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Carmarthenshire

Spectacular woodland waterfalls restored as part of popular Carmarthenshire tourist attraction

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In a dreamy, wooded valley with water all around, there’s a very special experience waiting to be discovered.

Paid for with the fruits of a remarkable fundraising effort, the Regency Restoration project is the largest piece of work undertaken by the National Botanic Garden of Wales since it opened in May 2000.

Located at Llanarthney, close to Cross Hands in Carmarthenshire, the garden is both a visitor attraction and a centre for botanical research and conservation, and features the world’s largest single-span glasshouse.

The Middleton family from Oswestry built a mansion here in the early 17th century. Then in 1789 Sir William Paxton bought the estate for £40,000 to create a water park.

Water flowed around the estate via a system of interconnecting lakes, ponds and streams linked by a network of dams, water sluices, bridges and cascades. Spring water was stored in elevated reservoirs that fed into a lead cistern on the mansion’s roof, allowing Paxton’s residence to enjoy piped running water and the very latest luxury, water closets.

The restoration of the water park has taken five years and more than £7 million. It’s seen the restoration of a 1.5km lake, a waterfall and a cascade; a new 350-metre-long dam built, six new bridges… but now it’s restored and ready for all to see.

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Fancy a walk? There are miles of perfect paths that take in all of the amazing features.

Love wildlife? Come and luxuriate in nature’s bounty, where kingfishers, brimstone butterflies, otters and wild trout thrive.

Looking for the perfect family day out? Here’s a place for adventure. To explore. Look under rocks, turn back the clocks and play at being children once more where there is freedom and space and beauty into which you can be loosed on a wondrous journey of discovery and delight. For children of all ages.

This is just part of what’s on offer at the national garden, of course.

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Birds of Prey

The Botanic Garden is also now home to the British Bird of Prey Centre – a unique collection of raptors and the only place in the UK you can see a golden eagle and a European sea eagle fly, with stunning flying displays every day. It provides awesome encounters with remarkable creatures and a guaranteed, never-to-be-forgotten, up-close-and-personal experiences with owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, kestrels and red kites.

Glass Dome

The Botanic Garden’s centrepiece is the awesome glass dome that is Lord Foster’s Great Glasshouse, home to one of the finest collections of Mediterranean climate-zone plants in the world.

Cardiff-based writer and broadcaster Charles Williams said of this amazing building: “The world’s biggest single-span glasshouse looks like an alien mothership has crash-landed into the middle of some rural idyll (but in a good way).”

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All around the Great Glasshouse you will find plenty of paths to take and around every corner is something to savour, enjoy and marvel at.

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Why not take a tranquil lakeside walk?

A little further and you will find the ambitious Arboretum, where we are growing trees and shrubs from around the world with wild collected seed – planted for the future and growing fast.

Further still and you are on the wider estate where specially planned out and clearly-marked routes will transport you to new and amazing revelations – wild waxcap meadows where brightly coloured red, green and yellow fungi nestle like improbable gems in the tufty grass of the sheep-chewed pasture; and where the trees and hedgerows throng with whitethroats and flycatchers.

Not far from here, the centre’s carefully managed hay meadows reveal a treasury of orchids and other almost forgotten, stunning countryside wildflowers like ragged robin, yellow rattle, knapweed, greater burnet, eyebright and an abundance of orchids.

The park also features a unique and historic Double-Walled Garden, a steamy Tropical House, the busy Bee Garden, a Welsh heritage orchard and a newly-planted grove of more than 100 cherry trees.

For more information about the Botanic Garden visit www.botanicgardens.wales.

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(All images: National Botanic Gardens of Wales)


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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves

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Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.

His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.

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The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.

The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.

“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.

“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”

The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.

He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.

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“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”

He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.

“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.

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Dyfed Powys Police

Eight people have lost £58k in the last week to criminals in ‘courier fraud’ – with Llanelli area being hit hardest

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thoughtful adult woman talking on smartphone

Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating a growing number of reports of people posing as bank staff or police officers, as eight people have lost £58,000 to criminals in the last week alone due to ‘Courier Fraud’.

This increase is particularly prevalent in the Llanelli area.

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DC Gareth Jordan from the Economic Crime Team said: “People posing as fake bank staff or police officers have been calling residents and persuading them their accounts have been compromised, then sending a courier to collect the money. This is known as Courier Fraud.

“In the past week alone we have seen eight people lose a significant amount of money between them, and it’s very distressing for those victims. We are asking friends and family to look out for those that could be vulnerable – talk to them about this scam, advise them to be vigilant, and report any suspicious calls.

“Please remember that police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a ‘safe’ account.”

Dyfed Powys Police warn that if someone is claiming to be a police officer asks you to withdraw money for safe keeping or that they’re investigating the bank staff, it’s a scam.

The police, or your bank, will never ask you to assist in an internal investigation. They will never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN either. Never hand your card over with the PIN number.

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And the police will never send someone to your home to collect money, nor will they ask you to transfer funds out of your account.

Top Tips to protect yourself from fraudsters

Stop: Always take a moment to think before parting with your money or information – it could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to the police.

Report suspicious emails to: report@phishing.gov.uk

You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad. 

Anyone who receives a similar call is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police either online; by emailing: 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or calling: 101.

Anyone who thinks they have fallen victim to a scammer should report it by calling 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. For further advice and information on how to avoid being scammed visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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Dyfed Powys Police

Four men fined £6,000 for ‘barbaric’ illegal foul hook fishing

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Four men caught using a barbaric and illegal fishing method by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) enforcement officers during patrols of the River Loughor, near Llanelli, have been fined a total of £6,000.

They each appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court on 16 and 17 June and pleaded guilty to the offence of foul hooking – also known as snatching – which is prohibited under Section 1 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

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They were fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £10,300 to NRW for investigation costs.

The men were caught by NRW fisheries enforcement officers who were undertaking riverbank patrols of the River Loughor in summer 2021, working to address and prevent the use of foul hook fishing.

Each fish caught using the foul hooking method had been snagged on its tail, back or flank. All fishing equipment and illegally caught fish were seized by NRW and later confiscated by the court.

Alun Thomas, Senior Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “Foul hook fishing is barbaric, unethical and illegal. This method of fishing is not only indiscriminate on what species or size fish that are killed, but also inflicts untold damage to unseen numbers of fish which are likely to die of their injuries soon after. This is often made worse by using deliberately tampered fishing lures.

“NRW’s Fisheries Enforcement Officers and police take these incidents seriously, as do the courts. Hopefully, the small minority of anglers considering using illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines issued by the courts.”

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Romuald Krzysztof Biernacki of Dwyfor, Llanelli, was caught using the foul hooking method on 4 July 2021. He had illegally caught four mullets and six flounder fish.

Biernacki was fined £1,500 and made to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £2,500.

Hung Van Tran, travelled from his Gibson Road home in Handsworth, Birmingham, to fish on river Loughor on 25 August 2021. NRW fisheries enforcement officers discovered he had illegally caught four mullet fish using the foul hook method.

Hung Van Tran was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £1,800.

Duc Duy Tran of Brithweynydd, Tonypandy, and Tan Van Tran of Pentrebane Street, Caerphilly, were caught during another river patrol carried out by NRW fisheries enforcement officers accompanied by Dyfed-Powys Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer on 6 September 2021.

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Duc Duy Tran had illegally caught 14 mullet fish and was fined £1,500. He must also pay £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.

Tan Van Tran had illegally caught four mullet fish. He was fined £1,500, plus £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.

Alun Thomas added: “We would like to thank Dyfed-Powys Police, the local community and law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities. I urge them to continue to report such activity and we will investigate.

“We would encourage anyone going fishing to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations before going.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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