Sunday, 20 September 2015

Maes y Neuadd

In 2007 I wrote about the magnificent fruit and veg gardens at Maes y Neuadd that supplied the top notch restaurant and its clients with the freshest of food. Former guests include Edward Kennedy and Jackie Onassis when they attended the funeral of Lord Harlech. Richard Gere and Sean Connery also stayed here during the filming of First Knight. Yesterday I drove past  and it has changed beyond belief. The hotel and gardens have been neglected and the property is for sale. Rumours say a deal might be about to go through. Can they salvage this jewel? What will it be?

This is what I wrote a few years ago ....

Beyond the flower beds there is an idyllic walled garden and orchard where two full-time gardeners work their magic. The 149 items of fruit and veg only just fit onto a sheet of closely typed A4.

Each morning the head gardener reports to the kitchen with the complete list of produce indicating what’s at its best. Armed with this knowledge the chef finalises the day’s menu taking account of any other windfalls; maybe a diver has provided some scallops, a salmon has been caught overnight, wild mushrooms have been picked in the woods at dawn.

Walking back with the marked list the gardeners set about the daily harvest. It takes two of them half a day to deliver the fresh produce all of fifty yards to the kitchen.
Those perfect gardens September 2015

Between them they pick 8 tonnes a year! Fortunately the times of greatest availability coincide with peaks of customer demand. Greenhouses, cold frames and polytunnels (discretely tucked away) lengthen the growing seasons.

The vegetable garden is not just a culinary feast but an aesthetic inspiration. What better than an early evening stroll in the garden spotting the gaps from where tonight’s supper was plucked. Maybe some helpful hints and tips from one of the gardeners?

Friday, 11 September 2015

Billy Casanova

The old billy watched us in the woods a couple of weeks ago, it looked as though he’d lost the will to live. I walked up to within a few metres before he stood and walked slowly away; no injury, so I suspected he’d been ousted as head of the gang and was destined to a celibate retirement.

But not so. Early in the morning the sound of screaming goats came through our bedroom window with the now 8-strong gang foraging in the branches beyond the veg patch.  A new billy was there but keeping his distance from the old billy with his enormous horns who was definitely in charge. At first he focussed his attentions on the grey female before giving up and wooing one of the others. What a Casanova.