About: Chris O

Chris Osborne ran the family's Fourcroft Hotel for 25 years, previously having gone off to London where he became a partner in one of the then largest property consultants. He was a founding Director of Pembrokeshire Tourism and contnues as Chair of the Tenby Sea Swimming Association, organisers of the annual Boxing Day and Caldey Swims and of the team that organises the annual Tenby Blues Festival. He also runs a monthly Jazz Brunch in Tenby hotels.

Posts by Chris O:

  • Tenby’s Boxing Day Swim, 12 Dec 2018 in Event&Sport
  • Tenby Blues Festival, 04 Nov 2018 in Culture&Event&Music
  • Caldey Swim – it’s coming (home) here, 06 Aug 2018 in Event&Sport
  • Tenby Museum’s Birthday Celebrations, 13 Jul 2018 in Culture&Event&Heritage&History&Music
  • Tenby’s Pedestrianisation, 01 Jul 2018 in Culture&Event&Heritage
  • Scooter Rally comes to Tenby, 01 May 2018 in Culture&Event&Heritage
  • National Emblems of Wales, 03 Mar 2018 in Art&Culture&Heritage&History&Music&Sport
  • Tenby Boxing Day Swim, 19 Dec 2017 in Culture&Event
  • Tenby Blues Festival 2017, 01 Nov 2017 in Culture&Event&Music
  • Tenby Jazz Brunches, 15 Oct 2017 in Culture&History&Music&News

  • Tenby’s Boxing Day Swim

    It’s coming again. Yes, Christmas, New Year, all that sort of stuff. But so is Tenby’s annual Charity Boxing Day Swim.

    A series of Tenby Sea Swimming Association committee meetings – we’ve got it down to three – leads up to a three hour explosion of frenetic activity: at 9.45am, you’d think nothing was going to happen and, at 2pm, you’d think nothing had. In what amounts to a blink, a grand spectacle involves thousands of spectators and hundreds (last year 700) of mad swimmers. PIRATES at TENBY BOXING DAY SWIM

    Many in fancy dress, they descend to fill up the beach or the spaces with a view on the cliffs around and, just as quickly depart, having said their hellos to family, friends and anyone else brimming over with the spirit of bonhomie this event seems to culture and pollinate.

    Behind the scenes, the mighty supporters bend their backs: as well as the committee, there are the Lions Clubbers who offer free soup to the recovering swimmers, whose flanks can be warmed at the bonfire curated this year, for the first time, by the RAF Air Cadets.

    On and next to the water are the hawk-eyed Tenby Surflinkers, ensuring everyone whSTYLE at TENBY BOXING DAY SWIMo goes in also comes out in the mad rush called “GO”. Also on the water, the ever reliable Pembroke Paddlers, kayakers there to host a race amongst their juniors and to provide more safety cover.

    TENBY BOXING DAT SWIM RAFTThere may be a raft race, you never know until the rafts turn up, normally at the last minute; named after the tragic loss of one of our prominent young men a few years ago, the Daitanic Raft Race nearly always offers a stirring tribute to both Dai and the rafters, battling amongst themselves to win but battling mostly the power of the sea just for their craft to stay afloat. Nearly always because some years no raft turns up.

    And lurking amongst the action you’ll find HM Coastguard officers, St John’s Ambulance team and the Tenby RNLI lifeboat crew, all present and attentive unless there’s a ‘shout’ and one or more of them are summoned to attend an incident elsewhere.

    And to pick up the costs of running this event, step forward our generous sponsors: Princes Gate Spring Water, Harbour Wealth and FBM Holidays. And let’s not forget the town’s Mayor, who always assists in handing out the medals – one for each swimmer.

    Such coordinated collaboration behind the apparent chaos at the seaside, all helping to raise the contributions to worthy causes  above the 290k over the event’s 47 year history, all on Boxing Day: brings a tear to my eye. As it has for every one of the last 47 years.

    Why don’t you come and join us? Or rather, how could you miss it?


    photographs courtesy of Gareth Davies Photography

    Tenby Blues Festival

    The 13th  award winning Tenby Blues Festival takes place over the weekend of 16th/18th November. From Friday until Sunday our beautiful seaside town will be rocking to the sounds of Blues music of all hues as large numbers of visitors and locals descend on the town to dance, listen, and have a bundle of fun.

    Three ticketed venues – the de Valence Pavilion, Church House and Fourcroft Hotel – will be hosting shows by some of the most exciting and sought after Blues musicians around, featuring international and national performers, with women artists well represented as always.

    Lightnin’ Willie

    Headlining the de Valence on Friday will be the sensational American band Lightnin’ Willie and the Poorboys with support from Dave Arcari and the Paul Garner Band.

    On Saturday another American, the Reverend Shawn Amos (and his band), takes to the stage on his first European tour.

    Shawn Amos Band

    The Reverend is an astonishing performer, equally at home with downhome Blues as he is with modern Soul, and he gives his own unique twists to classics by the likes of David Bowie and Prince. Support comes from the Eddie Martin Band (Eddie will also host a slide guitar workshop in the Fourcroft Hotel on Saturday lunchtime) and the Husky Tones.

    On Sunday, the Festival presents two of the finalists in the 2018 British Blues Challenge – runners-up Catfish are rising stars of the rocking Blues scene, and the winner, Kyla Brox, is an amazingly powerful singer whose set is rooted in Blues, Gospel, Soul and Rock.

    As if that weren’t enough, the opening act on Sunday is an exclusive collaboration between two amazing young singers – Bella Collins (currently recording with the legend that is Andy Fairweather Low) and Pembrokeshire’s very own Jodie Marie. Newly but widely popular Catfish follow, with the Festival closing act the Kyla Brox Band, winners of this year’s British Blues Award. That’s the way to end a festival!

    On Saturday, the Festival offers an alternative, quieter, acoustic venue, at Church House. Three acts, Zoe Schwarz and Rob Koral (of Blue Commotion), the Washboard Resonators (who play good time, old time Blues on instruments that include car horns and kazoos), and French based country Blues artist Paul Cowley, are set to thrill the audience.

    Saturday and Sunday also feature the Blues Trail which sees 30 acts perform at cafes, hotels, clubs, bars, and restaurants all over Tenby from noon until late. These include not only the best local blues acts but performers of national renown who play at Tenby because they love the vibe. From the full on funky Blues rock of String Theory (aka the Luke Doherty Band) and the Worried Men, through Proper Records’ new signing Glas, to the Bluegrass and Country infused tunes of Ian Cal-Ford and His Acoustic Preachers, there is truly something for everyone. And all the Blues Trail gigs are free entry!

    Full details on the website – www.TenbyBlues.co.uk.

    Caldey Swim – it’s coming (home) here

    This year’s swim starts from Caldey Island’s Priory Beach at 12.45 on Sunday 12th August. All 100 spaces are taken and there’s a reserve list currently with 10 ready replacements.OPEN SEA SWIMMERS

    If you would like to follow a swimmer, you can bag a ride on the spectators’ boat here: 07 473 178 701. If you would like to watch the swimmers come home, Castle Hill offers a great viewpoint. The swimmers are due to finish from about 13.25. The latest will be 14.45. The finish line is at the back of Tenby Harbour, near the most recent ‘old lifeboat station’, the “Grand Designs” one.

    The efforts of 100 open sea swimmers are worthy of expectation, admiration, and most definitely support if you would like to witness Tenby’s iconic, toughest, oldest swimming event.

    More details can be found here: www.tenby-caldey-swim.co.uk

    Tenby Museum’s Birthday Celebrations

    On Sunday 22 July the bandstand on Castle Hill will be the setting for a bubbling fiesta of activities to celebrate Tenby Museum and Art Gallery’s 140th anniversaryJazz, Prosecco and Strawberries is being run by the Friends of Tenby Museum and Art Gallery and will give everyone the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon of cool music and chilled prosecco in the glorious summer sunshine to help toast the museum’s long and distinguished service to the community.

    Musicians are coming from all over south Wales and beyond, arranged by local musician Alan Argent who has strong links with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, to make up a special seven-piece band for the occasion.  The band will be: Alina Miroshnchenko – vocals, Frazer McIntosh – piano, Matheus Prado – bass, Taflan Jenkins – alto sax, Alan Argent – tenor / soprano sax, Charlie Scarr – drums, George Whitfield – accordion.

    The strawberries have been sourced locally from Manorbier’s Springfield Nursery. The Prosecco is being flown in from Italy. This is one laid back celebration not to be missed – it starts at 3pm.

    TENBY MUSEUMIn this photo of Castle Hill, the museum is in the middle, the bandstand on the right.

    Tenby’s Pedestrianisation

    Tomorrow sees the 2018 scheme commence with its last day on Friday, 14th September. That’s a serious extension on previous years’ versions. The daily start and finish times of 11 am to 5.30 pm remain unchanged from last year.

    But this ‘way of street life’ in Tenby has spent many years in gestation. Back in 1999, Tenby 2020, the then active community initiative, produced an Action Plan. Yes, the town has had many of those, almost as many as its consultations. However, one of the most significant ideas dealt with the town’s biggest bugbear: traffic. You see, when Tenby, located on a narrow isthmus, was built the motor vehicle had not been invented. Its 13th Century town walls were to keep marauders outside, not trap them within.

    The action, in 2000? A one day’s pedestrianisation, including live music, retailing stalls and cafes, bars and restaurants bursting out onto the street, in an orderly fashion, much as you see in Spain, France and elsewhere in Europe. And it was a great success.

    This was followed in 2002 by a month’s trial and, in 2003, a public inquiry. You can’t please all the people all the time. The Tenby Walled Town Residents Association, which appointed consultants to work on its behalf, wrote to Pembrokeshire County Council notifying it of its decision to go to the High Court. It said if the council agreed to hold a public inquiry it would not go ahead. The public inquiry was held, the residents & businesses were duly divided. The Council boldly went forth, with significant support from the town’s Chamber of Trade & Tourism. Eventually, peace broke out & residents within the town walls worked with the permit access process.CAFE CULTURE IN TENBY

    Now town centres are under the cosh: retailers around the UK are suffering from out of town and, mostly, internet purchasing patterns. So action is needed to preserve the soul of town centres and perhaps Tenby has the very core of what that soul might comprise: one-off shops, with other national traders for basics; the cafes, restaurants & bars that other town & city centres are completing their customer offers with, but here all are unique – no Wetherspoon, Costa, Café Nero, Ask, Strada, etc etc which are almost everywhere. But not in Tenby!

    And how better to enjoy the ‘café culture’, the original mission of Tenby 2020, than with the freedom to move , at whatever speed you want, and stop for a coffee, a bite to eat, a cooling drink around the town centre, unthreatened by cars, vans, lorries, just enjoying the stroll and imagining you are in Spain, France, Italy ….and you are in Wales’ favourite seaside town.

    Maybe, one day, we’ll have the courage of our customers’ aspirations and enjoy pedestrianisation all year round. For the time being, we hope you enjoy our café culture.

    Scooter Rally comes to Tenby

    This coming bank holiday weekend sees the return of the Welsh National Scooter Rally, one of this year’s nine UK Scooter Rally events. So be prepared for scooters at every turn, the ‘put-put-put’  of single or twin stroke engines and the blue air of their exhausts.


    Not that the machines aren’t cared for, they are the embodiment of the TLC of their oft Parker-adorned owners.

    The last time they hit town, two years ago, over 1,000 Lambrettas, Vespas, Piaggios, Apilias, Hondas, etc arrived, carrying their loving drivers, as delighted to have completed the journey with steeds intact as to have had the run out.

    This time the organisers, Scooter Collective South Wales, have expanded the nightly entertainment to include live bands in the de Valence Pavilion, a reggae room in the Rugby Club and a soul room in the Ex-Servicemen’s Club. It looks like the musical demands of the scooter fans might have been fully met.


    But this is all a distraction: the mass coming together is surely about ‘being there’, together with their mighty chariots. Get ready for a mega love-in.

    National Emblems of Wales

    The story of Wales is long and, at times, confusing. That would go some of the way towards explaining why the emblems of Wales include a dragon, a vegetable, a spoon and a funny-shaped ball. This article was first published on VisitWales.com.


    The Welsh national flag

    It took until 1959 for the Welsh national flag to be officially unfurled for the first time. The significance of the dragon in Welsh culture is believed to date back to Arthurian legend when Merlin had a vision of a red dragon (representing native Britons) fighting a white dragon (the Saxon invaders). The use of green and white refer to the colours of the House of Tudor, the 15th century royal family of Welsh origin. The red dragon won the battle, just in case you were wondering…


    Welsh male voice choirs

    The 450-strong South Wales Choral Union of Aberdare is credited as popularising the Welsh male voice choir tradition after winning The National Music Union Brass And Choral Event in consecutive years during the 1870s. Welsh choral singing is instantly recognisable, with different pockets of the choir singing different parts. Traditional bedrocks of the movement include Treorchy and Morriston and the more recent success of Only Men Aloud has ensured that the male voice choir tradition is as popular with audiences as ever.



    The red kite

    In 2007 the distinctive bird of prey was voted the most popular bird among the people of Wales. Less than a century ago there were just two breeding pairs in the country, but the breed’s remarkable recovery means there are over a hundreds to be seen soaring over rural areas of Wales. Several red kite feeding stations also offer visitors the opportunity to get (relatively) up close and personal with these magnificent birds.


    Prince of Wales’ Feathers

    Three white feathers are encircled with a coronet, inscribed with the German words Ich Dien (‘I serve’). This is the emblem of the Prince of Wales, the Heir Apparent to the British and Commonwealth crown. Direct historic links with Wales are fairly sketchy. Nonetheless, the Three Feathers are proudly worn on Welsh rugby shirts.


    WELSH SIGNSThe Welsh language

    The native language of Wales is spoken by three-quarters of a million people – most in Wales, but also in England, the USA, Canada and Argentina. There are few Welsh-only speakers and traditionally, Welsh has been the language of rural Wales; but it is increasingly popular within urban populations. Bilingual road signs and the Welsh language television channel, S4C, are just a couple of examples of the language in common use.


    The Welsh harp

    We can make life a little complicated for ourselves from time to time. As if to illustrate this the triple harp has three rows of strings rather than one. The Italians invented this particular instrument of melody during the 17th century, but a 100 years later it was widely known as the Welsh harp. Other varieties of harps are believed to have been played in Wales since the 11th century and gifted exponents of the art, such as Elinor Bennettand Catrin Finch among others, continue to inspire audiences and aspiring musicians.


    The leek

    This humble root vegetable is cited as a symbol of Wales in William Shakespeare’s Henry V. Historical evidence also exists that the Tudor dynasty issued leeks to be worn by their guards on March 1, known as St David’s Day in honour of the patron saint of Wales. There is also plenty of entertaining folklore and guesswork why the Welsh are inextricably linked with the leek. The 7th century king of Gwynedd, Cadwaladr, is said to have ordered his men into battle wearing them for identification purposes, but whatever the origins, we grow plenty of them and they taste lovely.
    The Welsh lovespoon

    A handcrafted gift made of a solid block of wood, the tradition of a male admirer crafting a lovespoon for a young woman indicated to the woman’s family that he was skilled and capable with his hands. The oldest existing lovespoon in Wales dates back to 1667 and can be seen at the wonderful St Fagans: National History Museum. Each specific carving on the spoon is symbolic, from the eternal love of the Celtic knot, to the twisted stem indicating togetherness.


    The daffodil

    DAFFODILSThis is one for those who believe that contemporary culture is all style over substance. The origins of the national flower of Wales appears to be as an attractive interloper, introduced during the 19th century, as a replacement for the humble leek. David Lloyd George, the only Welshman to serve as Prime Minister, was a public advocate of the Narcissus (its Latin name) and its appearance in early spring as a symbol of nature’s optimism neatly coincides with St David’s Day on March 1. A more unusual link is that daffodils are grown commercially in Mid Wales to produce galantamine for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.


    Rugby UnionRUGBY

    The first Welsh international rugby union match took place in 1881 against England, in Blackheath. It didn’t go well for the away team, but brushing that minor setback aside, the first golden era for Welsh rugby came with a three year unbeaten run between 1907 and 1910. The side’s fortunes may have ebbed and flowed for the subsequent century and a bit, but it hasn’t deterred the phenomenal support which reflects the cultural importance of the sport in towns and villages all over the country, particularly in the industrialised parts of South Wales.

    Tenby Boxing Day Swim

    Every year hundreds of temporary insane charge into the ice cold waters off Tenby’s North Beach on Boxing Day. Last year there were 700! Why would they do that?BOXING DAY SWIM

    Is it to shake off the excesses of Christmas, the drinks, the food, the supine lethargy of it all, by the kill-or-cure sea water dosage of pain followed by the almost orgasmic sense of relief on survival?




    Is it to set up the crack squad, the task-found-now-deliver group of likewise committed (or committable) friends to see out the challenge, bring home the bacon and then bask together in the afterglow of success, brandishing the victory medals to as many fellow hostelry imbibers as can be impressed?



    Is it to grab the opportunity of grabbing others’ generosity by sacrificing self-comfort to realise reward for a self-chosen noble cause, or the event’s selected beneficiaries, at a time of year when those who have really should consider those who haven’t?





    Or is it the enter-stage-door-right moment, when bedecked with the very best fancy dress can proffer, the best of show prize is dangling, thence to the water and laugh off the careful makeup, robes and uniform?




    Or is it a combination of two or more of these or even other reasons, with each person running into the sea with different missions to fulfil?


    Why not see if you can work out what drives this insanity – 11.00 on 26th December, North Beach, Tenby

    Tenby Blues Festival 2017

    The 12th Tenby Blues Festival takes place over the weekend of 10th-12th November. From Friday until Sunday this beautiful seaside town will be rocking again to the sounds of blues music as large numbers of visitors and locals descend on Tenby to enjoy 39 bands perform in 24 venues.TENBY BLUES FESTIVAL

    Three ticketed venues – the de Valence Pavilion, Church House and Fourcroft Hotel – will be hosting shows by some of the most exciting and sought after blues musicians around.

    Headlining the de Valence on Friday will be the brazen guitar of Aynsley Lister; Saturday sees Rebecca Downes top the throne, having been voted the British Blues Vocalist and Emerging Artist 2016. And on Sunday, the Festival goes worldwide, with Harry Manx (a Canadian, born on the Isle of Man, offering a blend of Indian blues) and Senegal’s Diabel Cissoko, with African kora-driven Saharan blues. This is an exciting new dimension for Tenby Blues, always endeavouring to evolve.

    On Saturday, the Festival offers an alternative acoustic venue, at Church House. Three acts, headlined by the ‘20s and ‘30s music from Max de Barnardi & Veronica Sbergia, are set to capture a quieter appreciation. On Saturday afternoon, this venue will host a tribute, open-mic-style to local musician Nic Thomas, a Tenby Blues regular who sadly passed away earlier this year.

    Saturday and Sunday also feature the Blues Trail which sees nearly 30 acts perform at cafes, hotels, clubs, bars, and restaurants all over Tenby from noon until late on Saturday and Sunday. These include not only the best local blues acts but performers of national renown who play at Tenby because they love the vibe. Check out the blast of the Mark Pontin Group or Hideaway Trio, the energetic RnB of Glas, the delicate rockabilly of John Lewis, etc etc …… And all the Blues Trail gigs are free entry!

    In the de Valence’s Café Pura, you’ll also find the Dec & Eugene Juke Joint, a home to classic blues vinyl. There, too, will be George Parfitt, with his display of home-made cigar box guitars.

    What a box of treasures! Come see what you can discover; dare you even stay away?

    Tenby Jazz Brunches

    In the Autumn of 2000, Chris & Kath Osborne enjoyed a holiday in Budapest; perhaps the highlight was attending a Sunday jazz brunch – listening to fine musicianship whilst tucking into an exciting buffet array of hot and cold foods and sipping a fine bottle of Hungarian wine. They came out of the experience refreshed, relaxed and excited: they imagined bringing something new to the Pembrokeshire live music scene.

    Over the last 16 years, they have done just that, using musicians from South Wales, and sometimes beyond, and a regular, reliable fan base with whom they stay in contact via email. The jazz brunches happened on a Sunday, once a month, running from midday until 3pm. But time doesn’t stand still & they have recently sold their family hotel, Fourcroft, which has been the jazz brunch venue.

    So a new chapter starts. The owners of Heywood Spa Hotel have enthusiastically offered to provide a venue and a new style and level of food for the brunch, so in 2017 the Osbornes are to offer again their monthly jazz brunches. They hope their audiences continue to appreciate this rare combination of quality live jazz and relaxed eating and drinking, at the end of which the world seems a better place.BEVERLEY GOUGH

    The first of the autumn season was on Sunday 24th September and featured Kitty’s Trio.

    Kitty (Beverley Gough) and her band play a mix of tailored swing and jazz – including classic jazz standards and original compositions. From Ella Fitzgerald to Nina Simone, their repertoire is wide and engaging, yet always with a trick or two up their sleeves. This ‘Phoenix’ gig was a sellout.

    The next jazz brunch, on 29th October, features the mellifluous saxophone of Dick Hamer, supported by Jim Barber on piano, Donnie Sweeney on bass and Ian Poole on drums. The Dominic Norcross Quartet, featuring the vocals of Elaina Hoss, plays on 19th November and, with a special Christmas theme, The Graham Watkins Jazz Quartet, featuring Clare Hingott on 17th December.

    And to celebrate this new dawn, there is a new website:  www.TenbyJazz.co.uk.