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Cauldron cake by The Cake Store – click on any of the images in this blog post to find the sources

As it’s Halloween, I thought I would take a look at the witch’s cauldron in history and myth. It turns out that as well as being an ancient household cooking vessel and a witch’s potion pot, the cauldron has been a mystical symbol of life and, in some stories, an instrument of death…

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The Royal Mint at Llantrisant, here in Wales, has struck a special Alderney £5 coin to commemorate the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth – click on the image to find out more

This year sees the centenary of the birth of wonderful Welsh writer Dylan Thomas and celebrations have been going on throughout 2014. But today, October 27, is his birthday. He was born in Swansea just after the outbreak of World War I.

Much has been written Continue Reading »

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Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) in Cardiff bus station, October 2010…

Sorry to disappoint you if you thought this was going to be about the famous Sean Connery film in which he portrays a Russian submarine commander with a splendid Scottish accent…

No, this is just a post about the lack of red leaves in nature this autumn, compared to previous years. For example, look at those leaves at the top of this post. Here is the same tree this year…

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Scarlet oak in October 2014


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Owl mural near Wood Street, Cardiff, October 23, 2014

I just had to share this wonderful owl mural that appeared overnight on a wall next to our office in the centre of Cardiff. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there on Wednesday, but yesterday you couldn’t miss it.

There have been many artful surprises in recent weeks as part of the Empty Walls project, which finishes this weekend. Assorted paintings have appeared on many grotty buildings, empty hoardings and fences around derelict sites. I don’t know if they will all magically disappear or be whitewashed at the end of the festival, but I hope not.

The owl is signed PeacefulProgress.co.uk, so here’s a link to that artist’s website.

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The owl in context, with Cardiff’s central bus station to the right

I don’t know enough about it to write much more, but here are a couple of illustrated stories other people have written on the festival…

WalesOnline: Empty Walls Project brightening up Cardiff city centre

Creative Hacks: Street art spotting at Empty Walls, Cardiff

Empty Walls Festival blogspot

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Autumn gold in Llandaff Fields, Cardiff, on October 20 – these are small linden trees (or as we call them in Britain, limes)

At last it feels like autumn. There is a nip in the air in the morning and the trees are finally surrendering their leaves – although every tree seems to do this at a different rate.

I visited Llandaff Fields in Cardiff Continue Reading »

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The graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Lytchett Matravers

The village of Lytchett Matravers, to the north of Poole in Dorset, is one of my ancestral places. Several times in the past I had tried to find the parish church, but with no luck. We had driven around in circles in the middle of the village and there had been no sign of a tower that could have been St Mary’s.

Then this summer, when we were killing time for half an hour by driving around the country lanes, we took a “wrong” turn in the vicinity of Sturminster Marshall. And there, surrounded by patches of woodland and farmers’ fields, was a church. I was amazed – the nearest village was Lytchett Matravers, so this must be St Mary’s!

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At last the hornbeam fruits are changing colour…

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Amazing to think this is my tenth blog post about the hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) I am following in Llandaff Fields, Cardiff. Thanks again to Lucy Corrander for setting up her Loose and Leafy tree-following project.

I visited on October 2, at the end of a long, dry, mild month. But I knew cold, wet and windy weather was coming, so I had Continue Reading »

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