Tuesday, 29 March 2016

National Cycle Museum

Llandrindod Wells has the honour of playing host to the National Cycle Museum of Great Britain, located at the Automobile Palace on Temple Street. It was opened 21st March 1997 by Mr Tom Norton and the building was originally know as the "The Palace of Sport". 

The National Cycle Collection is a very rare museum showcasing the history of transport by bicycle over the last 200 years. This ranges from the famous Bone-shakers and Penny-Farthings right through to the potential bikes we could possibly see out on the roads, competing in races at the top level in the near future. Most Cycle Museums are usually part of a Transport Museum or are private and so not open to the public, therefore it is for this reason Llandrindod Wells is extremely lucky that it plays host to this special museum. It may only be sheer coincidence that it is here, but the town should embrace this fantastic tourist attraction as it helps bring many visitors in to visit our own very friendly Victorian Spa town. 

There are well over 200 cycles on display and as you take a stroll through the museum you move through time; allowing you to see with your own eyes and come to understand how and why cycling as a mode of transport has evolved through the years. Each cycle in the museum is labeled with a brief description of when the type of bike was first made and why it was created in such a way. This helps to create a real visitor friendly experience and you do not have to be a cyclist to become enthralled with all the history available at your hands. There are also very vivid and descriptive display boards all around the museum which only add to the experience.

On the whole the museum emphasises how the bike has changed through time and ultimately this is just a reflection of how society changed, as the bike changed to fit the times. The bike was originally a mode of transport more efficient and quicker than walking, and now the bike is constantly being engineered to be as light and as efficient as possible to provide professional cyclists the "edge" over their competitors in order to win major cycling events like the Tour De France.

One of the parts of the museum that really caught my eye was the Bicycle Shop Windows and the posters advertising all of the bikes that were on sale back in the day as this displays how bicycles were a huge part of fashion and a way to show other people and your peers your social class (a bit like owning a Lamborghini today!).

I remember when I first visited the museum when I was about eleven years old and I was amazed at the sheer number of bikes on display. Personally, I think it's possible to spend hours in the museum pouring over the history and when you leave you will feel as if you know all about the history of cycling and probably want to get out on your bike right that minute.


The National Cycle Museum is now a registered Independent Charitable Trust. Its objectives are to stimulate interest in the history of cycling and provide an educational service to young people. The museum is succeeding in these objectives as there are numerous groups and school visits to the museum throughout the year, allowing children and young people outside of the community of Llandrindod Wells to experience the history of cycling in a fun, exciting way. 

The museum is run by a team of volunteers and trustees and without these people it would not be possible for the National Cycle Collection to exist. Any member of the public can become a friend of The National Cycle Museum and the museum would gratefully appreciate any donations towards running costs of the building and the maintenance of the museum in order to allow it to continue to flourish. In the future the trustees of the museum would love to be able to employ full time staff in order to allow the museum to be open all of the time, but this is just not feesable at the moment. I for one would love to see this happen as I see the Museum as an excellent asset to the town and surrounding area.

You may have noticed when you are driving or walking by the Automobile Palace the highly decorative art on the fence panels. These are designed by Geraint Edwards from Celf o Gwmpas and I think they add a feeling of vibrancy to the outside of the museum and maybe even help to draw passers by into stopping to take a look around the enthralling collection. 

A number of bikes are transported around the UK from the National Cycle Museum each year. For example some of the bikes have been to Hampton Court Palace, appeared on The Cycle Show etc. When I visited the Cycle Museum recently, I was told Chris Boardman's bike usually resides at the museum but had recently been taken away to be shown at shows over the country.

Chris Boardman riding his famous bike at the 1992 Olympics

It costs £5 for adults, £4 for senior citizens and £2 for children to look around the museum and the opening days and times are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10am until 4pm, November to March. After March check the National Cycle Museum website for detailed opening times. The museum is also dog friendly and there is also a children's quiz available. There are also a huge number of gifts you can purchase from the museum in order to help you remember a special day out exploring the history of the bike.

Monday, 14 March 2016


Recently, I interviewed Lisa Horne all about a new exciting charity event which will be happening here in Llandrindod Wells very soon.

Heidi Davies: What local committee are you a part of?
Lisa Horne: The committee is newly formed and is called L.E.D which stands for Love Everything Dod.
L.E.D's logo
Who is on the committee and what is the main aim/focus of this committee?  
L.E.D includes a handful of local volunteers with the passion to help improve Llandrindod life.  The main focus will always be creating a fantastic Christmas fayre.  To do this, throughout the year we will be organising community events with all proceeds going towards a magical fayre at the end of the year.  At these events we are hoping to help promote local businesses, provide wonderful community experiences and put Llandrindod Wells back on the map as the place to visit at Christmas time and all throughout the year.

How long has this committee been formed? 
L.E.D was formed off the back of last years Christmas Fayre that was held in the Metropole Hotel.  Amy and Hannah Bubear were the organisers of the fayre and seeing the success, encouraged them to make this an annual event.  As you can imagine a lot of time, effort and money went into that fayre and they realised they couldn't do it alone again this year so via Facebook asked if anyone was interested in joining them and towards the end of January L.E.D was formed.

What event are you organising?
Our very first event will be a Masquerade Ball held at the Commodore Hotel, Llandrindod Wells.

When is the event?
Saturday 30th April at 7.30pm which coincides with the May bank holiday.  What better way to spend your 3 day weekend than getting dolled up and joining us!?

Who can attend?
The event is 18+ but otherwise absolutely anyone can attend; we have tried to cater for everyone.  Maybe you want to treat your partner to a special night out? Perhaps the girls want a different girls night out? Maybe you're looking for an unusual works night out?  Or, if like me, you just want a reason to get glammed up and have a great night out in Llandrindod.
Is there a particular dress code?
Yes, the theme is Hollywood Glamour so we are thinking along the lines of red carpet Oscar event.  Did I mention we do actually have a red carpet?
Ladies, do you still have 'that' dress in the wardrobe that you absolutely love and thought you'd never have a reason to wear it again? Or maybe it's an excuse to go and do some fancy dress shopping. Men, dust off that suit/tux, treat yourself to a new dickie bow and get ready to make those heads turn.                                                                                                                                                          
No Masquerade Ball would be complete without a mask.  Whether you buy one or make one yourself we are so excited to see what everyone wears.
We have competitions for those best dressed so don't forgot to pull out all the stops.

Have you got any advice to give the community of Llandrindod Wells when they are preparing for this event?
Our aim is to put on a grand glamourous event but more importantly we want people to enjoy it and have fun.  We are encouraging people to dress up to the nines, don some amazing masks and bring a few extra £'s to enter our Chinese Auction to win some great prizes.  No other preparation is needed but if anyone has any questions please send us an e-mail (joneschristmasfayre@gmail.com) or a message via our Facebook page. 

What is the sell-out feature of your event? / Why will people want to attend?
Where do I start? Firstly you will have a grand entrance down a red carpet in the already fabulous Commodore Hotel where photographer Rebecca Smith will be getting some paparazzi style pics of your arrival.  Rebecca will be at the event all night snapping great memories of the event.  These pictures will then be available for purchase from L.E.D after the event. We will have live music, a buffet, DJ and to add that something a little different we have secured magician Rob Chapman. He blends magic, mind reading and hypnotism and rather than put on a stage show he will be mingling with the guests so you will get a 1 to 1 magic performance to remember. As well as all this entertainment we will have a Chinese Auction which will include a spa day, a lunch for 2, both at Lake Country House Hotel and Spa and a hamper full of goodies from local businesses with more prizes to come. As I mentioned we have competitions with the categories being 'Best Dressed', 'Best Couple' and 'Best Mask' and awards will go out to the winners during the evening.

How much does it cost to attend the event and what is the money raised going towards?
The tickets are £25 each or £42 a pair and you will be getting bag loads for your money!  All proceeds will be put back into L.E.D to help fund the next event and ultimately our end of year event – the Christmas fayre.

Where can people get their tickets?
Tickets are now available at G & A Jones Newsagent in Llandrindod Wells or online, please send an e-mail to joneschristmasfayre@gmail.com.

Where did the idea come from? Was it something you have always had in mind or a completely new idea?
Llandrindod was renowned for staging grand balls during the Victorian times and we wanted to try and bring that back but wanted to keep it modern and exciting.  While we had the framework of our first ball we knew we wanted to make it a stand out event and during a brainstorming session the idea of masquerade cropped up and, as they say, the rest is history. 
How do you think this event will benefit the community of Llandrindod Wells?
This event is about bringing the community together, a reason to get dressed up knowing you'll have a great time and you're helping to contribute to future events in Llandrindod.  For all our events we will be trying to promote local businesses where we can and help to grow the ever expanding community events.

Are the committee going to organise any future events?
Most definitely! This is just the start for us.  We have a whole list of ideas for future events, some of which Llandrindod may not have experienced before.  We are hoping to build on these each year and increase the number of events as we build up steam.  We are hoping our next event to be a medieval banquet which will take place later in the year.

Can you describe the event in three words?
Glamourous, Magical, Show-stopping

So be sure to keep an eye on L.E.D's Facebook page as they will be posting lots of things about the event between now and the 30th April including useful links to help with planning and creating your outfits for the glamourous event. You can also follow the L.E.D committee on Twitter.

Why don't you get yourself down to G & A Jones Newsagent to purchase your tickets in order to enjoy a glittering night to celebrate all that is wonderful about life in the friendly community of Llandrindod Wells.

I wish the L.E.D committee every success with this event and ones to come in the future. They are a shining example of just one of the brilliant things happening in #llandrindodlife! 

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." ~ Helen Keller

Monday, 7 March 2016

Arvon Ales

Arvon Ales located along Temple Street is Llandrindod's very own Micropub. There are about 200 of these Micropubs in England but Llandrindod Wells has the privilege and honour of being host to the first in Powys. The pub has an emphasis on serving good quality real ales whilst providing a welcoming place for people to chat, relax, meet new people and feel they belong to the strong community of Llandrindod Wells. It is only natural the Micropub does not have televisions, WiFi or music as the emphasis is on the good old fashioned tradition of excellent ale and real people and this is something, the owner Laura Gallagher feels makes the place so special. 
Some of the ales on offer at Arvon Ales

Laura and John opened up the doors of Arvon Ales to the community of Llandrindod Wells in November 2014. They effectively "stole" the idea and model of developing a Micropub by converting an empty shop into a friendly and cosy bar and brewing ale in a low risk way. After visiting several Micropubs themselves they thought they would give it a go at combining their love of ale into a business idea and this has proved highly successful and a real hit with people of this old Victorian spa town in Mid Wales.

Arvon Ales has a large quality and choice of real ale available and this is paramount with the business being awarded the Campaign for Real Ale Award (CAMRA). Although Arvon Ales are proud of the fact most of the ales are sourced from a 30 mile radius the Micropub actually has it's own small brewery where some of the ales are fermented in a safe way and this is one of the reasons why the Ale House has achieved the CAMRA award as the beer is kept really well. This encourages people to come into Arvon Ales and try out the beer and experience a completely different environment to a normal pub. 

CAMRA award

Laura's favourite ale at the moment is the Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild which she describes to have a full malty rich taste. March is Welsh Beer and Cider month at Arvon Ales with all the draughts beers selling this month being produced in Wales. You can see everything in the cellar here.
March is Welsh month at Arvon Ales

"Last week we had offerings from Tudor in Blaenau Gwent, Big Hand from Wrexham, Heavy Industry from Denbighshire, Cwrw Ial from Mold and Waen Brewery from right here in Powys."
Lots of people that come to drink ale and socialise at Arvon Ales are people who have stopped going out drinking in bigger pubs on nights out but are still looking for real ale and a friendly atmosphere to socalise. People come from all over the place to Llandrindod Wells, even from as far as Aberystwyth just to visit Arvon Ales and this certainly is an asset to the town. 

One of the exciting things which happens at Arvon Ales is the folk sessions every second and fourth Sunday of the month from 4pm.  This attracts numerous musicians from the local area and I can imagine the place becomes extremely lively at these events.

Here's an example of the music produced at the folk session. You can view more of these clips here.

A Blues Session is the next potential event Arvon Ales has on its radar in the way of music so if you are interested and want this to happen get in touch. As Laura says "the more the merrier".

Folk session fun

The Art Wall within Arvon Ales features an exhibition of art from the National Cycle Museum located in Llandrindod Wells and Laura is hoping it will soon feature art work from the Radnorshire Museum

The Art Wall featuring work 
by local artist, Amanda Skipsey

Here is what some of the community of Llandrindod Wells and the surrounding area have had to say about Arvon Ales on their Facebook page and tripadvisor.

"We visited this fantastic pub on Saturday and were greeted with the warmest of welcomes from the owner Laura and had a brilliant night talking with many of the friendly locals here. The ale was in first class condition too so I probably had more than I should have done (ahem). If ever you are in the area and enjoy a pint or few of ale or proper cider then I cannot recommend this pub highly enough."~Trevor Harris
"This is just what the town needed superb little ale house with friendly owners to boot! Always an excellent selection of unusual beers not the run of the mill stuff and with the added bonus of carry outs for those cosy nights in! Thanks guys keep up the good work x"~Jenny Phillips
"Beers - Always spoilt for choice. Warm welcoming atmosphere. Laura and John superb hosts. Always making new and re aquainting with old friends . A wonderful bubbly place."~Lucy Sidaway
"The best beer I've sampled in ages and as for the whiskey !!!!"~Pete Anderson
"A proper pub! I got a good vibe as soon as I walked through the door. No TV, games machines, piped music or nonsense! Friendly landlord & landlady. 5 real ales on tap (although we kept coming back to the moreish Cwrw Ial Pothole Porter). Excellent selection of other drinks: a real cider, excellent collection of whisky (particularly Irish whiskey. I wish this was my local!"~Eleanor C
"I call in here about two times a week and they always have five real ales on and 2 or 3 ciders. It's a lovely clean bar with good seating and art work by local artists on show. The bar has a very everyone is welcome feeling and has a good mix of ages."~Llandrinod furniture
Laura describes Llandrindod Wells as "full of life" and I think this statement is true of Arvon Ales too. 
"There are lots of things going on and lots to do in Llandrindod Wells and it's a shame that some of the community don't realise this. We need to break through that negative energy and help people to understand Llandrindod is a place full of life."
If you want to experience the old tradition that is coming quickly back into fashion with the high stresses of life in the 21st century, I advise you to visit Arvon Ales where I am sure you will be able to find peace and time to relax whilst enjoying a truly satisfying pint (or two!) of real ale.