This Saturday brings us Milford Fish Festival, held at Milford Marina. It all looks like it’s going to be a great day out for everyone, and if past years events have anything to go by, it definately won’t be just about fish!
Here at Fields Lodge Bed and Breakfast, our guests have some lovely homemade fudge to enjoy.
I am delighted to be joining forces with Ellen Picton, a qualified nutritionalist, of Healthaspire-based at Milford Haven Marina.
Ellen has planned a busy 4 day, 3 night, Detox weekend to kick start your health for spring. It is a residential weekend, based here at Fields Lodge and at Ellen’s offices during the day.
As you may know, I have been attempting to get to a ‘sugar’ free lifestyle for a while, falling off the wagon many times, I might add! Historically, I have had the stomach of a goat, could eat anything, but over recent years I have felt that there are various food stuffs my poor body was not enjoying, and sugar seemed to be a major contributor..
I was so fortunate to attend a morning at Steve Robinson, Glass Art in St Davids a few weeks ago. It was a trade day courtesy of Pembrokeshire Tourism and gave us an idea of what visitors to Steve’s studio might expect if they were to book onto one of his workshops.
I am very proud to report that Fields Lodge has been awarded for the second year running, the title of ‘The Finest Breakfast in Pembrokeshire’.
The last weekend of September saw the Narberth Food Festival coming to town.
This is a festival with a wonderful atmosphere and plenty of seats!
There are delights galore if you like your food, there’s a beer tent and live music playing in the outside area and inside the marquee there are many, many independent food retailers from the local area and beyond. Infact, you can enhoy a 3 course meal from all the tasters that are on offer!
Ironman comes to Pembrokeshire
40,000 people recently descended on Pembrokeshire, Tenby, in particular to watch or take part in Ironman Wales.
This challenging competition is run over 1 day, with a sea swim, biked ride and then topped off with a full marathon! It’s not for the faint hearted and it is deserved of it’s name!
My friend Gills’ son, Neil was in the competition-the second time for him and I also had a guest staying who was here to cheer on her sister, who was also competing.
Over 2000 men and women entered, with over 190 being from Pembrokeshire.
The day started at 5 am for us(on my day off!!!!), getting up so that we could drive to Carew to pick up the Park & Ride that the council had put on, as all the roads around Tenby would be closed due to the race. The Park & Ride ran very well, getting us into Tenby for 6.15am, and already the town was filling up, with Ironmen in their wet suits being spotted getting ready for their swim!
The swim start time was 7am, and there were thousands of people standing all over looking the beach ready to cheer them on.
The sea got more choppy as time went on, so the slower swimmers did have the hardest job-they had to swim 2 laps within 1 hour 15 mins to be able to carry onto the next leg-the bike ride.
I was standing next to a family who were supporting the husband competing in the race-he had previously done a half Ironman in Bolton, and they were amazed by how many people had turned out to cheer on the competitors, they said the atmosphere was much better in Pembrokeshire! (Yaay!!)
After the swim, the competitors had to run to transition to get onto their bikes and cycle all over south Pembs, before coming back to transistion to change into running shoes to finish with a full marathon.
Neil was hoping to get within a 12 hours finishing time, and all the family was there to support him.
The day started at 7am, and the competitors had until midnight that night to get all 3 stages completed, with individual deadlines in place for each stage, complete it within the deadline or be disqualified and therefore unable to continue.
As it happened, Neil did tremendously well, finishing faster than some of the professionals, with a final time of 11 hours, 30 mins and a position of 126-go Neil!! I must find out what he had for breakfast!!
What’s his next challenge going to be??
I have been reading quite a bit lately on the benefit of ‘activating’ nuts before use. I hadn’t heard of it until recently, and then, of course, once you start delving you find out loads!
In a nutshell(no pun intended), nuts in their natural state contain toxins in their husks that are hard for our bodies to digest. Soaking and then drying them causes them to sprout, which activate enzymes that make them easier to digest. It produces a crunchier and a bit toastier version of the original nut, I must say I can’t really tell much difference in taste. Almonds (have you seen the price for a small tin??), walnuts, pistachios, pecans and pumpkin seeds work best, while the ‘oiler’ nuts such as macadamias or cashews can go a little soggy, so only soak these for 6 hours.
So, what do you do?
Soak the nuts overnight in water and a little salt in a covered bowl of water. Drain then spread out into a single layer and dry in the oven for 12-24 hours, depending on how low you can get your oven. On a gas oven, just the pilot light is sufficient. In my Aga, I found that 6 hours dried out the cashews ok in the bottom oven but the other nuts needed longer and I ended up burning them, hence I discovered the top of the cooler cooking plate does a fine job over nearly 24 hours!
Once they’re done, you can store them in an airtight container in the freezer and use them straight from there, as they don’t actually freeze!
I have learn’t this in the main from reading the I Quit Sugar book, which then led me onto further reading.
So, now I have my activated nuts, I need to do something with them!
I have tried a new Granola recipe, which is fructose free, which is great for anyone trying to follow the IQS eating plan, or just generally wanting to be healthier, as there is no sugar in this recipe. It’s very yummy, and I do believe is nicer than my previous recipe, which, although healthy, did have honey in it, which is 40% fructose. This recipe uses Rice Malt Syrup(if you want it a bit sweeter), which is a blend of complex carbohydrates, maltose & glucose, which means it’s a relatively slow releasing sweetener, so doesn’t cause those sugar spikes, that eventually end up with the munchies..well they do with me!
1 Cup Dessicated coconut
2 Cups mixed nuts(activated) roughly chopped-I used walnuts, almonds, cashews,pecans & pumpkin seeds
2 Cups Rolled Oats (I prefer the jumbo ones)
2 tablespoons of Chia Seeds (I used white)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
80g Coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons Rice Malt Syrup (if you want it sweeter)
Combine all the ingreedients
Spread on lined baking tray
Bake at 120c or gas 1/2 until golden, turning halfway through cooking time (approx 20 mins)
Allow to cool then store in an airtight container
I was recently fortunate enough to encounter Pembrokeshire Falconry at Picton Castle, as part of a trade day with Pembrokeshire Tourism. I had already bought an ‘Owl Walk’ as a gift for my parents as a Christmas present, but we had yet to use it, so this was a great way to see what might happen at Picton Castle.
The venue for our hawk adventure was Picton Castle, a fairytale castle just outside of Haverfordwest, which is open to the public giving guided tours and has 40 acres of ground to explore, plants to buy and a fabulous cafe serving the best Tapas! If you look back through my blog, you’ll see a piece written on my visit there last year.
The guys at Pembrokeshire Falconry are really caring about their birds and have great stories to tell you. Their latest aquisition is an American Eagle, which they are in the process of training-which is a slow process to ensure they have a happy bird for the length of its life. To find out more about Pembrokeshire Falconry and how they look after their birds, then please click: http://www.pembrokeshire-falconry.co.uk/
As you take the walk around the grounds of Picton Castle and through their woods, you are given a history lesson and will be amazed at the facts that you will encover…so many of our sayings and words are derived from Falconry over the ages. For instance, ‘mantle’ as in the mantle over the fire place- mantlepiece it went onto be, is derived from Falconry. When the hawks(and I saw this myself) go in for a kill, they spread their wings right out and around their prey to stop other birds pinching it, this is called mantling, and you can see how the form they make is similar to that of a mantlepiece over a fire-I’ve taken a picture of it, just as the hawk was landing. The hawks, when I watched this were following a dummy rabbit that the guys in Pembrokeshire Falconry had trailed on a piece of string to make it look like a real rabbit from above!
Other phrases such as ‘under the thumb’ , ‘wrapped round his little finger’ and ‘old codger’ all come from Falconry, but I will leave you find out how they came about when you take your own Hawk or Owl Walk!
Pembrokeshire Falconry can be found out and about around the county, offering displays at other venues as well as individual events-if you get a chance, then do take the opportunity to get involved.
I can highly recommend it!
This is me holding the male Harris Hawk!! I ended our adventure, not with a breakfast but with yummy Tapas coutesy of Maria at the cafe in Picton Castle. For more info on Picton Castle http://www.pictoncastle.co.uk/
A Wholesome start to the day!
I was very fortunate recently to attend a Vic North baking class at her home just outside Cardigan. I particularly wanted to learn more about making bread with sourdough. I had learned about this in more detail on a Ffres trip I made to Gozo towards the end of last year, to investigate locally produced food. Here, in a bakery, they were making bread in a wood fired oven from a starter that had begun it’s life over 50 years previously, and was something they called the ‘mother dough’. It sounded quite complicated and slightly confusing, so I just stuck with packet yeast for my own bread making for my Pembrokeshire Breakfasts!
Anyway, a course presented itself just recently via Pembrokeshire Tourism, so I snapped up a place. Vicky is a lovely lady, very patient(she would have to be with me!) and took us through a very busy day full of bread making of many different sorts-we started with a wholemeal, then soda bread, then bread sticks, then a tear and share pesto and garlic loaf and lastly we came away with a sourdough loaf in it’s own proving bowl made and ready to prove overnight in our own fridges, so we could take it out the next morning, bake it and offer it to my guests! The heat of the car coming home however, made it start to expand to such a degree that Sue(my B&B friend that also nabbed a place) & I were concerned we were going to be smothered in sourdough! I’m pleased to report that it survived and baked well the following day..guests most appreciative!
So, I have been ‘dabbling’ ever since, and have successfully made a few good loaves-all going down well with guests and family alike. I am still struggling a little with fitting the whole 24 hours, starter dough business correctly into my day…you need a window of about 24 hours to make this bread from start to finish…but practice will make perfect I’m sure!
If you’re interested in attending a Vic North Bakes class, you can find more information here: www.vicnorth.co.uk/
It’s April and it’s blue skies, so a very keen guest decided to get out on thePembrokeshire Coast Path, which we are situated on, and enjoy an early morning run before coming back to one of my Award Winning Breakfasts-‘Pembrokeshire’s Finest Breakfast’, no less-as judged by Pembrokeshire County Council for the Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards in April last year.
The route my guest took was across the circular walk at Dale, encompassing St Anns Head-just under 8 miles and takes in some great history.
For those of you that have enjoyed the BBC Drama The White Queen and then the books of Phillipa Gregory, this is a must do walk-personally, I wouldnt be running it! You may remember in The White Queen that the other ‘Margaret’-Margaret Stanley (not the Red Queen) had a son, Henry, in Pembroke Castle-husband died and she married Lord Stanley, while at the same time her son took refuge in France with Jasper Tudor (his Uncle). In the WQ eventually Richard takes the crown after his brother (the King) dies and the other brother being drowned in a vat of red wine. Well, HenryVII, once he has grown makes sail to land in Wales and has in mind to take the Crown.
The route taken today by my guest takes in Mill Bay, where Henry VII landed in 1485 and then made march through Wales and across England, gaining support as he went, to finally defeat Richard III at Bosworth.
I am sure the coastline hasn’t changed much from when Henry landed, and to imagine 55 Ships and 4000 men coming ashore at Mill Bay and making their way along the Coast Path up towards Aberystwyth, is astounding when you are actually there. It must’ve been such a difficult trek, especially with all that armour and the supplies they must’ve needed! If I had been open back then, perhaps Henry would’ve liked to have had one of my breakfasts to sustain him through the day!
If this inspires you to take the circular walk, I recommend parking in Dale Car park, as, when you return you can enjoy some well earned refreshment at The Griffin, the excellent local pub situated right on Dale front, overlooking the water. One of my favourite pastimes in the Summer evenings is to spend an hour or so with a little drink (gin & tonic or a nice cold cider) leaning on the beach wall watching the world go by and the sun go down! The Griffin has an excellent reputation for food, with many of the fresh fish dishes comprising of fish brough in directly off the pontoon at the front of the pub. Many guests return to Fields Lodge saying what a good meal they had! http://www.griffininndale.co.uk/
If you’d like to read more about other things to do in Pembrokeshire then click here: http://www.fieldslodge.co.uk/blog/category/things-to-do-pembrokeshire/
5 Courses- £15!
Mexican Communal Dining was the order of the day at Halen Mor last night. A 5 course Mexican inspired meal with some suitable cocktails-my favourite Margerita. The picture above is of the second course, Queso fundido
3 cheese fondue with mozzarella, cheddar and feta with homemade mexican style chorizo, spicy tomato salsa and crispy flour tortillas. Quality food was evident throughout the night.
The first course was a Salmon and avocado course:Tequila cured salmon ceviche with avocado green chilli and fresh lime, followed by the Tortilla pictured above-these were so nice we asked for a second bowl! Then we moved onto a pork dish, Pork Pibil:
A pork casserole with habanaro chilli and achiote with Mexican green rice, black bean stew, pickled cucumber salad and re fried beans. This was finished with a Palate cleanser-
Mango, lime and star anise granita. Then onto the last course, a scrumptious avocado and spiced green apple puff pastry parcel with smoked peach sorbetto. For me, the smoked peach was a bit too smoked, but I am not a fan of smoked foods normally!
Halen Mor pride themselves on offering good quality food, rather like myself with my Breakfast produce. I believe that if you start with good quality ingredients then, hopefully, you can always improve your food further! Adam, the chef, prides himself on producing great plates for diners to enjoy and like myself with my breakfasts, I like to see empty plates coming back into the kitchen!
Halen Mor opened their doors a little before Christmas 2013 and have already built up a good following of foodies and regularly hold Communal Dining Evenings- the next one being Greek on 8th, 9th & 10th April.
Their phone number is: 01646 693017. If you’re interested in going then do ring up and book your table early as these seats do go quickly!
For more eating out experiences read here: http://www.fieldslodge.co.uk/blog/?s=eating
Andy Davies runs photography workshops in our area, a few of Andy’s students have stayed with me and have praised his skill and patience when dealing with all levels of photographer. I have included here his list of workshops if you fancy improving your photography skills-and of course, you can stay with me here in Fields Lodge whilst you undertake them!
Skomer Island Photography Workshop
Join professional Welsh photographer and lecturer, Andy Davies, for an unforgettable day on Skomer Island learning how to use your digital camera to capture the stunning landscapes and rich wildlife. This is a truly world class destination and the memories will stay ingrained for a lifetime. The unique experience of being within inches of the iconic puffins will remain ingrained forever and one can just imagine Sir David Attenborough commentating in the background.
Andy provides hands-on expert tuition to small groups who are guided in taking control of their camera to capture memorable images. Whether a complete beginner, enthusiast, aspiring professional or seasoned photographer, Andy provides comprehensive tuition to suit all levels in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. There is plenty of time throughout the workshop for one-to-one tuition when topics of your interest can be explored.
The Workshop is run in association with the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales and Dale Sailing so participants by special arrangement have pre-booked, guaranteed places on the first crossing of the day on the Dale Princess, returning on the last boat of the day giving us as much time as possible on the island. We have privileged use of the library in the Warden’s House to review images on a computer if we need to shelter from a shower.
Workshops begin in April when the puffins, guillemots and razorbills are busy building nests and courting and the beach in North Haven is crammed full of Atlantic grey seals. An unmissable landscape panorama unfolds in May when the island is covered with a carpet of bluebells and red campion. The end of May to mid-July is the time to capture the iconic shot of a comical puffin with an impossible number of sandeels crammed in its beak. The last couple of weeks of July may afford the opportunity to see a puffling exercising its wings at the entrance to the burrow. See here for a Year in the Life of a Puffin.
There is still plenty to photograph in August with herring and lesser black-backed gulls often posing on rocky outcrops. We tend to explore the whole island at this time of the year giving an opportunity to capture the great landscapes around the coast. The year culminates in the seal pupping season from late August through to the end of October.
For recommended accommodation see here and for a video of Andy giving a workshop on Skomer click here. News and images can be found on Andy’s Facebook page here. Workshop reviews from participants can be found on Tripadvisor here.
Workshop dates for 2014
April 3rd, 11th, 17th, 22nd, 25th
May 1st, 6th, 9th, 15th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 29th
June 3rd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 21st, 26th
July 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 19th, 24th, 29th
Further information here http://www.andydavies.info/pages/workshops/skomer.html
National Trust Stackpole NNR Photography Workshop
The National Trust’s Stackpole National Nature Reserve is the venue for a day in the company of Welsh profesional photographer and lecturer, Andy Davies, who will provide hands-on expert tuition to small groups who are introduced to the essentials of creative photography. This is an exceptionally diverse wildlife location offering one of the best chances to photograph a resident family of otters in the UK.
The Bosherston ponds are at their best when the lilies are in flower at the end of May and the woodlands are carpeted in bluebells and wild garlic. Other subjects of interest are herons, mute swans, damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies. Awe inspiring landscapes abound with Barafundle and Broad Haven being two of the most picturesque beaches in Wales. The autumn woodland colours are spectacular and make for superb landscape compositions when reflected in the ponds.
Whether a complete beginner, enthusiast, aspiring professional or seasoned photographer, Andy provides comprehensive tuition to suit all levels in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. There is plenty of time throughout the workshop for one-to-one tuition when topics of your interest can be explored.
We meet at 9.15am for an introductory talk at the National Trust’s Stackpole Education Centre and the day is then spent visiting various locations in the Reserve. Instruction is informal and conducted as we work our way around the ponds, woodland and beaches. The course finishes at 3.15pm.
Workshop dates for 2014
March 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th
April 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th
May 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th
June 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th
July 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th
Further information here http://www.andydavies.info/pages/workshops/stackpole.html
St. Brides & Marloes Peninsula Photography Workshop
St. Brides Castle, our base for this Workshop, is a 19th century baronial country mansion, spectacularly set within the some of the most picturesque scenery of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The Castle is surrounded by 99 acres of mature parkland and bordered by Old Red Sandstone cliffs which are stunning when bathed with evening light and assaulted by Atlantic surf. The woodland has a superb carpet of bluebells and red campion in the spring.
The Marloes Peninsula is one of the top landscape destinations in the UK with impressive views over Jack Sound to Skomer Island and, just to the south, the majestic Marloes Sands. Wooltack Point is a particularly good location for watching porpoise and plunge-diving gannets and the coves are full of seal pups from late August to the end of December.
The large tidal range here of almost 8 meters allows a stunning variety of marine life to be discovered in the myriad of rockpools exposed during low spring tides at St Brides Haven, a stone’s throw from the Castle. The area has a diverse range of coastal birds including the charismatic chough and soaring fulmar petrel as well as a number of raptors such as peregrine falcons which nest nearby.
This workshop caters for all skill levels, from complete beginners to aspiring professionals. Your tutor is Andy Davies, a professional photographer and lecturer, who provides hands-on expert tuition to small groups who are initially taken back to the fundamentals of photography, rapidly progressing to having full creative control of either digital compact cameras with manual capability or digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) with interchangeable lenses. There is plenty of time throughout the workshop for one-to-one tuition when topics of your interest can be explored.
Workshop dates for 2014
Alternative dates are available.
March 11th, 25th
Further information here http://www.andydavies.info/pages/workshops/st_brides_castle.html
I recently visited St Davids Cathedral. A place I haven’t been to since I was a child-on a school trip. A Cathedral set in an idyllic valley within the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
What a lovely place to visit, it is full of history as well as being an active place of worship-it descibes itself as ‘A place of beauty, peace and pilgramage’, with a tag line of ‘Turning visitors into pilgrims’, which based on my experience, describes it quite aptly.
St David, settled on this spot as place of worship in 600AD, and since then, for 1500 years this space has been offered for worship. The Cathedral has around 250,000 visitors per year and holds daily worship services. It is generally open from 7.30am-7pm, and there is no admission costs, they rely on donations from visitors. They recive no state income and are totally reliant on the income from the shop and donations.
Music draws people apart from the historical significance and the Cathedral Choir sing daily in services. To maintain a choir of their standing from a village of 1500 people is quite a feat, especially with the commitment of daily attendance.
They hold a music festival at the end of May annually, the information for which is released on March 1st- St Davids Day, each year. Details can also be found on their website www.stdavidscathedral.org.uk
In 2012 they restored the shrine of St David and local artists created 3 images and a canopy, which now provides a focal point for pilgrimage. In the summer they offer Pilgrimage walks around the St Davids Penninsula.
They also have art exhibitions from time to time and at the Gallery area of the refectory, there are reguklar exhibitors in this gallery space.
The Refectory is run as a franchise for hospitatlity, they use as much local produce as possible and have been awarded the Pembrokeshire Produce Mark by the local council-Pembrokeshire County Council. They are open all year round and serve a great bowl of Cawl, as proclaimed by Aled Jones!
The clock on the tower is due to be fixed this year at an anticipated cost of £150,000. Due to it’s proximity to the sea and the weather we enjoy on the coast, the wear and tear it has endured has taken it’s toll. The people of St Davids have been lost without this, as many used it as their main means of time telling!
The advice from the Cathedral is not to visit on a wet day in August, as this is when everybody is visiting and the peace of the Cathedral is hard to find when so full. My advice would be to take an official tour….without our excellent guide I would not have come away having such a fantastic experience. The history that is linked and has made the Cathedral is the mind blowing part of it for me- the tomb of Edmund Tudor- father of Henry VII(born in Pembroke Castle), grandfather of Henry VIII are here for all to see- some time ago they exhumed his body, which was still in it’s full armour, with the very shockingly red Tudor hair still visible for all to see. I find this of particular interest to myself, as I am currently working my way through the Philippa Gregory books about the Tudors, so it really does feel as though history is coming alive!
I could give you many interesting and fascinating facts about the Cathedral and items you will find inside, but I think I will leave these for you to discover for yourselves when you take a tour…and please do!
It’s Farmhouse Breakfast Week this week folks. This week was originally devised to highlight crop farmers in the UK and to promote a healthy start to your day.
I LOVE cooking on my (now 64 year old) Aga!! I cook all my breakfast ingredients without the use of any extra added fat, my sausages are homemade by my butcher and have a high meat content and the Aga does a great griddled egg (similar to a fried egg but no fat is used), so you can truly have your Full Welsh (we are in Wales!) with a guilt free mind!
I am proud to offer as much local produce as I can, which means that I am able to provide the absolute best quality for Breakfast, as you can see from the lovely guest comments on Trip Advisor!
However, going back to the crop farmers, I also make my own Granola and, on request, I offer a fabulous homemade yoghurt soaked Muelsi-which is divine. You can feel the well-being flowing through you with each spoonful!
And, you may remember, in April I was the proud recipient of the Pembrokeshire Tourism Award for ‘Pembrokeshire’s Finest Breakfast’, for which I was given a fabulous Steve Robinson piece of art, that proudly now stands in my hallway for all to see! A piece of art from Steve has been on my ‘wish list’ for quite a while, so as well as the recognition for my breakfasts, I was delighted to recieve such a beautiful piece!
A snappy little video from Kayak King in Pembrokeshire, showing some of the beaches of Pembrokeshire.
With Christmas approaching, why not combine our Weekend Walker Offer with a bit of Christmas Shopping?? We have for sale at Fields Lodge many local crafts-excellent porcelain pottery by Sheila Hickey, fabulously priced handmade jewellery by Rhiannon(and she can make to order any style or colour you would like), handamde occassion cards and Christmas Cards by Rhiannon, bottles of our very own Organic, aromatherapy, locally made toiletries and our ‘I’d rather be staying at Fields Lodge’ mugs!
Enjoy a peruse through these lovely things with an afternoon tea, including our lovely shortbread mince pies, infront of our cosy, cwtchy real fire! Come on, what are you waiting for????
Mark & Howard stayed for 2 nights whilst on their Pembrokeshire Coast Path Walk. They were a pleasure to have as guests, and so enjoy their own quirky take on their journey! I have included the 2 videos that cover the parts of the path immediate to us here, but of course, there is much more easily accessible from Fields Lodge. It is possible to walk all the way to St Davids and still come back here to stay, should you so wish!