Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Put a Spring in your Step!

Our customers love the Llyn Coast Path and all the local Llyn walks, but sometimes wish to go into the Snowdonia National Park, a well known area with a reputation for challenging upland walks. And all within a good hours drive But where to start? Have I really got to read a guidebook? What if I lose the way? I want a good walk, not a research project! A good place to start might be Conwy and its extensive programme of free guided walks at Cerdded Conwy.

There are a wide selection of walks coming up this spring. You can see a full list of them in pdf form here. The first is a walk around Tryfan on Friday the 24th of April. To book a place on this walk please contact Peter Collins on 01492 680353. Although the walks are free, there is a suggested donation of £2 per person to cover costs. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

How do you taste a Landscape?

A convivial morning was held last week at the Lion Hotel in Tudweiliog, where a group of local people and small tourism businesses addressed the question of how to convey a unique food offer to visitors. In a world where so much food seems to be International and hotel and pub dishes seem the same the country over, how do we provide something unique to this locality when visitors come? We're very fortunate on the Llyn to have such excellent seafood, and on the rare occasions that we cook food for customers then we normally offer crab bisque, roll mop herrings and seafood terrine followed by salmon en croute. Of course, in reality, not all these ingredients will come from the Llyn and it would be nice to expand this offering and to make use of the wild flowers and herbs that are abundant locally. We were fortunate in having Carl Legge, a noted local food writer, who kept us all entranced with his enthusiasm and detailed knowledge. We sampled potato gratin with lemon balm, egg frittata with nettles (surprisingly good, even when cold), wild leaf salad and local welsh cheese.

 The square white dish contained a nettle frittata - an egg dish made with, of all things, cooked stinging nettles. The cooking process takes away their ability to sting, so it was actually delicious with an unusual flavour. Next to the frittata, in the circular dish, was a potato gratin flavoured with lemon balm which added a surprising citrus freshness. Further down the table we have a crab pate, admittedly not my favourite as crab has quite a strong flavour. The salad was brightened up with edible primrose flowers. Finally, the hexagonal dish contained a ricotta cheese made with local milk and spiced up with wild garlic, which went really well with the home made sour dough bread and rye crackers in the top left of the picture.

 Carl also brought along a selection of his home made preserves and chutneys. These went fabulously with the salad and welsh cheese. He also provided tips on how to make them. The apple cider vinegar seems particularly straightforward as it can be made with windfalls and left over apples.
The next course was some of his home made liqueurs, of which the blackberry whiskey was a particular hit around the table.
 The last course was gorse-flower ice cream, sadly beginning to melt, which tasted of coconut.
Carl in the centre of the picture
Are these traditional Llyn foods? Probably not, but does it matter? They are of the landscape being made of local ingredients, and a place can be quoted for each ingredient which gives the visitor a sense of identity which is much sought after.
So, in future at Manaros, for celebratory meals we will offer the blackberry whiskey liqueur as an aperitif and a foraged salad and a hot nettle frittata. Then perhaps the gorse flower ice-cream and a sloe gin to finish. What do you think? Perhaps we should offer these things as an alternative - a liquer, a special foraged salad and a special ice cream and perhaps some home baked rye bread as an additional extra, something to try, rather than a main item in the meal? It should be a great talking point.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The most extreme tides of the year

Last week saw the partial eclipse and this meant that the Earth, Moon and Sun were all in alignment so the gravitational pull of the Sun combined with the Moon created the lowest and the highest tides of the year. Saturday saw the most extreme tides and by good fortune it was a beautiful sunny day. This was a changeover day for us but I managed to get out and take some photographs.

This was the precise moment of high tide but, with no wind behind it, there was still sand left on the beach. If there had been a heavy south westerly then flooding would have been a real possibility. 
This is a similar view of the low tide on Friday - the lowest it could ever be unless there was a North easterly wind blowing. There are lots of rock pools uncovered that I had never seen.
This is on Aberdaron beach looking east uncovering a series of unexpected rocks, but not low enough to reveal the wreck of the Glenocum which lies just at the right of this photograph.

As you near the eastern end of the beach the rocks disappear and there is more sand. Very soon the Wales Coast Path will be going all the way along these cliffs and around the headland.

At the very lowest tides a small beach is revealed at the eastern end of Aberdaron bay - a very tranquil place with beautiful views over Bardsey Island which I couldn't take because of the bright sunshine.

Also uncovered at low tide are the Dragon's Caves, legendary homes of the Lleyn dragons. At least for my kids when they were little. 

Looking west back towards Aberdaron and Anelog Mountain just as the tide turns. 

Low tide also exposes this crack in the rock, probably the beginnings of an arch. It is possible to climb through this gap and reach the other side.

On second thought I'd better lose some weight first.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Nothing Eclipses the Llŷn!

There was much anxiety here in Aberdaron about whether or not we would see the partial eclipse of the sun that took place at 9:30 this morning. The weather forecast was not encouraging and when we awoke there was a fair amount of sea mist.

However, as the time neared we had a sudden burst of sunshine and Peter produced his colander having been warned that he might lose his eyesight if he looked directly at the sun. 

You can just make out the arc of the sun around the shadow of the moon in each dot. It looked easier on the telly.

Just at 9:30 the sky began to cloud over and enabled Peter to photograph the sun directly.

As the moon passed over the sun there was a hush in the wildlife and the landscape had a twilight look about it. Another consequence of the alignment of the sun and moon was an exceptionally strong series of tides. 

Here we have a low tide from yesterday exposing the rocks at Porth y Swnt at the western end of Aberdaron beach. 
The high tide six and a half hours later made the place look like a completely different village. 
It is this tidal movement that keeps the beach so fresh and clean, and a haven for all sorts of wildlife. The very strongest tides will be tomorrow (on Saturday the 21st) when Peter plans to photograph the exposed shipwrecks on the north coast.