All posts by Editor

Sue McDonagh… Artist+Author

Some people aspire to be an artist from the very first moment they put pencil to paper, others chose painting as a hobby to be continued into retirement. In Sue’s case it was part of recuperation during and after hospitalisation which also ended a career in the police force. A natural ability to capture people’s expressions and movement was recognised by those around her and a relocation to Wales and the seaside provided a perfect environment to develop latent creative skills.

Her scenes of children on the beach and rock pools bring back memories of one’s own childhood and as parents on visits to the seaside. Special moments of individual discovery and fun with friends are wonderfully captured on canvas.

Sue McDonagh Artist

Her portraits bring out not just the physical likeness but the character within. Speaking of character, Sue cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise funds towards a new scanner for Barts Hospital, where she had been treated. She qualified as a volunteer lifeguard and competed at National Level. After a hip replacement Sue walked 45 miles across the Peak District non-stop in under 17 hours to raise funds for MacMillan Cancer. She also has a passion for motorbikes, being a ‘Curvy Rider’ on a powerful Honda CBF1000F sport touring motorcycle.

Sue McDonagh Author

With such qualities of observation and a positive attitude to life, it’s not surprising that Sue should eventually lend her creative and imaginative skills to writing, with three books to date and a fourth on its way. Find previews and online purchases here. No prizes for guessing who did the latest book cover and crocheted the blanket draped over the bench.

Sue McDonagh Artist and Author

Sue McDonagh
Learn more about Sue as an artist and author from her website and social media.

The Old Wool Barn
Verity’s Court,


King Fox Menswear

King Fox menswear Cowbridge

King Fox offers a range of branded menswear fashion and accessories to cover all occasions, from very casual to business. Colour and fabric combinations can be traditional or adventurous. Brands include Aquascutum, Carlos Cordoba, Giordano, Moray Cashmere, MAC Jeans, Trickers, Santinelli Tailoring, Magee 1866, Stetson, Bruhl, Henry Arlington and more.

King Fox Cowbridge

The boutique has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere emanating from the colourful mix of clothes and accessories, some quirkier than others but always great quality. It’s a breath of fresh air to see the possibilities of different combinations and the chance to ‘try it and see’if it works for you.

This is a place for men of all seasons and occasions, for those who enjoy life and not afraid to show it. They say ‘clothes maketh the man’ and King Fox will certainly help you do that, be it in the boardroom, the club, social events or on vacation.

King Fox Menswear


6 High Street
CF71 7AG

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Pozzuoli – Its rise and fall

We asked Paul Barber to write an account of his visit to Sofia Loren’s home town, Pozzuoli. Other attractions include the Flavian Amphitheater, which is the third largest Roman amphitheater in Italy, and a Piazza that rises and falls with the volcanic activity.

Pozzuoli is very well-known with Italians and is a very important place for its ancient sights and because of the nearby Solfatara volcano, which is very active. Once the traveller arrives in Pozzuoli, they can visit the ‘Flavian Amphitheatre’, go down to the waterfront for lunch and return up the hill out of town to the Solfatara volcano.

View from VesuviusView over Naples towards Pozzuoli from Vesuvius

When visiting Mount Vesuvius our guide told us about the volcano monitoring station situated there and explained that it is linked to another at Solfatara, where ground movement is constantly monitored in case of eruption of the super-volcano there. Pozzuoli is situated in the middle of the Phlegrean Fields of small volcanos and is subject to a phenomena known as Bradyism, in which the whole town slowly rises, sinks and rises again caused by the underlying volcanic activity. The town has risen more than 11 feet in the past 30 years!

Pozzuoli AmphitheatreAmphitheatre above and below

The ‘Flavian Amphitheatre’ is very interesting; built between AD 69-79, the third largest amphitheatre in Italy (with a seating capacity of 20,000 people), it was the site of the martyrdom of Naples’ beloved San Gennaro – who’s remains are to be found in the Duomo of Naples. The exterior of the building is crumbling a bit, but unlike Rome’s Colosseum, the flooring of the Flavian Amphitheatre survives intact. Visitors can wander through the tunnels and chambers beneath, where gladiators and wild beasts once awaited their fate.

Moving down towards the waterfront, in a palm-shaded, sunken park at the centre of town lies the romantically half-flooded ‘Temple of Serapide’. This was once the marketplace of the Roman city and is marked by three standing columns and a ring of column stubs surrounding a raised circular dais. The site is not open to the public, but can be seen clearly from the surrounding fence.

PozzuoliTemple of Serapide with restaurants in the background

Next to the ‘Temple of Serapide’ is the ‘Trattoria il Tempio’, where the umbrella shaded tables are set on cobblestones directly overlooking the ancient site. Pozzuoli’s seafood was a wonderful experience and this restaurant serves an excellent array of dishes.

A 20-minute walk above Pozzuoli is the elliptical caldera of the ‘Solfatara Volcano’. Although it hasn’t actually erupted since AD 1198, the parched, alien landscape of bubbling mud pits and fumaroles furiously venting sulphurous steam remind intrepid visitors that molten lava still runs just under the ground surface here. Monitoring of ground movement and sampling of gases keep an eye on what’s going on under the surface, together with monitoring on Vesuvius scientists keep an eye out for any sign of increased volcanic activity. This has been a visitor attraction since early Roman times and in its modern incarnation as a tourism site has been going strong since 1900. Guided tours are available to take visitors round the site, which is well worth a visit for those who want to see volcanic activity close-to.

SolfataraSolfatara fumarole

Other interesting sites nearby that could be visited on a guided tour include the ‘Cave of the Cumean Sybil’ and ‘Lago di Averno’ (the gateway to the underworld where Aeneas descended to confront Hades) and trip on a glass-bottomed boat to see the old part of Baia town several metres below sea level (Baia’s underwater archeological park).

Paul Barber. June 2017

Editor’s notes
Pozzuoli is still relatively quiet in comparison to the region’s other attractions and offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore Roman ruins, above and below water, and a volcanic landscape, once thought of as the ‘gateway to hell’. Located 20 km west of Naples it takes around 40 minutes by road and 90 minutes by train.

You can find more information about Pozzuoli’s attractions on these websites:
Vulcano Solfatara
Pozzuoli’s official website

The copy and photographs of this page are subject to copyright.

Lisa Valentine Home

Lisa Valentine nailbrush

After many years looking for a nailbrush that was easy to hold and with bristles that were not too soft or splayed out when used a few times, I discovered the perfect solution. The ‘PoP Up Shop’ in Cowbridge (more to say about this soon) was displaying a range of household items in the window and there it was, a traditional beech wood nailbrush with bristles that meant business.

Lisa Valentine Feather Duster
Lisa Valentine Lemon Squeezer

Inside revealed a cornucopia of items that have stood the test of time, not just practical and functional but now considered stylish and ideal for traditional interior design themes. Ostrich feather dusters, pristine white lemon squeezers, enamel jugs and bowls, pan and brush sets – the list goes on.

Lisa Valentine Ladder Shelf
Lisa Valentine Log Holder

There were also examples of larger items such as wrought iron fireside tools, log holders, ladder shelves, folding wooden clothes horses, large rattan laundry baskets and more, statement pieces in themselves or essential accessories for an authentic country home feel.

Lisa Valentine table and chairs

At the till Lisa gave us a Thank You card which described her business as “an online shop full of practical, beautiful & useful homeware”. We visited the website and found an even wider selection of items, including furniture, all of which bring back memories for some and inspiration to others. Lisa also offers a home styling service and has a holiday cottage in West Wales for rent. You can imagine how that will look.
As for the nailbrush? Perfect!

Lisa Valentine

Lisa Valentine Home
View and purchase items on the Online Shop and find out more about the design service and holiday cottage.

Lisa Valentine Home


And now a word from Lisa herself

Video by Stu Legend