Hobbies and Pastimes

BAKING BREAD - what a splendid and nutritious pastime!  If you have not yet tried it, especially you men, then have a go at these two foolproof recipes.  The results are excellent - at least, in my household, they disappear before they have had a chance to cool.  The first is for focaccia and the second is for walnut or tomato buns

BOATING - this requires the sea - something we have a lot of in Aberystwyth.  One balmy summer's evening, several years ago, Wendy and I were walking along the promenade at Aberystwyth and we both thought, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to drift along out there on that silvery water?'  A few weeks later we bought 'Lazy Lady'.

JOSEPH HART - I have a half-written manuscript on the life and times of this great man.  Who is he?  Check out the draft Introduction to this proposed book.  And read the words of some of his hymns.

LONDON PASTIMES - When next in London, enjoy two educational tours - and they are both free!  The first is at the National Gallery.  It runs guided tours every day, starting at 11.30 am and 2.30 pm.  One of their experts simply chooses about six favourite pictures and explains them to you for an hour or so.  The second is at the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.  This is the famous graveyard where Non-conformists were buried during the eighteenth century, including Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, John Owen, Suzanna Wesley and Joseph Hart.  In 2002, I organised a visit to Bunhill for the FIEC's Social Issues Team - after one of our meetings, we spent a happy and solemn time there, knowledgeably led by Dr Robert Oliver of Bradford on Avon.

EATING OUT - We have been to several splendid restaurants in the UK and beyond.  But for the best value for money, at least in Wales, nothing beats the Wynnstay Hotel, about 15 miles north of Aberystwyth.  The food is always interesting and usually made with local, often unusual, ingredients.  If you visit us, we may take you there for a meal, and perhaps even pay for you!  See some pictures of happy eaters there.

For many years, my favourite restaurant was Markwicks in Bristol.  We've had some memorable meals and jolly times there!  In about 2000, we were sad to learn that the owners, Stephen and Judy Markwick, had decided to retire and run a market garden instead.  Now we have just discovered (December 2007) that for about the last three and a half years they have been running a bistro restaurant in Bristol called Culinaria.  Check out its website here and us eating there.  Then it 2012  the Markwicks sold up and retired.  That for us was the end of an era - wonderful memories of splendid meals live on.

I needed a new favourite restaurant.  Easy - the Walnut Tree just outside Abergavenny.  We've been eating there for decades, since the time of the Franco and Ann Taruschio, who turned a country pub into a world-famous restaurant.  But they sold up in 2001 and it fell on hard times until Shaun Hill took it over in 2008.  Look at the website - The Walnut Tree - better still, go and eat there and you will soon see why it is now our favourite restaurant in the UK.

 Other notable places where we have eaten are:  Simpson's, Edgbaston.    website    us there
                                                                      L'ortolan, Reading.          website    us there
                                                                      White, Florence.                              us there
                                                                      Casamia, Bristol.             website    us there

                                                                                   De Julian's, Madrid                           us there
                                                                      L'Aliance, Barcelona         website                us there
                                                                      The Crab at Chieveley      website    us there