This book is fifth in the Dublin Murder Squad series and although some of the characters can be found in previous novels, it can be read as a stand alone.

Following the unsuccessful investigation into the murder of a teenage boy, Chris Harper, in the grounds of St.Kilda’s School for Girls on the outskirts of Dublin, a year later a note is posted on the “Secret Place”, a bulletin board in St. Kilda’s. The note shows a photo of Chris together with the words “I know who killed him”.

Holly Mackey, one of the boarders at St.Kilda’s, finds the note and takes it to Stephen Moran, an ambitious young detective on the Cold Case Squad. Eager to further his career, Moran proceeds to work with Antoinette Conway, the detective originally assigned to this murder case.

The investigation centres on two groups of girls at St.Kilda’s and their rivalry, quarrels and jealousies in the claustrophobic atmosphere of the boarding school.

Once again the Page Turners had varying views on this novel. Some found it too long, boring, tedious and naive, with an overuse of adjectives. The characters were described as being in no way memorable with the ending running out of steam. However, others really enjoyed the book and thought it a good murder mystery, with the characters of the girls in the two groups particularly well drawn. The interaction of the two detectives was interesting and the portrayal of the young girls going through adolescence and on the cusp of young womanhood was at times electrical.

One of the Page Turners listened to the novel on audio books. It was narrated with an Irish accent and she described the whole experience as “thoroughly enjoyable”.

The scores out of 10 ranged from 4 to 9 resulting in an average of 6.

This was our first meeting of 2019 and a warm welcome was given to a new member of the Page Turners.



Cwm Clydach and The Swansea Canal

On a sunny morning in late October, we parked in Clydach and we walked east along the Swansea canal, with reflections of trees in its still waters.

The canal was built to serve collieries, iron works and copper works in the Tawe valley. The first section opened in 1796; its final length was 16½ miles and included 5 aqueducts to carry the canal across the river Tawe, at Pontardawe, Ynysmeudwy, Ystralyfera and Cwmgiedd. One section, the Trewyddfa canal, was privately owned by the Duke of Beaufort who charged a toll.

We passed the heritage centre in Coed Gwilym Park, where metallic outlines of three figures stand. The towpath is easy walking and we soon found another ‘sculpture’, a bicycle marooned on top of a tall tree trunk (the towpath is a cycle trail). A little later we spotted a rhododendron bush in full flower.

The river Tawe soon came into view and we walked a short distance between the river and canal. We crossed a bridge and after following the canal for a while, headed uphill away from Trebanog towards Gellionen. A flock of handsome goats in a field next to the footpath were very friendly coming up to the fence and standing on their hind legs to eye us up whilst another (the nanny?) stood/sat on a nearby picnic table.

As we continued we enjoyed extensive views of Swansea Bay with thick fluffy white clouds on the distant horizon. At Gellionen there is a chapel ‘for the use of the society of protestant dissenters’. It was erected in 1692 and rebuilt in 1801 when an ancient carved stone, part of a Celtic cross (from 8th century Llan Eithrim church), was set into an outside wall. The stone is now in Swansea museum. As we left the chapel we went through a gate with a sign which said ‘Welcome – Croeso please take care of this stunning place’.

We continued northwest crossing moorland and passed close to (but didn’t see as although only 50 yards from the footpath it is a difficult place to find) Carn Llechart. Believed to be about 3500 years old, it is one of the finest examples of a stone ring cairn or burial chamber in Wales. It has 25 low stones set close together and leaning outwards with a shattered stone lined cist (coffin) towards the centre.


Now we headed west and downhill alongside a stream towards the Lower Clydach River. We entered woodland which was shaded and cool. At the river we scrambled across rocks or sat on grassy hummocks to find a spot to relax and eat our lunch.

Cwm Clydach RSPB Reserve established in 1987 is mixed broadleaf woodland with a wide variety of bird species present all year. These include Buzzard, Red Kite, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Tree Creeper, Bull finch Dipper and Grey Wagtail. Otters have returned to the river, a sign of how much cleaner it is.

Until 1962 much of Cwm Clydach was a working coal mining valley. The largest colliery was opened in 1863, known locally as ‘Nixons’ it was one of the main employers. It produced 115,000 tons of saleable coal a year. It was a rock top colliery but as it was virtually gas free, the boilers to raise the haulage engines were underground, as was a blacksmith’s shop, which was rare in a colliery.

The path through Cwm Clydach was covered in warm brown leaves and the sun shone through the trees which had dropped most of their leaves. We passed the remains of many abandoned buildings, some with streams tumbling over them – a reminder of the area’s industrial past. We passed the village of Craig-Cefn-Parc. Its name is thought to mean rocks behind the enclosure. Craig probably refers to small quarries that were in the area. Cefn Parc (meaning at the back of the enclosure) is the name of an old farm at the top of the village – its name suggests that it was at the edge of a Manorial Lord’s enclosure. Even now it is the last farm before you reach the open common.

We continued along the river through housing and passed a large weir. Walking over a bridge over the river we could see the lower Clydach Aqueduct where the canal joins the lower Clydach River and the River Tawe. Now we were back alongside the canal and returned to our cars, passing signs of the restoration work which the Swansea Canal Society are undertaking.

Our walk was 7.7 miles in length with 700ft of ascent. OS Map 165.



Nobody Really Likes an Angry, Angry Man


Nobody Really Likes an Angry, Angry Man

The past few weeks in the news have been odd. With Theresa May’s Brexit deal falling through and her government barely supporting her, the world just seems weird at the moment. But if you haven’t seen a big advert being a headlining article in many newspapers, you’ve probably missed something. Let’s talk about the new Gillette advert.

Gillette, a men’s razor company, recently premiered its new advert, a short film named ‘Believe’. The film replaces Gillette’s signature “The best a man can get” with “The best men can be”. Gillette had said that it wanted to “hold men accountable”, which is exactly what it does with this short film.

The advert shows images of sexual harassment, bullying, misogyny and aggressive behaviour by men, before revisiting these same scenarios, but including another male lead who steps in these certain situations to prevent these behaviours. In the times of MeToo and HeForShe, the film shows men exactly why these movements have been so important as of late. By giving examples of inappropriate behaviour and counting it as inappropriate behaviour, it begins to hold men accountable for their actions. The behaviour we’ve seen time and time again as branded ‘boys will be boys’ finally gets the boot that says ‘no, this is wrong, and no one should allow this to happen’. By suggesting other men should prevent this behaviour if they see it, it creates reinforcement that the behaviour shown is inappropriate. Behaviour women have been telling the world for years is inappropriate, needed a man to reinforce this message. People are listening, but they’re not fans.

The endless comments on the YouTube video show men claiming it to be “feminist propaganda” and suggesting that stepping in to prevent sexual harassment is stating that Gillette no longer want the business of “manly men”. If you think being manly includes being a bully and a sexual harasser, your issues go far beyond any advert. Gillette probably doesn’t want your business if you think that way.

The short film did gain some positive feedback from very few men, but those who supported the advert commented on its powerful message. “By eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best’, we can help create a positive change that will matter for years to come” says Gillette’s president, Gary Coombe. Gillette has partnered with the Building a Better Man project for this short film (which aims to reduce violent behaviour in men) to help induce a drop in male violent behaviour and suggest more positive behaviours for men of the future.

Gillette knew that its advertising would cause backlash. But even I’m shocked it caused as much backlash as it did. Admittedly, it’s by men who are trying to justify the behaviours shown in the advert

as appropriate, but which could be seen to be eerily similar to their own behaviours. But the fact is, this conversation needed to happen – it did. In my opinion, there’s no arguing that the behaviours seen in the short film are in any way healthy. The fact that there are so many who can’t see that these scenarios are problems is indicative of the change that is surely needed.

I’m not telling you that you need to wholeheartedly support this advert and give it all the press in the world (that would be ideal, but some people will always seek to find a problem). I am however telling you that if you don’t identify the behaviours seen in the advert as inappropriate or wrong, you are a part of this problem. This short film was designed specifically to call out these scenarios and show, without an ounce of sugar coating that these behaviours are unacceptable. You don’t have to buy Gillette for the rest of your life or post this advert to every social media platform. You just have to understand why these behaviours are wrong and see that the advert is doing the right thing – it’s discussing it. The world has a problem with discussing toxic behaviours in both women, but especially men. Gillette is holding people accountable. We all need to do this.

The advert had been watched over 2 million times on YouTube in 48 hours. Backlash and support aside, take what you will from this advert but understand Gillette’s point is valid. It may be hard to swallow for some people, but the message needs to be heard. 2019 is holding everyone accountable for their actions, and I’m glad for it. Nobody really likes an angry man.

By Tirion Davies



Winter Warmer Soups


Mushroom Soup

25g butter

1 med/large onion, peeled and finely chopped

250g flat or chestnut mushrooms chopped

25g flour

300ml milk [full fat]


fresh ground black pepper

600ml hot chicken stock [use 2 oxos]

4 tbsp. double cream

A few button mushrooms, thinly sliced, to garnish

Melt the butter in a large/med saucepan over a med heat [don’t burn the butter]. Stir in the onion and cook until softened. Stir in the flour, mix well. Gradually blend in the milk. Season with the salt and pepper. Cook for about 2/3 mins. Stir in the hot stock and mix well. Puree in a blender, food proces-sor or with a hand-held blender. Return to the saucepan, adjust seasoning add the cream and re-heat. Pour into serving bowls, garnish with the sliced mushrooms. Serve with fresh crusty bread. Take care when blending, the liquid will be hot!!.

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

350g broccoli florets and stalks cut into small pieces

500ml hot vegetable stock [use 2 oxos]

25g butter

4 spring onions, finely sliced

50/60 g Stilton crumbled, or to taste

100 ml double cream


fresh black pepper

pinch nutmeg

Place the broccoli in a microwave bowl, cover and cook until just tender. Heat the butter in a saucepan and fry the spring onions for about 1 min. Transfer the broccoli and stock to the spring onions saucepan and mix well. Pour into a food processor, add the cream, stilton and blend until smooth, or use a blender or hand-held blender. Return to the sauce-pan and bring gently to a simmer. Season to taste with the salt and black pepper and add a good pinch of nutmeg. Serve with fresh crusty bread. Take care when blending, the liquid will be hot!!



AGM and Orchard Update


Our AGM, held in January, produced a record attendance of 35. These numbers reinforce the strong support for wildlife in the village boosted by members from Dinas Powys, Penarth, Radyr and Barry. Our visiting speaker was Peter Sampson who talked about Flat Holm island, its history and wildlife. Not only was it informative but Peter entertained us as well with tales of lighthouse keepers and the ingenious ‘goal posts’ which prevented anti-aircraft gunners on the island shooting the top of the lighthouse. For more on the island along with the opportunity to join the Flat Holm Society go to http://www. We were also pleased to welcome Janine from Daisy Graze who has used medlars from our orchards to produce Elizabethan Medlar Jelly. These, and her other products, can be purchased from farmers markets and Janine plans to be at the next Open Farm Sunday at Goldsland which takes place on June 9th.

Meantime we have been in planting mode. The Goldsland Farm Orchard now includes a Medlar, giving us 6 in total, along with a Quince, which are becoming increasingly popular but very difficult to buy in the shops. Such is the aroma from Quinces that they were once placed in clothing drawers to make garments smell nice and it is said that adding a slice or two of Quince to an apple pie raised it from the hum-drum to the exceptional. Although Quinces can take some time to mature, the variety we have planted is Meeches Prolific and the fruit can weigh as much as half a kilogram. There is often confusion between the traditional Quince which we grow (Cydonia) and the smaller fruit which grow on the quite common garden shrub, the Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles). The picture shows a Quince growing in our Community Orchard off Station Road. Two St. Cecilia apples have been planted which came top of our taste test last year and 4 varieties of cider apple that are new to us have been included, namely Cummy Norman, Breakwells Seedling, Twyn y Sherrif and Perthyre. Finally two donated Victoria Plums complete the picture. Wildflower seed will be spread in the Spring as we hope to create wood pasture, a rare habitat for Britain. It is good to see some of the bulbs, such as English native Bluebells, which we planted last year, already poking through.

Visitors to Dyffryn Gardens may have noticed that their orchard planting has nearly been completed and this will be a useful addition to our Orchard Trail as it will be publicly accessible at some stage from an adjacent public footpath. The trail could then include 6 orchards with a possible extension to a seventh at Peterston.



Walking Off Christmas Excesses

There was a great turnout for the first strollers meeting of 2019. Two year olds mixed with “slightly” more elderly walkers as all sought to walk off the Christmas excesses. Christmas bobble hat gifts were in abundance, but all agreed that Pam’s bobble outdid the rest! The walk circumnavigated the entire park and was the longest the group had attempted. But with plenty of opportunities to admire the scenery, rest and chat, the walkers easily completed the challenge.

A recent article in the i newspaper celebrated the walking achievements of an octogenarian from Edinburgh. Jim Snodgrass was prescribed regular walks by his doctor to improve his health. He had a series of serious health problems including cancer, hearing loss and a heart by pass, but after taking his doctor’s advice to walk, he racked up more than 1000 miles in less than a year! He said, ” one friend told me that I am the only person she knows who gets younger every year.”

So….the living with cancer strollers group can’t promise you an everlasting youthful appearance, or a 1000 mile count on your step watch, but it can offer a friendly walk with a sociable group in a wonderful lakeside location.

Make it your 2019 resolution to join us for a stroll, on the first Thursday of the month at 10:30, at Cosmeston Information Centre.



Member’s Book Choices


This month Off The Shelf Book Club members decided to bring their own choice of ‘a good read’ to their monthly meeting. The book reviews are as follows and we hope it will encourage you to pick one up at the library.

Tombland by C.J.Sansom – This is the 7th novel in a series of Historical novels based in the 16th century, around the 15 year old Elizabeth. She wishes to employ Shardlake to investigate the murder of her distant relative John Boleyn and his wife. It is more of a grand historical epic than a whodunnit as it also seeks to interest us in the Norfolk rebellions and revolts during this period.

Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin – This is a beautifully written account of Chatwin’s travels to a remote country searching for a piece of brontosaurus skin. It is full of strange encounters, which delay his journey. This is considered a ‘book of a lifetime’ and it is a travelogue written in a very unusual style.

A Winter Book by Tove Jansson – Jansson is possibly best known for her Moonmin children’s books but this is a beautiful translation of her short stories. They are drawn on her own experiences spanning the 20th century and encapsulate the idea of island life. The woman in the book shares with us strange creatures, seascapes, loneliness and introspection.

Falling in Love by Donna Leon – A lovely mystery seeped in operatic charm. A fan lavishes the Opera singer, Flavia Petrelli, with lavish displays of yellow roses. This subsequently develops into a concerning and worrying pattern of stalking characteristics. There are copious amounts of insights into opera stagecraft and those who love Tosca should be delighted with this book.

Becoming by Michelle Obama -This was top of the Christmas reading list this year and perhaps the best stocking filler. Michelle writes refreshingly about life in the White House and how she made this place her ‘family home’. It offers surprisingly intimate passages about her life from childhood to her current role and explains how exhausting it was to support her husband’s political career and keep her ‘balance’. There are moments of pure honesty about difficulties encountered and the way Michelle carried out her role as mother, wife and America’s First Lady.

Frost in May by Antonia White – A classic book where Nanda Grey enters the Convent of Five Wounds at the age of nine. This is a story of how she adapts/ conforms to this cloistered world. Suffocated by rigid conformity and authority. This book shows how casual cruelty and extreme kindness exist alongside each other. A certain disenchantment develops amongst the clever ones as they grow older. As they see the magic lift they see a pattern of life which exists behind the facade and this in turn conveys a more shadowy side.

As you can see quite an eclectic mix of books revealing our different tastes. No wonder we have great debates when we all read the same book!

Isobel Davies – 07815 602 148



Meet the Author

Meet the author – Wednesday February 13th at 7:30pm upstairs in The Wenvoe Arms. (Free entry; donations to the library) Ron Jones who lives is Risca is 101 years old and is the oldest Poppy seller in Wales. He was 23 years old when he became a POW in North Africa in 1942, and spent more than 2 years in the concentration camp in Auschwitz and survived the death march. Ron has written a book called the “The Auschwitz Goalkeeper”, where as a POW he played in goal for Wales in a football match at the Nazi death camp. Ron appeared on the One Show, when he returned to Auschwitz and relived some of his terrible memories.



February News


Meet the author – Wednesday February 13th at 7:30pm upstairs in The Wenvoe Arms. (Free entry; donations to the library) Ron Jones who lives is Risca is 101 years old and is the oldest Poppy seller in Wales. He was 23 years old when he became a POW in North Africa in 1942, and spent more than 2 years in the concentration camp in Auschwitz and survived the death march. Ron has written a book called the “The Auschwitz Goalkeeper”, where as a POW he played in goal for Wales in a football match at the Nazi death camp. Ron appeared on the One Show, when he returned to Auschwitz and relived some of his terrible memories.

Bus trips – Look out for dates of future trips to London and possibly Hay on Wye in the next edition of What’s On. We expect lots of interest so book early.

Village Show – Please make a note in your diaries that the annual Village Show will take place on Saturday 7thSeptember. This year we shall be making a few changes to the format of the show. We hope to involve the whole village and will be drawing on your skills and talents to make the show a success. There will be something for everyone to participate and enjoy. The full schedule of categories will appear in next month’s What’s On and the rules will be available in the library.

Clwb Clonc – Join the growing number of learners and first language Welsh speakers who want to practise their conversational skills. As well as our weekly meetings on Mondays in the café at Pugh’s Garden Centre at 11 am, we are also meeting at 7pm every second Thursday of the month in the Wenvoe Arms. Croeso i bawb.


If you have a few spare hours a month to help us in any way, please email us or call into the library for an informal chat and a warm welcome.

New books for November.

  • – Mary Higgens Clark & Alafair Burke, Every Breath you Take. A gripping mystery following television producer Laurie Moran’s investigation of the unsolved Met Gala murder, in which a wealthy widow was pushed to her death from the museum’s rooftop.
  • – Donna Leon, A Question of Belief. Set during an oppressive Venetian August, Leon’s 19th Commisario Guido Brunetti is presented with two puzzles that impinge on his most intimate beliefs.
  • – Susanah Gregory. The Habit of Murder. The 23rd Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew in which Matthew, Brother Michael and Master Langelee become enmeshed in the town’s politics of 1360.
  • – Meg Gardiner, The Shadow Tracer. Can a person ever really disappear for good by going off the grid? And what happens when vanishing is no longer an option?


•- Elisabeth de Mariaffi, I Remember You. Heike Lerner has a charmed life. But her world is shaken when her four-year-old son befriends a little girl at a nearby lake, who vanishes under the water. And when Heike dives in after her, there’s no sign of a body.

  • – Chris Ewan, Dead Line. What do you do if your fiancé goes missing, presumed taken? If you’re Daniel Trent, a highly-trained specialist in hostage negotiation, the answer is simple: You find out who took her and you make them talk.
  • – Oliver Tearle, Britain by the Book. A multitude of curious questions are answered in this fascinating travelogue with a literary theme, taking in unusual writers’ haunts and the surprising places that inspired some of our favourite fictional locations.
  • – Derek J. Taylor, Who Do the English Think they Are? When England, more than the rest of the UK, voted to leave the EU, polls showed national identity was a big concern. So it’s time the English sorted out in their minds what it means to be English.


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