Bird Survey May 2019
During the middle of May we were fortunate enough to have a very knowledgeable bird expert staying who very enthusiastically agreed to record all the different birds here at Old Oak Barn.
This is what she saw and heard!
Carrion Crow, Rook, Raven, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Lag Goose, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Bluetit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Longtailed Tit, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Red Kite, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Skylark, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Tawny Owl, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler. Total 46
We were thrilled to know she spotted 3 pairs of Spotted Flycatchers one of which was very close to the barn. Lots of Longtailed tits recorded in particular. Also the Garden warblers and Chiff Chaffs were very vocal. The swallows and house martins have been rather late arriving this year but now as I write are settling down to nest. House sparrows are very plentiful this year. The mixed corn in the chicken run must be attracting them! Several of the bird boxes have blue tits nesting. So far this season we have seen good numbers of fledgling Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Pied Wagtails, Robins, Blackbirds and Goldfinches in particular. Two pigeons in the top shed have also been reared successfully.
This compares well with the Bird Survey we had done in 2015 which was slightly earlier in the year at the beginning of April. On that occasion 45 different species were recorded.
Jessica Park opened her long planned for shop in Carmarthen – Green Scoop – in early May 2019. Read about it and why she cares so strongly about the environment and reducing her carbon footprint on her blog.
I have already popped in several times and have been pleased to fill my own containers with what I need. The fruit and veg is great value and although not everything is organic because of supply difficulties it is the aim to supply as much organic goodies as possible.
Jessica has had support from Big Ideas Wales and currently has her sights set on expanding The Green Scoop. She is currently crowdfunding to set up a café and community space in the shop. She has said: “I want it to be a place for the community to come and learn about how they can make changes to cut down their plastic waste as well as other creative classes. In the café I also want to have a ‘pay it forward’ scheme where people can pay for a drink or lunch for someone in the community who may not be able to afford it.”
Our visitors here at Old Oak Barn often want to be pointed in a certain direction when choosing how and where to buy their food for their holiday and we can always recommend local independent shops of which there are many around here. You do not have to go to the well known supermarkets in Carmarthen to stock up for your stay! St Clears itself has 2 very fine butchers for example. We wish Jessica all the very best for her new venture.
Cafe Mor in Pembrokeshire
Recently named in Lonely Planet as one of the best food trucks in the world! Congratulations to Jonathan and his team! We and hundreds more love this solar powered converted fishing boat cafe in south Pembrokeshire!
The Pembrokeshire Beachfood Company also known as Cafe Mor states it is an ethical seafood supplier specialising in seaweed and laverbread recipes and products. It has quickly received huge praise for its tasty food, location of course and the quirky nature of its facilities within a refurbsihed old boat. Our visitors here at Old Oak Barn agree it’s a fabulous part of the coastline to explore if down in Pembrokeshire for the day. So if you are out and about in Pembrokeshire just google map SA715AH which is the relevant postcode.
Trip Adviser Click this link for some great reviews, pictures and lots of information to help you decide if you would like to visit Cafe Mor.
Freshwater West is well known to be one of the best surfing beaches in Pembrokeshire and is managed by the National Trust. It is almost 32 miles from Old Oak Barn, being south of Angle and beyond Pembroke but is well worth the drive for a great day out.
Cafe Mor has established itself very quickly as one of the best places to buy great quality local food in a wonderful setting. If you check out their website you can learn about the company’s past and see how originally the involvement in festivals, for example The Hay Festival, began to help them grow and establish a name for themselves. Recently all efforts have gone into the newly refurbished boat cafe in Pembrokeshire and last year for the first time Cafe Mor was open during the October half term which proved very successful. Two brilliant short videos can be seen on the website which demonstrate really well what the company is all about and how far it has come!
They can be reached on 07422535345
Alleyway Coffee Carmarthen
Alleyway Coffee Carmarthen opened last year and as its name suggests is tucked away in a little side alleyway right in the centre of town.
Serving great homemade food including delicious cakes .. lemon drizzle particularly good ….. we recommend a trip to this cafe for freshly prepared snacks. Open every weekday 8.30 – 5pm and 10 – 4pm on Saturdays.
You can phone Rose at this popular little coffee shop on 07933 996423
The reviews online are very positive and customers seem to like the care given to all visitors plus the quality of the food on offer, in particular the vegan options. Many of course note how good it is to see an independent coffee shop in town which makes a change from the usual chains. Some comment positively on the great sound system being vinyl records going back some years. LPs can be chosen and played upstairs!
click here to see some more information on Carmarthen, one of Wales’s oldest towns.
Visit Wales has recently praised Folly Farm with a Gold Award.
Our 5 top reasons to visit Folly Farm which is less than half an hour from Old Oak Barn.
- There is SO much to do and see there which appeals to all ages.
- The animals are very well cared for and seem contented.
- The playgrounds outside are brilliant and there are PLENTY of ride on tractors. See photo below taken in Feb 2019.
- There is always something new in the well organised spacious site.
- Even if its raining you will have a great day out.
Gold Award for Folly Farm – Congratulations!
We are very fortunate to be less than 20 minutes away from the fantastic Gardens of Wales – Carmarthenshire’s main attraction and somewhere we love to go.
When staying at Old Oak Barn you too can pop along to see the imaginative displays of plants, flowers, trees and vegetables. The huge glasshouse is packed full of interesting and rare plants from across the globe. Visit our Local Attractions page for more details.
This Spring there is even more going on including lots of day courses on for example sustainable vegetable gardening or basket weaving. Welly Wednesdays are popular for small children – its best to book in advance.
Gardens of Wales
Opening times and entry costs are as below
|1 April – 31 October||10:00am – 6:00pm|
|1 November – 31 March||10:00am – 4:30pm|
|Families (2 Adults & up to 4 children)|
Gift Aid Price: £30.00 (Standard Price: £27.27)
Gift Aid Price: £5.00 (Standard Price: £4.55)
|Concessions: Seniors/ Disabled/ Students|
Gift Aid Price: £9.00 (Standard Price: £8.18)
Gift Aid Price: £11.00 (Standard Price: £10)
|Single Parent Family (1 Adult & up to 4 children)|
Gift Aid Price: £20.00 (Standard Price: £18.18)
These three videos show some great local walks near Old Oak Barn in Carmarthenshire. We have ordnance survey maps to borrow and lots of good ideas of where to go to get off the beaten track.
The first is around Laugharne
The second around Stackpole in Pembrokeshire
The third from Wisemans Bridge to Saundersfoot and beyond.
So put your walking boots on and get walking! You can always pop into Carmarthen to the local Cotswold outdoor shop to buy new boots! It is a great stockist of everything you may need if you too like the Big Outdoors.
At this time of year when the days are short and the nights are long we often think of the summer and where to plan a holiday. Some of us think of a Wales Escape! The countryside of this wonderful county of Carmarthenshire is very varied and you don’t have to go far to see some beautiful scenery.
If you are looking for somewhere that goes the extra mile to meet all your needs then why not visit Carmarthenshire and come and stay at Old Oak Barn. We are confident that you will not be disappointed if you choose to stay here.
You could nip down to Pendine, our nearest sandy beach to see Babs or to go horse riding!
Visit the Gardens of Wales near Carmarthen – one of Wales’s premier gardens.
Eat out in one of the many pubs or restaurents nearby.
Visit Laugharne for some tranquil walks where Dylan Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood.
5 Top Reasons to choose Old Oak Barn in Carmarthenshire
- We are really child friendly and make children of all ages very welcome.
- The barn is totally private and away from the hustle and bustle of modern city life.
- The 40 acres of woodland provide a wonderful playground for outdoorsy families – an abundance of birdlife too.
- The barn is exceptionally well equipped inside and has great wifi.
- It is very spacious, comfortable, light and airy in summer and warm and cosy in winter.
You can check availability by clicking right here.
The Towy Valley is one of the most beautiful in the whole of Wales; the River Towy itself is the longest flowing river which is just in Wales, at well over 70 miles. In the distance of the picture above you can see Dryslwyn Castle a famous landmark in the locally. But there are several castles in the Towy Valley.
The river rises in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales and flows into Llyn Brianne a lake created in the late 1960s to control the flow of the river to provide water extraction further down the valley. This lake ran very low this summer 2018 when there was a shortage of rainfall and the flooded buildings were exposed once again. I remember well when they were last exposed back in the early 1980s.
From the wilds of Mid Wales the Towy flows past the many pretty but small market towns in the county, These include Llandovery, Llandeilo and Carmarthen and then past Llanstefan into Carmarthen Bay. As it enters the sea, the Towy is joined by the Rivers Gwendraeth and Taf. It is the Taf which comes out at Laugharne to which many of our visitors go and are astounded at the tranquil beauty of the estuary. The Towy Valley has lots of birdlife including dippers, grey wagtails and cormorants and is famous for salmon and sewin and more recently otters too. If you go to Paxtons Tower near Llanarthne you will get wonderful views of the valley.
In recent years Carmarthenshire and the Towy Valley in particular have become one of the most popular cycling destinations in the UK.
Visit this link here here if you are keen to find out about the many cycle trails which have been developed in the valley. Or click here to see our previous blog. If you would like to bring your bikes when staying at Old Oak Barn we have safe and secure storage available.
The youtube link below says it all!
Photos courtesy of Discover Carmarthenshire – thank you.
Did you know that the recently opened Carmarthen Velodrome is generally accessible for free between the hours of 9 and 6 during the week provided it is not hosting a tournament. If staying at Old Oak Barn and you have brought your bikes why not pop along for some practice! Provided you go anti clockwise and take note of the rules which are on display by the grandstand you will be very welcome. Managed by the Town Council, it was decided to continue with the tradition of not charging for its use as this had always been how it was operating – to encourage the people of Carmarthen to enjoy the Park and what it has to offer. Phone Laura on 07794 024952 who will answer any questions I am sure.
The Velodrome is one of the oldest in Europe and certainly the oldest in Wales. It is one of only a tiny handful which has been built with concrete. But its big claim to fame is that its the only one with a rugby pitch in the middle of it! Around 12 games a year are played on the pitch and then of course the velodrome is shut for cyclists. What a venue!
Click here to see a short clip from the Carmarthen Velodrome facebook page which will give an idea of what to expect.
So, we are lucky enough to have one of the oldest velodromes in Wales, if not the world, here in Carmarthenshire just 15 minutes from Old Oak Barn. Built in 1900, the velodrome at Carmarthen Park – home to the Towy Riders Cycle Club – has now been refurbished with all 232 concrete surface panels that make up the track replaced, along with a new safety zone built along the inside perimeter and a safety fence around the outside edge. As well as being used for training by local clubs and the community, it is hoped the velodrome will become a regional centre of excellence for hosting national and international cycling competitions. Great little Tea Room in the park too!
Its amazing to think that had the velodrome been in operation when the Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas was learning to ride a bike he may well have cycled there because as we know his family is from Carmarthenshire. What a hero he is! Now an MBE he is one of the most popular British professional racing cyclists. He currently rides for the UCI WorldTeam Team Sky, Wales and Great Britain. Competing on both track and road, he has won three World Championships, two Olympic gold medals and one Tour de France. I was lucky enough to see him whizz through Carmarthen in September in the Tour of Britain. The two photos below I myself took in Pensarn – it was only when I looked closely at them later that day I realised who I had snapped.
© Copyright Charlotte – permission needed for last two photos to use please
Little Toadstool DesignsDo you have a teething baby? A visitor staying at Old Oak Barn recently has just started up her own business selling soothing teethers for little ones who like to chew. What a great idea! I imagine there is a demand for babies who like to chew on their mothers necklaces!
Anyone looking for a teether that you can wear so baby isn’t dropping it and you’re not forever wiping it, have a look on Kirsty’s facebook page. Just search for “Little Toadstool Designs.” She has created some fab designs and colours.
Also at @littletoadstooldesign
Old Oak Barn is a very child friendly holiday cottage and if you are thinking of staying in 2019 please check our availability calendar here.
Barafundle Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Wales and has even made it in the worlds top 100 beaches. It is less than an hours drive from Old Oak Barn and many of our visitors spend a day on this fantastic beach.
It is extraordinary to think it was once the private beach of the Cawdor Family who lived on the Stackpole Estate. Of course today the estate including the beach is managed by the National Trust. It is only accessible on foot but the walk from Stackpole Quay is less than half a mile. Several steps have to be negotiated but it is not a hard walk overall. There are no amenities there which I think enhances the whole experience. Many holiday makers pop into the Boat House Tea Rooms at Stackpole Quay on the way home for tasty fresh food. The photos in this blog I took in late September when we last visited this popular part of South Pembrokeshire.
London Walking Tours
We get lots of visitors from abroad – mostly from Europe but often from Canada, America, New Zealand and parts of the Middle East. Some stay in London before or after their stay in Wales. If you are thinking of visiting the big city and want to organise a London Walking Tour then we can recommend giving Jonnie at Bowl of Chalk a shout as he is bound to meet your needs. He stayed with us here at Old Oak Barn recently although it wasn’t until after he had left that I realised what he actually did. I am sure if you want to learn some fascinating facts about the history of London then Jonnie is the person to get in touch with.
You only have to check out his reviews on Trip Advisor to see that he is very highly rated 14th out of 788 London Walking Tours in the whole of the city! Bowl of Chalk also features in the top 101 favourite things to do in London!
If you’d like to join one of the regular Weekend Walks it’s really, really important that you book ahead. You can find all the details of how to contact Jonnie on his website. Talking of which it is packed full of great photos and articles which demonstrate clearly the depth of Jonnie’s knowledge and expertise.
The Cultural Exposé wrote that “this is not your standard walking tour and working on a tipping policy (just pay what you can) Jonnie is not your standard tour operator ….. a friendly way to learn more about London.”
Jonnie AKA JJ Fielding has also written a book – he is clearly passionate about London – and very knowledgeable too.
Just a reminder that if you would like to stay at Old Oak Barn you can check out availability here.
Diablos Queen Street Carmarthen
This summer Diablos Queen Street opened in Carmarthen. Under the same ownership as the lovely Diablos on the Quay where many of our visitors dine while staying here at Old Oak Barn, we are sure you will be impressed by the thought that has gone into this new venture. Right in the centre of town parking is easy and in the evening free parking at County Hall is recommended as its only a minute away.
Alex Luck the owner is well known in Carmarthen for his high standards of cuisine and of customer care. I have been twice now to the new Diablos on Queen Street and both times was really impressed with the service. The new assistant manager is I know determined to make sure customers are always more than satisfied – she too is well known in Carmarthen. Together with the cheery bar staff the team already in place is bound to to be a success!
We chose food off the specials board which included vegetarian tacos with salad and sweet potato fries ….. mmmmm ….. great value too at less than £7.
We were thrilled to supply some of the old timbers used in the renovation in particular the bar area. Overhead and cleverly supporting the light fittings are some wonderful pieces of elm which were felled in Carmarthenshire many years ago and have been seasoning under cover here near St Clears for years! The two boards roughly 10 ft long and a foot wide make a great feature on entering Diablos. The electrician tells me they were perfect for the job!
Diablos can be reached on 01267232755
Live Music every Friday and Saturday!
Booking advisable at weekends. If you are staying with us and would like us to book you a table that can be arranged! You can check availability here!
Closed Mondays only.
Xcel Bowl Carmarthen
15 minutes from Old Oak Barn is the popular Xcel Bowl Carmarthen centre where you can spend an entertaining time playing bowls in the recently refurbished space. The soft play area is perfect for little ones and I myself have spent many hours with my grandchildren and friends and happily recommend it for families. Children love the techy aspects of the 10 pin bowling set up where players for example can take photos to display temporarily on personal scoring screens above the alley. Food for sale in the cafe is freshly prepared and very tasty.
Earlier this year Xcel Bowl Carmarthen which is a registered charity as well as a social enterprise was awarded Gold in the Community Tourism Awards by The Carmarthenshire Tourism Association who recognised the brilliant facilities and great attention given to customer care plus of course the huge part the project plays in supporting its local community.
Xcel Bowl is part of the Xcel Project and The Xcel Project was founded by Towy Community Church. Open now for five years all the profits go towards supporting local people in need through Carmarthen Foodbank, Xcel Community Shop and Xcel Furniture. Over 40 people are employed within the project which is a fantastic achievement in such a short time.
Xcel Bowl Carmarthen is open 7 days a week from 10.00 in the morning until 10pm except for Sundays when it closes at 6pm.
If you would like to know a little more about the project please watch this short film which is very informative.
So …. we have learnt that the profits from Xcel Bowl go into supporting local residents within Carmarthenshire some of whom face crisis times in their lives – through the Foodbank, the Furniture Store and the Charity Shop all of which are on the same site. I hope you agree after you have been bowling what a great project we have on our doorstep!
If you would like to check availability of Old Oak Barn click here!