The Cotswold Christmas Fair.
A proper day out today. The Cotswold Christmas Fair was a wonderful if slightly muddy day out. Parking cars in a field in November was never going to turn out well!
However, it was made up for by the enormous firepit in the entrance hall that we could dry off in front of before commencing with the Christmas Shopping.
Prep for Christmas Workshops.
Thinking up some new ideas for what to make in our Christmas Workshops this year. It seems that triangles are the shape of Christmas, so I have made a few decorations based on this simple theme.
Loved doing the gonks - I am going to do a variety of sizes and maybe a selection of differrent sized trees as well. I may even make a few to sell at Aberglasney Fair at the beginning of December.
I've been searching for a while now for some fur to replace the one I used to use for capes and scarves. The old one was discontinued and I eventually used up the last of my stock.
After many months of getting samples and trying to locate something similar I have eventually found a replacement, a little dearer than the previous, but it is beautifully soft and cosy. Perfect for lining these silk capes.
It's been a long time since I made Halloween Cakes. I was reminded of a time we went to stay in Northumberland with friends. Jane very kindly made these cakes for our kids, who loved them!
To make the glass shards you have to melt glacier mints and then let them cool and break up. Trickier than it sounds! Actually getting hold of glacier mints in the first place took some doing.
I spent an amazing weekend in The Lake District with great friends. We laughed, swam, ate and drank and then laughed some more. So much fun!
Amongst all the laughter we also swam across Ullswater and back. Not too chilly as we were in wetsuits, but just over a mile in length, so quite challenging.
This was all I had to run on at the beach this morning. The high and stormy tides had created a small cliff of sand which was very soft on top, so left me with no choice but to run on the pebbles.
The tide was still coming in and I did eventually get very wet feet!
I was reminded recently that I needed to have a few flyers up around the area to advertise my woodwork courses. It was something I had thought about some time ago, but never got around to. Well now I have!
I even remembered to put a QR code on them so that people can just scan it to get to the right page on my website to book a course without having to write anything down. How times have changed!
One of the ladies who has attended quite a few workshops now asked me to design a towel rail that she could make.
I had a bit of a search around on the internet and came up with this fairly simple design that worked really well for a 1-day project.
Taking full advantage of the amazingly mild autumn weather we're having this year and getting down to Penbryn beach most mornings for a run or a bit of Qigong.
I'm sure the storms will be with us all too soon!
My local WI Group asked me to come back and do another talk for them about the courses I have been running for women over the last year.
It was a lovely evening full of laughter as we did another mini-workshop together and they all made a windowsill herb garden to take home.
We had a wonderful weekend away in Finland, visiting the ancient city of Turku and it's wonderful museums and castle. We swam in the Baltic Sea and spent a day in Helsinki with some old friends. And of course a visit to the Moomin Shop!
The very nice lady from the FSA came to visit a week or so ago, to inspect my kitchen. I have been waiting for 2 years now, so it was great to finally get it done. I was delighted to have got my 5* rating sticker in the post today.
I can now continue to provide meals from my freezer for our holiday cottage guests. They have proved very popular, especially to have something in the fridge ready to be warmed up on the first night when they arrive.
We finally called time on the tomatoes today. I love tidying up the greenhouse for the winter and getting rid of the generally very overgrown tomato plants.
It also gives me a chance to think about what we want to sow for next year. I definitely need fewer tomato plants, they take up so much space!
We spent a wonderful day being tourists again today. We took some friends who had come to stay for the weekend down to The Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy. This has always been a favourite spot of mine, we used to come up here from South Pembrokeshire when I was younger and I was always blown away by the dramatic coastline and craggy rocks. So different from the long sandy beaches I was used to.
Stopped at Porthgain Harbour on the way back for Fish & Chips from The Shed. Highly recommended!
I just couldn't believe it when we went on our walk this evening - our little apple tree down in the orchard has a new blossom on it! This mild weather seems to be really confusing nature.
I have noticed that other plants have started producing new growth again as if it was spring. I hope they don't all get frost bite when it eventually decides to become proper autumnal weather.
I ran my first sawhorse/loghorse workshop today. These are designed for ladies who have already attended one of my standard workshops. They can come back and learn how to use a few more power tools and make themselves a sawhorse or a loghorse.
We had great fun and everyone learned a lot - especially me!
Really pleased with this little lot. Our first quinces from our very lop-sided quince tree and the tomatoes are really coming in thick and fast now. They have taken the longest time to ripen this year, but are so worth it when they get there.
I have been looking up recipes for quince jams and jellies - membrillo seems to be the thing to have a go at. It will be fun to try my hand at something new.
Spent a magical evening swimming and picnicing with some friends down at Morgan's Cove on the Teifi River Estuary. We have been blessed with a few extra days of summer and we had a warm-ish sea and a stunning sunset to watch.
Taking time to sit and enjoy the local area is one of my favourite pastimes.
We had a total disaster with pretty much all the vegetables this year as the rabbits decided to eat everything they could find in the veg garden. They even decided to make a burrow in one of the raised beds!
So hopefully some new rabbit proof fencing will deter them next spring.
Next stop on the tourist trail was the river, mill and waterfalls at Cenarth. The river was in full flow for our visit and the improved boardwalk alongside the river is a lovely addition to the area.
With lots of parking right next to the river and pubs, cafes and gift shops galore it's a lovely place to visit.
We had the family home for the bank holiday weekend, so took the oppourtunity to be tourists for a few days. First stop was Cilgerran Castle. I have read many books about William Marshall and Gilbert de Clare, so it was lovely to go and visit one of their often fought over strongholds at last.
As is so often the case, we often forget to go and see the things that are right on our doorstep!
This was the first time I have had a request to set up the beds in The Forge as twins rather than a super king-size. I was really pleased with how easy it was to undo the contraption holding the mattresses together.
It also gave me the opportunity to see how the headboard worked with twins, as this was something I'd spent a long time deliberating when I designed it. Very happy with the result.
Today I ran a workshop for a couple of deaf ladies and their BSL interpreter. I was a little nervous about how it would work, but really shouldn't have been! We had a great day full of lots of laughter and learning.
They were exceptional at the woodwork and we think maybe their hearing impairment helps them to be more spatially aware and doing BSL will maintain their hand brain connections more so than most. I can't wait to get them back again to do some more.
Every now and again through the summer, the lovely people who run the Caban at Mwnt put on a burger night. They fire up the BBQ's and cook delicious local burgers that can be enjoyed al fresco at the Caban, or a quick scurry down the steps and sit on the beach to enjoy them while the sun sets.
Next time we'll take swim things and make a whole evening of it.
Making full use of the fact that our very talented daughter is home for a month from uni in Japan and asked her to take some workshop photos for me to use on the website.
I think this one should be my cover photo.
An absolutely beautiful sky and an empty beach this morning for my run and Qigong.
I love the early mornings in the summer when the beach is still quiet and the sun is just starting to peek over the cliff tops.
We took the day today to go and explore some of the woollen mills in the area and had lunch in The Cambrian Inn in Solva, which I would highly recommend.
My daughter now has to write a report on the Welsh Woollen Industry (in Japanese) for her University (in Tokyo) holiday work! 😅
2 of the ladies who came to today's workshop decided they wanted to make Christmas trees! Well, why not? They spent a lot of time deliberating over the pieces of pallet wood that they were going to use and the trees were beautiful when finished.
I expect there will be quite a few more made as the year progresses.
I had a request from this weeks' holiday cottage guests for birthday decorations and a cake. Having outsourced the cake to a girl in the village who is far, far better at baking than I am, I set about putting up the decorations in The Forge.
I love the paper pom-poms, they are so much better than balloons and it means I can reuse them time after time. Much better for the environment too!
I packed my tools and headed to Hermon to do a workshop today at their gorgeous timber framed, sustainable, community building - Y Stiwdio.
We made step stools, one with a little variation to make it into a plant stand. A lovely day in a truly beautiful setting.
We headed off to the Royal Welsh Show today and put Tashka into Doggy Day Care for the first time! We have a wonderful place just down the road where they entertain and exercise the dogs all day!
She was so excited when she got there and really didn't want to come home at the end of the day. She went to sleep as soon as we got home and hardly moved all night! What a result!
I spent a lovely relaxing morning today finishing off and packing up an order for 2 cushion covers. This was an order from my other business www.jessamyelmhirst.com where I design and make capes, scarves, wraps and cushions, mainly from silk, fur and tweed, but occasionally incorporating a particularly fabulous fabric that I find!
It also reminded me that I need to start making stock for my stall at the Aberglasney Winter Fair later this year!!
The newly planted up hanging baskets were looking really lovely in the sunshine this morning. It's very difficult to remember to keep them watered, but with all the rain we have had recently there hasn't really been much need.
Another positive for this unusual summer we are having!
I held my first private woodworking workshop today.
A couple of ladies who had been before got a group of 6 friends together and arranged a date when they could all come and build things. It was great fun as always and lovely to see the confidence growing of those who had been before. With nearly everyone making different things it was a full-on day for me too!
Keeping a close eye on the progress of the apples. We have 3 on the tree at the moment. They're not very big yet and it will be interesting to see how much they can grow before some of the local wildlife spot them and make off with them.
It is lovely however, to see them growing, maybe next year we will be making quince and apple jelly?
Perfect mini break to celebrate together, we wish it was for longer. A perfect, relaxing setting in a superb cottage. Without doubt, the best welcome hamper EVER... fresh, local produce, warm bread! We appreciate the promotion of Welsh produce and the attention to sustainable practices. Host (Jess) wonderful from start to finish. We would highly recommend The Forge to friends and family. Diolch yn fawr. x
Every year I am blown away by the stunning flowers on our Oleander. It had a 'moment' earlier this year, when all the leaves went yellow and fell off and I was concerned it may have been nearing it's end.
I am assured that this is totally normal and indeed it has come back healthier and more colourful than ever, so I think it must be happy again!
I spent a very satisfying afternoon tending to our mini-orchard. I cut all the grass and weeds out from a circle around each tree trunk, watered them and covered the soil with a good helping of strulch.
Hopefully this will prevent too much re-growth of grass and help them to get all the nutrients they need. We actually have apples on the apple tree for the first time this year. I wonder how big they will get before the birds eat them!
I love it when the photos come through from the photoshoots that we do. It's always so exciting to see how they have turned out.
Particularly this last shoot as the photographer used his drone to take some of the photos which can give a really good, slightly different angle on things. I think is my favourite.
This is the first year we have grown Beefsteak tomatoes. We were given the plants by our very generous neighbour and I'm really looking forward to eating the results.
There are quite a few fruits on both the plants, so hopefully with some liquid feed and a bit of sunshine, we'll have some in a few weeks.
Having left the final tidy-up after the Village Fair to the rest of the committee, we high-tailed it down to Pembrokeshire for an evening of queuing (for the bar) and dancing to The Wurzels.
Couldn't have asked for better weather for an outdoor event in July and there is something really special about watching the sunset from inside the castle walls. Really glad we took our own picnic!
We had a fabulous turn-out for our village summer fair today - helped, I think, by the sunny weather and the offer of a free hot-dog!
Don't ask what (or who!) was running through my mind as I had a go at the Crockery Smash.
Another first for this week - saw a very tiny baby adder on the dunes area at Penbryn beach. I nearly stepped on it, but managed to avoid it at the last second. It seemed quite happy basking in the early morning sunshine.
I should have put something in the photo for scale - it was about the size of a slo-worm, the whole thing was a couple of inches across.
For the first time ever, today, I picked a full vase of flowers from the garden for our guests in The Forge.
When we first started taming parts of the garden I really wanted a "cuttings" bed as I love having fresh flowers in the house, but don't like spending money on them! I found out that I don't really like cutting flowers from the garden either, I prefer them to stay where they are! Today I took the plunge and cut some and I was very pleased with the results.
It's been quite a while since I went running on the beach, but this morning was so beautiful and the tide was going to be low at just the right time, so I took the opportunity and went.
I didn't regret it! Conditions were perfect and invigorated me for the rest of the day. I'll try not to leave it so long next time.
I spent yesterday evening sewing a mop cap for our entry in the Annual Village Scarecrow Competition. This year's theme was nursery rhymes.
I thought the spider turned out really well, but poor Miss Muffet ended up with a rather odd looking neck. It's quite tricky to get the support right without a skeleton to help!
I'm so pleased with this year's strawberries. It's lovely having them up off the ground on their new sturdy benches, it makes picking so much easier.
It was also worth taking an afternoon last autumn to sew up all the holes in the fruit cage netting that the squirrels had made. Fingers crossed they don't get back in again this year.
Our guests in The Forge this week were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary, so I put up decorations and they ordered a very special triple layer chocolate celebration cake.
The cake was made by a young lady who lives in our village and has a real talent for creating tempting htings with chocolate!
My excellent, and very patient, photographer Vince came back today to do some outdoor photos of The Forge before the weather returns to "normal summer" again.
We decided to do a few drone shots to show the extent of the enclosed garden and some 'lifestyle' shots on the decking. You know you've got the props right for lifestyle shots when it sucks you in. All I have wanted to do all afternoon is to sit in the sun and read a magazine with a glass of rosé in hand!!
Stunning weather for early-morning yoga on the beach today. I was however, quite suprised by the number of people who had joined us on the beach by the time we finished at 8am!
Lots of people swimming and some just setting up camp for the day, it would have been lovely to stay for a swim, but I had a workshop to run back at home, so I headed back.
Next week maybe?
It's been a while since we went out for Sunday lunch, so we thought we'd try the restaurant at Castell Aberteifi.
It didn't disappoint - scrummy food, quick and friendly service and a lovely view over the castle gardens. Afterwards we had a coffee at Tarten (a converted horsebox that does delicious coffee and cakes) and had a stroll along the river.
So beautiful. I think sweet peas are hot contenders for being my favourite flowers! I love the variations in colour - even using the seed from last years' mainly blue ones, you never know quite what you're going to get!
It always feels like the true beginning of summer when the sweet peas start flowering - and oh, the delicious scent as well!
A day-trip to Cirencester today, dentist appointment, lunch with old friends and an amazingly beautiful drive across mid-wales (I took the scenic route.)
But there is still nothing like coming back home and enjoying a moment or two of peace and stillness in one of the most magical places on earth. I really do love where I live!
This is our first year of growing peas in our veg garden. I was looking for a bit more variety in our vegetable growing, rather than just the usual leeks and brocolli!
So I sowed peas and sugar snap peas this year and they have all done really well. An excellent germination rate and now if you get the sun in just the right position you can see them growing in the pod.
Guests arriving in The Forge this week had requested a veggie option for a home-cooked meal from the freezer. So after a few internet searches and a look through a cookery book (haven't done that in a while!) I found a receipe for a Squash and leek pie. I decided adding ricotta cheese to the sauce would improve it, so I gave it a go.
We trialled it and loved it, the guests loved it too, so it's now a permanent fixture on the "meals from the freezer" menu available to purchase through our extras shop.
This is a beautiful walk of around 7 km along the old drovers road from one end of the Preselis to the other. Made all the easier by being able to park at the top of the mountains on either end of the road, so not too much uphill.
We parked one car at one end and then drove to the other end and walked back to where we had parked. Note for next time - the weather can be quite different on the top to how it is at home! Take wind and waterproofs!!
Having some stunning weather at the moment and the garden is bursting into colour. Can't remember what the pom-pom shrub is called, but this is it's first proper year of full flowering and it looks magnificent.
The downside is the watering season seems to be upon us a little early this year, but it doesn't detract from the beautiful blooms!
We decided to have another go at cooking supper on our Kadai skillet over the firepit this evening. It worked really well. Starting the cooking early before the fire got too hot was a good idea and we had the skillet a bit higher than last time.
We cooked sausages, peppers and reheated a vegetable and stilton sauce that I had pre-made. Using the little tin-foil dish for re-heating was a great success.
I adore apple blossom. I think it's one of the prettiest colour combos that nature has to offer and so beautifully set off by the lush green grass and clear blue sky today!
Our apple tree is still young and we haven't had any fruit yet, but here's hoping for this year!
We were convinced about a month ago that our new wisteria had died. We are slightly scarred by the fact that our old one - which had been happy and healthy for many years just suddenly decided to die on us a couple of years ago.
I am happy to annouce that this one is fine! It was just taking it's own sweet time to flower - I will have more faith next year.
One of the lovely things about having a holiday cottage in our garden is that on one of the rare weekends it isn't booked we can make use of it and have a change of scene for a weekend.
It is also a great time to take stock of all the little things that require attention that tend to go unoticed at change-over time. Like the decking lights which are no longer working and a nail which has come loose from the door threshold amongst others. So a lovely break followed by more jobs for the to-do list!
Another fun workshop today, with one of the ladies making a rack for her essential oils. We used the basic details of the spice rack and adjusted the measurements to fit the sample bottles she had brought with her.
A great example of taking a basic plan and adjusting it to fit your needs and a fabulous photo of it 'in-situ.'
What a weekend!
A wonderful day on Saturday with friends watching our son carrying The King's Company Colour during the Coronation Service in Westminster Abbey. As the youngest Platoon Comander in the King's Company, Grenadier Guards, he had the honour and privilege of being the Ensign to The Colour. A very proud Mummy and Daddy moment!
Then another Coronation Party on Sunday in our Village Hall. It was a lovely afternoon - everyone brought cakes to share. Then we carried on into the evening with cheese and wine and lots more chatting!
I love designing and making new projects for the ladies to have a go at in my workshops. A couple of ladies last week said they needed a hanging rail, so here it is!
I designed it so that it could be collapsible, partly so they can get it home in the car! So the bottom shelf rotates upwards and the legs come together for storage or transporting.
It's not a job I particularly enjoy, but it certainly needed doing! We cleaned all the gutters around the house and removed the ivy from the top few feet of stonework.
It had begun to get up onto the sofit boards and into the gaps in some windows, so it was due a haircut. With any luck it will be a couple of years before we have to do it again.
It was a lovely warm spring day today and an evening that really needed to be experienced in nature. After a day with electricians, a cottage changeover and dealing with two different companies who don't seem to understand the term "customer service," we decided to enjoy the beautiful sunset by the firepit.
We moved the firepit to this location a few years ago, as it's the last place in the garden that gets the sun. Even without a fire, it's a lovely place to sit and recharge after a busy week.
A beautiful day for my Women's Workshop in Cardigan today. Once a month I borrow the "Men's Shed" in Cardigan town centre and run a Woodwork for Women Workshop.
We had a lovely day with lots of laughs and a great sense of achievement when our beautiful windowsill herb planters were finished!
I planted the sugar snap peas and the brocolli out in their beds today. Added several buckets of our own home-made compost to the beds first.
Still love the magic of composting - chuck in all the weeds, cuttings and rubbish stuff and a year or so later, lovely nutritious compost to help everything grow this year - and repeat!
Another stunning morning with clear blue skies and everything in the garden really starting to really green up - including the weeds!
The Forge looked so gorgeous today, this side gets the early morning sun and now that we have the hanging baskets back up it is a lovely sight first thing.
I renewed my Emergency First Aid At Work certification today. A 1-day course with theory, practical and a written test! Needless to say I wasn't really looking forward to an evening which involved doing a changeover in The Forge.
However, when I got over to the cottage, I found this beautiful vase of flowers and a hand-painted 'thank you' card from our departing guests. It really made my day and revived my spirits. I turned the volume up on the cleaning music and set about the task. A much more enjoyable evening than previously thought.
I seem to have spent an eternity digging out the concrete floor in Laurel Cottage and re-routing the pipe network to fit the new bathroom design. Today, at last, I have started putting it all back together and got the shower tray in.
A few gaps still to fill up and a bit of self-levelling compund to finish the floor off, then I can start tiling and it really will feel like progress is being made. The only problem I have is that I can't put the wall back in until the tiling is finished and the bath is in. So I have to tank and tile the walls before they are up! Hmmmm....
A truly beautiful early spring evening down at Aberporth beach. Not nearly as crowded as we thought it would be during Easter Week, but there is definitely still a chilly wind.
I was playing with the different exposure functions on my iphone and rather liked the 'long eposure' which blurs the breaking waves. Although nothing can detract from the beautiful skies!
Many hands make light work, and when putting up fencing that really is very true. Especially if those hands are attached to strong and fit arms!
Lovely to have some of the kids back for Easter weekend and quickly put them to work putting in a new fence, to make another tree planting area. Also a good photo opportunity for the new branded jackets!
Quite a sharp frost last night, but watching the sun come up and the long shadows through the trees was just spectacular.
It's lovely to see the different angle of light shining through the undergrowth in our mini-forest at the top of the field. It's been 10 years since we spent the day planting 500 trees up there and it is really starting to feel like proper woodland now!
We planted these bulbs about 3 years ago and have never seen any sign of them until now. Every year we think they may be coming up, but then either turn out to be something else, or something eats the shoots off before we get a good look.
This year I had forgotten to check-up on them and then today I found this! Nice to know that they have made it - eventually. There are plenty more in bud as well.
Thrilled to get our first award. We won the "Best Dog-Friendly Holiday Cottage in Ceredigion" award from Luxlife magazine in their Travel and Tourism Awards.
Also, and slightly more important for me, was the Customer Service Excellence Award 2023. This means so much to me as there is so much behind the scenes work that goes on to provide the service that we do and getting an award for it makes it all the more worthwhile.
My first WI workshop run from home today. A great group of women who came up from Llandeilo for the day to make some woodwork projects with me.
It was a fabulous day, with lots of laughs and even a bit of sunshine! We enjoyed a lovely, chatty lunch sitting outside and everyone went home with their completed projects and a terrific sense of satisfaction.
With the sun out, it seemed like the perfect day to do a bit of work on The Forge garden. The flower beds are still looking a little bare, we must remember to plant some spring flowering bulbs in the autumn in order to have a little colour before the growing season really kicks off.
I bought a small selection of bedding plants for the wall troughs, so they at least, will add a little colour while everything else gets going.
We thought we would take a walk to our local pub for Sunday lunch. It all looked quite easy on the map, a nice simple 5 miles, mainly uphill. The route was not too tricky and was mainly on small country lanes and bridleways. It seems however that bridleways are not always as well kempt as they should be and at the end of field faced with a fence and no way through, we had to start retracing our steps and getting hungrier and hungrier!
We made it in the end and had a lovely lunch and thankfully the 5 miles home was mostly downhill - phew!
Some of my early brocolli, lettuce and spinach seeds needed potting up, so I decided to do a bit more seed sowing as well. We are in the waxing phase of the moon, so it seemed like a good time!
Chillis, peppers, peas and sugar snaps. Tomatoes and courgettes. Just keeping fingers crossed for no more frosts now.
I finished the weeding and laid the woodchip down for our new coffee spot beside the greenhouse.
It's a little suntrap in the summer and we always intended to put in a small table and chairs. Perfect for morning coffee. Just need some sunshine now!
After quite a bit of arranging and rearranging I have now finalised the layout of the bathroom in Laurel Cottage and have the first set of waste pipes laid out.
There was quite a lot of concrete removal needed for the wetroom style shower tray as well.
So lovely to see the sunshine out again. It's such a treat at this time of year, and so warm when there's no wind.
Had a lovely patrol of the grounds this morning with Tashka. Spring is really on it's way now, with so many different shades of green springing up everywhere.
A wonderfully blustery walk on Tresaith beach this afternoon. The waves were really stunning to watch, breaking in such perfect long straight lines all the way down the beach. The tide was quite far out so we explored a bit more of the areas that are usually underwater.
So lovely to come back home and light the fire - we felt like we'd walked a lot further, or maybe faster than we actually had. I think it's important to take the wind speed into consideration!
The crocuses looked so bright and beautiful today I couldn't resist taking a few pics. Such stunning, contrasting colours.
Then ensued the discussion about the plural of crocus! Having had to consult Mr Google the answer is that it can be crocus, crocuses or croci. I'm going with croci.
Some pics of the Workshops for Women that I've been running for the last 18 months.
We have had so much fun with these and I am now running one a week from home and one a month in Cardished in Cardigan.
This is something I never imagined myself doing!!
I made some new legs for the strawberry benches today. The old ones were very flimsy and the weight of the grow bags made them bend significantly in the middle, even though I had added cross-braces to them a while back.
I used mainly bits of scrap wood we had around and a few new 2x4's, and made 3 legs for each bench and then made a final bench to get the last bags off the ground. Now I need to extend the watering system to reach the third bench!
When I had finished the bathroom in The Forge, I vowed I would never subject myself to digging up a concrete floor again!
Today I broke that vow - I really need to rearrange the waste pipes in Laurel Cottage and there is no other way to do it and get the look I want for the finished bathroom!
Luckily this one was much easier as there were already pipes under the floor and the concrete was only a few inches thick. 😅😅
There's really only one photo I can use for today!
After the really warm late winter we have had, a lot of the daffs are up and out in bloom well in time to have one to wear for St. David's Day. We have yet to see Wordsworth's 'host of golden daffodils' in the hedgerows, but it won't be long now.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
I have had a request from a lady who came to the Winter Fair at Aberglasny to make a bespoke tweed cape for her. She likes the navy tweed that I usually pair with a silver silk lining, but wanted a different colour lining to make the cape a little more 'everyday.'
So I have done one in navy and one in ice blue, both beautiful combinations. I wonder which one she will decide on? The other one will be available to purchase through the shop page on www.jessamyelmhirst.com
I spent a lovely afternoon today in the workshop making a new project for my Women's Woodwork Workshops. The wine rack, I soon realised, was just a variation of the spice rack, which suited my purposes brilliantly. It is relatively quick and easy to make and can be easily adjusted to suit your own requirements.
Having screwed it to a door to take the photograph, I realised I probably need an extra guard rail to stop the glasses coming off their shelf!
Got the photos through today from our photoshoot in The Forge, really thrilled with them. It was so worth taking the time to set the scene and add all the little props.
Here are a couple, the rest will be appearing on social media soon!
I think Tashka makes an excellent model!
Birthday present being put to good use at our first firepit evening of the year! I had pre-cooked the food, to be on the safe side, thinking it wouldn't get overly hot! How wrong I was!
Looking forward to giving it another run out soon with something more ambitious than sausages and chicken wings.
What a suprise we had this morning on a walk through our beech woods to find one single daffodil out in full bloom!
Such a lovely reminder that spring is definitely on it's way.
We decided it was time to get a professional photographer to take a set of photos in The Forge that we can use for social media and website listings.
We spent a lovely morning 'set dressing' and Vince from Whole Picture Photography did a great job in capturing the atmosphere of the place. Can't wait to see the final results.
Time for a tidy and clean-up in the greenhouse. Getting rid of all the plants that didn't survive the frosts. The plucky little leeks that I grew from seed did very well and were pretty much the only survivors. We have yet to see if my pomegranate cuttings managed to brave the winter chills. A few more weeks until I will know, but I'm not holding out much hope.
A very enjoyable weeks skiing in the French Alps. Beautiful blue skies and sunshine all week, although, with the temperatures well below freezing it made for quite icy conditions in places!
I spent a really enjoyable day in the workshop today. Desiging and making a new windowsill herb planter project for the ladies who come to my woodworking courses.
I'm so pleased that I spent a rainy afternoon last month sharpening my chisels and plane blades as the plane slid across the wood with such ease, it was a joy to behold!
It's still a magical feeling to read the comments book after guests have left The Forge. I am always so pleased that we seem to be managing to do what we set out to do - give people a space to experience a bit of peace, quiet and serenity.
My Women's Woodwork Workshops at the Men's Shed in Cardigan (Cardished) have relocated to their new home near the river. They have been homeless for a while now, so it was lovely to see the new space which is really starting to take shape.
Today was the first session of the New Year and we had a great time making spice racks. I can't wait to see how this great community space develops over time and it is lovely to be a part of it, if only once a month!
We have an area between the main drive and the back drive that has become known as 'The Peninsula.' It has been neglected for far too long and this weekend we decided to clear it of all the ivy and plant it up with some bulbs and other woodland plants ready for spring and summer.
The previous, very lovely guests had unfortunately managed to drop a wine bottle onto the edge of the cooker hob and smashed it. The hob, not the bottle, luckily!
So, after finding out that Ikea no longer make the original hob, I had a bit of scrabbling about to do to find one that would fit in the worktop hole. Luckily managed to find a not too expensive replacement and more importantly an electrician who would come and wire it in for me that day - result!
Need to move the bathroom door in Laurel Cottage before we go any further. So took out the plasterboard and the stud wall and doorway.
Next I need to take up some of the concrete floor to put in the new pipes and create some new steps at the side of the bathroom. I can already imagine the reconfigured bathroom with walk-in shower and corner bath it will be stunning.
Today I feel as though I have moved 300 tonnes of water-logged clay! The water running off the meadow had created a stream through our willow dome, which I'm sure wasn't good for it.
So I created a diversionary route for all the water, directed around the outside of the dome and into the pond and from there (as that was overflowing too) into the stream.
Our brand new Glanmedeni merchandise pens have arrived. What more can I say??
They write beautifully and will be proffered around liberally as we have 200 of them!
I think the gazebo has, at last, got to be taken to it's final resting place (the tip.) It has served us very well, from the Highlands of Scotland to the Royal Welsh Agricultral Show and from the shores of Anglesey to the grounds of Chatsworth House.
It has been used as a bar, drawing room, shop, changing room and workshop, and has now earned a little downtime in the scrap metal bin. We will remember it fondly.
This is our apple tree with the last four leaves on it. Everyday we have been charting the progress of the loss of leaves on the apple tree. It seems to hold onto them far longer than any other tree, other than a few of the Oaks this year.
My friend has named the last 2 leaves on her tree this year, so when there are just 2 left I think we will name ours too! And possibly open a book on the which will be the last to go.
It's been an amazing year. So much accomplished and so much yet to do! The journey continues and we look forward to the trials and tribulations that the next year will bring...
The obligatory walk on the beach on Boxing day to blow away all the cobwebs (and cheese!) from Christmas Day. This year we went to Poppit Sands in Cardigan, one of the best beaches I know for blowing cobwebs away.
Tashka certainly ran off all the extra tit-bits she'd received over Christmas as she chased seagulls, foam, bits of fluff and other dogs.
With guests arriving on Christmas Eve, it was a delight to be decorating in The Forge this year as well as the main house.
It looked so pretty with fairy lights and a mini Christmas tree.
This evening we celebrated the Winter Solstice beside the firepit. We burned a bundle of White Sage to cleanse any stagnant energy remaining from the last year and burned our Yule Log to symbolise the shifting of the darkness to the light, as the days begin to get longer.
There was a vague sense of disappointment from the boys when they discovered the Yule Log wasn't made of chocolate, but I did make them a chocolate one for Christmas Day to compensate!
There are mornings when I feel such immense gratitude for living where I do and having the health and ability to be able to appreciate such exquisite sunrises, such as this.
This morning was one of those mornings.
Wow - what a frost this has been! We didn't really get any snow, but we have had frost, upon frost, upon frost for days now. The pond has frozen, water levels have dropped, then re-frozen and repeat! The designs in the ice are magnificent and I love that the ice that formed when the pond was nearly full is still there around the trunk of the willow.
We don't usually put our tree up this soon, but for some reason this year we decided we needed to go early! We've got a wonderfully full month coming up and with Yule only a week and a half away it felt like it was the right time.
I love getting all the tree decorations out, so many of them now are beginning to feel like old friends. Quite a few from the early days of our marriage and as always we added a couple of new ones for this year too.
Couldn't resist nipping into The Ship in Tresaith today after our dog walk on the beach. It looked so festive with all it's Christmas lights on. They do a fabulous starters menu, so we had a 'Tapas' style light supper with one of each!
Great food, great service, and a really welcoming cosy atmosphere. Highly recommended after a wet and windy walk!
Santa's elves were out in force for the Christmas Cardished gathering. We made spiral christmas trees, candle logs and wall tealight holders. There was also a lot of festive music and laughter.
I do love these days of creativity and connection, it always feels like such an honour to host such a vibrant group of women. There is always an air of apprehension at the beginning of the day and yet, of such confidence and capability at the end!
One of my other "hats" is chair of the Village Hall Committee. This year we decided to spruce up the grounds a bit and plant some daffodil bulbs and a Christmas Tree! We all enjoyed a lovely morning planting bulbs - we reckon about 1,000 in total. Can't wait to see how many survive til spring!
I love the local beaches at this time of year. They are so expressive of the elements. Sometimes calm and sunny, but cold and sometimes raging torrents with the roar of the ocean front and centre. But, whatever the weather, they are usually quiet and very good for a bit of dog training.
She still won't swim though.
I was very kindly invited by my local WI group to talk to them about woodworking and the courses I run for women to learn basic carpentry skills. I thought it would be a bit more fun to do a mini-workshop! So I cut, sanded and pre-drilled 120 pieces of locally-grown larch and we made bird nesting boxes! It was a wonderful evening, so much fun and laughter - and they've asked me to come back next year, so now I need to think of another project!
All the goodies from our welcome hampers are now available to purchase online if you would like to take a little reminder of Glanmedeni home with you. I've also put on the shampoo, shower gel and handsoap and lotion as well. Please help us to support local Welsh companies!
We need to take away a large area of concrete from outside the front of Laurel Cottage so that we can create a garden for our guests and their four-legged friends. We want to put a sunken fire-pit area here too, for watching the stars on beautiful, clear, dark nights. It's proving a bit trickier than we thought!
The weather has been so mild this autumn that we still have Sweet Peas in flower and some still in bud! They somehow managed to survive the hot, dry summer (with very little watering) and are still looking fabulous. I love picking them and having them in a vase on the kitchen table, but I also love seeing them still in flower throughout the autumn. I wonder if they'll make it through to the shortest day of the year?
The decking and wooden steps in The Forge garden had become so slippery in the space of just a few weeks, so a bit of cleaning was in order. Should probably have done a time-lapse as it is such a satisfying job! Next time maybe?
Our wonderful hosts for this weekend were Tom & Jenny at The Laundry Garden and Retreat in Llanrhaeadr. Well worth a visit to their gorgeous roundhouse if you want to explore this part of North Wales. We are looking forward to having them back to stay here when we have built our roundhouse! A new project for 2023.
A lovely day exploring Conwy and it's castle. Lunch at The Erskine Arms which was delicious and great service and atmosphere. Then a walk along the top of the town walls, not for the faint-hearted, and finally around the Castle itself.
The beginning of our long overdue weekend away! The photos say it all really - a breathtaking place.
We have now begun the process of getting our second cottage ready for guests. There is quite a bit of work to do, but very exciting to be getting on with it at last. I have stripped out most of the old plumbing and electrics and I'm now working on redesigning the layout and trying to figure out how to get a bed in upstairs! Can't wait to get stuck into this over the winter. The plan is to have it ready for Easter 2023, challenge accepted!
On our 'extras available to order' page for The Forge, there is a 'Veg from the Garden' option. This is all well and good in the summer when we have a plentiful supply of a variety of different vegetables, but without a polytunnel it becomes a little more difficult at this time of year. This week's guests had placed an order and I was relieved to find quite a decent selection to offer them. They were very appreciative!
My first Creative Workshop run from home! A full house, which was lovely and a fabulous group of ladies who came to try their hand at a 1-day project. They all went home with completed projects after a fun-filled day full of lots of chat and laughter. Can't wait to run some more of these, it is so lovely to see how the skills and the friendships progress throughout the day. The results are always beautiful and a day spent making something with your hands is never wasted.
A beautiful autumn morning for some yoga on the beach at Mwnt. These classes are run by Meriel from Felinganol Retreat. On wet and windy days we meet at her gorgeous, cosy, strawbale roundhouse complete with wood burner. But on gorgeous, calm mornings like today we head to the beach and watch the dolphins as we practise. Followed by a dip in the sea for those hardy souls - it's getting a bit chilly for me!
I'm hoping that this is going to be the last major weeding session for this year. This little area beside the greenhouse is always in the sun at coffee time, so we thought we'd cover it with some bark chips and put a little table and chairs there to enjoy the morning sun.
One of the elements of the autumn season I love the most is the garden tidy-up. After the running away (literally) of the runner beans through the late summer and early autumn there is a certain sort of relief to have called time on them and cut them up for the compost bin.
The bamboo supports will be cleaned and stored ready for next year and the beds will be planted with mustard caliente as a green manure to be dug into the soil in the spring before planting more beans next summer.
We have lots of these lovely beasties around at the moment. Mother nature with her finest fashion design skills at the fore.
I'm told it will become a pale tussock moth which google informs me is a pest in beech woods (where this one was found) but they are deemed to be the cutest and cuddliest of moths! So I will look out for them in the spring and see if I agree.
A very blowy, but sunny walk on Penbryn beach this afternoon with some of our oldest friends, who have just got back from living abroad for several years. The waves were crashing, but the sky was almost a clear blue with some great wispy cloud formations.
I really enjoy sharing our little bit of Wales with our friends, it makes me appreciate even more what we have on our doorstep, when viewed through the eyes of visitors to the area.
Sowed these Mizuna and Claytonia seeds a week or so ago and they have shot up in our little greenhouse. Should probably have sown them in larger troughs so I don't now have to do the fiddly job of transplanting them!
Also just noticed that something has been eating my chilli plants behind them!
Our courgettes always seem to come like the ubiquitous buses, waiting ages for one and then several all come at once. I haven't yet found an effective way of freezing them without ending up with just mush, so I tried stuffing them. It was a success, but could have just chopped and fried it and had it as an accompaniment, not sure it was really worth the hassle. Tasted delicious though.
We were all saddened to hear the news last week, and today we take a day to remember the late Queen and all that she did for our country.
We are particularly proud that two of our sons, one Scots Guards and one Grenadier Guards, took their place on the Vigil at her Lying in State.
We made a special effort today to take willow snips, secateurs and a step on our walk down to the meadow and gave the willow dome a haircut. Obviously forgot to take a 'before' photo, but it was getting very out of control and was almost half as tall again! We have woven in what we can and cut off the bits which had got too big. Hopefully that will keep it looking tidy until spring.
Heading down to South Pembs today, so couldn't resist a quick dip at Barafundle. Parked at Stackpole Quay and headed along the coast path in the beautiful early evening sunshine, to find an almost deserted beach. Lovely warm water and a jog up the steps afterwards quickly warmed us up!
I have found a very talented girl in the village who makes the most delicious cakes! Triple layer chocolate filled with butter icing and finished with more chocolate! You can indulge just because you're on holiday, or if it's a special occasion I can add a "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Anniversary" topper for you.
Available to order when you book your accommodation, or anytime afterwards through the website shop. 😋