St Bride’s Castle ~ After And Before At Black & White Sunday

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Over at Lost In Translation, one of Paula’s recurrent themes is the conversion of a colour image to monochrome. It’s always interesting discovering what will or will not work; which details become more or less significant. Sometimes there are quite striking and unexpected differences in mood. All of which is to say, I’m not sure why I even thought of converting this first photo to monochrome. As an indoor, night-time shot with too many light sources, I wasn’t expecting it to work at all. But then I found I rather liked the monochrome version. It somehow has a more formal or stately feel about it. It was taken in the hall-drawing room of St. Bride’s Castle.

Coming up is the front entrance. I don’t think the conversion does much for the image here:

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This next exterior shot perhaps works better: austere geometrical silhouette against active clouds:

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And I do rather like this clump of monochromed daffodils found in the castle grounds:

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Black & White Sunday: After and Before

More about St. Bride’s HERE

In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockapoo Puppy  – holiday snaps #10

Solva, The Oldest Working Woollen Mill In Pembrokeshire ~ And A Good Moment To Dust Down Old Prejudices

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Childhood summer holidays: the cottage stay near a Welsh beach and the much wearing a brown gabardine mac; endless search for places that might offer shelter and diversion from wet and gloomy weather; the Welsh Crafts Shop that, if we’re lucky, will have a cafe.

Back then, to my young 1960s’ eyes, Welsh tweed seemed very old hat. It had all the charm of the post-war-geometric-abstract-chemical coloured fabrics that my parents had taken to (fabrics which are now very popular again in vintage shops). I found the designs and colour palette distasteful then – too hectic for one thing – and I still do, though I can see they were meant to cheer everyone  up after years of rationing and austerity; inspire a spirit of hopeful busyness and productivity.

So where does that leave my views on Welsh tweed now?

Well, it’s always good to revisit old dislikes and appraise the situation with fresh eyes. For a start there is no denying the fabulous quality of the product. This is reflected in the price. However, it really does NOT still need to be used to cover bags, purses or to be made into unfortunately shaped waistcoats. On the other hand, deployed as rugs and furnishing fabric, then we’re on to something. In fact Welsh tweed has been acquiring cachet in quite discerning quarters. And although I forgot to take a photo, the stair runners are perhaps the finest things the mill produces, especially the red ones. You can see some in situ HERE.

As for the reversible rugs with their traditional ‘portcullis’ designs, I’m suddenly finding I like them too – at least to the extent of buying four place mats in spring green for the kitchen table. I like the ‘cottage industry’ simplicity and well-made-ness, in much the same way that I like the 1960s pale oak ercol furniture (now being reprised) – just so long as it doesn’t come with its original overdone upholstery and cushions which often obscure the pleasing frames. So I’m also thinking that if anyone needs to replace original fabric on a piece of vintage ercol, then  Welsh tweed could be just the thing – a refreshed ‘Arts & Crafts’ look. A little googling also reveals that another Pembrokeshire Mill has already thought of this. See what you think.

Solva Mill, as the sign proclaims, has been in operation since 1907. The workers’ clocking on clock is still in the old workshop foyer. For those who like wheels and gears, there is old weaving equipment all over the place, inside and out. You can read a bit more about the history of the mill HERE. Its situation is blissful, in a little valley up in the hills above Solva village. The overshot watermill that once powered the mill was restored in 2007 as part of the works’ centenary celebration, and there are hopes to get the whole system revamped to produce electricity. In return for free left over plastic yarn cones (see below), you can make a donation to the project. This meant that Super Puppy was able to leave the premises with a very satisfactory toy. A good morning out all round.

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March Square #27  Becky’s March Square extravaganza is nearly over, so with this post I’m probably putting all my squares and circles in one basket. I think it’s safe to say there are more here than anyone can possibly count.

In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockapoo Puppy  – holiday snaps #8

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Beauty In Unexpected Quarters?

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This view was taken from the little village of Dale on the estuary of the Black and White Rivers Cleddau, looking towards the port town of Milford Haven. Twelve hundred years ago, and until the Norman Invasion of 1066, the sheltered inlets of the Haven were the haunt of Viking raiders. In fact if you had been looking out across this stretch of water in 854 CE you might have spotted the 23 ships of a Viking raiding fleet. They were gathered off Milford Haven, under the command of Ubba/Hubba (who incidentally gave his name to the present-day settlement of nearby Hubberston). He was one of several commanders of the Great Army whose various factions invaded the Saxon kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia.

If you had looked again in 1171 CE you would surely have seen at least some of the 400 warships that had converged in the Haven as a prelude to Henry II’s invasion of Ireland. The ships were carrying 500 knights and 4,000 men-at-arms.

Look again in 1597, and there would have been storm ravaged ships of the Spanish Armada. A number made landfall on the Cleddau only to be sent packing back to sea by the Welsh militia. This seeing off also apparently involved some pillaging. One of the damaged caravels was captured by six Welsh boats, and relieved of its gold and silver.

Today, though, instead of long boats and warships, you are more likely to see oil tankers heading for the oil refineries of Pembroke Dock. And sometimes even a cruise ship. The misty installation is a recycled oil refinery, now used for the storage of Liquefied Natural Gas.

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Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire  Ordnance Survey  1946 (out of copyright)

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Dale Beach  – never too old to hunt for seashells.

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March Square  Ordnance Survey map apart, this post’s circles and squares in squares may take a bit of finding: round buoys and storage tanks anyone? Square window panes and spotty backpack? Please pop over to BeckyB’s for more March geometrics.

In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockapoo Puppy – holiday snaps #7

Size No Obstacle To Super Puppy

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They were complete strangers too. The large poodle-cross spotted small cockapoo from across the bay at Marloes Sands (see previous post) and made a bee-line for her. It seemed a case of like recognising like.

Six Word Saturday Fantastic elephant shot over at Debbie’s.

In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockapoo Puppy – holiday snaps #6

On The Way To Marloes Sands

This gateway stands beside the path to Marloes Sands in Pembrokeshire – a scene captured during one of our best outings on a recent family holiday at St. Bride’s. I included the image in my March Changing Seasons gallery, but as several of you good followers remarked on it, I thought I’d give it a ‘featured image’ opportunity. I also thought it fits with Paula’s ‘Way’ theme at this week’s Thursday’s Special.

Marloes Sands must count among the world’s stunning beaches, and it is good to know that it, and its approaches are safely in the care of the National Trust. The beach features in my new header photo, taken by he who builds sheds and binds books and only sometimes gets his camera out. His photo is responsible for my theme’s new cool blue look. I pressed the ‘match the header photo’ button in the WP customize menu, and hey presto! It is now causing me to try out my monochrome shots with a ‘blue rinse’ edit.

Coming up next is the clifftop path to the beach:

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Marloes is best visited on an outgoing tide, because only then are the sands exposed. At high tide you have to scramble around on very big boulders, and it all becomes quickly undignified, if not downright perilous. On the other hand, the beach-side cliffs are always astonishing, their geology monumental and otherworldly, and therefore difficult to capture in their full grandeur.

This is the path down to the beach. You can just make it out left of centre:

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And out on the sands, definitely the best way to explore:

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And out at sea:

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And the path back:

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Thursday’s Special

In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockapoo Puppy – holiday snaps #5

The Little Church By The Sea

It stands beside the Wales Coast Path looking down on St. Bride’s Haven, a rocky cove with a long, long history. The church is also called St. Bride’s and is dedicated to St. Bridget of Kildare who, it is said, arrived on these shores from Ireland c500 CE.  The original chapel dedicated to her is long gone, though before it went, local fishermen used the place for curing herring, for which act of ecclesiastical disrespect, the herring have ever since steered clear of St. Brides Haven.

It’s a good, if fishy yarn.

The present church was probably  built by at least the 14th century, during which time it would have served the lords of the neighbouring medieval manor house known as The Abbey, and whose ruins may still be seen in the nearby woods. The old church was then thoroughly renovated in 1868, by which time it was very much the family church of the occupants of St. Bride’s Castle, a great baronial pile built by the Allen-Phillips family in 1830, but subsequently the second home of the Barons Kensington between 1880-1920. The latter marked their passing with monumental Celtic Crosses that rise starkly in the windy graveyard.

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Between the church and the beach there are the remains of a lime kiln. Lime burning was an important trade in Pembrokeshire from at least the 13th century, the resulting quick lime used to neutralize acidity of farm fields before sowing wheat and barley. It was also an essential material in the building trade – for the mixing of lime mortar and whitewash. For 500 hundred years ships landed on Pembrokeshire’s beaches, coming and going with the tides, and bringing in cargoes of limestone and culm (coal chippings and anthracite dust) to be burned in the kilns. It was a highly skilled process, and a dangerous one.

These days the ships seen off St. Bride’s Haven are oil tankers waiting their turn to put in at the great oil refineries of Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock. Their presence adds to the daily seascape below St. Bride’s Castle.

After the Barons Kensington sold up, the Castle became a sanatorium for sufferers of tuberculosis. Those poor souls who did not recover also have their graves in St. Bride’s graveyard. After World War Two it was a convalescent home. More recently the Castle and grounds have been given over to holiday apartments and cottages, the Castle’s public rooms – great hall, library, and billiard room – restored in English country house style for shared use by all the guests. And here we had our week’s family gathering (including cockerpoo puppy), staying in one of the cottages in the old walled garden. The only sounds were racketing rooks and jackdaws busy building their nests in the woods, and more distantly, the crash of surf on the cliffs at St. Bride’s Haven.

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At the start I mentioned that St. Bride’s Haven has a long, long history. So far, time-wise, I’ve only scratched the surface. Later I discovered that if I’d taken the coast path around the cove and behind the cottages I would have come upon an Iron Age hillfort (c 800 years BCE). And more ancient still, near this site had also been found Mesolithic tools (9,000-6,000 BCE). This Middle Stone Age era of the post Ice Age is distinguished by the making of tiny flint arrowheads called microliths – usually around 1 cm in size. These were then mounted on a wooden shaft to create a hunting harpoon. Mesolithic hunters were also very fond of shell fish, camping out at likely beaches as part of their seasonal food gathering round. They thus left archaeologists with that other very exciting prehistoric find – the shell midden. Some are enormous, and were possibly used for several generations.

So next time we go to St. Bride’s I have promised myself a  microlith ‘n midden hunt. It will make a change from gathering seashells.

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In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockerpoo Puppy  – holiday snaps #2

 

Jo’s Monday Walk

Please visit Jo for some captivating scenes of Portuguese fisher-folk and a very gentle walk.

March Square #21

And pop over to Becky’s for more March squares and circles in squares.

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St David’s Cathedral ~ Thursday’s Special

These ruins of the Bishop’s Palace at St. David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, South Wales stand on the site of the monastery of Menevia founded in the 6th century by St. David, patron saint of Wales (500-589 CE). The nearby cathedral (coming up below) was consecrated in 1131, but has undergone many phases of re-building, including major remedial work, first after an earthquake c 1247, and then after the devastation wrought under Cromwell’s Commonwealth of the 1650s. Welsh architect John Nash oversaw extensive repairs in 1793, but his work, proving substandard, made it necessary for the whole cathedral to undergo complete restoration by George Gilbert Scott in the late 19th century. A bit of a mash-up then, architecturally speaking – Gothic and Perpendicular not the least of it – but still an imposingly handsome building. It also hosts a very excellent cafeteria.

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St. David’s has long been a place of pilgrimage, papal decree stating in 1123 that two pilgrimages to St. David’s was the equivalent of one to Rome. England’s monarchs from William the Conqueror onwards hot-footed here, which probably accounts for the increasing grandeur of the Bishop’s Palace, still apparent today despite its ruinous state. After confession comfortable lodgings and some fine dining would doubtless be the next royal requirements.

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The cathedral’s presence confers city status on the community of St. David’s. This may seem a trifle curious for a place scarcely larger than a village. With a population of less than 2,000, it thus has the distinction of being the United Kingdom’s smallest city, and so by default the loveliest – its peninsula siting bounded by scenic coastlines west, north and south and its hinterland composed of rolling Pembrokeshire farmland. A good place to visit then, although perhaps best done out of season.

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P.S.  The daffodils on the cusp of opening in the header photo are the national flower of Wales and worn on St. David’s Day on the 1st of March.

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past