Monday 31 December 2018


There is one in every town, city or village in Wales and some places are blessed with several chapels. They are the symbols of that torrent of non-conformist fervour that drenched the land in the late 1600’s until very recently.

Each and everyone one I see makes my heart race. Each is idiosyncratic; standing by a roadside, square, sometime brooding, always proud, like the people of Wales. My artistic idol John Piper (1903-1992) discovered west wales in the 1930s through his wife Myfanwy. They bought a traditional Welsh cottage on Garn Fawr, near Tresinwen, Pembrokeshire. Here Piper made countless prints and paintings inspired by the surrounding scenery.

ST CLEARS SEION WELSH BAPTIST CHAPEL was built in 1849 to the design of Isaac Price of Rhymni. It was later rebuilt/modified in 1887, and further renovated in 1927-8. The chapel is in the Simple Round-Headed style, and has a square plan with a porch to the front and a vestry attached to the right. The building is rendered and whitewashed, with hood moulding round the upper storey windows.

Monday 24 December 2018


There are over 30 different species, principally belonging to the family Scombridaeand are commonly referred to as mackerel, Tuna are a distant cousin.

The word "mackerel" means "marked" or "spotted", and derives from middle ages French  maquerel, 12C, meaning a pimp or procurer. The connection is not altogether clear, however mackerel do spawn enthusiastically in shoals near the coast. 

As an oily fish, it is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Sunday 23 December 2018


SPEEDY SCALLOPS. A family of bivalves that make their homes in all of the world's oceans. They are one of very few bivalves able to speedily swim short distances and even of covering some distance across the ocean floor. 

Fab on any sea food menu, my friend Trevor visit and countless others like him, cannot resist!

Saturday 22 December 2018


Crabs attract their partners through their chemical (pheromones), visual, acoustic, or vibratory resources. Most crabs that live in the sea use pheromones, while terrestrial and semi terrestrial crabs often use visual signals, the fiddler crab males wave their large claws to attract females. (‘Hi, here I am, come and get me’) rather like the a twenty-something male on the dance floor)

Crabs are prepared and eaten as a dish in many different ways, some species are even eaten whole, including the shell, such as soft-shell crab; with other species just the claws or legs are eaten. 

Do have pepper crab when you are in Singapore. Enjoying crab is a delicious yet messy process however restaurants do provide disposable aprons.

The Kapsiki people of North Cameroon use the way crabs handle objects for divination.

Thursday 20 December 2018


Langoustine Nephrops norvegicus, known as the Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn, langoustine or scampi. 

This a slim, orange-pink mini lobster grows up to 25 cm (10 in) long.  

Very popular on any sea food menu in Europe. Langoustine also makes their home in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean, and parts of the Mediterranean Sea.

Tuesday 18 December 2018


They have long bodies with muscular tails, and thrive in crannies and burrows on the sea floor. Three of their five pairs of legs have claws, including the first pair, those much larger at the front! Highly esteemed as seafood, lobsters are money makers in restaurants and bars.

Gerard de Nerval, French writer and a major figure of French romanticism, influencing Proust, kept a lobster as a pet.

Sunday 9 December 2018


There is enough left to imagine how glorious Llawhadden Castle was in its heyday, the 13thand 14thcenturies. The entrance towers soar above you, impressive, imposing.

The Bishops of St David’s built this castle. It was a sort of second home, or third or forth. They were keen out putting places up so there had somewhere to stay when they were touring their patch. Each bishop made Llawhadden grander as the years rolled on.

However in the 16th century the place was abandoned; the last incumbent was short of cash and sold the roof. Llawhadden’s decline was part of the chaos that occurred at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Thereafter much of the stone was purloined for buildings close by, a common practise in those times. 

Curiously enough a squad of workmen, drawn from the ranks of the unemployed, organised by the newly established Ministry of Works, set to and smartened what was left up, clearing the moat and ditches, removing ivy and undergrowth, well done them.

On the morning of our outing here it was wet and dull, yet these magnificent viridian coloured stones sparkled in the moist air giving a clear sense of how splendid Llawhadden once was.

More on these wonderful stones here
The writer is a regular donator to The Wikipedia Foundation 

Friday 7 December 2018


Castle on a hill: Wizo’s castle

In the middle of south wales nowhere. Actually, this is incorrect; Wiston Castle is in the village of Wiston. Wiston can be reached from the A40, which runs from London to Fishguard. The village is seventeen miles south east of Fishguard. 

Brave a few very narrow roads and park on the road close to the church.

What you see once through the gate and along a footpath is a Keep upon a hill. Impressive. Walking across wide green field, which would have once been built upon and fortified, there are a set of steps up to the top. 

This castle was built by Wizo, a Flemish settler, who under the patronage of Henry I, forth son of William the Conqueror. So, assume this to be another move by the Normans to wrestle Wales to the ground.

Wizo settled in and apparently called upon some of his fellow countryman over to do the same. Wizo meanwhile moved up to Scotland and did stuff up there too.  He was indeed early-day property developer.

So we are seeing the best-preserved Motte and Bailey castle in Wales.

I was fearful walking down the steps from the top so slithered down through the grass and brambles back to the field of safety.

What would I say to someone who introduced himself at a drinks party: 
Hi, my name is Wizo.  

More on Wiston Castle here
The writer is a regular donator to The Wikipedia Foundation 

Wednesday 5 December 2018


Four minutes walk up from the beach at Manobier is a castle in which people still live. 

Six miles or so southeast of Pembroke, its impressive walls and towers host all manor of celebrations. 

The day before our visit there had been a grand wedding, the decorations of which were still adorning the Great Hall and Chapel.
Across the valley the church of St James the Great affords a good view

 This castle has a graceful feel and in its history it was seldom directly involved in conflict. Cromwell’s troops turned up and the castle’s then owners meekly surrendered.

Easy to imagine:
Cromwell’s troops: “Give us your castle pray”
Incumbent: “OK, we’ll toss the keys of this window, Oh and sorry, we are out of toilet rolls.”

More on Manobier here
TB  donates to The Wikipedia Foundation regularly 

Monday 3 December 2018


Row on row the serried* ranks of mobile homes stand contemplating the grey November sea. We are staying in Pendine Sands Holiday Park.
They are called holiday homes with ‘double glazed and domestic style central heating’.

Site owners Parkdean resorts have you covered. They own 66 parks around the UK.

These are caravan holiday homes, towed into place and parked up on blocks. This has been a popular business for more than 50 years and there are at least 23,000 such homeowners around Britain.

For us it was an experiment, a way to explore another accommodation avenue near Laugharne and closer still to Pendine Beach.

The caravan we stayed in was well appointed, all the fixtures and fitting and equipment appeared new, in the bedrooms (3) there were cotton sheets duvets and good pillows. It was comfortable and toasty warm and with a sea view, just. The model was called a Trieste and sells for £36,995.

The stay was spoilt by the much-heralded Wi-Fi service not being available in our place. There is no phone signal; the reception desk murmured something about the MOD presence in the area not allowing it. 

On our second evening we went into the Bar to use the camp’s Wi-Fi and were greeted by screaming children, no lime or lemon for a gin and tonic, filthy tables and dads shouting at the football game on TV. They had to shout perhaps because there were two TVs on competing for attention.

One TripAdvisor contributor said in August Don’t bother complaining, as it won’t be dealt with and you will be called a liar and greeted with an attitude even from the so called manager at the Park!

It was a mixed experience, to stand outside on the deck that adjoined our caravan and look out to sea in the early morning, wonderful. Inside our rented home was warm and lovely. Time in the camp bar was abhorrent. Our stay was game of two halves.

*Mid 17th century: past participle of serry 'press close', probably from French serr├ęz 'close together', based on Latin sera 'lock'.

Saturday 1 December 2018


These were harvested from Sian’s allotment on Tuesday and later that day were part of a delicious, rich soup!

I am smitten by their twisty-turn shape. And that rich colour unlike their anaemic cousins in the supermarket. 

Parsnips can be baked, boiled, pureed, roasted, fried, grilled, or steamed. When used in stews and casseroles, they give a rich taste. Good for you: they contain antioxidants, which may potentially have anticancer, anti-inflammatory andantifungal properties.

Most importantly, the parsnip was much esteemed in ancient times. The Emperor Tiberius accepted part of the tribute payable to Rome by Germany in the form of parsnips.