Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Campbell's Platform in Country Life

If you flick through this week's Country Life there is an article about little known stations titled Pulling the stops out. It's all about remote request stops, most of which were introduced in the 19th century, unlike Campbell's Platform, which is a comparatively recent innovation.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

This morning we walked up Moel Dduallt, which is dwarfed by Moelwyn Bach. Moel means hill, sometimes a ‘bare’ or ‘bald’ hill, thus Moelwyn Bach translates to the Little White Hill; but ‘hill’ just doesn’t do justice to the craggy cliffs in front of that 710m peak.

The ridge of Moel Dduallt looking towards Portmeirion
As for Dduallt, that translates to Black Hill or Black Hillside; so does Moel Dduallt mean the (bare) Hill on the Black Hillside? Doesn’t seem to fit with Moelwyn being the White Hill. It's also far from 'bare' with lots of trees on the south side, albeit the oaks are a bit bonsai, particularly those in the firing line of the south westerly winds.

Maybe the ‘black’ comes from the profusion of ripe bilberries. We picked enough to turn our breakfast cereals purple for the next few days.

Whatever the meaning of the names it was a beautiful walk with stunning views.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Hippy Sheep

It's been a tough summer for the sheep; wet fleeces, and still no date for the shearing. Farmers are running late. You can't gather sheep off the mountain when the clouds are down. But they seem in good spirits, as if at Glastonbury.

'If you're going ..... to San .... fran....cisco.
Be sure to wear ...... some bracken....in your hair'
On a positive note, and possibly connected with the above average precipitation, there is a bumper crop of bilberries. Yum!


Friday, 15 July 2016

Full Steam Ahead - BBC2 on the Ffestiniog

The first episode of this new 6 part series will be on BBC2 at 8pm on Thursday 21st 'EXCEPT WALES'. Sometimes these regional variations can be very frustrating, so we will be watching a little later on the iPlayer.

The TV crew were filming on the Ffestiniog and at Llechwedd for 3 days in mid February with lots of rain. Here's the intro to the series.

Historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn bring back to life the golden age of steam and explore how the Victorian railways created modern Britain.

The introduction of steam railways in the early 19th century changed Britain in a way no one could have predicted. This episode explores how they created a domestic revolution, changing the way we lived, from the houses we lived in to the food we ate.

Just a nice photo - nothing to do with the TV!
In the middle of winter and the team arrive at the Ffestiniog Railway in Snowdonia to find out how millions of tons of slate were moved down the mountain. This is the slate that covers roofs in every corner of the country and all of it was moved by rail.

Underground, Alex experiences the brutal conditions faced by miners in Llechwedd quarry who would have endured 12-hour shifts suspended from iron chains. It's an exhilarating ride down the narrow winding track aboard the 'gravity train' with the whole crew hanging on to the brakes all the way.

For more details of the series click here.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Sheep in the Rain

Many of this years young lambs have had little exposure to heavy rain and today came as a bit of a surprise. This one was looking very stoic.

All the sheep seemed to freeze, as if in a trance, and all were pointing the same way. I suspect they had their backs to the wind and the worst of the rain.


Sunday, 12 June 2016

Chicken of the Woods - forager's hors d'oeuvre

There are three oaks near the house that host a bracket fungus called Chicken of the Woods. They fruit every other year in June and are unmistakeable, bright orange beacons.

They grow very large, possibly weighing up to a kilo? But if you leave them too long, they dry out and become too tough to eat.

This particular one is on the farmer's land so I asked permission to help myself to some.

I propped my ladder against the trunk, climbed up and snapped off the lowest bracket. Back in the kitchen I sliced it into strips and fried in butter for 10 to 15 minutes with pepper and a smidgeon of salt. Then a squeeze of lemon.

It was delicious and the texture a bit like chicken breast. An excellent forager's hors d'oeuvre. It's the sort of luxury you'd be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for at Harrod's Food Hall!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Redstart nest


I heard the alarm call of anxious birds and there was Molly, staring at the stone wall below, where hungry young redstarts were waiting for lunch. The nest is several inches inside the wall.