Illtud’s 216 Gastro Pub, Llantwit Major

View of Illtud's 216 from outsideI was looking for somewhere local for my special girl’s birthday last Sunday.  A friend suggested “Illtud’s 216” in Llantwit Major.  Of course I knew it, but had never been.  For me it was famous as where Pugsley went after leaving the well known Plough and Harrow in nearby Marcross.  I quickly discovered that Pugsley had sold up and the place was now owned and run by Georg and Einar Fuchs.  Georg had previously been executive chef in the St David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay.

I booked a table of 12 in advance for Sunday lunch.  A couple of days before I had to drop the numbers down to 10 and then 9, but they were nothing but accommodating every time I spoke to them. read more

Nicole Cooke – Olympics Gold Medal Winner from Wick

Nicole and her Gold MedalLocal girl Nicole Cooke has done us proud winning a Gold Medal in the Beijing Olympic games.  Nicole is from Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan. Nicole snatched victory in the Women’s Cycling Road Race against strong competition.

Best of luck in Wednesday’s time-trial.

Update 14th August 2008: Unfortunately Nicole came in 15th in the time-trial. Never mind!

Usk Natural Burial Ground Open Day

View of the burial groundWhen we were up in Usk a few weeks back we visited the natural burial ground at Usk Castle Chase. My mother is buried there.  By coincidence they were having an “Open Day” which I must admit I found a bit bizarre but I suppose even burial grounds and funeral directors need to do a bit of marketing! read more

Lunch at the Newbridge Inn, near Usk

We went a bit further afield today to the Newbridge Inn in Tredunnock, near Usk (map). The Newbridge Inn is a pub / restaurant and hotel owned by Chris Evans of Radio and TV fame. The head-chef is Iain Sampson. We had booked for lunch, but there wasn’t any need as it was very quiet. It’s in an ideal location right next to a wonderful bridge over the River Usk. read more

Tinkinswood Burial Chamber

View of the Tinkinswood Burial ChamberSomewhere a bit different today – a visit to a Neolithic burial chamber right in the middle of the Vale of Glamorgan. I’ve always seen the signs to Tinkinswood but have never visited. It’s pretty amazing and compliments the nearby St Lythan’s Dolmen – you can visit both in a couple of hours if you wish. No need to travel to Orkney to see some really impressive Neolithic archeology.

The burial chamber is big and dates from around 4,000BC. You wonder how they managed to get the 40 ton capstone on top. read more

Llantwit Major Beach

View east along the cliffs at Llantwit MajorWe went for a little trip along the South Wales coast today from Nash Point to Llantwit Major. When we got to Llantwit it was getting quieter but the cafe was busy because of the high tide. At high tide the beach is totally covered apart from some of the pebbles at the top. read more

Signor Valentino’s Restaurant, Cardiff Bay

We had a great meal in Cardiff Bay last night in Signor Valentino. The restaurant is a very good Italian with great food and good Italian service from what appear to be native Italians. Though some of my colleagues had suspicions that some of the waiters originated from Splott 🙂

We were lucky to have an excellent evening with a clear, sunny view over the Bay. The restaurant had their big doors open and some of the tables were located out on the veranda. Even on our large table inside we had a great view of the Bay across to Penarth. You couldn’t fault it. One of my friends suggested that it reminded him of being in Monterey. Impressive!

Thoroughly recommended. Make sure you book – tel. no. 029 2048 2007

Castle-Upon-Alun – “BlueBell Valley”

Photo of bluebells

This weekend we had a lttle trip out to “BlueBell Valley” near Castle-upon-Alun between Wick, Ewenny and St Brides. We have always called it this because of the splendid display of Bluebells at this time of year.

It’s not the sort of place that you’d find in passing – you need to go down some pretty twisty lanes from Ewenny. It’s a really interesting valley. It has a scenic approach from the Ewenny direction followed by a ford. Continuing on the road twists and turns until you pass an old limestone quarry. read more

Is the Celtic Manor a “Monolith” ?

Celtic ManorAn interesting point of view from Kevin McCloud on the Celtic Manor Hotel – Celtic Manor is ‘huge monolith’. I must admit that when I first saw the newly built Celtic Manor resort it towered above the old Celtic Manor hotel and the M4 motorway. As time has gone by I guess that we have become used to it’s brooding presence. When you are within the hotel and it’s environs it feels like a pretty impressive place. Visually, I have to agree with Mr McCloud that it’s not that pretty, but as the venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup it’s impressive.

Demiro’s Restaurant in Cardiff Bay

View of Demiro's restaurant.  Copyright, Paul Thomas 2008We had a very nice lunch in Cardiff Bay this week. The restaurant is called Demiro’s. It’s located in the Mermaid Quay complex just across the Oval Basin from the Millennium Centre. We normally grab lunch in Coffee Mania but decided to try somewhere new. I’m normally put off by the bigger restaurants in Cardiff Bay for lunch because of the price, but now most of them do cheaper lunchtime express menus. They’re obviously aimed at the office workers who work in the nearby Welsh Assembly and Atradius.

The food is a mixture of styles based around Mediterranean. We had a good sized meal each and drinks for £15 for two. Service was good without being too attentive.

Thoroughly recommended for lunch.

Fairy Hill Hotel, Gower

Port Eyon beach

Quite an interesting review of the Fairy Hill Hotel and Restaurant near Reynoldston on the Gower from late last year.

It’s a couple of years since we last had a meal there and we thought the same, good but not mind-blowing. The restaurant has a huge reputation and I guess that it’s always hard to live up to expectations.

The Foxhunter sounds like it’s worth a visit though.

We found that the beach at nearby Port Eynon is a good place to walk off your meal afterwards!

What difference does a capital letter make?

As someone who comes from South Wales and has a few web-sites about South Wales it seems really strange why the BBC always refers to the area as “south Wales” – without the “s” capitalised.

For an example look at this article. This is obviously a set policy for South Wales because they do it consistently and seem to have done so for a number of years.

However, the policy doesn’t seem consistent with other areas – for example they don’t refer to the “north east” of England but the “North East“.

For me and most people who live here this is a strange thing to do – South Wales is a clear, distinct regional area. Yes we do live in the geographic south of Wales but we also live in South Wales! read more