Dec 05 2017

New Title – Swansea in 50 Buildings

I have signed a contract with my publishers, Amberley Publishing, to deliver  to them a new title by the summer of 2018. Swansea in 50 Buildings – 18,000 words and 100 photographs – will be in the shops by October. At least it will keep me occupied through the winter

Nov 13 2017

The Maja – 1945

My piece in Welsh Country Magazine for November 2017 looks at two graves side by side  in Holyhead, Anglesey. In the spirit of Remembrance and to reflect that World War Two was indeed a global conflict, I have written about two Chinese sailors who died whilst serving in our Merchant Navy. Ah Teng Lie was a Pantry Boy and Tsai Sin Ling served as a fireman on the Merchant Vessel ‘Maja,’ a tanker which left Swansea in 1945 for Belfast and Reykjavik. It was sunk when it was struck by a torpedo from U Boat 1055 off the coast of Ireland on Monday 15 January 1945.
It is important that when we honour those who have been lost in conflict, we also remember those from all over the world who died fighting in our forces, just like Ah Teng and Tsai Sin, who now lie buried by the side of a foreign sea.
Welsh Country Magazine is available in newsagents and supermarkets across Wales. £2.95
Oct 31 2017

Publishing Date

I discovered today whilst making a random search that Amazon are taking pre-orders of my next two books – 50 Gems of South West Wales and 50 Gems of Mid Wales. A pleasant surprise of course even if the two files are still sitting here on my computer whilst I apply the finishing touches. They will retail at £14.99 – naturally buying from me will be cheaper – and will be available from 15 April 2018.
Each book is 96 pages and they are illustrated in full colour – there are about 98 photos.
I am now going through the books and making decisions about the photographs. Here is a picture of the beautiful Barafundle Bay on the Stackpole Estate in Pembrokeshire. This one was close to selection, even though it was taken in the rain – but it is a little too grey

Best crack on…

Oct 24 2017

Local History Book Fair 2017

Yes, it is that time once more. The Swansea Local History Book Fair

Saturday 28 October 2017 at Swansea Museum, 10.00 am to 4.oo pm

I shall be there with my books, with some interesting key rings and of course with some of Jason O’Brien’s beautiful Christmas cards – all at bargain prices

In addition, at 11.00 am I will be giving a talk about the Bleeding Gravestone of Adulam, the story of a  Bonymaen Tragedy.

Unmissable.

 

Sep 10 2017

The Physicians of Myddfai – Welsh Country Magazine Sept 2017

The September edition of Welsh Country Magazine is now available in newsagents and supermarkets in Wales (price £2.95). In this edition my article is about the Physicians of Myddfai. This beautiful village is three miles south of Llandovery on the edge of the Brecon Beacons . It has a long tradition of healing and therapeutic remedies and I would certainly recommend a visit. It has a lovely church where  you can see the grave of David Jones and his son John, two of the physicians from the early eighteenth century and there is an excellent and informative Community and Visitor centre. You will learn, should you wish, how to cure tooothache by shoving honeysuckle leaves up your nose and how to make someone tell the truth (it involves a bit of business with a frog’s tongue.)  You will come home with an understanding of the three qualities of water – it will not bring sickness debt or widowhood. So a good day out all round I’d say.

Aug 16 2017

A visit to Ceredigion

Soar Y Mynydd

There was a brief respite in the gloom of the summer yesterday. The sun shone and so we took advantage and fled to the west. This time it was photographs for the volume 50 Gems of Mid Wales which will be published in 2018. We had a good day, beginning in the wild hills above Llyn Brianne. We went to see the chapel at Soar y Mynydd, reputedly the most remote in Wales. Tregaron next, then Llandewi Brefi and Llangeitho. Then to Lampeter for a picture of the university buildings and the Derry Ormond Tower at Bettws Bledrws. We ended up in the beautiful Cae Hir Gardens, the perfect place to relax at the end of a busy day before rushing back home.

Cae Hir Gardens Cribyn

Aug 06 2017

The Cowbridge Murder of 1885

The Grave of David Thomas in Llysworney

My piece in the recent edition of Welsh Country Magazine is about the horrible murder of David Thomas during a midnight storm in October 1885. It reached a similarly horrible conclusion with the botched execution of David Roberts who was arrested and condemned for the crime.

Welsh Country Magazine is available from newsagents and supermarkets, price £2.95

 

Jun 08 2017

Bethsaida in St Dogmaels

We had a good trip away this week – despite the weather – researching for my next book 50 Gems of South West Wales. Took plenty of photos and also stayed at this excellent bed and breakfast accommodation in St Dogmaels – a converted chapel called Bethsaida. Very stylish indeed – and such a brilliant piece of work to save an old building from collapse and to turn it into something so lovely whilst still preserving its original features.

Can definitely recommend it.

http://bethsaida.wales/

May 16 2017

The Linthwaite Murder 1891

My piece in the May edition of Welsh Country Magazine examines the terrible story of Catherine Dennis, a sixteen year old girl from Flint who was in service at the Ivy Hotel in Linthwaite, just outside Huddersfield. In August 1891 Catherine was murdered by James Stockwell. It is a tragic story, of two families torn apart in a casual moment of irrational violence.

We went up to Linthwaite (just down the road from Slaithwaite of course) to take a photograph of the poor girl’s grave next to a taggled mass of holly. And then we looked up at the forbidding bulk of the notorious Saddleworth Moor and mused upon the things we have to do and the places we must visit to uncover all these stories.

Welsh Country Magazine is available now in newsagents and supermarkets, price £2.95

 

 

 

 

 

May 08 2017

Taphophiles

There was an interesting article on the BBC website about cemetery tourism and the growing interest in historical graves. And in it I learnt a new word – the name for people who scramble around cemeteries looking at gravestones. It is ‘taphophile.’ I never realised that my affliction had a proper name

Here is a link to this most interesting article

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39480595

 

 

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