Guest blog – Birdlife 5 – A good year for the birds

guest-blogger (Small)Steve Carrow owns the beautiful Nuthatch Cottage. The stunning gardens are a haven for bird life. Steve monitors the bird life for the British Trust for Ornithology and he is now doing a regular guest blog for us.  This is the fourth post of the series.


As the breeding season draws to an end we can look back on a successful time for our boxes. We had 28 boxes up, the most ever, so perhaps not surprisingly we had as many nests as ever, 16. Actually the percentage used was below most years, with the number of chicks fledged was 78 from 109 eggs laid.
This total was bettered back in 2008 when we had 87 from only 12 nests. Back then there were 10 blue tits nests, but following the disaster of 2009 when no blue tits fledged from 9 nests, we haven’t had over 6 blue tits nest in our boxes. On the bright side the other bird species have moved in and for the last 2 years we have had 5 different species in the boxes, with the pied flycatchers making up 5 nests.
We have regularly seen a spotted flycatcher with mouthfuls of insects flying from the electric cable to a ledge above our toilet window, also saw a wren building a nest in one of the clematis plants in the garden.
Still hear swallow chicks up in the nests in the barn.
Should be a good autumn for the resident birds with the hedgerows overflowing with sloes and hawthorn. I’ve not seen so many hazelnuts before and although the squirrels have already started to take them, there should be plenty to pick.
Jays are taking the wild plums from our garden hedge.
Birds at Nuthatch Cottage WSBC0025
So much going on.
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A Photographer’s Insight- Becoming A Film Star

The other week I was involved with filming… my first break for stardom.

The Location- On the Monmouthshire-Brecon Canal between The Lock at Llanhamlach and Talybont-on-Usk

My Part- Walker number 2 (I know what you are thinking…what a great name! Right?)

My character- A walker who is enjoying a countryside stroll next to the canal with my friend. (I think I did the part justice)… Yes…I was an extra.

What were we filming you ask? Well, something big, something HUGE, something that will make me a star… the S4C IDENT! (For non Welsh readers, S4C is like the Gaelic BBC ALBA station- a Welsh TV station who broadcast programs in Welsh)

When you think about it…I will be on the channel at least twice a day, which is more than Ian Beale could ask for! But I was definitely not the main star, it was actually a really interesting and fun day. Let me tell you about it…

A bunch of lovely people like myself all met in the Coach and Horses Car Park in Llangynider (which is under new management -a great place to eat) and made our way over to the bridge going over the canal near Llanhamlech Lock.

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Photo: the lovely film crew setting up the 1st shot. Wonderful sunny weather!

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Photo: Having to wait for the canal barge to pass before mounting the Akwakats

When we got there we were enthralled by the futuristic looking water bicycles, called Akwakats, which were being constructed on the side of the canal path.

Ann’s Daughter Becky, who was also part of the eager extras, was the “daughter” in the family canal bikeathon and actually got to ride the Akwakats for most of the day while the rest of us looked on jealously.


Photo: Becky mastering the skill of the Akwakat

The Akwakats looked a fun mix of mountain bike frame and catamaran-like inflated tyres. Technician Tony Bain from Green Dragon Activities was there to show everyone how easy they could be ridden and help if anyone got stuck-which only happened once pretty close to the start of the day.

After performing my part to perfection (?) which included walking, smiling pointing and waving at the “family” on the water bikes up and down the canal we moved on to Talybont-on-Usk. There is a wider part of the canal and a turning space which was used for a family race. We had lunch at the White Hart Pub (Thank You Rhodri) and watched as the filming came to a close and then were told we too could have a go! Which was great!


Photo By Rhodri John: There I am! Such a happy cyclist!

I have to say despite looking sedate- they are actually quite fast when you are on the bike, faster than a canal boat anyways. The Akwakat also doesn’t require as much effort in pedalling as you would on a normal road surface.

The only downside is that there is only 4 of them in UK. They have come over from New Zealand where they even use them on the SEA!

It will be on in September- so switch over to S4C and have a look, see if you can spot me in our idyllic Welsh landscape up in the Brecon Beacons …or possibly my trainers on the bike!

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It’s official! The Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons is the home of great food.  Our little corner of the British Isles has 4 of the top 50 pubs according to the Good Food Guide.  These are:

The Hardwick in Abergavenny

The Felin Fach Griffin, just outside Brecon.

The Stagg in Titley

The Fox Hunter in Monmouthshire

And we know there are loads of other pubs in the area with delicious food which we fully expect to be in next year’s awards!

We’ve got cottages a stone’s throw away from these pubs, so call the office or go online to book them


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A Photographer’s Insight: My Green Man Festival

For those of you not in the know, Green Man Festival is a music festival local to us here in the Brecon Beacons. It is located on the beautiful Glan Usk Estate and attracts crowds from all over the world.

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Picture: Silk flags catching the breeze near the Far Out Tent at Green Man Festival 2014.

Before working for BBHC I used to photograph for the festival and loved going; So, I was really happy this year when I got tickets out of the blue only the day before it started. I was especially happy because when there were some bands on the line up that I had my eye on, namely the Swedish female duo First Aid Kit who were playing Sunday night on the main stage.

They didn’t disappoint. After a weekend of fairly samey music flowing through the entire festival and a constant trickle of glitter covered twenty-somethings, pensioners and kids (the festival really does cater for all ages and sizes); First Aid Kit topped off the evening for me with an outstanding set as the sun went down behind the mountains in this stunning backdrop, spreading warm golden light set over the crowd. Fairly lights twinkled, lanterns were launched and giant bubbles floated across the audience for a beautiful evening.

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Picture: Nick Mulvey Playing the Mountain Stage on Sunday in the beautiful countryside outside Crickhowell

There was other good music throughout the festival. Earlier on in the same day came Nick Mulvey, an English musician, played the Mountain Stage (main stage). His musical style draws inspiration from the Spanish guitar players of Havana after studying music in Cuba (what an amazing hot bed of musical talent to found one’s musical development on).

There are so many stages at the festival and entertainment hubs that it is easy to miss other sets, but one I did catch was the reggae band Talisman, who were playing in the Chai Wallah tent. The band was filled with true reggae soul and the crowd was enthusiastic, giving chorus and showing their love for the musicians with whoops and whistles. I even saw some of our owners, Gavin & Davina Hogg who own Penpot Courtyard Wing, enjoying the entertainment.

This was all on Sunday, and for me, this was the best day of the weekend, I relaxed, ate, drank and was merry with good friends, good music and in a beautiful location along the Usk River. What more could you ask for?

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Picture: Relaxing in the sun near the Far Out Tent and looking at the lovely blue sky with music drifting along in the background.

Did you go? What was your take on the festival?

-If you want to get ahead of the game and pre-book a holiday cottage near to the festival site- why not give us a ring, we have several in the area!

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Visit from Lady Ambassador Laura Thomas

What a busy week we have had with our first year with a trade stand at Royal Welsh Show. With such wonderful weather a total of 237,453 visitors  attended the show at Builth Wells over the four days.

Monday was a very busy day with Jess and Myself greeting owners and customers and hopefully some new owners and customers too.

With lots of judging going on in the livestock rings, the animals are all amazingly turned out and shows the highest standard of British and Welsh Farming.


A trip around the Food Hall then shows what great local produce we have available.



On Tuesday Lucy was with me and after our visit from Royal Welsh Lady Ambassodor Laura Thomas  image

Lucy got to go off around the show ground with her camera and took some lovely pictures in between a little shopping and sampling the delights in the food hall.imageWednesday Sophie was with me and we had another important visitor to the stand looking for a cottage in the Brecon Beacons.image

Wednesday is a busy day know to show goers as “Cob Day ” and was very hot but the horses looked amazing. Then in the main ring we get to see the whole display of livestock with the spectacular grand parade.imageimage

Thursday Carolyn joined me on the stand and the temperatures I think reached the highest for the week.

Carolyn enjoyed watching the horses in main ring and visiting the other trade stands which include anything you can think of from garden equipment, tractors or the latest cars available – the Royal Welsh Show really does offer something for everyone. image

imageThank you to everyone for helping over the week it was long days and very hot, but was good to greet so many of our lovely cottage owners and customers and hopefully some new customers to welcome to the Brecon Beacons. Looking forward to the 2015 Royal Welsh Show.




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Chicken Collection – Keeper’s Cottage

Liz and I spent the morning at the glorious Keeper’s Cottage with the owners Yvonne and Brian! We were greeted by their new puppy Sam, a very cute little chappy and we’re told, a very well behaved one too!

                                      Sam - Keeper's Cottage


Yvonne kindly showed me around the cottage and I was very impressed with the standard of the property. Everything is such good quality and the property was immaculately clean. The bathroom was my favourite; with a beautiful roll top bath, freestanding shower and his and hers sinks.

                                     Keeper's Cottage Bathroom

I didn’t expect much less from the owners when it came to the garden – theirs is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen – and it I wasn’t disappointed. They’ve recently finished landscaping and it is currently full of pretty blooms and shrubs. There is even a small summer house with comfy wicker seating in; the owner explained she normally strings up bunches of herbs and lavender on the ceiling so it smells glorious whilst you sit and admire the garden.

          Keeper's Cottage Garden  Keeper's Cottage Garden          Keeper's Cottage Garden  Keeper's Cottage Garden

We’d actually taken a trip over there to pick up some chicks to add to those we already have at the office. Yvonne took us around her garden and introduced us to Cassius and Bourbon, the 2 Llamas that look after the chickens!

             Cassius & Bourbon Keeper's cottage   Keeper's Cottage Chickens


We left with 6 chicks – 4 black Pekins, 2 white Silkies and 4 eggs. They’ve settled in nicely in the shed and will be integrated with the brood of chickens soon!

                                        Liz's chickens


Take a look at Keepers Cottage here – you WON’T be disappointed!

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Guest Blog – ‘Hampers to your holiday cottage’

guest-blogger (Small)

Today’s guest blog is from Sue Howells, of Authentically Welsh.  Authentically Welsh source and select the finest foods from across Wales to produce the most delightful, bespoke luxury Welsh Food Hampers. Delicious, local fare, delivered to your holiday cottage – what could be better!

 Authentically Welsh, a local online business based in the Brecon Beacons, sources and selects the finest Welsh foods to bring you a true taste of Wales.
We pride ourselves on sourcing flavoursome foods that have been made from the freshest ingredients across Wales.  Most of our suppliers are cottage or small farm artisan producers dedicated to delivering the best foods they can produce with assured guaranteed provenance.
We would love visitors to Wales and in particular to the Brecon Beacons area to sample these rich culinary delights.  So for ease, let us do the work sourcing and selecting to bring together these yummy Welsh goodies in a range of hampers to suit your tastes.
Once you have booked your holiday cottage you can order a Welsh food hamper to be delivered to your cottage either for your arrival or during your stay – it couldn’t be easier as you can book online or telephone your order through by calling 01874 730189.
There is a range of hampers on offer and if you want to add or change an item just let us know.
The current popular hampers are:
Welsh Breakfast HamperTraditional Welsh Breakfast  consists of all the local fresh ingredients to cook your breakfast so you can sample laverbread (seaweed) and cockles fried with your sausages, bacon and mushrooms. It’s so tasty.

Welsh Welcome Hamper Welsh Welcome Hamper is a superb introduction to Welsh traditional tasty foods including the Welsh delicacy of Laverbread (seaweed), Bara Brith (tea loaf which has the fruit soaked in Welsh Brew tea overnight to give its’ distinct taste) and Halen Mon sea salt which has been combined with creamy chocolate – Nomnom!

Welsh Cheese BoardWelsh Cheese Board is irresistible for any cheese lovers.  Local cheeses offered are Pwll Mawr Oak smoked cheddar which has been matured in the depth of the Big Pit mineshaft and then smoked over oak chippings to give a distinct flavorsome edge; Dragons Breath a rich fiery cheese with mustard and Cymru Crunch laced with pickled onions, onion relish and chives.  Enjoy these with local hand stirred chutneys and vegetable cocktail biscuits.  After the savoury comes the sweet with four handmade truffles with fillings such as champagne, strawberries  & halen mon sea salt.

Deluxe Welsh HamperDeluxe Welsh Hamper is ideal for sharing and a few keepsakes to take home with you such as the beautiful handcrafted wicker 20” hamper with anodized aluminium branded Authentically Welsh tag – truly original and ideal for any summer picnic.   And the Blaenau Ffestiniog Welsh slate round cheese board to serve your cheese.
There is something for everyone in this Deluxe Welsh hamper brimming with delicious goodies from seaweed & dulce savoury biscuits, irresistible toffee butter waffles, Halen Mon (sea salt) chocolate, cheeses chutney, cake, Welsh whiskys, Brecon Gin, vodka, elderflower cordial and Welsh water from Ty Nant.

Authentically Welsh looks forward to delivering delicious flavoursome foods to your holiday cottage, to make your holiday complete.
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