Pentrefelin wildlife

12 Days of Christmas #10

We finally had sunny weather today. Hooray! It was a pleasure to go for a walk and I bumped into several neighbours making the most of it.

The Society of Genealogists 12 days of Christmas, continues with Ten Lords were a-Leaping Round the Peerage. As far as I know none of my ancestry made it into Burke’s Peerage. How about you?

On the tenth day of 12 Days Wild I continued the winter scavenger hunt provided by The Wildlife Trusts which I had begun at the weekend. I still don’t think I have any chance of finding snowdrops or frost.

The sunshine meant that there was finally a chance to see clouds against a blue sky, rather than just a wall of grey. I thought I could see an elephant’s face.

It has been ages since I have seen a robin or spider, but I will keep looking. I finally caught a starling murmuration on camera, but you will need to look closely!

I have a Beanies Coffee 12 Days of Christmas calendar. Day 10 was my favourite Gingerbread and my least favourite Coconut Delight.

Whilst I was out I also tried to take some “then and now” pictures of Pentrefelin. You can see the “then” on the Francis Frith website: How do you think I did?

A lot has changed in both scenes. The Post Office is now just a family home, where about seventy years ago a phone box and petrol pump can be seen. The Church Room has disappeared behind a newer house and the trees lining the lane have gone, with just a few stumps remaining.

My family Pentrefelin wildlife

12 Days of Christmas #2

Fortunately no turtle doves have yet arrived, I dread to think what our cats Domino, Scrabble and Ludo would make of them.

The Society of Genealogists are sharing their own 12 days of Christmas, with Two Turtle Doves in India, Sarah Dove and Ellen Barons Dove. I had a a look at the ‘Women in India index’ but could not find any record of the Wadsworth family that I know visited India in 1940s.

For the second day of 12 Days Wild and I created a Nature Mandela. Instructions from the Wildlife Trust are here. I also encountered sheep being taken from one farm to another to be scanned.

I have a Beanies Coffee 12 Days of Christmas calendar. Day 2 was Mint Chocolate “All-in-One” which I have put aside with my travel kettle. I’m really hoping for an opportunity to use it in 2022.

As promised I spent some time catching up with my #52 Ancestors blog today.

Beginnings My family Pentrefelin wildlife

12 Days of Christmas #1

I’m pleased to say I have not received a Partridge in a Pear Tree, though I have received some lovely gifts, including a Harry Potter knitted jumper which I’m delighted with.

Apologies for radio silence in December. It has been an exciting and emotional month. I handed in my notice at Ffestiniog Travel. 17 years is a long time to work anywhere and I was sad to say goodbye but returning to the office after 18 months on furlough convinced me that it is time to move on. I will still be doing some tour leading, hopefully taking a group to Mallorca to explore the narrow gauge railways and trams in 2022. I have always enjoyed the job and the people, but I would always regret it if I didn’t give genealogy a try.

I’ve decided to follow the career advice of Katharine Whitehorn, a British journalist:

‘Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.’
Observer, 1975

The Society of Genealogists are sharing their own 12 days of Christmas, beginning today with Partridge in a Pear Tree, or their version, a Partridge in PCC Admons. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

I am joining in 12 Days Wild and I began by walking off Christmas lunch, just enjoying the peace and quiet outside today. I found some festive Pokemon as well as festive plants. The road was surprisingly busy but the sky looked amazing.

I have a Beanies Coffee 12 Days of Christmas calendar. I do enjoy a flavoured coffee, but don’t like the sweetness of syrups so these are just right. Today I have Nutty Hazelnut and Orange Chocolate flavoured coffees.

As well as my sibling Max having their birthday today we have a surprising number of ancestors with Christmas Day birthdays.

  • 3rd great grandmother Jane Diamond was born today in 1839. She lived in Cumberland, now part of the Lake District. In 1905 she was living at Rainors Farm.
  • Her mother-in-law, my 4th great grandmother Ann Stewardson, was born today in 1810. She also spent her entire life in the Lake District.
  • On the same day my 3rd great granduncle Christopher Thomas Wadworth was born in Wickersley, West Yorkshire.

I plan to spend the rest of the 12 days of Christmas catching up with #52Ancestors and setting up Rhos Helyg Family History Services.


12 Days of Christmas, day 8

Over the 12 Days of Christmas, as we leave 2020 behind and step into 2021 I have 3 challenges in progress.

  • 12 Days Wild, to complete a daily “random act of wildness” exploring the winter wildlife.
  • Operation Bletchley: Christmas in Berlin 24 MILES: 12 CODES: 12 DAYS. A fundraising challenge for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity which involves walking and codebreaking
  • Building the Lego Hogwarts Castle kit, my Christmas present to myself.

Sadly inspiration didn’t strike this morning in the same way that it did yesterday. I have eventually completed the 8th Junior and Codebreaker level codes, but the Junior especially took me far longer than it should have done. I’m a bit stuck with the Cypher Expert one, but Mum thinks she has managed it. Another one sitting on my desk looking at me waiting for a bit more inspiration. Or maybe for me to give in and ask someone for a clue!

The weather this morning was awful. The police were advising of black ice on the roads, and there was a heavy “winter shower”. Through the window it looked white, so snow or sleet, but falling as heavily as rain. I really really didn’t fancy going outside. I had just about resigned myself to walking around the living room whilst watching an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” when the sun came out and I decided to walk as far as the war memorial.

Once I got outside it wasn’t so bad. It was mainly dry underfoot with just a few patches of ice in shady places. I was very proud of myself when I carried on walking and made it just over two miles in total. I did meet a sheep who thought about staring me out before turning and running off into the field. A spotted a couple of collared doves enjoying the view from a TV aerial too.

My main “act of wildness” today was to check on our hedgehog house. It is unoccupied this winter. It will need a bit of maintenance in the early spring as it is starting to look a bit elderly, with rot affecting the feet. We did have a couple of hedgehogs visiting regularly in the summer.

I’m planning to spend the remainder of the day keeping warm and building Lego.


12 Days of Christmas, day 6

Over the 12 Days of Christmas, as we leave 2020 behind and step into 2021 I have 3 challenges in progress.

  • 12 Days Wild, to complete a daily “random act of wildness” exploring the winter wildlife.
  • Operation Bletchley: Christmas in Berlin 24 MILES: 12 CODES: 12 DAYS. A fundraising challenge for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity which involves walking and codebreaking
  • Building the Lego Hogwarts Castle kit, my Christmas present to myself.

I woke this morning to a winter wonderland. Not a blanket of snow, but there must have been a frost, followed by hail. Even now at 4pm the grass is covered in a layer of white. It is pretty if cold, and not very motivating to get outside.

We were running low on milk so made a quick dash into town this morning. It turned out not to be as quick as we hoped after first scraping all the ice off the car windows the car slid around on the icy road outside the house. Our little estate doesn’t get gritted. I ended up getting out to push.

When we got home the sun was out so I set off on a walk, As my random act of wildness I had a close look at the ice, it is very pretty, both from a distance and underfoot.

I also noticed this intriguing phenomenon on the pavement.

Each circle has a small pebble in the middle. They must have held some heat and caused the frost around them to melt.

By the time I had spun the Pokestop about half a mile from home it was raining, and once round the block it was hailing. I decided it was just too unpleasant to be out and came home as rapidly as the slippery pavements allowed. As most days I’ve walked just over 2 miles I think I’m still on target for 24 miles in 12 days.

As on previous days I woke to another set of codes to break in my inbox. The Junior one was very straightforward, and the Codebreaker didn’t take me long. The Cypher one though, lets just say I had a lot of help from Mum, and Google. I got there in the end though. That is half way through the challenge so right on target.

Hogwarts now has a giant chessboard, a potions classroom and a room of requirement. I had forgotten how much I enjoy building Lego.

Happy New Year to everyone reading. I hope that you are able to find a way to celebrate if you wish to do so. I’ll be taking part in a Zoom quiz with my pub quiz team.


Geocaching at local churches

Originally published on Friends of Friendless Churches Blog on 14 November 2020.

In March this year, like virtually everyone else, my life was turned upside down by a phone call from work telling that I was now on furlough. I work full time for a small, specialist travel company, and after a stressful beginning to the year suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands.
The first couple of months were spent enjoying the sunshine, tidying the house and relaxing, but by June I was looking for things to do. I found a sponsored challenge “Operation Bletchley” in aid of The Soldiers Charity which involved walking 100 miles during July and solving codes. After checking my Fitbit statistics this seemed possible and I signed up. I loved walking around my local area, exploring new paths and challenging myself to take longer walks. Every 10 miles a new code arrived in my inbox. I loved it and it gave me some focus for the month. Towards the end of July I wanted something new, I knew by now that furlough was continuing until the end of October.
A little research reminded me of a hobby I’d read about previously, Geocaching. Described as a treasure hunt, or using multi-million pound technology to find Tupperware in the woods, geocaching involves using GPS coordinates to find “caches” hidden around the world.
I downloaded the app, and discovered that there are several caches within my area, and set off to find the first one. After a little trial and error I found the small plastic tube hidden under loose wood in a hollow in a tree, I excitedly signed the log book and recorded my find on the
geocaching app. The following day I dragged my husband on a walk in the opposite direction and we found another small plastic tube hiding under a pile of rocks. I was now hooked, and had found 6 caches by the end of July. Caches vary tremendously, from tiny “nano” caches, with a scrap of paper for a logbook, through the standard lunch box size with a few plastic toys to swap, to I believe much larger, hidden in plain sight. As a minimum each cache will contain a paper logbook to record your name or initials and the date you found the cache. There are often swappable items too, plastic toys, badges and collectible items. There may be a pen, but others need tweezers to remove the paper log book.

The first step is to study the Geocache map and select a cache or caches to find. Each has a difficulty rating and a terrain rating, giving an idea of how hard the actual cache will be to find, and how challenging the walk to find it will be. The cache description will also include the size of the cache, from micro to large, and an encoded hint to help find it. Once a suitable cache is identified the app provides navigation to the site. Depending on the strength of the GPS signal, which is affected by trees and tall buildings, the GPS will take you to within a few metres. It is then a case of hunting for the container, using the description, hint and experience to find the hiding place. Sometimes reading back through previous logs will provide clues to the location, and when all else fails cachers can “PAF”, phone (or send a message) a friend or previous finder. The elation when finding the 35mm film pot hidden under a piece of slate at the base of a fence post is worth the cold wet rummage through the undergrowth. After signing the log and swapping any collectibles the cache must be re-hidden exactly as it was found, and care taken to ensure that the site is left undamaged.
I learned that it is recommended to find at least twenty different caches before placing one of your own, so that was my challenge for August. Walking further and further from home, and even beginning to get in the car to drive to some further afield I achieved this aim and discovered several places I would never otherwise have visited. After moaning about a wet walk one day a friend suggested walking up the paved road to St Cynhaearn’s Church, I was delighted to find a beautiful redundant church just over a mile from home. This became a regular walk, and I enjoyed my visits inside and I bought a few of the postcards to send to family members I hadn’t seen during lockdown.

It was this in part that inspired me to start a one place study for Pentrefelin.

There are series of caches with themes, for example, “SideTracked” is a series placed near railway stations, of which there are plenty locally. I discovered another series, “Church Micros” which had not yet reached my corner of North Wales, despite being one of the most long running and numerous Geocaching series. Geocachers from all over the world have heard of this series and often plan to find a few when visiting Britain.
Having grown up in vicarages this series appealed, and I decided to extend it to two of the churches I had discovered on my walks as I wanted to bring other people to these peaceful sites. My 8 year old niece helped me to find a suitable place at St Beuno’s church and she mentioned that it would be important to ensure that people looking for the cache did not have to walk on any of the graves.

I bought some small magnetic pots, and these fitted well on the drainpipes. I gained permission from the Friends of Friendless Churches and placed my caches, ensuring that the locations were respectful, and would not cause any damage to the buildings.
The next step was to write the cache description, information that would be of interest to the geocaches who are going to look for them. This is an opportunity to highlight the history and architecture of the hiding place and surrounds, and to entice people to find this particular cache. The Friends of Friendless Churches website gave me plenty of information for my descriptions. As the caches were placed on the drainpipes my hidden hint is “incy wincy spider”.
I am looking forward to being able to explore more of the Church Micro series and discovering more church buildings around the country. One day, I hope to be able to join a “Cache In Trash Out” event, joining other geocachers to pick up litter and spruce up a churchyard.
My two Church Micro caches have been visited by a few people now, with comments including “Was thrilled to see another friendless church on the map. I really love this series. This one did not disappoint. Beautiful glass and furniture inside. So nice to have places of worship like this open at this time when our regular church is out of action.” and “Parked up at Pentrefelin and walked up to the church, Never knew there was one up here. Found the cache and had a good look inside the church. Thanks for bringing me here.”
To join in Geocaching visit and for more about the Church Micro series visit

Stop press! A new Operation Bletchley challenge had been launched for the 12 days of Christmas. Please support me in Operation Bletchley 2020: Christmas in Berlin. I’ve joined the Fundraising Army – I started at Private and have been challenged to see how far I can rise! Please support if you can.

house history

Beginning my house history

One of the many projects I’ve been meaning to do is to research the history of my own house. As a 1970s built estate there can’t be that much to learn but it would still be nice to know.

I have just finished researching one house and have sent the report to my clients. I will be putting it on my website as soon as I have edited the report. While I can give my client the names of living people I don’t feel I should include them on my website. I also don’t want my clients’ full address included so need to remove all traces of that.

Anyway it seems like a good time to get on with my own home. My husband bought the house before we were together. He bought it from the estate of “Mrs G” who had kept a number of cats, more than our three. Beyond that we didn’t know very much, other than she liked pink, all the walls and carpets were pink when he moved in. She had some family, Tony’s offer had to be discussed with more than one person before it could be accepted.
A couple of days ago I had a chat with Ann who has lived on the estate since it was built. I had asked her if she knew if Mrs G had been here since the house was new. Ann thought there was someone before Mrs G, but was not quite sure. She said she was working back then and just did not see as much who was coming and going. She suggested that I speak to “S” who lives in one of the nearby council houses. “S” stands in her door with her walking frame and chats to anyone walking past so I knew I’d have an opportunity soon.
Yesterday I got home from a short geocaching trip and Ann had phoned to ask us to collect a parcel from “S” and to deliver her some apples. Ann said that “S” had some information about our house to pass on. Everyone else has to pick their own apples, but it seemed like a fair trade with Shani.

So, I took some apples round and learned that Mrs G was a divorcee, with two grown up boys. One of the boys worked at “the atomic place” in Ireland and one had a daughter who “wasn’t quite right.” Mrs G really didn’t like her ex-husbands new wife.
Previously there has been a couple here, she was from Penrhyn and he was from Trawsfynydd, and they moved away to Nebo. It is something to start with at least! I’ve ordered a copy of Mrs G’s will and next need to work out where I can view the local electoral roll.


How it all began

Well this is scary…. I’ve never written a blog before, and writing text was never my strong point in school and university. Please bear with me while I figure out how all this works.

I thought I remembered that I had starting tracing my family history when my Grandmother inherited a widow’s ring, but while searching for something else I realised that it goes back further than that. I can tell you the exact date I began, 13th October 1984, thanks to a book I discovered buried in the bottom of my “family history box”. I’m surprised by how much of the book 10 year old me filled in. Another item added to my ever growing to-do list is to work through the book ensuring that all the information I gathered back then, when I could actually speak to my grandparents, is included in my family history.

Front page of Trace Your Family Tree by Margaret Crush completed by Ruth.

I had a copy of Trace Your Family Tree by Margaret Crush for my initial foray into family history research. It was all completed by interviewing family members, back then there was no Ancestry website, and I certainly didn’t visit any archive offices, I doubt I even knew what a census return was.

Here is 10 year old me, sitting on Hadrian’s Wall. Back then I wrote in the book that I lived in Macclesfield, had two sisters, brown hair and blue eyes, that I didn’t like spellings, but did like maths and trains. Well some of that has changed. I now have three siblings and have more or less mastered spelling. I did a degree in maths and education before moving to North Wales, where through the Ffestiniog Railway I met my husband, Tony. Trains are still very much part of our lives, he runs Rhos Helyg Locomotive Works a garden railway specialist and my full time job is as a tour consultant for Ffestiniog Travel, booking holidays for rail enthusiasts.
My other loves include Harry Potter, Jane Austen novels and fanfiction and our cats. During furlough I’ve been walking regularly, visiting the graveyards in Pentrefelin to transcribe the headstones, finding geocaches and Pokemon.

10 year old Ruth at Hadrians Wall
10 year old Ruth at Hadrian’s Wall