the road from our home, Cerdyn Villa, here in Llanwrtyd Wells.

On the inner sleeve of the album was a registration coupon. If you returned it before 31st December 1975 you became the proud owner of one square foot of the 10 acre plot the band owned. This was part of the promotion activities linked to the album to ensure this piece of land was not taken over by forestry and instead remained unchanged. It was an ecological aspiration…..

…and here it is today, the plateau in this photo…

the plateau owned by fans

the plateau owned by fans

How do I know all this? Well I bumped into a BBC Wales reporter, who then got in touch with a chap called Gordon Green MBE (look him up) and my hubby, and the three of them went off today in search of the Good Earth Project and found it!

So, now you know.  Maybe you own the album? Or even one of those square feet? If you do, why don’t you make the pilgrimage here to visit it…



Blackpool : laughter, live music and looniness

6 Oct


Loony Party Conference at Uncle Toms Cabin

Loony Party Conference at Uncle Toms Cabin

Dale Rowles, AKA Leutentant Jaegar Schnitzel... BB Blackdog

Dale Rowles, AKA Lieutenant Jaegar Schnitzel… BB Blackdog

The 32nd Monster Raving Loony Party Conference.  The 2nd in a row in Blackpool and it’s likely to become a regular haunt .  We have the perfect hosts both in our accommodation providers; The New Guilderoy Hotel, owned by Loony members (Baroness Chief Whip Guilderoy and Lord Guilderoy); and our venue, Uncle Toms Cabin where we are we welcomed with open arms by the staff and landlord who blend in, like professional loonies😉

Alan "Howlin Laud" Hope announcing the Cabinet Reshuffle

Alan “Howlin Laud” Hope announcing the Cabinet Reshuffle

We also have Tony Davies, Loony Bus Driver who has access to and provides his services for our campaigning tour/ pub crawl ( !).  The open top tour brings extra smiles to many a face and how doesn’t want to spread a little happiness

Comedy Carpet

Comedy Carpet

….and then we have the Firework Festival, Comedy Carpet and magnificent esplanade along the seafront

The weekend was filled with smiles, music and laughter ….and lashings of alcohol.  We were entertained by Loony Bands… The morris dancersB.U.M.S (Border Urban Morris Side)… who include amongst its Loony members, Baron full fat boogie bandVon Magpie Bum , Honey Bum and the Party’s youngest standing candidate, Hugo Shovit.  then there were The Big Fibbers (both Loonies:  Knigel Knapp and Tristian Shout); BB Blackdog (lead singer and founder, Loony member,  Lieutenant Jager Schnitzel); plus we had great music from Loony Sympathisers; both Badaxe (with a personal tribute to our great

The Full Fat Boogie Band

The Full Fat Boogie Band

Leader, Howlin’ Laud Hope) and The Wattingers performed unbelievable “you had to be there” sets.  And let’s not forget the magnificent Full Fat Boogie Band who got us dancing and wearing even more hats with their two sets on our first night.

Three Amigos

Three Amigos

There was a conference bit… the bit where we patted ourselves on our backs for our successes in the Welsh Assembly Elections;  achieving a party first in qualifying for an Election Broadcast. We discussed our standing candidate in David Cameron’s old constituency of Witney ; that will be our very own Mad

Beautiful Blackpool

Beautiful Blackpool

Hatter…wishing him every success on the campaign trail. It was also noted that we are the ONLY political party not in the red… we are solvent and work within our means.  Plus we are about to appear in the Guiness book of World Records as having the longest-serving party leader (17 years ) Howlin’ Laud Hope, who has just beaten the previous record holder, Loony founder , Lord Sutch, to the title.  It is also being considered as to whether he is the longest standing political leader in the world to have been democratically elected.

Yes as ever, Loonies are leading the way!!  Not to mention the colourful double page spread in the Blackpool Gazette.

From the Blackpool Gazette - 4th October 2016

From the Blackpool Gazette – 4th October 2016



Grannies write to the Queen to stop fracking for the “health of their grandchildren”

29 Sep

this peaceful protest, granny power, speaks perfectly for itself without any additional input from me xx

Pride's Purge

A group of grandmothers in Lancashire have written an open letter to the Queen telling her their concerns about fracking.

And from 2pm tomorrow (Tuesday) the nanas will be delivering the letter and having what they call Nana Tea outside Buckingham Palace. They assure they will be bringing their “best crockery” in case she “pops out”.

Here’s the letter:

*The Grandmother Elizabeth,

*Please note that we address you in this way, out of respect for what we consider to be your noblest role and highest obligation: to protect the young.

We recently contacted you about the plight of Lancashire residents who have used every democratic channel available to them in the fight to stop fracking coming to their communities. If you recall, our elected county councillors refused planning permission for two fracking sites in rural Fylde: Cuadrilla then appealed and the decision will now be made by the Secretary…

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Mum cooking

29 Sep

My son started uni this year.  Thanks to social media life is pretty much as it was when he lived here.  We communicate as if he were in the house…that is , by text!.

The main differences are his room is clean and there are no dirty boxer shorts on my bathroom floor!

It’s not that I don’t miss him.  I do .  It’s more of a feeling that he’s very much still here.  After all, as they get older they tend to start preparing you for their flight from home by staying at mates/girlfriends house or going on holiday without you.  So I’m used to him not being in the house.  And I’m used to communicating with him over Facebook.

He however is less used to living on his own.  His absences from here generally coincided with him being in a home with another dad/mum…. cook!

He’s missing some mum-made grub.  That means I’ll probably get a home visit soon and so shall start batch cooking shortly so I can load him up with goodies to take back.

I’m glad he’s missing me.  we mum’s like to know that!

My summer in 'Marigold'

end of summer….and a new chapter begins…

20 Sep

Last week I wrote about that lovely long summer just gone, the one when the kids are eighteen and have finished school A-levels in mid June and have right until mid-September before their next chapter begins.

I wrote about the summer and concluded with the promise of a follow-up to this:

“…….I was determined to discuss with you the trials and tribulations; nerves and nausea caused to these teens in the preparing and planning for their next chapter… ………  As I type this (or in between paragraphs ) I’m preparing his ‘final supper’; his favourite meal; one he feels he’s unlikely to ever eat again…. …… I sense a heart warming afternoon…..possibly a few tears (mainly mine); probably a sleepless night and then tomorrow a drive to Cardiff.    I plan to be the ‘cool mum’ the one who offers ‘just the right amount’ of support/detachment/emotion/comment… I plan to leave with a hug and a smile and let him get on with it…. we all know what they say about the best laid plans…..”

But it’s interesting, having let the weekend pass, arrived home and spoken to other ’empty next’ mums  I realise what I need to write more about is not the teens next chapter but ours.

We all spent the last 18 years preparing our children to be capable enough, independent enough, wise enough, balanced enough, skilled enough to move forward and flourish in that middle earth between childhood and adulthood; that place where they can practice independence with the safety net of lecturers, faculty heads, parents, family, to turn to and return to in times of insecurity, panic or concern.

We each spent the whole summer ensuring those teens had the best final summer they could.  We spent our energy, talking them through their options; preparing them for the results; creating plan B’s and plan Cs ‘just in case’; helping them fill in forms; organise accommodation, grants, loans,; purchasing kit; opening bank accounts; maybe teaching them to cook or use a washing machine.  We were their mentors, therapists, agony aunts, parents.  We help them with nerves, we helped them pack, we lent them or gave them whatever we could.  We then drove them with positivity and confidence to their new locations where we stayed ‘brave and strong’ and helped them unpack; deal with more forms; maybe deal with nerves and tears ; took them shopping (again) to stock their fridges and cupboards.  If we were lucky we met their new flatmates; checked in on them again the next day; took them for a meal.

Then we came home.

Then we mums (dads/carers/guardians) realised we had been so busy preparing them for their next chapters we hadn’t realised we needed a new chapter of our own.  Just in these two days with a quick straw poll of mums I know I have come to the realisation that the empty next moving forward plan has not been on any of our ‘to do’ lists.

I genuinely thought I had it sussed :

“I plan to be the ‘cool mum’ the one who offers ‘just the right amount’ of support/detachment/emotion/comment… I plan to leave with a hug and a smile and let him get on with it….”

…and that is what I did.  But now I’m home.  I cried quite a lot today.

I’m not sure how much/little to message/interact with him by social media is reasonable but I’m pretty sure that at the moment its ‘too much’ and I’m probably getting on his nerves!.

Some mums talk about feeling ’empty inside’ , ‘at a loss”, ‘bereft’, ‘redundant’.  For us all it’s the end of a massively long and all-encompassing chapter and because the chapter didn’t end until we safely delivered our teens to their next starting point, none of us have had any time to prepare for ourselves.  I feel sure that our next chapters will be equally as exciting and rewarding as the last.  We just need a bit of time to adjust, regroup and rediscover ourselves.

I’d be interested to know how you parents out they felt when you found yourselves with an empty next. Or are feeling, if like me, it’s just happened.  Sharing your experiences will act a bit like a support group for us newly bereft parents… please comment here on this blog so we can start-up some social interaction counselling….


Brilliant blog posts on

the end of summer….

15 Sep

I had so many blogs I wanted to write in a timely fashion this summer.  But time for timeliness was lost to busy-ness and busy-ness was loss to craziness and a certain amount of chaotic-ness, sleeplessness and general tiredness!

It was a whirlwind summer, one that promised to be longer than most (which it was) but to fit in the extra length, time was most certainly speeded up and the resultant rapidity of activity, organisation and enjoyable experiences blurred into one mass of euphoria and exuberance.

I wanted to write to you about all the gardens I visited.

The vibrant and magestic Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, near Exeter:-

The tranquil and contemplative Burrow Farm Gardens in Axminster:-

…and the hidden gem of Hergest Croft, in Kington, Herefordshire; with its perfect little tea room and plant nursery

I wanted to wax lyrical about the wonderfully wacky two weeks of the World Alternative Games culminating in commentating for the World Bog Snorkelling here in Llanwrtyd Wells.

I wanted, but failed, to fit in participating in any of the adventures of the fortnight – although I wanted to Office Chair Race, Husband Drag, Ditch Run, Pea Shoot, Crazy Shop, Worm Charm, Race Chariots, Wrestle in Gravy, Run Backwards, Cycle Slowly and dress as a Zombie; but the extra activities in town meant extra work for me .

Then there was the fabulous Imp Club National event at Hatton Park World in Warwickshire which involved camping; cars; a rally to the British Motor Museum in Gaydon (fabulous thoroughly recommend it); and strolls along the Grand Union Canal tow path.

Meanwhile there was still work. I was busy managing five other people’s garden’s ( I love these jobs). I had my own house than needed painting and some extra shifts in our local caffi.  Mum and Dad wanted (and did) visit.  Our B&B proved extra popular this summer with both new and repeat visitors.  fitting in a hectic self employment based multitude of work activities alongside a heavy social schedule has been both incredibly exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure.  There are people I love who I have not seen or spoken to in the last 8 weeks….  forgive me until October, I will be back.  …and events i didn’t fit in (sadly) especially the Pink Car Rally which is fabulous fun and for a great cause… next year….


And then I wanted to share with you all the fun of our long planned , end of summer party where we dressed the entire garden as an enchanted landscape themed for Alice in Wonderland; complete with appearing and disappearing Cheshire cat grins; card guards, tea party and lawn croquet….

I was seriously keen to play the Proud Mum and rave about the excellent achievements of my son and his friends who all sat in nervous anticipation of their A level results until they could finally relax and revel in their exceptional successes this summer  – how proud am I to know them all.


I was determined to discuss with you the trials and tribulations; nerves and nausea caused to these teens in the preparing and planning for their next chapter… for many it’s this weeks move into their university halls.  Sick with excitement, doubt, fear and anticipation; worry about making new friends; living away from home; learning in a new way; taking responsibility for their own finances.  I drop Jason at his halls tomorrow.  As I type this (or in between paragraphs ) I’m preparing his ‘final supper’; his favourite meal; one he feels he’s unlikely to ever eat again…. well, at least until he comes home for his dad’s 60th; or the Christmas holidays… or in fact any weekend or weekday evening he wishes!!!! So it’s Thursday and I’m preparing a Sunday roast with all the trimmings and my mum’s very indulgent rice pudding recipe.  I sense a heart warming afternoon, playing board-games, having a good old laugh and possibly a few tears (mainly mine); probably a sleepless night and then tomorrow a drive to Cardiff.    I plan to be the ‘cool mum’ the one who offers ‘just the right amount’ of support/detachment/emotion/comment… I plan to leave with a hug and a smile and let him get on with it…. we all know what they say about the best laid plans.

Anyway, this shall begin my last weekend of summer and I plan to write an addendum next week…. stay in touch people… and why not tell me about your summer.

It’s lovely when people tell us they’ve had a good time …

7 Sep

We had a good trading weekend in Builth Wells at the Antique Fair. We sold steadily and made a nice profit, which doesn’t always happen but it must have been our turn, Some of the Traders took very little and we find that is how the Fairs are at the moment, very un-predictable and patchy. And we […]

via LLANWRTYD WELLS! — Boxofmisc

15 Things That Don’t Require Qualifications or Talent

25 Aug

love this list of positive and fundamentally important skills

Suzie Speaks

imageWith the impending GCSE results due out tomorrow, the topic was already trending in the early hours of this morning on Twitter with thousands of teenagers anxiously waiting to see how they had fared, many of them already dismayed at the fact that grade boundaries for certain subjects had been raised… again.

At school, I was a high achiever who enjoyed the process of learning. I worked hard with the belief that qualifications were the be all and end all to everything that would make my life successful and happy in the future, and even after doing my A levels and a degree, my GCSE exams still remain as one of the scariest and most stressful experiences I’ve ever had.

And yet, eighteen years of life after leaving school (and spending ten years working as a teacher) has made me realise that, while qualifications on paper are important, there is…

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D I (Here’s) Why!

24 Aug

John and I are very make do and mend.  The idea of throwing something away because it’s old or for newer technology does not sit well with us.  And if something breaks our first thought is to fix it not replace it.  It’s saves loads of money (of which we have little) and its far more eco-friendly to fix something then scrap it and replace it with a new one.  That’s why our (touch wood) washing machine is over 20 years old and working just fine (Ok we’ve replaced parts a couple of times); and why we still have a cathode ray tube TV (that my dad was chucking out 15 years ago because the colour definition had gone – but we fixed for £30); and why John just had to have a go at this…

We bought a Toyota Prius from our wonderful local Toyota dealership in Builth 10/11 years ago.  Second hand 2005 model.  Despite its dents and scrapes its been fine. The garage service and MOT it annually and fix any niggles and problems.  they’re a fantastic team and should we ever need a new second-hand car we will get another Toyota because of their customer service.

Our trusty Toyota Prius

Our trusty Toyota Prius

A few weeks after the last service which includes a battery health check we went away for a few days in our Imps.  On return john went somewhere in the Toyota and by the time he returned every warning light was on ; glowing red cars with exclamation marks VSC and break warnings… it did not look good.

Popped to the garage and were told it would be one of two things a faulty start-up which made the computers think the hybrid battery was failing; or the hybrid battery was failing.  They reset the warnings and said if they don’t come back on then all is well.  sadly they all came back on.

Now I know nothing about electrics/electronics/engineering or cars but the hybrid battery, I’m told is made up of a series of cells that together make up 220V and although the car is petrol and electric, once the hybrid battery fails the car dies, it will not continue to work on just petrol.

A new hybrid batter fitted by a dealer is £1200 (that’s one and a half hours of labour (£125) and the battery.  The car is maybe worth scrap value without a working battery.

We don’t have £1200 or access to it in any way.

New Hybrid Battery Cells

New Hybrid Battery Cells

John researched refurbished batteries and they were around £300-400 but were in places like Cambridge and Coventry.  Plus our wonderful garage agreed they would fit it for us at the same rate but would not be able to offer a guarantee.  all fair enough, but one big problem,,,, We didn’t have a car to go and get one.

After much research and YouTube video watching our very own handyman, my John, decided he would give it a go himself.  He purchased two new cells at £56 delivered and allowed himself 2 days to dismantle the car and attempt the repair. (Two cells with the thought being that the car might have managed with one failing but two it would be unlikely coupled with the garage previously assuring us that in most cases the cars are scrapped well before the hybrid batteries fail – they’d only ever had two fail in all the years…now three)

So, how did John get on? Well here’s his Vlog about it.  Basically £56 and  four hours and we have a working car again!  Plus he only needed to replace one of the cells, so we still have a spare.

I think I’ll suggest to our Dealership that they offer this service.  For £350 we’d have probably have let them do it and I bet they could do it in an hour.

But for us, here’s a better example of why we DIY… We just saved ourselves £1100!!!