Cake Walk

Safely ensconced at Glandwr Mill, it would seem that the title of this post does not create quite the dialectical opposition I had previously suggested.  My first two days in Cymru have each yielded both a fine walk and an excellent cake.  As a result, I can confirm that T H Roberts remains the cake connoisseur’s cafe of choice in this part of the world.

The rain, for which Wales is justly famed (and which my Sawston garden sorely needs), does serve at least two very useful purposes.  This morning’s downpours permitted a guilt-free lie-in and lazy morning (neither of which will be delivered by tomorrow’s sunny prognosis).   When the sun came out this afternoon (I’d always suspected something, you never hear mention of a girlfriend), we discovered it had also re-charged the local rivers so the Torrent Walk more than lived up to its billing – some seriously raging waters and evidence (for the more fanciful rambler) of a game of Pooh sticks played by local giants (I suppose there might be a more prosaic explanation for the tree trunks in the river – but I’m sticking with whimsy).

Tomorrow’s itinerary does not allow an excursion into Dolgellau, so any posts tomorrow night could see our hero going through the cake equivalent of cold turkey.  What this will mean for the quality (or even quantity) of any material produced is hard to judge…

Brevity Levity

Tomorrow, GofaDM is off on its hols to one of the Celtic fringes of this fair land.  Yes, the guiding intelligence(?) behind this blog will be packing a few treasured belongings into a spotted handkerchief and taking the morning train (I have a reservation in the first box car) off to the land of his fathers, look you, boyo.  OK, I’m not going to Bangor (and certainly not Maine), but Barmouth is fairly close and does actually possess a railway station – though lacks the song reference from Roger Miller (how very remiss of him – not even a shout-out for Abermaw).

Wales does tend to be rather communication-technology challenged – but this blog takes its responsibilities seriously and will try and continue from the Principality.  I can’t promise you the sort of searing travel insights to be found on Matathewsiasms – well, I could, but I fear it would only lead to later disappointment (and as a consultant I know the importance of managing expectations downwards) – but only more of the same old rubbish that you have come to know and, presumably, tolerate (or perhaps you are using this blog as a penance?).

As a back-up plan, I have established an account on Twitter (StuartFfoulkes) so that if all else fails I can “tweet” as I believe the modern vernacular would have it.  Yes, I have become a Twit (as I believe the users of Twitter are known) for the third time – obviously, I was already a twit in at least two other senses of that grouping of letters.

Now, I recognise this may be a juxtaposition too far – how can I, a man who has only very rarely managed to précis his thoughts down to 140 words hope to function within a world where you are limited to 140 characters?  Well, a chap in Latvia managed to get a Great Tit to use Twitter (I believe his process involved bacon fat, but having only finite examples of Parus Major to hand – as opposed to bush – produced only gibberish).  If a garden bird can manage it, surely it cannot be wholly beyond me.  I guess only time will tell, but I think things could get ugly…

I do know of at least one place in Wales with wi-fi access – and, luckily, it is one of my favourite places in the whole world.  In the Gwynedd town of Dolgellau lies T H Roberts: once upon a time it was an old fashioned ironmongers – and normally I would deplore the loss of such – but I can forgive its loss to the mongery of iron as it has been transformed into a very friendly cafe, with wi-fi access and more importantly truly excellent cakes!

I fear my vacational timing may be inopportune as summer seems to be coming to an end (there was definitely an autumnal nip in the air as I cycled home from a concert last night), but if Wales delivers on its promise of extensive precipitation then I will be forced to take the advice of Marie Antoinette and “eat cake” rather than that of Julie Andrews and “climb every mountain” (I have a related response to wet weather in Ireland, I find a decent bar and drink Guinness until either (a) it stops raining or (b) I stop caring).  As a result, the author’s weight on his return will be good indicator of climatic conditions whilst away (though, I’d still advise use of a rain gauge for any scientific work).  For interested parties, my departure weight is 12st 10lb (clothed) with an estimated 10% body fat (though I think this latter value should be viewed with some scepticism).

Hwyl fawr! (for now)

Epiphanic musings

We are now at the X-Factor, or possibly the BGT, end of the 12 days of Christmas – musicians and dancers in quantity being delivered to some poor unfortunate by their (supposed) true love.

For the inheritors of the Western Roman Empire, we mark three kings (not a bad hand in poker – but would have been much improved if a couple had brought their wives) or magi bringing wholly inappropriate gifts for a baby. In fact, this strand of the Christmas story is only reported by St Matthew – making him very much the Daily Telegraph of evangelists. St Luke was much more down with the working class – his nativity involving shepherds, a manger and a pub.

For some reason, this means I must take down my cards and put away my balls for another year (ooh, er, missus). If I had tree, I should discard it on the edge of a nearby ring-road and look forward to twelve months of finding needles in unlikely places (though never, of course, in a haystack).

This ritual dismantling of festivity would involve a trip to the loft and the force of apathy is strong in me to today. Luckily, with a small amount of research I have found that I can procrastinate in safety. If I choose to consider myself as one of the spiritual heirs of Constantine I can use the Julian calendar and then have until a week next Thursday. In other places, decorations routinely remain up until 2 February – even I should have summoned sufficient energy to enter the loft by then.

My scholarly work has also revealed that over much of my home continent, including the land of my fathers (look you) tonight is celebrated with cakes (or sweet breads – and not those of the pancreatic variety) and drinking.

In parts of Wales, a giant cake is (like Gaul and God before it) divided into three parts – to represent child, mother and visiting royalty (who get rather short commons in that particular deal, perhaps they ate on the way).

In homage to the season, my ancestors and my keen sense of the importance of history, I shall now go and abjure my normal asceticism and consume cake and the fruit of the vine.