Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Welsh Weekend

Stunning - just stunning... our views of the Mawddach Estuary on Saturday as we walked to Barmouth over the amazing rail bridge.

Mawddach Estuary
Barmouth Rail Bridge
We parked at Morfa Mawddach (no charge) a small railway station on the south side of the estuary. The station was once the third biggest in Wales known as “Barmouth Junction” with 5 platforms linking the railway to Dolgellau and the Cambrian Coast. The route is now a well trodden trail, Mawddach Trial, which is enjoyed by many walkers and cyclists.

Barmouth Bridge is the northern end to the trail. The wooden viaduct stretches 900m across the tidal Afon Mawddach estuary connecting Fairbourne, Arthog and surrounding villages to Barmouth. It's finale is a cast iron rail bridge with dual arches, quite an experience when the Arriva train trundles past. There is a small charge of 70p for an adult and this includes your return walk.

Cader Idris stands guard over the southern edge with the Giant Idris sleeping peacfully amongst the foothills. The mountain has many myths and legends; if the giant wakes it is said Wales will fall and anyone sleeping on the mountain overnight will awake as either a madman or a poet!

Sleeping Idris
Barmouth is the northern stop of the trail. It's a typical seaside town; amusements arcades; fish and chips shops; seaside rock shops; all fill the small flat area between the mountains and the sea. Many of the houses climb the hillside with stunning views across the estuary. Barmouth is a hive of activity throughout the year; motorsports on the beach; music festivals; Three Peaks yatch race.

Arriva arriving in Barmouth
Walking back across the bridge the noise can be deafening; not trains but oyster catchers. They squeak and squal constantly in their search for food. It amazing to watch then suddenly dive their beaks into the sand and emerge with a mussel, tightly shut against it's foe. But the oyster catcher is unperturbed, hammering away with it's beak until the mussel is defeated and satisfyingly consumed.

Walking over the bridge on Saturday we were treated to a fly past, no the usual RAF jets who use the area for training but a flock of geese - honking their way up the estuary.

Fly Past
The weather was perfect for visiting Wales. The autumn colours displayed the mountains and estuary in it's full glory. It can be quite different and walking the bridge is not so enjoyable on a cold blustery day at high tide - much nicer then to sit indoors and watch the waves crash against the harbour wall.

We ended our trip with a quick visit to Dolgellau.  It's a small narrow streeted Welsh town at the head of the Mawddach estuary with a good choice of inns and cafes. Our favourite is T H Roberts, once an ironmongers the amazing building is now a cafe with many of the original Victorian fixtures and fittings, inclding the 'office' where you can enjoy your coffee and cake in peace. The variety of teas, coffees and homemade cakes are amazing; our favoruite being the warmed scones served with jam and fresh cream.
T H Roberts
An amazing area of West Wales with activities for all, however active you feel like being.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

New Menu with a Spooky Bonus

My blog came to an abrupt stop as unfortunately my father passed away; six months on I feel ready to start this journey again.

My hubby and I eat out fairly often and we like nothing more than taking advantage of promotions and offers. This being so we sign up for regular newsletters from our favourite pubs and restaurants; follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook. As well as receiving the latest news, information and offers it always feels good to exchange news; it makes our visits feel personal and

Our local Marston's pub is The Acorn. It's a beautiful thatched pub just outside Nuneaton town centre. It has a traditional community feeling with staff always offering a warm welcome and food that is cooked, presented and served well.

Our visit on Tuesday was a real treat, especially for my hubby. I had received another offer by email; buy one pint of Hobgoblin, get another free. Hubby is a fan of Hobgoblin and we have visited the Wychwood Brewery a couple of times. Like the Acorn their bar has a warm traditional feel, adding to the enjoyably informative tour of their brewing room. Their tours are open to the public but have limited spaces and disabled access - they are a superb birthday treat for a beer fan, with plenty of soft drinks/coffee for the driver.

For Halloween the Acorn are bringing in another new ale with a loyalty scheme so there is another opportunity for hubby to enjoy good ale with a bonus.

Our meal from the new menu was delicious. The crisp lettuce bowl filled with prawns in marie rose sauce was perfectly accompanied with thick cut granary bloomer bread; the three mini Camembert had a crisp outer layer revealing a creamy inside.

Hubby chose gammon and chips for his main; always a favourite, always good and I had chicken and bacon salad but with no dressing which fits perfectly with my Slimming World allowance. The salad was fresh and chilled with very tasty bacon and soft chicken.

Marston's new menu has some exciting additions as well as keeping some old favourites. Hubby and I did not give in to a pudding but they sounded delicious, so maybe next time.

My tips from this post:
sign up for Marston's newsletter
join the Wychwood Brewery site
visit Wychwood Brewery for a tour.

Happy Halloween