Sunday 30 May 2010

The Blog Cafe

A while back my good friend Tracy, from Pink Pearl started The Blog Cafe along with two otehr friends, Jenny and JoLyn . Each week a different blogger hosts the cafe and takes us on a lovely journey of food fun and inspiration! This week was my turn to host it and I am so excited to take you to one of my absolute favourite places on earth, a lovely little town in North Wales called Llangollen! (pronounced CLANG Gock Lyn! I know . . . sounds nothing like it is spelt, that's Welsh for you!)

Llangollen is a truly amazing little town, nestled at the foot of the Clywdian Hills, containing the best of what North Wales has to offer. We just love going there on a warm summer's day. It was sunny this time we went, although a bit cold, with a North Wind blowing, but I had it in my mind since I found out I was going to be hosting this event to show you Llangollen, and not even a cold wind could deter me!

It is not much more than 40 minutes or so away from us . . . an easy drive on the Motor Way most of the way, until you get to the last several miles, which are very picturesque and take you on small winding country lanes, edged with flowering hedgerows and moss covered stone walls. In some places it is like driving through a green tunnel with the trees meeting over head, and the sunlight dappling the car and the road through the flickering leaves above us . . .

It is such a picturesque little town . . . with stone cottages and the River Dee running through the middle of it. Langollen has many natural wonders. There are mountains, white water rivers including the spectacular River Dee canals with horse-drawn boats, The Llangollen Steam Railway with steam trains that chug along the Dee Valley, the Horseshoe Pass, the Horseshoe Falls and all in easy reach of Chester and Wrexham. Famous structures, gardens and historic buildings abound, Plas Newydd, home to The Ladies of Llangollen, numerous National Trust properties surround the town and the highest and longest aqueduct on the canal system.

The Pontcysyllte aqueduct was built by Thomas Telford 200 years ago, over a 1000 feet long and standing 126 feet above the river Dee . You can cross it by narrow boats which depart from The Wharf in Llangollen for a 3-hour return trip and marvel at the engineering which took the canal beginning at the Horseshoe Falls close to The Chainbridge Hotel all the way to join the national canal system. You can also take a horse-drawn boat from The Wharf up to near its source. Both trips are a cheap and very enjoyable way of seeing the spectacular countryside.

What will we do first . . . perhaps a walk through this lovely little town, stopping atop the bridge to look down at the River Dee and it's coursing waters. Oh how very pretty it is . . . there is an air of festive gaiety abounding . . . it is a bank holiday weekend after all and with the sun shining it seems that everyone it out and about . . .

Perhaps we'll take a little jaunt on the steam railway . . . or perhaps not. We may just stand on the bridge and wave at the passengers as it leaves the station . . . it's haunting whistle blowing through the valley and bespeaking of a seemingly ancient time gone by . . .

Or maybe we will treat ourselved to a delicious ice cream cone or some freshly made fudge. It is ours only for the asking . . . and in a hundred different flavours it seems . . . rich and creamy and crumbly . . . but alas . . . tis a bit too cold today for an ice cream cone, although a few brave souls partake of it anyways!

The shop windows abound with local crafts and symbols . . . pretty ceramic dolls in Traditional Welsh Costumes . . . cups with the flag, post cards . . . you name it, there is plenty to spend your pounds on . . .

Perhaps a tasty cake or biscuit to savour whilst we are walking around . . .

Or a punnet of berries to savour, all warm and sweet . . . the sun making them taste even better. Or perhaps we'll pick up a bag of the cherries to eat in the car on the way home. That sounds like a grande idea! I have something even more special in mind to enjoy whilst we are here . . .

How about a Traditional Welsh Cream Tea in one of the many tea rooms that dot the town. It is time for elevenses so why not!!!

A pretty little table awaits us, dressed in a fine embroidered cloth . . . dappled by the sun which shines through the windows . . .

A pretty lace curtain adorns the window . . . letting in the warmth of the sun and giving us something to look at . . . there are many people out and about the town today . . .

An adorable glass teapot on the window sill catches my eye . . . how lovely it is with that pretty yellow primrose growing in it's centre . . . how very endearing . . .

Our tea comes . . . a steaming pot of herbal tea and a glass plate topped with a lovely fruit scone, butter, clotted cream and a small pot of strawberry preserves . . . were it my tea room, I would have used pretty little glass pots . . . but it's not and I suppose . . . it tastes delicious anyways . . . no matter what it is served in . . .

The scone warm from the oven . . . all that butter and clotted cream melting down into it's crumb . . . the cream cold . . . but not for long . . . it's richness cut with the sweetness of the strawberry jam . . . oh, it is lovely, so very lovely . . . but the best part of all, is not the tea, or the scone . . . neither the jam nore the cream . . .

The best part of all is getting to share it with my Todd, the one I love . . .

It's been pretty special getting to bring you along with us as well. The best things in life become all the sweeter and more precious when they are shared, don't you think??? And that's my thought for today . . .

For we must share if we would keep That blessing from above; Ceasing to give, we cease to have, Such is the law of love . . .

If you are visiting me for the first time today, or if you are a long time friend, I hope that you enjoyed our little trip into Wales today. It was ever so much fun to bring you along with me. In the spirit of sharing and just so that you don't feel too hard done by . . . here is my foolproof recipe for fruit scones. We like fruit scones when we do a cream tea, but you can also have them plain. These are rich and crumbly and so fabulous when topped with a bit of cream and jam. Can there be anything finer on earth?? I think not!

*Fruit Scones*
Makes 10 to 12
Printable Recipe

Scones are quick to make and delicious when served freshly baked. You can make them with or without fruit. A must for a traditional cream tea.

2 ounces butter, diced and chilled
(1/4 cup)
1 pound flour, plus extra for dusting
(4 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 TBS caster sugar
(superfine sugar)
250ml of milk
(A hefty 2 cup) plus 3 TBS for glazing

To serve:
clotted cream
or lightly whipped heavy cream
Strawberry jam

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/Gas mark 7. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar. make a well in the centre and pour in the milk. Quickly mix with a round bladed knife to form a soft dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead lightly. Roll or pat out to 1/2 inch thickness, using a light touch. (The secret to light scones is not to be too heavy handed!) Using a plain 2 1/2 inch bkscuit cutter, cut out into 10 to 12 rounds. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

Brush with more milk to glaze, being careful not to let it drip down the sides. Bake in the heated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until well risen and golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Split and serve with the clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Note - to make fruit scones, add 2 ounces mixed dried fruit, or raisins with the sugar. To make wholemeal scones, use whole meal flour and omit the sugar. To make Cheese scones, omit the sugar and fruit and add 2 ounces finely grated cheddar cheese to the mix along with 1 tsp dry mustard.

Over in The English Kitchen today, Tasty Welsh Cakes!! Scrummy Yummy!!


  1. Oh Marie or is Maire today?,

    I loved the journey. Arm chair travelling is my lot! We love scones here too. I often whip up a batch for the children for when they come home from school. I have never had clotted cream. I wonder what it is like?

    Have your seen the recipe for lemonade of soda water scones? It is so quick and easy.

    Enjoy your day.

  2. Hi Marie,We love Wales and have spent many holidays in the past around various parts.YES it is a beautiful place.Thankyou for the memories today.We have seriously been thinking to have a week in Anglesey this summer,funnily enough.Scones are one of our favourite too,just the jam for me though,any cream doesn't like ME, (upset tummy wise).Love the pictures and the one of your lovely Todd.I am happy you are manageing to get out and about instead of slaving for you know who LOL!!God Is Good.Take Care Have a lovely Bank Holiday Monday.God Bless Kath xx

  3. How lovely! I felt like I was right there with you little lovebirds. Mmm, scones with clotted cream and jam sound divine with my tea. We don't have clotted cream here, but I can still taste it from my few experiences in England. Yum!

  4. Hi, Marie! What a scrumptious post in every way! Hubby & I long to go to Wales, so this post has our appetites whetted! This special place you're taken us to looks so beautiful...*sigh*... And fun to see the lovely photos of Todd. And the cream tea--YUM! Thank you for sharing your wonderful scone recipe too. I've not made scones in a while... Generally trying to cut back on calories & sugar... LOL! No clotted cream here either. But I make a "mock" cream which works a treat all the same. Sorry to have missed you online last night. Were you there. I didn't get to calling home until later. Any chance to chat during the week? Hope so. Hope you're having a great long weekend. LOVE YOU HEAPS!! OXOX ((BIG HUGS))

  5. Hi Marie,
    Sorry I haven't posted for a while, been really busy since we got back from our trip 'up north'! We would LOVE to go to Wales with you both next time we come up, Todd can be our guide there too if he wouldn't mind! Love the photos, I was right there with you!~~~Love, Pat xx

  6. My how beautiful Wales is!!!! Loved being with you and Todd on the journey. Your pictures were great. Would love to see the area in person some day!

  7. What a wonderful drive! I enjoyed every minute of it and I could stay and wander around this beautiful little place all day! What is clotted cream? I would really love to try it when I make your scones! Thanks for a fun visit.

  8. A breath of fresh air today, as always! If I ever get the chance to visit Europe, I'm coming to you to find out what quaint, genuine places to visit.

  9. Oh Marie, I always enjoy my visit to you every day. However today I think you surpassed yourself. The clear vision of your time over in Wales was a delight to read. I bet some of our US friends will be drooling over the cream tea !!
    As for scones...well I love em my Mother used to make them so light they might drift of the plate ditto my sister but ME ? no matter how often I have tried... even with Mum standing by me watching every move...Mine would come out like litle I have given up...Today I had the last of my sisters cheese scones..delicious.
    Love to you both,#Sybil xx

  10. Thanks for the great little trip! We've been to Scotland and England, but never to Wales, and I would love to go some day. How lovely. And Scones with Clotted Cream? DELISH!!!!

  11. Hi Marie! What a delightful experience--the perfect place for the Blog Cafe. The scones look delicious. I'm looking forward to trying your recipe...thanks for sharing!

    For me, it's a real treat to see your photos of Wales. It's a long-time dream of mine to visit Wales someday. My great-great grandfather and grandmother came to America from Wales in the mid-1800's. They lived in Swansea, Glamorganshire. They came West with the Mormon pioneers and settled in Utah and Idaho, where our families has been ever since.

    Wonderful quotes in your sidebar by the way---as a fellow member of the LDS Church, they are also some of my favorites!

  12. Thanks for taking us on that lovely trip! I have never seen a cream tea so lovingly and evocatively described. I savoured every last crumb.

    It's been too cold and grey and windy this side to be taking bank holiday trips but I did read that Blackpool is going to get the best of the wonderful summer we're going to have. They didn't say WHEN though.......

  13. What a fun tour I had with you. I actually have been to Wales, many years ago. I remember driving along a very narrow road up a mountainside and being sick with worry that along the next bend we would meet another car and have no place to pull over! It was a very scary day but beautiful country side too. The tea house with its lovely lace curtains would be ever so fun to go to. I guess I'll have to settle for making some of your delicious scones instead. Thanks, and happy day to you, my friend!

  14. Thank you dear for taking me to wales... I have always wanted to go there. One day I hope that I can visit in person and have you and Todd as my guides.

    I would LOVE to go to tea with you. I just love a tea party.... and I agree with you that they should have used pretty little dishes... but oh well... it looked like it tasted delicious anyway.

    I have never made scones.. but I have made shortbread biscuits. I will have to make scones so Claire and I could have an authentic tea party. I just wish that I could find that good cream over here.

    Have a great week. Hugs, Lura

  15. What a wonderful place to visit! The scones look yummy ~ thank you for the recipe.

  16. wow, that is a place i'd love to see! gorgeous. and those mouth is watering!


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