Welsh treats

June 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Aunt Fanny, Eating and Drinking, Learning Stuff, Travel | 1 Comment
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photoLast weekend I went to Hay-on-Wye, a small and charming town on the Welsh/English border (it’s on the very edge of Wales). My trip coincided with the first weekend of the Hay Festival (it finishes today) and I managed to go to talks on a wide range of things, from the efforts of the National Trust in Wales to become more sustainable, to a history of the universe with a focus on the potential life-giving properties of comets (the Rosetta space probe is about to land on comet Churymov-Gerasimenko).

The town is always lively and bustling – Hay is famous for its second-hand bookshops – but there’s even more going on during the festival, from markets, street performers and food stalls set up near the castle. The festival site is a little way out of town and enterprising locals set up small stalls, beer gardens and cafes in their gardens on the route down to the site. My favourite of these was the lady who was selling fresh Welsh cakes for 50p each. Mmmm. These were so good I had to make some myself as soon as we got back to London.Welsh cakes Those pictured below are my own effort. The recipe came courtesy of VisitWales.com and can be found on my recipe pages, with a couple of my own tweaks.

I also managed to do a little bit of shopping and bought a few things which I think would appeal to Aunt Fanny et al. Two types of local honey: Shenmore honey, a raw bramble honey, and a set Wye valley blossom honey; an earthenware jar from Hay Antique Market, which is now holding some beautiful Sweet Williams, a grill scrubbing brush, which is so aesthetically pleasing it almost (but not quite) makes me want to clean my grill, a 1/3 pink old school milk bottle and some original 1940’s celluloid buttons, which I can imagine adorning the Five’s shirts and blazers. It all looked so nice, I couldn’t resist taking some photos of each bit. Here they are.

celluloid buttons

1940s celluloid buttons. 10 for a pound on Castle Street

photo 2Raw bramble honey, from a garden behind The Great English Outdoors

photo 31/3 pint school milk bottle and grill scrubbing brush from Flow

Sweet WilliamsSweet Williams from Joanne’s Florist, Globe Town, London (yes, London) £2.

Needless to say, there are also some amazing bookshops in Hay, a couple of which specialise in children’s books and /or Penguin classics, Observer Guides to Trees (etc) – all great Famous Five style-fodder. My two recommendations are Rose’s Books (I was sorely tempted by early editions of Finniston Farm, Five are Together Again, and the Welsh-set Five Get in a Fix, all of which I don’t yet have) and Barnabee’s Books (where I picked up a 60s edition of the Observer Guide to Trees for £2). In short, Hay=Heaven.




As sweet as…Sweet Williams

May 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The concept of seasonal eating is now wildly popular and my local Farmers’ Market is currently well-stocked with asparagus, bright red strawberries and other delights. English flowers should not be neglected from lists of seasonal pleasures either and these beautiful Sweet Williams rate highly on mine (yes, I do have actual lists, I’m that sort of person). I always look forward to their first appearance and find they are as redolent of late spring/early summer as English strawberries and a glass of Pimms.

Other pleasures that are not seasonally-tied include my current Famous Five, Five Have a Wonderful Time (should I mention I am reading a grown-up book too, the excellent Romantic Moderns, by Alexandra Harris?). Anyway, in FHAWT, the Five are staying in old gypsy caravans near Faynights Castle and having some trouble with the ‘fair folk’ who are not taking kindly to the children’s polite, middle class ways. Characters include a fire-eater, a bendy ‘India Rubber’ man and a chap with two large pythons, one of which will go on to place a crucial part in the rapidly unfolding mystery. And gypsy girl Jo has just made a surprise appearance. Hurrah!

There is some quality eating and drinking going on too, so more of this in due course. Meanwhile I am pleased to report that the simile ‘as blue as cornflowers’ has turned up (see two posts below). Double hurrah!

‘”There’s the sea! Oh what a dear little bay!” said Anne, in delight. “And isn’t it blue – as blue as cornflowers. We could almost bathe.”‘

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