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150 years in the Heart of Wales

6 May

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Today celebrated 150 years of Llanwrtyd Wells Station.

Things have changed a lot.  Originally the Heart of Wales line ran multi-coach trains throughout each day bringing Victorian ladies and gentlemen, here to take the healing waters at the wells. It was a vibrant community with many shops and the line  transported goods as well as people.  It made the heart of the Heart of Wales accessible to All.

Llanwrtyd_Railway_StationThese days, whilst the station itself looks much the same, it only runs four single carriage trains each way each day.  But its still an essential asset to our community.

Llanwrtyd is at the central point of the Heart of Wales Line which runs between Shrewsbury and Swansea.  It is the only real public transport we have and it connects us to the rest of the UK.  My parents, for example, who live in Essex, visit us here at Cerdyn Villa, using the trains (Southend, London, Swansea, Llanwrtyd) and then a five minute stroll to our front door.

150 stationThe station buildings have recently undergone a transformation as far as re-purposing is concerned.  Community Transport have an office there.  There are weekly community coffee mornings and the elderly are transported to and from here for their morning tea.  And since the closure of our bank in the town aquare, Credit Union have set up a pay point in there , open every Tuesday and Thursday.

Inside there is a small IT suite with WIFI connectivity; a conference room and a sitting room filled with armchairs and sofas surrounding a lovely log burner.  Then of course there’s a small kitchen so teas/coffees and snacks can be prepared.

Outside there are well maintained gardens thanks to a group of volunteers from within the Llanwrtyd community, Friends of Llanwrtyd Station.

Today, the station, community rooms and gardens hosted a celebration. There was a picnic and live music.  The local school children from Ysgol Dolafon performed some beautiful country dancing. The last ever station master of Llanwrtyd Wells, John Davies, unveiled a plaque.  Our Mayor, peter James, gave a speech. And of course, the obligatory raffle.  (Anyone living in a small community knows that pretty much everything that happens is funded through the selling of raffle tickets!). Whatever was raised will be used to buy plants to keep the station looking as gorgeous as ever.

I can recommend the Heart of Wales Line for a scenic train journey or as a practical mode of transport; and if you should find yourself stopping off here at the midway point, I’m only a stones throw a way, so book a room and stay the night, Llanwrtyd really is a relaxing place to be.

 

 

 

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Even the Red Bull crowd think we’re crazy! ….

29 Mar

We are lucky enough to be eccentrics in the eccentric capital of Wales , running our B&B ( Cerdyn Villa) from the teeny-weeny town (smallest in the UK) of Llanwrtyd Wells and enjoy being actively involved in the weird and wacky events we run.
Last year we had a visitor to the World Alternative Games from RedBull TV, Here’s what they tried….
come along and see for yourselves….

Red Bull TV at the Bogs

When in Rome…

14 Jan

mountain bike chariot racing  llanwrtyd wells green events

Ok so we’re not in Rome we’re in Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales but you could be forgiven today for being a little confused.  Romans, charioteers, Saturnalia feast, togas…. just another of the weird and wonderful festivals and events we like to enjoy her in our little town in the Welsh heartlands.  A good way to cheer up a dreary Saturday in January

Is this the 9th or 10th, or 11th World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing, I forget, but that’s not important.  Green Events, who run this, also run a multitude of other ‘alternative’ sporting events.  They began 35 years ago with the creation of the Man v Horse v Bike Marathon (now only Man v Horse due to bridleway legislation). Annually this attracts both media and participants from around the globe.

Then came World Bog Snorkelling, often televised on channels such as Transworld Sport and Eurosport.  Add to these Real Ale Wobbling, Bog Triathlon, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling and, more recently the bi-annual fortnight of World Alternative Games and you have yourself one pretty special place.  You’d probably be surprised then to discover its nestled in the middle of Wales at the bottom of the most rural county and in the UK’s smallest town, Llanwrtyd Wells, population c700, except on event weekends when it might double in size.

So, following Mari Llwyd and the torch lit processions that saw in our New Year, we have just energised 2017 with a spot of charioteering with a difference.  Two mountain bikes joined on a fixed metal T-bar, pulling an oil drum chariot around the grounds of a rural holiday centre.

green events mountain bike chariot racing 2017 llanwrtyd

And, tonight, once the mud is washed off and the tootsies de-thawed, we shall enjoy a Saturnalia feast and toga party in our favourite watering hole, The Neuadd Arms Hotel

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saturnalia roman feast neaudd arms hotel llanwrtyd

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…

https://rosetintedramblings.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/come-on-and-do-the-ron-run/

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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…

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….

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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.

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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.

Stargazing and Dancing at Solarsphere…

11 Aug

This weekend in Builth Wells, Powys, at Penmaenau Farm & Camping is a little known and quite fabulous music festival.  Coupled with astronomy and located in a designated Dark Skies area  this little event has a timetable of great music, largely from unsigned bands , and knowledgeable, entertaining speakers from the astronomy arena. It’s Solarsphere. I went last year.  It was brilliant.  I’m going again this year.

The atmosphere was easy-going and friendly.  There was absolutely no trouble at all.  The shower and toilet facilities are fantastic.  There’s a bar but campers are also welcome to bring their own just not into the event section.  Loads of people bring along really really large telescopes.  It’s really family friendly; workshops for adults and kids, stalls (I’ll have a range of cards and skyscape art with me), great and inspiring FREE talks to attend, loads of varied music and children’s entertainment. Kids under 13 get in free with accompanying adults and a 3 day/night pass is only £45 (£20 for 13-16 year olds)  Bargain.

solarsphere program 2016

solarspher program 2

Red Kites over Myddfai

3 Aug

 

The inspiration afforded to us by our exquisite local landscapes is unmeasurable.

My latest project was a commissioned piece for a couple who live in the beautiful village of Myddfai, just fifteen miles from my own home and guesthouse .  The village is tiny but is an attraction for many walkers, herbalists, homeopaths and general tourists; with is quaint and welcoming visitor centre  / cafe / craft shop / wedding venue…

Its success is based on several things other than the obvious, genuine and warm welcome visitors receive

  • its ancient (14th Century) tales based around Lyn-y-Fan Fach about The lady of The Lake
  • its provenance regarding a dynasty of herbalists , the Physicians of Myddfai (11th & 12th century)
  • its royal connections to the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles and Camilla have a home there)
  • its proximity to a fabulous Red Kite Feeding Centre

It was this landscape around Lyn-y-Fan Fach and the red kites that inspired this panel.

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(if you are interested in a commissioned panel or window you can contact me without obligation to discuss….you may be pleasantly surprised at the cost of owning your own bespoke and unique piece of glass art)

 

The Wierd and Wonderful World of Llanwrtyd Wells

12 Jul

I often blog about how wonderful, unique, magical, proactive, eccentric, picturesque, tranquil, exciting, special; this little nook on our planet is.

Here is a wonderful article that really shows are more unusual side…  Thank you to Chris Kitching, TravelMail for giving it a go and then writing about it; and all those in our community that make this place what it is.

Bog Snorkelling, Man v Horse and other adventures

 

Julia in Action

Julia Galvin “bog chick”

 

Mountain bike Chariot Racing

Mountain bike Chariot Racing

 

Red Kite Statue

Red Kite Statue, Llanwrtyd Wells “Spirit In The Sky”

 

Cerdyn Villa - abergwesyn valley

Abergwesn Valley in Autumn

 

Gordon Green

The wonderful Green Events founder , Gordon Green MBE with me dressed a s the “Bog Frog”

 

man v horse

man v horse – the horse parade before the start

 

www.llanwrtyd.com Home of Bog Snorkelling Event-led tourism

llanwrtyd Wells, where anything can happen. and Monster Raving Loony Party H/Q, in Neuadd Arms Hotel http://www.llanwrtyd.com

Neuadd Arms Hotel

 

Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cheesecake

11 Jul

Whole Earth Foods sponsor the “wonder-fuel challenge”, Man v Horse Marathon, held here in my home town of Llanwrtyd Wells.  I was very lucky to acquire a case of crunchy peanut butter from the very lovely ladies who were clearly “powered by nuts” at this June’s event!

Here’s what I made with my first jar

peanut butter cheesecake

If you fancy making it yourself, this is how I made it

1 jar crunchy whole earth peanut butter

1 packet (300g) Aldi dark chocolate digestives (other brands are available!)

150g dark chocolate

100g salted butter (you don’t have to use salted but i just love salty Welsh butter )

440g Philadelphia cream cheese (or other brand)

130g castor sugar

1.crumb the biscuits in a blender ( or in a sealed bag using a rolling-pin as a hammer – great if you’re feeling frustrated, angry or need a workout!)

2. place the butter in a none metallic bowl larger than is needed (as you are going to add your crumbs in a minute), and microwave to melt (this will only take 30-60 seconds)

3.mix the crumbed biscuits into the butter.

4.press the butter/biscuit mix into the base of a loose bottom tin (I think mine was 23″,if yours is smaller your base will be thicker and your cheesecake deeper but that’s ok)

5.put this in the fridge to cool

6.melt the chocolate in the microwave in a large none metallic bowl, mix in the peanut butter (yes, all of it!), cream cheese and sugar

7.beat the double cream until it is relatively stiff (soft peaks) and stir into the mix

8. spread this onto biscuit/butter base

9. if you want, grate some extra dark chocolate over the top

10. chill (grab yourself a glass of wine whilst he cheesecake rests in the fridge)

11.Slice , serve, savour!

Do you have a wonder-fuel recipe to share?  Please leave it on my blog if you do.

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