Friday, February 24, 2006

Gar & Jif

Sorry for the break in transmission, it has been a bit nuts lately.

A slightly belated birthday greeting to H, my S-in-L.

Spent a very enjoyable night at Llangoed Hall recently ( It’s a renovated country house hotel in mid Wales, between Brecon and Builth Wells. It recently was named 2nd in the Wales hotel of the year awards.

I can see why. Class. Just class. The sedate and hushed tones make it a perfect getaway from the chaos that is the rest of the world nowadays. Reading room, snooker room/library. The service is impeccable and reverent. In the first restaurant/hotel review for this blog, I can highly recommend it - especially when the winter sale makes the prices far more accessible than the usual £200 - £400 per room per night.

2nd review - Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd. Welsh gastro pub of the year. Don't know exactly what a gastro pub is though - anywhere you can get a pie & a pint? Anyway, had an excellent mixed grill (steak, liver, pork & leek sausage, belly pork, duck egg) & C chose a spicy pork and prawn noodle thingy. Both were very well received, and were washed down with a bottle of Wild Rock sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.

The food (& drink) miles don't bear thinking about, but the food and service is superb. Again, highly recommended for a quiet relaxed evening out. (

Travel note of the week

Enjoyable - I must be the only person who seems to find the Valley line services from Cardiff up to Pontypridd OK. Sometimes you don't get to sit down for a few stops, but at least they turn up. Well most of them.

Aggravating - Fog lights. The clue is in the name. So why do people (not to generalise, but usually driving a "hot hatch" and wearing a burberry baseball cap) drive around all day and night whatever the weather with their fog lights blazing? Isn't this an offence just like driving at 2mph over the speed limit?

Rugby note of the week

The highlight of the rugby world this past week has to have been the train crash that was Gareth Thomas on Scrum V. "Gar", as he was affectionately called by "Jif", rightly said that the press liked all the stuff surrounding Mike Ruddock's departure as they sold more papers. His "performance" on TV certainly padded the papers for the rest of the week.

Gareth clearly wears his heart on his sleeve on Welsh rugby matters, and will be missed by the Welsh team this weekend. Hope you get well soon Gar.

Interesting fact that may only interest me – 6th January was the last time I saw a live game of rugby. As a card-carrying member of Ebbw Vale RFC that’s a surprisingly long gap in the middle of the season.

Squirrel notes

Finches, tits and doves abound in the garden of chez VJ. They loiter in the nearby trees on lookout for squirrels, cats and mongrels. When the coast is clear they take turns to move to the advance position on the telephone wire before swooping down for nuts and stale bread.

In other garden news a wonderful new arbour (a garden seat with stuff over it) was constructed last weekend. I say constructed. It was screwed together from the sections that B&Q provide. With the instructions being written by someone who has no more than nodding acquaintance with the English language though, I thought it was quite a feat of engineering.

Running notes (an occasional series)

Two 5k runs this week. Bit fresh of a lunchtime in Bute Park mind you. Got to find where I put my running gloves. Either they got lost during the move or else the squirrels have nicked them.

Had a discussion over cycling and running etiquette with a woman on a bicycle whilst crossing blackweir bridge. She was trying to overtake and said that I should have let her cross ahead of me on the narrow bridge over the Taff. She was annoyed at my apparent lack of manners in this matter. When I pointed out that there was a "cyclists dismount" sign, manners didn't seem to matter as good old anglo-saxon was invoked. Oh, the world we live in...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006

Menai crabs

Had a quiet evening out last week and some excellent food at the Maenllwyd Inn outside of Caerphilly. The aderdeen angus lasagne was very eatable (I can't verify whether the cows were indeed Scottish though).

On a related topic, I was at a corporate event last week where the lunchtime buffet was entirely "locally sourced" - as opposed to sauced. Caerphilly cheese, Monmouthshire smoked chicken, Glamorgan sausages, Menai Straits crab. Brecon Carreg water as well, but I think the coffee was imported.

Travel notes of the week

Enjoyable - When I asked what time the last train home from Cardiff was on Saturday night I got the answer from the ticket salesman person followed by "but I wouldn't catch that one, it's a bloody zoo".

Enjoyable II - Travelling home I overheard 2 couples talking. The one guy, an ex-soldier, was regaling them on all the battles he had fought across the world. The problem is, they all seem to have happened in pubs.

Rugby note of the week

Saw the Ireland/Italy game in Walkabout. Seemed pretty clear to me that Italy were robbed by a couple of poor decisions by the English ref. It wasn't as though they were the usual sort of "split second" decisions. Rather they were both about grounding the ball for tries. The ref was too arrogant/stupid to refer to the 4th official, and so Italy were denied a historic win to bookend Scotland's great win.

Squirrel notes

Squirrels and crows continue to dominate the pecking order on the bird table at No. 1. When the squirrels have finished trying to destroy the table in some woodland version of Brainiac, a goodly selection of loveable birdage can be seen.