Llandeilo Festival Senses in 2017
Llandeilo Festival of Senses is an annual free pre Christmas festival. Located some 20 miles from Old Oak Barn the other side of Carmarthen, the very popular festival encompasses the towns shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants as well as offering Craft and fashion stalls, food stalls, buskers, entertainment and more. Join the crowds in Llandeilo on the 17th – 19th of November, and get yourself in the Festive spirit!
There will be over 80 stalls this year with plenty of variety – many are located in the town centre – the map below gives an idea of what’s what!
Towy Valley Cycle Path
Who wouldn’t want to walk or cycle along the River Towy as in the picture below!
The views in this part of Wales are out of this world and it is no surprise that at last a proper walkway/cycle route is being developed in the Towy Valley. Plans are now well underway for the Carmarthenshire cycle route/footpath which will link Carmarthen with Llandeilo. It follows an almost adjacent route to that of the River Tywi also spelt Towy.
A fantastic aerial shoot has been released – click here
The 16 mile Towy Valley Cycle Path path will cost between £5 and £8 million, and a strong set of partners and stakeholders are being formed with funding in place from Welsh Government and the council. It will also give people a sustainable and healthy travel option, connecting with villages between the two main towns. It is anticipated that this will bring in thousands more visitors into the county and we think some of our visitors here at Old Oak Barn will want to enjoy the walk too. The project will inevitably create a number of jobs which will also be a boost to the local economy.
The path is being developed in phases. Initial works have already taken place between Fronun and Bwlch Bach, near the concrete works in Abergwili. Talks with landowners are ongoing, and various grant applications are still being prepared and submitted. The timeline for opening has not yet been released but lets hope it is not too far in the future!
Walkers Are Welcome took the photo above which shows Llandeilo looking west down the valley with Paxtons Tower in the distance.
Less than an hour away from Old Oak Barn is the prettiest beach on the north coast of Ceredigion that we know! It is most famous for being a good place to spot dolphins and when we went in September recently we took a long walk along the coast plus had a look inside the little church. This photo I took several years ago now off the Pembrokeshire Coast when we were lucky enough to see over a hundred dolphins in one single day! The best way to see them at Mwnt is to catch a boat ride from Newquay OR you may be lucky and spot them from the Coast Path.
The Chuch of the Holy Cross is hundreds of years old – is immaculately kept – and is usually open too.
Inside you can read about its history – The Church of the Holy Cross (Welsh: Eglwys y Grog) is an example of a medieval sailor’s chapel of ease. The site is said to have been used since the Age of the Saints, but the present building is probably 14th century. It has an example of a 12th or 13th century font made of Preseli stone. Mwnt was a civil parish in its own right for several centuries, but before the 17th century it was a detached chapelry of the parish of Llangoedmor. It is a Grade 1 listed building.
The beautiful beach but not the church is owned by the National Trust.
Joe Short Photographer
This year we have had some wonderful visitors who have enjoyed exploring not only this beautiful valley here at Old Oak Barn but also the local area. One family stands out because of the lovely photos he took while here. Joe Short Wedding Photographer from Bath is someone I think would come up with some extraordinary photos if you are planning your special day.
This photo was taken on the bottom track of our woods in early September when we had had an unusually wet spell and there were even a few puddles! The one below shows the Fairy House almost hidden among trees.
Joe has travelled the world for clients and I get the feeling he would go that extra mile to ensure you could plan together for some memorable and very unique pictures. He was very personable and always had a smile on his face. I think their 5 year old daughter adored our chickens – I don’t think I have met a child who was so focussed on them and it was a struggle to get her out of the run after collecting the eggs. She was completely fearless. We often check the sheep with visitors and if they want to get involved when we have to move them then of course all help is welcome!
Thank you to Joe Short Photographer for sending some photos for me to use in this short blog!
A few days ago the wonderful display of Cardiff Poppies was unveiled in Cardiff Bay and this is on view until 24 September.
Why not stop off enroute to Old Oak Barn or on the way back if travelling up the M4. I am hoping to see them myself soon.
There has been some great coverage in the press
A cascade comprising several thousand handmade red ceramic poppies, Poppies: Weeping Window was originally seen pouring from a high window to the ground below at the Tower of London as part of the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
image credit: Weeping Window at Y Senedd, the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Photo credit: Geoff Caddick/PA Wire
We have space during the first weekend of the month but are full then until 29th of September. Those who have already booked their stay with us in September will have time to plan a visit to see them if interested.
Trip Advisor Cert Excellence 2017
Hooray! Old Oak Barn has been awarded the Trip Advisor Cert Excellence 2017. Thank you very much to the many visitors who have reviewed their stay here in the last 12 months. The world wide travel site works in mysterious ways – and requires, I believe owners like myself, to receive increasing numbers of positive reviews every year to be awarded the certificate. This is the third year in a row we have been recognised. Chuffed to bits!
We are open all year round and while during the summer months visitors normally stay for a week or a fortnight out of the main season we are flexible in offering short breaks of long weekends. Please visit the availability calendar to see what spaces we have left this year. Half Terms tend to get booked up weeks in advance as we do not specifically raise our prices for that week.
A warm welcome awaits you – and we are on hand to answer any questions you may have during your stay! One of the special things we are now known for are the displays of fresh flowers from our garden we always put in the barn for visitors.
Trip Advisor Cert Excellence 2017
There is so much to do in this part of Wales! If you would like to know more about summer activities available there is lots of information on this website. Explore the menu bar above for plenty of ideas and latest news.
have put together a great list of ideas mainly based in Pembrokeshire but some of these summer activities are very near Old Oak Barn.
is another good site to visit for ideas if you have children!
county itself is packed with things to do in the summer and all year round and we are very lucky here at Old Oak Barn to have so many attractions on the doorstep. The library at the top of King Street in the town is putting on lots of fun activities for little ones especially!
If looking for some more energetic action head off down for some coasteering fun in Pembrokeshire or an exhilarating boat ride around Ramsey Island.
Severn Toll Scrapped 2018
Big news today – the Severn Toll is to be scrapped next year in 2018. It was never meant to last for more than 25 years after a deal was struck to build a second crossing in 1992. It has now been announced that promises are to be kept and charging will cease soon.
Read about it in today’s paper The Guardian
We think our visitors will approve! Old Oak Barn is always open all year round for business! I am not sure how scrapping the charge is meant to boost the Welsh economy by the quoted 100 million but we are not complaining. As from next year both the old and new Severn Bridges will be operated by Highways England when they return to public ownership.
The Old Severn Bridge was opened in September 1966 and I remember well the day my father took us for a day trip into Wales that month. It cost a total of £8 million then to build and took over three years to complete!
Lane gets tarmacced
After nearly 30 years of repairing our bumpy lane at very regular intervals, in 2017 we took the big decision to get it tarmacced! The first week of July saw the arrival of my cousin from Berkshire Daniel Hazell to commence the work with his trusty crew! We were blessed with glorious weather that week and everything went smoothly. The pictures tell it all! We are chuffed our lane has finally got tarmacced! I think our many visitors will be surprised at how smooth the lane is. Now and no one will have to consider the welfare of their car anymore. I bet the postman is happy too!
The challenge has always been to keep the rainwater from damaging the lane. With the precision of the up to date machinery in applying the correct camber and slopes we are confident it will last for many years. Preparation was key and the initial digging out and getting smooth before the planings were laid down took over a day. Each section of the lane was rolled at least 4 times during the week with 2 different rollers each with different weight distribution.
Most of the machinery came down on lorries from Berkshire but an excavator was hired locally. The tarmac planings – 9 lorry loads of them were delivered in June from GD Harries – were infact from the A40 when it was resurfaced earlier this year. The granite chippings were delivered that week. It was a busy few days but we are well chuffed with the outcome and want to thank Dan for his great organisation and skillful workmanship. How lucky we were that on the Wednesday when the tarmac was being spread over the chippings temperatures reached 30 degrees here at Old Oak Barn. It was not only the flowers that were wilting in the heat!
Oriel Myrddin Art Gallery – Carmarthen
The Oriel Myrddin Art Gallery in Carmarthen has a fascinating exhibition on at the moment which runs until 8 July. I would recommend a visit whatever your age or interest and I am sure our visitors here at Old Oak Barn will call in. The gallery is easy to find being at the top of King Street in the older part of the town and parking couldn’t be easier either free at Lidl for an hour or so or at St Peter’s Car Park.
As part of the Ephemeral Coast series of exhibitions and events, Oceans: Surface/Below presents the work of United States-based artists Pam Longobardi and Diana Heise. Both artists use environmental mapping to consider the effects of plastic contamination, industrial fishing and habitat degradation within the world’s oceans. I visited on Saturday and left feeling very sad to see more evidence of the damage we are doing to the planet and in particular to imagine the mountains of plastic which contaminates the sea. We read a lot about the impact of plastic which ends up in the oceans of the world and the displays highlight this quite remarkably. While I was there a group of children were learning about this too – it cannot but fail to leave a lasting impression on their young minds.
Pam Longobardi, who herself nearly stayed with us here in the barn, collected materials from Llansteffan beach earlier in May and they are displayed in a glass cabinet – but for me the beauty of the central “nautical” display from plastics from Kefalonia overwhelmingly stole the show. I don’t think you could visit and not be unaffected.
In addition the scale of the pile of “life jackets” in the photos displayed as seen below which are mounting on a beach in Lesvos is shocking. The large flag display which is made from materials found on this famous island off the Turkish Coast must have taken hours to create and for me is also one of the highlights.
Oriel Myrddin Art Gallery Carmarthen
The exhibition runs until 8 July and the Oriel Myrddin Art Gallery which is supported by the Arts Council Wales is open between 10am and 5pm – Mon – Sat. Free admission.
In the past we have had visitors staying who have kindly undertaken bird counts and also identified flowers, plants and grasses for a plant count here at Old Oak Barn – This week it is the turn of Carmarthenshire Moths to come under the spotlight!
Check out more information here.
Our visitors this week from near Cardiff look to me to be experts in their field and asked prior to arrival if they could set up their moth recording equipment which includes a state of the art trap. By contributing moth sightings to the National Moth Recording Scheme (via Carmarthenshire County Moth Recorder), a picture of the distribution of each macro-moth species across the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands is being built up.
Of course I said yes!
Such maps when plotted play a vital role in assessing the conservation status of species. By considering the rarity of each moth and, more importantly, whether the distribution of a species is increasing or declining over time, conservation priorities can be determined and action directed to the species at greatest risk. This aim sits very comfortably with our general values and ethos here on the farm and woodlands. It would be wonderful if they came back in 10 years time to do more recordings and by then they may even have the help of their little boy currently age only 17 months! Below is the initial record which I will add to in the future. By Wednesday 24 May a total of 60 species have been identified.
Thanks to Stephen for the photos he took this week which I have used here – please ask if you would like to use them.
Carmarthenshire Moths at Old Oak Barn in May
Species List for Moths Recorded at Old Oak Barn, May 2017
291 moths of 61 species recorded over three nights using a Skinner trap fitted with 2 x 15 W actinic light tubes.
|–||Cnephasia sp.||Cnephasia species micro moth|
|–||Eudonia sp.||Eudonia species micro moth|
|15.009||Caloptilia robustella||New Oak Slender|
|28.009||Endrosis sarcitrella||White-shouldered House-moth|
|28.010||Hofmannophila pseudospretella||Brown House-moth|
|40.013||Mompha locupletella||Red Cosmet|
|49.090||Eulia ministrana||Brassy Twist|
|63.052||Nomophila noctuella||Rush Veneer|
|65.002||Watsonalla binaria||Oak Hook-tip|
|65.005||Drepana falcataria||Pebble Hook-tip|
|65.007||Cilix glaucata||Chinese Character|
|65.013||Ochropacha duplaris||Common Lutestring|
|69.002||Smerinthus ocellata||Eyed Hawk-moth|
|69.003||Laothoe populi||Poplar Hawk-moth|
|70.009||Idaea subsericeata||Satin Wave|
|70.053||Xanthorhoe designata||Flame Carpet|
|70.075||Hydriomena impluviata||May Highflier|
|70.079||Thera britannica||Spruce Carpet|
|70.086||Electrophaes corylata||Broken-barred Carpet|
|70.094||Ecliptopera silaceata||Small Phoenix|
|70.100||Colostygia pectinataria||Green Carpet|
|70.151||Eupithecia pulchellata||Foxglove Pug|
|70.200||Acasis viretata||Yellow-barred Brindle|
|70.207||Lomaspilis marginata||Clouded Border|
|70.212||Macaria alternata||Sharp-angled Peacock|
|70.222||Petrophora chlorosata||Brown Silver-line|
|70.224||Plagodis dolabraria||Scorched Wing|
|70.226||Opisthograptis luteolata||Brimstone Moth|
|70.240||Odontopera bidentata||Scalloped Hazel|
|70.252||Biston betularia||Peppered Moth|
|70.278||Cabera exanthemata||Common Wave|
|70.280||Lomographa temerata||Clouded Silver|
|71.006||Furcula bicuspis||Alder Kitten|
|71.009||Stauropus fagi||Lobster Moth|
|71.010||Drymonia dodonaea||Marbled Brown|
|71.012||Notodonta dromedarius||Iron Prominent|
|71.013||Notodonta ziczac||Pebble Prominent|
|71.020||Pterostoma palpina||Pale Prominent|
|72.015||Calliteara pudibunda||Pale Tussock|
|72.019||Spilosoma lutea||Buff Ermine|
|72.020||Spilosoma lubricipeda||White Ermine|
|73.022||Plusia festucae||Gold Spot|
|73.024||Deltote pygarga||Marbled White Spot|
|73.032||Colocasia coryli||Nut-tree Tussock|
|73.036||Acronicta alni||Alder Moth|
|73.087||Spodoptera exigua||Small Mottled Willow|
|73.101||Charanyca trigrammica||Treble Lines|
|73.114||Euplexia lucipara||Small Angle Shades|
|73.244||Orthosia cerasi||Common Quaker|
|73.249||Orthosia gothica||Hebrew Character|
|73.264||Lacanobia thalassina||Pale-shouldered Brocade|
|73.317||Agrotis exclamationis||Heart and Dart|
|73.329||Ochropleura plecta||Flame Shoulder|
|73.333||Diarsia mendica||Ingrailed Clay|
|73.334||Diarsia rubi||Small Square-spot|
|73.352||Anaplectoides prasina||Green Arches|
|73.359||Xestia c-nigrum||Setaceous Hebrew Character|
|74.004||Nola confusalis||Least Black Arches|
A clear out of tattered board games this Spring has encouraged me to buy some new games which are everyone’s favourites. I decided to ask visitors what they would suggest and their responses gave me lots of food for thought. So this summer its out with the old and in with the new at Old Oak Barn! Thank you to everyone who gave me their ideas.
Below you can see some pictures of the latest purchases!
We have a great selection too of books for children and adults with an especially good collection of books of local interest for example “A Shilling for Carmarthen”, Natural History books about Skomer Island, a selection on the nearby Gardens eg Aberglasney – plus some books about life in St Clears earlier last century written by local residents.
In addition we replace old Dvds with new ones – eg “I Daniel Blake” and “La La Land” were bought in May 2017. The new Sony DVD player is capable of accepting a USB memory stick and nowadays visitors often arrive with their own supply of films in their pocket!!
If you have any good suggestions for new games please let me know and I shall put them on the list for the next upgrade!
In April I visited the wonderful National Trust property of Dinewfr Park in the Towy Valley about 35 minutes from Old Oak Barn. Dinewfr in the Spring is now an annual walk for me because there is such a variety of beautiful Spring sights and sounds there. But it is such a beautiful estate with so much going on whatever time of year you visit. In April of course the trees are beginning to come into leaf and the bluebells too make an appearance. You wont be disappointed if you visit.
Opening Times are as below:-
This hollow tree is begging to be made into a Fairy House!
Dinefwr is the only parkland National Nature Reserve in Wales and is bursting with colourful flowering plants. It is well known for the Bluebell display on Rookery Ridge which is on the Cattle trail. When I was there the wild garlic was also out.
It will cost you just £8 for adult entry and £4 for children.
It is famous of course for its herd of White Park cattle and the deer – which I was lucky enough to capture crossing my path in the woods in mid April.
Best places to see Bluebells in Wales
People often wonder where are the best places to see bluebells in Wales – well here at Old Oak Barn we have our own 40 acre Allt Cwmpalis which visitors can roam freely. It is a semi natural ancient woodland we have been managing for 30 years and provides a haven for birds, wildlife, flora and fauna. These are all typical scenes I took myself with my iphone in early May in our bluebell woods here at Old Oak Barn in 2016.
This particular shot below was taken in a small patch of clearfell which has been replanted with cherry, which if you look carefully you can see are growing well.
We are so fortunate to be able to see this beautiful sight every year and for those planning a visit in early May the photos below show other scenes taken in the woods in 2016. The swing which hangs off the old oak is much loved by children and adults!
But if while staying here you would like to visit other locations which have bluebells then we can suggest a visit to the following :-
- Skomer One of the best places to see bluebells in Wales – plus of course the puffins and other sea birds.
- Castle Woods at Dinefwr near Llandeilo.
- Aberglasney a very special place with some beautiful gardens.
- Dinas Nature reserve for those who love birds especially.
- Colby which is only half an hour away.
- Springwoods at The National Botanic Gardens of Wales near Carmarthen
Sometimes there are guided walks for those who love a Bluebell Walk which if you were staying at Old Oak Barn in the first week of May would be ideal. The link will take you to the day planned for Skomer on 8 May which is probably the best week in the whole year to visit the island. Currently we still have some availability early May! From 1 May for a 4 night break. There are lots of videos on youtube which can prepare you for the amazing scenery in May – Yvonne Stanley posted this one of the Skomer Bluebells for example.
Fairy House in Wales
Recently we came across this little Fairy House in the woods near the barn. It appeared overnight as if by magic! The old tree stump makes a perfect location I think you’ll agree.
The ladder leads up to a little room in which who knows who lives. I see a green gnome stands guard at the top of the ladder.
If you look inside you may be lucky and find a little treat …. provided the woodland mice haven’t got there first. Look at the lovely mossy carpet! These look like Smartie Men to me!
If you have any ideas of what we could add to the woodlands here at Old Oak Barn to encourage more fairy life to pay us a visit please let me know!