Land And Sea Lines ~ Pen Dinas From Parrog Quay

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It was decided. We would have a sun-downer supper at Parrog Quay, sitting in the old seaside shelter above the little estuary. Behind us the Mountain of Angels, Mynydd Carn Ingli, already shadowy, to the west the rounded promontory of Dinas Head (Pen Dinas) backlit by sunset, the little row of stalwart, old sea salt dwellings along the quay, before us the mud flats and their moored small boats where the last of the light still lingered here and there, and curve of the Nevern with a lone canoeist heading out to sea, the still, wide expanse of Cardigan Bay beyond.

We’d gathered provisions in a delicatessen in Fishguard – runny Brie cheese, fat olives stuffed with garlic, some Welsh cheesy crackers that looked like waffles, black grapes and a few slices of salami. There was a bottle of French organic wine brought from home (grand merci Virgile Joly), and I’d also thought to bring my large wool Indian wrap in case we grew shivery later. The day had been warm but already the nights were saying autumn.

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And then we sat and we watched, and watched and watched, until the light was gone.

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copyright 2019 Tish Farrell

 

Line Squares #2

Spinning A Line At Tregwynt Mill: It’s All In The Warp And Weft

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Who’d’ve thought it: Welsh Tweed that in the 1960s seemed so fuddy-duddy and old woolly tea-cosy-ish has been transformed into a substance of loveliness and huge desirability, and all thanks to some cunning tweaking on the design front. And the place where they are doing much creative tweaking of this most traditional of Welsh industries is Pembrokeshire, West Wales. (Some of you may remember my trip to Solva last year). Ten days ago we meandered our way down narrow lanes just south of Fishguard to visit Melin Tregwynt.

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It stands in a narrow wooded valley not far from the sea, and has been worked by members of the Griffiths family since 1912, when Henry Griffiths bought the place for £760. He took over premises that had their origins in the 17th century, the looms driven by water power from the nearby stream. Today Tregwynt’s looms are high-tech, but the weaving shed still houses an old waterwheel. And apart from producing wonderful cloth that feels like heaven, the other brilliant thing about this enterprise is that it employs over 30 local people, and is otherwise a fantastic place to visit with a very excellent shop and cafe.

And, in case you’re wondering, we did not come home empty-handed:

 

Line Squares  Today’s the first day of Becky’s October Squares: – lines, however you find them.

Scenes From The Realm Of Ancestors

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Two thousand years ago the people who lived within the mountain hillfort of Carn Ingli (seen here in the distance) would have looked down on this 5,500 year-old chambered tomb of Pentre Ifan. Back then, the Neolithic burial cairn was probably mostly intact, still covered with an earth mound and extending some 120 feet (36 metres). Over the centuries most of the stones have been removed, most likely for wall and house building; only the most immovable stones remain. The capstone is reckoned to weigh 16 tonnes and is supported on the tips of three larger-than-man-size stones.

However you think about it, this tomb is an extraordinary feat of construction by people who only had tools made of stone, wood and bone. In the next photo I have included men (near and far) to give some sense of scale – height and original tomb length. The burial place, probably used for successive interments and not only for one individual, is also in sight of the sea, the harbour inlet at Parrog, Newport, which may well have been used by trading boat as far back as the Neolithic.

I’m wondering what the ancestors would think of us now: the age when folly and ignorance finally ‘triumphed’ over wisdom?

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Six Word Saturday

To The Mountain Of Angels ~ Mynydd Carn Ingli

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We were past it in a second – the road sign that warned of wild horses ahead. I blinked – mentally anyway. Had I seen such a sign before? The equine form black on white, lissom, tail whisking out, suggestive of a sprightly canter. And no sooner had I thought this, than there they were – in the flesh, and nothing less wild could be imagined. Two colts, flat out and dozing in September sunshine, while below the lush farmland of north Pembrokeshire joined them, stretching out and out.

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It was last Tuesday, just after breakfast, and we had taken the hill road out of Newport (Trefdraeth in Welsh) where we were having a few days’ holiday. My notion at least had been to climb Carn Ingli to explore the ramparts of the Iron Age hillfort that surrounds the summit. I’d read it was one of the largest hillforts in West Wales with traces of  25 hut circles within. A fortified village then, perhaps seasonally occupied.

And not only  this, there are also Bronze Age burial cairns and the suggestion too that the mountain top was first enclosed in Neolithic times. In fact the whole area, from coast  to hinterland and all across the Preseli Hills is littered with traces of prehistoric occupation: henges, standing stones, chambered tombs, hill- and promontory forts, burial cairns. The land of ancestors indeed, and for those of you who know your Stonehenge prehistory, you will recognise the name Preseli, and remember that the so-called bluestones of the inner circle were transported 140 miles from West Wales to Wiltshire. Recently the actual prehistoric quarry sites were discovered by a team of geologists and archaeologists. You can read the report here.

By the time we had gathered ourselves and tried to fathom the map, the wild horses had peaceably regrouped and we were joined by two mares, one in foal. Overhead the sun bore down very hotly for September; two ravens cronked and glided; the air filled with the scent of gorse and fading heather.

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We set off up the track, eyed by a white-faced bullock. The path went up and up, past tumbled rocks which may or may not have been part of some ancient hut circle.

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But the higher we went, the further we had to climb, and I was soon aware that he who is not so passionate about ancient relics was thinking thoughts that contained words like ‘wild goose chase’ and ‘hare-brained’. We gave it up, gazed awhile at the upland vistas and then drove on, wending on narrow lanes overhung with beech and hazel and ash, following the steep cleft of the Gwaun River valley down to Fishguard on the coast.

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P.S. In case I’ve whetted you appetite for a better glimpse of the hillfort, coming up is a view taken a couple of days later when we attempted to climb up from the seaward side. You can make out weathered ramparts. Below is Nevern Estuary and the tiny settlement of Parrog Quay, once a thriving ship-building yard and port for nearby Newport.

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copyright 2019 Tish Farrell

Lens-Artists This week Amy asks us to show her countryside or small towns.

Thoughts From The Blue Glass Sea

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Yesterday, 20th September 2019 when young people around the world were on strike to urge politicians to start telling the truth about climate emergency and to take action NOW to save their future, I looked out on this view across Cardigan Bay in West Wales. And I thought: isn’t it time we all stopped killing the planet and thus everything we truly value?

On the 23rd September 2019 the United Nations Climate Action Summit takes place. Let’s hope the world leaders attending have their brains switched on. It will cost us a lot otherwise – the earth in fact.

Six Word Saturday

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