Might this be a new icon for this iconic location?
Might this be a new icon for this iconic location?
Wales’s patron saint is celebrated in a variety of ways and this year Sunday 1st March is preceded by the leap year special, aka 29th February, so a special weekend awaits.
In Saundersfoot, their annual Cawl Trail around the village’s pubs, cafes and restaurants begins at midday on Saturday. If you want to go, be prompt – it sold out in less than an hour last year.
In Stackpole, near Pembroke, the Stackpole Singers are performing in the Stackpole Centre on Sunday evening. This event is supported by The National Trust.
Fishguard is the location for the Welsh Cake Challenge, visited last year by over 100 keen tasters. The tour starts at 11am on Saturday.
Further afield, Pembrey holds a Food and Drink Festival over both Saturday and Sunday.
The Croeso Festival is centred around Castle Square, Swansea, where food, families and entertainment are Saturday and Sunday’s focus.
And Cardiff will see the St David’s Day National Parade, which starts at 12.30 on Sunday.
Tenby, always divergent, celebrates 29th February with a film presentation by the RoomsWithAView community group in the town’s Cycle Fit ‘spinning’ workshop, starting at 7pm.
It’s coming again. Yes, Christmas, New Year, all that sort of stuff. But so is Tenby’s Annual Charity Boxing Day Swim.
At 9.45am on 26th December, 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. Many in fancy dress, they descend to fill up the North Beach or the spaces with a view on the cliffs around and above 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.
The fancy dress theme this year is “Climate Change” and in due deference the medals awarded to each swimmer have been crafted out of wood – thanks to Wheelers of Yerbeston.
From the Tenby & Saundersfoot Lions Club, there will be free soup for the recovering swimmers, whose flanks can be warmed at the bonfire curated by the RAF Air Cadets.
On and next to the water are the hawk-eyed Tenby Surflinkers, ensuring everyone who 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.
There 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.
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 sponsor: Harbour Wealth.
Such coordinated collaboration behind the apparent chaos at the seaside, all helping to increase the contributions to worthy causes above the 300k raised over the event’s 49 year history, all on Boxing Day.
See you on the beach? It all kicks off at 11am.
Many households have their own recipes for Christmas pudding, some handed down through families for generations. Essentially the recipe brings together what traditionally were expensive or luxurious ingredients — notably the sweet spices that are so important in developing its distinctive rich aroma, and usually made with. It is very dark in appearance — very nearly black — as a result of the dark sugars and black treacle in most recipes, and its long cooking time. The mixture can be moistened with the juice of citrus fruits, brandy and other alcohol (some recipes call for dark beers such as mild, stout or porter). Despite the name “plum pudding“, the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins.
Christmas puddings are often dried out on hooks for weeks prior to serving in order to enhance the flavour. This pudding has been prepared with a traditional cloth rather than a basin.
Prior to the 19th century, the English Christmas pudding was boiled in a pudding cloth, and often represented as round. The new Victorian era fashion involved putting the batter into a basin and then steaming it, followed by unwrapping the pudding, placing it on a platter, and decorating the top with a sprig of holly.
Initial cooking usually involves steaming for many hours. Most pre-twentieth century recipes assume that the pudding will then be served immediately, but in the second half of the twentieth century, it became more usual to reheat puddings on the day of serving, and recipes changed slightly to allow for maturing. To serve, the pudding is reheated by steaming once more, and dressed with warm brandy which is set alight. It can be eaten with hard sauce (usually brandy butter or rum butter), cream, lemon cream, ice cream, custard, or sweetened béchamel, and is sometimes sprinkled with caster sugar.
An example of a Great Depression era recipe for Christmas pudding can instead be made on Christmas Day rather than weeks before as with a traditional plum pudding, although it is still boiled or steamed. Given the scarce resources available to poorer households during the depression this recipe uses cold tea for flavouring instead of brandy and there are no eggs used in the mixture. This recipe is not as heavy as a traditional plum pudding.
Many families now buy their puddings ready-made from shops and they can be reheated in a microwave oven with a much shorter cooking time
The first raft race to precede the annual Boxing Day Swim took place in 1994, so this year will see the 25th Tenby Charity Boxing Day Swim Raft Race, to give it its full title.
Since the first race, it has changed, sometimes with a minimum four, then two people ‘on the raft’. Safety lifejackets are stipulated; for further safety, the race is closely monitored not only by the Pembroke Paddlers kayakers, immediately after their own kayak race, but also by the Tenby Surflink water safety team.
Sometimes it has been an Osborne/Morgan/Wright family competition; sometimes it has been joined by local businesses, clubs & organisations; and sometimes it has been one family against another family. Yet always it has been competed in the best of humour, albeit not always in the most favourable of conditions.
The race became “Daitonic” after the tragic death of Dai Rees, back in 2014. Dai was an avid raft race participant, with some notable victories to his own & his family’s name. His family still regularly compete in the raft race, indeed their last win was only last year.
And what do you need to do to take part? Well, build yourselves a raft which will float, preferably with at least two people on board; turn up on North Beach by 11am on 26th December, equipped with raft, life jackets, paddles and your competitive streak finely tuned. Oh, and please take the raft away when you’ve finished.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
Dogs allowed: no
Beach huts: no
Wheelchair accessible: no
Now 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.
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.
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.
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
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.”