Tag Archives: North Wales

A local-food hotspot in Hawarden

It took me three goes but I’ve cracked it.

That perfect summer-night order, that is, at new-favourite gastropub, the Glynne Arms, before exploring perennial-fave North Walian village, Hawarden, Flintshire.

I’d been three times to the Glynne – the first hosted for a pre-opening press preview, twice since as a paying customer.

The first time we tried a bit of everything. All good, as you would expect from the people behind the Hawarden Estate Food Shop.

The second time I chose well, but my companion’s butternut squash risotto was deemed a bit too meagre for a rained-off Friday night.

But last time we got it right. The strategy? Simple.

Go for one of the sharing platters (the Welsh platter is my choice), then add a side portion of those delicious chunky chips, and throw in a few olives and dips from the starters. Ask them to bring it all at once and wash down with a pint of local ale.

It was perfect for a midsummer evening – not too heavy, great local produce, a range of flavours.

We really loved the homemade remoulade and the Welsh rarebit. But check out menu updates from the Glynne on Twitter.

Afterwards, walk it off around the village. From the front door of the pub, there’s a circuit through the grounds of Gladstone’s Library before heading through the wooden doors into the grounds of the Gladstone estate.

It was a delicious evening of soul-cleansing in a week of chaos. We’ll be regulars, I’m sure.


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Wales Coast Path Blog for Visit Wales

Hit the North has been moonlighting.

The reason for silence on this forum has been that I’m working a guest-blogger contract for Visit Wales, walking sections of the soon-to-be-launched Wales Coast Path in advance of the May 5th inauguration.

You can read the first post about North Wales here.

The second post from Ceredigion is here.

And the latest post from the Llyn Peninsula is here.

There are two more posts to come, so please join me for the hike and post your comments here, at the Visit Wales blog, or own my Twitter.

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Talking up a storm at Gladstone’s Library

“Life is short. Live it up.”

That was Nikita Khruschev’s best-known aphorism and my starter for ten last week when I attended the second Conversation Dinner at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, North Wales.

The concept, modelled on a project from the School of Life, is simple: three courses, changing table after each, and a set of pre-compilled questions to accompany each course and inspire discourse.

It is, according to the residential library’s warden Peter Frances, “An attempt to remember the lost art of conversation.”

The starter

Over chilled gazpacho, Robert, just retired, lead the charge on the issue of ‘What is the best age to be and why?’ When I revealed to the all-boys table my concerns about an upcoming and somewhat landmark birthday, he came over all paternal. I was quite touched.

I also learnt that a man is not considered an independent man until the age of 55 in Japan. So 15 years to go.

The Mains

The mains of grilled sea bass and new potatoes was served with a frisson of theology thanks to my companions on the next table.

Debating ‘If you could travel in time, where would you go?’, Andrew, a vicar from The Wirral, was keen to go back and see Jesus preach to satisfy his own scepticism.

I was tempted to do the back-to-the-future routine but my companions were less sure.

“What if,” says theology lecturer, Geoff, “you find your own tombstone.”

The desert

The more reserved desert-course table pondered the limits of compassion over lemon syllabub. Could we feel compassion for Colonel Gaddafi? We couldn’t agree.

But Barbara did chip in that, “No matter where you are in the world, just like this dinner, everyone brings something to the table.”

The coffee

By the time we retired for coffee to the resident’s lounge, a statue of Mr Gladstone himself looking around the room approvingly, the conversation was flowing freely.

We had covered why Facebook is a curse, why Belfast is the place to be next April (check the reference, Titanic fans) and why my golden period is still ahead – not behind me.

Most of all, I’d been amazed at how easily people opened up, divulged their inner-most thoughts and spilled the beans about their personal circumstances to a group of complete strangers. I couldn’t help but join in.

As I headed off into the North Wales night, I vowed to make Khruschev’s words my new mantra.

News of forthcoming dinners will be posted here.

Details of newly refurbished accommodation here.

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Time to put the Clwydians on the map

Keep your eyes on the sky if you’re in North Wales on the night of October 23rd.

Video artist Chris Oakley will beam a blue-white searchlight into the night sky, illuminating a lesser-known gem of North Wales and allowing its small band of devotees to see it in a new light.

We’re talking about the Jubilee Tower atop atop Moel Famau in the Clwydian Range.

Jubilee Tower

A new light

The public-art event has been commissioned to celebrate 200 years since the ceremonial laying of the Jubilee Tower’s foundation stone and 25 years of the Clwydian Range as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The tower was designed to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the King George III. It was envisaged a rectangular base with an Egyptian obelisk, the first of its kind in Britain, but the final construction, unveiled in 1817, was a scaled-down version of those grandiose plans.

A sense of spectacle

Most people hurry through Clwydians country in their haste to go walking in the Snowdonia National Park. The October event is a chance for a oft-overlooked part of North Wales to showcase its charms to a wider public.

“I want to create a sense of spectacle,” explains Chris Oakley. “But I also hope people go away having realised the Jubilee Tower is not just a dilapidated pile of stones on a wind-swept hill. It reflects the way history has evolved around us.”

Walking in the Clwydians

Watch this space

I’m currently copywriting a new brochure for the Range and will be posting more material online over the next few weeks.

Check back here for more or follow me on Twitter for images and video from the event.

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Chin strokers unite at Llandudno’s Mostyn Gallery

A man in a cravat. A women in a rainbow-hued poncho. A man with a goatee sat in what looks like a garden shed, reading difficult verse above the hubbub. And me.

It seems like every Late Review viewer in North Wales was in Llandudno last Friday for the preview of the newly re-opened Mostyn Gallery and its relaunch exhibitions.

Delayed opening

Mostyn has been closed for three years and, after much delay, is re-opening with light, high-ceilinged galleries to show off the work.

The building, finally freed of scaffolding, looks aesthetically striking with the original terracotta facade restored to its turn-of-the-century finery.

Current exhibitions

But what of the art itself? I saw Ronald McDonald meet a watery grave (Flooded McDonald’s, Superflex), a collection of slogans amid various installations, sculptures and paintings (We Have the Mirrors, We Have the Plans, various artists) and some recycled ironware from the local tip (The Junkyard Museum of Awkward Things, The Junkman from Afrika).

So far, so Jarvis Cocker.

More striking, but somewhat lost amid the cafe-bar area, was Along the Line, a collection of photographs by local photographer Darryl Lonsbrough, documenting life along Arriva Trains North Wales Coast Line.

The route passes through the likes of Rhyll and Prestatyn – Wales’ answer to Basra.

Young British artists

Chin-stroking North Walians looked vaguely dazed and confused by the works on show. Or maybe that was just the queue for the bar as the preview bulged Mostyn well beyond its normal capacity.

But is North Wales hungry for Chris Ofili turds, or Tracey Emin‘s soiled panties?

Maybe the regulars at the design-led Escape B&B in Llandudno will be beating a path to Vaughan St, clutching copies of Frieze magazine as they go?

Or will they all be down local favourite Fish Tram Chips, eating a bargain fish supper with mushy peas and a pot of tea.

Curry sauce

Community art projects and school-holiday workshops for kids indicate that Mostyn will seek a wider role in Llandudno life but, on Friday’s showing, it has some way to go to win a place in the heart of the town.

And me? Feeling suitably postmodern, what else could I do?

I went for chips.

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