We took advantage of the warm sunny weather on Saturday morning and decided to take a trip with our Mitzie in tow to Llangollen in Wales. Llangollen (pronounced Clang-gock-lyn) is one of my very favourite places on earth to visit. It has a rough rustic beauty that is quite breathtaking to say the least. With more sun than Cornwall and less rain than the Lake District, it is no wonder that this beautiful little gateway to Wales is one of the most popular Welsh destinations in the North West.
It hosts the the famous International Music Eisteddfod where singers and dancers congregate from every corner of the earth each year amongst a multitude of other activites . . . but we go just to walk around and take in it's beauty.
As we are going up to Cumbria for a week in September and bringing Mitzie with us, we thought it would be a good experience for her to come along with us today, and she didn't mind a bit. It is probably less than an hour's drive from us here in Chester and is always very busy and we thought it would get her used to being around crowds and to travelling in the car for more than just to the dog groomers and the vets!
We always like to take a nice walk along the river in Llangollen. It is so pretty and filled with mini white water rapids, flat rocks you can walk on and lots of birds and other wildlife. Our friend Colin swears he saw a Kingfisher there last summer when we took him and Jo (his wife) there, but . . . he was the only one.
Mitzie enjoyed it very much, even if her nose was to the ground for most of the time. (she is such a sniffer!) She didn't even bother to chase the ducks, which I was happy about. I have come to realize that she is a bit timid of other animals, especially cats and large birds and of course dogs that are larger than herself. I don't think the sheep in Cumbria will be a problem.
WE always like to visit the old railway platform. There is an old Steam Engine there and you can take a trip on the old Steam Railway if you want.
Today there was a 1960's event going on with lots of old cars and vehicles, people dressed up in pschcadelic clothing and all sorts.
The classic cars were beautiful.
And there were quite a few of them. I was particularly fond of this old Mini. One of my first cars ever was an old green Austin Mini Station Wagon, that I never really did learn to drive properly . . . but I had a lot of good laughs in it anyways, with it slipping out of gear, etc.
Of course we must stop for refreshments when we are there. This is our favourite tearoom. It's very quaint inside, and of course you can also choose to sit outside on a nice day, as we did today. It's so pretty. We feasted on
Cheese on Toast on Brown Bread
And Todd enjoyed some Bara Brith, which is a traditional Welsh Teabread, and really scrummy.
Mitzie just enjoyed laying next to our table and watching all the people having fun. She did also get to enjoy the odd crumb which fell her way. I think she charmed a lot of people today, which was nice. I would hate to have an obnoxious dog.
When we got home I surprised Todd with another treat that I picked up for him while we were there. A good old fashioned Bread Pudding, which would differ quite about from some people's ideas of bread pudding. This is a very old recipe which was originally devised to help to use up the stale bread way back in the day. Todd's mum apparently made wonderful bread puddings . . . all stodgy and spicy and chock full of fruit and spices. Todd has very fond memories of his mum's puddings, so he was well pleased when I set this little gem down in front of him today. (The recipe is from the National Trust Complete Traditional Recipe Book, by Sarah Edington, another gem!)
A thrifty recipe devised by old bakeries to use up yesterday's bread. You can create your own mix of dried fruit. (candied peel, crystallized ginger, chopped prunes and dates, candied cherries, chopped dried apricots, sultanas, currants etc.)
425ml of milk (1 1/2 cups)
150ml of cold strong tea (1/2 cup)
4 ounces butter, melted (1/2 cup)
1 TBS mixed spice**
3 large free range eggs, beaten
350g of mixed dried fruit (3/4 pound)
450g of fresh bread crumbs (1 pound)
Combine the milk, tea, melted butter, beaten eggs, mixed spice and dried fruit. Combine together well. Stir in the breadcrumbs and leave to soak for an your or overnight if you wish.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter an 8 by 11 (2 inch deep) pan and line with baking paper. Butter the baking paper. Spread the soaked mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cool and serve cut into squares.
And if you so fancy it, here's a look of a short film I took of some fit kayakers that came down the river whilst I was standing there enjoying . . .
And another short film of Todd and Mitzie down on the rocks. If yoy listen very carefully you can hear the water, so nice to listen to.