Yearly Diary

Carmarthenshire Life Yearly Diary

snow-on-the-beacons

January 

Welcome in the New Year with a glass of champagne or homemade punch with your friends and family. Frosty mornings and roaring log fires, old fashioned pleasures and time spent together to create lasting memories.Take a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a good book or newspaper over to the warmth of the orangery on pale sunlit mornings. If it snows, enjoy it by building snowmen, snowballs and making snow angels. We remember to feed the wild birds every day and see robins, wrens,tits, thrushes, occasionally a jay and many more too numerous to mention.  Days are filled with country walks, a morning visit to one of the local hostelries to chat with the locals or Sunday lunch out at one of the local pubs or inns.   Drive over to Lampeter and explore this interesting small town that has the honour of being home to the smallest University, not only in Wales, but in the whole of the UK.  Make sure you stop for lunch with the winner of “Best Fish & Chip Shop in Wales”.  Everything is freshly cooked to order and is crispy and delicious.

February

Newly emerging daffodils, crocuses and catkins on the trees.  Admiring the view out towards the Black Mountain and the hazy Brecon Beacon on the horizon.  When out exploring marvel at the many types of mosses in Carmarthenshire’s woodlands and valleys.  Evenings spent at the fireside, listening to favourite music, watching a favourite movie or enjoying a riotous game of charades. Sunday lunch out at The Plough or The Cawdor.  Visit the nearby town of Llandeilo and explore galleries, the superb coffee shops, unique small shops and the award winning small delicatessen.  Pop into Ginhaus for a reviving hot chocolate and a delicious light lunch, then back to the car and take a short drive up behind the town to the National Trust’s Dinfawr Park,  Explore this historic country house with its Upstairs Downstairs atmosphere, visit the tea rooms for Welsh Cakes and then explore the deer park with its herd of fallow deer and rare breed White Park cattle. The 12th century castle ruins that were once home to a succession of Welsh princes, stand in the grounds on a spectacular scenic overlook high above the plain where the river wends its way down towards the town of Carmarthen.

March

Beside the drive, the second crop of an acre of golden daffodils welcomes you beside the main entrance drive. With 16 acres of woodland, ponds and meadows to explore, admire carpets of bluebells in the woodlands, mosses on ancient stones beside the tumbling rivers and a hint in the hedgerows that Spring is underway.  In the evenings by firelight on the comfortable sofas, catch up on your favourite TV programmes, gather around the dining table by lamplight for a game of cards or monopoly, draughts or chess.  Book for dinner one evening at The Angel, Salem.  Delicious suppers of  perfectly served food that tastes amazing, served in the friendly yet casual surroundings of a characterful country pub.

April 

Blossoms are starting to appear on the  trees in the hedgerows. Watch out for the occasional late frosts overnight.  Lambs gambol cheerfully beside their mothers in the fields and April showers interspersed with sunshine jump start everything into growth. The grass and clover becomes incredibly green, Frog spawn appears in the ponds among the bullrushes. The days are getting longer so take more time to be out and about, walking along the green road and over to the forestry trails near the village.  Drive out to Llyn Brianne Reservoir to see lakes, hills and panoramic scenery that rivals anything even Scotland has to offer. Take a picnic or stop off on the way home for at the pub at Cilycwm, next to the ancient church in the village for a delicious home cooked lunch and a glass of something cheering. When you are in the nearest town of Llandovery, take the time to find The Old Print Shop in the main street for your coffee top up and delicious buttery home made crumpets with honey.  Another favourite is the Penygawse tea rooms & barista specialists – Victorian traditional style décor includes large comfortable leather sofas and they serve great tasting cappucino, lattes, espressos, and tasty snacks such as Welsh rarebit, big buttery toasted teacakes and crispy salads.

 May

Everything in the countryside is growing and we listen out to hear the first cuckoo.  Pairs of Canadian geese fly in to nest by our large natural wildlife ponds that are filled with tadpoles and newts, down by the little river.  Honeysuckle and wildflowers make an appearance in the hedgerows along with the fresh bright green of the new leaves.    Our friend Russell from the University of Wales revealed that the stones on the hill behind your cottage were formed from sea shells deposited millions of years ago and that the Banc itself was made up of the same type of rock formations that contain the nearby Dolaucothi gold mine.  His suggestion was to pan for gold down in the little River Mynnid at the bottom of the hill.  If you go over to the nearby National Trust’s Dolaucothi Roman Gold Mine and they will teach you how!

June 

If you are not eating out then prepare lunch out on your terrace or a barbecue in the evening with best Welsh lamb chops from Dai, the local butcher in Llandovery, with some Pembrokeshire new potatoes rolled in Welsh butter and some freshly chopped parsley.  Strawberries and raspberries are plentiful and it is amazing how good they taste when they are picked and eaten the same day if you visit the farm shop and pick your own on the road to Brecon.    On a fine sunny day put on some good walking shoes and visit the Clun Gwyn Waterfalls at Ystradfellte. This stunning waterfall is situated in a part of South Wales known as Gwlad Rhaiadr, or Waterfall Country.  The area is world renowned for the amazing number of waterfalls that about here and the dramatic limestone geology.  Several rivers drain the moorlands and mountaint of the central Beacons and the Clun Gwyn Falls (White Meadow Falls) on the River Mellte is one of the most spectacular. On the way back to the Estate, stop off for supper at The Castle in Llandovery.

July

Rise early and spend long lazy days watching the many birds and butterflies. Prepare lunch and then sit outside and watch skylarks, swifts and swallows overhead and marvel at red kites, kestrels and buzzards swooping through the air riding the thermals. Wander down to the river in the woodlands on the southern boundary and sit on the mossy banks. For a spectacular bird of prey experience just outside the village of Llangadog is the Red Kite Feeding Station. Allow plenty of time to find it as it is situated in some winding country roads.  Sitting in this beautiful rural corner of the Welsh countryside it attracts over 50 wild Red Kites and Buzzards each day in a spectacular aerial display, making for an exciting bird watching experience. From their 20-person hide you can observe at really close quarters, these fabulous rare birds of prey as they swoop down for their feed.  A special event in July worth mentioning is the annual Festival of Music including choirs, recitals and opera in the beautiful gardens of Aberglasney House.  Feeling full of energy?  Have teenagers with you?  Check out the internet for adventure activities in this area  for Horse Riding, Coasteering, Shooting, Sea Kayaking, Gorge Walking, Quad Biking etc?

August

If you can bear to tear yourself away from the Estate, take a drive over to Llansteffan on the south coast.  Follow the road to Carmarthen then turn southwest and drive 8 miles to the coast. The village of Llansteffan is a small but lovely spot, nestled between the sandy shores of the Tywi estuary and the lush green rolling hills of the Welsh countryside. In some respects, it is an unexpected oasis along the coast in West Wales.  The most remarkable monument in the village is its magnificently ruined castle. It also contains some pretty homes and shops. The beaches are wide expanses of bright sands at low tide worked by diligent cockle gatherers and sun worshippers; the opposite shore of Ferryside is an attractive sight and the fish and chip vendors in the car park serve perhaps the most amazing portions you will ever see.  Also during the” lazy hazy days of Summer” the Brecon Jazz Festival is host to a range of jazz musicians who travel from across the world to take part and to the many visitors who are attracted by the music, the social scene and the other leisure opportunities on offer in and around our Brecon Beacons. With a stroller ticket you can pick and choose between 50 indoor and outdoor events. By the way, any fishermen amongst you would be interested to know that our Towy,Taf and Teifi are the best sea trout rivers in Europe and on 14th August a massive 39“ sea trout was caught and then returned alive to the Towy river by a Carmarthenshire fisherman.

September

All across the hills and the valleys below the autumn colours start to glow.  An early morning tramp across our 17 acres you may well be rewarded by field mushrooms for breakfast.  Sauteed in a little butter and olive oil, then served with finely chopped bacon they are delicious.   Our roads in this part of Carmarthenshire are always fairly quiet but in September they are really peaceful.  Explore the rustic byways around the villages and stop at local hostelries for lunch or maybe just a glass of locally brewed beer. Watch the leaves on the trees and hedgerows start to turn from green to reds and golds. Visit Penderyn Distillery nestled in the foothills of the ancient Brecon Beacons mountain range; the only one in Wales and one of the smallest independent distilleries in the world.  Take a day trip over to one of Wales’s most popular heritage sites in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle, a late 16th-century manor house. During the last fifty years over forty original buildings from different historical periods have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland including old houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a splendid Workmen’s Institute. There are also traditional skills demonstrations and native livestock breeds.

 October

The leaves have fallen from the trees, and the occasional frosty morning makes them crunch underfoot when walking through the woodlands. The air is clear and bright in the pale morning sunlight.   It is time to start lighting the fires again with the logs we have stored for you over in the woodshed.  We get the tractor out with the log splitter attached and split them down into manageable sizes. Some we leave larger as they make a good log to leave in the woodburner to keep it going all night. Shut it down tight, then in the morning you just need to load in some more logs onto the glowing embers and it bursts right back into warming and cheerful flames again.  Take a trip into Llandovery and visit Dai, the local butcher, for a good piece of Welsh Black Beef to roast in the oven with some root vegetables.  If you happen to be in Llandeilo, pop into one of the coffee shops and try some of their delicious cakes and pastries with a steaming cup of latte, cappuccino or hot chocolate.  If you are looking for an unusual and exciting day out visit The Big Pit – it was a real coal mine and is  one of Britain’s leading mining museums. You can see the colliery buildings, the pit head baths and go 300 feet underground with a real miner to see what life was like on the coalface.

 November

Keep the fires burning all day so whenever you come into your cottage it is warm and toasty.  There is underfloor heating but nothing beats a real roaring log fire to sit around with a steaming hot cup of tea and toasted crumpets.  Catch up on the movies and your drama series you never had the time to watch or listen to your favourite music.  Wrap up warm and walk along the green road and round to Porthyrhyd village.  In the evenings visit one of the cheerful local pubs or restaurants or stay at your cottage by the fire and play chess, drafts, cards or monopoly with your family or friends.  Time spent here in Carmarthenshire will make you unwind in a way that no other placed can. We can guarantee you will leave relaxed and recharged.  Feeling in need of some culture, take a trip down to Cardiff to the Everyman Theatre or the New Theatre. Closer still the historic town of Brecon has its own theatre in a very picturesque setting located at the start of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal in the town centre.  It is a great venue for concerts, plays, comedy, opera and dance and also houses a restaurant named Tipple ‘n Tiffin.  If you are a rugby fan check the itinerary for Cardiff Arms Park. In November Wales may well have an International scheduled. You chaps can always placate the lady in your life by taking her to one of Cardiff’s top restaurants for dinner afterwards, that is unless like countless ladies in Wales she also happens to be fan of the game. When there is an important Wales rugby match you could lie down in the roads here and not get run over – they are deserted.  Typical cuisine in Cardiff includes fresh seafood, such as mussels, cockles, scallops and shellfish, more than 50 different Welsh cheeses and Cardiff’s famous Welsh lamb. Closer to home our local town of Llandovery has a terrific local rugby team and grounds and there again The Castle, The Bear or The Kings Head will give you a good supper and a warm welcome.

 December

Christmas and the lead up to Christmas is an exciting time of year.  It can also be stressful so take some time out and stay here while you are doing some of that all important Christmas shopping. We can recommend the historic town of Carmarthen and the small shops and galleries in Llandeilo for searching out some really unusual and interesting gifts for all the family.  We’ll be busy getting in the Yule Logs, putting up the Christmas lights, listening to Christmas carols and planning our own big day.  There are carol services in many of the small local churches and town halls. The Welsh male voice choirs are heart stopping to listen to.  If you like the big city atmosphere, spend a day in Cardiff – the shops in the walking streets in the centre are a must and the atmosphere is festive.  Forget the glitzy tinsel and decorate traditionally with greenery gleaned from the trees and hedgerows.  Holly with loads of red berries, ivy from the hedgerow beside the green road, conifer and fir branches for the beams and of course nothing beats a real pine scented Christmas tree.  New Year is also a truly great family time – you can check online book into one of the local events on New Years Eve or make your own celebration – it doesn’t get much better than a roaring fire, a bottle of bubbly, some nibbles and great company.  You could get really lucky, it just might snow!   Happy New Year