All posts by mjptna

News from our AGM held on April 4th 2019

At the recent AGM of Pembrokeshire National Trust Association, there was reflection on a year of well attended events, including walks, talks and trips. A donation of £3000 was made for improvements at Pembrokeshire National Trust properties. Three hives will be purchased to further enhance the “Bee Friendly” status of Colby. Replacement picnic benches will be provided at Stackpole Quay. At Southwood, the money will be used to restore wildflower meadows. Kate Rees, Marketing and Communications Manager for Pembrokeshire National Trust, accepted the cheque, and reported progress on other projects previously funded by the Association, including information boards at Little Milford and Marloes, bat detectors for Colby, and garden renovations at Tenby Tudor Merchants House, Tenby.

Kate Rees accepting a cheque from Jim and Margret Price

Kate Rees accepting the cheque from Margret and Jim Price

After the business meeting Alan Kearsley-Evans, Coast and Countryside Manager for Gower and Ceredigion, gave a talk on changes to farming practices on National Trust land at The Vile, near Rhossili. Now the main crop is bird seed, making the area more attractive to both wildlife and visitors, especially at sunflower time.

Talk at AGM on April 4th – Alan Kearsley-Evans – ‘NT on Gower’

Alan, whose NT responsibilities cover both Gower and Ceredigion, decided to concentrate his talk on a small farm adjacent to Rhosilli, called Vile. Nobody is sure how the name originated but it first appeared on a local map in 1845.

As with NT properties in Pembrokeshire, the Trust has decided to shift the objectives of its land management to protect the local flora and fauna which are under threat from problems such as global warming and intensive farming.

Vile has its own special characteristic in that it still has the traditional land management ‘three field’ system. What it is has to do is change some of its structure and farming to the benefit of wildlife, and people who want to visit the farm. Structure therefore includes more trees and hedges which give cover, food and ‘wildlife corridors’ to the fauna, but also a network of footpaths for visitors.

Farming also has to change. Wild flower meadows are being developed. Spring planting will be used for barley, and other crops if appropriate. This again gives better cover for fauna but also makes more food available during the breeding season. The aim is not to disturb the natural processes of fields from April to September. Crops are being reviewed. Arable weeds such as sunflowers and poppies are under consideration as are linseed and lavender. They will bring colour and scent to the farm to the benefit of insect lif.

Perhaps, in a few years, visitors will come to look at Vile and not Rhosilli.

“The Art of Collecting Antiques” by Dai Evans. Thursday March 7th 2019

Dai has worked in a number of NT Houses in his working career and has latterly been at Picton Castle. He has an interest in the world of Antiques, having dabbled in it himself, and he started by explaining the legal rules of the trade.

Antiques shops follow the same legislation as other retailers. You can go into a shop and buy something. If you subsequently decide that you were misled about the object, or the information you received, you can go back to the shop and ask for your money back. However if you buy from auctioneers, their terms of sale state that any they are not liable for any wrong information and once the hammer goes down, it belongs to you and not them. In addition they demand a commission for having sold it. He also warned that sale prices are very subject fashion and if you later decide you want to sell it the value is as likely to have gone down as up. Age is only one of the factors which decide value. However he then took us briefly through a range of products which are dealt with in the antiques business; furniture, earthenware, porcelain, glassware, carpets and silverware. Interestingly only silverware, with its hallmarks, provides an accurate measure of age, where it was made and by whom.

His final advice was, if you see something you like and you can afford it, then buy it. Remember also that you bought it because you liked it, and do not be put off because of what others think.

“Flowers of Pembrokeshire” by John Archer Thompson. Thursday February 7th 2019

John gave us a comprehensive view of Pembrokeshire flora, with plants which grew in many different environments; salt blown cliffs, rocky headlands, pasture land, bogs, woodlands, ponds and others. Some of these plants we would not normally see as flowers. His first pictures were of lichens on cliffs fighting for space, fungi such as parasol and waxcap, mosses, ferns grasses and bracken. These are not plants that we normally see as beautiful, but pictures with a high performance camera show beauty in terms of structure, not just colour.

He then took us through the seasons looking at the plants which are in flower, starting in Spring. Many of these we have as bulbs in our gardens; snowdrops, crocus, daffodils and bluebells but also primroses, cowslips, and forget-me-nots. There are others which grow in hedgebanks and woodlands such as heliotropes and wild garlic. The white flowers on blackthorn can look spectacular, as can early gorse.

As Spring lengthens towards summer we see daffodils and narcissi, bluebells, wood anemones, thrift, cow parsley, red campion and stitchwort. Summer, if it arrives, provides wild carrot, kidney vetch, foxgloves, rock samphire, marsh marigold, water lilies, wild carrot and oxeye daisies. Other plants such as thistles, nettles and dandelions are less popular.

Winter itself is not flowerless as daisies, primroses and red campions can still flower. John was asked what was his favourite flower. His answer was red campions because if you look hard enough you will always find some flowering.

Apologies but space does not allow inclusion of the many other flowers John showed us.

“Effective Communications” by David Padfield. Thursday January 3rd 2019

On January 3rd we listened to Dave Padfield regale us with anecdotes of often amusing misinterpretations or misunderstandings he had come across over the course of his career as a teacher of French. He stressed how much speaking and listening are interlinked, but how over the course of his life and having a profoundly deaf son in law, he had come to realise how speaking does not have to be auditory. His granddaughters have grown up adept at sign language, being able to sign effectively as babies before they had developed effective speech.He has worked too teaching English as a foreign language to many overseas students in schools and colleges. This led to some tales of problems with syntax between two languages, sometimes leading to hilarious mistranslationHe enjoyed his teaching over the years and admitted that he preferred to take less able students as he was often able to spot nuggets of potential deeply buried in households that cared little for learning Now he spends his time teaching Pembrokeshire primary children to ride bicycles safely and doing voluntary work. Cycling is still very much part of his life, recently cycling solo around Ireland and still picking up the odd amusing snippet- once asking a shop keeper for soap and being offered oxtail or tomato.

“William Marshall- The Greatest Knight” a talk by Gareth Mills. Thursday December 6th 2018.

  William Marshall (the Greatest Knight) and his building of Pembroke Castle

William was born in France of an Anglo Norman family in 1147. As the son of a minor nobleman he had no fortune to inherit and had to make his own way in life. Aged 12 he went to Normandy to train as a knight and was knighted in1166. In 1170 King Henry 2nd asked Marshal to join his Court but allowed Marshall to go on a crusade. On William’s return he rejoined the Court and served as a loyal captain through Henry’s final difficult years.

Henry rewarded William by arranging his marriage to Isabel de Clare, the daughter of Richard de Clare (Strongbow), the Earl of Pembroke. The marriage brought with it large estates in England, Normandy, Ireland and Wales, and Marshall set about improving them. At Pembroke Castle he improved its defences by building the formidable keep which he made impregnable with a stone roof. He also dug out access steps to Wogans Cavern that enabled the castle to be supplied if under siege.

When Richard, the Lionheart, became King, William was one of the Barons appointed to the Council of Regency when Richard joined the third crusade. Following Richard’s death, he supported the unpopular King John, becoming his chief adviser and the guardian to John’s son, the future Henry 3rd. William remained loyal to King John throughout the hostilities with his barons which culminated with the signing of Magna Carta on June 15th 1215

In November 1216 John died, in the midst of a French invasion. William was appointed Protector of the nine year old King and Regent of the Kingdom. He produced an improved Magna Carta and declared he would rule under its terms.

Although William was aged 70, he prosecuted the war against the French with great energy. During the Battle of Lincoln he charged at the head of the young King’s army and gained a victory which caused the French to retire from England

In 1219, William was buried in the Temple Church in London. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, stated ‘Behold the remains of the best knight who ever lived’.