Thursday 30 January 2020

Brewing Up Some Kombucha

I've been a little unwell of late, suffering from an eye condition that has been exasperated by my being allergic to most of the antibiotics I have been prescribed for the problem. Anyway, as well as developing quite drastic allergic reactions to the antibiotics (swollen, burning eyelids and lips), they have also had a rather devastating effect on my stomach :( Whilst I am now on my fourth different course of antibiotics, courtesy this time of the local hospital eye specialist) and await to see if these can know wy health troubles on the head, I am combatting my belly woes with the consumption of kombucha.

To help combat that, I am currently drinking kombucha. And I really have to say that this product really has helped me a heap. Unfortunately, this drink can be on the rather expensive side if purchased commercially from local health food shops, and as my wife and I intend to continue drinking this beverage for at least the next couple of months to test out the claims of its much-lauded health benefits, we have decided to give brewing it at home a try.

The required scoby (an acronym for 'symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast') can be found easily online via dedicated forums, commercial producers or ebay. I purchased our starter scoby from ebay:

Our kombucha scoby from ebay

A close-up of the kombucha scoby

To kick start the fresh kombucha brew, we added a bottle of live starter tea, which can be purchased from Holland and Barretts and a growing number of supermarkets as a stand-alone drink.

A tasty bottle of live kombucha tea, which I used to kickstart
a fresh batch of kombucha drink

This was added to a bowl sugar-sweetened black tea, which was then decanted into a kombucha jar, along with the scoby.

Sugar-sweetened black tea - a base for the kombucha drink
Sealing the top of the jar from unwanted bacteria, we then placed the jar away from direct sunlight and let it do its work.

A fresh jar of pre-fermented kombucha - complete with scoby

It is now just a waiting game as we wait for the fermentation process to commence and take hold on the kombucha drink. I will add an update on proceedings in the near future...

Sunday 26 January 2020

A Rainy Sunday Morning

Another rainy Sunday morning. Still, it has created quite a moody atmosphere and I am taking full advantage of it to do a little ghost story writing.

To add to the ambiance, I am playing an absolutely beautiful pagan folk CD by Telling the Bees. I have seen this band play twice and they were both gorgeous experiences. I even got this treasured CD signed by the band before that sadly split:

You can catch a great interview by Andy Letcher from the band here. The artwork on the album is also as beautiful as the music itself and was crafted by the very talented Rima Staines.

Friday 24 January 2020

A Walk Through My Local Woods

I took a walk down to my local woods this morning. It was a misty morning and I added to the mood of the walk by separating myself from the ambient sounds of the woodland by donning my headphones and playing the moody Nordic sounds of Forndom. I Loved it :) I need to do this walk more often as the whole circular route from my doorstep is less than 3.5k steps.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Frosty Leaves

After the last few days of much-needed sunshine, which had me prematurely anticipating the return of spring, I was today reminded that, here in the UK, we are still very much still entrenched in the depths of mid-winter :

And it has been such a long winter already :(

Sunday 19 January 2020

Sunset at Newport Wetlands

I took a late afternoon wander around Newport Wetlands this past weekend. It was quiet out amongst the reeds, with few people and, strangely, even fewer birds. All was still and calm there. There was not even a breeze to tussle the reeds that sprung like forests from the boggy ground. And the sunset was incredible!

This short video, made as I made my out along the floating walkway through the wetlands towards the sun really does remind me of one of Kaneto Shindo's Onibaba:

The Wetlands were designed to help birds and wildlife after the construction of the Cardiff Bay Barrage had a devastating effect upon their numbers. The birds must have all settled for an early night this particular evening though, as apart from the odd flock of seabirds, seen skirting the Severn Estuary in the distance, the place looked almost desolate.

But the delight that was lost from not seeing many birds on this walk was more than compensated for the splendour of this year's most spectacular sunset yet:

A gentle scene of sky and water and reeds
Taking a stroll along the floating walkway towards East Usk Lighthouse
East Usk Lighthouse overlooking the Severn Estuary

Reeds fringing the coast at Newport Wetlands
The northern shore of the Severn Estuary

The sunset climaxes over Newport Wetlands and the Severn Estuary, bringing a close to a wonderful hour's walk:

As the light faded from the sky and I traipsed back to my awaiting car, I saw the fading light over one of the ponds that lined my track looked delightfully serene. Never have I seen so many pylons looking so picturesque:

And with that moment gone too, darkness fell quick and it was time for me to head home for the night...

Saturday 18 January 2020

A Muse Visited Me Last Night

A scribbled note made in the dead of night
A muse visited me last night. And suddenly I had the crux of that evasive third ghost story scribbled down on an old crumpled post-it note.

Friday 17 January 2020

Solstice/Story 1. Draft 1.

Twilight Zone

I was given a lottery ticket as a Christmas present a few weeks backs. This was the first time I had participated in the National Lottery for well over ten years and I held next to zero hope of actually winning anything with it. But hey-ho, I only went and won £116 with it :) 

After sharing the prize money with the purchaser of the said ticket (who happened to be my lovely wife), I was left with nearly £60 to play with. It took me nearly three whole weeks to decide what to spend my loot on, but ultimately decided to buy this amazing set of Blu-rays, which features every single episode of the old classic Twilight Zone series :) I also picked up a copy of the amazingly detailed book The Twilight Zone companion, to help me along with my viewing, which I found on eBay at a ridiculously cheap price:

As ever, my 'little' pwscat wants in on my photograph

I am going to really enjoy getting stuck into the gems, but with over 177 hours of entertainment to make my way through, it may take me some time...

Sunday 12 January 2020

2020 ~ The Adventures Begin...

Despite the heavy rain and howling wind, I had my first adventure of 2020 today, walking out to the Sgwd Clun Gwyn and Sgwd yr Eira waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons.

My first stop was at the mighty Sgwd Clun Gwyn waterfall. Although the spectacle of Sgwd Clun Gwyn was impressive in the extreme, this was not my primary port of call and after a quick photograph and video of the waterfall, it was then on to the more distant...

Sgwd Clun Gwyn Waterfall

... Sgwd yr Eira, Wales' finest waterfall!

Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall
Sgwd yr Eira really is a beautiful sight to behold. Despite the daunting number of large, nearly knee-high, steps that led down the valley floor, I reached the river Sgwd yr Eira serves feeling refreshed and excited (though the return climb is another matter altogether!)

Sgwd yr Eira 
This is one of Wales' most magickal attractions, and offers its intrepid visitors the rare opportunity of actually walking along a slippery ledge behind the curtain of its waterfall! :)

Looking out from behind the Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall
Yours truly getting well and truly soaked behind Sgwd yr Eira waterfall

As you can see from the videos below, you do have to be prepared to get wet if you take this little jaunt behind the waterfall. And during weather conditions as wild and woolly as they were today, when the water actually rampages down to the awaiting river below, you can actually get drenched here!

The ledge walk behind Sgwd yr Eira waterfall
Whilst it is the waterfalls themselves that attract visitors to this particular stretch of the Brecon Beacons, the surrounding woodland are themselves noteworthy. Given the dire conditions that marked particular visit, I was surprised at just how rich the mid-winter colours were in the woodland :)

There are actually four waterfalls of note here, but given the time of day we visited, the atrocious weather and the heavy gloom that descended pretty quickly after I left Sgwd yr Eira, I decided to leave them for another (and hopefully not too distant) day...

So, all in all, I'd mark my first adventure of 2020 a success, despite learning that my winter coat was not as waterproof as I had imagined it to be. The picturesque walk measured an easily manageable 13k steps on my Fitbit, although there were some very steep inclines to negotiate on the route (my Fitbit clocked me doing 111 floors during the walk).

Now, where shall I go for my second adventure of the year?

Thursday 9 January 2020


Started the detailed planning of the first story of my next book of Christmas ghost stories...

Sunday 5 January 2020

A New Year Dawns

As the new year creaks slowly into gear, the creative juices are starting to awaken. And the desire to open up my old writing shed door and crack on with my next project grows...

6 Books!

Here they are - three year's of writing encapsulated in six books. It's now time for me to concentrate on book number seven...