Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Nature

Our World: Plastic pollution

Photo by Catherine Sheila on Pexels.com

I walked to a local nature reserve recently and decided to have lunch at its cafe. Until very recently it had just been serving takeaways (because of Covid and the restrictions) but now we could sit inside to eat. I ordered a large cup of tea and was directed to a basket containing tiny plastic cartons of milk.

Plastic cartons

I’ve seen these containers before, usually for takeaway drinks which makes sense. They’re handy and easily portable after all. But surely when sitting indoors an individual reusable, rewashable milk jug would be more eco-friendly, especially at a nature reserve?

Over the years there has been an increase in plastic use. Sometimes there is no alternative (PPE for health workers) but, too often, it is used as a lazy option that is not really needed. Too often I see fruit and vegetables – even bananas! – in supermarkets in plastic bags. Why not have them loose and consumers could pick them up and put them in paper bags? I see tea bags in cardboard boxes which are, in turn, wrapped in plastic.

I don’t doubt that plastic has its place, it’s an incredibly useful material, but I think it’s overused. Maybe the decision-makers think it makes the products fresher or more hygienic, but at what cost to nature? What cost to ourselves?

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Plastic pollution is a massive environmental problem. A lot of plastic ends up in our oceans. Sea creatures such as dolphins, turtles and birds can become injured or entangled by plastic. Or they might mistake it for food – obviously this can have tragic circumstances. Unfortunately these chunks of litter don’t just break down and disappear. When plastic does start breaking down, they end up as microplastics and, as Greenpeace says, “impossible to filter from waste water, they end up in our oceans.” These microscopic pieces of plastic end up in our food chain so we too can become unwitting victims of this pollution.

These miniscule particles are swallowed by tiny creatures such as zooplankton which end up getting eaten by larger animals such as whales. And guess who eats the fish in the oceans – which may also have digested microplastics at some point? That’s right, we humans. It can’t be good for wildlife. It can’t be good for us.

Photo by Catherine Sheila on Pexels.com

As I’ve said I have nothing against plastic itself as a material but I am against its overuse. If less plastic and more sustainable materials were used, I believe the world would be a healthier place. And a healthier world for animals always translates into a healthier world for humans too.

Happily, change can be done. A few years ago, every time I went to a supermarket or any other type of shop, I was automatically given plastic carrier bags, even when I brought my own. Then the Government banned free plastic carrier bags (a rare environmentally friendly decision by political leaders) and it now costs 5p to buy a bag (since raised to 10p). The use of carrier bags has been cut by 95 per cent. I see far fewer plastic bags littering the streets these days. I can only assume the oceans are seeing less of these bags too.

Another victory in the war against plastic pollution is that two charities of which I am a member of (Woodland Trust and RSPB), which once used plastic as magazine wrappers, have swapped to paper and a compostable potato starch product. The latter is a handy bag for my teabags for when they go into the compost heap.

So what can we do individually? On a personal level, I have decided to think twice before buying anything that seems to be needlessly wrapped in plastic. Of course, I can’t escape it but I can ask myself do I really need this? (The fact that this approach will also save me money is a win win for me!) On occasions when I think the company involved really doesn’t need to use plastic, I will send them a polite email. Maybe now is the time to start tweeting them? In fact, I have emailed the charity running the nature reserve and will wait to see what their answer is.

I have included a couple of video links about the issue below.

Vast quantities (of plastic) pollute our world. Much of it flows into the oceans, turning them into a plastic soup. A truckload of plastic enters the ocean every single minute.

Greenpeace
Posted in Pets

A Tale of Two Jack Russells

Written by Molly Jack Russell

Our human sister Clare has asked us, Teddy and Molly, to write a guest article for her blog. We yapped “Yes!” to the challenge. Neither of us know what a blog is, or an article, but we are expecting a treat in return. Maybe a marrowbone?

Anyway, we are two Jack Russells, the best dog in the world of course. We live with Clare’s parents who claim to be our pack leaders. At least that’s what they say. My big brother Ted says he’s pack leader although he’s still working on a plan to oust Human Mum (aka Top Dog) out of this current position. When she gets up off her armchair, Ted will jump on it quick to claim it as his. But he will always end up having to share it with her.

“Co-leading,” he explains to me, as he snuggles next to Human Mum.

“Crawler,” I mutter, before trying to jump up and sit next to the two of them.

I asked Ted what we should write about for this article and he laughed and said we should write about the most interesting subject in the world.

“What’s that Ted?” I asked, thinking tasty treats was the answer.

“Marrowbones?”

He replied, “No, silly! Me, of course!”

Teddy

So I’ve compromised and will write about the two of us.

As I’ve said, we are Jack Russells, pedigree of course (no papers but our parents were full bred). We are often told that, when we were puppies, we lived with a cat. I do not recall this but I do know that cats are very wicked creatures and we should shout at them if we see them. I look for them under hedges and atop fences.

“Clear off,” I shout, if I see any.

Ted swears, “**** **** off!”

My big brother can swear like a trooper.

We are told off for shouting at these villains but I think humans are naive about cats. By the time they realise the truth it will be too late and cats will have achieved their goal – world domination.

We arrived at our human family when we were about eight weeks. Ted was the biggest in our litter and I the smallest. When we argue, Ted sometimes calls me a runt. He can be a bully at times but I always stand up to him. My mother told me not to take any nonsense from anyone. Just because I’m small they may take advantage of me. I’ve always remembered this and will fight back if need be. Clare calls this ‘little dog syndrome’ but my mother is right, we little dogs need to stand up for ourselves.

I don’t recall my early days too well. Ted says I slept a lot those first few days of arriving at our new home. He was wide awake, he says. He told me he was hoping he would be able to snatch my dinner from me, like the way he used to try and push in front of me and our siblings when we were suckling mother. But our human parents never allowed him. And I didn’t too!

We used to sleep in a dog bed in the kitchen but worked our way up to the human settee. We had so much fun as pups! We used to hide and run under the settee and armchair until the day Ted got too fat (“tall”, corrects Ted) and couldn’t get through. Nibbling the furniture was great fun but we were told off for that, and we used to try and nibble feet too. Another no, no – but what larks we had!

We like visiting Clare’s house, not least because she gives us a marrowbone. She has two strange rat-like creatures with no tails. Fatter than rats though. They have a lot of delicious chocolate drops which fall onto the floor. I enjoy clearing these up. I get told off for this though.

“Disgusting” say the humans. But they eat chocolate, why can’t I?

Because of our thin hair, we wear dog coats on winter evenings when it gets cold. They are rather fashionable. Clare calls them ‘pyjamas’ which they are, in a way. We wear them to sleep in after all. Speaking of sleep, it’s time for bed.

“What do you think of the article?” I ask Ted. He says more should have been written about him and next time he’ll write the story.

“Goodnight Ted,” I bark to Ted before sleep. “‘Night Molly,” he replies, before giving me a goodnight kiss on my head. It’s true, we get on each other’s nerves but despite that, we are family and love each other too.

Posted in Blogging

200 blog posts!

Today marked a new milestone for Cosy Cottage – I’ve written 200 posts!

Out of curiosity, I had a look to see what the three most popular posts were:

Morecambe Bay: Beware of Quicksand – This was a clear winner, leaving the runners-up A Wander in Yarrow Valley Country Park and Masons Wood well behind. Interestingly, most of the statistics come in from search engines which is unusual for my blog.

Morecambe Bay

Maybe the word Quicksand is liked by Google or maybe people like to read about others who are trapped in difficult conditions, potentially perilous ones? I’m currently reading 127 Hours about a man trapped in the Utah Canyonlands. Isolated, miles from anywhere, his arm trapped, not enough water or food… Plot spoiler – he gets out but at some cost…

Thank you for reading, liking and commenting! 🙂

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/tag/yarrow-valley-country-park/

Posted in Pets

The illness of Tim the guinea pig

Tim

It has been rather cold at Cosy Cottage recently, it being November after all. So it’s natural to see the guinea pigs hunkered down in their respective houses – a wooden house, an igloo and under the attic. I believe that wild guinea pigs in the Peruvian Andes seek the security and warmth of caves and nooks and crannies. So, too, do our domestic ones.

Tom was particularly quiet one day, but in the evening he was back again looking for his treats. So, two days later, when his companion Tim was being quiet, snuggling in his cosy igloo, I thought nothing of it.

I offered red pepper and was rebuffed by Tim, although Tom took full advantage of the offer. I thought, strange, I thought Tim liked pepper, maybe not the red one. I put the heating up and assumed that, after some warmth, Tim would, like Tom, be himself the next day.

Except he wasn’t. He was, once again, nestled in the igloo. But it was more serious than a one-day hibernation. He had gone off his food entirely and was lethargic. I had been worried about Tom this year with his eye (Tom was now back to normal but needed regular eye drops to keep his eye from getting dry). But now it looked like it was Tim’s turn to feel under the weather.

He turned his nose up at any food I gave him, so I used a syringe to give him water to keep him hydrated, and some of Tom’s painkiller (prescribed for his eye). I thought I would see how it would go, perhaps a visit to the vet may be needed.

Simon came to visit and he observed that Tim nibbled a little of the red lettuce in the packet I gave the pigs. This was called radicchio and we looked for it the next time we went to the supermarket. Tim ate a little then stopped. But at least it was something. Tom was eager to help Tim – by eating his lettuce as well as his own. “Waste not, want not”, he mumbled while eating Tom’s uneaten slice of carrot.

Tim was given water and painkiller via syringe for the next couple of days and we started to see what looked like the beginnings of a slow recovery. He moved a little more, ate a little more. He even went over to the water bottle himself to drink. Each time we took him out, he darted back to his cage and would rattle the bars with his teeth. Each day, he seemed to be getting more and more strength to do this.

He was weighed every day. A short time ago, he had weighed 1279. Now he dipped to 1080. Thankfully he started to put weight on – from 1080 to 1140 and rising.

Tim being weighed

One day we went for a long walk and were greeted by a loud whistle when we got back. It wasn’t Tom. It was actually Tim, ready and waiting for lettuce. And when, the next day, I saw and heard Tim nibble at the plastic at the cage in his usual cheeky way of getting attention for tasty treats, I knew he was definitely on the mend.

Posted in Reblog, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Reblog: A Preston Ramble in January 2018

DSC_0350

Harris Museum, Preston

This post was written after a walk to Preston city centre, back in 2018. I mentioned The Harris Museum, which is actually closed for refurbishment at the moment. But at the time I heartily recommended a visit. I had walked past Highgate Wood on various occasions but had never visited – until this year. I wrote a separate post about it. Reading this post reminds me that it’s time to pay another visit to Bruciannis…

A city walk: Six miles

December was a lazy month so it was back to square one in January (actually make that square minus ten as I must have put on weight and become even more unfit and unhealthy during the Christmas season). To start the year off, a friend and I embarked upon a Suburb to City stroll, setting off three miles (approximately) from Preston city centre.

To those who don’t know Preston, it is a former industrial town in the North West of England. It’s not far from Blackpool, Manchester and Liverpool, and the beautiful Lake District is just over an hour’s drive away.

Originally called Priest Town (Priest’s Tun) in Anglo Saxon times, Preston has had a long and fascinating history. I haven’t time to mention it all here except the two key episodes on Preston’s timeline are the English Civil War and the Industrial Revolution/cotton industry. Check out the Harris Museum for a proper glimpse into Preston’s past!

We walked along a busy road on the way into the city centre. The worst thing about this urban ramble is the traffic. On several occasions, one of us would say something and the other person would say, what? And that’s because Garstang Road is one of the main routes and the sound of cars is tremendous. And yet, even on this hectic thoroughfare, there are a few gems…

Amid the large detached houses which line this stretch of tarmac, is a patch of woodland called Highgate Wood. And further along Garstang Road, there is a massive allotment. It takes you into another world, where you feel you have entered into a secret rural haven and although I haven’t ventured into Highgate Wood, I imagine it must be a similar feeling.

Moor Park is a large park. The Preston Moor Common formed part of Henry III’s Royal Forest of Fulwood, which received a royal charter in 1235. Horse races were held between 1736 and 1833, and that was the year Moor Park was officially recognised as a municipal park. According to Preston Guild City’s website, a hundred acres of the common was enclosed and renamed Moor Park. In the 1860s, unemployed cotton workers landscaped the park. And it’s where Preston marathon walker Tom Benson – who held at least six world endurance titles – walked laps (about 314 miles) of Moor Park over five days and nights in 1976. Without stopping.

Talking of famous people, did you know Star Wars’ R2D2 was a Lancastrian? Or rather, Kenny Baker who played him was a resident of Preston?

In the city centre, we had an enjoyable lunch at Wings and Beers, a trendy looking American-style sports bar, down Cannon Street, also home of the quirky Mystery Tea House  (incredibly difficult to find but trust me, it really does exist on that street!)

I don’t love my home city. Money is wasted on silly traffic schemes and ugly carbuncles are lumped onto beautiful Victorian buildings (check out the train station’s new extension). Progress is the buzzword of the powers-that-be but sometimes at the expense of beauty. But it is also a city of hidden gems and fascinating history. If you go, I recommend the Harris Museum (stunning architecture) and Avenham Park, Halewood & Sons Book Shop, Mystery Tea Rooms and the art deco Bruccianis, Winckley Street and Winckley Square. Look for the beauty and quirkiness and, in any town or city, it is there…

Even the Grade II Brutalist 1969 bus station – believed to have once been the second largest bus station in Europe –  has its devoted fans in this city!

On our way home, we walked along Deepdale – home of the famous Preston North End stadium. Sir Tom Finney used to play here and his statue can be seen. When he died, thousands of residents lined the streets to pay their respects as his cortege passed the streets of Preston – and the stadium – before the service at Preston Minster.

Facts of the Day

1. Preston North End (also known as PNE, Lilywhites and The Invincibles) was founded in 1880. A founding member of the Football League.

2. They were unbeaten in the inaugural season and were crowned first league champions. They also won the FA Cup that season.

3. Dick, Kerr’s Ladies FC, founded in Preston, was one of the earliest women’s football teams in England, playing from 1917 to 1965.

For the latest news and features in Preston and surrounding area, read the Lancashire Post (a daily read) and for those of you who live further afield – http://www.lep.co.uk

Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Nature, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Our World: Hope in the form of new nature reserves

It’s easy to feel despondent at times of the massive environmental issues which are facing us. For example, wildlife habitat is being lost all over the world, the most notable being the vital rainforests in Brazil (and this destruction is affecting indigenous people as well as wildlife). In Britain too, habitat (aka ‘green belt’ and ‘countryside’) is being taken away from wild creatures every day. But it isn’t just wildlife which suffers – a concrete landscape is detrimental to humans’ mental and physical wellbeing and can increase the risks of flooding and climate change. But there are glimmers of hope in the form of new nature reserves. Land which will cater for wildlife, be protected from developers, and be beneficial for our mental and physical health. Not only that, nature reserves can help tackle the big issue of climate change.

The UN says: “Most nature-based solutions for climate change come from strengthening or restoring existing natural ecosystems. For example, forests don’t just absorb carbon, they also defend us from its most devastating impacts. Carefully planted tree species can act as firebreaks, keeping trees next to farmland can protect crops from the erosive forces of intense rain, and forests can alleviate inland floods due to the sponge-like way they absorb water.” (https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/09/1046752)

The Wildlife Trust describes nature reserves as “places where wildlife – plants and animals – are protected and undisturbed, and this can sometimes mean continuing with or restoring the old-time land management practices which originally helped to make them wildlife-rich.”

So it makes sense to create more nature reserves and I’m pleased to say that new ones have been set up in Lancashire over the last 10 years.

Brockholes, near Preston, off the M6 (Opened in 2011)

Brockholes
Brockholes

Brockholes is owned by The Lancashire Wildlife Trust and boasts 250 acres of nature – and the UK’s first floating visitor centre (it’s actually on a flood plain so the building is perfect for the setting)! It’s very family-friendly with a cafe, takeaway, information centre and shop. There are regular events and weddings are even held here. The last time I visited there was a Meet and Greet Reptiles and Amphibians event which my godchildren enjoyed.

Despite being accessible (just off the M6 and it is also on the Preston Guild Wheel route), there is an abundance of wildlife. It might be hard to believe now, but before it was a nature reserve, it was once a quarry site and the materials were used to build the M6. Various habitats including lakes, reedbeds, pools, woodland, wet grassland and the River Ribble all offer animals and plants a home. Notable sightings I have seen include roe deer and tiny froglets. Longhorn cattle are ’employed’ to maintain the site. The land was bought in 2007 and was opened to the public in 2011 – it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Happy anniversary Brockholes!

A butterfly at Brockholes

Grimsargh Wetlands (2017)

Grimsargh Wetlands

Grimsargh Wetlands is made up of three former United Utilities Reservoirs and, between the 1840s and 1959, provided water to the surrounding area. The location was classified as a Biological Heritage Site in 2003 and was taken over by the Grimsargh Wetlands Trust in 2017. It may be small but it’s vital for wildlife and a very enjoyable stroll.

I wrote a story about it here: https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2021/07/04/a-nature-stroll-through-grimsargh-wetlands-one-of-lancashires-newest-nature-reserves/

The Village Parklands (in progress)

At a new housing development near me, I was happy to see that over 80 acres of land had been allocated for The Village Parklands. A sign I saw said there will be new ecology areas containing 27 new ponds, a new designated footpath covering five miles and woodland and wildflower meadows. I look forward to seeing how this will progress.

Primrose Nature Reserve, Clitheroe (2021)

I explored this nature reserve a few months ago, while on a trip to Clitheroe. It may be much smaller than the likes of Brockholes but it is still important – it has been listed as a Biological Heritage Site. The location is home to a man-made reservoir, Primrose Lodge, and Mearley Brook, which flows through here. Strange to think it now, but it was once an industrial site and the lodge generated power for the nearby factories. Primrose Mill actually opened in 1787 for cotton spinning. These days it’s a tranquil spot, owned and maintained by Primrose Community Nature Trust. The Ribble Rivers Trust has done a lot of work restoring the site and it only officially opened in March this year. An interesting fact about this reserve is that one of the largest fish passes in England has been installed here, making fish breeding grounds accessible for salmon, eels, trout and other species.

The Fauna Nature Reserve, Lancaster (2011-2012)

This 16-acre site was created by The Fairfield Association, formed by residents of Fairfield, Lancaster. The association started off campaigning to save a children’s play area from housing development in the mid-1990s. From that successful beginning, over the years they have bought or leased increasing amounts of land to form The Fauna Nature Reserve.

There will be other community groups and charities, big and small, who are creating safe havens for nature all around the world. By doing so, they’re saving rare species, giving wildlife a home, protecting habitats, helping people’s mental and physical health and fighting against the worst effects of climate change. I hope that many, many more nature reserves will be set up in the coming years.

Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Nature

Our World: COP26

A glimmer of sunshine… a glimmer of hope

There has been a conference taking place in Scotland called COP26, which is focused on tackling the issue of climate change. My first reaction was to write a piece about the sheer hypocrisy of the politicians and other ‘bigwigs’ attending via private jets and gas-guzzling cars but I have ranted enough verbally in real life about this issue and my blog is meant to be a positive place!

So instead the occasional series of Our World will concentrate on hopeful events that are happening; good news stories; eco-tips that can work in our favour as well as the planet; and charities/people/organisations which are fighting for nature – whether that’s in terms of climate change, the biodiversity crisis, habitat loss, deforestation (which is linked to the previous three), pollution (plastic, air, land, sea…) or anything else that affects our planet adversely. Raising awareness is important but when it comes to taking action, for me, on a personal level, motivation and inspiration works better than gloom and judgement.

There are three phrases or ideas that I think of when I’m considering this massive issue.

But I tried, didn’t I? At least I did that.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Think globally, act locally.

Every little bit helps. (I also quite liked Many a Mickle Makes a Muckle but I’m not entirely sure what a mickle and a muckle are!)

Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Book: Wisdom of the Ages by Wayne W Dyer

Photo by Charl Durand on Pexels.com

I’m sure I can’t have been the only one who has been musing on the ‘big questions’ during the last 18 months, a strange and difficult time.

One I asked myself was: ‘What’s the secret of genuine happiness?’ Or perhaps not exactly happiness, but a sense of contentment, inner contentment.

Last year I realised that I wasn’t as in control of my life as I had assumed. A serious illness could take health away, life away, and loved ones away. Luckily it hadn’t (so far, touch wood) but the worry was there. It had occurred to me before but not to the same overwhelming extent as these last two years.

Governments now had the power to take freedoms away at little or no notice, including those things that were always taken for granted.

Nothing was permanent, it seemed, and it made me feel rather ill at ease. As if I wasn’t in control anymore, even of the little things.

It wasn’t just that though. My faith in politics, people in power, and many elements of the media was ebbing away. I found what was going on in the world increasingly draining. There seemed to be more and more hatred, intolerance, judgement, division and conflict.

One day, I was out for a stroll, musing on the question, ‘If life is so uncertain, what’s the best way to find inner contentment?’

What’s the secret? Is it power, money? Well, both those can disappear too. And it seems to me that sometimes the more power someone has, the more they want; the more money someone has, the more they want. It can become an addiction. And of course bad things can still happen to the very rich and the very powerful. Neither wealth or power is a guarantee for happiness or contentment.

Now, this is just my personal belief and maybe I could be wrong. But the conclusion I came to was this: maybe, just maybe, the answer to gaining contentment is wisdom. A different way of looking at the world. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a wise person “has or shows experience, knowledge, and good judgement”.

Photo by Charl Durand on Pexels.com

I’ve heard it said that once you start looking for signs, they will begin to appear. Maybe, maybe not.

But a few weeks later, I was curious to find a book, Wisdom of the Ages, at a car boot sale. It looked quite tatty and dirty but, along with two other books, cost a pound in total. Bargain. After a quick clean, it looked as good as new.

Wisdom of the Ages

I haven’t read it all yet. It’s an ongoing project and, indeed, its author Wayne W Dyer recommends reading a chapter a day as a ‘two-month renovation project of your soul’. He suggests reading one section each day and to try to apply the guidance that comes at the end of the chapter. So, 60 subjects, 60 wise teachers from all eras, cultures and corners of the globe, spanning areas from religion to literature to philosophy and so on.

I have read the New Testament and knew Jesus would have wise words to say (and he does) and that the nature-loving and spiritual Native Americans such as Chief Seattle would be able to teach us ‘Reverence for Nature’, but then there are those who appear in this book who are more unexpected such as Shelley and Michaelangelo.

Martin Luther King, Buddha, Rumi, Confucius and St Francis of Assisi can also be found.

Subjects include Inspiration, Judgement, Humility, Balance, Communication and Patience. I’m still in the process of reading and learning but it’s proving to be an inspiring read. If only those in power could learn to be wise!

Below are some excerpts from the book:

Each time you hear news reports [about hostility and hatred], remember that for every act of inhumanity to man, there are a thousand acts of kindness.

Wayne W Dyer

Peace: Decide to always choose that which brings you and others a sense of inner and outer peace.

Wayne W Dyer

In our way of life, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation to come. It’s our job to see that the people coming ahead have a world no worse than ours – and hopefully better.

Oren Lyons

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

A Poison Tree by William Blake

Posted in Chickens, Pets

Chickens at the back door…

Jemima looks in

I saw a little feathered face peering in at me through the window. It was Jemima, head chicken and spokeshen for the bantams.

“Hello, we would like to come in. It’s rather chilly out here today and I remember that the last time we came in, it was nice and toasty. So, yes, we have had our morning conference and have all agreed we would like to visit your ‘Big House’ and eat mealworms, thank you very much.”

Morning conference outside my back door
Mabel investigates

Posted in Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Walking the path of the ancients in Pembrokeshire

If you know where to look, Pembrokeshire is a time capsule, showing a path back in time to ancient civilisations by way of prehistoric burial chambers and stone circles, Iron Age forts and cairns.

Coetan Arthur was the first burial chamber we encountered, close to St David’s Head. Veering from the coastal path, a trail took us further inland.

It’s believed to date from 3,000BC, making it a Neolithic (new stone age) burial chamber. The collapsed capstone measures 13×8.5ft (4×2.6m) and is supported by a 5ft (1.5m) tall single side stone. We also came across what is believed to have been a coastal fort on the peninsula, overlooking the sea, as well as ancient field patterns nearby. These additional clues to human habitation are believed to date from a later time.

According to the National Trust (which owns much of Pembrokeshire Coast): “Two to three thousand years ago our Iron Age ancestors opted for promontory cliffs as a defensive position and built large ramparts to protect their homes from landward attack.”

It’s very strange to think how quiet spots such as this one was once home to our ancestors, who lived and (as evidenced by the chamber) died here. What must this area have been like thousands of years ago?

Pentre Ifan

Pentre Ifan is thought to date from 3,500 BC and is located in the region of the Presali Hills. It is classed as number one in the top 15 Burial Chambers in England and Wales, according to The Old Stones, edited by Andy Burnham.

He writes: “It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic and spectacular monument from Pentre Ifan, star of countless calendars and book covers”. At the time I hadn’t realised its fame but I certainly noticed just how impressive it is. It’s actually the largest in Wales.

The capstone (thought to weigh 16 tonnes!) tilts on three 8ft (2.5m) uprights which support it. A blocking stone obstructs the entrance. To get to Pentre Ifan, we walked past Carnedd Meibion Owen, the site of four large cairns and then through Ty Canol National Nature Reserve with its ancient woodland and notable lichens. Once out of the beautiful woodland, it was a ramble through country lanes and pathways, until we finally got to the burial chamber. And despite the feeling of being lost and ‘will we ever get there?’ it was well worth the trek.

The Presali Hills are famed for another reason – it is thought the Stonehenge bluestones originate from here (they were also used to build Pentre Ifan). The questions are: how and why were they moved from these hills to Stonehenge?

There are also the remains of a stone circle on the hills, with two of the stones still standing upright.

Devil’s Quoit

The curiously named Devil’s Quoit is a lone standing stone at Stackpole, further south on the Pembrokeshire Coast. We had spotted another Devil’s Quoit on the map but, when it came to finding it, couldn’t see any sign of it. At a National Trust car park at Stackpole Estate, there was helpfully a map so this time we hoped it would be easier seen. To find it, we embarked on a picturesque walk via the lovely Barafundle Bay and then through woodland.

I enjoyed reading the myth mentioned on the Britain Express website: “The Devil’s Quoit is one of the Dancing Stones of Stackpole, three ancient standing stones said to meet at Saxon’s Ford on a certain day each year, where they dance until dawn to a tune played by the Devil on his flute, before resuming their stations.”

A nice tale for Halloween!

According to Britain Express (https://www.britainexpress.com/wales/pembrokeshire/devils-quoit-stackpole.htm) the stone was “probably erected about 3,000 years ago during the Bronze Age and “marked a communal gathering place or ceremonial centre. The stone is thought to have formed part of an arrangement of smaller stones.”

Imagine if there was a time machine to transport us to the ancient world and back again, what wonders would we see?