Monday, 31 May 2010

GREGYNOG HALL




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Gregynog Hall has been a grand house for over 800 years.
Gregynog Hall might have been demolished had not the wealthy Davies sisters acquired it in 1920 to become the headquarters of their enterprise to bring art, music and creative skills to the people of Wales in the aftermath of the First World War. For twenty years the house was full of music, fine Margaret Sidney Daviesfurniture and ceramics, hand-printed books from the Gregynog Press and, most extraordinary of all, the sisters’ collection of paintings by artists such as Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. Personalities such as George Bernard Shaw and Gustav Holst visited during these years for concerts and conferences –or simply to enjoy the beautiful gardens and woodland walks.
Our visit today - just an out of the blue suggestion - took us there at a time when the Rhododendron were in full bloom, a wonderful experience.
It was evident that a lot of damage had been done by this winters weather, many bushes been killed by frozen roots and frost burn.
The big surprise about this beautiful timbered building is that it is made of concrete!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

SQUARE-FOOT GARDENING


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For years now I have been a fan of 'square-foot gardening'. Here is one of the great treats, weeding - if its not in its place its a weed! SFGardening has NO pathways, has deep soil, is made out of one foot squares that are planted with just enough for a few meals without getting fed up of radish etc. I have now planted another batch that will be ready sometime later.

THAT'S WHAT I CALL ORIGAMI



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I looked out the upstairs window and met Sian coming up the stairs to tell me the first poppy was just about to pop out. I had seen it with its ear-muff caps on. By the time we had got to the garden the muffs were gone and there was another poppy opened up. It is the most amazing high quality origami. We have got at least 24 more to go.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

TOO HOT! - I've come inside

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Having finished the planting of my vegetables I have come inside to cool down. I thought a quick bit of play would be good.

Friday, 21 May 2010

PENNANT MELANGELL - North Wales



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Melangell was a female saint of the 7th century. According to tradition she came here from Ireland and lived as a hermit in the valley. One day Brochwel, Prince of Powys, was hunting and pursued a hare which took refuge under Melangell's cloak. The Prince's hounds fled, and he was moved by her courage and sanctity. He gave her the valley as a place of sanctuary, and Melangell became Abbess of a small religious community. After her death her memory continued to be honoured, and Pennant Melangell has been a place of pilgrimage for many centuries. Melangell remains the patron saint of hares.
There has been a Christian Church here for over 1200 years. Its setting, in a place of great beauty deep in the Berwyn Mountains, is peaceful and unspoilt. The church stands in a round churchyard, once a Bronze Age site, ringed by ancient yew trees estimated to be two thousand years old. Parts of the building date from the 12th Century though the most recent, a rebuilding of the apse on its original foundations, was completed only in 1990. The impression is still that of a simple Norman church, well loved and beautified over the years.
We spent a wonderful day with some of the visitors, the visiting priest who comes once or twice a week and the warden of the church. This feels like a special place. The first person we met was the mother of the curate we once had at our church in Drenewydd.

Monday, 17 May 2010

HAD AN EXCITING DAY


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At this moment I am not feeling the most lively as I have a nasty cold that is a bit energy sapping. But even so I had an exciting day yesterday. I was preaching and leading the service at the United Reformed Church here in Drenewydd. As I sang the final Amen I rushed from the church without a handshake, to be picked up by Sian in the adjoining car park. Then swiftly on the Church in Wales church above, in Llanllwchaiarn where the back door had been left open for me to get into my bright scarlet choir robes and melt into the choir to sing the anthem 'Rejoice the Lord is King'. In the end there wasn't any great rush - the service was running late as other members had also had to come in the back door from elsewhere. Who said living in the country is 'slow'.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

THE EARTH MAKER COMPOST BIN


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I have just invested in 'a proper compost bin' that suits my tiny garden. In effect it is in three sections, one on top of the other. The first chamber is where 'stuff' starts to break down. Then this is allowed to fall through, again being aerated for a second time and now to be joined by worms seeking a meal. Finally it falls through to the lower section as mulch or later as compost. Meanwhile above there is a continual process going on. It is good to be able to make compost using this 'hot system' on a small scale.

A FOND FAREWELL - POPPIT SANDS - SOLD


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Now this is a painting I really enjoyed creating. It was new in many ways. Firstly I had built up a rough textured background through a number of coats of gesso. Then found I could obtain certain results by painting then rubbing away the same paint. Certain areas have been strongly under-painted then allowed to show through. It captures for me the thrill of going to this wonderful  part of North Pembrokeshire for the first time.
Through looking at Google maps people were enabled to see that on the coastal edge there was an arrangement of stones in a horseshoe shape. This, it was later discovered had been an ancient salmon trap used by the monks from a nearby monastery.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

BLANK CANVAS


Sorry to those who are used to seeing a new 'something' each day on my posts. I have been working in the garden - sowing seeds - mowing lawns - learning Welsh at class and on the computer (www.saysomethinginwelsh.com) - visiting friends - having people to stay - going down the gym 3 times a week - preparing sermons ......BUT all the time looking for new things to paint. Each year I go through this apparently unproductive time, usually much earlier, this time having two exhibitions to prepare for. I don't know if other artists have this quiet patch. Shall I paint small / large, something familiar / the same again, free palette / restricted palette? It's not a depression, more of a brooding, a wanting to move on and up in some way.


I have just seen on Robert Genn's site that many artists have a similar experience.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

WELL BREAD

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I love finding a bargain. This wonderful bread book was just £2 in the Red Cross shop ... but I did have to make a choice for there was another as well. I think I did well having tried my first loaf from this book - CARROT & GINGER LOAF. I have a collection of bread books, and each is different in approach and even in the way bread is made.

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