Donna-lee drops in from Morocco

Donna-lee Iffla at Pistll Gwyn Talog, Wales
Donna-lee, painting the world outside, and inside, my window.

Well … not quite. She had been visiting a friend in Devon, and so made a detour over here for which we are very grateful. So good to see her after nearly … 20 years!

In a nutshell … Donna-lee Iffla is my August 8th Birthday Twinnie, although she has a few years on me, not that you would notice. She is a perfect blend of poetry and pragmatism, and seems to moves her life back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, following various dreams (and men) of one sort or another. Several years ago she upped sticks from her home in Canada to be with her (much) younger Berber lover, totally inspiring those of us lucky enough to be on her email and Christmas card list!

So she comes here and just … lights up the place. It was two days of reminiscing, catching up, laughter, putting the world to rights, and stories of camels, sand dunes, a thoroughly exotic auberge, and Bandit the Dog. For me it was so good getting some of the details of her life in Morocco fleshed out and how this most down-to-earth of feminist women could adapt to islamic culture, which I must admit I had worried about. For her, I’m hoping our verdant and somewhat soggy patch of paradise was a nice change to her usual desert climes.

The visit had made the distance seem smaller. My only regret is that Youssef himself didn’t accompany DL, but that is easier said than done in a world where some can travel easily and others not. Will I accept DL’s invitation to make a return visit? I am sorely tempted, particularly now that funds are in a little better shape. I  still have to get over my resistance to flying, and and the fact that Morocco, like pretty much all islamic countries, is way behind the times in its attitudes to gay men and women, but the same is true for attitudes to women generally, and DL seems to have confronted that head on with grace and courage, so maybe I could to …

Ice Spike at Pistyll Gwyn

We had an ice spike today! What’s an ice spike? It …

is an ice formation, often in the shape of an inverted icicle, that projects upwards from the surface of a body of frozen water

Ice Spike at Pistyll Gwyn

Well – we’d never heard of ice spikes either, and it had us completely baffled for a bit. I was going down the line of aliens and pixies (naturally), but Caerthan found this article on Wikipedia, if you’re interested.
It’s a bit technical in places, but at least it makes a game attempt to keep things in the realm of science, even though they admit to not really knowing.
Putting aside aliens, pixies, and science, I just thought it was very beautiful and feel privileged to have an ice spike at Pistyll Gwyn.

R.I.P. Lavender (1998 – 2014)

Lavender has died. She had been ‘elderly’ for some time now, but on a fairly rapid decline for the last few weeks.
That said, I would never have thought this morning that today would be the day when she would finally lay down near the barn, and not want to get up again. At 9 o’ clock she led the alpacas down to the Secret Garden and ate a hearty breakfast – business as usual. She hung about there during the day, seemingly content, but at some point decided she had had enough. I found her lying on  her side with just a little life at 4.30pm. The vet came over and speeded her on her way, (which I hope someone will do for me when I get to that stage).

Lavender with Dylan at Pistyll Gwyn in 2008
Lavender, in her glory days, with Dylan – her first cria here at Pistyll Gwyn

So – end of an era here at Pistyll Gwyn. For the first few years Lavender was most definitely Queen Lavender with more than a little touch of the Lou Beale about her (early Eastenders matriarch – no nonsense, sharp tongue, sensible shoes, family-comes-first etc). It was a common sight to see her scolding one of the other alpacas, particularly the lads, (though never her blessed cria who could do no wrong). The last couple of years she has sat back and chewed the cud while Diamond and Olive battle it out for the crown, and has seemed happier for it. She could still give a good cussing if someone encroached on her feeding, but I can’t remember seeing her spit.
Lavender started life as a Jolimont cria in Australia, and after travelling all the way to the UK we know she had at least one cria at Bozedown Alpacas before she arrived here, via Alpacas of Wales. To my mind that is far too many miles for an alpaca and I am pleased that we could give her somewhere pleasant in which to settle. In return, she gave us the awesome Dylan, Molly-with-the-wonky-neck, Iolo the quiet one, and the gorgeous Rhiannon.
Thank you, Lavender, for your work here, and your splendid company. You will be missed.
A final note to thank the vet (Market Hall Vets at St. Clears). He came quickly and did the business efficiently and compassionately. We have always felt very lucky with Market Hall – some of our friends and colleagues struggle with poor veterinary experiences, but we have had nothing but excellent service from this practice.

Hot Cross Cheese Straws

Well it had to be done … there were no hot cross buns so cheese straws it was. Artfully shaped into ancient Roman implements of torture these tasted just as good as they looked!

I chickened out of doing them all as crosses – it’s not a baking efficient shape, but Caerthan and I had two crosses each, and Gwen and Herbert had one. Actually Herbert only wanted a little so we scoffed his too. Heavenly!

Dead simple to make and definitely enhanced by using a seedy bread flour / white four mix.