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heleninwales
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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heleninwales
A few minutes ago, there was a loud bang from the kitchen. Graham and I emerged from our studies to investigate. A smell of burned electrical something or other hung in the air but, mysteriously, everything was working. The lights were OK, the dishwasher was still sloshing gently and the fridge freezer was happily burbling to itself. The microwave and cooker were fine, as was the kettle. None of the plugs were hot to the touch. We stood there baffled for a while until finally we thought to check the ancient radio. It was dead. Sniffing it revealed the source of the burned electrical smell. Of all the things in the kitchen that could have gone bang, the radio was the most expendable, but I'll have to buy a new one tomorrow.

Current Mood: relieved relieved

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heleninwales
The day after we went to the protest in Cardiff, we met our children, plus their spouses and the grandchildren in the forest at Garwnant. It turned out to be an excellent location with a wide variety of trails. We'd stayed overnight in Merthyr Tydfil, but there is little to do in Merthyr first thing on a Sunday morning, so we arrived at Garwnant some time before the family. This gave us time to eat a breakfast of bacon rolls before going to explore.

This is one of the statues that greet you as you pull into the car park. I have to admit to doing a double take when I first glimpsed it because it looked for a moment like a man taking a pee! Looking more carefully revealed the over-large head and strange ears and that it was in fact a statue of an ogreish sort of person.

Sculpture in the woods

View looking out over the visitor centre where we ate breakfast and showing the ogreish person more clearly.

Garwnant visitor centre

We decided that the narrow road alongside the reservoir was not likely to be chosen for the family outing, so that's where we went first. The weather was dampish, but not actually raining, which was a relief after the torrential downpours of the previous day. There were glimpses of the reservoir through the trees.

A glimpse of the lake

It looked beautiful, but each stile and path led to a sullen fisherman, ensconced with all their gear, and not looking kindly on intruders who wanted to take photos. There also lots of dire warnings about the dangers lurking by the reservoir. They really didn't seem keen for people to be there, despite the inviting stile.

They really don"t want you to go there!

We turned back after a while and met the family back at the car park. We had a nice walk which even little A (who is 4) managed and the 3 grandchildren followed the clues and filled in the worksheet as we found each animal sculpture dotted at intervals along the woodland trail. Then, after a very nice picnic provided by our daughter, we bade everyone farewell and set off north, reaching home in the early evening.

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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heleninwales
As well as joining in the anti-Brexit protest in Cardiff, we also went shopping. I bought some new walking shoes and while we were exploring the big Waterstones bookshop, I spotted a friend's book out in the wild. readthisandweep no longer posts on LJ, having abandoned us for the bright lights of Twitter and the main streets of Facebook, but some of you may remember her talking about writing her novel Ghostbird.

Here is is, out in the wild!

Ghostbird in Waterstones
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heleninwales
My stash busting is continuing slowly but steadily. I've just finished crocheting 4 small and 2 large tea cosies. That used up some of the left over acrylic yarn from The Year of the Blankets. I've also cast on a sweater (for me) to use the pack of Montana that I bought in a sale ages ago.

The next crochet project will be some pot-holders to replace the ones I scorched. :(

Current Mood: productive productive

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heleninwales
Tomorrow we are off on a short city break in London. This trip has been planned for a while, but last weekend we went down to South Wales having decided at short notice to join one of the Pro-EU marches that were taking place all over the country.

Cryfach yn Ewrop / Stronger in Europe

The words on the back of the green t-shirt say: "Wales is stronger in Europe" in Welsh.

G and I have never previously been particularly political, though we always vote, even in local and EU elections. However, the whole fiasco of the July referendum has made us realise how important it is for Wales to remain in the EU, or, if not actually part of it, maintaining very close ties. So we went and we took part in our very first protest march! Considering how awful the weather was, the turnout wasn't too bad and it was on the TV news that night.

Pro-EU march, Cardiff

Unfortunately, the police wouldn't let us march. The organisers (a couple of very enterprising young students) said that they had been told it was because they hadn't filled in the right form, though previously just an email notification had been enough. However, there was a huge event on at the Principality Stadium, so I suspect the police were a bit stretched and thus said no. However, it was heartening to see people turning out, despite the torrential rain and it's good to know that not everyone is just rolling over and regarding Brexit as a done deal. For all its failings, the EU does seem to try to help the poorer regions and it's also better at supporting minority languages and cultures. The Westminster government seem to regard Wales as a county of England (the Tories) or an unquestioning source of working class votes (Labour). They'll happily spend billions on London and grudge the odd million spent on Wales.
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heleninwales
36/52 for the group 2016 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: J is for Jar

I thought I might collect some blackberries this week and make some jam, but that just didn't happen, partly due to a couple of wet days. So I had to look around for another interesting jar and remember this. It originally held chocolates (Quality Street, I think) but I've found it's just the thing for holding left over yarn. I use it up making small items such as toys or phone cases.

Jar of wool

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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heleninwales
Today we had a nice walk. It's difficult to find local walks together because G is so much fitter than me that he gets frustrated because the walk is too short or slow, or I end up limping and exhausted.

Today we tried an experiment. G set off at 9 am to walk along the old railway which is now a walking and cycling trail. Some time later, I drove to meet him at 11 am at a car park along the way. Then, together, we walked the rest of the trail and across the railway bridge to Barmouth where we bought a picnic lunch which we ate looking out over the beach before walking back to the car park and then driving home. It worked brilliantly. I think we'll be doing this again some time.
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heleninwales
Over in a FB group I'm a member of, someone is extolling the virtues of the selective system and saying that the only reason it failed in the past is because it was supposed to be a 3-tier system of Grammar, Technical High and Secondary Modern, not just a 2-tier system of Grammar or Secondary Mod. However, despite Manchester having that 3-tier system back when I sat my 11-plus, I am still absolutely anti-selection at 11.

I'm not saying that out of sour grapes either. I passed for grammar and was very miserable at school, partly because I'd been separated from my best friend at junior school (who didn't pass). However, the main problem was that despite being very bright and being put in the top stream throughout my time at secondary school, I was not academic, the traditional ways of teaching did not work for me, and I left with a bunch of mediocre O-levels and two grade Es at A-level. It wasn't until I was in my mid-30s and started an OU degree that I finally learned how to "do" the academic thing. I now have 3 degrees (two 2.1s and a First) Yes, I suspect there as a bit of overcompensation for past failures there! :) But also it was that I really loved learning once I was allowed to do it in my own way. Meanwhile, my husband who also passed the 11-plus was expelled from his grammar school because he wouldn't conform. Grammar schools only suit those who are amenable to fitting in with the traditional ethos.

Current Mood: irate quietly fuming

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heleninwales
A few minutes ago there was a soft thump from the front hall. It sounded as though the postman had just put something large through the letter box. As it's Tuesday, I thought the Radio Times had arrived so I left the computer and went downstairs to collect it only to find... nothing! G had also been drawn by the sound and we both stared mystified at the empty doormat. A ghost parcel?! Finally I realised that the carrier bag containing our walking boots which I'd left by the front door had fallen over. Mystery solved! And now, right on cue, the postman has put the Radio Times through the letterbox!

Except when I went downstairs to look, it was just a Landsend catalogue and some junk mail. Radio Time must still be behind after the Bank Holiday last week.

Current Mood: amused amused

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