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Yesterday I had a trip to Aberystwyth to the Lifelong Learning and Welsh for Adults awards ceremony where I was presented with my Tystysgrif Ganolradd mewn Cymraeg Ail Iaith: Defnyddio'r Gymraeg. (Intermediate Certificate in Welsh Second Language: The Use of Welsh). The ceremony was bigger than I expected and they even had a harpist! It took place on the university campus and afterwards I had a look in the arts centre and treated myself to a cute pair of socks and some little book marks.

Award ceremony & treats

I did manage to arrive exactly at 2.00 pm (the invite said there would be cake from 2.00 pm and the ceremony would start at 2.20). However, there were a few minutes when it looked touch and go because I found myself completely befuddled with no sign of the mysterious Medrus where the ceremony was being held.

A little context...

More then 40 years ago, I was a student on that campus. I lived there for 2 years and, at the time, knew every inch of the area where I was standing befuddled. Except since then, they have built a plethora of new buildings. Even more new buildings than the last time I was visiting occasionally for OU tutorials.

I had parked in the visitor's car park near the arts centre and (perhaps foolishly?) followed a sign that claimed it led to Medrus. Except, as is often the way with signs, having lured you to follow them, they peter out, leaving you lost. Anyway, I thought I'd start again at the bottom of the hill near the entrance to the old hall of residence I once inhabited and, after one false trail which just led me into a cafe, I found the right entrance and there it was, just up one flight of stairs from the foyer.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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42/52 for the group 2016 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: P is for Pointed

I've noticed this pointy grave marker for years, but until today I didn't know who was buried there. It turned out to be a moderately famous Welsh poet David Richards, or Dafydd Ionawr to give him his bardic name.

The inscription gives his name as Dafydd Ionawr and the date of his death as 12 May 1827. It gives his age as 77, which is a slight exaggeration if the date of birth on the wikipedia article is correct. If he was born in January 1751, my calculation makes him 76.

Pointed grave marker

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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41/52 for the group 2016 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: O is for Overhead

I've gone for the easy option of trees. They're still very green for this time of year.

Rowan & birch

These trees are by the oak tree I posted about previously.. I hadn't planned to go up there again and G was checking the thermometers by himself at midday each day, driving up to the Cader Idris car park and then walking a little way up the track to the oak tree. But last Wednesday, I had forgotten all about the thermometer checking and decided to drive into town and leave the Daihatsu in the Co-op car park while I went to the Welsh conversation group in the cafe. I normally walk to the cafe, but I wanted to pick up extra food supplies and, the reason for needing the vehicle, a bag of shredded bark to put as a mulch around the jostaberry bushes.

So, I chatted in Welsh and we drank tea and coffee and finally we all went our separate ways and I made it back to the car park before the 2 hours was up and zoomed round to get a few food items before driving to the builders' merchants next door to the Co-op where I duly bought the sack of bark.

Arriving home, I found the house deserted. Oh, I thought, he's gone for a walk as the weather has turned sunny now. ... And then I realised .... Noooooo! He'll be walking up to the tree because I took the vehicle!!!

So I leaped back into the Daihatsu and drove up after him. He was still some distance from the car park so he was glad I'd come to find him. Anyway, though I really wasn't wearing the right shoes and didn't even have a coat, it was so nice that I joined him in the walk to the tree and grabbed these photos while I was there.

20161012_123241 old gate copy

G has a new tree now, along the estuary, but I'll remember to walk into town tomorrow so we don't have a repeat performance. :)
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Because G needs to refer to serious research while writing the book on local geology and because it's cheaper than paying for an online academic library subscription, he has signed up for an OU ecology course. (It makes sense to him!) Of course this means he has to do the experiments and assignments, so this morning we had a little expedition to place a couple of thermometers around an oak tree. This is the view from the tree. As you can see, the weather is particularly nice for October and everywhere is still very green.

Rowan berries

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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The plum jam I made last year was so nice that I made another batch the other week. The plums were bought in the Co-op, but considering how much you pay for good jam, I think making your own is still worth it, even with shop bought fruit.

Plum jam

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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I know it’s considered bad manners to read at the dining table, but it’s one of the few times I can read without feeling guilty, however, I’ve always struggled to keep the book open so I can read without having to hold it. Over the years I’ve used various things, usually a hole punch, to keep the book flat, but our current hole punch is very large and cumbersome and casts a shadow over the pages.

Recently I was watching a programme about old books on TV and the presenter had a book weight that looked like a white snake. (In fact I’ve just googled and discovered that they are called snake weights!). “That’s what I need!” I thought. I suspected they might be quite expensive, so I wondered how I could make one.

My first thought was a length of chain in a crochet tube, but the chain in the local builders’ merchant wasn’t heavy enough. I was stumped for a moment and then I thought, pebbles!

A quick trip to a nearby river provided me with 14 suitably sized pebbles then I just crocheted a simple net of trebles (US double crochet) around them.

It was all improvised, but I found that 5 or 6 trebles with either 1 or 2 chains between worked well, depending on the size of the pebble.

Crochet & pebble book weight

I’m delighted to say that it didn’t take long to make and it works really well! All it cost was a little time and patience.

Crochet & pebble book weight

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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On Monday I completed the proofreading of G's numeracy book and we got the files uploaded to Lulu. With that project complete, it was time to turn our attention to the geology book. As a warm up, we went for a quick trip up to Nefyn on the Lleyn Peninsula to refresh G's memory of the location so he could start writing the first excursion.

I've been a few times before, but in the past we've always been meeting a group of people interested in geology so that G can show them interesting outcrops. We've also always taken a packed lunch. This time, as it was more or less a spur of the moment expedition, we planned to buy a sandwich when we got there. This entailed walking from our usual parking spot to the main street in search of a shop. En route, we spotted this old watchtower which I'd never seen before.

Old Watchtower

You do indeed get a very good view from the top. It was probably even better in the olden days before some of the trees grew too large to see all of the horizon.

View from the old watchtower

There was only one packet of sandwiches left in the small shop we found, so we had one sandwich each, plus we shared a large sausage roll. After consuming the makeshift picnic. we walked down to the shore, only to discover that the tide was in. As we couldn't do the usual walk right along the beach and round the headland, we drove along the coast a little way and parked by the golf course. Here's the view from the car park.

Morfa Nefyn

The signage was rather confusing, but it seemed to be OK for non-golfers to park there and there was no pay booth or ticket machine, so we ambled off down the narrow road leading down between the greens and bunkers to the tiny seaside hamlet of Porth Dinllaen. I was adamant that I hadn't ever visited this location before, but once we actually reached the beach, I realised that I had, it's just that when I've been there before, we've walked all along the beach rather than using the golf course access road.

This is the photo I'm counting for the weekly alphabet challenge. This week's theme was: N is for Near and Far.

Boats near and far

Here's another shot that also fits that theme, in this case it's rocks near and far. The rocks in the foreground are pillow lavas which, interestingly, were formed on the coast by lava oozing out of a volcano and then solidifying rapidly in a distinctive formation. New pillow lavas are being created in Hawaii at present, but these ones are very very old and you are perfectly safe from volcanic eruptions in Wales. :)

Pillow lavas

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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Yesterday was one of those days when nothing went wrong exactly, but there were various niggles and extra hurdles, one major one being entirely my own fault.

The morning started well. I got up early enough to just catch the rubbish collection for the theme of Morning for the weekly alphabet photo challenge. The recycling was collected while I was still in bed, but here is the residual waste lorry just leaving after emptying our wheelie bin.

Refuse collection

Then the first niggle was checking my email to find a message saying that someone was trying to reset my password. This is the account that is just my firstname lastname at gmail dot com. I created that Gmail account back when Google's mail was in beta testing and you needed an invite code to have an account. All subsequent Helens-who-share-my-surname will have a number to distinguish them from me. That doesn't stop numerous Helens-who-share-my-surname from signing up for accounts using my email address and, in this case, one of them was trying to get into what she thought was her account, but of course it wasn't, so I got the notification about the password reset request. After deleting that email, the next one was from some American "Christian" who had forwarded an appalling and fatuous Support Trump message. Normally I delete such things, but I actually Replied To All pointing out that I was British and way to the left of Hillary Clinton and please not to send me such stuff again. I then blocked the sender!

After that, despite feeling gloomy for no reason at all, expect perhaps it was the gloomy weather, I was reasonably productive. I knitted more of the sweater and proofread the final two chapters of G's book on teaching numeracy on vocational courses.

Then I thought I'd better go to the garage to collect the Daihatsu which had been having a bit of work done to get it through the MOT. It was supposed to be ready, but I more than half expected it not to be because the small thing usually turns into something larger and it ends up taking longer than the garage said it should. I took a tiny bag with just my phone and a bit of cash, thinking that if it wasn't ready, I could walk on into town and buy a cake and the local paper and get a bit of exercise.

Expect it was ready! Great, I thought, I'll drive to the Co-op and do a big shop.

And thus it was that I found myself standing at the checkout with a trolley full of stuff totalling over £59 and with no way of paying for it! Aaaaaargh! I felt so stupid. How could I have forgotten that I had only planned to buy a few things and thus didn't have my debit or credit cards with me?

Fortunately the Co-op have a system of dealing with such mishaps. Instead of having to cancel the transaction and then re-scan everything when I returned with my debit card, the nice young woman on the till said she could save it and then when I came back to pay, all would be well. So I quickly drove home, grabbed my bank cards and returned to the Co-op sheepish and apologetic. "Don't worry," the nice young woman said, "Someone does it every day but now we can just save the transaction and complete it later, it's no big deal."

Thankfully, today has gone a lot more smoothly. :)
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Photographed in our local Co-op supermarket yesterday.

Christmas is coming!

Current Mood: indescribable horrified

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An email from a Welsh publisher guided me to the Woodland Trust's Wales' Tree of the Year competition.

"These six trees are the finalists in Wales' Tree of the Year, an annual search for the nation's best loved tree. The winner will compete against trees from all over the Continent for the title of European Tree of the Year, organised by the Environmental Partnership Association."

I voted for the Derwen Hwyl, Hafod y Llan, Beddgelert because I thought it was the mostly mysteriously Welsh tree. One can imagine the tylwyth teg (Welsh fairies) meeting there. But if you want to have a look at the shortlisted trees and possibly cast your vote, here is the link:

Wales' Tree of the Year competition
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