Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Where I Live...

If you hop on to the A40 and head west, past Whitland and up a hill, you come to a petrol station called, appropriately, Preseli View. Look north and there they are, the Preselis, tantalisingly close, but actually far away yet. There’s another 20 minutes or so driving to do before you get to the hills themselves and in the meantime they play hide and seek with you behind hedge banks and trees.

The Preselis are in the middle of the Pembrokeshire peninsula. If you imagine the British Isles as a picture of a man riding a pig, with Wales as the head of the pig, Pembrokeshire is the pig’s snout. Mostly they are lovely rounded hills, but one has huge craggy rocks – Carn Menyn or Carn Meini I think– where the delectable Colin Firth filmed the 1988 BBC film ‘Tumbledown’ about Robert Lawrence’s Falklands War experiences.

The hills have other fame too, having provided the bluestones which form the inner circle at Stonehenge. Apparently the bluestones and other stones, including the altar stone, were quarried in the Preselis and transported over 185 miles to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. But nobody has yet worked out how and a Millennium experiment to transport a relatively small bluestone on a wooden sledge to Salisbury plain ended with red faces when the stone fell off a barge into the Milford Haven waterway and sank. It now hides its shame in a quiet corner at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Either primitive man was much cleverer than his modern equivalent or the answer lies much longer ago in glacial movements.

Our smallholding lies up a steep driveway on a ridiculously narrow, winding road between two villages – with the bright lights of Maenclochog a distant glimmer over the other side of a hill. The Welsh name means Owen’s walls or enclosure. The house is built of huge stones with tiny windows and has been added to over many years. It is tiny, the walls are three feet thick and I can’t get a mobile phone signal indoors and television pictures used to be problematic before the days of satellite TV.

We’re out here on our own, aside from a small cottage cheek by jowl with our house built by a previous owner of our place who couldn’t bear to move.
It is a beautiful, quiet spot. Everything here slopes. There are no straight lines. The drive is steep mossy concrete, the yard is a wonky slope. The fields are bounded by banks and we have our own standing stone which we like to run around three times and then wish, but I don’t think that works as I still haven’t got a brand new Land Rover Discovery!

The fields have wonderful old names: Parc yr Odyn (lime kiln field); Parc Maen Hir (field with old stone); Parc Fron Uchaf; Parc Fron Isaf; Gweirglodd (marshy place), but we have other names for them too: Thistle; Little Sloping; The Moor. When it snows we sledge down the slopes on either Parc Maen Hir or Thistle. Everyone – sheep, pony, human, dog, cat or badger – adores the Odyn field best for its south facing slopes big shady trees and fresh spring.

It gets dark here at night. Properly dark. We have no light pollution and a cool clear night is a wonderful time to look up at the stars. There is no noise either. I was brought up in the rural Midlands with the ever present hum of the M5 and the M42, but here we just have the odd baa or moo, and the occasional tractor or aeroplane.

It is a haven for wildlife with Red Kites and Buzzards overhead, in addition to the thousands of other birds, squirrels and badgers. We have orchids and whorled caraway, kingcups and, unfortunately, Japanese knotweed.

It's not as tidy as I'd like it to be, sometimes it feels a little isolated and lonely, but mostly, I feel, it is my own little patch of heaven.


  1. That is a wonderfully idyllic place to live.
    Beautiful photos, thanks for taking us for a trip around your part of the world.

  2. Lucky you - a standing stone. Very envious. Please run round it 3 times for me.

    Sounds a wonderful place to live - love its sense of age, all those wonderful old stones and enigmatic field names..

    We are strangers to the Preseli Hill and must venture in that direction before too long.

  3. Ah hah so you have to run around the standing stone . . .etc . . .will go and try.

    I love true dark . . . Robot Boy when he comes home loves to outside at night and actually see the stars.

    Do you get on with your neigbours in the cottage. I love being isolated - most of the time too.

    Do you find that the noise of a car engine is a novelty . . . a rare event.

    Lovely part of the world - thank you.

  4. Another beautiful place to live! Thank you for posting the photos of the hills - when one says that one lives in the hills it's hard to imagine what that really means. Loved the picture proof, and the description of sledding down the hills, the truly dark nights (we have them too - bliss!) and the local oddities. I like the tradition of the standing stone - may borrow it, as we have two enormous boulders in our garden, from glacial times. One is over 6ft tall - I may have guests go around them three times and make wishes. All those good wishes would be bound to rub off on us!

  5. Hello! I can seeeee youuuuu! Well, not quite but I can see your mountains and the pictures help - lucky you!

  6. (commented on this in forum)
    (yup, PM, Peter and Jane alive and kicking and throwing the ball while Mother washes up, the dog prances unthreateningly and Dad cleans the car. Did Dad ever have a pipe? If he did, I am pleased to report that it has been airbrushed out! - PM will know what I am on about)

  7. Lovely spot you live in Mags. Great photos. For what it's worth I reckon the bluestones were moved in winter - colder winters in 3000 BC - and the ground was frozen. A sledge would move easily then over the ice. There is already a bluestone dating from this period in Milford Haven. Did it fall through the ice, or through the bottom of a boat?

    Lovely image of Britsh Isles as man riding a pig.

  8. Hi Maggie wow what can I say mmm one word - breathtaking!!!! Thank you for sharing your beautiful world! Must get Jen my other half to take a look,if this can not convince him to move to my world then nothing will,there is even a local brewery by my mums what more could he want?!!!I left a comment on one of your old posts are you still having trouble in their room?It's been hectic here we had two little ones handed over to us at 2am one morning!!!!!back to normal now:) hope you are all wellx


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