"It has been a long process and we still have lots of work to do and ideas we want to develop,” said artist Blue. “We are so excited to move to such an inspiring location where we can bring all our energy and creative hub to a town which we started calling our home four years ago.
“It has been very difficult through COVID to establish the pottery and keep spirits up, but, hopefully, with the community behind us, we can plan for a bright future.
“We hope to expand the pottery, have a small gallery space and a sculpture and painting studio too. This Christmas, we are celebrating our new space with a ceramic show called ‘Shades of Clay’. All the ceramics are made on site from clay to glaze and kiln firings.
“We have stunning vessels, mugs, jugs and bowls for sale as well as vouchers that can be bought in person, online or by phone. Vouchers can be for pottery lessons or for buying ceramics.”
She and Alex thanked the community for its supported said local people had kept them going at a very difficult time.
“Some local people may have seen us volunteer at this summer’s Fun Day on The Groe,” added Blue. “What a wonderful experience that was and it was great to give people a free taster of what we have to offer.
“It was great working with the town council and we hope to be a part of events in Builth in the future.”
Alex and Blue are raising their young family in Builth Wells and they say it’s ’important for them and other young people to have many aspirational pathways to explore.
“So many new, creative, self-employed people have moved to Powys in lockdown,” revealed Blue. “Creative hubs, like the pottery school, and their success are so important to the vibrant future of Builth Wells and the cultivation of an exciting and creative hotspot for tourists.
“The building we have moved to was previously used by the community and the original primary school nearby as a gym too. Local residents have told us their stories of Bumps and Babies sessions, music and ballet classes and people who have worked on the hall and cleaned and repaired it over the years.
“When our beautiful kilns were installed, our local electrician, who had gone to school in Builth, remembered all his friends and PE classes. He said he loved working on the building as it brought back all the faces and voices from those school days and that is also what inspires us to carry on making important memories in such a treasured local landmark.
“These comments have reminded us just how important the building is to the whole community and that we do something important here.”
Alex Allpress Ceramic Studio & Pottery School is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
Alex Allpress with customers at his pottery school.
A Newtown attraction is offering businesses and groups a Christmas party with a difference this year.
Beyond Breakout, located on the fourth floor of Newtown’s Royal Welsh Warehouse, Pryce Jones Building, has a choice of three escape rooms for festive party groups
“As well as being great fun, escape rooms can double up as both a party and a team building exercise,” said Lorna Morris, who runs Beyond Breakout with business partner Jo Woodall.
“Escape rooms are a great way to bond with colleagues, allowing between two to six players per group to team up and solve the puzzles in the room that will lead to their escape.
“For larger groups, Beyond Breakout can make it competitive for all by allowing teams to play against each other and the clock to see who can escape the fastest with the fewest clues along the way.
“We have three different escape room themes to choose from: Lost in Puzzleland, The Mask and our Christmas room, Elfin’ Mistake, which is opening on November 1.
“Playing an escape game together is an excellent way to connect and leaves participants with a lot to talk about post game.”
Lorna says playing an escape room can develop a positive mindset, as solving puzzles stimulates both sides of the brain, which improves mental health, mental clarity and heightens memory power.
“Playing the game can trigger the secretion of a hormone called serotonin - the happy chemical - which keeps us all excited and happy,” she added. “Most importantly, we hear a lot of laughter coming from our escape rooms, and laughter is indeed the best medicine!”
Beyond Breakout creates bespoke experiences for corporate clients to meet their requirements. For prices and more information about team building packages, visit www.beyondbreakout.com .
Beyond Breakout is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
One of the many groups that has taken up the Beyond Breakout escape room challenge.
>> Beyond Breakout on Visit Mid Wales
Collaboration between the Cambrian Mountains Initiative and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has resulted in The Cambrian Mountains Food, Drink and Craft Fair, to be held in the Elan Valley on October 23, between 10am and 4pm.
During the dark times of the COVID-19 pandemic, local food, drink and craft producers in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales came together to create a virtual local produce network.
Whilst it was the dark times that motivated producers to join forces, it’s the world-class dark skies of the Cambrian Mountains that have recently inspired them to create brand new produce.
The producers will meet for the first time at The Cambrian Mountains Food, Drink and Craft Fair, to be held at the Elan Valley Visitor Centre, near Rhayader. Local people, tourism and hospitality businesses and visitors will have a chance to see, buy and order their dark sky themed produce.
The Elan Valley is an International Dark Sky Park, the only one in Wales and the only one on private land, but accessible to the public, in the world - https://www.elanvalley.org.uk/darkskies
The event celebrates creativity and resilience and highlights the importance of community cohesion in times of adversity.
For a flip-book of the brochure of Cambrian Mountains Local Produce, visit https://issuu.com/walkcambrianmountains/docs/cambrian_mountains_local_produce_2021
A video showing the produce available at the Elan Valley event can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuVztRdC4Fs .
The network of producers was facilitated by the RDP-funded Dyfodol Cambrian Futures and part-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Ceredigion County Council, Powys County Council and Carmarthenshire County Council.
The project also receives support from the Cefn Croes Windfarm Community Trust, Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm Community Fund, Aberystwyth University and the Elan Valley Trust.
Local food, drink and craft producers are uniting for the Elan Valley event.
RSPB Cymru is inviting families to enjoy a Big Wild Halloween on its nature reserves this October half term with spooky, nature-filled events for all ages to enjoy.
For more information about Big Wild Halloween and to find a full list of events and activities on offer at their reserves, visit: https://events.rspb.org.uk/Cymru .
In Mid Wales, RSPB Ynys-hir, near Machynlleth is arranging a Twilight Trail on Wednesday, October 27 from 4pm to 5.30pm. Visitors will have a chance to discover the wildlife that comes out at dusk, to toast marshmallows on the fire and play some games.
A family ticket for two adults and up to three children costs £18 for RSPB members and £20 for non-members. Adult RSPB members pay £8 and non-members £10, while cost for children is £5 each for RSPB members and £6 for non-member. Call 01654 700222 or visit https://events.rspb.org.uk/ynys-hir for more information.
Other events are being held at RSPB South Stack, RSPB Conwy and RSPB Newport Wetlands. For RSPB Halloween events across the UK, fun activities, and more info about wildlife visit: rspb.org.uk/halloween .
An adult female wasp spider suspended in web.
Image: Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
The Silver Mountain Experience, a family visitor attraction based just outside Aberystwyth, is gearing up for a fun-filled Halloween season during the school half-term between October 23-31.
Visitors to the Victorian mine, located at Llywernog, near Ponterwyd on the A44 between Aberystwyth and Llangurig, can experience a variety of guided tours, as well as plenty of spook-tacular Halloween activities.
Adventurers can enjoy three different guided tours, which explore the history of the site, both above and below ground. Those feeling adventurous can explore Welsh myths and legends in ‘Black Chasm: Unearthed’, a thrilling journey underground, with even more frights for Halloween. This tour is only suitable for those over the age of 10, and for those who are feeling brave!
‘A Miner’s Life’ is another of guided tour which delves into the fascinating story of the Victorian mine, giving a glimpse into the gruelling work conditions its hey-day.
Families with younger visitors can enjoy ‘A Dragon’s Tale’, a brave quest to hunt a friendly, mythical Welsh dragon hiding somewhere in the mines.
Alongside the exciting guided tours, visitors will find a range of extra Halloween activities for all ‘little monsters’ to enjoy.
New for 2021 is The Witches Potion Halloween Trail, where young visitors can help a resident witch to find her missing potion ingredients. She might treat those who find them all!
A captivating Storyteller will retell spine-tingling ghost stories. Visitors can also have fun Pumpkin carving - a supplement applies to this activity.
To find out more information and pre-book your tickets, visit at www.silvermountainexperience.co.uk/spooky
As well as all the exciting attractions, there is also The Miner’s Rest Café, which can be visited without booking the attractions. There’s also the Ultimate Xscape, on-site escape rooms, which have recently reopened with two brand new experiences for all the family.
Help find the missing potion ingredients on The Witches Potion Halloween Trail.
>> Silver Mountain Experience on Visit Mid Wales
Terror Mountain returns later this month with its biggest ever live Halloween event which is guaranteed to make visitors scream and laugh in equal measure.
Set in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains, just outside Aberystwyth, Terror Mountain is ready to deliver a night of terror, thrills and fun for all attending on selected nights between October 22-31.
Visitors can experience five terrifying live action horror attractions and many more surprises. The creative team at Terror Mountain has developed an array of attractions that bring a variety of horrors to life, in terrifyingly themed experiences, all whilst being set in a genuine Victorian mine.
There are two brand new additions in the 2021 line-up, as well as some returning fan favourites. The Coven, one of the new additions, will see visitors search for legendary witches in pitch black woods.
Visitors may discover why things go bump in the night in the second new attraction, Haunted: Live. This thrilling horror experience sees visitors taking part in a live filming of a paranormal investigation that has the potential to go horribly wrong.
Returning favourites include the terrifying Summoning, where visitors witness a séance that doesn’t quite go to plan. Those feeling very brave can enter the mine itself and come face to face with a variety of twisted demonic creatures in Retribution.
Finally, Night Stalker is a live action show that will have visitors on the edge of their seat, as they try to discover the true identity of a mysterious murderer.
As well as the terrifying attractions, visitors can enjoy delicious food, a spooky atmosphere and hilariously odd wandering actors who love to say hello!
Located at the Silver Mountain Experience near Ponterwyd, on the A44 between Aberystwyth and Llangurig, Terror Mountain is running on selected nights from the October 22-31. Pre-booking at www.terrormountain.co.uk/tickets is strongly advised as tickets are limited.
The Silver Mountain Experience is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent company representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
Brave visitors will be hunting witches in black wood in the new Terror Mountain attraction, The Coven.
A poster promoting the Terror Mountain event.
Terror Mountain 2021 at Silver Mountain Experience | Live Entertainment | Aberystwyth|Ceredigion (visitmidwales.co.uk)
The attraction says there will be lots of festive fun thrown in too.
Mark Waite, mine guide, said: “Our vast underground caverns, hand dug by Victorian slate miners, provide a perfect setting to escape the workplace and enjoy some festive fun.
“Each Christmas exploration will be bespoke but adventure, fun and a safe environment are 100% guaranteed. This year has been tough and we wanted to provide a safe, fun space for staff teams to be rewarded this Christmas.”
The Underground Christmas Explorations can be arranged for an hour, two hours or half a day and are available to book from now until Christmas.
Individually tailored trips are available for a minimum of six explorers up to a team of 40. To arrange a bespoke Christmas Exploration, contact Mark Waite 01650 511720.
Mark Waite and Santa prepare for the Underground Christmas Explorations at Corris Mine Explorers.
New caravan and motorhome models for 2022 will be revealed by leading manufacturers at a Shropshire event next month.
The West Midlands Caravan & Motorhome New 2022 Model Show is being hosted by Salop Leisure at the company’s headquarters alongside Shrewsbury bypass at Emstrey from October 9 to 17.
The UK’s largest free caravan and motorhome show follows one of the busiest summers on record for the industry with staycationing booming due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Ed Glover, Salop Leisure’s marketing manager, stressed that the company will be following the latest government pandemic advice to keep visitors and staff safe throughout the show.
“This show is a great opportunity to see a selection of the new 2022 caravan and motorhome models for the first time right here in Shropshire” he said. “Visitors can take their time to see all the new smart ideas, innovations and fresh designs on display. It’s a great day out for all the family.
“More British people than ever have staycationed this year, due to restrictions on foreign travel, which has been a great boost for the UK’s caravan and motorhome industry as well as tourism businesses.
“The percentage of first-time buyers has increased as families and couples recognise and appreciate the flexibility of owning a caravan or motorhome.”
The show, which provides free parking for visitors, will feature new touring caravans from the Swift Group and Coachman, new caravan holiday homes and luxury lodges from ABI, Atlas, Carnaby, Swift and Willerby and new motorhomes from the Swift group. Pre-owned models will also be available.
Visitors who invest in a caravan holiday home or luxury lodge will be helped by a holiday park finder service to identify their ideal location, with more than 250 parks to choose from in Mid Wales and the Heart of England. Park representatives will be on hand to provide information
Experts will also be on hand to guide first time buyers through the complete process of owning a touring caravan, motorhome or caravan holiday home.
Love Coffee restaurant will be open for snacks, meals and drinks throughout the show and staff at specialist plants centre, Love Plants, will have a wide selection of plants and advice to offer for autumn, winter and spring gardens.
Money raised by selling teas and coffees to customers during the show will be donated to the Lingen Davies Cancer Centre at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
Salop Leisure’s holiday homes trade associate director Dave Attfield with a customer at a previous West Midlands Caravan & Motorhome New Model Show.
The first major tourism and hospitality conference held in Wales since the Covid-19 pandemic began in the UK last year is to go ahead in Llandrindod Wells in November.
MWT Cymru has announced that the 2021 Mid Wales Tourism and Hospitality Conference will be held at The Metropole Hotel on November 9 from 9.45am to 3.30pm
To help ensure a safe conference, everyone attending must have an up to date NHS Covid pass, details of which are available at https://covid-status.service.nhsx.nhs.uk/
“We all have a responsibility to keep each other safe at this year’s conference,” said Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive. “Whilst the success of the vaccine programme in Wales has provided us with the opportunity to meet in-person this year, we all must take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
MWT Cymru is an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
“The tourism and hospitality sector has been one of the economic sectors hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Mrs Hawkins. “The focus of this year’s conference is to explore how individual businesses, communities and organisations can pull together and rebuild as we move forward to 2022 and beyond.
“With the unlikely return of the international market to the levels seen pre-pandemic for another few years, destinations across the UK will be focusing their attention on the domestic and staycation trend. With increased destination competition, how will Mid Wales compete?
“Our conference provides an opportunity to cover topics that matter most to tourism and hospitality businesses. It is an event not to be missed, no matter how big or small your business is.
“The conference is designed to give businesses a clearer idea of what's going on, what's changing and what we can all do to better work together to keep Mid Wales at the forefront of people's minds.”
Delegates will hear from experts in their fields and have an opportunity to network with other tourism and hospitality professionals, industry leaders, suppliers and business support organisations.
The line-up of speakers for the conference, which is being sponsored by pan-Wales apprenticeship provider Cambrian Training Company and supported by Visit Wales, will be announced in the next two weeks. For more information and to book tickets visit www.midwalestourismconference.co.uk
MWT Cymru’s membership and marketing manager Claire Owen chats with Populate Social founder Dan Simmons at the Mid Wales Tourism Conference in 2019.
A Talyllyn Railway locomotive has had a busy and varied few weeks celebrating its centenary during September.
Locomotive No 4, named ‘Edward Thomas’ after the former general manager prior to Talyllyn becoming the UK’s first ever preserved railway, was originally built by manufacturers Kerr Stuart of Stoke on Trent in 1921 for Corris Railway.
It was Corris Railway’s fourth operational locomotive, the other three being, at that time, in a poor condition and in need of overhaul.
When the railway was taken over by Great Western Railway in 1930, Loco No 4 was working the line with the one surviving and now overhauled Loco No 3, dating back to 1878.
By the time of nationalisation in 1948, Loco No 4 was out of service and in need of overhaul. When Corris Railway was closed by British Railways in the same year, Corris Locos No 3 and No 4, were stored under a tarpaulin on a siding behind Machynlleth Station.
They remained there for a further three years until both were purchased by the newly formed Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society in 1951, to be named “Sir Haydn” and “Edward Thomas” respectively. They joined existing Talyllyn locos No 1 (Talyllyn) and No 2 (Dolgoch), both of which needed overhaul.
On September 4 and 5, Loco No 4 made a nostalgic return visit to Corris Railway for a gala weekend in celebration of its 100th birthday. The loco back at Talyllyn Railway to continue is centenary celebrations on September 11 and 12.
Over the weekend, special trains were made up in which Edward Thomas ran as a double header with visiting Corris Loco No 7.
The gala weekend also featured Diana and Apedale Valley Light Railway locomotive S4 “Stanhope” Kerr Stuart Tattoo Class 2395. These two locos ran on a temporary 2ft gauge track, giving cab rides in the yard at Tywyn Wharf Station.
Diana was purchased in 2014 by Talyllyn Railway member and volunteer Phil Mason who completed its restoration following year and the loco was serving on Bala Lake Railway by the end of that year.
Diana’s own centenary, in 2017, was celebrated by a tour of several of the UK railways including Statfold Barn, Beamish, Ffestiniog and the Welsh Highland. The loco is currently operating on the Amerton Railway, Staffordshire
Stanhope was also completed in 1917 and has passed through the ownership of a number of companies, including civil engineers ‘Holloway Brothers’ for work on the construction of 1,000 homes in Rosyth, relating to the Royal Naval Dockyard.
It then transferred to Kent for the construction of the Swanley bypass, following which ownership passed to Durham County Water Board, where it acquired its name “Stanhope.”
The gala weekend was complemented by Talyllyn Railway Craft Beer, Cider and Gin Festival, with 10 locally brewed real ales available as well as a variety of ciders and locally sourced gins.
Society chairman, Jonathan Mann, said: “It was a real treat to have the two visiting Kerr Stuart locomotives with us for the event. Seeing ‘Stanhope’ and our No 4 ‘Edward Thomas’ side by side revealed both the similarities and the differences.
“I would like to thank the owners for making their locomotives available and for letting me drive them both. Thanks also go to our friends at Corris Railway for their co-operation and for allowing their replica locomotive, No 7, to visit us.”
>> Find out more about Talyllyn Railway on the Visit Mid Wales website
Visiting Kerr Stuart locomotives Diana and Stanhope.
Edward Thomas double heads with Corris Railway locomotive No 7.
Photos: Glenn Cannon.
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