welsh-witterings6-01The highlight of this week in accordance with my four year old was finding a caterpillar in some flowers  although for me it was seeing her face light up as she held the tiny green caterpillar in her hand and announced that  it was called Karen and it was, ‘definitely a girl.’

On Saturday I finally got to visit the Thomas Shop at Penybont in Powys, Mid Wales and it was well worth the drive. My delight at good coffee and home-made Mocha cake in the café was narrowly beaten by the amazing shop museum and craft centre. The Thomas Shop is a unique tourist attraction that offers the opportunity to wander around the shop that has been painstakingly recreated in the building that originally housed the general stores and drapery.  welsh-witterings6-06Originally built in 1805 the shop closed its doors in 1958, now lovingly restored it is a time capsule that is born of the love and passion of Derek and Liz Turner who run the Thomas Shop and the local community who recited stories of the old shop and donated food and drink packaging, props and signs that now adorn the original shelves of the shop.  This is such a wonderful place to visit because it is relaxed and allows you to browse, touch and absorb the history. The owners were incredibly helpful, knowledgeable and tolerant of my two children.  welsh-witterings6-02I did jokingly ask if they fancied a resident food historian in the shop, I was in complete bliss surrounded by all the food and drink packaging of the past.  What made the visit more memorable was finding a crate that said ‘Libby’s Food Products’, unfortunately I couldn’t get a picture of Libby next to it, but she enjoyed pottering around the museum and she takes after her Mum and has a liking for cake.

welsh-witterings6-03The Thomas Shop also houses the Wool Emporium which really demonstrates the potential for wool, there are lots of things to see and buy and it is a real inspiration to feed your creativity. I was besotted with the tiger rag rug which has now proved just the brilliance I needed to see, to revive my motivation to get going on my baby clothes rug.  I enjoyed my coffee in the Old  Laundry gallery and it was lovely to be surrounded by relics of the buildings past in terms of old wash tubs and mangles and  local arts and crafts that highlighted the wealth of creativity in the local area.

welsh-witterings6-13The drive home through the Elan Valley (Cwm Elan), was stunning as always and although it was an overcast day and the clouds hung heavy in the sky;  it was beautifully moody and I did reflect on how lucky I am to live in rural Wales amongst such breath taking scenery. The sheep were meandering along the roads as usual (which always delights my children) and as the Elan Valley is the heart of Red Kite country it was no surprise to see four of these magnificent birds hovering in the sky with their distinctive forked tails.

I am currently engrossed in my 1936 copy of ‘The Culture of Vegetables and Flowers from Seeds and Roots’, by Sutton and Sons.  The contents of its yellowing pages have proved an inspiration and I am now passionate about growing cardoons.  welsh-witterings6-05Wheelbarrows at the ready, I am digging out the raised beds this week.  I expect to get wet, but I think it will be worth it and I can’t wait to get planting.

Well until next week fond wishes from Wales.

Da bo ti  (good bye)
Seren

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

ABOUT SEREN-CHARRINGTON-HOLLINS Describing my work through just one job title is difficult; because my professional life sees me wear a few hats: Food Historian, period cook, broadcaster, writer and consultant. I have a great passion for social and food history and in addition to researching food history and trends I have also acted as a consultant on domestic life and changes throughout history for a number of International Companies. In addition to being regularly aired on radio stations; I have made a number of television appearances on everything from Sky News through to ITV’s Country House Sunday, Holiday of a Lifetime with Len Goodman , BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South Ration Book Britain; Pubs that Built Britain with Hairy Bikers and BBC 2’s Inside the Factory. Amongst other publications my work has been featured in Period Living Magazine, Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Great British Food Magazine and I write regularly for a variety of print and online publications. I am very fortunate to be able to undertake work that is also my passion and never tire of researching; recreating historical recipes and researching changing domestic patterns. Feel free to visit my blog, www.serenitykitchen.com