Saturday 31 December 2011

year review 2011

2011? A hard and painful year and a hard-working one. The tactic is survival.

2012. I have A Plan.
However, having researched the realities, it has to be a long term plan. Bother.

loose ends

I've just packed an order for FIVE salt pots...Wahey!!!! Have you noticed that however many boxes you already have, it is difficult to find one to fit!!

I've managed to pick up the sneezings and runny nose cold that is doing the rounds. I don't 'do' colds....unfortunately the uncomfortable throat has been sitting there for a while. I know, my body is saying "rest"....hang on, I did...and got the cold for my efforts!!

We have a Yuletide that is damp and feeling colder than it really is..not exactly joyous. Roll on 2012!

walk, Usk Valley, Llanfair Cilgedyn

St. Mary's Church

and no, the house is still lived in, not abandoned.

Friday 30 December 2011

Usk River walk near Bryn

The oxbow lakes, filling at last
rapid erosion
In the foreground, fast flowing water by the river cliff. In the background, potentally what will become the next generation of oxbow lakes.
St.Mary's Pool, well known by salmon fishermen. The water circles anticlockwise, with a deep section below the bank on the right.

Thursday 29 December 2011


We're cleaning the gallery at Court Cupboard today and tomorrow, ready to re-open on Tuesday!!

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Pub names

For Dru- The Monkey in Crosskeys was, I think, the Drum and Monkey in full.
Now recently closed, like so many other pubs.

I will try and find out why the King of Prussia is so called.

A couple of miles further on is what is now called The Hardwick....and in that, has lost touch with its history. It was The Horse and Jockey, being on the site of the grandstand of a racecourse.
There must be so many pubs having their names changed without reference to why the old name existed. Another example is the Owen Glendower in Cardiff, by St John's Church near Cardiff Castle. Originally called the Tennis Courts, because it was built on the site of Real Tennis ( that came before Lawn Tennis) courts.

There is so much history taken for granted.

side note...this is post 701....and I thought I wouldn't have much to write when I started the first one!!

Monday 26 December 2011

pottering on

I had a quiet day on Sunday, pootling around cleaning. Then at dusk I went to a friends' home where I was made welcome, looked after and allowed to help too. Watching presents being opened, joining conversation.
I took time out to check the pots I'd made in the new French clay, and they are looking good- all wrapped up now to get handles in a couple of days' time.

After supper we watched two episodes of "Blackadder" on the television....I will never be able to trim carrots again without thinking of Baldrick in the kitchen.....

Monday was washing day!! Washed the clothes and the greenhouse!!

I walked to the next village where there is a pub called "The King of Prussia".....It has a well painted sign, but no explanation. Luckily there is a postbox in the pub wall so there was no need to go another half mile to the post office postbox. Instead of retracing my steps along the main road, which at least has a pavement, I made a loop around the lanes.

The noise from the trunk road diminished and you could hear yourself think, feel the breeze and watch the birds. It doesn't feel like Winter! The clouds looked like rolls of raggedy trimmings from fleeces, all sorts of grey.

a good day

After a day pottering round cleaning, I went at dusk to my friends' home.

It was good to be given a place, to be looked after and allowed to help as well.

Sunday 25 December 2011


I have been narrowing down the computer problems here...the W....isn't as old as I'd feared, it is x p (home version). The anti-virus is up to date.
Apart from the local competition for bandwidth, I've found that many things that this computer is trying to run are not compatible with I E, especially an ancient version of it!!

It isn't my computer, but I can make sensible would some fiery animal beginning with F be simplest, or G's metallic one beginning with Chr.....???!!

I had a lovely walk yesterday afternoon, finding a small lane, another old church, (probably mid 1200s like the church at the bottom of the garden here) and an empty cottage.
Now if I could win the lottery that would be good- a parking space, room to build a visitable workshop, a nice garden with fruit trees just needing TLC. All that and up from the flood plain too.

It feels wierd, as if Winter is waiting for the ice and snow to arrive. It doesn't feel real.
It hurts a little knowing what I have lost because of the last two hard Winters. Perhaps, though, that was meant to be, to save him a long lingering painful existence.

Meanwhile I'm looking after this cottage and having a nice quiet holiday.

Friday 23 December 2011

I'm still here!

I'm house sitting a 331 year old cottage. It is very cosy whilst being wet and windy out there.

However the computer system used is 15 years old and begins with W....and the browser begins with an I and an E......and being a bit rural....all of this adds up to extreme slowness!! But at least I'm here, with you all for company!!

There is also a garden to potter in, IF it gets dry enough!!

I went to collect a car-load of bagged pony manure at lunchtime from near Blaenafon, and the water was running off the mountain in streams. The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings, but we should be fine in this hamlet. (the cottage has its own flood barrier and it has never been nearer than a metre to the top!!)

I've posted off the last 2011 order, hand delivered another, so just one storage jar to go- but as the recipient has gone to the Nederlands until next week, it can wait!!
I topped up the stock in the gallery in The Court Cupboard this morning, with small mugs and pin trays and small pencil pots and bottles. They may be small, but they are selling, for which we are all thankful.

Now to light the wood burning stove and think of supper!!
Enjoy your Festivities, however you do them :-)

Wednesday 21 December 2011

a good firing!


The Bee Boxes
and to prove that I do use presents from Daughter!! An order for mugs with impressed logo.

New storage jar shapes
Now what is in there?!!

It always seems so little when it gets onto the shelf per board...but here it all is, with more behind awaiting firing.
Now to see if I can get that last jar lid off, and to pack those for posting....if they're cool enough!!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Monday 19 December 2011

Dyffryn Gardens

Are at Dyffryn House, near St. Nicholas in the Vale of Glamorgan just West of Cardiff.

Now where else would Santa Claus have visited? ;-)

Gerrddi Dyffryn Gardens 3&4/12/2011

Sunday 18 December 2011


Usk valley, looking over Llanover village towards Blorenge Mountain

Saturday 17 December 2011


A little late perhaps, but today I have made two Black Buns!
Like a very fruity dark christmas cake. Just that it comes in a pastry case, and is for the New Year!!

That made the kitchen nice and warm for few hours, just the thing that was needed after a chilly farmers' mart. Sales were not brilliant, but at least costs were covered. I need to make four times as much sales to make a living.

I tried to add pictures to the laptop computer, but unfortunately I can't remember how!! This is not on Linux, and I find it difficult to use. I can't remember the sequences. I need an idiot proof set of instructions!! So unfortunately, no pictures yet.

Friday 16 December 2011

another week gone!

Spending life in two places is not advisable. Although it does improve one's "packing and planning for two or three days" skills!!

Winter is at last looking Wintery, with all except the valley bottom being powdered white, with increasing thickness as you gain in altitude.

Gardening is restricted to tidying, and increasing the pony manure heaps, while it isn't showering rain or snow. So far it has mainly been rain, but we do still need it as the ground water is low.
Generally the oxbow lakes in the Usk valley fill in September, but they have been dry until a fortnight ago. Places that rely on spring water are having to take care they don't draw too much.

The bisque went well, and today I've waxed the feet and rims of most of the pots in that firing.
The gas is ordered for Monday, weather permitting. If it comes early I'll be able to fire then, but it will probably arrive around luchtime, making it a Tuesday glost firing.

The last Usk Farmers' Mart before christmas is tomorrow, then nothing until the 7th of January.
Here's hoping for some good sales!
I returned from Abergavenny to find an order for mugs on facebook, and an Etsy order waiting to be sent. They are all sent, so now to pack the stock for tomorrow!

Tuesday 13 December 2011

what a day!

Today the Weather threw everything at us- rain, sleet, snow, hail, wind, thunder and....sun!!

Daughter brought the Twins here by lunchtime as it was so cold and chucking down hailstones like small marbles!!
I was firing a bisque kiln, and trying not to check it too often by attempting some housework.
Not the best occupation, as The Oily One isn't too good at helping The Carpenter with housework....even though the latter is doing his best!!

So housework, apart from floor cleaning and making the living room vaguely Clone-proof, disappeared- as did cake baking too. When the kiln reached about 450 degrees C after lunch we managed a walk to the local Forest centre cafe with the buggy...and were successful in not getting wet!!

As we had supper, The Oily One did a little mending on daughter's car before she headed towards the mountains and home....just hoping that they had a good journey with not too much snow on the roads.

Monday 12 December 2011

back again

After three days away. I'll be glad when I can get internet access sorted there!!

The apple pressing went very well, a beautiful clear and fragrant juice, and all the crates of apples sorted over ready for the next batch.
When it became too cold we retired indoors for lunch then set to clearing the workshop where I will be working. It feels good!

Sunday was a quiet day in the gallery, some visitors by lunchtime came to see us as they were in Abergavenny for the Winter Food Festival. It was a pity about the heavy rain showers in the afternoon, can't have done their casual visitor numbers much good either.
Daughter and Family broke their journey to Yeovil at the gallery, as did The Geek.....a Family takeover of the place!! The Twins are changing so fast, I wish I could see them more often

Monday, today was the day of the funeral. I drove to Yeovil, a good clear run in reasonable traffic.
The funeral was quiet, nice music and very few words. It was good to see friends of my brother giving moral support.
The Oily One took the wheel for the drive home. rain, wind, spray, heavy traffic....he did well and thanks for that.

The Geek needed a haircut as ever! Especially as he has an internal job interview tomorrow morning back in Manchester....the lad is doing well and it is good to see him happy. I don't envy his drive up there tonight, three hours and more in this weather.

and so life goes on.

Saturday 10 December 2011

looking up

Etsy sales have picked up again- relief!!

Everything is frosty and white this morning.

Off to pack and send orders, then away to press apples!!

Friday 9 December 2011


for pots to dry.....

I've just finished the last ones for this firing, boxes with honey inspired decoration!
All the drying pots are in the living room, not ideal but hopefully they wont freeze in there!

I came back from Abergavenny by Blaenafon this morning, and there was still a dusting of frost on the fields and any water that had run over the road had frozen.

Tomorrow we will do the last pressing of apples for juice this year. We freeze it in plastic milk bottles. The weather is forecast dry which is a relief as we do this outdoors.
Then on Sunday I'm on duty at the Court Cupboard, what hardship...spending all day with a warm woodburning stove and good coffee!!
Daughter and Family should be calling by there for lunch, it should be a good day whatever the weather! Sales are steady there, which is a blessing. Lets hope that keeps up, or even improves!!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

life moves on

Someone who really cares has found me.

It is not easy to love again, when your heart is still so full of someone you miss.

His wife died a few years ago, so he knows how I feel and understands, he has been through this too. If we mention our lost partners it feels natural, not awkward.

Fresh start, moving forward but still working on things discussed with Col, as they are good, and he agrees.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

chilly Tuesday

At least charging round the house cleaning it keeps you warm!...So you can then sit in the workshop and work until you're too cold, or you finish the work...or both!!
Finials finally done..just the small boxes left to do. I'll wrap them for a couple of days, then they'll be easier to turn and stamp.

I have honey related themes in mind.....

I collected a new kiln shelf today, having knocked one over that was leaning against the kiln.....£ least I can trim the broken one and still use most of it...can't not, at that price!!

busy Monday

Monday was supposed to be up and at it, getting in the workshop asap....
housework intervened. Putting away the crockery from the dishwasher that The Carpenter filled and drying all the washing he did (YAY!!!). It was a chilly wind, but it dried well.

Moving the empty jars and bottles that await preserves and cordials onto a high shelf in the workshop.
Defrosting one freezerand organising the contents of both, now the smaller is just fruit/juice and the one in the kitchen has veggies and meals ready to be used. I portioned out nine helpings of the curry I made and froze that in shallow "take away" boxes-they fit well in the freezer and take less time to defrost. Thus removing a justification for getting a microwave oven!

A bit of cleaning then it was lunchtime already!!

I had a good workshop session in the afternoon, from two till gone half past six!
Small lidded boxes thrown, with some spare lids, and all eight storage jars finished and the lids turned and knobbed. The dozen salt pots are wrapped in clingfilm, ready to be turned and be-knobbed!

Then it was evening out!!
A small bag of hot fresh chips from the village chip shop cum cafe and I was off! I met The Carpenter on his way into the village and a few chips were welcome after a twenty mile bike commute. Another mile and the second village on, and I arrived at the Crosskeys Rugby Club for the Cymdeithas Twmbarlwm Society meeting.

The main focus of the society is the iron age fort of Twmbarlwm, but we are concerned for the state of the whole common and mountains that Col loved so much. I wish they had talked to him when they first started. They are finding many old farms, barns and buildings that he could have told them the names and uses and who lived where. There are still some people around that can help, thankfully. The society works with the landowners , the Commoners and other local societies too.

I was glad to have a lift home as it had turned cold, and happy to arrive as The Carpenter was dishing up supper!!

Sunday 4 December 2011

music while you work!!!!

I had a fairly good day of sales today at Dyffryn Gardens, so , reasonable over the weekend.
We had fairly heavy rainshowers, which brought people in to the marquee, luckily they had finished by 4pm when we packed up.

The highlight of the whole weekend was this afternoon's entertainment was music from an early music ensemble called ContraBand. They have three CDs, if I can find any video clips of them I'll link to them when I find them!!

Saturday 3 December 2011

dyffryn gardens

Half an hour and I'll be on my way to Dyffryn Gardens in Bonvilston/Tresimwn in the Vale of Glamorgan, the far side of Cardiff. About an hour's drive away.

The Christmas Fair is on there for two days....wonder who I'll see?!

Friday 2 December 2011

working well

Eight storage jars done, four sort of straight and four round and bellied!
I threw the jars with 1.5 kilos of clay, and also a tad softer than the clay I used yesterday!! So I don't need a hot water bottle on my hands tonight!! I'm hoping that they'll be the right size.

I like throwing with this weight of clay. It is enough to do a decent pot and not too heavy to do a run of them. I don't think that I could have thrown them any bigger with this amount of clay, but perhaps doing a real run of them would show that.

I worked through lunch so as not to stop the flow, and in coffee breaks and hand stretching breaks I got a batch of bread baked!!
As I took the washing from the line, mid-afternoon, the rain gently started falling.


has begun. At last there is a chill in the air.

My mother died at 3am. She had said when in her sixties, "if I get sick I won't fight it"

I knew she had had a tremor in her hands since her late thirties at least. Then she came over with my brother to where I was working a few years ago and didn't try to dominate or bully. Eventually that was diagnosed as Vascular Dementia. She was asking to go into a home three years ago, but by the time she succeeded she didn't know why she was there. Then when she broke her hip, although it was healing, she just didn't fight to stay.

I don't feel a loss. Perhaps only of the mother she could have been.

Life moves on.

I am making new beginnings and so is The Carpenter.

He has work until Christmas, let us hope that it leads to more. He has gone the twenty miles to work on his bike today, as there is no money for fuel to drive. At least he is working in the same city as The Oily One, so he can have a lift some days.

He has started sorting and tidying the house and I'm glad to be doing this with someone else for a change!! Now we need to get The Oily One to drastically reduce his footprint in the house!!

I threw a dozen salt pots yesterday and they are looking good so far.
Storage jars big a jar do you need for pasta shapes, and what size jar holds a kilo of muesli?!!

I think I need to use clay a little softer that hands were complaining bitterly last night.

Thursday 1 December 2011


Back home, and there is much catching up to be done.

I took a load of washing to my daughter's home...turning the tables!! It was good to see her and her family. Now I'm back home there is another load in!! Let's hope that it stays dry for a little after last night's heavy rain!

The stock for the fair this weekend at Dyffryn Gardens is almost ready. A few more pots need to be thrown for the next firing.

The house needs a mega-tidy, but that will have to wait until next week!!