Friday

Sweet Home Port Talbot

This might be the street of my hungry writer dreams, right here in my hometown.

  • Riverside Café
  • Gossip Café
  • Sweetmans
  • Jenkins Bakers and Café
  • Greggs
  • Lynda’s Café Bar
  • Ferrari’s Café
  • Selections Coffee Shop
All within 500 yards of each other and I’m only half way up and yet to check out the other side. Ask any writer and they’ll glaze over (a bit like a fresh doughnut) at the thought of being tucked at a table with coffee and cake, a pen and a notebook, a little condensation on the windows maybe, anonymous chatter and the random clatter of cutlery against china.

Today I’m on a mission: my mother has told me that Jenkins is renowned for custard slices. They’re a family firm from Llanelli, in West Wales, going back to 1921 when Lizzie Jenkins opened ‘The Unique Café’ on New Dock Road. Their slogan at the time was ‘Every bite – pure delight’ and even though the business has since expanded to 25 retail shops, including this one in Port Talbot, it is still being run by a third generation today.  

Of course, tucked in the corner of my mind is an awareness of my mother’s bias: she’s Llanelli born and even though she left her home town nearly 60 years ago she’s still a dyed in the wool Scarlets supporter (the Llanelli Welsh Rugby Union team).

But the Scarlets have dropped a few points today: not a custard slice in sight. There are a couple of concoctions behind the glass case labelled ‘non-dairy jam and cream slice’.  If it’s not dairy, how can it be cream? But then I remember those gargantuan Cream Horns of my childhood – thick,papery, hollow pastry horns filled with a sticky cloud of sweet fluff...

Yes, obviously I am
But nostalgia does not sway me and I pop a few doors along where Greggs have custard slices that look as if they’ve been putting in gym-time pumping up their fillings. So Greggs get my £2.10 and 3 custard slices and I get a box, the lid of which advertises my weakness,  that’s designed for 6 cakes though I doubt it would take the weight of 6 custard slices: I have to carry it in two hands to stop it from bending. These are more hunk than slice. 

In fact they’re so big me and my mother share one between us after dinner. ‘The custard is nice,’ she says. ‘Not too sweet.’

The Gregg's custard hunk

And she’s right. I might just go for another half. But she’s still waving her Llanelli supporter’s scarf. I was probably too late for the custard slices at Jenkins, she tells me. They’re so popular they would have sold out by three in the afternoon.

I have 5 more days here, more than enough time for an early morning custard slice expedition, I believe.

Hungry Writing Prompts
  • Write a list of shops that would exist in your perfect imaginary street.
  • Write about different kinds of noise.
  • Write about what delights you.
  • Write about carrying something precious.
  • Write about getting up early in the world.