Saturday, 3 June 2017

Panorama Walk and a lot more!

Today we decided to explore the hills above Barmouth and extend one of our favourite walks (to the Panorama view point). We set off from  Morfa Mawddach Station car park and walked over Barmouth Bridge and down the hill towards Barmouth , then veered off to the right and up a steep set of stone steps which eventually levelled off to an undulating path but gave us amazing views over the harbour, bridge and south towards Fairbourne and Llwyngwril in the distance.






The path went past a house with large garden on the right and shortly afterwards we turned left and uphill to where we could see posts with yellow markers on the hill above. We followed this path , going past a bunkhouse until we reached a narrow road, on which we turned left and headed on up hill again.


We continued on up this road which became a track winding around the contours of the hill , going past an isolated but habited cottage and found that we were now on the Ardudwy Trail. Before long we were able to look out northwards  and westwards over Cardigan Bay and the beaches north of Barmouth and beyond to the Llyn Peninsula.
Eventually we reached a T Junction of paths where we turned right and followed a rather boggy path in places until we reached the crown of a hill overlooking a lovely looking valley to the north of Bontddu. We continued on down towards a rather ugly mast and emerged out on a quiet road , where we turned right and carried on downhill for about a mile until we came to the path going towards the Panorama Viewpoint. Of course we couldn't get this close without going up to the viewpoint, despite the rather ominous dark clouds that were gathering in the hills over the estuary. We managed to have coffee and a snack at the viewpoint before deciding that the clouds were heading our way so we headed back to the road, down through Orielton Woods and back across the bridge to the car park.
In all the walk was about 6 and a half miles long, and with a couple of stops for coffee and nourishment, took about 3 hours in all.

The route took in all sorts of terrain, woodland, moorland , stone steps and of course flat wooden bridge, with fantastic views in all directions. If inclined there's  always the opportunity to make a detour into Barmouth for a swift pint or more on the way back.

See http://pentrebach.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/lots-of-lovely-walks-from-llwyngwril.html and
https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=1484363661516317584#editor/target=post;postID=729663906500598295;onPublishedMenu=template;onClosedMenu=template;postNum=18;src=postname
for 11 more walks not far from Llwyngwril.





Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Trials and Tribulations of Beekeeping

We started keeping bees in 2014 after Wilma completed a beekeeping course run by the local beekeeping association. The first year went really well and we harvested about 60 jars of honey. We thought that beekeeping was a dawdle!
In 2015 we split the colony artificially to provide us with a 2nd colony (and also to prevent swarming). For various reasons (mainly weather related) neither colony managed to produce a lot of honey so we only harvested a small amount and left most of what the bees had produced in the hives for the bees to survive on throughout the winter.
In 2016 we were unfortunate to lose the 2nd colony while we were away on holiday (possibly they left of their own accord but we don't really know) but the original colony fared well and supplied us with about 40 jars of honey.
This year our surviving colony seemed to be doing well and we were thinking about performing another artificial split so we would have a second colony again , and also to prevent swarming if the hive had become too crowded.
However before we could do that we were on our way back from a visit to family in Yorkshire when we were informed that there was a swarm of bees on the roof of a house in the village not too far from Pentre Bach. As soon as we got back home, we went to investigate and found that the bees had settled inside a chimney that was now disused. Not the easiest place to retrieve them from! You watch YouTube videos etc and see beekeepers just shaking a branch and dropping swarms of bees into a box and then taking them away to rehouse them in an empty hive. But no that wasn't going to happen here!  Mike had to suit up, climb up a ladder to the roof, pull up a roof ladder, then come back down to then carry a bait box (complete with frames of honey inside) up onto the roof, below the chimney, in the hope of encouraging the bees to choose our nice dry box with stores of honey to live in, rather than a cold , draughty chimney.
A few days later we could see from the ground that the bees were still coming and going from the chimney so ........ plan B....... again after research on the Internet we discovered that you could buy a substance called swarm lure that imitates the pheromone that the queen exudes , causing her colony to stay with her. We ordered a pack and as soon as the 3 tiny tubes arrived we went back to our neighbours' house where Mike yet again climbed up to the roof and smeared some lure at the entrance to the bait hive as well as remove the cap from the top of the chimney , again to try to discourage the bees from remaining inside the chimney.  We left them to it, convinced that this would do the trick.
1 or 2 days later we had a surprise visit from 2 members of the village community council, who came to find us because a swarm of bees had been spotted in the village play park! So .....suits back on, smoker stoked, we set off like something from Ghostbusters
to the play park to rescue/collect the swarm. Were they hanging handily from a branch ready to pop into a box this time? Oh no, this swarm was right in the middle of a huge wild bramble bush! So ..... we had to cut, slash and shear our way into the centre of the bush, jungle-like, until we were able to get anywhere near the huge ball of bees in the centre of the bush. Meanwhile hundreds of the bees were getting decidedly agitated, unhappy at having their new temporary home disturbed. We managed to manhandle the majority of the bees into a cardboard box, hoping that the queen bee was amongst them and then left it beside the bush for nearly an hour, until the majority of the remaining bees decided to join the queen in the box.
Safely taped up in the cardboard box we returned home with them and deposited them carefully in our empty hive , complete with a few frames of honey 'borrowed' from the other hive along with a number of frames of fresh foundation (wax).
Where had these bees come from? The obvious answer is from our hive but its impossible to tell as we still appeared to have thousands of bees in our existing hive. Interestingly though , when Mike climbed up yet again onto our neighbours' roof, he found out that the bees had indeed left the chimney but had not gone to live in the bait box either. So had the swarm in the chimney moved to the play park in the hope of finding a better home? We will never know.  
But the story didn't finish there. A couple of days later when Wilma was away, Mike got another call about yet another swarm on the edge of the village. Bravely Mike set off by himself in his bee suit to try to collect this latest swarm. Fortunately for him this swarm was conveniently located in a tree and he was able to easily collect them in a cardboard box and bring them back to Pentre Bach. All he could do was deposit them into our polystyrene nucleus/bait box along with some honey on frames, to use as a temporary home until we can get another hive. Did this swarm retrieval all go to plan? Not quite. When Mike later went back to the car, he found that there were hundreds of bees all over the inside of the car. These bees must have made a last bid for freedom and somehow sneaked out of the taped up box while still in the car without Mike noticing. Undeterred Mike donned the bee suit yet again , opened all the doors and left the cardboard box outside. There must still have been the queen's scent inside which eventually enticed most of the bees into the box. From there he took them to be reunited with the main swarm in the bait box located near the other hives in the walled garden.
A few days on and all 3 colonies seem to be quite happy in their present homes but who knows?...........
Oh and if you happen to come across a swarm ....... don't call us!!!!!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Pro or Anti Brexit, Love or Hate Trump, or none of the above!

Well 2016 was quite a year and we're all still reeling from it and trying to come to terms with what's going to happen next. When/if we eventually part company from the EU and if Donald Trump can manage to hold onto his rather precarious grasp of world politics and remain as POTUS, remains to be seen.
However whether you are a passionate Remainer who feels bitter about last year's vote or are an avid supporter of Donald Trump, it doesn't matter a jot to us.
Pentre Bach Holiday Cottages will stay the same whether the UK leaves or remains in the EU or whether Donald Trump pals up with Vladimir Putin. You can still come here to Llwyngwril in southern Snowdonia and get away from it all.
Of course as a large group or extended family you might just enjoy sitting around on our comfy sofas in the lounge , having a sensible debate about whether we should go for a hard boiled Brexit or soft boiled one, or you might  prefer to sit around the huge dining room table creating your own versions of 'Tiny Images of Donald Trump'.


Or perhaps like most you might just want to switch off all your mobile phones, tablets, laptops and TVs and just ignore what's going on in the outside world for a few days. Come and play Scrabble, Countdown or Twister. Read one or two of the hundreds of books on our bookshelves or just sit in the window seats watching the tide change in the hope of catching a glimpse of a Cardigan Bay dolphin. Fly a kite or play Cricket in our field.

So far this year we've hosted a weekend retreat for the Faithlife International Ministries and in a few weeks a group of women will take over all the properties for a creative retreat, led by the writer, psychologist and mythologist Dr Sharon Blackie.
We have at least one hen party booked and many of our guests will be coming to celebrate significant birthdays. Then there are those who will be coming just to enjoy a good old seaside holiday with the added option of spending time in the glorious countryside of southern Snowdonia.
Everyone is welcome at Pentre Bach no matter what your political or religious persuasion is (well apart from Donald Trump!).



Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Nellie's favourite doggy places around Llwyngwril

Well its nearly the end of October and I've been on my holidays to Yorkshire, darn sarth and up to the Lake District.


It was great - new smells to sniff everywhere! But now I'm back home and I'm happy. I know where to go on my walks and I've got my own big field to race round and round and round. There's always squirrels to chase and one of these days I'll get one! When Big Mike and Big Wilma have enough time we go off on longer walks to places like Borth y Gest - my favourite cos I love haring in and out of the dunes, up and down cliff top trails, along the big long sandy beaches and in and out of the sea chasing seagulls. When we've had enough we can go back to the Sea View Café where they like dogs. They even give out doggy treats to well behaved dogs like me!



This summer we made it up to the top of Cader Idris but our walk took a lot longer than usual cos BW thought she'd lost her phone that she's always on. We went half way back up the mountain again but  she eventually found it right back at the bottom again! Silly woman.
BM was going to put me on a lead but we didn't see any of those daft woolly creatures so I didn't need to have my lead on that day, only when we got back to the road.

Another day we went up Bird Rock in the Dysynni Valley but there were lots of woolly sheepy things around so I had to stay on my lead that day -booooo! Great view from the top though!

But  my bestest places to go for a good run are on all the great beaches around here- Llwyngwril of course is my favourite place for stone chasing but Fairbourne , Tywyn , Aberdyfi and Barmouth are great too. There are loads and loads of seagulls to chase and I can keep going all day long chasing them! Big Mike and Big Wilma tell me that dogs like me are only supposed to be on certain parts of the beaches so of course we do as we're told.



The Mawddach Trail is another brilliant place for 'walkies' and there are some lovely muddy ditches that run alongside the trail in places that I just love to fall accidentally into. Lovely jubbly!

Coed y Brenin Forest Park is an amazing place for walks/runs. There are gazillions of trails and no sheepy woolly things! Just watch out for the crazy bikers zooming past! Dogs can go in the café too. They even have dog water bowls outside the visitor centre for when we get back all thirsty.


Some people come to the cottages with dogs and are always asking where they can take their dogs to eat - I mean where they can go to eat, and take their dogs with them :)
So here goes - The Garthangharad Pub in the village are happy to have dogs in the back bar.
The George III at Penmaenpool don't mind dogs in the bar and there's a great log fire to lie by in the winter.
The Last Inn in Barmouth welcome dogs inside.
The Penhelig Arms and Dovey Arms in Aberdyfi are happy to have dogs in the bars and there's always a lazy black dog snoring in a corner of the bar in The Railway at Abergynolwyn.
Caffi Caban up in Brynefail at the end of Llyn Padarn are happy to let dogs in the outside eating bit and the walk round the lake is a good one with flat bits on one side and up and down wiggly bits at the other side!
I can go on the trains here that go along the coast but I don't like the getting on and getting off very much.
Somebody told BM and BW that dogs can go around Harlech Castle and Criccieth Castle but we haven't tried them yet. we'll let you know.
If anybody else can tell me about any other places where I'm allowed  to go then let me know and I'll try them out - as long as there's seagulls to chase :)
Haven't I grown!!!




Thursday, 25 August 2016

Art and Crafts of Llwyngwril

If you're at a loss what to do this weekend, then come to Llwyngwril. You can buy a map/guide at the Riverside Stores in the village then spend a pleasant hour or two wandering around the village viewing all the amazing yarn bombing installations and decorations that can be found, not only along the main street but in and around the village, down footpaths and side streets. This year's yarn bombing exercise is following the theme of sheep dog trials to coincide with the International Sheep Dog Trials taking place in Tywyn in September. Any donations are welcome and will help towards the upkeep of y Ganolfan. Be prepared to be amazed!

Then don't miss Llwyngwril Art Group's Annual Art Exhibition at y Ganolfan on Saturday , Sunday and Monday , from 10am until 5am. This exhibition showcases the work that a few amateur , yet promising and very keen residents of Llwyngwril and environs have produced over the last year. You can just browse and choose your favourite piece, or you can buy one or more of the works of Art. You can enter a raffle and win a fantastic original painting buy a local artist or photographer and you can finish off your visit with a cuppa and piece of cake. What better way to spend the day!


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

What's going on around here this summer?

Well the 'summer' is in full swing here in southern Snowdonia and the weather isn't really going according to plan. Not to worry - if you're lucky enough to be in Llwyngwril this summer, there's lots going on around the area to keep you entertained.

You can't have failed to miss all the fantastic yarn-bombing around the village but it's not just adorning the main street- there's lots more in the little streets and pathways around the village. Just buy a map at Riverside Stores and that guide you around the village so you don't miss a treat. You don't want to miss our Scottish shepherd/piper! This year's yarn-bombing theme is helping to promote the International Sheep Dog Trials that will be held in Tywyn over the weekend beginning the 9th of September. Llwyngwril's yarn-bombers are now busy knitting gifts that can be bought at their stall at the Sheep Dog Trials. See our last blog for more information.


Throughout the summer you can go for a coffee and yummy cake at the weekly Wednesday coffee morning in Y Ganolfan, Llwyngwril , from 10.30am to 12.30pm

Also weekly in Y Ganolfan are yoga sessions with Possy Scwartz every Thursday evening at 7.30pm.

There's a fiercely fought quiz night in the Garthangharad pub in the village every Tuesday evening.

On Saturday (6th of August) the annual Llwyngwril Summer Fair will be held in the field near the train station, beginning at 1pm. Lots of stalls, games, cream teas, and entertainment by a local brass band.

It's Llwyngwril Garden Club Annual Show in Y Ganolfan, Llwyngwril on the 13th of August. Look out for posters around the village.

Y Ganolfan Llwyngwril Summer Music Evening on Saturday 20th, 7.30pm - performances from local musicians. Food available from the Tasty Truck. Ring Sue on 01341 250062 for tickets.


Not to be missed!!! Llwyngwril Art Group will be holding their Annual Art Exhibition in Y Ganolfan over the Bank Holiday Weekend from Saturday 27th of August until Monday the 29th of August, 10am -5pm. You can just browse, vote for your favourite art work, buy an original piece of art at reasonable prices, win an excellent raffle prize or just come in and have a coffee and piece of cake. There are some budding 'young' artists in Llwyngwril!



Further afield Dolgellau have a Craft market every 2nd Saturday in the Free Library  from 10am -3pm. The next ones are on the 13th and 27th of August.

There's also the Dolgellau Farmers' Market every 3rd Sunday from 10am - 2pm. The next one is on Sunday the 21st of August.

Another big event locally is the hugely popular Race the Train on Saturday the 20th of August, where hundreds of runners attempt to race the Tallyllyn train from Tywyn out to near Abergynolwyn and back again. The first race starts at 11am.

If you enjoy music then you're in for a treat if you go to watch and listen to Cor Meibion Bro Dysynni (Welsh Male Voice Choir) when they hold their Summer Concert at the Catholic Church in Tywyn on Friday the 26th of August at 7.30pm.  (You can also see them at St Peter's in Pennal on Wednesday 17th August, 7.30pm)

There's also traditional Welsh music at the George III Stable bar, Penmaenpool every 3rd Wednesday (next one 17th Aug). Everyone welcome to go and play or listen. 7.30-11.30pm

Across the estuary in Barmouth (best to park at Morfa Mawddach and walk across the bridge, we always say) the RNLI are holding a Fun Day on Sunday the 14th of August with refreshments, stalls, games and the opportunity to meet and chat to the crew.10.30am -3.30pm

Barmouth have a new club this season. You can try out Stand Up Paddleboarding in the harbour and Mawddach Estuary. Visit www.supbarmouth.co.uk for more details.



At the stunning Italianate village of Portmeirion near Porthmadog, the annual music/arts/culture festival will be held over the weekend of the 1st/2nd/3rd/4th of September. Acts include Noel Gallagher, Bastille, Super Furry Animals. Visit www.festivalnumber6.com for more details



If it does happen to rain (or even if it doesn't!) then you can always go to watch a film at the lovely Magic Lantern cinema in Tywyn. You can view their full listings here http://www.tywyncinema.co.uk/#!films/cwzt

Of course there's always the little railway at Fairbourne, the Craft Centre at Corris and Bendigedig Soft Play Centre in Barmouth, not to mention all the stunning scenery around where you can walk for miles and miles away from the crowds that you would normally encounter in northern Snowdonia.

If you're up for more adventure there's always mountain biking in Coed y Brenin, zip wiring at Zip World or trampoline underground at Bounce Below at
www.zipworld.co.uk/adventure/detail/bounce-below , or try out surfing at www.surfsnowdonia.co.uk/

So there should be something there for everyone! Have a great summer everyone!





Saturday, 2 July 2016

What's all this knitted stuff about? (and when Julie Walters came to Llwyngwril!)

Last Spring a few very imaginative and creative ladies in the village of Llwyngwril came up with the idea of yarn bombing the village, in an effort to bring the community together, brighten up the village and create a bit of interest to bring tourists in, while at the same time trying to collect some donations to raise money towards the Ganolfan (our village hall). Some people said, " What a daft idea!" or " What will happen when it rains? and other such unhelpful remarks.
Before long brightly coloured knitted bunting started to appear, shortly followed by knitted birds, fish, lobsters, moles, starfish and all manner of woolly creatures. The idea really took off and by the time the summer holidays arrived we had Gwril the local giant perched on the bridge closely followed by his wife the mermaid Moriania and then their baby drinking out of a huge baby's bottle, while lounging in a pushchair.



Word soon got round and visitors were coming to the village in their droves. Tourists could buy maps in the village shop that told the story of Gwril and his family while guiding people round the yarnbombing trails. Arriva trains even made a point of pointing out our woolly creations on Llwyngwril station platform. Amazingly by March this year donations amounted to over £2000!! What an achievement for the yarnbombers (men as well as ladies!) of Llwyngwril.


Buoyed up by their success of last year, the yarnbombers got together again earlier this year and made plans for this year's display. Some key characters from last year were washed, spruced up and put back out on display. However disaster struck and two days after Gwril was put back out on his perch on the bridge, he mysteriously disappeared overnight!! Police were involved, newspapers informed and ITV Cymru even reported on Gwril's disappearance , but up till now he has not been found. But never fear, he will be resurrected one way or another!

Anyway, this year, the Yarn Bombing has an extra focus. In September the International Sheep Dog Trials will take place in nearby Tywyn so knitters and crotcheters? have been busy creating very woolly sheep, sheepdogs, shepherds, banners, flags, etc., all based on the Sheepdog trial theme. There's even a super sheep warming up on his bike near the public toilets! Many more creations will be going on display throughout the summer.

Storymaps will soon be available to buy in the village shop and if you would like to make a donation there is a pouch in the village shop. Sponsors would also be very welcome as all the materials including trackers (to keep trace on all our characters) need to be funded.Just get in touch with us at Pentre Bach on cottages@pentrebach.com and we'll put you in touch with the organisers.

Come and visit Llwyngwril this summer and you'll be in for a real treat!

P.S. the sheep next to the shepherd is Pentre Bach's contribution to the yarnbombing project.

Gwril has returned! Although he looks a little different .....
PPS Julie Walters visited the village in October and joined in with some yarn bombing as part of filming for a new Channel 4 series about coastal communities.