During our visit last summer, we spent some time in Wales, you may even recall the snippet of video I recorded when walking in the woods.  The next pictures are from the Brecon Beacons.

The Brecon Beacons are named after the ancient practice of lighting signal fires on mountains to warn of attacks by the English, or more recently to commemorate public and national events such as coronations or the Millennium.

The Brecon Beacons range
consists of the mountains to the south of Brecon. The highest of these is Pen y Fan (886 m). These summits form a long horseshoe ridge around the head of the Taf Fechan  river to the south-east, with long parallel spurs extending to the north-east. 

The mountains are known for swift changes in weather conditions, even in summer, although as you can see from my photos we had a perfect Spring day.  In winter they can be dangerous.

These are some typical inhabitants of the Brecons.  And if you are lucky you might even see a Welsh pony.

I took my photos on my way to Hay-on-Wye, a place where the book rules supreme and one of the most interesting bookstores I have ever visited is a Castle.

So let us visit Hay-on-Wye next time, and until then, Happy Rambles.

Sounds of Spring

We are having some wonderful weather.This is a small stream in Bryn Coch, near Neath where we were staying
I took this small video on my camera especially for you. Enjoy the sounds of the birds.

And here are some shetland ponies we saw on our walk. More historical stuff to come later. These are just for fun. (We have now moved on Dorset)

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Newton House, Wales

A small reminder. My new book, The Lady Flees Her Lord will be out in two weeks. Am I excited. Yes.

Okay, Newton house is in Wales with a castle in the back yard.

I am going to start with the house. The first picture is the back of the house. The second overlooks the park.

The house was built in the 17th century, but is now wrapped in a gothic Victorian limestone facade. The landscape however is pretty well unchanged. When Capability Brown visited in 1775, he said "I wish my journey may prove of use to the place, which if it should, it will be very flattering. Nature has been truly bountiful and art has done no harm." In other words, he didn't think there was much he could do to improve it. The park remains more or less unaltered to this day. Some of the trees date by to the thirteenth century.

In this picture, you can see the deer. This is but one of the views across the house from the park and I have to say, it really was lovely. One ancient tradition relates to the white cattle found on the estate. They have been at Dinefwr for a thousand years and are a symbol of the power of the Welsh Princes. The laws of Hywel Dda, a 10th century leader of Deheubarth, refer to fines and payments recovered with white cattle.

While the outside of the walls was changed, and there was remodeling done inside over the years, the basic structure seems to have remained fairly well intact.

The original house was a fortified farmhouse. It had towers in each corner. Domed roofs were added to the towers in around 1750. It was really neat that each of the rooms in the corners had little hexagonal rooms off them (inside the tower) with stairs off them. Of course, visitors aren't allowed, but it gave the rooms a very unique look and feel.

The last thing I am going to show you is the ice house. Now if you have been following this blog you will know I have a fascination for ice houses. One of these days I am going to put them all up on my web site. Newton House also has an ice house. It is set off in the woods, and would have been used to help keep the meat from the deer park fresh. According to the guide, because of the location of the ponds servants would have cut the ice and carry it up to the ice house very early in the morning so as not to disturb their employers. It was a distance of about one mile.

Deer meat would be stored on shelves around the edge of the round house or hung from the roof.

Next time we will take a look at the castle. Not because it was regency, but always because it was there in the regency. And quite honestly what could have been better but your own ruin. People paid a fortune to have them built.

Until next time. Happy Rambles.

Searching for Regency England

We were talking about Margam, which is located near Neath (Castell-nedd) and Port Talbot. I fell in love with these trees in the park.

One of my biggest disappointments was the fact that we could not enter the house which burned out in 1977.

The park contains the largest herd of fallow deer to be found in south Wales and thought to be descendants of a small herd brought here in the fifteenth century. So there would have been deer here during the Regency.

Another building we would have seen during our era was the remains of the abbey, founded in 1147 by the Earl of Gloucester and given to the Cistercian monks from Clarvaux Abbey in France.

It became the largest and wealthiest abbey in Wales and once held a copy of the Domesday Book, now owned by the British Library.

Pictured here is the remnant of the twelve sided Chapter House.

And from a bit further away, with the end of the Orangery off to the side.

Imagine having that in your back yard.

While not strictly our period, I am going to put up some pictures of the house that was on the property, prior to the current castle. Its loss is to be mourned, but if I can get the pictures to download, I think you will agree it is worth recording it, if for nothing else, a setting for a story and a look at an earlier time on which our Georgian period is based.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Regency Flora and Fauna - March

On a Personal Note:
Well, it was a sad occasion but we visited with family and offered each other comfort. There is certainly a big hole in our hearts for my mother-in-law was a wonderful lady, always smiling, always on top of the world. She didn’t want any miserable sods at her funeral, or anyone in black, so we wore our spring blues and greens and pinks and we sang All Things Bright and Beautiful in a tiny 18th century church in the Welsh hills. The sun shone and I think Kit, aka Grannie, would have approved.

Our trip crossed two months, but given the mild winter experienced in England and given everyone’s comments, “things” were early by perhaps a week or so. We were in Wales and as you might have guessed from the picture above. Yes, it was St. David’s day while we were there. Apparently the costume pictured here came into being in the 18th century with a revival of nationalistic feeling. We passed a schoolyard and all the little girls were dressed in their national dress with a daffodil pinned to their shawls and all the boys had leeks pinned to their sweaters.
Do you like this Welsh dragon? I do. And I love the way the Welsh speak English. It is very musical. Of course the Welsh are a very musical people. If you ever have a chance to listen to a Welsh male choir grab it.

Everywhere we went in England and Wales daffodils bloome, crocus and primroses grew on the banks of the highways, nodding in the breeze like sleepy children. In No Regrets, my heroine picks a primrose bouquet.

The hedgerows and trees were bare of leaves, but the white blooms of the blackthorns were a beautiful contrast and the gorse was covered in yellow flowers.

Spring was truly in the air, especially for the rooks who were clearly visible rebuilding their nests in just about every stand of trees. Do you remember a few blogs ago when I promised you a picture of a rookery? Well I found one. Here is the picture I took just off the M4. This is a small rookery, sometimes there are as many as a dozen or more nests, but I think you can get the idea. Those big black birds are the rooks!!!!

The fields were very green, and of course we had a fair bit of rain, but the weather was decidedly balmy, with patches of blue sky and wind-whipped clouds. I noticed that the bluebells were already sending up shoots. I love bluebells. But more about them later. The next pictures are views of the Vale of Neath from the top of a very high hill. I think it gives a great sense of the countryside, the weather and the green of the fields.

It’s good to be back. I think next we will do March fashions.

Happy Rambles.