Llyn Clywedog

Llyn Clywedog was created in the mid 1960’s to control the flow of water into the River Severn, preventing flooding in winter and supplying a regular supply in the summer.

The lake itself is more than 6 miles (9.7Km) long, 216 feet (66m) deep at its maximum and has a surface area of over 615 acres which is equivalent to 230 football pitches. The reservoir holds the equivalent of 264 billion glasses of water.

The River Severn is Great Britain’s longest river at 220 miles (354Km) long from its source high on the slopes of Plynlimon (Pumlumon) mid Wales to when it finally discharges into the Severn Estuary below Gloucester.

Llyn Clywedog provides an ideal habitat for a great variety of wildlife. Red Kites and Buzzards are an almost daily sight; Peregrine Falcon and Osprey have also been seen around the lake. Goosander, Teal and Great Crested Grebe are common on the water while in the hanging sessile oak woodland and more exposed open hillside can be seen numerous flocks of Long Tailed Tits as well as Bullfinches, Pied Flycatchers and Stonechat.

Butterflies are abundant throughout the summer months and in the autumn the woodland and lakeside are carpeted in the colours of a rich array of fungi.

Andy Richards


Making Real Lemonade


Real, home-made lemonade is first mentioned in a play from the 17th Century called ‘The Parson’s Wedding’ and was sold in coffee houses at the time – and no they wouldn’t be called ‘Costa’ or ‘Starbucks’!

It’s thought that the recipe came to England originally from Italy and it became very popular in the 18th century when it was a refreshing summer drink for wealthy households.  During the 18th & 19th centuries, lemons & sugar became more affordable for the middle & lower classes and refreshment stalls became commonplace selling the refreshing, cloudy liquid to the masses.

In the 1840s it’s believed there were over 50 soft drink manufacturers in London alone.  Many were thought by then to use  proprietary essences & compounds in a sugar syrup rather than natural juices.  Home-made lemonade began to go into decline although it’s quite a popular ‘home-brew’ even now for some American children to sell by the roadside in summer to earn a little pocket money.

In Britain, the availability of the clear, sweet, fizzy drink called lemonade by certain manufacturers brought the demise of the ‘real’ stuff.  It is lacking the fruit juice and full of artificial sweeteners & preservatives and nothing like the original, flat, cloudy drink.

Here is a recipe for REAL Lemonade as made by many in the past.

To make around 1.75 litres (3 pints) of lemonade, you will need 6 lemons (unwaxed), about 150 grams of granulated sugar & water.


Wash the lemons well, then thinly pare their zest with a vegetable peeler or zester (make sure to just remove the top layer of yellow zest & avoid the bitter, pithy white underneath.

Place the zest in a large heatproof jug or bowl, then squeeze the juice from the lemons & add that too. (hint –  to ease squeezing juice from fruit, first roll the fruit apply pressure on a board to break down the juice holding sacs before cutting & squeezing).  Add the sugar and pour on 1.4 litres (2.5 pints) of boiling water & stir well.  Cover and leave to stand somewhere cool overnight.  Stir again & taste for sweetness.  Add more sugar if required.  Strain through a sieve.  This will keep in sterilised bottles in the fridge.  Sparkling mineral water can be added for gentle fizz if required before drinking.

More ‘How to’s’ to be added soon!


Handy Household Hints & Tips (Part 1 – Cleaning)


When dusting wickerwork, spray a paintbrush with furniture polish & brush gently to lift the dust.

Use cold tea when cleaning varnished woodwork or floors & polish with a soft duster.  The tannin apparently helps to counteract grease & enhances the wood colour.  It’s very good for removing fingerprints

Use hot vinegar on a rag to remove bird marks & dried paint splashes from windows.

Old newspaper scrunched & rolled into a pad is great for cleaning & polishing windows. It removes smears and makes the glass shine.

To clean green residue from the bottom of a vase,  fill with a solution of biological washing powder or liquid & water, then let soak. Rinse well.

To clean a vacuum flask that’s not been used for a while, put 1tbsp (20ml) vinegar & 1 level tsp (5g) salt into the flask & shake well. Rinse with clean water.

Use a little fabric conditioner in warm water to clean glass-topped tables. It helps prevent dust from settling.

Whiten a discoloured boards chopping board by scrubbing it daily with cold salt water.  Work the way of the grain, rub it with a cut lemon to bleach the wood, then dry outdoors if possible.

Remove the smell of fish or onions from your hands by dampening them and rubbing with salt.  Wash and rinse.

To clean a grater, brush the wrong side with a toothbrush.  You can also sharpen your grater with sandpaper!

More hints & tips coming soon.






With icey touch the winter’s come

And with the cold, our senses numb

A shiver rises from the soul

And longs for warmth

Spring blossoms lift the spirits high

New growth abounds and song birds fly

And pretty ladies catch the eye

As passion grows

The summer is a time for fun

For walks and playing in the sun

The joy of children fills the air

With happiness

As autumn dawns, the leaves do fall

A time to reap ‘fore winter’s call

For nature shuts her garden down

And rests again


Fragrance Lamp from The Lotus Flower (UK Ltd)

When I received this lamp, I expected the usual wick, oil, glass bottle (lamp). I expected there to be sooty smoke emitted when lit and a flame that would be either forever going out or so high that it would endanger not just my furnishings, but the entire house!  I was pleasantly & extremely relieved when I opened the box & saw the instructions.  Yes, there would be a flame, but only for a few minutes.  Let me explain:

There is a wick, but this doesn’t actually burn, the wick is purely there to feed the oil to an absorbant stone which sits in the top of bottle.  Once infused with the oil (a special top is used to encourge the infusion), the stone is lit for 2-3 minutes to heat up enough so that it releases the vapours from the fragranced oil.  The flame is then blown out & vapours enter the atmosphere to give quite a potent fragrance which then seems to enter almost every room in the house! I say potent becuse I am more used to ‘scented’ candles which, let’s face it, don’t always live up to their ‘scented’ description once alight.  There is a decorative top to place on top of the stone to protect from enquiring hands and add a little more style to the variety of beautiful glass bottles which are available.   Once you have sufficient fragrance in the room/home, the infuser top is once again placed in position over the stone in place of the decorative, open top to stop the vapour from being emmited.  This also encourges the stone to be replenished with the fragrance oil, ready to be used again when required.

When first seen, I thought these lamps to be quite expensive, but when the decorative bottle is taken into account & the large bottle of fragrance oil received with it, I have changed my thoughts.  Once a candle is burned, it’s gone forever. These beautiful bottles add style to your deco for as long as you want.   You can buy the 500ml bottles of frangrance oil in a variety of fragrances too and if you are unsure which fragrance to buy then The Lotus Flower can upply 1/3 fl. oz fragrance testers at a very reasonable price.
Replacement wicks are also available.

Lavender Bag Craft Kit

We are currently linking up (through Twitter) with a lot of craft people all over the country and thought it might be an idea to stock some of their items in our shop.  Before stocking them, we decided it might be better to try them out ourselves.  We wouldn’t want to stock something that we thought was a waste of money or poor quality – that’s not what we’re about!
Deborah Hastings is designer, tutor & supplier of Rag Rug Kits to the likes of the National Trust and they don’t buy rubbish! So we thought we’d give them a go.

The sample kit arrived with all the essentials needed to make a pretty rag rugged Lavender bag or cushion including a sweet little bag of lavender which smells divine!  Being totally useless at ll things crafty & sewing, I was interested in just how easy I would find this venture.  The explanantion & sample piece of rag rugging included was a great help and I spent about 45 minutes the first evening cutting the included pieces of clean, pressed fabric into pieces of the required size (as shown in the pack).  I was absolutely covered in little pieces of cotton thread by the end of the evening, but I certainly felt that I hadn’t completely wasted an evening in front of the box as I usually do!  So I stashed away my little pieces of cloth until the next evening thinking – OK I’ve done the easy bit, roll on tomorrow!

The next evening I knew was going to be tricky, watching my favourite TV programme & making a craft item at the same time was going to be a real challenge.  Well that’s what I thought – It was, in fact, very ….wait for it….that word is coming…….. therapeutic! I was never any good at sewing or knitting and, the nearest I’d got to making anything crafty was over 40 years ago when I tried to make a woollen rug using one of those awful hook things!  Anyway the art or Rag Rugging is apparently ‘prodding’! A pointed (but not sharp), wooden ‘prodder’ is included in the kit (nice & smooth to hold in the hand I might add & with no chance of splinters!) One prods one end of the piece of fabric through a hole in a base fabric of hessian until halfway through & then prods the other end in to form a looped ‘stitch’ (I did turn the preprepared bag inside out first so that the ends were actually on the inside of the bag (outside once turned back the right way!) I continued to prod with my first colour of cloth pieces (there are 3 colours included in the pack which compliment each other well).  Once I had placed all the 1st colour into the hessian, I added the 2nd.  I still managed to follow the TV program so knew that this could be a very pleasant way of creating something whilst watching TV.

Evening 3 and the final colour was to be placed.  I turned the bag inside out and was amazed at how well it had gone – no planning, just random placing of the different colours and yet it looked so good! Imagine how good it could look with a little planning ahead!
I placed the small bag of lavender inside – packed it out with some old, clean tights & then, very professionally (not), stitched the open side of the bag to form a small cushion.  Voila! I had created something! The decision was made to include these kits on the website for others to enjoy the experience.  They are made from totally recycled fabrics and the kits are made in the UK. What more could we ask? 

Pre-holiday Concerns

It was a gorgeous, sunny Sunday.  I expect everyone was getting nice & brown in their gardens.  What was I doing? Ironing, packing, weighing the case, unpacking, re-organising, packing, weighing …. and so it goes. And I was still overweight! My case, not me – OK I am too but that wasn’t the priority at the time.  Are we the only ones that have this problem?  We had an allowance of 20 kilos each & 5 kilos hand luggage.  I was obviously taking too many clothes!  But I couldn’t decide what to leave behind, I like to have my daytime outfits then change for dinner.  And of course there has to be a choice of sandals in 3 different heel heights.  Oh & shorts & T-shirts for the pool area over the 2 or more swimsuit choices.  Then there’s the toiletries, the SLR camera with spare lenses, the snapshot camera for emergencies, the iPad and the kindle (at least I didn’t have to take 2 or 3 books anymore!) How come I take the same amount of clothes when I go for one week?  Although I was, this time, going for two.  Could I take this in my hand luggage? Had the rules changed again? Wouldn’t bother with perfume I could buy some on the plane. Trying to take all the sun cream adds weight too – It’d be damned expensive over there!  But would it be cheaper to pay when we got there and not have to pay for being overweight in our luggage?

I just wonder if everyone does the same?  But then I don’t suppose everyone takes as many clothes as me.  I like my choices you see?  Dresses, Skirts, Trousers, Leggings, Shorts. And then there has to be  Stylish, casual, & of course a couple of cardigans just in case of chilly evenings & tops to match all the bottoms!  It was so much easier going on a cruise, no baggage restrictions except they had to be easy for the porters to handle. Take as many cases as you like, no worries about putting hairspray in the suitcase & not in the hand luggage.  I knew there was a reason I liked cruises.  Anyway, packing done, and we weren’t over!  I just panicked as usual.  Then I was hoping that the UK didn’t have too much sunshine while we were away or I may as well have stayed home and not worried about the damned luggage!

This was in June of this year (2012) when we went away for 2 weeks & to be honest could have easily have fitted the island of Santorini into one!  It’s not really all it’s cracked up to be, the picture postcard images are all taken in one town, the only really pretty town on the island!  Perhaps I’ll write another post on that one soon.

Anyway, we are off to Cyprus in September for my daughter’s wedding.  Going for a week.  Should be easy I hear you say! Maybe you should read the above again 😉 We have to make sure the wedding outfits are safely packed, Dresses, Suits, Shoes, FASCINATORS!! (holiday clothes will have to take less priority this time)   I’ve also taken it upon myself to pack my daughter’s wedding dress! It will be placed in a special box & travel as hand luggage – Oh joy – what a challenge that will be!  I’ve been studying a video on You Tube so it will be fine :S

(I feel another blog coming on!)

Dress in a Box Video

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