Photography Exhibition




Twyn Yr Odyn photographer Roy Carr has spent the last year developing a documentary project on sheep farming, taking an interest in the Cynon Valley where he has worked with three farms.

He has charted key events in the farming year: lambing, shearing, hay making, ‘dipping’, selling and winter grazing, capturing the interaction between people and their animals as he tells the story of a farming year.

There is an intimacy about his photographs which comes from the relationship he developed with the people working the land, providing an insight into their work.

Roy explained that this posed challenges:

“I come from a landscape background. I spent hours carefully composing an image and waiting for the light. It was a slow, meditative process as I tried to communicate my connection to, and passion for the outdoors. People hardly ever featured in these photographs.

Here people are central. I wanted to capture them and their way of life, so I had to look for them and get to know them. My people skills were important as I was making photographs in their homes and they could ask me to leave.

I moved from a very slow, deliberate approach to being much more spontaneous, responding to the action in front of me. Still, the patience I had learned in landscape photography proved useful as I waited for people or animals to come into a space which had the potential to create an interesting image.

I relished the idea of creating a body of photographs and the project has gone in different directions as it progressed. In part this is because I started from a position of ignorance. As I learned about what the farmers did and how they did it, there new possibilities.”

This project features in an exhibition at the Cynon Valley Museum in Aberdare (open Tuesday to Saturday 10am until 4pm) running from 15th June until 14th July. He will also be displaying some of his landscapes.

Roy will be giving a walk-through talk about the exhibition at 2pm on each of the Saturdays that the exhibition is on. The Cynon Valley Museum is on Depot Road (next to Tesco), Aberdare, CF44 8DL, telephone 01685 886729. He can be contacted at roycarr6



The Marble Gall

We often refer to the Marble Gall at our talks and on our walks and usually comment that they are regularly confused with Oak Apple Galls which we have never seen. On the Orchard Walk in May we saw one for the first time and this was on the border of a patch of woodland near New Wallace Farm. Seen in the photo it was as described in the books – much larger than the Marble Gall (about 4 to 5 times its size) and soft and spongy rather than the hard and smooth of the Marble Gall. Parts of England still celebrate Oak Apple Day and this is often associated with the restoration of the Stuart monarchy after the Commonwealth period under Oliver Cromwell. Towns and villages like St Neot in Cornwall, Upton Gray in Hampshire and Upton upon Severn all celebrate the occasion in different ways but often involve parading through the village, wearing or carrying oak sprigs and ending up at the local pub. It is sometimes referred to as Shick-shack day (a term for the Oak Apple) or Oak and Nettle Day. The gall is caused by a wasp which lays its eggs in the tree and the larva injects chemicals which cause the gall to form and provide the larva with a food supply.



Community Orchard Visit


Most recently our afternoon group visited the Community Orchard. We walked over the foot bridge near to the Playgroup and on into Monkton house as I know it (some of you may know it as the tennis courts or football field) and down to the bottom into the Orchard. The children enjoyed investigating the area and I must say what a great area it is to visit with the Children and right on our doorstep.

The children found the pond most interesting and on return some children drew a picture of the pond and the green grass, however, I’m not so sure the pond was as blue as their pictures. We walked back to the Playgroup via the tunnel into Vennwood Close taking many photos along the way to display in our group.

Children of all ages will love the area I’m sure, so next time you are wondering what to do with the children for an hour or two, why not pop across the bridge and see it for yourselves. We hope to walk our morning members across soon.

We are always looking for new ways to support families with care for preschool children and as you are aware we now offer support to those children who attend Gwenfo Nursery. We most recently held a drop in session in May, which we did try to advertise in May What’s On, however, the article was lost in transit somehow, so apologies if you missed this.



A Love Story by Maureen Richards

True Love

by Maureen Richards

Sitting quietly on a rocking chair in the corner of the old farmhouse kitchen, resting her weary bones, Beatrice warmed her cold calloused weathered hands, near the log burning stove. The candlelight fell gently across the room, catching a glimpse of her ageing frame.

Although time had fetched its cruel grooves of life experiences onto this beautiful face and the long hair that once hung like ebony silk now grew with strands of silver and gold was drawn neatly back into a bun held with a pretty clip. She could still turn heads. Her eyes, the deepest ocean blue, still held the charm, kindness and love that once captured the hearts of many a young handsome soldier, hadn’t changed at all with time.

As she sat, her eyes closed and the warmth flowing around her like a thick woollen blanket, her thoughts led her back to the many bitter sweet memories that this time of year held for her …

There he stood by the kitchen range, his uniform pristine, the gold buttons glistened in the early winter sunlight breaking through the small leaded window. How dashing he looked, his thick brown hair groomed and his brown eyes had a twinkle of devilment. His face framed with a beard well trimmed and clipped. His smile, “Oh, his smile” sighed Beatrice. How perfect. How handsome. Although he had the air of an officer, she also knew his gentleness, his love, his devotion to her. Her man, her soldier!

They were too young, everyone said, but they were in love. They knew this was True Love, deep strong and lasting a life time. In secret they got engaged. This sealed their love. They knew things were changing war was looming. Soon he would be called for duty. Their stolen hours of love spent in each others arms would sustain their parting. His orders arrived, he had to go.

At the station along with hundreds of families and armed forces Beatrice was held tightly in his arms. His body trembled, he couldn’t speak. Beatrice stifled a sob from deep inside her. Why must there be wars? All this emotion, the wrench from loved ones arms. All so young. All so brave! Finally, as Beatrice looked deep into her dearest Edward’s eyes she whispered, “bring yourself back to my arms and our ‘Love Child’”. He was ecstatic, their stolen hours of love had borne fruit. This gave this handsome soldier a feeling of completeness. He was so proud, he would be the perfect father. His darling Beatrice would be a perfect mother and in the meantime, she had a little of him with her until his return. Oh! How they wished war was over so they would be together a complete family.

The months trickled by. How she missed him! His letters from the front encouraged her, as no doubt her were to him. Her family were wonderful, their love and support helped her to cope. Her time was near for the birth of their ‘heavens blessing’. She longed for Edward to be with her at the baby's arrival. He tried desperately to get compassionate leave but the intensity at the front had increased in magnitude.

Many a soldier longing for home and peace knew this would only be achieved by determination and bravery.

Holding her beautiful baby girl in her arms she gazed at her all night. She was adorable, thick brown hair like Edwards and deep ocean blue eyes of Beatrice. Her new grandparents were so proud. With just a glimpse of this new arrival, their hearts were bursting with joy. If only Edward as here, Beatrice would ask him to name her. They hadn’t decided, not knowing whether a boy or girl. At that moment baby stirred. Cradling her close baby was fed. Beatrice cuddled baby all night.

She watched the candle flicker its light around the room gradually diminishing with the hours.

Suddenly a voice she had longed to hear whispered “My darling Beatrice, she is beautiful. Please call her Edith my little Edie. I am proud of you. She has the beauty of her mother. My Beatrice, I love you”. His face gently brushed hers as he left a gentle kiss on her lips. She watched as he walked towards the kitchen range still alight keeping the room warm. He turned and smiled, blew a kiss, then was gone. Had she imagined it? Her dearest Edward here with her?

Thew next morning Beatrice announced to her parents her baby's name, Edith and repeated what she had heard from Edward, “ my little Edie”. After that special night Edward’s letters stopped coming. Beatrice grew more worried every day that passed. Her parents could only support her and pray. Days turned to weeks, weeks into months, little Edie flourished. Beatrice was such a good mother, loyal, attentive and so protective. How she loved her! But Beatrice parents could also see their daughters heart breaking longing for news of Edward, they saw the sparkle in her eyes grow dim. This perfect mother slowly dying inside. She always put her baby first, she was the reason for living. Beatrice worked hard on their farm and any spare time she spent making bread, cakes and pies, depending oon supplies and sold them in the village store, they were a great success.

Little Edith’s extended family adored her. Grandparents took her for walks and visits to relations daily, her little life was idyllic. But at night when the house was still and silent Beatrice waiting for Edward’s return.

Occasionally she would see him standing, as she remembered by the kitchen range smiling at her. So young, so handsome. Held out his arms to her, but she couldn’t leave with him, she must stay with her little Edith. She promised love and protect her forever. This she did. This was how they found her sitting in her rocking chair near the kitchen range. Her heart broken but a gentle smile remained upon her lips.

Many times on the cold winter’s nights villagers reported seeing Beatrice sitting by her kitchen range warming her hands, in her old rocking chair waiting for her Edward’s return from war. She never did leave the old farmhouse or broke her promise to little Edith.


How she loved them both, so completely.




Usk Walk


Parking in the main car park at Usk, site of the Rural Life museum, nine of us set off through the streets of Usk. We passed a small but delightful garden created by local Girl Guides. Soon we found ourselves turning left to climb a fairly steep slope. It was a warm morning and we were glad of the dappled shade provided by trees around us.

Soon we were passing the back of Usk castle. At the entrance was an old sea bomb and behind it a face peering out of a tree stump from which it had been carved. The ruins of the castle overlook Usk and the river beyond. A medieval castle it fell into disuse 500years ago. It is open to visitors almost every day and entry is free with a donation box.

Climbing Beech Hill we were soon passing the site of the battle of Pwll Melyn, also known as the battle of Usk. This was part of the Welsh War of Independence against English rule that lasted from 1400 to 1415. The battle occurred in spring 1405 and the defeat of the Welsh rebels here was devastating. It included the loss of important leaders and men. A contemporary Welsh chronicle described it as a ‘slaughter’ and that ‘It was now that the tide began to turn against Owain and his men.’ According to historian J. E. Lloyd writing in 1933 ‘Pwll Melyn is the pond lying northeast of Usk castle …numerous skeletons were found in the pond when it was cleaned out. The pond is so called because the water is always slimy and of a dirty colour.’

But we were here on a beautiful May day with wall to wall sunshine and travelling north we passed a delightful pond with a wooden bench beside it which had a dog carved into the backrest and a carved bottle and glass resting on a ‘table’ at the front. Continuing north we took a solid footbridge across a stream, followed shortly after by a stile leading to particularly boggy ground. Two large horses showed interest in us as we each found our way across the mud. It was near here that we spotted an early purple orchid.

Coming up towards Trostrey Common we started to enjoy far reaching views. We continued climbing to our high point for the day above Hill farm and now

had 360o views. Stopping in an open field we relaxed in the sunshine and ate our lunch looking out across the valley with the river Usk somewhere below us.

The heat of the day was building as we turned south back towards Usk. We passed Trostrey Court (there is also a Trostrey wood). Trostrey Court House is a late 16th C gentry house, the current building replaced a medieval court. During the English civil war it was seized by the forces of Thomas Fairfax during the siege of Raglan castle. It remains a private house and working estate and the court is a grade II listed building.

Walking through a field of ewes with their lambs we caught a glimpse of a windmill, with vanes, in the distance and walking along a stretch of road we came closer to it. This is Llancayo windmill – ‘luxury accommodation, sleeps 12 and is available to rent £2250-£3850 a week!’

A field in the far distance was black and we wondered what the crop could be as the earth in this area is brown. Our best guess was flax in its early stages. We eventually arrived at a large solar farm – we’d seen the backs of the panels. Walking past it we were instructed ‘DANGER OF DEATH KEEP OUT’.

Passing a large piece of farm machinery trudging up and down a field, we made our way down to the banks of the river Usk. Shelter from trees and the freshness of the water both helped to cool us as we meandered with the river all the way to Usk and the stone bridge that crosses the river. An Usk Civil society blue plaque on a wall nearby declares ‘ Conigar walk (conigar from coney or rabbit warren, denoting a medieval enclosure to provide rabbits for food)… built in 1858 to commemorate the marriage of Victoria, Princess Royal, to Prince Frederick of Prussia.’

It had been a glorious sunny day, a bit humid at times, and a lovely walk – 9 miles with an 800ft climb. Tea in the café attached to the museum was much appreciated. Map 152.




The Orchard Walk


Improving weather has helped us to get out and about and we were very lucky to have ideal walking conditions for our Orchard walk which took place as part of the Vale of Glamorgan Walking Festival. 32 walkers (plus 3 dogs) joined us for the day coming from all over South Wales as we wandered up to Burdons Hill, down to Goldsland and back via the St Lythans Burial Chamber and the Welsh and Wild Orchards. A grass snake at the Elizabethan Orchard and Oak Apple not far from New Wallace Farm were both new wildlife records for the area. It was nice to have with us a good number of Wenvoe residents who were keen to see how things were progressing in the orchards.

We have been concentrating on keeping the sites tidy for Green Flag judging and we await the results with interest. More recently we have been planting up the new Farm Orchard at Goldsland and its surrounding hedgerow. We have planted wildflower seed in a number of locations and donated seed to groups in Dinas Powys and Cowbridge along with over 100 packets to individuals who turned up for the Craft Fair. With funding from Grow Wild we are planting wildflower plug plants at Goldsland Farm and setting up areas where we shall be growing fungi – not for consumption but to help to tell the story of how important fungi are to our lives. If you come to the Open Day at Goldsland on Sunday 10th June you will be able to see what we are up to. And what a free day out for families with lots of other things going on!



I Just Turned Eighteen

I just turned eighteen – and I mean just. But I don’t ‘feel’ eighteen. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to feel like, but I’m pretty sure I don’t feel it… But turning eighteen has made me reminisce about the past eighteen years, and there are a few people I’d like to thank.

Firstly and most obviously, my parents for just, making me really… but really – thank you parents for giving me all the support anyone could ever wish for, even when I do things which are really stupid! Secondly, my brother for sharing a sense of humour with me, and always making me feel as though a rubbish day can have a little bit of sun. To my family and friends, thank you for making me feel worth when it’s hard not to see past the failures. And thank you to everyone – even the kind strangers on a bus who offer you a seat, or an American till worker helping me figure out what change I had in New York – for helping my experiences to have a flicker of fun in them all.

Thank you, also, to all those who have helped me to gain enough experience for my future – to everyone who reads my blog, to those at the BBC for letting me gain work experience (and to the woman who made it happen!) to everyone reading this now, you’ve helped me so much – and to the organisers of What’s On, I thank you for giving me the opportunity month after month to do what I love.

This year has been a bag of mixed emotions. Although my exams were the most stressful they’ve ever been (well, until this year) the results day was worth it, by setting me up comfortably for this year’s exams. When my friends and I managed to survive climbing over mountain after mountain and treacherous terrain during our Duke Of Edinburgh Award (without those ladies I really don’t know if I’d have finished, but the endless laughter of the absurdity of the least outdoorsy people managing to fall in cow poo every five seconds made the treks bearable). When I got offers from all of the Universities I had applied to – and that my first choice university was my lowest offer! Getting the chance to speak on BBC Radio Cymru on International Women’s Day was one of the most exciting things I think has happened in my life. Completing my last show with my stage school after acting for eleven years.

Seventeen has been brilliant. It’s also been hard. But with the summer on its way, and the prospect of getting in to University spurring me through my exams, I can’t wait to see what eighteen has in store. With my last day in secondary school next week it seems that eighteen has a great beginning. And the fact that I can drink (legally)!

Thank you to everyone who made seventeen great. Let’s make eighteen spectacular.

By Tirion Davies

Phil Bowen on Carisbrooke Castle


Tuesday Group meetings continued with a trip to the Millenium Centre to see "Fat Friends. Thanks must go to Betty for organising the tickets and transport. Our final meeting was a talk by Phil Bowen on Carisbrooke Castle. Phil has spoken to the group on previous occasions and so we knew that it would an entertaining talk. In his introduction Phil explained that his daughter had died from lung cancer and that the proceeds from his talks go to the Roy Castle Lung Foundation who support research into lung cancer.

Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight is a Norman castle which was altered in subsequent periods. The first castle was built by William FitzOsbern to secure the Isle of Wight for the Normans. It was then seized by Henry I when the motte-and —bailey castle was built. The castles position 210ft above sea level means that it can be protected and the surrounding land made safe from any hostile folk. It is also in a good position to watch over the entrance to Southampton.

With the aid of photographs Phil was able to explain why the castle was difficult to attack as it was protected by a dry moat which had spikes and flints and other protective features were arrow slits at strategic points to repel invaders. The Bailey was where everyone lived. The Bayeaux Tapestry depicts the building of a motte and bailey castle and this has helped the understanding of this type of fortification.

Isabella de Fortibus was the first lady to rule the Isle of Wight and she transformed the castle into a home worthy of her prestige and wealth. She added a chapel and a chamber at the end of the Great Hall. This chamber had a window overlooking the island and reflecting her status it was glazed.

Isabella controlled the castle for some 30 years and when she died power struggles ensued. This led to the demise of the independent Isle of Wight and the estate passed to the Crown.

Elizabeth I makes her cousin George Carey captain of the Isle of Wight and he builds a 13- room mansion within the castle. This became a social centre with banquets held regularly. Jesters from the mainland attended these feasts and swapped news.

Charles I was imprisoned at the Castle during the Civil War and although he tried to escape both attempts were unsuccessful and he was eventually taken to London where he was executed.

The castle then fell into disuse until Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria's youngest daughter modernises the castle and makes it her residence.

The castle is now maintained by English Heritage and having seen how Phil can make the various features of the castle come alive with his wealth of anecdotes I am sure it will be on the to do list of any member visiting the Isle of Wight.

The final event of the year is our annual dinner which is being held at the Blue Anchor.



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