Friday, 29 April 2011

mixed fortunes

Note to self....start firing when it is warm = flue drawing within ten minutes. This means that there wont be too much heat gathering in the top of the kiln too fast as I start the least one of the three new dishes survived!
and the jugs are improving. I'm pulling the lip with the right AND the left hand, to get the lip even!!

More pony moving...again!

Despite not being well, we had to go and move Buster and his group of mares from Pen yr heol above Cwmbran. He has been making a nuisance of himself and tried to add a mare to his harem...unfortunately she was twice his size and had a rider!!

The problem stems from people feeding them on the common where a public lane crosses it and there are houses around there too.
It may have been Winter and in the snow, but we were feeding them higher up and on the other side of the mountain to try and get them back. Plus there was plenty of forage under the snow that they were getting. They were all, even in the worst of the Winter, beautifully hairy and fit!! Who knows what these few were being fed as well!

The consequence is, that this bunch is returning there. The lead mare decides where they go, he follows and keeps an eye on them.....

We drove them back away from the road and I took them up the steep old road as the Man waited at the foot. The mares go first, then Buster and I follow at the rear.
We have a feeling that they'll be back there...but at least we've been seen moving them away and up!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

checking ponies

Yesterday after firing the kiln I walked up Rhyswg Road which goes up the North face of Cefn Rhyswg, to take a little food and fresh drinking water to Mountain Man

We went out in his Landrover to check ponies, he stayed in and drove, I took photos with his camera and my phone.
Bogey Buster coming to greet me

We went to the Northern end, checked over Pen yr Heol from the police mast and above the old coal mine and quarries, went to the South where I walked up Twmbarlwm.
We saw about a third including a group we've been concerned about, not having seen them all Winter. They are all looking very well, having all been bred here or on higher mountains.

Then I walked down the old road that goes down from Rhyswg Fawr to Cwmcarn, on the South face of Cefn Rhyswg.

Through the last gate, onto "Lloydy's Fields" (called that since 1930)

Past the house where Mountain Man grew up.

The Winter has really taken it out of him. He is not well, and now I guess he has been hiding that from me for at least six months. He has strained his back again, too.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

teeth and life

Well, tooth...has been making its presence felt all weekend.

Couldn't be Xrayed properly so I'm back on (different) antibiotics to hopefully kill the infection=reduce swelling=reduce pain.

Mountain Man isn't well either. Gone off eating, still doing too much.

Looking after him as much as he'll let me.
Ho Hum

Monday, 25 April 2011

day at Hay

A lovely day, good journey both ways....but I don't think two small bowls and a small sheep justified it.
Loss £10, wages Nil.

The recession hits another good date. The town was fairly busy from lunchtime on, but had been full for the previous two previous years everyone did well on this date, which is why I was asked to come on this day.

It was a beautiful day, however, and the Butter Market lived up to its purpose and kept us as cool as butter and cheese should be- we took turns in having a walk in the sun to warm up! It is looking good as its ceiling has been mended and cleaned.

Now to carry on building up stock for this time next month, back in Hay during the Festival

Sunday, 24 April 2011

day of parts

Partly doing washing (and drying it on the line!) partly making lime with lemon cordial, Partly doing a bit of pricking out and potting up.
Partly pricing and packing pots for tomorrow.

A quiet day today, not scorchingly hot, but pleasant enough, and quite a few people allotmenting as it went cooler, before the midges came out!!

All day with my grumbly tooth, either just aware or hurting. In sympathy with The Man's back.
Both should start being sorted on Tuesday. Why do these things always get worse on weekends and holidays?!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

today's mountain walk and other things

Look who I found! Better on The Man's allotment than on the back lane, ready to be squashed by a car!
Looking down from Twmbarlwm. You can see the burnt patches by the road
Should have focussed a little nearer, but in the middle is one of the car parks on the Forest Drive. By there is an area with a playground and several purpose built barbecue sites.
Here you can see one forest road going across, halfway up the picture, and another a little further up. To the left on the higher road, by some deciduous trees, was Pen Pant farmhouse. All it had for water supply was a shallow well. To the middle of the picture along from Pen Pant was Rhyswg Fach, inhabited until about 1954. There they ran a dairy, and took the milk down by horse and cart, and returned with churns of water.
About halfway between them and just above the pine trees you can see a field belonging to Rhyswg Ganol, which as far as I know is the only one on the mountain with a decent well. Unfortunately the old building is not standing, but you can see the footprint of it on Google Earth. There has been a bungalow there since about sixty years.

We heard that the ponies were by Twmbarlwm so took a walk there after lunch. No ponies!
But we could see where they had been for water then returned to the main mountain. There was quite a number of people up there today, and many quad and motor bikes (illegally) so no wonder they hadn't stayed.
No rain so far today and everything is getting parched.

I'm not...I'm sitting here with a mug of fresh Lemon Balm (Melissa) tea with a little honey!

Friday, 22 April 2011

walk on the mountain

Dewponds, created in the 1100s by the Cistercian monks for their mountain sheep . The haze in the far distance on the right is smoke from the 1000 acre fire on the Brecon Beacons. Firemen dread good weather and Easter...this was probably arson....again.
We saw another smoke plume further over, possibly above Ebbw Vale, and another faint one that could be in the direction of Gelligaer.
Where the deciduous trees are, was a smallholding

We'd been told that the ponies were on the Western end yesterday. Having had little rain for weeks, who knows how old these footprints are!
A very important pole...unfortunately quite a few have been damaged
looks like a small lorry got torched at the trackside. Usually it is just cars
Then down off the mountain and back up again to take The Man back home.
This is the pair of bends halfway up.

Wish I could stay up there. He has hurt his back and needs help.

some of the new pots

kiln bug and Segersaurus!
soap dishes
shaving bowl/soap dish
managed to get the serpent green this time!
snails too!!
yarn bowl- ok for a small ball, need to make bigger ones
Mouse cheese bell and butter dish. Unfortunately the inside glaze on the dish isn't perfect, I'm not sure what happened to it. Still serviceable, not saleable.
covered soap dish...
in three parts! First version- the drainer disc needs to be a little wider.
Not bad considering, and I have increased the mug stock with this firing. Also The pint belly mug was exactly that! So I have the throwing weight right for that.....I think I wrote that down somewhere....!!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

firing done

Eventually the gas bottle arrived, mid-afternoon. Thankfully the delivery man knew that when I phone, I need it asap!! The new boy in the office thought I wanted it on Thursday, not next day as in fact it wasn't on the van...when I checked before lunchtime, this must have spurred him into action and he contacted the driver. Luckily by then he had a spare bottle as one place also due a delivery had nobody there and was locked up!!.. Whew!!

Firing over by 10.40pm. I think I'm doing everything right.

I think I'll try and start earlier next time as my brain was still on full speed until much later!!
Last night's batch of jugs was more than ready to handle at 7am, so they got wrapped. It took a while to settle into throwing and centreing myself. Lost four mugs in the process.
Finished half a boardful before going to the allotment before lunch.

It was getting hotter fast, so I planted out rocket, raddiccio and various spinach type plants, then shifted the last two sections of tin sheeting fence before retreating for lunch!

After lunch the mug rims were changing colour already! Instead of throwing more I handled all the mugs and jugs.
The kiln was down to 60 degrees by 8pm. By then supper was ready and my phone battery needed recharging.

Early night then I can unpack the kiln without roasting my fingers and take pictures as I go.

See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

lovely day

The Sun is out, the washing line full, washing up cleared.

Stock listed (finished work) and pots sorted for exhibitions. Going to list the bisque ware now.
If I had enough room I could have stock shelves, as it is they are all stacked in mushroom trays and storage boxes!!

Then I must price and label and pack stock for the craft fair in Hay on Wye Buttermarket on Easter Monday (next Monday!!!)

The things you do while waiting for the gas bottle to be delivered.....

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

kiln firing...pause..

Gas too low to finish...stalled just over 900 degrees Centigrade.

Cut my losses, shut down and order gas today for tomorrow. Unfortunately two salt pots should have been posted for Easter.....

The Oily One HAS to clear the path (again?!) so that the gas bottles can go out and in.

The Wizzard's car is still unsold, but with luck we'll get past that.

I am fed up of having my back yard and (small) back garden treated like a scrapyard!!

On the positive point, the weather is dry and warm during the day if chilly at to hang on to something...

Monday, 18 April 2011

kiln firing


Sunday, 17 April 2011

sunny sunday

Although sunny there is still cold about- it was white on the mountain this morning.

The pots have all been waxed to save sponging glaze from the feet and galleries.

I've sorted half the pile of tin sheeting behind the allotment shed.

I've bottled Crabapple wine - quite strong and dry, almost whiskeyish. Also Beetroot wine, which lacks body.

The Oily One has been off mountain biking and climbing all weekend, and apart from playing cycle polo, The Carpenter is doing his best to be nocturnal.

So no progress on emptying the old garage. Time is passing- It needs to be deconstructed, and the allotment shed taken down ands a new shed built. The excess tin sheeting needs to be off the allotment by the end of this month....

Friday, 15 April 2011


I'm a bird, honest...
Or a tightrope walker...
Busy thinking...
I've washed my hair and can't do ANYTHING with it!!

Teigar has managed to get fleas, who knows where from. They have hitched a ride on someone and made their home on her. So she has been to see the vet,been treated and had her claws trimmed ,bathed (with Cat Shampoo!) and had her medicine placed on her neck where she can't reach it!

She isn't 100% happy, but she is scratching and cleaning less!

We've been cleaning the house even more. It always needs it, whatever you do!!

More good news

There will be free camping, with toilets and access to showers at Hay!!!!!

On top of that The Carpenter got wheels, pedals and lights on my road bike (seeing as he has borrowed a tyre and inner tube from my mountain bike!) and I rode to Newport for the Cycling Club Cardiff training session/club night at the velodrome. Paperwork and paying done, I left them to it after an hour of the two and a half hour session. It was 8pm and I was beginning to feel peckish! Also it is Friday night, which comes with Friday night traffic...I wanted to get past the rugby ground and out of town early enough as Gwent Dragons were playing at home, and the roads get very busy on top of the usual Friday night traffic.
Taking all this into the fact that I didn't fancy the hill by the civic centre...I came home via the canal! So 45 minutes to get down there and 70 on the way back!! (it is a little further too). I did walk the second part of the steepest bit by Fourteen Locks
I now feel tired but with recharged batteries!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

kiln firing and good news about Hay

The kiln behaved differently with the burners further away from the ports, slow firing was easier.

It helped that we're into spring, so the flue only took about ten minutes to warm up and draw, instead of getting on for an hour!
The flame failure sensors had to be adjusted- it does help if they get some flame on them first!
The levers on the burners themselves worked better, but I agree that I need the regulator/guage on the line nearer the kiln. It would save getting wet when it rains, and peering at it when its dark!!

At a couple of points it stalled, and I'm not entirely sure why-it wasn't at any of the critical temperature points where as the silica changes its form you use more energy.

The real test will be the next few glaze firings.

Gas price has risen again. At least I use good suppliers who don't try and squeeze the last penny from you and DO put the price down when they can. The last 47kg ( 100 pound?) bottle cost £50, the next will be about £53.

The good news is that I'll be doing the craft fair at the GlobeatHay during the Hay Festival.
I haven't anywhere to stay yet, but I probably can't afford to pay for anywhere, and £20 per round trip for fuel will be cheaper. The dates are Saturday to Monday, 28-30 May and Friday to Sunday, 3-5 June. The hours we'll be open are 12 noon to 7pm, to fit in with the Festival!

Thats incentive to make!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

pony walk

I spoke to Mountain Man on the phone as usual this morning, thinking that he'd be in his home, having his Farmer's Breakfast ! ie the second one at 10am..the first is just a break fast at daybreak. He was miles away, looking over Cwmbran, having been walking since 6,30 am. By then he hadn't seen even one pony.
I beat the housework into submission, adjusted the position of the burners on the kiln and was about to go to the garden when he phoned...could I meet him at our usual parking place near Twmbarlwm to give him lift down?

It was a good thing that I'd taken a warm gilet..when I phoned to say I'd arrived he said...want to go up Twmbarlwm to check?!!
Welsh Black Cattle also graze the Common Ground
The motocross and 4x4 vandals have been busy

It is a bit steep...

A nice boggy bit, with more wheeled damage to the ecosystem
The foot of Twmbarlwm!! With the fence cut to the side of the stile
There he is!!
On his way up!! We both did the tump for a change!!
Looking down on the Nantcarn and Graig parts of Cwmcarn, the Spitefull in the distance on the left and the roof of the Forest Drive Centre just visible above the trees in the middle
Spotted them!!!!

This one was last year's runt and it had been expected that he wouldn't survive the winter.
He still isn't that big, but he has come on well. (I've tried to find the picture with him in, from last Autumn. Failed! He was a fairly dark grey colour then, and much smaller than all the other foals)

It was lovely to be up on the mountain again together in the sun, despite the chilly wind, listening to the birds and checking the ponies. He saw well over half of them and we have a good idea of where the others are!!