Part one: The Beast (beer)

 

"After realising the simplicity of draft dispensing and frustration of the family & I having to walk to the local pub whilst staying at fforest over the festive period I had an epiphany..."

Conceived under the influence of beer (7.7% Blueberry Sour Wild beer aged in oak barrels by Mikkeller/Three Floyds breweries) and my calling, the beast was born on Christmas eve, in the dark of a drizzly night under the light of a head torch, with the wrong sized screws and a hammer. Using the components of the Pizzatipi bar and some old floorboards I cobbled together 4 taps hanging off the back of one of our 10ft 4x4 service mules in roughly 8 hours, a job that would have taken any normal person 1...

This wasn't any old beer bellied beast...

The Taps went like this:

Tap 1 (Dinner) - Buxton Brewery's 'Rednik stout'- a deep fruity Stout full of solid flavour but only 4.1%. You could session on it with the sensation of gorging a kilo of Cadburys fruit and nut without the guilt or hangover.
Tap 2 (Lunch) - Beavertown Brewery's 'Gamma Ray', a big hoppy session pale ale. A contemporary classic, one of the best.
Tap 3 (Breakfast) -  Buxton x Lervig Brewery's 'Trolltunga', a Gooseberry IPA! Forget the coffee this is a zinger but not just a slap in the face, the IPA is a soothing kiss on the forehead.
Tap 4 (all day) - Mantle Brewery's 'Cwrw fforest', beer made from trees especially for us. This potion is most like a lager but not technically a lager. Its crisp and refreshing and only 4%... all though it always feels like 6. We're really proud of this one.

It goes without saying we drank all the beer on Christmas day in the top field of the farm...

'PART 2: BEER STALKING' Coming soon!
 

The Chapel Chairs of fforest

The small chapels and churches of rural West Wales are places of unique community and cultural significance, built to serve small communities and to nourish their spiritual life. They are a defining component of the rural and cultural landscape of rural Wales. 

Fifteen years or so ago we started buying these chairs. We were buying with half an idea, not yet a project. Much like the small chapels, they had a simple spare beauty constructed with a hard wearing beech seat and a light weight elm wood frame. There is usually a storage slot on the back, 'Bible Box'. 
The availability of these chairs was by-product of dwindling congregations, with the chapels falling into a cycle of disuse and disrepair. Fifteen years ago they were cheap. £4 a chair was the alternative to the skip or bonfire. Thanks to the stylewatchers of Pinterest, the decent ones now cost up to £60. But the unique combination of practicality, materials, comfort (really) and patina of use, means they are still worth it. So we are looking after our last 200 now, only indoors or special events. 

I guess they frequently go unnoticed by many in use, but I hope some notice their special qualities, but I like to think of generations of local welsh bottoms creating that unique shine.

If you are interested in looking at this disappearing domestic architecture, look here:

Sand Circles

On spring low tides Marc Treanor draws incredible designs in the sand. We're lucky enough to be close to one of his favourite beaches to use as a canvas. Each design takes roughly three hours to complete and is drawn using the most basic of tools. We spoke to Marc to learn more about his artistic process...

1. Roughly how long does it take to complete a design?


It can take anything up to three hours to complete a design. Any longer and the tide is on its way back and all will be lost before it's completed...! 


2. Whats tools do you use in order to create your sand circles?


The tools are actually very basic and comprise of sticks, rakes and string. I create a giant drawing compass with the sticks and string so can produce very accurate circles. The sticks are used to draw the lines in the sand, the string can also be used as a straight edge if stretched out between two sticks. The rakes are then used to rough up the surface of the sand giving the contrast of light and dark. If the light is right this can be quite dramatic creating a strong black and white image. 


3. In a nutshell, what drives you to produce sand art?


I suppose the drive is my own pleasure at creating something on the sand. It is a three part process: the first is the mental work of translating the design onto the sand and this can take a lot of concentration. Second is the physical side of drawing in and raking the surface. In some cases the designs can be up to 80m wide so this can be a lot of raking! Lastly is the contemplative side. When all is complete it is nice to find a high point and sit and watch as the design is swallowed by the sea. There is something strangely moving about this part of the experience. Maybe it is a nod to our own limited time before we are absorbed back to where we sprang... 
 

What a delight it is to have such extraordinary artistry right on our doorstep! 

 

 

Copenhagen

 

We've been every year for the past three...

Trips to the city are rarely planned yet are fiercely driven by our exhaustive list of the best places to eat and drink. We enjoy the city so much simply because its where all most exciting food and drink seems to be: organic wines, spontaneous beers and the best cooking with fire outside of our front garden. 

A conclusive (and legible) list of ours is currently in production, so whilst you wait for that, have a read of this New York Times article. From the perspective of five leaders in creative fields, after reading their suggestions of things to do and places to see, you may feel just as inclined as us to hop on a plane and arrive in time for supper. 
 

 

10 perfect gifts for your valentine

Whether you're looking to share a small token of your affection or want to whisk your loved one away for a romantic weekend, we’ve got it covered at fforest. Here are our top 10 ideas for the perfect Valentine gift:

1. Relight my fire

There’s nothing more romantic than cuddling up in front of a roaring open fire. Always be ready to strike when the opportunity arises with this Swedish firesteel, which will not let you down even when other lighters and matches fail. A quality all-weather fire-steel of 12000+ strikes with a handle made from reindeer antler from Swedish Lapland.

 
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2. A warming brew

At this time of year, a bracing winter day trip can be transformed with a quick cup of tea. You’ll be amazed how easy this little beauty is to use and how quickly she boils. At 0.5l, she’s just the perfect size for two cups too.

 
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3. Tea for two

Not convinced with a brew in the great outdoors? Then how about this fforest favourite teapot for two. Add a couple of fforest enamel mugs for the perfect romantic breakfast.

 
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4. A hottie for your Hottie

When you can’t be around, make sure your other half still feels the love, even when it’s freezing outside, with a cosy hot water bottle covered in our distinctive fforest Welsh blanket textile.

 
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5. Love or lust….or both?

Want to make sure you’re sending the right message, then hand deliver a delicious bar of NomNom Chocolate….or two.

Both are Super Salted Caramel - Halen Mon oak-smoked salt and Calon Wen butter, but Love is 44% cocoa milk chocolate while Lust is 72% cocoa dark chocolate.

 
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6. For busy hands

Nothing helps you to get your thoughts in order better and park the stresses of everyday life than focussing on a great crafting project. We love spoon carving and recommend the Casstrom Crook Knife to get you started.

 
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7. Something to snuggle into

Our coldatnight blanket cushions, with their soft as a feather fillings, are covered in our beautiful Welsh blanket textile made at a traditional water mill upriver from fforest. In a range of colours to complement any interior.

 
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8. A big Welsh hug

From a simple wrap, to a baban to a full size blanket, we have a range of traditional Welsh textiles in our distinctive and unique coldatnight design to suit every taste and budget. Throw it over your sofa, your bed or just wrap it around your shoulders and take it with you wherever you go. Have blanket will travel.

 
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9. A relaxing revitalising break for your loved one

Syjunta - The Swedish word for people getting together to sew, crochet, knit, embroider and socialise. A weekend of chatting, embroidering and great simple food in beautiful Ty Fforest over the weekend of 10th to 12th February with expert guidance on design and embroidery included. This weekend is about sewing, but it’s also about socialising and relaxing. All skill levels are welcome.

 
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10. A romantic weekend away

Don’t want to be left behind, then why don’t you both join us for the weekend of 17th to 19th February for a bracing walk, great food and drink, candlelight, open fires and plenty of fforest magic. We have a limited range of cosy accommodation available at fforest farmyard and at the granary lofts in Cardigan town.

 

Cam Ceiliog - The length of a cockerel’s step

Today is December 21st Midwinter’s Day, The Winter Solstice. In Wales, in my family and I’m sure many others, this, the shortest day is known as Cam Ceiliog. Like much of the language, and the nation as a whole, especially our fly-halves, it makes sense when considered poetically. Roughly translated, Cam Ceiliog is the length of a cockerel’s step. It describes the distance by which we can see the daylight start to extend as we walk away from the winter’s depths. From this moment, every day grows a little, and the light returns, by the length of a cockerel’s footstep. Cam Ceiliog holds an intangibility to stir the heart. We are just, now, on this shortest of days, at what TS Eliot called ‘the still point of the turning world’.

Garlic, that humble elixir for the winter grey, was traditionally planted on Midwinter’s day and harvested six months later on Midsummer morning. Such horticultural equilibrium turns gardening into alchemy. Though a long way off, Midsummer in all its dancing colour, whether late into the evening or round the back of a tent somewhere in the quickening dawn, is where the mirror is now headed.

Cam Ceiliog suggests a moment of quiet reflection. There is much celebration and cutting loose to come in the next week or so, but Cam Ceiliog is an echo chamber, a wisp of a day that vanishes just as soon as it appears. A day to wander around in your mind’s interior, just a few moments of thought and the shortest day is done. I think of it as a lambent beacon in the dark, a sign to raise a glass and make a quiet toast to your inner Beltane.

In the weeks ahead, if you find yourself sloughing through the back end of winter, and its tendency to immovable gloom – pace yourself. Cam Ceiliog has marked us a path. The daylight is coming. One step at a time.

Words & Image by Richard King.
Richard is a humble best selling author an old friend of fforest and the curator of our music programming.

Hygge at fforest

As Autumn sets in the yearning to stay outside strong but the cold drives us in. This year we have kept 4 Domes, 4 Croglofts and 1 Kata cabin available for those of you looking for the crisp air in the morning, undecided weather throughout the day and stoking fires at night. Throughout the rest of 2016 and early 2017 we're allowing 2 night stays and have lowered the price right down to as little as £75 per night.

For those of you looking for something a little more cosmopolitan please see availability for our Granary Lofts in Cardigan.

New year 2016

Over 50 friends and family descended on us at fforest for this New Year (some of whom were invited).

Walks, food, drink, rain, wind, mud, shoes, dogs, fire, damaged vinyl, full contact board games, intelligible conversation, intelligible dancing, parents setting bad examples. Grandparents, grandchildren*, dogs. (*not ours-yet)

Structural & spiritual integrity of farmhouse fully tested.

Special thanks:
To the inglenook d.j.’s: ‘scarfy’ king, Island ‘why don’t you do it?’ Joints and ‘I didn’t scratch it, I made an intervention’ Turk.

Capt. ‘pyro’ Phil for creating the napalm dripping torches for the pub to house procession. No-one caught fire, although there were some spontaneous combustions later. A new tradition that we will now claim has been going on at fforest for at least a two centuries.

The youth for their dedication to endurance testing the comfort of the beds.

The sauna boys for bringing out a side of me I never knew existed. You know who you are, I’ll never forgetthat precious afternoon x. (nick I accept your price for the pictures)

Aplologies:
 to jack and holly for asking them to go out before midnight with coal, whisky and bread to ‘first foot’ (Scottish tradition) but then forgetting about them till they were banging on the windows at 12.15 (could’ve been worse).

Dictated to nurse Tucker during interruption to my bed-rest remedy in a sanatorium somewhere in the Swiss alps 7/01/2016.

Thanks to all our friends for the pictures.

spirit of place - Ty fforest

Ty fforest

fforest is built from the land it stands on...from Ty fforest (fforest farmhouse) we've scraped away 50 years of damp plaster, leaky rads, woodchip (on the walls), avacado toilet suites, suffocating cement render. Now we are left the revealed bones of the beast, the slate walls full of memories quarried 200 years ago from the river gorge that the house stands above, together with all the original timber features that we could preserve. The house will be recreated with bones exposed, tradition respected, modern mechanism hidden. Embers once again glowing in the massive inglenook, hams and fish slowly smoking in the chimney.  Warm, atmospheric, elemental, evocative. Ty fforest will accommodate groups of up to 14 people (30 combined with the adjoining croglofts)in 5 ensuite rooms with dining for up to 40. 

Book here