“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’.


Celebration lunch for 20 years of PNTA, held at Wolfscastle Country Hotel, on Friday 23rd November 2018.

The anniversary lunch took place at Wolfscastle on Friday 23rd November, with over sixty members attending.
The raffle, thanks to the efforts of Kate Waldies and Marilyn James plus the generous donation of prizes by several members, raised £97 (and a penny!), for local NT projects. Past chairmen Dick Coggins and Martin Drew travelled to Pembrokeshire to join us for the event. (See photo).
After the meal Jim Price, long standing vice Chairman, described the early days when the PNTA was first being formed.
On the display boards there were pictures of Jonathan Hughes, Manager of Pembrokeshire National Trust, receiving cheques at PNTA AGMs across the years.
Roland Edwards, a former treasurer of PNTA, has totted up the donations and the overall sum exceeds £40,000.
Jonathan afterwards talked about his recent secondment to Wimpole Hall NT, in Cambridgeshire, comparing the landscape and the people to Pembrokeshire. Although he enjoyed his time there, at the end of the temporary appointment, he was content to return to West Wales.

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Laft to right:- Jonathan Hughes, Manager of Pembrokeshire National Trust, Martin Drew and Dick Coggins who are both past chairmen, Jim Price long standing Vice Chairman and Andrew Weaver, the current Chairman.

“South Africa to Namibia” – a talk by Julian Cremona. Thursday 1st November 2018.

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Julian Cremona again delighted us with his stories and photographs, this time from his trip from South Africa to Namibia.He was struck by how the array of plants changed repeatedly with every hundred kilometres or so, travelling north. At times the road surfaces were not great and the campsites were far apart, but the reward was the variety  of colourful birds, and animals, such as the sociable meercats..

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To read more details of the journey click –> Namibia and SAfrica Oct 18

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Photographs courtesy of Julian Cremona.

“The Landshipping Mining Disaster” by Dr Robert Davies. Thursday 4th Oct 2018

Dr Davies gave a talk about mining in the Landshipping area, and of the fateful Valentine’s day in 1844 when the ceiling of the Garden Pit, which extended beneath the Cleddau River, collapsed. Fifty eight workers were below ground at the time, and forty of them, including women and children, lost their lives.

For more information on the talk click –>Landshipping talk 4th Oct 18 pdf

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The memorial to the mining disaster at Landshipping

Learning More about Bumble Bees with Clare Flynn, at Colby NT. 13th August 2018

In a bonus meeting, arranged at short notice Clare Flynn, (Outreach Officer, Bee Wild West Wales for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust) gave an introductory talk about bees in general, and went on to concentrate on the 20+ varieties of Bumble Bee.

Bees have an important role in pollination, but numbers have been falling, associated with the trend to more intensive farming, since the second world war. Increasing use of insecticides further challenges bee survival.

It was fitting that Colby NT was the venue, as the walled garden was a good place for Clare to whisk bees into her net before transfer to a container for us to see and have identification explained, before their release. Also, Colby is following the example of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in seeking Bee Friendly status, in recognition for it’s work in enhancing wildlife habitats.

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Evening walk through Lawrenny Woods, with NT Ranger Alex Shilling. 17th August 2018

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Walking through the oak wood at Lawrenny

On another fine evening we strolled north from Lawrenny Quay, through the oak woods, taking in the views of Benton Castle, across the river. Alex Shilling pointed out the rare Wild Service trees, in the under storey. The path came out on the beach that led to Garron Pill, with the road taking us back to Lawrenny village. From there we took to the fields again, to climb for the view of the estuary towards Carew.

For a more detailed report click–>LawrennyWalk 17 07 18

Our evening was rounded off by a pub supper at the Lawrenny Arms.

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Alex points out the Wild Service trees.


Tuesday 12th June 2018. Evening walk from Abermawr, with Mark Underhill, NT Manager for North Pembrokeshire.

Photo by Andrew Weaver
Mark Underhill explains “bigger-better-joined up” for the coastal wildlife zones, with the backdrop of Abermawr Beach.

On another fine summer evening, Mark led us north from Abermawr. At the far end of Aberbach beach we had the excitement of walking the plank, across the stream, to access the coastal path beyond, which gave views of nesting sites for various sea birds.

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Walking the plank at Aberbach Beach

The farmland of Treseissyllt is being let out to sheep farmers who are willing to conform to the strict organic principals that the National Trust require.

To read a more detailed account click –>Abermawr evening walk

Photo by Andrew Weaver
Ian and Nia came to meet us, and tell us about their sheep grazing at Treseissyllt. Mark Underhill, our guide for the evening is closest to the camera.

Our evening finished with supper at The Farmers Arms, at Mathry.