If you are planning a cottage
holiday in Wales for the month of July, why not try and spot the
Top Row - From Left to Right
1. Sheep Shearing at Plas Farm
On a sunny day in July, the sheep are brought into the farmyard
for clipping and shearing. Welsh hill sheep have a coarse, rough
wool that is mainly used in the carpet industry, because of its
strength and thickness. The shearer holds the sheep gently between
his or her knees and clips with the shears, as close as he can
to the sheep's body, taking off the wool in a complete fleece.
A skilled person working with a machine can shear one sheep in
less than two minutes - 250 sheep in one day. Fleeces must be
kept clean and dry after shearing. Each one is rolled and then
packed into a big sack called a 'wool sheet' ready for delivery
to the British Wool Marketing Board for grading. Wales produces
around 10 million kgs of wool every year.
2. Painted Lady
The spectacular painted lady butterfly migrates to Wales
from north Africa every year. It may be seen basking in sunshine
and feeding on the nectar of thistles in the fields around the
holiday cottages throughout the summer months.
3. Cumulus Clouds
If the average person were to close their eyes and think
of a cloud, chances are they would picture this little fellow,
sometimes known as a cauliflower cloud. On sunny July days, the
sky above your holiday cottage may
well look like this picture - gentle tufts of cotton wool, born
on the invisible thermals of air that rise from the Welsh countryside.
Row - From Left to Right
4. Rosebay Willowherb Epilobium angustifolium
You should notice this wild flower at some point during
your holiday in South Wales. Once used as a garden plant, rosebay
willowherb is now a common feature of the Welsh countryside. The
leaves have been used by indigenous North American tribes as a fresh
or cooked vegetable, a tobacco substitute and as a poultice to draw
out infections. Recent studies have shown it to be anti-inflammatory
with uses for nappy rash, sunburn and as a mouthwash. Even the pollen
is claimed to produce good quality honey. It tends to grow at Plas
Farm wherever we have had a bonfire which may explain why it is
sometimes referred to as Fireweed.
5. A stand of Scots Pine
and Welsh Oak Pinus sylvestris and Quercus petraea
This picture was taken in the Lodge field, alongside the
lane to Cilybebyll. Rumour has it, that it is a section of Roman
Road. I am not sure about this. Perhaps it is an ancient cattle
drovers route. Whatever it is, it is now a picturesque corridor
at the field margin, where sheep graze among Welsh Oak and Scots
6. Whinberries Vaccinium
One of the delights of a July holiday in Wales at our holiday
cottages is the abundance of whinberries that grow on the mountain.
Prized over the centuries for their medicinal properties, whinberries
are today considered to be a precious wild delicacy. Also known
as European blueberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, or blueberry,
whinberries grow on a shrubby perennial plant, one to two feet in
height. It differs from the American blueberry in that the meat
of the fruit is purple, rather than cream or white. My grandmother
once told me that they "taste of the mountain" and they
are delicious eaten fresh with cream or in a pie. It is also possible
to make country wine from them. If you are interested in picking
some during your holiday, we can point you to the best places.
Row - From Left to Right
7. Comma Oryctolagus coniculus
Once on the verge of extinction in Britain, the Comma butterfly
(so called because of a comma shaped mark on its underwing) now
thrives in South Wales. Our July guests can count themselves unlucky
if they fail to spot one of these remarkable butterflies at Plas
Farm during their cottage holiday in Wales.
8. The Lower Swansea Valley
This picture was taken from the top field of Plas Farm and shows
a view of the lower Swansea Valley which includes the towns of Morriston
(home of the DVLA), Clydach and Trebanws.
9. Golden Ringed Dragonfly
During July, you should be lucky enough to spot one of
Britain's largest dragonflies. The Golden Ringed Dragonfly restlessly
patrols the skies above thistle patches in some of the fields, attacking
any unfortunate insects that fall within its sights. The longest
bodied of all British dragonflies, it's black and yellow bands are
the universal warning colours which serve to deter birds. Up close,
its prominent eyes and fearsome mouthparts are a sight to behold.
This insect is found principally on the western side of Britain
and it is absent from much of England.