Why I love Aberystwyth

There are plenty of people who talk Aberystwyth up, but for me, I want to highlight the attractions that aren’t immediately obvious. Perhaps you are considering stopping by or you are coming for a University Open Day. I highly recommend you park outside of town and take the slow path. It isn’t worth rushing your experience.

But to begin, with I have to address the elephant in the room. The sunsets. Wow, they are magnificent and delight us; we all talk about last night’s display and the starling murmuration in winter! No more to say really – last week I saw the Green Flash. Yeah! There’s plenty to keep you busy when you are here, but I am going to mention places that aren’t usually mentioned. A shout out for the wee ones- our independents that make Aber special.

Penglais is always lovely any time of the year. It’s free. In this article I use What Three Words as locations. ///headings.pigment.intervals The woods are especially nice during bluebell time, they smell divine, but they are also a place to hear woodpeckers and even come across war enactment games as part of an Medieval Undergraduate Society. You never know what you might stumble across. I often stumble a bit of Land Art.

Cegin Jonah’s kichen is a real treat for fish lovers…///kinks.carbonate.dart – add the Bottle and Barrell (a craft beer shop) to that for a perfect combo. ///enclosing.scrambles.operating

Our wonderful independents…are too many to mention, that is the overlooked beauty of Aber, but here’s a shout out to my favourites. Go to Driftwood Designs for some local souvenirs ///outwards.stud.sprayed. You can pick up a flier and map from there that highlights all our independent shops; Red Vintage, Ultracomida, Pollys, Medina, the Cook shop, Coastal Antiques, Rummers Bar, the Glengower, Commodore Cinema, No 21 Flowers, Closet, The Bank Vault, Aberdyfi Ice-cream, Little Bookshop by the Sea, Saphan Thai, Kitty Fisher and Pwdin. Really, there are too many to mention.

Look out for Y Beic Chai / The Chai Bike, she’s in bright pink on an e cargo bike delivering her home-made freshly roasted masala chai.

The Arts Centre has great things going on nearly every night and the International Potters Festival in 30 June 2nd July 2023 is amazing, plus they have a dedicated ceramics gallery in the basement with changing exhibitions. ///slumped.handlebar.remain

I haven’t even mentioned the Poetry Festival, The Big Tribute Festival and the Cycle Fest.

Llanbadarn church has some lovely gems inside such as early Celtic Cross. ///collides.talking.wider

Aber Adventures is based in Borth, their adventures usually start at ///linen.highly.nerves and will cater for your kayaking and SUP adventures. In town there is Aberoutdoors too.

Pendinas Hill for a breezy and nippy walk with spectacular views. There is currently a dig ongoing up there. Look for the cannon like pedestal on the hill to the south of the town. You can access it off Penparcau Rd. ///opened.touched.slate

Not forgetting the Funicular Railway, but everyone always mentions that. ///cello.measure.watch The Rheidol steam railway can take you all the way to Devil’s Bridge for a high tea at The Hafod. Its not listed on What Three Words, but it is close to ///blinking.sides.optimists

If you want to learn more about Aber, here is a cheeky plug for my heritage arty and social history walks delivered in the high season. Check me out on http://www.aberdabbadoo.com


New bathroom; a time to be creative

It isn’t everyday you can make a splashback just for you. And it isn’t everyday I have tiles arrive on my doorstep deposited by tile fairies. It makes me happy!

So to set the scene, we have sat in our front room for over a year in lockdown with a spanking new bath behind the sofa! Yes, really! You see, we had to await for the planets to align; getting a plasterer, plumber, electrician and builder together in one spot and agree to our whacky concept…to make a bath bedroom using as much recycled pieces as possible. Simon chose an industrial look. The original concept, a bath under the stars, and wow was it worth the wait.

Time for me to include more upcycling… a recycled old butler’s sink and old tiles behind the revamped sink taps. What was my inspiration? The swirling eddies the sea makes as it washes and retreats back to the abyss. Big Bertha was used to help make this and make a range of different tile sizes plus a scallop shell for good measure. I have used mirror, old kitchen tiles, cinca, smalti, vitreous tiles and florist beads; as I move around and see it from different angles, it winks at me. I love the dab of iridescent gleaming from the florist beads, juxtaposed next to matt and shiny tiles. – a very satisfying job, who wants something similar? Not available on the High street!


My ‘side-hustle’ has been recognised!

An acknowledgment for eco status -Yeah

Right from its inception, I wanted to be a business with a zero carbon footprint. I haven’t achieved that completely, but my walks have. I call my burgeoning business a side-hustle, as it starts to build. May I say a big thanks to Foxhill Preserves for supplying me with locally produced elderflower and ginger cordials to give to my guests. This is always received well and because I wheel my trolley around like an old lady; and walk to the venue, I am completely zero baby! I am closer than I think to zero carbon footprint though. My mosaics commissions, when working for schools start with gathering from the community to see what we all have before considering purchasing anything. I use no mechanical machines or electricity as I prefer to work in daylight; you see the colours better. I do have a new weapon though, thanks to the award, a new industrial hand tile cutter with a laser beam for accuracy. I feel like I am in Star Trek. She been knick-named already; Big Bertha.

In early October I was recognised with a Green Goal Award from Focus Futures (Dyfnodol Ffocws); one of 14 businesses in Wales to receive a monetary award and free business advice for a whole year. It was a bit of an odd event drinking a chilled glass of chardy on my own in front of a computer screen, but us all travelling would have been a bit of an irony considering it was all about being sustainable and sensitive to the environment.

Walks have quietened now the season has ended and the weather has been unkind to us. If you haven’t come on a walk, I will start them up again next season.

Post Script: What appealed while I was sitting there was was the blue and orange! AND… a very rare happening; I was wearing lippy! Nice image even though the computer is propped up with cook books. This girl knows how to have fun!


He called me his girl

A true love story set during World War 2 of the early part of my Mum’s life in Ceredigion. This is being serialised by Ego magazine, for those who want to hear more, I have made a 45 minute audio recording in five parts of the story from letters by airman Fred Lloyd. This is supported by Anchor. https://anchor.fm/alison-pierse9

Have some tissues handy.

Sunbathing on the roof of the Grand Hotel Borth. 1941 Rosemary is in the middle.

When nine strangers create a rainbow

What are the chances of that? Nine complete strangers meet up for a fact-finding tour as part of the Celtic Routes initiative are wearing every colour of the rainbow of wet weather jackets. Well, you can’t miss an opportunity like that, can you? (Abbey Road) and weirdly, despite the weather; we created our own rainbows.

21st-23rd March 2023 saw seven small businesses meet up from the Welsh counties (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire) to share and fact-find the common issues and shared heritage with three Irish counties of Wexford, Waterford and Wicklow. This initiative is part of Celtic Routes Learning Journeys through an EU initiative…and what an inspirational journey it was…and on many levels.

We all board the ferry to Rosslare for three wild days. The itinerary was arranged to match businesses with the same theme as ours. Our businesses ranged from walking tours, healing centres, and outdoor pursuits. All of us promoting what Wales has to offer. We visited each business and had an opportunity to share knowledge, experiences and  frustrations. It was such a beneficial and different experience for all. We met the Irish businesses’ but also were able to network amongst ourselves between journeys in the minibus.

Meet Cathy, the driver; this lady was so much more than a driver! She beguiled us with her huge welcoming spirit whilst she drove her steed (minibus) like a wild thoroughbred, swinging around the country roads between the counties to the different host businesses, peppering the journey with facts, figures and historical information- never missing the opportunity to pass the porcelain- the essential tŷ bach stops!

The first day we steamed up to K2alpacas where we had an encounter with the fluffiest cutest animals, which were looked after by Alpaca Joe, whose love for these creatures shone through; did you know you can rent an alpaca for your wedding ceremony? No neither did I. What a great start, we dodged the rain and blue skies shone. Was it our rainbow that did it?

Evenings and lunches were punctuated with networking, conversations complemented by the most delicious local food chosen carefully by Oonagh Messette, who had researched some lovely places to eat and researched all the connections. Thank you. Despite the terrible weather forecast, gales and driving rain, we dodged showers and created our own rainbow- a metaphor for making the most of it; even with a dreadful choppy ferry crossing!

New Ross street focus with engaging Myles and a hake supper at the Clayton Whites Hotel

We visited paddle boarding and well-being centres, did a little mindfulness on the beach, had guided tours around the towns or sites, learnt about the myths and connections between our two countries and grasped every opportunity to forge connections with our fellow soulmates. Lorraine from Gallivanting.ie inspired us through her pre-dinner chat and abundant energy  and an after-dinner inspection of her business wrapped car!

Are we starting a ‘Slow Tourism’ initiative? I think we are.  It  comes from the Slow Food movement; appreciating the rawness of the environment and the healing and well-being opportunities of being in a rich and ancient landscape- slowing down- connecting with the land. Scientists are researching the impact that the Bluemind movement has on humans through engaging with the sea and the impact of the environment has on one’s soul.  With thanks to Lee from Dunmore East SUP and Yoga.

Moving forward, the passion we all share for promoting beautiful Wales, it’s amazing and extraordinary culture, myths and outdoor pursuit opportunities, are all central to our desire to help the tourist experience our wonderful Wales, from a different perspective. Our motto became ‘Stronger Together’. Thanks Lorraine.

(Caerdydd), (Snowdonia)  Eryri and Anglesey (Ynys Mȏn) attract the fast tourists; we will aim to slow down the pace of the tourist’s path through Wales, by recommending each others businesses; encouraging visitors to stay a while longer and enrich their experience. Collaborations have been formed between walking tours and outdoor adventures businesses- a win-win combination…watch this space. Next meeting is a trip to Holidaynests for some alpaca healing. Can’t wait!

Those on tour were:- Ewan from VIP Wales tours, James from Llandysul Paddlers, Jackie and Lindsay from Holiday Nests and cute alpacas, Arfon from Teithiau Cerdded Dyfi Walking Tours, Simon from Aber Adventures LTD, Me from Aberdabbadoo and not forgetting Rhys from Llansteffan Heritage Walks. Lovely meeting you all. Xxx Who is going to write the Slow Guide to Wales then?

@Teithiau Cerdded Dyfi Walking Tours


@VIP Wales

@LLansteffan Heritage Walks Video by Rhys xx

@LLandysul Paddlers Centre


What is the collective noun for a group of old girls? The reunion.

The instant reply, of course, would be a ‘Cackle of Castertonians’, and yes, we cackled, but I would like to put it out there that it was more like a ‘Care of Castertonians’.

On the weekend of the film ‘Emily’ screening in most local cinemas, a group of ladies on the mature side of the fence (should I say) gathered in the village of their school for a reunion after 45 years and to see Bronte house. Why leave it so long you might ask? We’ve all been busy bringing up families and living all over the world!

What goes on in the mind before these occasions? Don’t do it; Is it useful raking up the past? Will I remember anyone?  We all think it. And yes, there were fleeting moments of those thoughts, but just look at the eyes- the eyes never change and as we laughed and cried, great compassion and care rested beneath us like a hammock.

It was a poignant time really; our school has been taken over by boys and our house name has been changed- that’s a shock for school that was founded for clergy daughters; for ‘two-pins’ Mrs. Garner would turn in her grave.

We met by the Blue Door and were given a grand tour of the school by Arabella and Daisy; adorable girls proudly sporting their prefects’ badges – ahem, some of us didn’t stay prefects very long! What a change; we all hunted for symbols of our past, the grandfather clock where we were told to stand next to at night as a punishment for talking at night; yes, it was still there; the carols in the front hall, the red corridor, and the blue door.  The sticky buns and hot chocolate at break time- that draughty lean-to conservatory and it is still as draughty! The entry into the dinning room brought back food horrors! Best move on with that, sausages and marmalade were mentioned many times.

Conversation turned from Guinness posters adorning the dorm walls to wrapping a mars bar in a wet cloth to make it go moldy so it could be sent back to Cadburys for a free box of choccies, to writing to double glazing businesses so that we could get more post.  The conversation flowed to Domestic Science, teachers, ‘did they really?’  and friends who are no longer with us; visiting the dorms and day rooms was particularly poignant. I am glad to say the school looks a healthy, thriving, happy school!

Three of us popped in the back of Pippa’s land Drover for a bumpy ride to Devil’s Bridge to join the others for a mug of builder’s tea in the sun and oh my, did the fells look beautiful. Aged 15, I scuba dived at Devil’s Bridge and found a shopping trolley under that deep dark ravine.

A walk up the back path into Kirkby-Lonsdale to find the sweet shop in the Square that we so looked forward to visiting with our meagre pocket money- it is still there! Midge bought a Lucky Dip bag! Conversations ebbed and flowed, we all listened to each others’ stories and appreciated the journeys we had all made; many difficult, but those girls of 15 were still there, still sparkling, and the years melted away.

Before supper, was like gathering back in the dorms, photographs splayed all over the bed and the long roll photo of the entire school was useful to paw over and reminisce, prompting stories, cackling, hilarity, gossip, and sadness. This was all fed with crisps and alcohol- midnight feasts came to mind. Supper ebbed and flowed and ebbed again and deep connections formed as friendships were rekindled and moved on. What a privilege it was and how sad that some of us who had planned to come, couldn’t make it.

On a stunning Lakeland autumnal sunny Sunday morning it all started again with walks around Old Hall, the Science labs and pitches and Tom Penny’s simple gravestone; inhaling the crisp fell air we realized how lucky we were. A two-minute silence and a visit to the church as part of Remembrance Day which had been so central to our lives, with Henry Holiday’s beautiful Arts and Crafts stained glass window.  We left our remembrance poppies in the Poppy Tree as part of the Remembrance weekend, just as we used to.

Aside of education, we all felt that Casterton really shaped us into who we are today; those really important formative years gave us resilience, tolerance, and comradeship, the values we share today. Perhaps the school motto of ‘One Heart, One Way’ did just that.  

Next year it is the schools 200th– do we acknowledge this and meet again?

Let me finish with a series of numbers –; those who know, will know! Thanks for the memories, ladies.

Thanks to those who supplied great photos, particularly Mandy. and thanks to The Pheasant Inn for being so patient.

In case you are wondering we are…Ali Hall, Ali Grey, Mandy Turner, Pippa Sedgewick, Claire Bromley, Jenny Smith, and Hazel Shaw

What is the Celtic Routes organisation?

I have been asked to join this group that celebrates everything Celtic…not just Wales. It is a group set u to strengthen collaboration between six counties and share learning. We will be exploring potential areas for joint promotional opportunities. They have a web site you can explore to find out ideas for trips, discover new areas and even discover films set in Ireland and mid Wales. A really useful web site for those of us who plan days out for visiting relatives and international guests.

I am really proud to be part of the team through being logged as a Celtic Experience and look forward to seeing where it takes me.

Why not follow us https://celticroutes/info

Eisteddfod 2022 – Tregaron

What a week! I am just surfacing. Here I am supplied with plenty of tea and coffee from Ceredigion stand in china cups, no less. Thanks to my fantastic friends Marc, Nia and Supersal for helping out gyda Cymraeg. I spoke with many new friends, we laughed, shared the cold wind but overall thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My hut was serenaded with harp music, male voice choirs, and clog dancing. I didn’t see much of the show ground but that is always the case. Diolch yn fawr for the opportunity. Ceredigion. I even surprised myself with how much Welsh I could understand.

It is jellyfish time

Jellyfish are a Cardigan Bay visitor. I love to look at them but personally I am a bit freaky when I encounter them swimming. Most are completely harmless. This one is a compass jellyfish, as it has radiating lines come from it’s dish; like a compass. I stumbled across some lovely pink glittery tiles and I have wanted to make a mosaic with pinks, so the opportunity was looking me in the eyes. I have used blue ink to stain the grout to help unify the image.

A small painting first to work out flow and understand the creature better, and how I could create the flow.

Other Jellies in our seas are the barrel jellyfish; yes, it looks like a barrel or a mushroom. The moon jellyfish that has circles on it’s cap, and By The Wind Sailors wash up on the sea. This season we have had the odd Portuguese Man of War. The curious sail was the inspiration for my sail fish mosaic. This is made from vitreous tiles but the flag is part of a favourite mug I broke.

I’ve got merch!

It had to come to it, didn’t it? If I am at the Eisteddfod in August, I’ve got to have some low cost items to sell. So merchandise it is! I can’t believe I am saying this! On the 5th-6th August if you are visiting Tregaron, Eisteddfod, bring your purse. All merch is under a £10.

I will have mugs, drink coasters and cards available!!! Sws, a mug that gives a kiss from the drinker to the viewer and Night on the Tiles – Catenary.

Next mosaic walk is 30th July 11am. Spaces are being booked now. Weather forecast ok.

Hiraeth at Tregaron

In preparation for the Eisteddfod in Tregaron, my bunting is up outside the house and I have made a mosaic to acknowledge our nation. No dragons or red green and white though. This is my interpretation of a Welsh word that has no direct translated word. Hiraeth is the longing for home, the pull that brings you back to Wales. Having lived here in this beautiful country for twenty-six years now, I get this pull myself. I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else. I am a poor Welsh speaker, but feel part of this country and starting again to learn Welsh in lockdown sucked me in further into the culture. I chose swallows and swifts to represent this feeling of returning to the home country. They were made from a lovely, but broken mug form Gwili pottery by the very talented Pru Green who moved to Essex. I have created the letters using iridescent tiles so the whole thing sparkles when the light refracts on it. The land is created with Welsh sate picked up from my garden and the clouds are a very vague nod to the painters like Alexander Cozens and Richard Wilson who painted Wales in the middle of the 1700s. Romanticism in the Welsh Landscape that depicted the drama of the landscape, the majestic mountains and ever changing weather. One might describe it as broody.

This design has been made in to greetings cards. Come see my stall in Tregaron on 5th and 6th August in the craft village. I will be there demonstrating the art of mosaic. Swing by and say Sut mae!

#hiraeth #Tregaron Eisteddfod #Gwili pottery #Pru Green potter