We took the chance of half term in London to spend a week in South Wales with Andrew’s parents. Thanks to storm Eunice, the weather has been a bit … lively … but at least it gave us the chance to enjoy a couple of days of rest and relaxation, and when we did have the chance to go out and explore, we made the most of it.
Welsh foodie treats
I didn’t take any pictures of our food during the week, as Andrew’s favourite welsh delicacies are not the most attractive! Chicken curry and chips from the Chinese (a welsh classic, I am reliably informed), corned beef pie (check out my recipe here, which regularly receives comments from fans), faggots, welsh cakes (again, check out my recipe, which even if I do say so myself, is rather tasty) … Andrew was happy to treat himself. He’ll have the chance to enjoy them in London as we’ve stocked up on faggots for the freezer, and I’ll be making corned beef pie and welsh cakes in a couple of weeks for St David’s Day.
We visited St Fagans national museum of Wales at the start of the week, where the weather was reasonably stable, and Ioan loved running around the reconstructions of old Welsh buildings. It’s a free visit, and I highly recommend it – the staff are very friendly (all Welsh speaking, which gave Ioan the chance to practice his “Bora Da” and “Diolch yn fawr”), and the exhibitions are informative. There’s enough to keep a five year old, forty five year old, and seventy five year old entertained! In the interests of this being a food blog, I can tell you that unfortunately the bakery in the old ‘village’ was closed (much disappointment for anyone who knew about it), but the cafe had a nice selection of sandwiches and cakes, and some hot food, although we only had sarnies and cake.
National Museum of Wales
For a rainy day in the week, we popped to Cardiff to do a bit of shopping (half term in Wales was a week later than London, so the shops were quiet, and we took the chance to get Ioan’s feet measured and buy him new school shoes), and took Ioan to the National Museum of Wales, in Cardiff, to see the dinosaurs there (he was disappointed not to see any at St Fagans!). Another free trip and he was absolutely captivated by the exhibitions, which as well as dinosaurs included some moon rock and meteorites, as well as gems and other geological samples, and taxidermy animals and fish (Ioan took great pleasure telling people they were originally real animals, but now dead and stuffed!). We didn’t try the cafe, but Cardiff has so many places to eat and drink, including lots of lovely cafes in the arcades, that no one would go hungry there. Again, Welsh speaking by default, which I think is impressive, and indeed in the shop they only spoke to me in Welsh even though I clearly couldn’t speak it, although I understood the gist thanks to the context.
We picked possibly the worst day of weather leading up to the storm for our visit to Castell Coch, but luckily pretty much everything was inside so it didn’t spoil our trip. This is the fairytale folly built by the Bute family on medieval castle ruins, and it is a spectacular visit. Cadw and English Heritage members get in for free, so this was another free trip for us. We were practically the only people there, and the staff were all very friendly and knowledgable. No food, but a nice shop with lots of Welsh goodies, so we popped along to Pughs food hall just down the road for a delicious sausage roll, cake, and coffee pit stop. Andrew was happy to discover a great selection of local craft beer and stocked up, and we walked back through the reptile shop so Ioan could check out the snakes and scorpions.
Worms head and the Mumbles
Our last day trip took place the day before Storm Eunice struck the country, and we were lucky with the weather, although it was very gusty on top of the hills by the coast. There’s not an awful lot to see or do when it’s outside of tourist season, we discovered, especially when a red alert storm is on the way! But we had a lovely walk along the cliffs to blow away the cobwebs, and then had some lunch at Mumbles pier, and then I stayed for a cuppa while Andrew and Ioan played in the amusement arcade (my idea of hell).
Other than that, we’ve wandered around the shops in Treorchy on the way to visit family (the mountain roads were closed in both directions during the storm, so we literally hunkered down at home for the really bad weather), and I have to say I am really impressed with the quality of the shops and the produce in them: local beer and spirits, meat, sauces and jams, crafts and so on. It’s no wonder Treorchy has won high street of the year – with the quality of the shops and cafes, living locally you’d be able to buy everything you need within a couple of minutes walk (although the clothes shops are perhaps not selling cutting edge fashion!).
Menu plan for week 9 of 2022
We’re back in London now, and so have planned the following for dinners in the week:
- Monday – Stanley Tucci’s courgette pasta “Spaghetti alla Nerano”
- Tuesday – sausage casserole which I will cook the night before as we’re going to be in the office again
- Wednesday – Nigella’s chicken with leeks and peas
- Thursday – Nigella’s meatballs with orzo
- Friday – Takeaway
- Saturday – corned beef pie for while Andrew watches England v Wales rugby
- Sunday – roast gammon
More welsh goodies to follow next week for St David’s Day!