Saturday, 26 March 2011

Ffrwdfal Country House B&B

With the children having flown the nest, and me away riding through Central Asia for months at a time, husband Iestyn has been rattling around in our large house by himself for much of the time. This prompted us to go ahead with the bed and breakfast business I had always planned for the property when we bought it about ten years ago. Unfortunately we have been cursed by recurrent episodes of dry rot which have held matters up. However, last year we (or rather Iestyn) got things off the ground, and we have been open for business since early last summer. There are three guest bedrooms, all with en suite facilities and lovely views over fields or the garden. Although things can be a little 'Fawlty Towers' on occasion (viz the guest who fell through the bed, and the long suffering couple who spent an hour waiting outside on arrival as Iestyn had fallen asleep!) we have been getting excellent reviews. The house is in a very quiet peaceful location at the middle of our 120 acre farm, which runs down to the river Cothi where we have fishing rights. Iestyn produces historic breakfasts using local produce including eggs from our hens and honey from our bees. Here are our three guest rooms:
The Bee room. The bed has been especially hand painted by my very talented friend Sally. The room has superb views down the Cothi valley over the parkland where I usually keep my mares with foals at foot.
The Flower room. The lovely old Victorian bed is the one that collapsed, but you may be glad to hear that this little teething problem has been sorted out with help from our top notch carpenter neighbour Dai!
The Garden Room. The bedspread is an antique Welsh quilt from Jen Jones, who restores and sells Welsh quilts and lives locally.

We are on our own spring water supply, so although the plumbing can be a little quirky, you will be showering in pure spring water and could drink the from the cistern if you really felt so inclined!

For more details and photos, and bookings if you fancy a stay in the heart of Wild Wales, see our website And here are the very cheerful looking proprietors. Rather strangely, whoever sorted out the 'About Us' page on our website omitted to include a photo of 'Us' but instead featured a large photo of our dog! So today I press-ganged Dai's wife, the marvellous Marina who is also our head housekeeper extraordinaire, to take this photo of myself and Iestyn, the latter resplendent in his pink sorry cerise shirt.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Not Only But Also - video clips

In case you are not aware, I have sporadically been posting more video clips of the ride -
Not Only on my Facebook page for The Long Horse Ride Group which you all very welcome to join at!/group.php?gid=100069313746
But Also on my Youtube account at

Here is a little taster. If you find it slightly monotonous, consider that I will soon be riding across the steppe like this, eight hours a day for the next two months. Thank goodness Rowena will be with me for the first month to relieve the tedium with her sparkling conversation and rapier wit.

This is all assuming I actually get to Kazakhstan next week as surpise surprise I am having problems getting my visa due to a considerable delay with the letter of invitation I need for a three month visa - I was initially told it would take five days, and it is now three weeks later. On top of this, without website warning, the Kazakhstan consulate is apparently closed for three days. In Kazakhstan nothing is ever straightforward for ordinary mortals - I am certain Goga's royal buddies do not have these hassles. Rowena has e-mailed to say that she is practising her yoga breathing all the time in preparation for the next stage.

Rihanna S&M cover - Iona Thomas

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


I am delighted to report that the Kazakhstan based personel company BOLASHAK have generously agreed to sponsor a second horse in Kazakhstan to join Zorbee. We are very much indebted to them for their support, and the horse (or rather pony in this case) will be named Bolashak in honour of the company. Zorbee is of course sponsored by the wonderful probiotics company VIDAZORB.
Rowena has already purchased a suitable candidate for the new Bolashak, already nicknamed Bolly. Perhaps he will merit the cracking open of a bottle of the other type of Bolly when we officially cross into Europe over the Ural river in Atyrau. He is seen above in sub zero training for the rigours ahead with boy groom. He may not be the most beauteous of equines, but handsome is as handsome does, and as long as he is tough, goodnatured and can walk westwards, who cares!
I notice from the photo that he is already sporting one of the saddles provided by our other main sponsors Free and Easy saddles
Over the last few months we have experienced a lot of trouble sorting out registration problems with my Lada. This was due to the fact that foreigners are not in fact permitted to own Kazakhstan registered cars, and 'ownership' only involves the legal right to use and sell a vehicle. The registered owners who 'sold' the Lada had unbeknown to me (as my Russian is limited) asked the lawyer to include an extra clause apparently to protect them from any problems arising while I was in possession of the car. However this also seriously effected my legal rights to the vehicle and created considerable problems, particularly as the registered owners were subsequently extremely obstructive about altering the paperwork. Happily, thanks to the sterling efforts of Shaun Weaver and Ed in Atyrau, to whom I am eternally grateful, it has all been sorted at last, and we are now in a position to trade the Lada in for a more suitable 4WD truck to tackle the Hunger steppe of Kazakhstan.
I have booked my flight from Amsterdam to Atyrau for March 30th. I plan to travel round to Kyzlorda in the truck while Rowena accompanies Bolashak on the train - we felt it might be a bit of a strain for him to endure 4-5 days journey by truck over rough roads. We hope to start riding sometime in the the first week of April, all being well!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Ions - the Missing Link

Daughter Iona has at last sent us the link to her rendition of Yellow by Coldplay on Youtube.
And now also singing Use Somebody

STOP PRESS: Iona's Youtube Page
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