Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2012

Pies to live for

I’ve mentioned The Etymologicon before (one of my first Kindle purchases). It has to be one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. How about this, from the section ‘Beastly Foreigners’, all about the English’s predilection for slandering their neighbours: 
The Welch are said to be so remarkably fond of cheese, that in cases of difficulty their midwives apply a piece of toasted cheese to the juana vita [gates of life] to attract and entice the young Taffy, who on smelling it makes most vigorous efforts to come forth.  Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1811
It creates an alarming picture in my imagination: a kind of Roald Dahl/ Meet the Midwife/Hammer House of Horror combo that I really don’t want to pursue. I also now feel a little reluctant to admit that I am ‘remarkably’ fond of cheese so I shall head in the direction of pies instead. 

Meet the Ron Evans classic pie: mince and onion. Ron Evans has been making these pies, well, not the current Ron and not these three pies …

Blogsplash: my most beautiful thing

Thank you Fiona and Kaspa from Writing Our Way Home for another inspirational online project: a blogsplash on my most beautiful thing.
It is never constant. The day can reveal it, then retrieve it. I might not own it: a sunset, words spoken by a child, a smile. Beauty can fade, become functional, decay. Sometimes, it reminds me it is there. Or makes me rethink what beauty really is.
The common teazle: dipsacus sylvestris. A thorny plant found on waste ground. Old English: tǣsel; related to Old High German: zeisala, teasel, Norwegian: tīsl, undergrowth, tīsla, to tear to bits.
A piece of my hometown preserved in resin; all thorns and raggedness capturing the light on a wooden windowsill. Today, it is my most beautiful thing.
Thank you Hafod Grange Paperweights, Goytre, Port Talbot, for making beautiful things.

Fiona's new novel, The Most Beautiful Thing, is available free on Kindle on 24th and 25th April.

Off Spooting. And writing prompts.

The Port Talbot Old and New Facebook page is a regular meeting place for me now. We share and discuss our memories, complaints, events, concerns, photographs and research. Sometimes I learn things about the town that come as a surprise. I might not be able to reference them in Real Port Talbot  - due out next year - (RPT won't be a local history book, or a guide book, or a memoir, but it does draw on all of those things) but they still add to my relationship with the town and might even spring open a new research direction for me.
A post this morning, started by Brenda Turner, has done just that, and thanks to a photo added by Nigel Eley, I am now on a mission. A Razor Clam mission. Or spoots, as Brenda calls them.
(Aside: I Googled spoots and found this great blog, Gastrobeach (how good a title is that?) and here's their post on spoots: These spoots are made for wok-ing. I wish I'd thought of that first.)
My dad used to dig up razor clams when the tide was out on Aberafan B…

Tastes of yesterday

Tomorrow I'm driving to Norfolk to lead a life writing course at Mendham Mill. We'll talk about what it means to write from life, what the issues are surrounding the sharing of personal and deeply felt events. We'll uncover memories and discuss ways we can shape them on the page.
There's something about tastes and smells that evokes vivid memories. Do you remember this?

I wasn't a fan of lollies. Not even a Mivi whose icy skin covered a wadge of vanilla ice-cream. I preferred 99s or Oyster Shells. At a push I'd have a milk lolly which was more like ice-cream than lolly. Or a wafer: a rectangle of Wall's ice-cream between two thin boards. There was a right way to assemble your wafer. Open the wrapping on the ice-cream block and lay it ice-cream face down on one wafer. Take off and discard the rest of the paper wrapping, add the second wafer to make your 'sandwich'. Don't let anyone tell you there's another way.
There's another photo I came …

Fish on Fridays

I remember that we had fish for dinner quite often on Fridays when I was a kid. Usually bread-crumbed plaice. And chips. My mother kept her chip pan under the sink, filled with white lard that melted to a hot, golden slick and made the most delicious chips. 
I don’t think we had fish for any religious reasons. We weren’t Catholic or Anglican and avoiding the meat of four-footed creatures on the last day of the week. Maybe it was because fish and Friday started with the same letter. I think ‘four-footed’ started me on this line of thought. And we used to have sandwiches on Saturday too. Maybe it was just habit.
Today is Good Friday so perhaps there are even more people eating fish than on any other Friday of the year. And after stalking the aisles of Tesco in Port Talbot, considering their Finest Breadcrumbed Chicken with Herb and Lemon on a first and second pass, I plumped for fish too: white and smoked cod for a fish pie.

More and more I want to know exactly what I’m eating. And while s…