Thursday 25 October 2018


Our new grande passion is Welsh Castles. 

There are marginally more castles in Wales than Bentleys and Ferraris in Beaconsfield. In September, when we were down in Laugharne (which has its own castle), we discovered two more. Pembroke and Carew.


Pembroke provided the Normans with embarkation point for their Irish campaigns. 

In the early 1400’s it held hold the castle against Owain Glyndwr's revolt. Glyndwr was given a wedge of cash by the Constable of the Castle and he rode off.

Henry VII who ‘launched’ the Tudor line of monarchs, was born here in 1457.

Pembroke supported Parliament at the beginning of the Civil War, but in 1648 the town's mayor, peeved at his lack of reward, joined a disaffected group of Roundheads unwilling to be demobilised. Cromwell himself laid siege to the castle, which only fell after seven weeks when the water supply was cut off. 

Pembroke languished for centuries and was plundered for stone by the locals. But it was picturesque to draw

Pembroke Castle’s lucky break came in 1928. Local landowner Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps, bought it, and began to restore the place to its former glory. 

Now we can “Eat, shop and discover”and Pembroke Castle will be once again hosting its annual Christmas Market. “Last year over 15,000 visitors enjoyed free admission to what is fast becoming one of Pembrokeshire's must attend events of the year”. 

Discover the magic here

Pembroke town from the Castle Battlements


Just down the road from big beefy Pembroke is Carew Castle. It is more deserted, and offers no Christmas Market but it does have a small gift shop. 

Again Carew’s location was all about access: It lies on the Carew river commanding a crossing point of the then-still navigable river.

There is little left earth and timber castle, which was built by the Norman Gerald of Windsor in 1100. 

Infamous King John seized it for a short time in 1220 when passing through Pembrokeshire on hisIrish expedition.

Carew Castle still remains in the Carew Family. In the 13th century by Sir Nicholas de Carew, built much of what we see now, three towers, the substantial west front and the Chapel. 

The castle was remodelled during the Tudor period; Sir John Perrot transformed the Welsh fortress into something more elegant. There was a rebuilding of the north front, he added the Long Gallery. Carew’s graceful Tudor-style windows can be enjoyed today.

Today the castle is nicely cared for and run by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and more information to plan your visit is here:

Treasures within Carew Castle 

Delicate, discreet and impressive Carew Castle


The Castles of Wales is a wonderful web site with contributions academics and enthusiasts alike) who have seen fit, for one reason or another, to lend their various talents to our efforts here under the leadership and inspiration of one Jeffrey L. Thomas

Tuesday 23 October 2018


Two great places for tea coffee or something more substantial.

TEA BY THE SEA OR TE AR LAN Y MOR is a few steps from PENDINE Beach and quite wonderful for sitting and supping. I have drawn the view countless times. 
Te ar Lan Y Mor serves up the best espresso this side of Naples. They tell me it comes from a local importer and roaster in Bridgend.
Their cheerful Facebook page is here

This great place is a more recent discovery in LAUGHARNE town centre and again close to the water’s edge. This time it is the river Taff estuary at the foot of Laugharne castle. This restaurant and cafe enjoy lots of nice comments in Trip Advisor and deservedly so. 

Cheerful service and hard not to enjoy the cakes, which stare at you defiantly from under the glass covers!


Sunday 21 October 2018



It was an early morning and almost sunny. I took Rosie for a walk down a narrow lane in Broadway, a small hamlet just west of Laugharne. It was very damp and the lane had uncomfortable feel. It runs beside and behind the Carpenters Arms with the pub’s barrels, pipes and paraphernalia clearly in view.

Further along this dank track I came across three vehicles in the verge, entombed in tree branches, brambles and high weeds. The first of the trinity was an old railway goods van; open to the sky, to its left was a once white vehicle with no identifying marks and on the right a Leyland DAF van.

Remember Leyland DAF? It was one the British motor industry’s offspring. Formed from a merger of Leyland trucks and DAF the Dutch company 1987 and six years later it passed away. A US company owns what is now left of Leyland. 

in memoriam

Travels in South Wales September 2018

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Better by design? The Design Museum Kensington

Entrance to an exciting building

The Design Museum London

Fab building, the former Commonwealth Institute, remodelled and inside it is a space to see and soak up. 

Not so the espresso in the CafĂ©, quite horrid at £2.50 a cup. Jammy Dodger biscuits at £2.50 apiece – assume they are better by design?

Amble up to the second floor and there is a wide-ranging display of all manner of things that show design in action including the AK 47, the Walkman and UK road signs.

Design Museum: Exhibits that caught my eye

Sunday 7 October 2018

Sea Shell by the sea shore - jewels on the tideline

Britain’s seashores are adorned with the shells.

Again I have been poking around and found one really good easy to get to guides from COUNTRYFILE Magazine:

Seashells have been used as ‘currency’ in various places, including many Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean islands.  They have also been traded in North America, Africa and the Caribbean.

Because seashells are in some areas a readily available bulk source of calcium carbonate, shells such as oyster shells are sometimes used as soil conditioners in horticulture.

Seashells have played a part in religion and spirituality, sometimes even as ritual objects. In Christianity, the scallop shell is considered to be the symbol of Saint James. In Hinduism, left-handedshells of Turbinella pyrum are considered to be sacred to the god Vishnu.

From nature's table: Seaweed, treasure on the seashore

Seaweed. Tell me about seaweed.

It appears they are marine macro algae, plant-like organisms that usually live attached to rock or other hard places in coastal areas. (Between a rock and a hard place

But its beauty is just the start. Amid the flotsam and jetsam on our beaches lies a rich abundance of brown, green and red seaweeds that can be put to good culinary and cosmetic use. 

Poking around a bit I found this great guide: Ten to look out for are here

If you are thinking about cooking with seaweed beware says Fergus the Forager on his very useful website: 
Seaweeds are known to take up heavy metals, radionucleotides and various other pollutants. Therefore do not harvest from areas close to places like Sellafield and or areas of heavy industry. 

Friday 5 October 2018

From the nature table: The oak

This lovely sprig was brought down by the storms and gales, probably the tail end of Hurricane Florence two weeks back. This was only Category 4 hurricane in 2018.

The green in the leaves suggests the fall from grace was pre-mature. It remains a handsome find on the footpath.

Oak leaves are traditionally an important part of army regalia. For example symbolise rank in the United States Armed Forces. A gold oak leaf indicates Major; a silver oak leaf indicates Lt. Colonel. 

Atten-shun nature lovers!

Do flowers really die?

I ask this question because so often flowers who have ostensibly 'had it' still have a primordial quality that is so perfect! Quite enchanting. Colour is still there, only different, more muted and more subtle.

Thursday 4 October 2018

From the nature table: The beech

his Beech Twig, a delight; downed by the storms in the latter part of September, the tail end of Florence or Storm Bronagh. 

The fruits of these beech shells are missing, separated it seems before they land on the ground.  This is another example of treasure strewn on the footpaths hereabouts.

Ashley Adamant, an off grid homesteader in rural Vermont, who runs the very useful blog PRACTICAL SELF RELIANCE https://practicalselfreliance.comhas cracked the code on beech nuts…. 
Ashley says: 
For foragers, they’re (beech nuts) a fall goldmine of healthy calories.  With roughly 50% fat and 20% protein, beechnuts can help balance out a foragers diet that this time of year is heavy with apples and other sugary carb laden fruits.  To compare, acorns are only about 7% protein.