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:

  • Fireworks, 02 Nov 2019 in Culture&Event&Science
  • Tenby Blues Festival, 29 Oct 2019 in Art&Culture&Event&Music
  • Today’s 1st Prize goes to …., 25 Aug 2019 in Culture&History&News
  • The Caldey Swim, 08 Aug 2019 in Sport
  • Firefighters’ (100th) Summer Carnival, 29 Jul 2019 in Culture&Event&Film&Heritage&History
  • Long Course Weekend, 02 Jul 2019 in Event&Sport
  • Tenby’s Brexit, 17 Jun 2019 in Culture&News
  • New To Tenby’s Retail Offer, 15 May 2019 in Culture&Heritage&News
  • CARTEN100, 24 Apr 2019 in Event&Sport
  • The Easter Bunny, 18 Apr 2019 in Culture&History

  • Fireworks

    The bangs and fizzes of fireworks are rapidly replacing the chimes of Big Ben as the defining sound of New Year’s Eve celebrations in London, while around the world, city landmarks are becoming stages for increasingly spectacular pyrotechnic displays. Since the millennium, the popularity of fireworks has even extended into back gardens, where smaller fireworks or sparklers are lit up at the stroke of midnight.

    Fireworks are great fun. We all enjoy guessing the colours of the rockets before they ignite in the sky, hearing the explosions echo off nearby buildings, or writing our names in light with hand sparklers.

    But there is an environmental price to pay. Firework smoke is rich in tiny metal particles. These metals make firework colours, in much the same way as Victorian scientists identified chemicals by burning them in a Bunsen flame; blue from copper, red from strontium or lithium, and bright green or white from barium compounds.FIREWORKS

    There is more smoke from potassium and aluminium compounds, which are used to propel fireworks into the air. Perchlorates are also used as firework propellants; these are a family of very reactive chlorine and oxygen compounds, which were also used by NASA to boost space shuttles off the launch pad.

    Fireworks can lead to substantial air pollution problems. There are well documented examples from cites around the world. In Spain, metal particle pollution from Girona’s Sant Joan fireworks fiesta can linger in the city for days. Across India’s cities, the annual Diwali fireworks cause pollution that is far worse than Beijing on a bad day.

    Guy Fawkes is regularly the most polluted day of the year in the UK, although scientists from King’s College London have found that pollution from bonfires – the traditional way of marking Guy Fawkes – is also a part of this mixture. Fireworks can have significant effects on air pollution in enclosed spaces, too. In Germany, tests have shown how goal and match celebrations with flares, smoke bombs and other pyrotechnics can fill football stadiums with high concentrations of airborne particles.

    And of course, what goes up has to come down. Fireworks that fall to the ground contain residues of unburnt propellants and colourants, while particle pollution in the air eventually deposits on the ground or gets washed out by rain. Some of this finds its way into lakes and rivers , where percolate has been linked to thyroid problems, causing limits to be set for drinking water in some US states. This is a major concern for lakeside resorts and attractions that have frequent firework displays.

    Researchers in London have collected airborne particles from Diwali and Guy Fawkes. These were found to deplete lung defences far more than pollution from traffic sources, suggesting a greater toxicity. Across India, Diwali fireworks have been linked to a 30% to 40% increase in recorded breathing problems. Like New Year’s Eve, fireworks are a relatively new phenomenon at Diwali.

    Traditionally, Diwali was celebrated with the lighting of ghee burning lamps – but this changed with the opening of India’s first firework factory in 1940. An Indian court petition is demanding better public safety information and restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks – but this came too late to limit the smog caused by this year’s celebrations.

    Some simple steps can be taken to reduce our exposure to firework pollution. For one thing, setting them off in enclosed spaces is a very bad idea, as are hand-held sparklers. Positioning crowds upwind of fireworks displays is another obvious way of reducing their negative health impacts.

    Yet fireworks are already the largest manufactured source of some types of metal particles in the UK atmosphere. And the proportion of pollution from fireworks will only increase, as huge investments are made to reduce other sources of urban pollution. Particle filters are present on nearly all modern diesel vehicles and factory emissions across the developed world are continually being tightened – but firework pollution remains unchecked.

    Maybe it’s time to call time on fireworks. What do you think?

    Tenby Blues Festival

    This year’s festival will be the 14th, quite a shock for the original organisers who had no idea it would prove to be so durable. Not that it will go on and on and on and on, like the eponymous batteries. Nothing, musically anyway, lasts for ever but whilst it’s still with us, let’s sing out some of its stars.TENBY BLUES FESTIVAL

    Headlining on the Friday will be the Sibun-Malone band, on the Saturday Sugaray Rayford and on the Sunday Gina Sicilia. These acts are all on the main stage, the de Valence Pavilion. Meanwhile, on Saturday’s acoustic stage, in Church House, the headliners are Mat Walklate and Alex Haynes. There is a workshop on the Sunday morning for all those budding harmonica players and two late night ‘star open mic sessions’ on the Friday and Saturday nights. Last, but not least, two Blues Trails with over 30 bands playing over 20 pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels from midday ‘til 7pm on the Saturday and Sunday.  So, no excuse for not seeing live music that weekend. And the Blues Trails are FREE!

    Over its life the festival has added over £2m to Tenby’s economy at a time of year the streets are normally empty. The joint benefit of cultured live music and quiet season financial boost was always the organisers’ mission and they seem to have succeeded. Why not see, and listen, for yourself: this year’s Festival runs between Friday 8th and Sunday 10th November.

    Today’s 1st Prize goes to ….

    I am deeply cynical of awards. Perhaps it’s because over the years I have been involved in various schemes, be they for music, tourism, entrepreneurialism (should be an award for just spelling this), young entrepreneurs, business, literature et al. Some are beyond reproach, meticulously fair; some are politically driven; and some are outrageously decided. Equally, I have known a whole raft of organisers of such schemes, and they vary from the impeccably scrutinised to the outright sullied.CASTLE BEACH TENBY

    So, when an award is bestowed I am driven to find out how the judging was handled and what is at stake. The Sunday Times announced on 21st July their UK Beach of the Year is …………. Tenby’s Castle Beach. Great! Spread the word, social media it (well, you can message and text, so why not media as a verb?). But what has happened? Have I been seduced by proximity or bias? I thought it was time to test the process, so here goes.

    “Over the past two months, Chris Haslam has made his annual pilgrimage around our shores in search of Britain’s top 40 beaches”, leads the Sunday Times article announcing the winner. So, we now know it is the opinion of one person who happens to be the paper’s “chief travel writer”, based upon his travelling around in July and June.

    There are some criteria apparently: –

    Water quality: good
    Car park: £6
    Lifeguards: yes
    Toilets: yes
    Refreshments: yes
    Shopping: yes
    Dogs allowed: no
    Beach huts: no
    Wheelchair accessible: no

    CASTLE BEACH TENBYNow I happen to know the Castle Beach is wheelchair accessible, not wheelchair friendly, but beaches rarely are. Dogs are also allowed, albeit only on the very northern side, so as to enable dog owners to take their pets to Caldey Island via the ferries running from the low water landing pontoons at the beach. So the criteria don’t appear to be particularly important.

    Who were the other contenders? Woolacombe in Devon (No 4), Alum Chine in Dorset (No 10), Felixstowe in Suffolk (No 9), Boggle Hole in North Yorkshire (No 2), Marloes in Pembrokeshire (No 3), Achmelvich Bay in Highlands (No 6). The one thing all these have in common is that they were the highest placed in their respective regions. Oh and another thing, they’re all very different. So how would you decide one is better than any other?

    The Sunday Times journalist, Chris Haslam, goes on to write: “If you love the seaside, then you know the feeling. It’s nostalgia, anticipation and that never-quite-satisfied curiosity of coming to the edge of our island and gazing into the unknown.” Grand sentiment, perhaps, but it provides no explanation of any ranking system or marking process. CASTLE BEACH TENBY

    Chris also states: “When you spend a significant part of the year touring the British coastline, you can’t help but become sensitive to magic. You smell it on the air, see it in the reflections off the sea, hear it in the cries of the gulls and feel it crackling in the sand beneath your feet. On some beaches you hardly feel it at all, on others it comes in buckets and spades. Many beaches need to be utterly empty for it to be detectable. On others, the vibe is amplified by the upwelling of human happiness, and those with the most powerful magic work in all weathers.” So, he agrees, the beaches are all different.

    I conclude that there is very little in this awards process that meets proper scrutiny, very little that seems fair, justifiable or even reasonable; that we could take the journalist or even the newspaper to task for allowing to sneak through some arbitrary process with a clear winner.  Last year’s winner was Filey Beach Yorkshire, completely different again. The year before was Newquay, Cornwall.SLIPWAY TO CASTLE BEACH

    There are other award schemes for UK beaches: the UK Beaches Guide Best Beaches of the UK – a top ten from which you can choose which is your personal best beach (of course you can do that anyway, regardless of anyone else’s top 10, top 100 or top 1,000; Trip Advisor names Bournemouth (second year on the trot); Big 7 Travel (a travel guide) – some polling of 6,105 of its readers revealed the best in the UK was Pedn Vounder in Cornwall. And you will all have your own favourite printed, social media’d, filmed authorities on beaches. So, there can be no real conclusion.

    I remember when Barafundle was awarded some few years ago “the best UK beach for a picnic” and subsequent other ‘best of’ awards; within 12 months its secrecy was ruined and it is now so overfrequented few locals go anywhere near it in the summer. Which brings me to the best beaches in Pembrokeshire – I suspect elsewhere too – are those which will never be granted Hollywood star status. Why? Because we’ll never tell anyone about them. They are the genuine award winners and we are the few to celebrate them.

    The Caldey Swim

    This year’s swim starts from Caldey Island’s Priory Beach at 13.45 on Sunday 18th August. All 100 spaces are taken and there’s a reserve list currently with over 60 replacements.OPEN SEA SWIMMERS

    If you would like to follow a swimmer, you can bag a ride on the spectators’ boat by being ready to embark at 13.15 from the low water landing pontoon on Castle Beach. If you would like to watch the swimmers come home, Castle Hill offers a great viewpoint. The swimmers are due to finish from about 14.20. The latest will be 15.45. 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. It is also one of the rarest as last year, not for the first time, both the original date and the postponed date didn’t provide safe swimming conditions. So fingers are crossed tightly that the wind, tide, rip and swell do not conspire again to prevent the swim happening.

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

    Firefighters’ (100th) Summer Carnival

    Hard to believe, 100 years of carnival and all for and with Tenby’s Firefighters! On 7th August, the annual carnival will again take over the town’s streets with ever enthusiastic walkers, dancers and musicians on and off a convoy of floats, including, of course, the town’s fire crews and engines. No doubt the event will be something very special this year.


    Complementing the normal Carnival and peripheral activity on the Wednesday, anniversary celebrations this year include a screening of the classic firefighters’ film Backdraft, in the fire station on Monday 5th August. This collaboration with Rooms With A View, Tenby’s community film initiative featuring site specific presentations, will also feature the episode of London’s Burning, the TV series, which was filmed on location in Tenby (the firefighters were attending a national conference).


    On Thursday 8th August, Tenby Choir are performing in an open air concert on the harbour.



    And on Friday 9th August there will be a launch in Tenby Museum & Art Gallery of a commemorative book written by Tenby Firefighter Lee Simmons. “It was about three years ago on a regular wet carnival day I was down on Tenby Harbour doing the presentation, handing out the prizes …. And it was apparent to me that the crowds of participants were exceptional, so many different costumes, vibrant colours, lots of regular faces spotted amongst the crowds gathering. I was amazed to see so many people standing in the rain awaiting the prize giving and I turned to my colleagues and said: “look at the amount of people here standing in the rain”; we wondered how many years these families going back generations have come along and dressed up for the occasion.

    “From there it began: I started to research my curiosity starting down in the (Tenby) Observer Offices researching through their microfiche; many many hours later going off on a tangent reading other stories, I tracked down that a carnival formed in 1919 after WW1 to lift the spirits of the town a local group named the YMCA arranged & organised a carnival procession leaving from Tenby Train station on a Wednesday when shops closed half day. Knowing the locals could support that evening it became an annual event and from there it shaped the start of what is now a sought after calendar summer event. Leading on from this it was not till 1923 that the local Fire Service then needed funds to buy equipment for their new appliance that they had recently purchased.

    “Funds were not readily available on the back of the war so the local council decided at the time that if the Fire Service take on the organisation of this event than any funds raised would pay for equipment! People had to pay to watch the carnival presentation back then and a dance/ball would round off the evening, I believe held in the De Valence.”

    Long Course Weekend

    This weekend, some 10,000 athletes accompanied by 35,000 supporters, hailing  from 45 nations, will descend upon Tenby. Over three days they will participate in the biggest multisport festival in Europe, The Long Course Weekend.


    On Friday is The Wales Swim and Childrens Events in LCKinder. Saturday sees The Wales Sportive, with 40, 70 and 112 Mile options. On Sunday, it’s The Wales Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5k. The LCW Prize ceremony and “After Party” see out Sunday evening. So, why is this event so successful?

    The organisers claim the secret to the success is the inclusivity of the event, attracting Pro athletes to the first time 5K athletes.  And athletes can enter one, two or all three events over the weekend.

    LONG COURSE WEEKEND FINISHIf the full Long Course Weekend – 2.4 Mile Swim, 112 Mile Bike and then the full marathon on Sunday – is completed, the athletes can collect the fourth, LCW medal.

    Built upon its successful Tenby format, there are now annual LCWs in Mallorca, Australia and Holland. The Long Course Weekend has made its mark, indeed it is the first of Tenby’s Season of Summer Events, with Tenfoot (Tenby to Saundersfoot) swim, Tenby 10K, Caldey Swim and last, but certainly not the least, Ironman Wales.

    Makes me breathless!

    Tenby’s Brexit

    I’m not prepared to publicly launch into either side of the widening schism between Brexiters and Remainers, as that is not the purpose of this website, nor indeed the Tenby Chamber of Trade & Tourism that supports it. But what has been its impact so far upon the town’s economy, which is within The Chamber’s remit, indeed its core purpose?

    Last summer, you may remember, we enjoyed three glorious months of sunshine, from May through to the end of July. And Pembrokeshire was booming. Unlike Cornwall, which was pleading with visitors not go to the beaches, Pembrokeshire welcomed all. And boy did they come. Whether it was the security issues of incidents across Europe, the logistical challenges of airports, the lowly exchange value of the British pound, the feeling of uncertainty which acts against long term planning or the simple convenience of jumping in the car for a few hours to the destination, the county had a great year. Tenby, as the much quoted ‘jewel in the crown’ of the county’s visitor offer, had a boom year.TENBY CAFE CULTURE

    Well it was boom on its four beaches but many of its inside offers – the museums, galleries, shops, etc – did not experience the same increase. But it really was magnificent sun. And though the less predictable weather of last August provided consolation to the ‘insiders’, many of them were by then three months ‘down’.

    Another challenge is finding staff for the increased demands. The hospitality industry has always struggled to find enough staff, but we were presented with a double whammy: more staff needed yet less were coming, put off by the apparent unwelcome sign being shown by the Brexiters, and many now had economies outperforming the UK’s.

    So what for this year? Judging by the hordes of tourists currently here (it is Whitsun half-term), this season could be even busier. Always the year after a very sunny summer acts as a beneficiary. The pound is even weaker against all the major currencies. And the uncertainty prevails; dare one say it, it seems to be even ‘more uncertain’: no-one knows what is going to happen.

    Perhaps we can say with some assurance that Tenby will have another boom year. Certainly the amount of scaffolding put up and taken down over the last five months indicates confidence from the business operators in the season ahead. And, as we all know, economic performance is a result of perception rather than fact. A shame this approach couldn’t have some lasting political impact …..

    New To Tenby’s Retail Offer

    There has been a refreshing changeover in a number of Tenby’s shops over the last two years, including the below properties.









    At the time of writing, the amount of scaffolding is another indication of a healthy financial economy, preparing for the main season and its huge influx of visitors.


    And inside Tenby Market there has been a substantial turnaround of stalls and stallholders. But you’ll have to see for yourself!TENBY MARKET


    Quick update: the ride was postponed on its initial date and has been rearranged for Saturday 1st June.


    From four riders in 2004, to a whopping 2,500 riders in 2017, 2018 and now 2019, the challenge of riding the 100 miles from Cardiff to Tenby has just kept growing, with more and more friends, colleagues and acquaintances. This is CARTEN100, a ‘not for profit’ fund raising venture, run by volunteers so they can benefit chosen charities.CYCLE RIDE from CARDIFF to TENBYThe CARTEN100 cycle ride is a leisurely ride from Cardiff to Tenby. While the main aim is to get people on their bikes, a benefit of the day is the money raised for charity. This is done from direct sponsorship for company logos on the cycling shirts and the CARTENers getting sponsored individually per mile.


    The ride takes a fairly direct route from Cardiff to Tenby, using A-Roads, B-Roads and cycle routes. There are some climbs, none too difficult, but in Wales there is not a lot of flat land! Riders are encouraged not to rush to Tenby but to enjoy their day, as the organisers’ philosophy is to get people back onto their bikes by preparing to cycle 100 miles, as well as enjoying a good day out followed by a celebratory drink or two in Tenby.

    “It is a challenge, never a race”.

    The total raised by CARTEN100 is one million pounds and they are looking forward to another great year in 2019.

    The 2019 Charities, under the banner Riding out Taboos, are geared towards Cancer and how it affects everybody differently; from how it manifests in a body to how a person copes with diagnosis. This year the two key charities are Jo’s Trust (Cervical Cancer) and Prostate Cymru to raise vital funds and awareness of these “taboo” areas of health. Other local charities will also benefit, and these include Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship, which runs food and basics banks in the county.

    The start is at the City Hall in Cardiff, in blocks of about 50 from 7.30am, and will take about an hour to complete.CYCLE RIDE from CARDIFF to TENBY

    The finish is in Tenby’s Tudor Square, which will be closed to traffic, so friends and families will be able to cheer the riders home in safety. The finishers’ T-shirt and complimentary pasta meal will be served in the harbour car park, where Tenby Lions will be the hosts in the CARTEN100 marquee, with a full bar and BBQ.

    The ride takes most cyclists about 10 hours, so expect the busiest activity to be from about 4pm.

    And if you’re looking for something to do this Saturday, why not come along to Tudor Square and show your appreciation for the participants’ considerable efforts.

    The Easter Bunny

    The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs.EASTER BUNNY

    The colourful myths of Eostre and her hare companion, who in some versions is a bird transformed into an egg-laying rabbit, aren’t historically pagan. They are modern fabrications.


    Only one piece of documentary evidence for Eostre exists: a passing mention in Bede’s The Reckoning of Time. Bede explains that the lunar month of Eosturmonath “was once called after a goddess… named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated.”

    Originating among German Lutherans, the “Easter Hare” originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour at the start of the season of Eastertide. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays.

    The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau’s De ovis paschalibus (‘About Easter Eggs’) in 1682, referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.

    As you have read, the Easter Bunny is legendary, perhaps not real, yet still luring people of all ages to Easter egg traditions. If nothing else, confectioners are grateful for the legends’ sustainability. And following those grand traditions, Tenby Chamber of Trade & Tourism organises an annual Easter egg hunt around town, on Saturday, 20th April, starting from Lollies Sweetshop at the top of Crackwell Street. Happy hunting.