Ben Black

I write the blog Cwmbran Life http://www.cwmbranlife.co.uk and the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CwmbranLife
Ben Black has written 615 posts for Cwmbran Life

Llanyrafon Manor’s country fayre in Cwmbran.


Today was the country fayre fayre at Llanyrafon Manor. Everyone I spoke to said it was a cracking event. I approached a few small businesses selling cider and another selling bread and both sold out within a few hours.

The manor was full of smiling faces and people having a laugh. What is there not to like?

Watch this three minute film of today's fayre.



Do you remember Cwmbran’s weekly newspapers, the Star and the Post


The Cwmbran Post


The Cwmbran Star

These two old papers were found under the carpet of a house in Coed-Eva.

Do you remember them? Was your first job delivering them?

Hot.Hot.Hot…The chilli growing final at the Dorallt pub in Cwmbran


Growing chillies is not just a bit of fun among drinkers at the the Dorallt pub in Henllys. It is a serious competition.

Tonight saw seven competitors bring their plants to the pub’s bar for judging of the first chilli championships.

There was just one simple rule:

1. All forms of cheating are allowed.

The winner was eight year-old Dan Evans. There were rumours that his grandad was involved…

Second place went to Robbie Evans and in third was Clive Perry, the landlord of the Dorallt.

Ten entrants paid £1 for a single seed from the same packet earlier in the year. This made up the prize money. Three people dropped out.

The simple rule meant there was very little similarity between the plants. One entrant claimed he saw a Homebase label.

The packed bar cheered the top three and the talk of the pub was how to make the 2014 contest bigger and better.

Here is a YouTube clip of Brinley Hamer-Jones, one of the three judges, explaining how he got involved and the criteria for picking the winner.


Dan and his winning chilli

Here are the other entries.







Torfaen Mayor is holding a garden party at Llanyrafon Manor in Cwmbran

Mayor of Torfaen's garden party in Cwmbran

Mayor of Torfaen’s garden party in Cwmbran

The Mayor of Torfaen Neil Mason is holding a charity garden party this Friday at Llanyrafon Manor.

It starts at 4pm. Tickets cost £12.50 and this includes a selection of finger sandwiches, home-made buttermilk scones with fruit jam and clotted cream along with a selection of home-made cakes and  tea or coffee.

Stallholders are welcome and pitches cost £15.

Guests will enjoy entertainment, craft stalls and games on the lawn and the craft stalls are donating raffle prizes.

If it rains the organisers have a plan so it can still go ahead.

Call Chris Slade on 01495 74 2578 or  Chris.Slade@torfaen.gov.uk to book your tickets.

180 year-old tree in Cwmbran to be chopped down

Jonny and the dead tree outside the church

Jonny and the dead tree outside the church


A cedar tree in Cwmbran that is over 180 years-old has died and will be chopped down later this month. The 80 foot tree is in the grounds of Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church in Croesyceiliog.

Jonny Raine, the church minister, said it was one of three cedars that were brought over from Palestine in the 18th century and planted.

He said: “Despite its history and significance to our church and community it has been declared dead and needs to come down.

“Our gates have a plaque with a poem called 'The Cedars of Pontrhydyrun' dedicated to them. The other two were blown down during a storm in 1928.”

For the last few years the tree has not been in a good condition and council officers have kept an eye on it. It was declared dead and the church has booked in a contractor to start cutting on 30 September.

Keep an eye on the Cwmbran Life Facebook page closer to the date for more information as Chapel Lane may be closed during the work.


The poem about the church's cedar trees

The poem about the church's cedar trees


Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church

Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church


Standing naked in Cwmbran and fashion tips from a top stylist

The body scanner in the Congress Theatre

The body scanner in the Congress Theatre

Standing naked in Cwmbran’s Congress Theatre would normally get you kicked out. But shoppers are being invited to do just that to find the perfect sizes for all their clothes.

I went along to the fun event- A Date With Denim– to try out a special 3D body scanner machine and get some fashion tips from Wenda James-Rowe from The Style Room. Scroll down to listen to the two minute interview with Wenda.

The second and final day is tomorrow Saturday 7 September and runs from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

It is fair to say this has been one of the most unusual events I’ve covered for Cwmbran Life. But I can say it was one of the most fun and quirky. The scan normally cost £20 but during this event they are free.

The body scanner

The scanner looks like a large passport photo machine and is set up in the auditorium. I stepped in and was shown how to stand so the scanner gets all the measurements. Then I was left on my own to undress behind some curtains and say that I was ready. The lights went down and an electronic voice told me to stand still. A few seconds later I had been scanned and I got told to wait while they made sure the data was collected correctly. I got dressed and armed with my statistics a stylist went through them with me. I was told to avoid black (but grey is good) and try out some textures and shoulder details. I found out I have a ‘rectangular’ body shape.

A tailor could make me the perfect suit with this information. All the numbers are in millimetres. Find out more about the machine from the Tailored For You website.

My vital statistics

My vital statistics

Women get even more detail and take away an extra report. This shows what my sizes would be if I was a woman along with how it’s different among various shops in Cwmbran.

My recommended clothes sizes (If I was a woman)

My recommended clothes sizes (If I was a woman)

Fashion tips from Wenda James-Rowe

Rowena from The Style Team

Rowen from The Style Team

Wenda James-Rowe is an award winning stylist so this was my chance to find out where I have been going wrong for the last 36 years. Click this link or the play button below to listen to the two minute Audioboo recording of my free consultation. She is holding sessions throughout Saturday and giving tips on getting a perfect ‘capsule wardrobe’.

Chat to local shops

The bar area of the Congress Theatre is packed with stalls from shops in the town. Staff are ready to show off their latest ranges and this is helped by your new found knowledge from the body scanner.

The event’s second day is tomorrow (Saturday) so get along and enjoy the free advice and bargains on offer.

Here are some photos of the shops who have set up stalls in the Congress Theatres and will be there on Saturday.

Incredible tree carving in Cwmbran


Check out this tree carving in Cwmbran.

The tree is near the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Croesyceiliog.

Do you know the name of the talented wood carver?

Wales’ first 3D body scanner is coming to Cwmbran. Book a free slot and find your perfect jean size.

A Date With Denim in Cwmbran

A Date With Denim in Cwmbran

A revolutionary body scanner is coming to Cwmbran Shopping to help shoppers find their perfect style and size of jeans.

A similar machine, which has been permanently installed in New York’s Bloomingdales, has proved to be a huge success. This is a two minute video on the one in the top store in America.

Taking just six seconds, the scanner produces a 3D image of a participant’s figure, providing a detailed picture of their body type to help them find the perfect cut for their shape.

Created by Tailored For You, the machine gives participants a detailed review of garments available in their size from a variety of different stores in the centre.

From apple, rectangle, hourglass, petit or pear shape, expert stylists (using detailed analysis from the machine) will suggest a range of denim that will play to the strengths of an individual’s best bits.

The body scanner with be on display for two days at the centre’s ‘A Date with Denim’ event, taking place on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 September in the Congress Theatre.

Also on hand will be free hair, style and make-up demonstrations provided by local retailers, in addition to an Autumn fashion showcase showing key styles for the next season. There will also be a chance to collect complimentary goody bags.

Book a free slot on the 3D body scanner

Normally worth £20, shoppers can book a complimentary session with the scanner by going to www.cwmbranshopping.co.uk or emailing suzanne@stills.co.uk

Alternatively you can still enjoy the free activities, including style workshops run by Wenda James-Rowe, founder of the Style Team.

An experienced stylist, Wenda said the event helps to celebrate people of all shapes and sizes:

“The most important thing I try to do when working with women is to emphasise true potential by embracing their shape. I come into contact with six or seven different body shapes, but pear shape is the most common.

“The body scanner will identify the best jeans style and cut for each individual, in order to flatter their body and give them confidence. During the day, I will be working with Cwmbran’s retailers to host workshops on how to dress for different personalities and colouring. I’d always recommend buying a great pair of bootlegs, to flatter curves and streamline legs.”

Paul Rich, Centre Manager, said:

“I am delighted that Cwmbran Shopping is hosting such an exciting event. We have such a mixture of independent and high street stores and I am pleased that both men and women will have the opportunity to choose a perfect pair of jeans from such a wide selection.

“All the free activities will be fantastic, however due to the popularity of the event, I urge people to book the scanner in advance to avoid disappointment.”

Chinese restaurant in Cwmbran has closed down

The Hoinam in Cwmbran has closed

The Hoinam in Cwmbran has closed


The Hoinam restaurant and takeaway in Cwmbran town centre has closed. The Chinese which is upstairs in The Parade opened its doors in 2011.

There are a couple of legal letters stuck to the door and you can see these below.

The Hoinam overlooks Gwent Square in Cwmbran

The Hoinam overlooks Gwent Square in Cwmbran


Cwmbran’s Homebase store could be closed down

Cwmbran's Homebase store

Cwmbran's Homebase store


Cwmbran's Homebase store could be closed down. Staff have been told about the proposal.

A spokesman for Homebase said today: “Homebase can confirm that the business has entered a period of consultation concerning the proposed closure of our Cwmbran store. Colleagues at the store have been informed and we will be working with them over the next few weeks to support them as much as possible. Due to commercial sensitivities, we are unable to comment further at this time.”


The view over Cwmbran

The view over Cwmbran

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