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A great day for ducks at Craig Y Nos!

Marvellous Criw Craggy made this great day out possible. Despite having been refused a grant to run a commemoration of Adelina Patti on the hundredth anniversary of her death, they opted to go ahead with the fifth day out for people seeking sanctuary in conjunction with HBTSR. After due consideration of the weather forecast earlier in the week, it was agreed to run a slightly shorter day to avoid a major weather front at 5pm and to encourage some people to go on tours of the castle to avoid being outside in squally showers during the day. Flexibility was the order of the day  with decisions about where and when to erect marquees , what space to use for what and which activities to offer being made as the day unfolded.

We started on site at around 9am but preparations started days earlier for Jackie and the Criw Craggy Team planning and collecting  marquees, tables  and chairs, for Melrose collecting food offers  and planning the menu, for Alex preparing sourdough  for flatbreads, for Ailsa collecting all the other paraphenalia needed and with Steve making 180+ felafels and for others making salads, cakes and other goodies to ensure that the day was as welcoming and smooth as possible despite weather warnings and waterlogged ground.

Erection of a marquee by Bob’s Studio to be a temporary kitchen, Adil transporting some of the kit, Steve and Jackie by the dining marquee and the completed kitchen.

The bus arrived before 11 with 33 people on board [ many having been put off by torrential rain in Swansea  in the early morning]  and Alan agreed to return within 20 minutes of any phone call if the weather took an unexpected turn for the even worse! Mark and Zena had already briefed people about the identified risks of the lake, the river and the weather. That sorted we were able to welcome people with hot drinks and biscuits and share the wonderful space and views. Art in the education room was a popular activity throughout the day as it provided a dry warm space and Julia with inspiring ideas for painting. Rebecca [ ‘This is my favourite day of the year!’]  who was on her fourth Welcome day at Craig Y Nos with us, pitched her gazebo next to the dining area with rugs, toys for the children and plenty of clay to play with . I was delighted to see a child who had professed herself too scared to go near the gazebo, go in with her mum and spend over an hour perfecting a clay sculpture with obvious enjoyment. Otherwise duck feeding, running around the lake and exploring the grounds were popular activities.

Buffet lunch of salads,felafel, cheese,  flatbreads prepared by Alex (until visitors took over ) seemed much appreciated.

Tours of the castle were popular although possibly the depth of information imparted was less interesting/ relevant than the inspection of such an amazing place and imagining how much it would cost to fully refurbish the ex stately home/castle/ dwelling of a famous opera singer/ hospital and now hotel. On the tour I went on the group gradually diminished as people tired of sitting, standing, listening and were escorted (? Rather too willingly?) back to the marquees. The second tour group was informed by the first group and most who went managed the entire visit. It was interesting to view the well appointed rooms, the stage, the views downstairs and contrast this with the derelict upstairs accommodation and ghost tour materials.

photos from inside the hotel/ castle 

As people returned from the second tour of the castle we were already distributing cake and teas and asked Alan our driver to give us an extra 20 minutes to fully digest, de-stress and pack up boxes of fruit and jars of plum and honey jam donated by Val into a visiting car for return to Swansea and distribution at a drop-in centre. Another wonderful day unspoilt by the weather ( actually there was some sunshine between the downpours) and we were all packed up and away before 5pm. And of course everyone mentioned the surprise rugby result to our treasurer , whilst Robert wore a black armband fashioned from a rubbish bag in mock sympathy. Who would have guessed Japan would beat the number 1 ranked Rugby team, Ireland? At least Lawrence had plenty to help him forget his morning viewing ….

And despite the weather a number of people wondered if they could come again –

Its hard to believe  but true that a free bus service operates every weekend from Swansea to Brecon and people can therefore have an entirely free day out in beautiful scenery any weekend of the year in the company of Criw Craggy.






To the Criw Craggy Team Jackie, Norma, Simon, Paul,Eleanor, Anne and Illona  for making it all possible and remaining so cheerful and welcoming in the face of the tail end of a hurricane.

To Rebecca Buck for clay sculpture

To Julia Harris for art

To Bob the photographer for the use of electricity, water and taking passport photos of one of our intrepid gang!

To Melrose for coordination of food and much more.

To Alex for flatbread cooking

To Adil,  Barbara and Reg, Tim and Val,  Margaret,  Penny, Catherine, Lynne,  Shaun and Alma, Alison (Eagle) and Anne (Evans) for food and to Adil, Alex, Penny, Lawrence, Robert, Catherine, Tim, Val, Margaret and Steve for turning out on such a wet day and working so hard to ensure that everyone had a good time.

Thanks from Participants

The trip was amazing everyone was so nice and welcoming from the minute we arrived. All activities were so much fun for all ages we had a wonderful time.                              Mrs. Z
It was wonderful the View was amazing the hospitality was amazing also the castle was wonderful my children really enjoy it
Thanks xx       A and family


The trip was amazing we all really enjoyed and appreciated the hospitality with all staff and friend we had lovely day so we visited the castle it was historical I would like to tell all my friends about this place is amazing and spectacular views for the castle thanks all staff I hope to have another trip for different places thank you so much see you soon inchalla.                    Mrs H


Hi, It was a wonderful day and I loved being part of it once again. You guys are amazing. It is great to watch the gentle, easy-going way you get everyone together and just let them chill.

At all the events I do, with all kinds of people, you get a few kids or adults who are attracted to the magic of clay but fear new experiences. It’s rarely difficult to entice them, using small steps to try touching it. Then the clay takes over!
 I think that very nice, spacious and light -filled tent made it much easier for her and all the families to relax and enjoy. A few chairs helped. But a big part was the safe, kind supportive atmosphere made by everyone involved towards having the fun of adventure amount friends.
Another girl turned to the clay when she was upset that her mother had gone on the castle tour. It was great that she could busy her hands and relax enough to accept that an adventure for her Mum was a lovely thing.
Having clay at events always improves things. It’s easy, you don’t need an artist or clay professional!…. Rebecca
From Mark

Even the weather didn’t blight another wonderful day out…many,many thanks to all involved… thanks for caring and sharing and everything x