The best outdoor shower in Wales? fforest shower block inspired by Australian architect Glenn Murcutt

'Layering and changeability: this is the key, the combination that is worked into most of my buildings. Occupying one of these buildings is like sailing a yacht; you modify and manipulate its form and skin according to seasonal conditions and natural elements, and work with these to maximize the performance of the building.' 

- Glenn Murcutt, 1996

Known for his smaller scale residential buildings, Australian architect Glenn Murcutt's projects blend a modernist design approach with an ever-present consciousness of the environment; qualities that have inspired fforest chief his entire career. The picture shown above is probably his smallest work, but the simplicity, modesty and respect for context make it a personal favourite.

A hero and reference point for Chief, the shower block at fforest is a 'homage' of the most humble sort. Choosing materials that can be produced easily and economically; from glass to stone to concrete, brick and metal, Murcutt's buildings evoke a distinctive Australian flavour that are in constant harmony with their natural surroundings, much like the majority of our buildings at fforest. Murcutt has resisted expanding his staff and has remained as a sole practitioner with the minimum of assistants. 

fforest chief invited Glenn to the 'Do' lectures at fforest in 2009 but unfortunately he was unable to travel the long distance due to old age. His hand-written response to the invitation will continue to be a prized possession. 

 



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Rich Landscapes: 2 Welsh brothers creating beautiful & practical gardens

'We believe in a fusion between landscape and architecture. An important relationship that encourages a more rounded approach to an outdoor lifestyle, creating not only beautiful but practical spaces, inspiring people to use their gardens.'

- The Rich brothers

Brothers Harry and David Rich (professionally known as Rich Landscapes) are leading representatives of a new, younger generation of landscape gardener.

In 2013, the Welsh siblings made their first appearance at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Drawing inspiration from their formative years, their extraordinary ‘Un Garreg’ show garden featured a 425 million year old sandstone. Arranged to form decorative boulders and supporting a floating timber bench, they added lengths of dry stone walling as a subtle reference to the Welsh hills. Awarded with a gold medal for their installation, the pair were then invited the following year to create a full scale show garden. Titled ‘Vital Earth The Night Sky Garden’ their show garden was granted a silver gilt medal.

This year, the Rich brothers have created a design for the Cloudy Bay winery in New Zealand, which they discuss in the accompanying video. They have a very clever way of blending architectural elements within natural surroundings. Their 'Shack' element of the garden is added to close the gap separating buildings from nature:

'The shack is constructed from raw, native materials made in an honest fashion. For us it needed to compliment the garden and blend organically within the space, not to be seen as a separate element.  We wanted to create a piece of architecture that could adapt, reform and re-orientate. A translucent sculpture that, with the change of direction could become a solid form, constricting views from and into the garden.'

We are patiently waiting to see what's next for this talented pair. In the meantime, their website provides a catalogue of beautiful past projects for you to look at.

Visit their website here



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Foraging with Jade: Gorse Flower cordial

Wild Pickings is a small rural business based in West Wales and run by professional forager, Jade Mellor. 

As well as selling her seasonal foraged foods at farmers' markets and food festivals, Jade runs wild food walks and courses throughout the year. We have worked with her before at fforest and this year she will be foraging nettles and wild garlic for our Fools Feast on the 1st of April. We are delighted that Jade will also be joining us again at fforest Gather in August.

Jade has shared with us a fantastic seasonal recipe for gorse flower cordial. This time of year is the perfect time to have a go, when the gorse has come into flower most strongly and the vibrant yellow petals are at their brightest. Gorse flowers have a slightly bitter, floral flavour, with a hint of coconut. They make a delicate, refreshing cordial. Read Jade's ingredients list and method below:

Ingredients:

As many gorse petals as you can pick! Ideally, at least a litre jugful.

Water

Sugar

Juice & zest of two oranges

Method:

Pick the gorse flowers on a dry sunny day, ideally when you can smell the coconut fragrance as this will give a more flavoursome cordial. Put the blossoms in a pan and cover with boiling water. You want to add just enough water to submerge the flowers. Leave to steep overnight. Strain through a jelly bag or piece of muslin. Add the zest and juice from the oranges. Measure out the liquid and pour back into the pan. Add 700g of sugar per litre of liquid and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour into hot sterilised bottles if you want to keep it for a few months, otherwise bottle into clean containers and keep in the fridge.

Thank you for the recipe Jade! For more information about courses and workshops, visit Jade's Wild Pickings website.

some more foraging photos from fforest farm...



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Matt Sewell: A career in illustration and writing sparked by his love of birds

Artist, illustrator and author Matt Sewell is a keen ornithologist and friend of fforest. His eye for capturing the beauty of birds through his unique illustrations takes the act of bird watching to new heights...

Matt has built a brand around his birds; selling his designs in big name department stores and smaller independent shops across the country as well as on his own website. His illustrated bird books are a delight for the eyes but are also informative so appeal to bird watching enthusiasts and illustration fans alike. He brings his birds to the masses in his 'Spotting & Jotting' workshops, a feature at fforest Gather 2016 that was a huge success. Bringing together grown-ups and little ones to learn about the surrounding bird-life at fforest and to learn how to draw and paint them with Matt. He will be joining us again this year at fforest Gather to share even more of his expert bird knowledge and artistic ideas. 

We asked Matt a few questions about where his love of illustration (and birds!) came from...

Did you do a degree in illustration or did you just have a passion for drawing and birds in particular?

I did a degree that focused on animation and illustration and have been a freelance illustrator since the late 90s. Nature and birds in particular have always featured in my work but it wasn't until I wanted to have a bit of a break and a new direction that I started focusing totally on birds, after a year away in Australia in 2007. 

If you were a bird which one would you most like to be and why?

Swallows are cool, they have fun together, are great flyers, look very cool, travel lots and hang out together in a big communal family.

Where would you like to travel to study the animals or birds?

India!

Is there anything exciting in the pipeline you would like us to mention?

My first children's book called 'The Big Bird Spot' published by Pavillion, I have created loads of amazing landscapes to lose yourself in and spot birds and other wildlife. It will be out this spring and I can't wait to see how it goes down!

Matt will be back with us at Gather this year, to find out more and to buy tickets click here

Pre-order Matt's first children's book here



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Alice Holden: How to start growing your own veg

'Cooking the food you've grown and sharing it: that's an emotional and creative thing to do.'

- Alice Holden

Alice single handedly set up the fforest garden that now flourishes year round back in 2008, during the 3 years she worked for us. With strong beliefs in permaculture and organic growing, the garden was designed to provide fresh produce for our kitchen.

We first met Alice when she called into fforest with her green fingers holding a basket of homegrown strawberries to sell. It wasn't so soon after that, that she started working for us at the farm. 

She built the raised beds, put up the poly tunnel, started the composting systems, planted and set the seeds in motion. Her preliminary work in our fforest vegetable garden started what has become a thriving patch, providing a great range of different edible flowers, herbs, fruit and veg that we use for many delicious suppers, events and occasions. It really is special to know that some of what's on your plate has been sown and grown just yards away.

In an article for the Guardian, Alice provides the basic knowledge to encourage everyone to start growing their own vegetables. Just like we needed a bit of help starting our veg patch, she can give you a hand with yours. 



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Welsh national costume

St David's day is a great day for all Welsh folk to celebrate national heritage and tradition as well as honouring the patron Saint of Wales. National dress is a big part of the celebration, so expect to see lots of little Welsh ladies and gentlemen skipping their way to school on this first day of March...

You may recognise the image of traditional Welsh costume: a woman in her black, red and white costume and tall black hat, but this has become a stereotypical image, albeit a popular one, that bares little resemblance to the iconic Welsh costume designed by one nineteenth century noblewoman, Augusta Hall (1802-1896). A Monmouthshire born Lady, she dedicated her life to the preservation and popularisation of the language, culture and institutions of Wales and was responsible for much of the myth surrounding national costume...

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, before Augusta's time, it is believed that the idea of Welsh national costume was exaggerated for tourism purposes. Wales was a 'mysterious and beguiling land for the English traveller' and so staged photographs of the Welsh lady in national dress ('dressed-up' working dresses) were used to tempt the traveller to Wales. The outfits were in most cases costumes, often not owned by the wearer but leant by friends or family, even by the photographer, to create an image of national costume. The Welsh working dress did not differ so much from the fashions of England, but was intentionally glamourised and romanticised for the benefit of attracting tourists.

In 1830, Augusta Hall attempted to take her idea of Welsh national dress to full realisation. She was determined to solidify her vision and for national dress to become an obligatory part of Welsh culture. An album of 16 watercolours, painted either by herself or by a commissioned artist, was used to promote her depiction of Welsh costume from different regions of Wales. Most of the works are entitled: "Dull Wisgoedd Cymru Cyflwynedig i Bendefigion a Boneddigion y Dywysogaeth" few also have the title translated into English: "Cambrian costumes dedicated to the nobility and gentry of Wales." The numbered and titled watercolours represent her observations of the costumes of Gwent, the Gower, Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire but, in fact, her drawings were at odds with other records of regional dress of the time. Regardless, the costumes are beautifully illustrated and have a particular charm about them. Here is the dress for Cardiganshire...

cardiganshire costume.jpg

"Augusta was so excited by her idea of Welsh national dress that she required all her maids to wear it at work. She even built a woollen mill in the grounds of Llanofer house to produce the native cloth out of which the costume was made, giving a much needed boost to local Welsh industry."

The ambitious attempt to nationalise her idea of Welsh costume went unfulfilled, but she did help elevate the country working costume to a higher status, which in turn became the perceived national costume of Wales. It is Augusta's dedication to the revival and promotion of Welsh culture and industry that made a lasting impact, thanks to the emphasis she put on the quality of Welsh woollen cloth. In Wales today, this same dedication to upholding Welsh tradition is echoed in the manufacturing of Welsh wool. Melin Teifi in West Wales continues to make the woollen shawl; preserving an iconic part of Welsh heritage that Augusta was devoted to celebrating.

So on the 1st of March, children all over Wales will descend upon their schools dressed in tall black 'chimney hats', flannel shawls, woollen skirts and patterned waistcoats, and we are reminded that our age-old Welsh traditions fervently live on through the generations.



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#DiscoverCymru

Wales's Instagram community. A page dedicated to the best photography and photographers of Wales. 

Finding inspiration for a good photo is hardly difficult in our part of the world, but capturing the true beauty of a Welsh landscape can be difficult. #DiscoverCymru features some of the best photography of Wales: Gower cliffs, Snowdonia across all seasons, rough seas, rolling hills, ancient towns and buildings... and all photographs submitted by the public. The page was started in 2015 by a man who believed photography from across Wales needed a platform of its own. The page currently has just under 25k followers, a growing community that is expanding daily. Above you'll see a few of our favourite images from photographers @matprice, @steffanllewelyn, @alex.davies, @ben_horder + more.

We at fforest are also very keen photographers of the Welsh countryside, especially the beautiful seafront that is right on our doorstep. Embracing the cool air of Winter or the sweet Summer heat, we have spent so many blissful days scouring the cliffs and caves of our surroundings, whatever the weather. There's always something new and beautiful to discover and capture.

Here's a selection of Instagram posts from @fforestchief, @coldatnight & the fforest elves.

Use #DiscoverCymru to feature on the Instagram page and find out more about Discover Cymru on their website.



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Ceilings of St David's cathedral

The smallest city in Britain in terms of both size and population, St Davids can be found in Pembrokeshire at the most westerly point of Wales...

This beautiful little city has attracted tourists form all over the UK for many years; a place full of history and the final resting place of Saint David, Wales's patron saint. The Cathedral is at the heart of the city, a breathtaking building (due to the sheer size of it!) after a walk around you will leave feeling overwhelmed by its magnificence. We love visiting just to look up to the intricate ceilings, you have to take a trip just to photograph them!



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Nigel Owens: Desert island disks

Rugby union referee and Welsh legend Nigel Owens features on BBC Radio 4's programme Desert Island Discs. In this inspiring and highly emotional interview we learn of the highlights and hardships Nigel has faced throughout his life and career so far. 

Born and raised in a small village in Carmarthenshire, he first picked up the whistle aged 16, when it became clear to both his teacher and himself that he wouldn't make much impact as a player.

His steely authority and quick wit on the field have won him worldwide praise - he's widely regarded as one of the best referees in the business for the impact he makes on the flow and coherence of a game. 

In 2007 he became one of the first high-profile sports professionals to come out as gay - a courageous move in a sport which often defines the word macho. He has spoken about this decision as being the biggest challenge he has ever faced - even more so than officiating an international match under intense scrutiny in front of 95,000 spectators and a global TV audience. 

He now says the unwavering support he has received from the rugby authorities, the players and the fans has enabled him to be true to himself and carry on working in the game he loves.



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The coldatnight blanket

We have our coldatnight blanket woven specially for us at a very old water mill near the banks of the River Teifi. The same water that flows through the Teifi, around our camp at fforest farm and past the Pizzatipi on Cambrian Quay in Cardigan, is the very same water that turns the wheel that powers the loom that weaves our blankets. 

The woollen industry flourished in South Wales until the end of World War I when it began its decline with high prices during the war. At one time there were more than 300 active woollen mills. During the Industrial Revolution the Teifi Valley between Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire came to employ thousands of weavers, spinners, dyers, knitters, drapers and tailors. The river and its tributaries powered dozens of mills, and sheep in the surrounding grassland supplied fleece to be made into woollen products.

As of 2013 there are just nine commercial woollen mills still in operation, often run by small families producing traditional Welsh cloth on old looms. Melin Teifi is one of the last remaining mills in Wales that continues to manufacture the finest welsh flannel using top-quality materials and local craftsmanship. And this is where the fforest coldatnight blanket was born thanks to the wonderful skill of Raymond and his team.

Our blanket is a traditional Welsh double cloth weave unique to fforest. The pattern is taken from an old blanket I bought years ago at a car boot at Tanygroes. It is a design I love and had never seen before. After days drawing on graph paper trying to create an original fforest weave design to make into our own blanket, I gave up and thought why not recolour this wonderful old design and give it new life. It is originally an early North Wales Rose pattern first introduced more than a century ago by Hannah Jones at Penmachno Woolen Mill, Caernarfonshire.

Many Welsh weaves feature cross designs which represent the flag of St David, Wales's patron saint, and each Welsh mill would develop their own doublecloth patterns to make the mill identifiable by the unique designs. This is what we have tried to achieve with our blankets. By following the patterns and traditions of Welsh wool manufacturing, we produced our own unique design that can always be linked back to fforest.

It is a strong and well thought out simple, balanced design consisting of flower motifs within interlocking circles in a field of colour. We have made a few tweaks and added some new colour to this very old design, giving new life to an old way. Using pure new wool on a 1930's Dobcross loom, each thread is put through the heddles by hand, as it always was.

Each year I like to add a new colourway to keep it fresh, although the red and charcoal seem to be firm favourites.

Visit our online shop to buy your own coldatnight blanket



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Frank Lloyd Wright

Falling Water, 1935

Born in 1867 in Wisconsin to a family of Welsh decent, Frank Lloyd Wright became America's most famous and influential architect. Although he found fame in America, his family were from Ceredigion and Welsh culture was to have a huge influence on his architecture...

Falling Water, the house Frank Lloyd Wright built for the Kaufmann family in 1935, is one of architecture's most iconic houses. A marriage of dynamic composition and integration with nature, it is strongly influenced by Japanese architecture. fforestchief says he is going to live there when he retires.

Few might know that Frank Lloyd Wright's ancestors are Welsh. His maternal family emigrated from Cardigan to Wisconsin in 1844, where Frank was born in 1867. From an early age it was clear that Frank was highly influenced by his Welsh roots. Having been christened Frank Lincoln Wright, as a teenager he decided to change Lincoln to Lloyd as a dedication to his Welsh Mother.

He designed more than 1,100 buildings in his lifetime and continued to work as an architect up until his death in 1959, aged 91. Frank ensured his Welsh heritage was represented in many of his buildings. He completed the build of his own home in 1911, which was developed on land belonging to his maternal Welsh family. He named the house 'Taliesin', after the ancient Welsh bard, and some of his other builds were adorned with the Welsh motto "Y gwir yn erbyn y byd" ("The truth against the world"). His Welsh heritage had a profound effect on his design outlook and inspired much of the organic feel of his architecture.

 

Frank's one and only trip to his ancestral country was made in 1956 to receive an honorary doctorate from Bangor University. He actually stayed with another world-famous architect of Welsh decent during this trip, Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, creator of the Portmeirion village near Porthmadog in North Wales. Pictured together here in 1956, the two famous architects shared a similar vision: to design buildings that lived in harmony with the natural landscape. A little bit like fforest.

 



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Kids craft competition!

Most of the fforest elves grew up in Wales and went to Welsh schools. They say that every year they looked ahead to one special day in particular...

A day for dressing up, singing, making, baking and just having lots of fun in general, St David's day is one of the best days in the Welsh school calendar. Baking welsh cakes, churning butter, performing in a mini Eisteddfod, making cards and being let loose on the art supplies...it's an exciting day for children of any age.

Our fforest elves would like to encourage you to get creative this St David's day... Here's the brief:

Create a St David's day masterpiece of pure magnificence! Whether its been created at school or at home, we want to see what the young artists of Wales* can produce! Choose anything Welsh as your inspiration... leeks, daffodils, sheep, DRAGONS! Whatever you choose to make, we want to see it...

*not confined to Wales, if we have any young takers from further afield please join in too!

So mums and dads, send us your photos on Instagram (tag us @fforest) or tag us in a Facebook post. Our favourite entry will win a special fforest prize.

GOOD LUCK KIDS!

Want a bit of crafty inspiration? Click on the images below. (apparently all we have is daffodils...)



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Pancos! Pancws! Crempog!*

*whichever word you choose to use, they are all Welsh for pancake! This year shrove Tuesday falls the day before St David's day so what better time to dig out our Welsh pancake recipes ready for a proper Welsh teatime. Bigger and better (& fluffier) than the classic pancake, pancos are traditionally cooked on a cast iron bakestone (but you can use a frying pan if you don't happen to have one to hand...)

You will need:

2 oz/ 55g butter

15 fl oz/ 450 ml warm buttermilk

10 oz/ 275g all purpose/plain flour

3 oz/ 75g sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp vinegar

2 eggs, well beaten

Method:

Stir the butter into the warmed buttermilk until melted. Gradually pour the milk and butter into the the flour and beat well. Leave the mixture to stand for at least 30 minutes (or a few hours if possible) before stirring in the sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and vinegar into the beaten eggs.

Pour this mixture into the flour and milk mixture and beat well to form a smooth batter. Heavily grease a griddle/ frying pan and heat, then drop the batter a tablespoon at a time onto the griddle and cook over a moderate heat until golden brown on both sides. Keep the pancos warm and continue this method until all the batter is used up.

Top with banana, syrup, lemon, sugar, chocolate...whatever you like! Try mixing some currants into the batter for a twist on traditional Welshcakes.

We had a go ourselves at fforest...

Our recipe is adapted from Visit Wales



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Campfire cooking: elemental

Cooking with fire is our favoured method at fforest. Pizzas cooked in outdoor clay ovens, ribs smoked over apple wood in chief's cast iron smoker, whole roasted pig over an open fire... 

Whilst we're constantly looking for better ways to cook with the flame, we never forget where it all started. Over campfires in the woods, on the beach and under the sand, cooking on sticks or embers surrounded by friends and family. Everyone can get involved, especially younger adventurers. Learning the basics of campfire cooking is a great way to make your camping holidays, trips to the beach and hikes in the mountains even more adventurous. We've adapted articles from Wild Child OutdoorOrdnance Survey Maps who have shared great knowledge of the basics of campfire cooking. Giving tips on how to cook over fire efficiently and safely, and making the whole process more family friendly...

Getting your fire going

If you are planning on cooking over a fire, fuel choice is more important than normal. You want to use wood that does not smoke much, gives a reasonable heat and burns slowly. Hardwoods such as oak, ash and beech are best for steady heat, as they burn for a long time. Softwoods such as pine will burn faster and hotter, which is not ideal. They also contain more resins, which can create bitter scented smoke. Avoid any wood that is painted or has preservatives (green or orange coloured wood) as this could give off harmful chemicals. The smoke from most hardwoods will add to the flavour. If you can find any fruit woods (such as apple) they can add a distinctive taste too.

Whatever fuel you use, it needs to be dry to burn well and reduce smoke. If you are collecting wood locally (again, check local rules), choose wood that's been dead for a while - it will feel relatively light. Alternatively petrol stations, country stores and other local shops often have sacks of ready-to-burn wood.

When lighting your fire, avoid the use of paraffin-based firelighters, lighter fluid or petrol - they're going to taste nasty! You can get 'natural' lighters, or just use small tinder such as paper, straw, shavings or small twigs to get the fire going - see the OS Maps beginners guide on lighting a fire for more detail.

Once the fire is going, you want it to burn down until there are few big flames. Like a barbecue, you generally cook over hot embers, so once it has reduced a little rake the embers to even them out. You can also pull some hot embers to the side, while keeping the main fire going.

So on your next camping trip leave the BBQ behind and try something a bit more adventurous!

Campfire Cooking:

When families go camping, most people cook on a BBQ. They are easy to use, easy to light and provide a consistent heat so it’s a great, quick way to cook outdoors. However, there are more fun and interesting ways to cook outdoors so here’s a few ideas for cooking on an open fire you can try on your next camping trip.

1. On a Grill

Cooking on an open fire is a more traditional way of cooking and a skill worth knowing if you don’t have a BBQ to hand. Just like a BBQ, you can cook on a grill over the heat of the fire. With some careful positioning of logs the height of the grill can also be adjusted. You can also put pans and kettles on to heat water and other food items making them very versatile for cooking a complete meal.

2. Dutch Oven

People have been cooking in iron pots for thousands of years. A Dutch Oven is a cast iron pot that can be placed directly in a fire or hung over a fire using a tripod. They come in different sizes and are great for cooking or heating prepared food. You can also put hot embers on top of the lid to create an oven for baking food. Some makes also have a lid that is designed to be used as a hot plate directly in the fire - excellent for making flat breads.

3. Billy Can

When you’re backpacking or hiking and space is a premium, using a billy can is a great way to heat food to provide simple meals quickly. You can suspend your billy can over an open fire using a tripod or fashion something from any wood you have around you.

4. Foil

This is a good technique for baking food items in a fire. Easier to transport than a Dutch Oven and ideal for potatoes, fish, sweetcorn and BBQ bananas! Don’t forget to turn things regularly and check your foil parcels often as it can be easy to burn food.

5. Stick cooking

This is real back to basics cooking. Great fun for getting the children involved but you’re not going to get a decent meal out of it. Everyone knows about marshmallows on a stick but you can try cooking bacon for breakfast or donut twisters. 

6. On a spit

You can extend your stick cooking to a horizontal spit so that you can cook something a bit more substantial. Cooking on a spit is very rewarding but it can take time. 

Expert tips:

- It takes at least 20 minutes to get a fire with a hearth that’s suitable for cooking on.
- Start too early when the flames are too high and your food will get burnt.
- As with a BBQ you can create areas with different heat to cook food and different times.
- Fatty foods will drip fat onto the fire and the resulting flames can burn your food.
- Get the kids involved and let them help out with preparation, getting wood for the fire and turning the odd sausage.



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Wright's Food Emporium

Cafe/ delicatessen in Llanarthne, not far from Carmarthen. From daily baked breads to refillable bottles of wine, a tasty lunch or tasting menu, Wright's food emporium is a treasure trove of quality, local produce.

We can't go to Carmarthen without a visit to our friends at Wright's. Simon and Maryanne have brought over 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry to an old pub in the middle of nowhere just outside of Carmarthen. It's not a surprise but with their son Joel and a core of great staff they've created something really special. If you're ever near Carmarthen or on your way to or from us its always worth a pit stop.

In May 2016, VICE's 'MUNCHIES' produced a 'Guide to Wales' and featured one of Wright's legendary communal dinner parties. Fast-forward 11mins in to jump straight to Wright's...

look closely and you may spot a fforest elf or two around the table...



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The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson

'The idea is that there has been nothing comprehensive published in English on Nordic cooking, basically ever. There have been books about Scandinavian cooking or on national cooking back in the 1970s but nothing since then. And everyone confuses the countries and the regions and no one really understands how diverse it all is. So I'm aiming to show all that with this new book.'

- Magnus Nilsson

Magnus Nilsson is one of the world's top chefs and owner of Fäviken restaurant in Sweden. A remote restaurant in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the arctic circle, where James and Sian stayed and ate and met Magnus in the autumn of 2013. 

His second recipe book, 'The Nordic Cookbook', a huge book, beautiful and inspiring, an encyclopaedia of Scandinavian and Nordic cooking, bringing the best of Scandinavian food, traditions and stories straight to your kitchen. Whittled down from 11,000 recipes and articles, the book contains around 700 different recipes. It took Magnus three years to research and compile this list whilst still running Fäviken.

So many inspirational and interesting things are found in this book, which is brilliantly documented with atmospheric photos of landscapes, people and plates of food. One page in particular caught the attention of fforest chief, a picture of two men in a wooden shed...

'It was common, before modern kitchens were invented, to have a simple but dedicated house just for cooking next to the one you lived in. This way when you made big batches of food, the whole house in which you lived was not made damp by the steam.' 

...chief now wants a wooden cooking shed to house his wood smoker and crab boiling pots.



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Cwrw fforest

We wanted something cold, fizzy and not too strong that we could call a lager. A session beer that prosecco drinkers would drink...

Cwrw fforest is our very own fforest lager made for us by our good friends at Mantle Brewery just up the road on the Pentood estate in Cardigan. We've been selling it in our 2 pubs the Smwglin and Bwthyn since May 2016.

Since we didn't like the lager we could buy from wholesalers we thought we would see if we could make our own. With no knowledge, experience or equipment to brew we popped that idea balloon and called our local brewery. Mantle brewery was set up by Domi and Ian Kimber looking for a change of lifestyle for the family and somewhere to set up a brewery. Lucky for us they chose Cardigan and began brewing some stand out traditional Heavys and Milds like Cwrw Teifi and Rock Steady, but the game changer for us was when they brewed what is untechnically a lager called 'Hoodwinked'.

We arranged a meeting with Ian on a Friday afternoon and mistakenly took him some trendy hop driven citrus pales. He told us to come back in 2 months for a tasting and to take our beers with us. 

Two months later we took up some of the team for a tour of the brewery and a tasting. We had 3 slight variations to choose from, it was a tricky job. Trying to pick 1 beer whilst having to keep trying all the similar other beers just got us pissed* and we're pretty sure we just guessed in the end but we couldn't go wrong. We finished them all and started to get really excited, so we put in a massive order. After the first week of sales we quickly realised our order wasn't massive enough, the kegs were flying out so we doubled it.
*Edit - Apparently I was the only one pissed and it was a very democratic and scientific process.

The beer is golden, hazed, fizzy and drinks like nectar. We can get away with calling it a 'craft lager' (whatever that means) and we've persuaded a few Prosecco drinkers to try a half but not turned any yet.

Last season we went through 226 Kegs of beer, thats 6,780L of beer, 12200 pints and an average of 81 pints per day... This year we hope to get through 300 kegs. If you would like to come help, 'Cwrw fforest' will be on sale in both our pubs at the Pizzatipi on the Quayside in Cardigan and in 'Y Bwthyn' at fforest farm.

A big thanks to Mantle brewery.



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Ecotherapy


fforest has always celebrated the pleasures of living, working and playing in the outdoors.
For some people this is truly life changing. 

What is ecotherapy? This short film explains how using nature and the outdoors can improve mental wellbeing, particularly for people at risk of developing a mental health problem - or those who need support to manage an existing problem. Filmed at four Ecominds-funded projects in summer 2013.

Credit: Ecominds
 



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The Bwthyn - our spiritual heart


These small steadings had long been known in wales by the term tyddyn, and the tyddynwyr – the crofters as they may be called- formed in a very real sense the nucleus of the welsh nation.

- from The Welsh House by Iorwerth Peate, first published 1940


When we were first planning fforest, building the lodge as the centre of our idea, the Bwthyn was close by, but hiding. Obscured by trees and ivy outside and in, the building was close to being fully reclaimed by the land that had yielded the slate blocks from which its walls had been built. No roof, less than 3 walls, 18 inches of earth covering the slate slabs we would eventually uncover and re-lay.

We could have let it go. Easier to knock down what remained, use the slate as hardcore for a new building. But this building had a voice that I started hearing. The voice was reminding me of what this building meant and of the lives lived there. This was 2006. Four years before, Sian’s parents had given me the book from which I took the quote above.  Beautiful little cloth-bound first edition from 1940. An anthology of Welsh house types from the iron age to roughly the eighteenth century, and a chapter there confirmed what this building was and meant. A fold -out illustration describing exactly the floor-plan, position and size of windows, doors, hearth and tiny dairy (kitchen).  This little building was an important thing- it had meaning. Its type was called a Bwthyn Croglofft. It was remnant of a society and agrarian culture in Wales that was ancient.  A smallholding of 4 acres (the tyddyn) would provide for some basics for the family of 8 or 10 to supplement the income father would bring from his trade or labour.

The acts of union between England and Wales gradually subsumed the old Keltic system of landholding and the enclosure movement of the 19th century, where land was consolidated into larger holdings, led to thousands of the small steadings being eliminated. ‘...a large part of the social system traditional to the Welsh countryside was deliberately destroyed.’  An ancient way of life ended.
The Bwthyn is a monument to a way of life in general, and the family lives lived there in particular.

When we were re-building it I knew why I was doing it, but didn’t know what it would be for. Cottage, store, showers? No, not right. The builders decided for me. On a morning tea break they told me they’d decided it should be a pub. I laughed then realised they were right. 

A place for gathering and celebration in honour of generations past. 
The Bwthyn is the spiritual heart of fforest.

CONSTRUCTION

USE



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