Friday 30 January 2015


Ravenswood sits in a perfect amphitheatre.

Looking North across to Rhondda 

It is called Ravenswood Farm because the ravens were there before Gus and Carole arrived to turn a Welsh long house into a vibrant home.
Ravenswood sits in a natural amphitheatre of high ground and trees and opens out looking north across the Rhondda.

It was a perfect overnight stay, a delightful evening with tales of sheep farming, wild fowling on Orkney, cattle and land. There were accounts too from Gus about his experiences as a seventeen year-old hitchhiking to Haverfordwest to join the fishing boats on the three-week trip to the fishing grounds of Reykjavík.

Fortified by home brew and red wine I spent a peaceful night, punctuated only once by the dogs, directly below my window, who were swiftly silenced by Gus’s exhortation coming from the other end of the house

Up in good time, for bacon and egg and toast and a second and third cup of coffee, luxuriating in the hospitality of South Glamorgan.

Wednesday 28 January 2015


A perfect Georgian Square   Worcester
Each year we are lucky enough to spend a weekend in Worcester with our friends, Chris and Liz. They live in a lovely house on Britannia Square, one of the most complete areas of Georgian architecture in the country.

The Romans were there first; remains of their buildings have been discovered in the Square. A circular building was discovered in 1829, quite possibly a temple, or part of a country house or villa, and a large number of coins found all dating from the 4th century.

After the Romans the city continued to prosper. Situated on the banks of the River Severn it was an important trading point. As time passed the good, the great and the rich, felt in need of impressive homes and built these houses assembled around a piece of land (Britannia Square) that, until the late 1700’s had been rented out to farmers by the good Bishop of Worcester.

This whole part of the city is now a conservation area with the Roman bit an Ancient Monument. With naturally strict planning laws some of which were in force in the 1800’s when building regulations stated

The front to be plastered with Roman Cement and the roof covered with slate [The buyer] should not erect any Manufactory, Warehouse, Coach House, Stable or any other building on the purposed line for the front of the buildings nor permit Piggeries or any other nuisance whatsoever to be erected.”

Monday 26 January 2015


Mouse just visible bottom RH of picture
We went to the allotment to recover the mypex sheets (a good barrier to weeds/retains moisture, keeps soil warm) belonging to Sian’s plot that someone had pulled off and dragged away to the other end of the field.

Job done; I stayed behind and made a drawing of hoes, canes et al.  

Sitting on my stool, low and close to a collection of wooden pallets and starting to draw, a small brown mouse emerged to say hello. 

Ears as big as saucers and a tail long enough to set a line of shallots against.  

I carried on drawing pretending not to notice.

Sunday 25 January 2015


Standing proud and pale the leeks.  

A green platoon, parading before they reach the pot. 

These fine vegetables bless several of the plots surrounding Sian’s ground (#4C East Side). 

Winter, and most of the soil is covered up with plastic or some such and the detritus of canes, plastic sacks, hoes and wooden pallets crafted into compost and storage areas, ironwork rusts ready to be pressed into service somehow or way.

December, when I painted the leeks (figuratively) the NAS (The National Allotment Society) tells me  - ‘the year is coming to an end and the shortest day is in this month, which heralds the slow advance towards next season. So take a bit of time to reflect on your successes and to consider what went wrong with some crops’.