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.

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

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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’

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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 www.authenticallywelsh.co.uk 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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Guest Blog – Birdlife 4 – Nestbox Activity

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.

 

Nuthatch nest boxes Lots going on in the nest boxes, although not so many have completed nests as over the last couple of years. Had two great tits nesting, one had 10 hatched and they are growing like mad. The other only laid 1 egg and then no more action for 10 days, when a pied flycatcher took over the box and built a new nest on top and now there’s 6 eggs in it. Another pied flycatcher  has laid 9 eggs, which is the more than is usual, 7 being the most I’ve had before. The first flycatcher nest has just started hatching.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have several blue tit nests, some have started to hatch.  Also have one redstart nesting with 5 eggs. 

The biggest blow is the pied wagtail nest, which had 5 eggs, but something has taken them. They use the half OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAopen style of box which gives easier access. Don’t know what took them, could have been weasel, stoat, squirrel or woodpecker. 

We have a blue tit in the camera box with 9 eggs, and it’s been fascinating to watch the mother on it’s nest and all her actions and behaviour. They have started to hatch, 4 so far.

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A photographer’s insight: Soup, Sandwiches and a Swim Spa!

The eating habits of a photographer are usually crammed in to a short break and consist of shop bought sandwiches with uninspired fillings and something sweet for energy. However when Paul and I went to shoot Oak Barn and Trefaen Cottage, the little cottage with a honeymoon suite bath in the bedroom, the hospitality of the owners, Keri and Julie and their family was absolutely wonderful.

The first day despite Paul having bought be a tuna and mayonnaise sandwich (see what I mean) Keri popped in to the Oak Barn where we were completing the third bedroom and bathroom of the day and invited us over their house for lunch.

Julie had made a truly delicious lasagne and salad with boiled potatoes. We were amazed, as no one has ever cooked us a meal before when we have been on shoots. It was a great time to be able to take a break and talk with Keri and his wife Julie and get to know them a little more.

Typical Welsh farmers, Keri and his wife Julie are hard working, hands on, family people who have thought of what they would like when they go on a family holiday, which includes bringing their parents and what would make their life easier and more comfortable.

Oak Barn is the old barn that was attached to the house and has been restored following a disastrous fire a couple of years ago. Keri and Julie’s inspiration in the house is relaxing and homely and welcoming without compromising on space.

Oak Barn Exterior

Each of the four bedrooms has its own en-suite and includes a wonderful hand made, Oak 4 poster bed and even a downstairs bedroom with “rise and recline” twin beds that can become a super king if necessary and en-suite wet room specifically in mind as a comfortable bedroom for those with movement difficulties.

Oak Barn for poster Oak Barn Rise Recline

The living area downstairs is open plan to maximize on the large space and at one end is a large kitchen with a large Rangemaster stove; a great place to prepare and create wonderful meals for everyone. At the other end is a huge C shaped red sofa in front of a modern wood burning stove and a very large television with Free Sat.

Oakk Barn Kitchen Oakk Barn food table Oak Barn fire tv

Leading on from here is the crowning glory- the 16 person hot tub/swim spa and outdoor seating area…unfortunately Paul and I had not brought our swimmers (or maybe that was a good thing) so we could’ve test it out, but I can confirm that it is massive. Apparently you can also do rowing practice in it with the attachments and swim on the spot. All of this in the beautiful Welsh landscape.

The following day we concentrated on the honeymoon suite next door, a little two bed cottage which is perfect for couples with room for a child or just for the two of you to get away. The special part about this is that there is a bath in the bedroom, not something you see every day unless you tend to holiday in honeymoon suites in hotels all your life. The cottage is comfortable and sweet and the swim spa is also available to people staying here as well.

Trefaen exterior Trefaen Bed Trefaen Bath Trefaen kitchen

Although we spent 3 days on the two properties, we were looked after brilliantly, Keri and Julie and their family managed to fit looking after us in round their working farm life which include delivering calves and lambs and everything else that goes along with farm life. Always keen to talk about his herd Keri also showed us his newest calves and then had to leave as another one was on the way.

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Guest Blog – Birdlife 3 – A Visit from a Tawny Owl

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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 third post of the series. 

 

Had a shock on the evening 13th May, when Christine noticed something different in the ash tree at the top of the garden. On closer inspection saw it was a young tawny owl. When they leave the nest they often are unable to fly and just sit on a branch near the nest for a couple of days.  It was a lovely sunny evening so we had a great view of it.

 

Tawny Owl

We had an unexpected visit from a tawny owl

We did see a young tawny owl on the same branch in 2007 on 15th May. The nest hole is nearby in the main trunk. The visitor was gone by the next morning.

It was really special seeing the owl, but I’m left wondering if the owls have used the nest every or most years since 2007, and we have missed it, as the opportunity to see it is relatively small.

 

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Guest Blog – Birdlife 2 – The Return of the Birds

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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 second post of the series. 

 

The first migrants started to return in April, with the pied flycatcher first seen in the oak wood on the 13th, the swallow on the 15th and the redstart the next day. Then on the 28th, we heard the cuckoo was back.

Other less common sightings this month were  goldcrest, tree creeper and a regular on the feeders were some red polls.

Nest building started early in April with some  great and blue tits beginning  by the 7th. the early starters kept to the old boxes. I make the vast majority myself, first starting back in 2005, using marine plywood which lasts really well, although I started to replace a few last year, only one this year, but a couple of new bases, and 2  boxes were put up in new spots. No. 9 was one I almost replaced, it’s furthest into the wood, and over the years it has had more species than any other, great and blue tit, pied flycatcher and redstart. It was attacked one year, possibly by a weasel and the hole was enlarged. I have put a metal ring over the hole now to protect it. There’s a great tit in it this year and 11 eggs by 5th May.

A great tit nest with 11 eggs in our no. 9 box

A great tit nest with 11 eggs in our no. 9 box

Of my 28 boxes, 8 have eggs in, another 7 with nest building going on. Only tits with eggs, none of the blue of the flycatcher or redstart.    The material used is so different with the tits favouring moss and sheep’s wool while the pied flycatcher goes for the harsher leaves, grass and bracken.

Different types of nests

Different types of nests

Different materials for nest-building

Different materials for nest-building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s hope the weather stays fair now, back in 2009 a nasty wet and cold spell wiped out all the young blue tits before they fledged.    

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