Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile My photos are here Previous Previous
Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
I haven't made bread by hand for some years. I haven't even made any in the bread machine for quite a while. Anyway, I realised that a) there was no bread left in the freezer for lunch because I'd eaten the last crust as toast for breakfast and b) there was a bag of white bread flour in the cupboard with a use by date of October 2018, also a packet of dried yeast with the same expiry date.

I therefore whipped up a batch of rolls, using Mrs Beeton's Scottish Breakfast Rolls recipe. Somewhat to my surprise, they seem to have come out OK!

Scottish Breakfast rolls
4 comments or Leave a comment
Last week there was more going on than usual. Monday and Friday afternoons were spent collecting soil samples from cold muddy fields. An old acquaintance from my Pony Club days had asked for G's help into looking into how he could stop the RSPB's attempts to create a peat bog on their nearby land from making his fields too wet to use.

It did enable me to get a photo for the weekly theme, which was W is for Windy. The reeds were tossing wildly in the wind.

Wind in the reeds

Monday afternoon was spent extracting soil samples with the soil auger. It is rather disconcerting to see the soil auger (a thing like a giant corkscrew), plunge down into the ground right up to the handle once it had been screwed down through the top layer of more solid soil. You can also feel the land bounce like a water bed when you're on a true bog!

The fields did display varying degrees of bogginess and G is busy writing up a report. It was sort of fun. It didn't quite rain and there were moments of sunshine. This photo was neither my acquaintance's field nor the RSPB potential bog, but we took a soil sample there for comparison. It revealed that the farmer had been working on improving the land as it was less acid than either the RSPB land or acquaintance's land.

Field by Mawddach trail

The combination of rain and sun did produce a rainbow. Interestingly, looking at my Flickr photostream, most of my rainbow photos have been taken in November. I always think of the spring as being the time for rainbows, but it seems not.

OK, this one is actually early December, but it's early winter anyway.


As well as collecting soil samples (and getting chilblains because wellies are not as warm as hiking boots), there was also the Christmas lunch on the Thursday. This was the Welsh class/Welsh conversation group's lunch and we had it in the training restaurant at the local college where G and I used to teach. The food was, as always, excellent and though the service is a little slow, time to digest one course before getting the next was quite welcome. Besides, you really can't complain at £17 for a four course meal.

I had the traditional Christmas turkey dinner. G doesn't like turkey, so we always have beef or pork, but there was plenty of choice and everyone said their food was good.

Then on Saturday I met our daughter and granddaughter in Aberystwyth. It was a cold and rainy day, but we dodged from shop to shop and it stopped raining long enough to walk along the prom after lunch. We ate at the new Byrgyr (Welsh for "Burger") restaurant. They do posh burgers which are very nice indeed.
1 comment or Leave a comment
I don't know whether to rage at the Tories or whether to just sink into despair. Cancelling the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement was a cowardly thing to do. Parliament was packed. MPs had obviously given it top priority -- and then it wasn't to happen.

Not only that, many demonstrators had booked train tickets and hotels to protest outside. Some events were cancelled, but the stalwarts went ahead and protested anyway.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, apparently, they are discussing reunification in phone ins on the radio, the Scots are agitating for IndyRef2 and here in Wales we now have two new parties who will campaign for Welsh independence. It looks increasingly likely that Cameron's attempt to unite the Tory party will end up breaking up the UK. If Brexit happens, the breakup will be quite quick. If we can stop Brexit, I think it will still happen, though more slowly.
2 comments or Leave a comment
I have felt rather tearful all day due to reading the sad news that an online friend had died unexpectedly on Saturday. This was the message posted last night by her family:

"Hello this is from Penny's family. It is with a heavy heart that we have to tell you that our beloved mum suddenly passed away Saturday morning. She was much loved as a wife, a mum and a Nanna and her parting will leave a big hole in a lot of lives, we all loved her so much and will never forget you mum. xx

We ask at this time for some time for us to grieve,we will post funeral details when we know them as we know she had many friends on here."

I never met Penny (aellia) face-to-face, but knew her online for 14-15 years, at first here on LJ and then on Facebook. In some ways we did not appear to have all that much in common, but I loved reading her posts with photos and snippets of her life with her growing grandkids. She wrote engagingly about simple things and her poems were never twee or sentimental and often contained a hint of melancholy.

One thing I always admired about her was the she had cultivated a particular style of dress that suited her perfectly and she regularly posted about bargains she'd found in the local shops. The same went for her garden. She could take inexpensive garden ornaments that, by rights, should have looked tacky and yet the way she combined them with her plants really worked to create a quirky haven of peace.

I will miss her posts about baking, and her grandkids growing. I'll miss the photos of her lovely lurcher.

I know there is at least one person here on LJ who counted her as a friend and who won't have seen the sad news on Facebook, so that's one reason I'm writing this post. The other is just to pay tribute to someone who will be sadly missed by both her family and friends.
11 comments or Leave a comment
This year we've been doing so many day trips out to places that G wants to feature in his book that I just haven't kept up with writing them up for LiveJournal.

A lot of them got a bit samey: Here's another view of a desolate moorland with occasional rocks. Here's yet another view of a desolate mountaiside with occasional rocks... etc. etc. But I've kept wanting to post more proper posts, so here is a brief account of our trip to Llanberis and Craig yr Undeb.

There were a few parking spaces down at the end of the lake not far from Craig yr Undeb (Union Rock), so after leaving the car, we investigated that first. It has it's place in Welsh history due to it being the place where the first slate miners' union held their meetings. All the photos of the rock show the view from the road (now a walking and cycling trail), but we climbed up to investigate the rocks and discovered that there is a natural lecture theatre, hidden from passersby.

This is looking inland...

Craig yr Undeb copy

...this is looking back to the lake.

Craig yr Undeb

If anyone is interested in the history, here's a link...

Very briefly, tired of being exploited by the wealthy quarry owners, the slate miners of the Llanberis area wanted to form a union. In the early 1870’s 110 quarrymen from the Glyn Rhonwy quarry (one of the smaller quarries) declared themselves to be union members and were promptly locked out by the quarry owner. He soon had to give in, due to the financial losses and they were reinstated.

Alarmed by the new militancy amongst their workers, the quarry owners attempted to stop the spread of the trade unions by refusing permission for any meetings within the quarries or on any of the extensive lands belonging to the quarry owners.

However, for some unknown reason, Lord Newborough, owner of the Glynllifon estate west of Caernarfon owned some land near Llanberis on the shores of Llyn Padarn. He allowed the men to use the rocky outcrop which became known as Craig Yr Undeb (Union Rock) to plan secretly the formation of a trade union. It's a mystery as to why one rich landowner would support the slate miners, but Glyllifon is an agricultural estate with no mining interests and perhaps he'd taken a dislike to the quarry owners for some reason? Anyway, it was these secret meetings led to the creation of the North Wales Quarrymen’s Union.

After exploring the rock, we set off to walk to the other end of the lake, taking a high level path over the hilltops, looking at various outcrops on the way. We eventually descended through woods to reach the Old Mortuary and the quarry hospital. We didn't visit the hospital (open to the public free of charge as part of the Llanberis Slate Museum) because we'd already visited earlier in the year. We did, however, stop for a while in the cafe for a sandwich and cuppa.

We returned to the car along the other shore of the lake, past holiday makers sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking and even swimming. The footpath on the town side of the lake was once an old railway and so you get to walk through an old railway tunnel, something you don't often get the chance to do.

Current Mood: calm calm

5 comments or Leave a comment
I used to have two very elderly friends B & M. Sadly I now only have one because B died a year ago this week, just before her 100th birthday.

I had thought that B's story about the time she briefly worked as a maid for Agatha Christie and once waited on at the dinner table was amazing enough, but today M topped that by revealing that she used to know Rosemary Sutfcliffe quite well.

Definitely, wow!

Current Mood: surprised amazed

1 comment or Leave a comment
These are usually too long, but this one looks doable...

Marriages: Just the one!
Divorces: None.
Children: Two, also three grandchildren.
Pets: Not now. Lots in the past though. At Peak Animal we had: Two ponies, two goats, two cats, two hens. Have also kept guinea pigs, hamsters and rats.
Surgeries: Tonsils as a child and hysterectomy twenty years ago.
Tattoos: None
Piercings: Ears
Quit a job: We closed our business in the early 90s, thus making ourselves redundant. I also left one teaching job to go to another college with better pay.
Been to an island: This is an odd question for a Brit. Britain is an island, but I've also been to other islands such as Anglesey, Isle of Wight, Isle of Mull, Barra, Isle of Dogs (LOL! That one isn't an actual island any more).
What do you drive: Daihatsu 4-trak
Flown on a plane: Quite a few times. Mostly fairly short flights of a couple of hours but I've been to the USA twice and South Korea once.
Favourite drink: Depends on the time of day and the circumstances. Tea, wine, elderflower presse are current favourites, occasionally cocoa is just what I want.
Fallen in love: I don't really like that term as that's not what happened with G and I. More a growing into love.
Been cheated on: No.
Rode in an ambulance: Once as a child.
Sang Karaoke: No.
Ice skating: As a kid at the ice rink.
Been surfing: Nope.
Been on a cruise: The idea of a cruise fills me with horror. Absolutely not something that appeals.
Rode on a motorcycle: No
Own a motorcycle: No
Rode on a horse: Yes. I rode whenever I could as a child and kept horses for about 20 years as an adult.
Almost died: No.
Stayed in a hospital: Yes.
Favourite fruit: Difficult to say. Possibly peaches, also melon.
Favourite day: As I'm retired, all days are good. :)
Favourite colour: Green
Last phone call: Received -- from neighbour who is away on holiday and wanted to check all was OK at home. Made -- to step brother about a bunch of keys.
Last text: To brother, also about the bunch of keys.
Watch someone pass: Yes, unfortunately.
Coffee or tea: I loved coffee, but it doesn't agree with me any more, so it's just as well I like tea.
Favourite Pie: All pies are good, both sweet and savoury.
Favourite pizza: Classic Italian with ham, mushroom and black olives.
Cats or dogs: Both. Though I've never had a dog I used to walk one for some elderly friends. We had cats for years and they become part of the family.
Favourite season: Late spring/early summer when it's warm enough to go out without a coat but there aren't any midges yet.
Favourite Holiday: Difficult. Probably Easter because it's when the days are lengthening and there is the prospect of summer to come. Also chocolate!
6 comments or Leave a comment
Another day out exploring with G yesterday, this time on Penrhyn Lleyn. We visited Mynytho to look at the granite.This entailed struggling over a pathless hill that was covered in gorse. Mostly it was only knee high, but even so our boots were full of prickles by the time we reached the path on the other side. From there we drove to Llanbedrog where we walked a little way through the woods at Glyn y Weddw to a statue on the cliffs. (Looking at the rocks on the way, of course!) Finally, we walked along the beach to look at the rocks at the far end.

St Tudwal's islands

We were still safely on the path when I took this. The small islands in the distance are St Tudwal's Island East and St Tudwal's island West.

Old windmill

Here we've started to struggle up through the gorse. The thing on the top of the hill was an old windmill. It's perfectly situated to get the wind, whichever way it was blowing.

More pictures here...Collapse )

Iron statue

This interesting sculpture stands on the cliff alongside the coastal path that runs through the grounds of Glyn y Weddw. It's overlooking the beach at Llanbedrog. The beach was more or less deserted, just a chap with a metal detector and a couple of other walkers.
7 comments or Leave a comment
Another day spent editing my first serious video. That was after wrestling with Youtube to sort out the subtitles on the train video.

Who knew that Youtube adds automatic subtitles using voice recognition? Also, as one might expect, when it listens to Welsh and tries to transcribe it, thinking it's actually English, the result is gibberish. Anyway, it's OK now.

I hope.

It had better not try to add them back.

I have a lot to learn with video editing, but one important thing I've discovered is how few words you can fit into a voice over without holding a static shot for a ridiculously long time and being boring. All the research I did about the town prisons had to be left out. On the other hand, adding music to video of someone walking down a path makes it much more appealing.

With luck another day's work will finish Episode 1 and then I can plan where to explore next.
2 comments or Leave a comment
It's the thing these days to have a Youtube channel and now I have one too! :)

It's mostly aimed at people who are learning Welsh, especially those who live in England or abroad and want to learn more about Wales as well as practise the language. The plan is to create a video every 4-6 weeks, exploring somewhere and explaining what there is to see.

I did the filming for the first video back in June but learning the video editing software took awhile, especially as we kept having trips away from home. I'm using an open source video editor called Shotcut. Like many open source packages, it's fairly powerful, but not exactly user friendly. Fortunately there were some helpful videos on Youtube that explained the basics and that's all I need for the moment.

The first proper video is still a work in progress, but while we were in London a couple of weeks ago I shot a few short pieces on my new Huawei P20 Pro phone while we were waiting for a train. This week, I edited the best bits together, added some music and a voice over. I've uploaded it as a practice piece and I've also tidied up my channel which I've had since 2009 and never done anything with apart from upload bits of video I wanted to share on social media.

All the random stuff is now made private and hidden and I can now share my first video. It is in Welsh, but if you want to know what I'm saying, just click on the Subtitles/closed captions button and you'll get the subtitles. I've done it that way rather than adding subtitles onto the video itself because when you're learning a language, it's easy to think you understand something, but you're actually reading the subtitles. Youtube allows you to make them optional, so a learner could watch once without and then watch again with the subtitles to check understanding.

If any of you want to have a look, here's the link...

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

8 comments or Leave a comment