Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Odin's Raven


As our faithful followers will know, I'm rather interested in the mythology of ravens, given that the raven on the mountain plays a large role in Martha's story.  I've been listening to an intriguing track by Hilmarsson, called Odin's Raven Magic, with the plaintive voice of Steindor Andersen.  I wish I could have a better understanding of Icelandic -- but the image above, used on the cover of the CD, is also very moody and effective.......

Sunday, 16 April 2023

THE POISON SEED. When Jemima met Rebecca, and confronted the foe...........

Ah yes, I remember it well..........


A Brief History

10/4/01 BBC News reports GM trial T25 maize crop to be planted in Mathry (West Pembrokeshire) by Aventis and Toddingtons Ltd., landowners of Castle Cenlas Farm, Mathry.  Jill Chambers, partner of ex-Tory MP Tony Marlow, says this is part of the scientific advance in agriculture. There is no notification in the local press. Local organic farmers are immediately alarmed that their Organic status could be compromised. There are 80 organic farms in Pembs., more than in any other part of Wales, several within a five-mile radius of Mathry. Together with other concerned local people they phone the local press to announce a public meeting and put up posters all over North Pembs.

Tory MP Tony Marlow, the landowner whose land was earmarked for a GM crop trial

11/4/01 Petitions and anti-GM posters are organised by FoE and other groups all over Pembs. Already apparent that there is massive public support for keeping Pembs GM-free.

16/4/01 Easter Monday. Public meeting in Mathry attended by about 250 people. TV, radio and press in attendance. Four speakers, including one from FoE. Dismay and rage that the Welsh Assembly had not been consulted in the light of its vote last year to keep Wales GM free, and fury that Mathry Community Council has not been consulted at all (although an obligation to consult locally over a 6 week period is placed on the trial organisers by the licensing directive). The meeting approves a "Mathry Resolution Against GMOs" unanimously. Supporters urged to send email protests to Carwyn Jones (Welsh Assembly Rural Affairs Minister), the GM Strategy Group, Tony Blair, local MPs and AMs. £250 raised which is used for keeping people in touch: setting up website; stamps, paper, envelopes for newsletter. 

So GM-Free Cymru was born.  Decided that the campaign should have no leadership and no committee. Instead, action Groups are formed, covering bright ideas; scientific research; political links and lobbying; demonstrations and non-violent action; and website. The structure is a loose affiliation of independent people to avoid entanglement with new anti-terrorist legislation and to promote self-motivation. The action groups were left to plan and execute their own ideas, publicity, newsletter and email information lists, mobile phone networks.  The principle was that the loose steering group should not do much steering; the less it knew about other groups and their plans, the better........

17/4/01 Waiting for the support of the CCW, County Council, National Park, Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Farmers Union of Wales etc. This takes time and a lot of lobbying, but gradually "official" support for our position appears.

19/4/01 Delegation to Welsh Assembly in Cardiff presents petitions and statement calling on WA to use legal means to halt trials. Also, AMs are asked to make representations in Westminster to reverse legislation permitting commercial  sowing, in light of ban by Germany; non implementation of EU directive by France and Austria; scientific evidence of likely dangers of horizontal gene transfer; loss of livelihood by organic farmers, market gardeners and beekeepers; public resistance to GM foods. Labour MP Jackie Lawrence is present and promises to raise questions in Westminster and begins to get informed of the full legal and scientific facts. Welsh Assembly's GM Strategy Group looks at what legal avenues can be pursued, due to report in a week (27/4/01)

21/4/01 March of about 300 people to Castle Cenlas to release yellow balloons simulating wind blown pollen. In the crowd are Jemima (a local heroine who helped to defeat the French in the invasion of 1797) and the daughters of Rebecca (symbolic reminder of the Rebecca Riots against toll gate injustices in 1835).

23/4/01 First newsletter distributed. CCW announces support for the trials, and refuses to get involved in any scientific work related to the field trial sites. This causes much anger among protestors and Assembly members.

24/4/01 We discover that the field trials site is part of an area notified as a candidate SAC and SSSI (designation largely because it is an otter habitat). Drainage from the field will contaminate the Upper Western Cleddau with glufosinate ammonium herbicide. This herbicide is very toxic and dangerous for aquatic life, and does not have a commercial license. We ask CCW and Environment Agency to intervene and try to halt the field trials, but they refuse.

25/4/01 Landowners invite organic farmers and other key protestors to a private meeting at Castle Cenlas. In attendance, Meurig Raymond (the contractor), Huw Jones (Welsh Assembly civcil servant), Graham Davies (DETR civil servant) and Judith Jordan from Aventis. Also various farmers who support the field trials. We are given the chance to ask questions and state our case. Afterwards, landowners say they will give due consideration to the points we have raised. Great media interest in the meeting.

26/4/01 Two computers crash and strange things happen on telephones and faxes. Fun and games with the police and the media -- Aventis later confirm in writing that they have "security consultants" working in the area to protect their interests!

27/4/01 GM Strategy Group say Welsh Assembly has no power to do anything.

28/4/01 This is confirmed by a Statement by Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones

Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones

30/4/01 Panic as tractors appear on the site -- but after a general alert it transpires that they are only ploughing. Spy network attempts to find whereabouts of seed.

2/5/01 Farmers and lawyers meet to find possible grounds for an injunction. Barrister from Cardiff offers to act for reduced fee, local solicitor (from farming family) acts for expenses only.  Vigil around the clock starts to ensure that the whole community is alerted if tractors and seed drills appear on the trial site. Telephone links with supporters able to come immediately. A lot of media coverage. Local residents come forward to offer support, act as lookouts, give information as to where the seed might be. Plans are put in place for peaceful pickets etc if tractors and seed drills appear. Police cars patrol regularly; the police are kept informed of actions planned. Second newsletter published.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher

3/5/01 Delegation to see Environment Minister in London, organised by our MP.  In attendance, organic farmers, beekeeper, Chairman of Community Council, campaign spokesmen. Michael Meacher finds out that his own civil servants have not passed on to him crucial letters and have not insisted on correct consultation procedures and notification periods. Meacher asks for a delay and for proper consultation, but is snubbed later in the same day by SCIMAC and Aventis who say they will carry on regardless.
All this week various local individuals visit and phone Tony Marlow and Jill Chambers (landowners) to talk with them and plead for the trials to be abandoned. They stick to the Aventis line that the new technology is beneficial and safe, opposition is not local and is not from farmers, GM crops are all round us anyway, the commercial planting is legal already and people don¹t know the facts. It becomes clear in conversation that they are not very well informed -- and probably only interested in the money.

4/5/01 Farmers meeting convened with organic and conventional farmers, to discuss the evidence of GM damage to the environment and health. Professor Brian Goodwin and Dr Mae-Wan Ho in attendance.
The weather is warm and dry. We know that the seeds could go in at any moment. Enough volunteers for a 24 hour non-stop vigil for as long as it takes. Supporters number about 500 by now.

Protestor Des Llewellyn

5/5/01 am, Technical seminar in St Davids led by Mae-Wan Ho for local scientists and specialists

5/5/01 pm, Professor Goodwin and Dr Mae Wan Ho explain the scientific dangers at a public meeting in Letterston, attended by about 250 people. Our AM, MP and MEP are present, and the political temperature starts to rise!

Dr Mae-wan Ho

6/5/01 Fund raising and fun Rally in Mathry. Stalls, barbeque, auction etc-- amazing atmosphere and public support... £2000 raised. Offer of £2500 from FUW towards farmer's legal costs.

6/5/01 On the same day, volunteers work with Mae-Wan Ho and Brian Goodwin to declare Chardon-LL plantings as illegal. Press release and big media interest

7/5/01 Bank Holiday Monday. Marathon bike ride across Pembs by "Rebecca and her sisters" (local folk heroes). Tractor rally -- about 30 local farmers, both conventional and organic, come out in support and drive a convoy of tractors past Castle Cenlas farm. Tractors and cyclists all meet on the village green in Mathry, to great public acclaim and media interest.

Steering group member Gerald Miles

8/5/01 Word leaks that Toddingtons were unable to implement their plan to plant last weekend because of problems in finding a contractor with the right seed drill.  Also it comes to light that the NFU has major investments in Monsanto; and various committee members such as Lord Sainsbury (Chair of GM Strategy Committee) have money invested in GM companies.

8/5/01 am Meeting between representatives of the campaign group and Carwyn Jones at the Welsh Assembly. Our MP and AM in attendance. Last-ditch attempt to force the Assembly to take decisive action. The Minister still says he can do nothing.

8/5/01 Early evening, Toddingtons suddenly issue a press release saying they are pulling out of the field trials! They cite distress caused to local residents by misinformation; blame the Government for not promoting a positive image of GM technology; and point out they were legally entitled to plant commercially anyway.  Euphoria all over Pembrokeshire. Within an hour, everybody knows!

9/5/01 Press announcement by NFU boss Ben Gill claims intimidation and threats had been used by protesters, and claimed that there had been attacks on landowners. Way over the top, and if he had bothered to ring the police he might have obtained a more reliable impression of the campaign.

9/5/01 The police rang up to thank all involved for the courteous, peaceful and good humoured way in which the protest had been conducted.


There is a very strong community spirit in Pembrokeshire, many very active supporters are from families local for generations with family members in a variety of professions, eg our solicitor is from a farming family. There is a tradition of protest which has been successful in the past, eg the original Rebecca Rioters who protested against highway tolls in the 19th C; the recent campaign which stopped the burning of Orimulsion fuel at Pembroke Power Station; and the successful campaign to prevent nuclear waste storage at Trecwn mine depot.  The fact that the wishes of the Welsh Assembly and Welsh people were being totally disregarded by Westminster caused great resentment locally.

People here are highly protective of our unpolluted environment.Organic farmers are a strong and numerous lobby since their livelihood is at risk. They persuaded many conventional farmers to support them. Instead of centralised leadership there was networking to involve people, put them in touch with others, and give them encouragement to carry out their own ideas. Most energy from the centre went into keeping people informed. Speed and ease of communication improves all the time (eg we relied heavily on our mobile phones, website and emails) so support kept on increasing.

We have a determined body of academics able to trawl all the scientific reports and legal directives for conflicts, procedures not properly carried out, facts people in high places would prefer not to know...  We were determined to keep within the law and not to antagonise the police.

Also we had some powerful symbols, which the media loved: small children with painted faces carrying yellow balloons, Jemima and her army of elderly female warriors, Rebecca and her daughters, the otter as a symbol of a special environment, marathon bike ride, and a large tractor convoy.  All very visual and colourful -- perfect for TV.   Also, one of the chief characters in the saga was Tony Marlow, a very colourful ex-Tory MP already well known to the media.

Nearly all the groups involved planned "theatrical" things which underpinned the serious negotiating and lobbying going on at another level. The mutual support mechanism was fantastic. A lot of us lived on adrenalin for more than 3 weeks.

In the end the three families involved in Toddingtons Ltd and in the plans to plant and harvest the GM crops could not handle the concerted pressure from the community in which they have to live.

GM Free Cymru steering group:
Gill Rowlands, Judy Bruce, Moira Charles, Leon Downey, Wyn Evans, Jane James, Brian John, Tom Latter, Des Llewelyn, Gerald Miles, Ian Panton, Van der Spoel, Chris Samra Tibbetts, Gareth Waters.
  (original draft of this article)

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

My razor -- and an invitation

This has nothing to do with Angel Mountain nor Martha Morgan.  But it's important, so I'm putting it here........

This is my razor: 

Any claim made in a press release or in the media may be ignored unless the original research upon which it is based is freely (ie without limitation) accessible to all who may wish to knowledgeably scrutinize it. 

I invite every academic and research scientist in the world, and every learned society, to take it on board and act upon it.......

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Coming soon -- Angel Mountain News No 21


The new edition of Angel Mountain News (No 21) is almost ready for mailing.  If you are not on the mailing list, and would like to be on it, just send an Email to with "Please subscribe me" in the subject space.  Simple!

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Amazon is not what it was.........

As a writer and small publisher, I have supplied books to Amazon (for sale to their customers) ever since it moved into the UK with a single warehouse. I used to deliver batches of two or three dozen books on a regular basis. How times have changed! I still have my supplier account but they now order no books at all; that's a blessing really, since in recent years they have insisted on a 60% discount on the cover price, with me having to cover all delivery costs, meaning I was losing money on every transaction. 

So instead of being a bookseller (except maybe for newly published books) Amazon has evolved into a gigantic hub, facilitating commercial activity among a vast range of small booksellers and merchandising businesses and carrying only the most profitable lines itself. If you look for one of your titles on the Amazon web site, you see all editions listed (hardback, paperback, Kindle, audiobook etc) with the usual nonsense about "only two left in stock", but Amazon itself is not doing any of the selling. 

For a particular title you may find a dozen different suppliers, all competing on price (to hell with the cover price -- that doesn't matter any longer) and with different postage and delivery costs, with used copies competing with new ones. Where do these small suppliers get their new copies? They sure of eggs don't get them from me, since I house the stock, and I know where all the books go....... It may be that there is a market for batches of new books to, from shop clearances etc. On several occasions a bookshop holding a stock of my books on a sale or return basis has gone into liquidation, without telling me, with the liquidators simply taking possession of all the shop stock as rapidly as possible and then shifting it on for next to nothing to whoever happens to be in the right place at the right time. They do this without checking who the real owner of the stock actually is. 

I surmise that nowadays people do not buy paperback fiction as new, unless they have to; paperbacks are disposable items, and so you might as well buy used copies of the things you want to read. 

I would be very cautious indeed about publishing hard copies of anything nowadays; and I suppose I should be grateful for the fact that my books have sold pretty well over twenty years or more, which means that there is a plentiful supply of all editions out there in the market place. The 8 books of the Angel Mountain series are still available, in many different formats and editions. It's just a pity that with all these Amazon-led transactions going on, I as the author and publisher do not earn a single extra penny.

(I have published a version of this post on Linkedin)

Friday, 10 February 2023

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Cwm yr Eglwys

 A great photo posted on Facebook -- with that famous tree prominently displayed.  Looks positively tropical.........

Monday, 6 February 2023

Twm Carnabwth

 A charming painting by Meinir Mathias -- her take on Twm Carnabwth, the most famous of the Rebecca Rioters.......

Read all about it in "Rebecca and the Angels".

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Cerrig Marchogion

This is a gorgeous image of Cerrig Marchogion -- the stones of the fallen knights of King Arthur --  published by Hugh Thomas on his Preseli 360 Facebook page.  Hugh has a host of fabulous images on his site........

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Google Photo Archive

If you want to check back and find any of the photos I have used on this blog, you can find the full archived gallery here:

At the moment, there are 1252 items in the gallery.  Feel free to have a good browse......

Drag and drop doesn't vseem to work (if you want to re0use any of the photos, but you can always do a screenshot.  In case of any problems, just drop me a line.....

Friday, 11 November 2022

The rough with the smooth........


When you are a writer you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth.  Here are three reviews from "Audible" -- based on the audiobook version of "On Angel Mountain."  It just shows how variable people's expectations and perceptions are, when they choose a book to read or listen to. 

No matter how brilliant a writer you are, there will always be some who hate your style, your pace, your characters,  and the world you are trying to create.  Do not be discouraged!  This all goes to show that one person's dross is another person's gold.  Stick with your vision, and feel blessed when you find at least some people who derive pleasure from what you have created.......

Tuesday, 25 October 2022

The Earth Goddess


With acknowledgement to Hugh on the Preseli 360 Facebook page, here is a rather fine drone image of the Earth Goddess profile which so many people see from lower down, at ground level......