2016 Summer Lunch

Weren’t we lucky with the weather?

All week there had been downpours, but Saturday was better, then on Sunday, the weather was bright and sunny.

P1060388Eight fine strapping chaps got to the Broomby’s for 9:30am and proceeded to erect the gazebos for the gathering. Although rather early for me on a Sunday, it is still one of my favourite pastimes, with lots of teamwork and camaraderie, as we tried to remember how everything fitted together.



P1060392My best quote from the morning (referring to how two poles fitted together) was – “No, it’s not an A and an A1, it’s an A1 and an A!”.

Anyway, after about an hour of trying to get 9 guys to coordinate their efforts, the tents were up – not bad.


The construction team

(L to R) Gwyndaf John, Colin Mitchell, Ralph Broomby, Gwyn Owen, Graham Beavan, Bill Jones, Colin Thomas, David Powell, Peter Day

Margaret Broomby rewarded us with teas, coffees and biscuits, while we admired our handywork and congratulated each other, feeling quite proud of ourselves, before going home to get washed and dressed up.

P1060396By 12:30 people started gathering at the Broomby’s . There were plenty of parking places, with kind neighbours offering their drives for the afternoon, and people started talking about the weather, how good the trip to North Wales had been, and of course the football (Wales had just beaten Northern Ireland).

Ralph amazed the visitors

Ralph amazed the visitors

Kay Day welcomed everyone and Ralph Broomby entertained us all with a magic act involving a cooker which converted grapes into bottled wine.P1060405

Catering was provided by ‘To Dine For’ and everyone enjoyed the beef, salmon and salads, as well as the excellent chocolate roulade and berries.


Click here for lots more pictures

Gwyndaf John had organised a quiz, to which the answer to most questions was ‘Gareth Bale’.




Kay then thanked the organisers, the ladies who’d created some really pretty flower displays and of course Ralph and Margaret Broomby for kindly hosting the event for the third time.



Loads of people helped with putting things away, and do you know, it was well gone 4pm before we’d finished – where had the time gone?



June 2016 visit to North Wales

Castles and Gardens, Mountains and Sea

The team

Nineteen CDWS members assembled in Caernarfon on June 6 for the fourth expedition to Wales organised by Jonathan Pegler. We had warm, mostly sunny, weather and three full days of interesting activities which flowed on seamlessly from morning to evening, thanks to Jonathan’s meticulous research and planning and to Dave, our coach driver, who whisked us conveniently between each one.


We saw four castles, including three of Edward I’s “big four”. (We weren’t close enough to Conwy).

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle itself was the highlight for me, because of its size, its completeness and the CADW guide who was a medieval history specialist and gave us instructive insights into what life in and outside the Castle would have been like in the 14th century.

Maldwyn Pugh and Jonathan Pegler at the top of Twt Hill above Caernarfon

Maldwyn Pugh and Jonathan Pegler at the top of Twt Hill above Caernarfon

Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle



We looked down from the towers of Harlech Castle at modern settlements built on what would have been the sea when the castle was reliant on ships for its provisions.



Beaumaris Castle



We also saw Beaumaris Castle, perfect in its symmetry and elegant design but incomplete, as we were told several times, because also in those times, governments ran out of money and could not afford big infrastructure projects.



Criccieth Castle

Criccieth Castle

Then there was Criccieth – a Welsh castle, not an English one, although Edward expanded it, and from where we could look across Tremadog Bay and just make out Harlech in the late afternoon misty sunshine.


Gwyn Owen at Criccieth Castle

Gwyn Owen at Criccieth Castle


Hankerchief Tree

Hankerchief Tree

For our gardens, we had Plas Newydd, given to the National Trust in 1976 by the 7th Marquis of Anglesey, although he continued to live there until his death in 2013, with its gardens sloping down to the Menai Strait. The first Marquis was one of Wellington’s senior officers and he lost a leg to French shrapnel in the closing hours of the Battle of Waterloo.


Plas Cadnant - hidden gardens

Plas Cadnant – hidden gardens

Cadnant Also on Anglesey was the hidden garden of Plas Cadnant, a gem of a small early nineteenth century garden brought back to all its former charm, tumbling down wooded slopes to a stream in a rocky ravine.


Ann and Peter Lawrence enjoying a rest on "Ann's Seat" at Plas Cadnant

Ann and Peter Lawrence enjoying a rest on “Ann’s Seat” at Plas Cadnant

Portmeirion 2


When we visited Portmeirion, we enjoyed the eclectic mix of buildings and the gardens with picturesque views across Portmadog’s estuary.


DinorwigThe tourist office calls our mountain the “Electric Mountain” and we didn’t go up it but inside it to visit the Dinorwig pumped water storage power station. When the Dinorwig slate quarries closed in 1969, a project was conceived to use the site and the workforce to create a hydro-electric scheme in which water descending 500 metres through tunnels inside the mountain generates electricity during the hours of peak demand. The unique feature of Dinorwig is that all the equipment is capable of going into reverse and pumping the water back up again in the middle of the night using the surplus electricity of nuclear and coal fired power stations which have to run constantly 24 hours a day. Although it consumes four units of electricity for every three which it produces, it generates electricity when, for example, millions of people all switch on a kettle simultaneously at the end of a TV programme. When in standby mode it can react in 12 seconds to produce the electrical output of three nuclear power stations and switch off again just as quickly. We had an excellent tour guide here who helped us understand its important role in aligning electrical supply to demand over the whole of the National Grid.


Camouflaged Gull chicks

Camouflaged Gull chicks

We enjoyed the beauty of the Menai Strait at sea level with a boat trip from Beaumaris Pier out to Puffin Island just off the eastern tip of Anglesey, where we saw plenty of cormorants and guillemots and a few puffins and seals.




We came back to view the fine nineteenth century iron work of Bangor Pier and looked up at Thomas Telford’s beautiful 1826 suspension bridge which conveyed the A5 to Holyhead and cut several hours off the journey from London to Dublin as the traffic increased substantially after the Act of Union with Ireland in 1800.

We had already crossed and recrossed to Anglesey several times on the modern Britannia Bridge. Originally built by Robert Stephenson to take just the railway to Holyhead in 1850, its wrought iron box section was destroyed by a fire in 1970 which took hold of the tarred wood inside. It reopened after reconstruction as a road bridge on a deck above the railway lines.


Menai Suspension Bridge, with snow

However on the last evening of our fascinating stay in North Wales, our wonderful coach driver Dave brought us back over the Thomas Telford 1826 bridge. We had time to get great views from above of the strong tide flowing out through the Menai Strait, because there was only 5 cms clearance between the wing mirrors of the coach and the stone arches over the road deck, so we went through rather slowly!

Peter Chapman

Cliveden Walk – 19th May 2016

Cliveden 1Cliveden is conveniently local and was an excellent choice for a Society excursion on May 19th.

Cliveden 3The grand house, standing high over the Thames, is surrounded by gardens and extensive woodland. It is owned by the National Trust with the main part of the house leased to a luxury hotel group. An ideal place for our members to meet up and enjoy a convivial lunch, then take  walks in the fresh air before returning for afternoon tea and a tour of the house.

Many members will have visited Cliveden before, but not so many will have enjoyed a guided tour of the house, led by a knowledgeable National Trust volunteer. Our party of twenty members discovered that there seemed to be two ways to become owners of such a magnificent residence. One was by family members consorting extremely closely with their King, whose favour resulted in titles and wealth. The other was for your family to develop housing in Manhattan and eventually become fabulously wealthy slum landlords.  Even after the property passed to the National Trust its association with scandal continued as it featured in the “Profumo Affair” in the early Sixties.

interiorWe were impressed by the opulent interior of the property. The extremely ornate “French Dining Room” had been re-assembled after being transported from a French hunting lodge, and no expense had been spared on wood panelling, ceilings and pictures.  As we wandered through the hotel and stood in the Great Hall we got a  hint of the what it must be like to stay at this luxury hotel as a steady stream of staff passed by us on their service errands. On the banks of the river we saw their beautiful boats of wood and gleaming

Suzy_Ann_Clivedenbrass, ready to be hired for trips along the Thames.

For those who were members of the National Trust, all but three of our group, the event was completely free. Though the Trust café did very well out of us during the course of the day!


Gwyndaf John