Thursday, 30 July 2015

Royal Welsh Show 2015


I've wanted to go to the Royal Welsh Show for years but for whatever reason I've never made it, until this year. I love being in the countryside, apart from by the sea it's where I'm most content and I love animals, especially horses. Cob day (the Wednesday) has been the day I've really wanted to go on to see the amazing Welsh cobs in the show ring and this year I finally got to.

The RWS takes place over four days in July each year in Builth Wells, Mid Wales. The main function of the show is to showcase the best Welsh livestock as well as amazing food and drink from across Wales. It's accessible to both those from rural areas as well as town folk like me. There's a huge array of things to see and do, want to buy a tractor? Here's your place to do it. Want to see lumberjacks in action or see the largest bulls you're ever likely to see? Again, here is the place. Each day of the show is a full 12 hours so if you get there early enough you can pack a lot in.

I arrived at around midday after travelling up from South Wales, the journey took about three hours in total thanks to the traffic going to the show but once you're in the car park everything runs like clockwork. No wonder the people running it know that they're doing, this year they saw over 240,000 people through the gates over four days. 


The highlight for me were the Welsh cob senior stallions, they were absolutely stunning animals and the crowd reaction to them was electric. Other highlights included seeing the prizewinning cattle being taken back to their pens, I've honestly never seen such large cattle. Bulls and cows made of pure muscle were calmly lead past large crowds of people within touching distance without batting an eyelid. The sheep shearing competition between Wales and France was amazing to watch, it was almost treated like a rugby international with the anthems sung before it began and then the crowd cheering and shouting on the Welsh shearers with commentators shouting over the top. 


One day was definitely not enough, there were large areas of the show that I didn't get to and lots of animals that I didn't get to see. Next year I'm hoping to go for two days and either camp nearby or stay in a B&B, either way I know I'm going back and already looking forward to it.

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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Getting to know Caerphilly


Back in 2012 when I first moved to Caerphilly from Cardiff I hated it. There was nothing about it that I liked, I was thoroughly miserable for the 11 months I lived here. Now it's easy to see that it wasn't the town making me miserable...

Roll on 20 months and I moved back to Caerphilly. It hasn't been smooth sailing, it's taken me a while to settle back into living here. There's something about that mountain that makes me feel very far removed from my friends and family but I'm now pretty used to it. In an attempt to get to know my adopted town I'm going to try and find out more about it. I'm very lucky to live within walking distance of the town centre so last weekend along with some friends who live locally I walked to Bella Capri for dinner.

Bella Capri is an Italian restaurant I drive past every day to get back to my house and I've often wondered what it's like as it usually seems busy. It turned out to be a really good evening with us being there for nearly three hours. The menu is more limited than I'm used to but rather than finding this worrying it was reassuring to know that they should get each dish spot on. 

As a first step into settling into Caerphilly it was a good start. I've got a few more places planned so hopefully I'll be able to update the blog on what else is out there in the county.



That really is a massive photo of my cabonara isn't it? 

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Brunching


Since moving into my house I've made an effort to be more social within the house, thankfully my friends have been happy to trek over the mountain and come to me. After a night of Italian food at Bella Capri in Caerphilly the girls popped back to mine on Sunday morning so we could have brunch. 

I bought a waffle iron a few months ago thanks to a gift voucher from my brother for Lakeland and I've really not utilised it as well as I could have. On Sunday I rectified that, topping fresh waffles with crispy bacon, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. 

A good brunch and friends, there's not much better on a Sunday morning.

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Gingerbread cupcakes


Before I start, I realise it's July and that gingerbread is a very Christmassy thing but I really love gingerbread. These cupcakes are my go to cake, they're crazy easy to make and never fail to be moist. I'm actually a bit baffled as to how I've never blogged them before as I've been making them for years. They're not particularly special to look at, but if you want to spruce them up with sprinkles you obviously can but really, they're pretty spot on as they are.

Sponge ingredients
140g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
310g plain flour
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons black treacle
2 tablespoons golden syrup
240ml milk - heated
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Frosting ingredients 

600g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
250g cream cheese
lemon zest

Note: this makes far more frosting than you'll need but if stored in an air tight container it will keep in the freezer for up to three months or one week in the fridge.


Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 5.

Line a muffin tin with cases.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale. 

Add the treacle, golden syrup, egg yolks and eggs and continue to mix. 

In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Slowly add this in small batches at a time to your wet mix, using an electric handheld whisk or a freestanding electric mixer (I use a Kitchen Aid to bake with) will make this part much easier but it's totally doable by hand. If using an electric mixer, keep the speed low.

Add the hot milk slowly, continue to mix on a medium speed.

Divide the mixture between cases, the mixture will be really runny - don't panic! I use a measuring cup to pour it into the cases for ease.


Place the tray in the oven and bake for 16 minutes or until the cakes have risen. Test your cakes using either a sharp knife or metal skewer, poke the cake in the middle, if the knife/skewer comes out clean then your cakes are done.

Leave the cakes on a wire wrack to cool. While they are cooling start your frosting.

Whisk the icing sugar and butter together until the mixture almost looks like sand.


Add the cream cheese to the mixture and mix on a medium speed. Mix until it is fluffy.


Stir in the lemon zest by hand.

Once the cupcakes are completely cool, spread the frosting over the cupcakes.


 If you make these, let me know how you get on!

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