Category Archives: Life in Wales

Spring Day in Wales



We had snow on the hills but by morning there was bright sunshine.We decided to head North and have a day out in the Brecon Beacons.It wasn’t an early start but a beautiful drive up through Abergavenny and on to Brecon itself.By the time we got to the town we were ready for coffee.First job to find a local cafe that served good coffee.


This is CARIAD CUPCAKES  in the High St.


The decor is pink and pretty, with lots of traditional china on display.







There is an impressive range of cakes large and small on offer.This is not the place to come if you are on a diet.







The coffee was great but what was even better was the feeling you had just dropped in to see some old friends for a cuppa.No doubt this place will get really busy in the summer, I hope the owners still find time to chat to their customers.

Feeling we needed to walk off that cake and blow away a few cobwebs we headed  for the mountain centre.The views were spectacular so will include a few of my favourite photos .Sadly cannot include the smell of the moor with fresh sheep droppings and early gorse.

imagePenyfan looking  spectacular!





It is such a wild open space with views all around .







The melting snow left plenty of boggy patches.







But flowers were peeimageping out in the sunnier spots.





This high up there were sheep but as yet no lambs.








there began a competition to get the best photo.








The wind was quite icy and despite the cake I felt ready for lunch.I was very impressed with their catering facilities, despite producing 30  plus hot chocolates for a school party  from Southampton ,they served us up a delicious Lamb CAWL.

As we drove out of the car park I had to scream at R to stop.Above us a magnificent Red Kite swooped and soared in an aerial ballet, I grabbed my camera.All four shots were of clear blue sky, but thanks to the RSPB this is what he looked `like ….honest!









So exciting that this almost extinct bird is now colonising the Brecon Beacons.

We headed out on the road towards MERTHYR.







The edge of the mountains which cuts across the top of the Welsh valleys no longer marks the contrast it once did.Without the mines and heavy industry to the south all the valleys are greening up.

imageThe road still clings to the edge of the hillside and is a dangerous one to drive.



Past reservoirs and forests we came to our next destination.

imageThe only WELSH whisky distillery at PENDERYN.






I loved the bus stop here.








The sighting here gives a good source of fresh water.









The tour was technical, more machinery  than humans.






Not just whisky produced but GIN and VODKA.

imageTen ingredients added to give flavour to the gin.





The whiskey flavoured  by storage in Madeira, Sherry,or Peat smoked   barrels.







Marketing cleverly boxing bottles in commemorative packaging.









Did you know twelve  of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence were of WELSH origin?

After the tour there was a generous tasting session,after all in each couple one was driving and so handed their share to their partner!

There were plenty of choices to purchase in the shop though R of Scottish stock still prefers his SCOTCH.







BOOKING a tour in advance is advisable so contact on  , or phone 01685 810651









Vineyards and Cook Books

The weather in Wales is glorious and makes staying indoors impossible.After a morning sorting out the purchase and shipping of the cook book we decided to go out and celebrate.

Crickhowell High Street

Crickhowell is the next village up from Abergavenny and as you can see the Brecon Beacon range is on its doorstep. For my French friends here is another British pub with excellent food.

The Dragon Inn

Check it out on http://www.DRAGONCRICKHOWELL..CO.UK

Here is the real surprise on the way back we called in on a local vinyard.I had heard that to clear the land on the Sugar Loaf Mountain to grow vines had been difficult.The bracken was impossible to dig out and eradicate.They resorted to pigs who let loose dug up and ate the roots before the vines could be planted.

A Welsh Wine Cave complete with Stream

We were disappointed to see the wonderful Welsh Cheese Platter on offer, we didn’t realise they offer lunch and had just eaten.

Information on the Vineyard

I will leave you to read more info on the vineyard , but show you the beautiful setting.

Vineyard in Wales

The climate restricts them to white wine production , British in taste with the strong elderberry flavour, but it was smooth , clean, crisp and fruity without being sweet so we bought some. Cannot resist the “coals to Newcastle” and take back wine to Provence.

A Welsh Wine List

The big news of the week is that the cook book is on its way to France, once distributed there I will bring some back to the UK. If everyone is patient buying from me puts so much more into the fund so please check out the web site to place an order.

Taliesin with his cookbook


During my trip north this week I had a treat.I travelled south to  Northallerton in Yorkshire, yes a large part of England is even further North than Yorkshire.I met up with a friend from University days and we did what we do best ,drank ,ate and gossiped.We have gone up-market since student days in Durham and had lunch in the wonderful BETTY’S TEA SHOP.Established in 1919, mobile phones are banned, the head waiter could audition for Jeeves and the waitresses are immaculate in black with white pinnies. This is such an institution in the North folks get homesick just thinking of their cake trolley.


You can buy fresh each day twenty-one different kinds of bread. The cakes are to die for and rich fruit cakes are tinned and shipped all over the world.Feeling frivolous after a light lunch and a goldfish bowl of Swiss Rose wine I ordered a silly cake.



Maybe feeling homesick for Puyloubier! I would suggest you look at the website    My aim is to find the time to go to their cookery school and discover the secrets of their wonderful creations, I know of nowhere in the world better.I have a traditional SIMNEL CAKE to put into our auction in April  in France.I know several English ex-pats who will be willing to fight for it!

Today I have been to cookery school.Many Welsh residents are of Italian stock.They started Italian coffee shops and sold ice-cream up the Welsh Valleys.One particularly famous and well-loved local is  Franco Taruschio OBE.This legendary chef ran  the WALNUT TREE RESTAURANT  near Abergavenny for 38 years.In its heyday a mecca for foodies across the UK.He now shares cookery classes with Enrico De Vita  at the Trattoria Cookery School  run by the FLORIMONTE FAMILY  in Wales.

This was my birthday present  and one I really enjoyed today, check it out on

Franco showing us how it's done

There was a mix of hands on , demonstration and non stop tips, hints, and short cuts. At times it was hard to keep notes on all the gems of knowledge that he threw into the light-hearted banter.


Glamorgan Sausage, Chicken Livers with Parmesan

Enrico is keen to use local produce and traditional recipes with an Italian twist.We were encouraged to go foraging for wild Garlic leaves which are in season, and use the best CAERPHILLY CHEESE  for this meat free sausage.


Sea Bass Fillet with Salsa Verde

The SEA BASS was served on wild garlic Bubble and Squeak another great fusion dish which tasted delicious.


Cappuccino Cake with Walnuts

Franco’s liberal use of Tia Maria and double cream for dessert reminded me of the night at the Walnut Tree when choosing dessert was just too difficult so I shocked our table by ordering two…. and eating them!

One of our fellow students was enjoying her birthday so typical of the atmosphere of the day Franco found candles and we all sang.


Quite a Birthday Cake!

Many students had been given a voucher for the class as a Christmas or Birthday gift… I highly recommend it.

For that really special occasion in May and October there are a weeks course in Italy itself.  http://www.gustoinfinito .Set in a four star hotel in Le Marche  it looks heavenly.This is apt as Franco’s philosophy is,”Cook with love-cook with your soul”.


















Spring is Coming !

Last post very family orientated so here is some other good news.Despite the cold there is no snow and the garden is showing signs of spring!


Early Catkins

The hazel at the back of the garden is showing catkin

First Flowers 2011

The most cheery sight of all

If I knew a wealthy Japanese business man I could make a killing on the Snowdrops.

News update

Just a quick news update.
Tal made the local press recently in his bid to get to St Louis.There had been another local boy, Evan, the same age as Tal who went out just before Christmas.Today we were excited to read of his progress post-op and the fact that his family are backing Tal’s Good Feet Campaign. If you want any inspiration for all our efforts take time to check it out on by clicking on Wales Online
There is also short video showing Evans mum talking about evan’s experience and showing what the little boy can do now, just a few weeks after the operation.

Market day in Abergavenny

Tuesday has always been the day for the Livestock Market in Abergavenny. Once all the local farmers arrived to trade cattle and sheep, bringing their wives to shop.The all produce market in the Market Hall and streets behind was hugely popular.This made parking difficult and an early start important.
I know I have lots to do on the cook book but the sun was shining so we headed for the hills.

Road to Abergavenny

The town lies at the base of the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the gateway to the Brecon Beacons.This is fabulous hill walking country.

Forest on Hillside No lambs arrive yet.

The parking was easy and the town very quiet. Finding a table in our favourite pub was no problem.

A Quiet Abergavenny

The market seemed to have shrunk, though the area had been re-paved and tidied up.We bought homemade cakes on the market. There was a teapot and paint stripper from RICHARDS the traditional hardware shop.We then had to visit RAWLINGS the family butcher.

Famous Hand made Sausages

We can look forward to some solid meat , no fat or fillers in these sausages.We were spoilt for choice but decided on OLD SPOT with BRAMLEY AND SAGE, LAMB AND ROSEMARY and VENISON WITH PORT.
Bon Appetit!

Taliesin’s Day Out

Yesterday Taliesin was due to go for a bike ride and have an assessment at the
centre.It`was so cold and icy the session was cancelled. Tal’s muscles would
have stiffened so much he wouldn’t have got much done.

We went instead into the indoor Shopping Mall in Cardiff so he could try out his
new wheel chair.

Now Where is Lightning McQueen?

Tough love! We visited the Disney Store, the Lego Shop ,and the Model Car
Determined to see everything he mastered manoeuvring round the aisles in no
time. After an hour he was exhausted but had done very well.

Over There!

We felt WE, as doting grandparents, did very well not to weaken and buy