Wales' Alternative Food Festival, Bridgend, 30th September & 1st October 2011

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The Great Welsh Leek Relay 2011 Day 3



IMG_1434, originally uploaded by The Alternative Food Festival.

“Can anyone see Bridgend from here guys?…no, thought not, another 160 miles to go!”

After a highly entertaining evening in the Castle in Aberaeron with good beer and food, we were sad to leave. The night ended with a chat about rugby (as ever) with the landlord, and the next day started with Jeff taking to the water swimming the leek in Cardigan Bay and handing over to Jon to do a few miles on foot.

These guys are amazing, I’m completely in awe of them. Never once did they moan (unlike myself as Steve Brace kept reminding me!) and the bigger the challenge the better.

Next stop was Lampeter, well they didn’t stop, they carried on, so it was on to Talley. Wow, what ruin and a lovely village. Stayed here about 3/4 of an hour as Steve entertained us with his catch the leek game, when we knew, it was time to go.

So, Llandeilo next, but they carried on and we met up in Tumble. No cafes in Tumble so we rolled on to Llanelli and the Millennium Coastal Park where we knew there’d be a cafe and sponge cake. They love sponge cake and Steve even puts milk over it, not cream, milk! Jon’s chain broke so this was a bit of a short day because they ‘hammered’ it and didn’t they just.

Tonight, we all go back to our own beds. Tomorrow, I head off to Bridgend to be in the town centre by 6am, Jon will join me with his coffee van at about 8am (and his coffee is amazing as he keeps telling us!) whilst Steve, Jeff and last years leek relay veteran Alan joins us for the final push and ‘glory’ leg of Leek Relay 2011. They start back in Llanelli, take in Swansea Bay, the Liberty Stadium before arriving in Bridgend at midday. See you there guys, its been an amazing few days!

The Great Welsh Leek Relay 2011 Day 2

It never ceases to amaze.  We’ve all travelled the length and breadth of Wales loads of times over the years and still, it takes your breath away, and quite literally when the route planner sends you up the wrong hill to Harlech castle!  That’s a 40% gradient, must be one of the steepest in Europe surely.

Anyway, yesterday. What a day! Started with spelling out ‘Day 2 Harlech’ in leeks in the Castle car park (much to the amusement and amazement of the locals and finished with a few glasses of Leffe on tap in the Castle in Aberaeron.  I think we would have been hard challenged to find a more beautiful place to cycle and run yesterday in what Mid and North Wales offered us.  From Harlech to Barmouth, Dolgellau, Machynlleth, Borth, Aberystwyth and finally Aberaeron. Great places to stay at Escape in Llandudno and of course Castle Cottage Restaurant with Rooms in Harlech, and now Arosfa inAberaeron.  Absolutely loved yesterday, but it was the scenery that stole the show.  1 day to go until Feastival, must dash, we have a leek to deliver by midday tomorrow.  Hope to see you there, and if its anything like last year, do come early. Bye for now.

The Great Welsh leek Relay 2011: Day 1

IMG_1313, originally uploaded by The Alternative Food Festival.

This is coming a bit of a tradition to open Feastival. Why not run a leek over 300 miles using elite athletes from Bridgend to highlight the issue of Food Miles? Well this after all part of the Wales’ Alternative Food Festival, so lets do something a little different. OK, very different. What started last year as an office bet almost, is now surely to become an annual event. The support we receive en route and online (follow us on twitter at #leekrelay) has been incredible!

Steve Brace, current Head of Welsh Athletics and who could forget, double Olympian marathon runner for Team GB, John Embling, who I think is, as he puts it, is stuck on 49 marathons, and new face this year Jeff Thomas, an outstanding triathlete from the Bridgend Athletic Club (who’s daughter Zoe and wife Ceri – I hope I’ve got those names right – are talented triathletes too!). Also pictured is Steve’s wife Jackie who, as you guessed, is an athlete too who ran some challenging legs for us yesterday. Oh yes, and don’t forget, the person who took the photograph, me. The person who has to exercise his foot every second of the day by pressing that accelerator pedal in the support vehicle, and I can tell you, the speed at which these guys zip through the country, I need that pedal. 😉

Anyway, beautiful day yesterday, stunning North Wales landscapes, ancient landscapes too. Makes you feel so proud to be Welsh and as expected, yep, its cliche, but everyone was so helpful and friendly. Loved Llandudno – Conwy – Bangor – Caernarfon and then over to Anglesey before tackling the mountains of Snowdonia and then down to Harlech to finish in the dark. They covered over 90 miles yesterday with the leek and I’m sure if our accommodation was another 90 they would have carried on. Great to see ITV Wales film us yesterday (I think it will be shown this week at some stage) and thanks to everyone who ‘egged’ us on.

So onto today. Its breakfast soon (a vital part of the day), then some pics by the stunning Harlech Castle before heading off down the coast to Aberearon in Mid Wales. They’ll be swimming with the leek today too, and dont worry about me, I’ll be still pressing my foot repeatedly on the pedal which please don’t underestimate, is a touch job, but someone has to do it! ;-). See you later.

Leek relay route confirmed

As part of the Wales Alternative Food Festival later this week, The Great Welsh leek Relay (to raise awareness of the ‘food miles’ issue) will be starting tomorrow in Llandudno and finishing in Bridgend on Friday to officially open Feastival. See you en route, and here is the route by the way….

Town/Venue

Feature

Miles

   

 

TUESDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER 2011  

 

   

 

Llandudno – Great Orme

 

Conwy Castle

10

Bangor Pier

18

MenaiBridge Bridge

3

Lanfairpwllgwyngyll Station

5

Caernarfon Castle

9

Llanberis                       Railway station

10

Bettws Y Coed Bridge/Swallow Falls

16

Blaenau Festiniog Slate Mine/Mountains

12

Penrhyndeudraeth Toll Bridge ( Portmeirion)

9

   

 

WED 28TH SEPTEMBER 2011  

 

   

 

Harlech Castle

7

Barmouth Seafront

11

Dolgellau                      Run up Cadair Idris?

10

Corris King Arthurs Labyrinth

11

Mychynlleth Technology Centre

6

Borth Cardigan Bay/ Beach

16

Aberystwyth Pier & Harbour

7

Aberaeron Harbour

16

   

 

THU 29th SEPTEMBER 2011  

 

   

 

Lampeter Oldest College Gold Mine

14

Llandovery Restaurant

21

Llandeilo    Run up -CarregCennen Castle

13

Llanarthne Botanic Gardens

10

Pembrey Park & Race HorseCourse

13

Llanelli Heritage park        

6

   

 

FRIDAY 30th SEPTEMBER 2011  

 

   

 

Gower – Mumbles WoeblyCastle- Oxwich

20

Swansea LibertyStadium

6

A48 MargamPark

10

Bridgend (by 12 noon) Open Feastival

15

   

 

  TOTAL MILES

304

Food Fit For a King!

We’re lucky in this neck of the woods.  Not only do we have the biggest Elvis Festival in Europe this time of year, next week in Bridgend we host Wales’ Alternative Food Festival (“Feastival”) which, like the Elvis Festival, is a little bit odd in places.  But that’s us for you, that’s what we’re like. We do like to do things differently, that’s for sure.

Good to see our friends at Bar 21 at the Sandville Hotel in Porthcawl link to the two themes of the festivals by offering ‘Food Fit for a King’. Personally, I can recommend the ‘Nothing But a Houndog’ Hot Dog. Had about three yesterday!

For more information on Feastival, please visit the website.

Love2Walk sloe?

Sloes, originally uploaded by simonwheatley.

With the Bridgend Love2Walk Festival and the Wales Alternative Food Festival both kicking off this week, we thought we’d do something in the lead up to combine the two themes.

The Sloe Walk on Thursday evening was led by Robert Jones, that’s the ecologist and not the former Wales and British Lion Scrum Half I add! Rob is the countryside Officer in Bridgend County Borough Council and his knowledge on plants and anything related to ecology is pretty impressive to say the least, he’s also a rare breed being an Ecologist with a sense of humour (though his jokes are sometimes not as memorable as his expertise). We were in for a good night though (hopefully with some gin!) and we weren’t disappointed. Well, I was disappointed at the lack of gin at the end of the walk, but not with the lack of sloes.

I hadn’t really walked around Bedford Park near Bridgend before, I had visited the Ironworks but not actually ventured further afield around the circular walk. It takes in part of the former Dyffryn-Llynfi railway line that must have served the docks in Porthcawl and Cardiff with coal from the Valleys. What a beautiful walk it presents us with today. There is one stretch in particular where the trees lining the route form a perfect archway in a straight line for about half a mile. Worth going to just to see that.

Anyway, Rob was a gem. He pointed out loads of edible plants and poisonous ones too that we should avoid obviously. Some were even too similar to call, so you have to be cautious and know what you’re doing, or take Rob with you! But Rob made it all very entertaining by bolting on the odd story or historical anecdote at nearly every stop that made this walk one of the most enjoyable I’ve been on for a while.

So, about the sloes. Yes, there were sloes in abundance but were they right for picking? A great debate ensued but even a bigger one surrounding the best recipe for sloe gin. I was amongst some experts that’s for sure but as for myself, I’m quite good at drinking the stuff and that’s about it.

Some recipies for Sloe Gin and other wild foods can be found at the following links:

http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/ancient/wild-food-guide.php http://www.sloe.biz/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sloegin_7722

Please remember there are old wild flood pickers and bold wild food pickers but no old and bold wild food pickers. If you have any doubts whatsoever about your identification of a wild plant or mushroom, don’t eat it!

7 days until Feastival and Welsh Perry & Cider signs up!

Apples, originally uploaded by grongar.

The Welsh Perry & Cider Society is set up to help support and promote the real cider and perry industry in Wales. Now in our 11th year of work, they will be at Feastival with their Welsh cider bar selling a selection of some of the carefully crafted ciders and perries that Wales has on offer. Looking forward to it.