Stories from the sea: Diving for spider crabs with fforest chief

Spider crabs are curious creatures. With their remarkably long legs, strong claws and prickled shells, their build is just as fascinating as their nature and habits. fforest chief has been observing these creatures for years and has a unique insight into the secret lives of spider crabs as they exist and thrive on the Welsh coastline.
He shares this rare and beautiful insight below:

'They start coming in around the beginning of May and usually peak around about now, the beginning of June. About five years ago, numbers seemed to peak. Last year's weren't very good and there was an idea that the crabs were moving further north. But in fact, this year, the evidence shows that they’re back.

Up until about 7 or 8 years ago, the local fishermen would throw spider crab back into the sea because there was no commercial value in them. The story goes that they used to pull one claw off a male crab and then throw it back. The cock crabs have much bigger claws whilst females don't have any claws to speak of. 

Interestingly, both male and female spider crabs are filter feeders and foragers, and that creates, to my mind, a very sweet tasting flesh. As opposed to brown crab which, actually, if you taste them side by side, tastes quite fishy by comparison. The white meat is really delicate and beautiful in a spider crab.


The reason the cock crabs come closer into the shore is that the females come in to shed their shells. Their soft shelled state is the only time the cock crabs can mate with them. Its an odd situation because they’re actually mating when they're at their most vulnerable from other predators, like sea bass and other big fish.

When the cock crabs come in, frequently you'll find the male and female crabs coupled together. Once they’ve been fertilised they stick together for a week or two, with the cock crabs wrapping their claws around the female. Once the males have mated they tend to disappear and leave the females behind. There are places along the coast where you can see thousands of females in huge mounds, left behind after their mates have gone. 

I avoid taking any female crabs at all during the mating season. When they’re coupled in that way I leave them well alone. Its not always obvious that they’re coupled though, so when you see a nice big cock crab, and its got its female underneath it, if the female drops out mid water there’s a sort of palpable desperation of the male to fight to find the female and re-clasp itself. It seems to be more than an instinct, it might even be love.

I've been an avid explorer of coast for many years, especially the Welsh coastline. The waters around the UK are so teeming with marine life that snorkelling is a real pleasure, but its a fleeting one because of that issue of water clarity. So you have to take up the opportunity when you can, regardless of what work commitments or anything else you might have.


Diving for spider crabs is always a fascinating adventure. I was very amused to read a section of a book written by George Monbiot where he describes a sort of battle with the spider crab in order to catch it. In fact, it could be nothing further from the truth. The skill is in choosing a day when the waters are clear, to then dive down deep enough to find the bigger ones, and to catch them with a gentle hand.

When I first started diving I used my bare hands to grab the shell. My palms were full of prickles, bits of the spine surface of the body that is actually slightly poisonous. My hands were constantly irritated during the summer. But now, I've learned two things from my experiences: to wear neoprene gloves, and to not panic and grab, but to pick them up very gently and turn them upside down so that they wrap their claws around their body in a protective state. They’re actually very passive in this state, you can handle them quite easily in this way.

I really enjoy the solitude of exploring a real "other" place. There's a lot of pleasure in just the swimming. So much so that catching a crab is a bonus, its not actually the point. I do like the idea that you’re foraging, that you’re bringing something back for free, and that's a strong motivation; to bring this beautiful, special food back for no price at all. But it's the swimming in another world, a spellbinding, mysterious underwater world, that I find most rewarding.'



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"A cake should make you feel a little bit magic." The world of weird & wonderful decorations from Cake of Dreams.

'Everyone deserves a little bit of home baked, thoughtful goodness on their birthday. Or their wedding day. Or a Tuesday...'

Lovely Francesca is the lady behind these glorious, flower-covered, colour explosion cakes, handmade for any occasion. We fired a few questions Francesca's way to learn a little bit more about her thriving business and what to expect at her cake decorating workshop at Gather this August:

Your cakes are a delight to look at, each with their own unique decorations yet all with the same distinct style. What’s the inspiration behind the Cake of Dreams look?

When I started making cakes - for fun and then for a job - it was because I wanted cakes to make me feel like the cakes you would imagine as a child - cakes from story books or films. I wanted them to feel decadent and special and sparkly and oozy and conjure up some nostalgia and glamour and whimsy. A cake should make you feel a little bit magic and be a treat for all the senses, it’s no fun having the same old cake as everyone else… 

From glitter cherries to kittens wearing party hats, how do you choose your weird & wonderful decorations?

Everything has flowed rather organically. The glitter cherries were one of the first things I came up with, trying to decorate one of my very first cakes. I had this image of a disco ball cherry that I wanted to recreate, so I just experimented until it worked. The animals in party hats evolved from someone asking for something circus themed and I had this image of a Victorian dancing bear in a ruff and a hat, so I built one and after that kept getting requests for different “party animals” in custom getups. Poor little bear… I try not to stray too far from the general vibe of the cakes I have created, but occasionally someone will request something a bit out of my comfort zone and I’ll invent something new and love it. 

You’ve been a Gather contributor before, what can the Gather guests expect from a Cake of Dreams workshop? Is it kid friendly?

I love making food with my own kids, and I think that children can really bring that wonder and magic to decorating that I strive for, so last year I did a kids only workshop where they could just go a bit wild with all the tools I use, and the result was totally gorgeous psychedelic kid-decorated cupcakes that were worth the very lengthy cleaning up afterwards… I also do a class for 15+ to go over icing and decorating big layer cakes, with marginally less glitter and flowers flying through the air, and some secret tips doled out, all very relaxed and with lots of chatting. 

Francesca will be returning to run her cake decorating workshop this Summer at Gather; complete with flowers, foraged fruits from the fforest gardens, edible glitter, jewels, sprinkles, maybe even a couple of unicorns - who knows! Whatever she brings, its bound to be one of the wackiest (& messiest) of all Gather workshops!

Guarantee your place on the Cake of Dreams workshop at Gather, book tickets here

Visit the Cake of Dreams website



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Love camping? Hate loading up the car? We've found the perfect alternative: Bikepacking

On fforest lands and nearby trails, cyclists will find some great places to ride. Imagine if you could combine your love of camping & cycling into one big holiday adventure? Well, we suggest Bikepacking to those of you who can pack light!

Simply put, Bikepacking is the synthesis of mountain biking and minimalist camping; essentially its backpacking with a bike – or any ride that includes an overnight stay. A new guidebook features all the best spots in the UK to cycle, explore & camp on an off-road, micro-adventure. Perfect for families too! 

Read some bikepacking tips from the author of the book, Laurence McJannet, and buy the book below...

The bike:

The best bike for bikepacking is the one you already own. You don’t need a frame with eyelets or rack mounts for panniers, and even a road bike can be fitted with wider, more robust tyres to cope with canal towpaths and paved bridleways. I find there’s no better bike than a rigid hardtail, the original mass-produced mountain bike, and the kind that has been left neglected in many people’s garages for a decade or more. With no suspension forks to compress, you don’t have to worry about your tyre catching a bag slung under your handlebars. Too many moving parts can be problematic when you have luggage slung under the front, centre and back of the frame. Big-wheeled bikes (with 29in or the new ‘standard’ 650b wheels) are great for manoeuvrability but can have limited clearance for hanging luggage slings under bars and seat-posts.

Carrying things:

You’ll need a backpack of some kind, around 30 litres is perfect, and ideally with double straps rather than a messenger bag with a single strap. You’ll need at least one bag attached to the frame to carry your overnight kit, though two or three spread evenly across the bike work better. Knowing the British weather it’s best that these are waterproof (drybags are available from most outdoor retailers and come in a variety of sizes, with loops, eyelets or straps to give you loads of mounting options). However, if it’s the middle of a dry dusty summer a bin bag might get you through (it worked for me on my first adventure ride).

Eating/drinking:

Take food that doesn’t need cooking at first, or eat before you go. If your first adventure rides are near your home you can have breakfast when you get back. Two 750ml water bottles should be ok for short rides.

Fixing things:

Whether it’s for you or the bike, there are certain remedies you shouldn’t be without. A torch is always useful, a simple tool kit, pump, tyre levers and spare inner tubes will keep you on the move. A basic first aid kit and phone will let your loved ones sleep a little easier – remember to tell them where you are going and when you’ll be back.

Clothing:

Unless the forecast guarantees dry weather, take a waterproof jacket. It needn’t be a cycling-specific cut; you just need something to keep you dry until you can find shelter to make camp. Remember to bring a number of extra layers. Sleep in what you wear during the ride, and add layers as you need to. Woolly hats are invaluable, as is a spare pair of socks. Merino wool base layers, and a down jacket or gilet, pack down small but provide bags of insulation. A cycle-specific waterproof jacket will keep you drier and more comfortable for longer on the bike. Waterproof shorts or trousers could be wise too, as well as padded cycle shorts.

Bike accessories:

A handlebar harness for mounting a drybag under your bars. You can usually fit a 12 or 16 litre bag under there, with plenty of space for a stove, food, bivvy and tarp. A mid-frame bag to hang under the top tube (if you have a full suspension frame you may need a tailor-made one to make room for the shock). A saddle sling or bag to fit another dry bag. There should be space to get your sleeping bag and even a spare foldable tyre in here. Alpkit, Apidura and Wildcat Gear all make great, dedicated waterproof frame bags. Adjustable bottle cage mounts – with a frame bag in place there won’t be much room for the bottle cage in its usual place. These let you mount your water bottle underneath your downtube, on your fork legs, bars or seat-post – SKS make a great one that will fit around all but the fattest frame tubes. A top-tube or stem-mounted ‘fuel cell’ or ‘gas tank’ – perfect for mid-ride stacks or compact cameras. A wider ratio cassette for more flexible gearing under load – the Wolfstooth 42T cog is a great example. A spare foldable tyre, as a burst sidewall can put an immediate end to your ride (though a small cut-up section of milk carton between inner tube and tyre side wall can get you home in an emergency). Ergonomic bars, grips and saddle will keep you comfy on the trail for longer. Look for bars with a greater sweep than usual (such as the Jones Bend H-Bar or On-One’s Fleegle bar). Try ‘stubbie’ bar ends of the likes of Ergon’s grips for multiple hand positions.

Tents and tarps:

A microlight one- or two-man tent or specific shelter. Ditch the tarp and bivvy and you’ll be able to carry on bikepacking right through the year (well, almost!) Most are small enough to be slung under your handlebars. I’ve used the Vango Tempest, but the MLD Trailstar and Golite Shangri-La are well worth a look. Or for unforgettable forest camping you could try Tentsile’s range of suspended tree tents. A head-torch is much more practical than a handheld one. Even during a prolonged dry spell I would take an orange survival bag, (available from many specialist outdoor shops), to protect my sleeping bag from rips and tears as much as bad weather. It’s another layer, no matter how uninsulated, with which to trap warm air, and it will keep moisture and rain at bay too.

Other bits:

Mobile phone, spare battery and spot tracker, dehydrated foodstuffs (any food you add hot water too tends to be compact and light but very satisfying), mid-ride snacks (fig rolls, flapjacks, jelly babies, energy bars or gels all work well), tea, coffee (a moka pot or individual filters) or hot chocolate sachets, and porridge sachets, the breakfast of champions.

Investing in new kit as and when you can will inevitably lighten the load you have to carry and consequently make your bike easier to handle and therefore more enjoyable to ride. Another option is to make sure key pieces of equipment serve more than one purpose. A heavyweight sleeping bag can just be used for sleeping, while a lighter bag and down jacket have the same result, with the jacket useful during the day too.

Text adapted from Wild Things Publishing website

Buy their Bikepacking guide here



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The Rope. MacGuffin magazine explores the stories & uses of one single object at a time

A biannual craft & design magazine that explores the life of ordinary things...
'Like the MacGuffins in Hitchcock films, these things are not the main characters, but the plot devices that set the story in motion.'

In a nutshell, MacGuffin looks good, reads well and even feels great. One of those magazines that you want to keep forever and revisit over and over again. Their concept is simple: to choose ordinary things and to delve into the many stories & uses one single object might have; 'uncovering the personal and sometimes curious relationships we have with the stuff that surrounds us.'

The objects chosen to make up the four existing issues are completely random. Take the sink, the rope, the window & the bed, four random objects that have no obvious common thread interlinking them. But that's not the point. The beauty of MacGuffin is its intention to celebrate the lesser thought about things for no particular reason; the stuff that is often overlooked yet has infinite stories and uses in life. They cover just about all possible angles of the object, giving a rather unremarkable thing a new lease of life.

Visit the website & buy the magazine here



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The world's first free-range sculpture, David Nash's Wooden Boulder has been on the move for 35 years

For 35 years, British artist David Nash mapped the progress of Wooden Boulder, his ‘free-range sculpture’, as it journeyed down the River Dwyryd in Wales. But now the gargantuan oak sphere has vanished...

After graduating in 1967, David Nash has been living and working in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales, where he enjoys constant inspiration from the Welsh landscape. It is here that he creates sculptures by working with trees, wood & the natural environment. He has even created works from living trees; his artistic concepts focusing predominantly on the relationship between man and nature. 

His most intriguing piece has to be Wooden Boulder. Critics describe it as land art but Nash excitedly refers to it as a 'free-range sculpture', seeing as it has been making its way to different locations by itself for the past 35 years. The artist did not initially mean for his sculpture to turn into the bold, artistic statement it has become today, making the story so far all the more fascinating. Read the full coverage in a recent article by James Fox for Christie's magazine, or our shortened version below...

 

Wooden Boulder had been resting peacefully in the upper end of the Dwyryd estuary since 2013. Nestled in the lee of a small island, it looked like it had settled in for the long haul. But the heavy rains that lashed so much of Britain in August 2015 produced unusually high tides that somehow dislodged the artist’s great ball of oak. Nash has been looking for it ever since.

Isolated from the prevailing trends in British art during the 1960s and 1970s, Nash found his own voice as an artist. He worked almost exclusively in wood, fashioning abstract sculptures with axes and chainsaws. Success grew: solo shows in Britain and then abroad, critical acclaim, and ever-growing sales.

At the end of 1977, Nash’s second long-term masterpiece came into being, although its genesis was as violent as it was unplanned. That winter a brutal storm brought down the limb of a 200-year-old oak tree high up in the valley. ‘It was by a public footpath so it had to be cut down,’ the artist recalls. ‘I knew the owners of the land and managed to wangle getting the job to do it.’ 

Nash cut down the tree in the spring of 1978 and chopped the trunk into a roughly-hewn ball that was about three feet in diameter. He planned to roll the ball down to his studio and work it up into a large-scale sculpture. But that was easier said than done: the ball weighed at least half a ton and had the potential to wreak havoc if he lost control of it.

Nash concluded that the safest thing was to transport the boulder down the hill in the neighbouring stream. But his bright idea quickly backfired. Within minutes, the boulder was stuck. It had become trapped halfway down a small waterfall, and despite repeated efforts it wouldn’t budge. A defeated Nash was left with only one option: to wait until the object moved by itself.

He had been waiting six months when a surge of rainwater finally pushed the boulder into the pool below the waterfall. This was the opportunity he’d been hoping for. He fashioned a makeshift net and hauled the boulder out of the pool. His sense of triumph, however, did not last long; a few days later some mischievous teenagers pushed the boulder back in again. Nash removed the boulder for a second time and rolled it to the top of the next waterfall along the stream. 

It spent a year in that spot, which the artist recalls as being particularly beautiful: ‘There was a wild plum tree next to the boulder, so in the spring it was covered in little white petals. It was lovely.’ Nash’s perspective was clearly changing. He was no longer determined to get the wood to his studio; he’d realised that the journey itself was the artwork.

Nash filmed, photographed and drew what he now called Wooden Boulder for eight years in that second waterfall, until its tale embarked on a further twist. The owners of the land on which it had settled were selling up. Nash was worried that the new owners would either prevent him from accessing the stream or dispose of the boulder altogether.

‘I decided I had to intervene for the sake of the story,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t let it end there.’ So one day in 1988 he gathered some friends together, and they rolled the boulder across the property line to safety. It remained in that position for another year, when a further storm carried it several hundred metres downstream.

Wooden Boulder sat in a quiet part of the river near the valley bottom for four or five years, until in 1994 yet another storm took it farther down the river, where eventually it got trapped beneath a road bridge. Nash knew that the river authorities would soon remove it. ‘I was faced with another dilemma,’ he says. ‘What was I going to do with it? I’d got it to the road. Was now the time to take it back to my studio?’

Nash claims that his questions were answered by the boulder itself. ‘It told me: “If you take me back to the studio I’ll dry out and I’ll crack. The story will be over.”’ So Nash rolled it around the bridge and released it downstream again. Wooden Boulder wasn’t out of the woods yet.

Six months after placing it on the other side of the bridge, Nash was visiting the piece with his son when they saw to their amazement that it had left the water altogether and was sitting mysteriously on the bank. It had survived, they discovered, yet another close call. The river authorities were halfway through removing the artwork with their JCB when a local farmer — who had warmed to Nash’s unusual activities over the years — shouted: ‘You can’t do that, boys. Apparently it’s art!’

The farmer may not have understood Wooden Boulder, but he’d gone a long way to saving it. And when a group of admiring students later rolled the piece back into the river, it was on the move again.

Wooden Boulder first disappeared in November 2002. ‘That was a momentous event,’ admits Nash. ‘I’d got so used to it being around.’ Nash and the locals spent more than a week searching for the piece. The park wardens even put up a ‘wanted’ poster around the estuary.

Ten days after its disappearance, however, Nash received a phone call from a friend: ‘Davey, have you lost your boulder?’ Nash’s friend had found the piece on a sandbank. Over the next six months the boulder was in a constant state of movement, travelling up and down the river on an almost daily basis and settling wherever the rain, wind or tide took it. Wooden Boulder had become what Nash excitedly called a ‘free-range sculpture’.

It disappeared again in April 2003, and though it was briefly sighted in 2008, it was gone for the best part of a decade. Nash presumed that Wooden Boulder  had gone out to sea, and he gave up hope of ever seeing it again. 

In August 2013 he received another decisive telephone call from a friend. Nash put down the receiver, jumped into his car and hurtled off to the Dwyryd estuary. When he walked out onto the riverbank, he saw a local family staring at his long-absent masterpiece. Nash looked at Wooden Boulder — which he estimated had travelled as much as 50km up and down the river before settling — and was cheered by its belated homecoming. Was it back for good? Or was it, as Nash suspected, simply making a ‘final lap of honour’?

It is 38 years since David Nash brought Wooden Boulder into the world. Their lives have since progressed in parallel: both have grown older and craggier. Nash has observed, photographed, coaxed and protected his piece with the love and care that one might typically expect of a parent. Indeed, in his less guarded moments Nash speaks of Wooden Boulder as though it’s an errant yet ultimately lovable son. But like any good parent, Nash is just as dependent on his offspring as his offspring is on him.

‘Wooden Boulder underpins everything I do. It’s where I’ve really got it,’ Nash confesses. ‘It’s probably my most satisfactory statement as an artist.’ He may well be right. It is now recognized around the world as one of the most original and important sculptures of the past half-century. It is a profound rumination on the relationship between nature and culture, time and place. And like all great works of art, it defies easy categorisations. Is it land art? Performance art? Conceptual art? Or is it just public sculpture?

It is perhaps all and none of these. Where is Wooden Boulder now? It could be reclining peacefully in a secluded stretch of the Dwyryd. It could be strangled by branches or buried beneath silt. Or it might even have escaped into the Irish Sea and be halfway to Dublin. One thing, however, is certain: David Nash will keep looking for it. ‘It is where it is,’ he says, with a twinkle in his eye. ‘It hasn’t vanished; I just can’t see it.’



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The Power of Flowers. fforest is known for its wildflowers, but even our informal arrangements need curation & design. Sian tells us why...

Why do we love flowers?

With their fragile and delicate perfection, beauty, colour and fragrant scent, flowers hold such delight and a special place in our emotions. They can trigger happiness and satisfaction. 

I have many joyful memories as a little girl always picking flowers. Putting together little posies to give to grandma, making rose petal perfume with my sister and daisy chains to wear on our heads. I can't remembering not always loving flowers. I tend to give preference to the wild ones that hide amongst the hedgerows and on the side of the footpath, the ones that many may even call weeds: tall teezle, rose campion, wild carrot, meadow sweet, knapweed and buttercup.

When we set up fforest it made sense and was important to me to welcome our guests with flowers when they arrived. Flowers bursting with seasonal colour, light and the scent of the surrounding fields and our garden.

So many occasions are celebrated with flowers: birthdays, weddings, congratulations, I love yous, thank yous, I'm sorrys...Flowers so frail and fleeting hold an amazing power, energy and positivity. Arriving at fforest for your holiday, event or wedding is something to celebrate with some simple flowers, a welcoming sight for people who appreciate nature and relish the bounty of the changing seasons. An ever-changing colourful display of leaf, flower, fruit and berry across the garden, hedgerow and fields. 

On arrival day, a lovely task is to walk the fields and garden, in-between the fruits, herbs and vegetables in the raised beds of the polytunnel, to pick a big basket full of flowers. These we arrange in the many pots, jugs and jars we've collected over the years at fforest. We present our little posies; flowers and foliage full of beauty, fragrance, frailty and folklore, and we hope that you appreciate them as much as we do.

I am very much a pick and plonk in the pot flower arranger. One thing I have observed and learnt over the years of fforest flower arranging is how the beautiful greenery that surrounds flowers is just as important. So much variation in texture and pattern, highlighting the pops of colour. 



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Printmaker Alan Kitching is blurring the boundaries between handcrafted & digital art

"The craft ethos is coming back into life somehow...people want to touch it again, they want to feel that someone's made this; it hasn't come from a machine or a factory, somebody's actually sat down and thought about it and used their eyes and their hands and they've made this thing..."

Listening to Alan Kitching talk about the practice and art of his craft is an inspiring thing. A leading practitioner in letterpress printing, typography and design, Alan uses only traditional methods for printing and refrains from using technology to aide his artistic process. Alan's knowledge, talent and ongoing passion for the authentic, age-old printing process is encouraging a resurgence in the design world. Many digital designers are especially looking to the qualities found in good craftsmanship to incorporate into the aesthetic of contemporary digital design.

Writers and critics have been calling it 'a renaissance of craftsmanship'. In an age where technology dominates almost every aspect of life, the past decade has welcomed the rapid return of the handmade quality, aesthetic & process into digital design. Alan has developed a style that allows him to move and work with the contemporary times but also to stay loyal to the element of craft. Something that, upon close observation, is always evident in his quite graphic work: the imperfect, tactile, subjective, human, natural qualities that can be found in craftsmanship.

His recent collaboration with Monotype is a perfect example of how Alan can adapt and thrive in the digital age. Two of the biggest typographic forces who are at the top of their game in their respective fields; one works with his hands, the other works with technology. Monotype are global trailblazers in type and home to some of the world's most popular typefaces including Times New Roman, Gill Sans and Arial. The collaboration with Alan is first and foremost a celebration of type, but it was also a chance to see what qualities the handcrafted element can bring to typefaces that were conceived digitally.

The collaboration process

Alan collaborated with Monotype to produce a collection of work that would pay tribute to five influential graphic designers of the past century: Tom Eckersley, Abram Games, FHK Henrion, Josef Müller-Brockmann and Paul Rand, honouring their life and work. He chose individual typefaces from the Monotype archives for each designer, he then created his own hand-cut letters out of card to be used on the printing press. He produced five pieces for the exhibition that all feature overlapping type; choosing distinct colours and compositions that would represent the work of each individual designer. The monographs were then mass screen-printed and made into leaflets to accompany the exhibition.

The finished pieces blur the line between handcrafted and digital art, even so, on close observation the craft element shines through in the finer details; a brush stroke or a tiny bleeding of ink into the paper, these are some of the unavoidable and beautiful qualities of handcrafted that can add depth and character to the art of digital design.

'The element of craft has been lost in design, to see Alan's work re-invents that.'

- James, Creative Director at Monotype

The final monographs by alan kitching / monotype

The final monographs by alan kitching / monotype

We have a fantastic print workshop coming up at Gather this year, run by our good friend Nick Hand. Have a go at this beautiful craft yourself & book tickets for Gather here

Alan's latest book, Alan Kitching: A Life in Letterpress, was released in April this year. Read more about the beautiful book & Alan himself in an article by It's Nice That

The video below shows a glimpse behind the scenes of the Kitching/Monotype collaboration process, well worth a watch!



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100 chairs in 100 days and its 100 ways, an extraordinary story of design by Martino Gamper

A recalled dialogue from some time ago:

Martino: I will make 100 chairs

åbäke: What, the same one 100 times?

M: No, they will be different. They’ll be actual size 3D sketching, somehow, you know, instead of drawing on a piece of paper.

å: Sounds great. Do it in 100 days then.

Renowned for his cross-disciplinary and culturally responsive approach to design, London-based Martino Gamper came to major acclaim with 100 Chairs in100 Days.

Some ten years ago, the London-based, Italian-born furniture designer initiated his project, 100 Chairs in 100 Days. He made a new chair a day for a hundred days by collaging together bits of chairs that he found discarded on the street or in friends’ homes. Blending found stylistic and structural elements, he generated perverse, poetic, and humorous hybrids. The project combined formal and functional questions with sociological and semiological ones. Or, as Gamper put it:

‘What happens to the status and potential of a plastic garden chair when it is upholstered with luxurious yellow suede?’ 

The project was all about being creative, but within restrictions—being limited to materials at hand and the time available, with the requirement that each new chair be unique. Gamper's ‘three-dimensional sketchbook’ brought him international recognition. The project was exhibited in London in 2007, at the Milan Triennale in 2009, and at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, in 2010.

'There is no perfect design and there is no über-design. Objects talk to us personally. Some might be more functional than others, and the emotional attachment is very individual.' 

buy the book here

buy the book here

Words adapted from an article from Martino Gamper's website, find it here



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Pembrokeshire puffins: How & when to spot them on Skomer Island

Photography by Alex Devol

'Ask the majority of visitors to Skomer Island what it is they want to see and the answer is almost certainly puffins.' They return to burrow every year in mid-April, the Atlantic puffin colony on Skomer Island is the largest in Southern Britain.

Best known for its large breeding seabird population, Skomer is not only home to puffins but also to around half the world's population of Manx shearwaters, among many other breeds. Huge numbers of seabirds use the island for nesting in the earth's impressive burrows, largely dug by the vast population of rabbits on the island. So when the birds move in during the Summer months, its a magical time for the public to come and see the wonder of Skomer for themselves. 

Limited to 250 visitors per day so that the crowds you see are strictly birds and not people, boat trips go to and from the island carrying adventurers of all ages to see the unique wildlife on Skomer. Its probably the puffins that get the most attention and due to the great conditions for nesting on the island, puffin numbers are on the up! Last year saw a 6% increase, from 21,349 in 2015 to a whopping 22,539 last year.

Mid-June to mid-July is the perfect time to spot plenty of these beautiful birds as puffin mums & dads are more regularly leaving the nest to find food for their growing chicks. The pufflings tend to stay underground for 6 weeks and will only surface when its time to fly the nest. This is usually during the last couple of weeks in July, and during the night, so you'd be very lucky to catch a glimpse of a little puffling! But generally speaking, its not too difficult to spot a puffin as they tend to be surprisingly unfazed by humans. With so many of them returning to nest each year on Skomer, you should be lucky enough to see plenty of these fabulous birds.

Visit the Skomer Island website here

This Wildlife Trust factsheet will provide all the puffin information you could possibly need. Read it here before your visit to Skomer Island.



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Alex Devol creates simple yet stunning pieces out of wood, have a go yourself at fforest Gather

One man and his tools. Working with complete respect towards the ever changing qualities of wood, Alex Devol, a friend of fforest & regular contributor at Gather, has an inspiring attitude towards the art of woodcraft.

His Gather workshops offer an opportunity to learn an extremely rewarding skill, finishing the day with a hand-carved piece that starts life as a simple block of wood. On top of that, Alex's workshops also open up a space to be transported elsewhere; lost in concentration, completely transfixed by the beauty of woodcraft:

'There is joy to be had working with materials both on a philosophical and physical level. Recently there has been a lot of talk about flow state within psychology; we know that when people are engaged in physical challenges or concentrating on what they are doing like weaving, they are in a meditative, relaxed state.'

- Alex Devol

A sense of accomplishment will always come from creating something from nothing; from being taught a new skill, enjoying it, and then coming away with a finished product that you're proud of. Alex's workshops combine two things that he finds most important: to be outside and to work with your hands. fforest can provide the idyllic location and Alex will use his expertise to guide you in creating a piece of functional art from wood.

'I find there is an inherent comfort and pride that comes from making things, but also in living with objects which have been made with care and time. When I drink coffee from hand made pottery I like to think of the clay as it was being thrown, I imagine the maker, the workshop, the mug taking shape. When I drink from a paper cup I think of nothing.'

- Alex Devol

Learn more about Gather and book tickets here

Take a look at the Wooden & Woven website here

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The Pizzatipi Beerfest: Wales's best beers & the tastiest pizzas in the world (probably)

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FOOD • FIRE • BEER • MUSIC • GOOD TIMES
Friday & Saturday, 23 & 24 June, 2017

From our riverside location at the heart of Cardigan town, the Pizzatipi Beerfest will be celebrating the best craft brewers in Wales for the third year in a row. The best beers together with great food, roaring fires & fantastic live music. Open to all age groups! 

After the success of our Barley Saturday event at the end of April we thought we'd give you some information early about our 3rd beer festival at the Pizzatipi, commencing on the 23rd of June. The event marks the grand opening of our busiest time of year at the Pizzatipi and what better way to welcome back the Summer than with plenty of beer, pizza & good times!

What to expect...

BEER & CIDER FROM THE BEST BREWERIES IN WALES:

MANTLE
BLUESTONE
PENLON
HANDMADE
SEREN
HALLETS
SKYBORRY
CAFFLE
TENBY
TINY REBEL
OTLEY
CRAFTY DEVIL
HOPCRAFT
MAD DOG
CWRW IÂL
WEST BY THREE
HEAVY INDUSTRY

LIVE GLASTONBURY + LIVE MUSIC:

Live acts TBC + live coverage of Glastonbury on Friday eve & all day Saturday

FFOREST FOOD STALLS:

Pizzatipi
fforest smoke house
Willy Whoppers Canteen


Tickets

Friday evening £3
Saturday (includes festival beer glass) £6
Weekend tickets (includes festival beer glass) £8

Entry on the door: +£2 to online price

 



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"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow." Today we celebrate legendary Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas

Every year on the 14th of May, people all over the world come together to celebrate the life and work of the famous Welshman.

A Welsh poet and writer, Dylan is widely considered to be one of the most important Welsh lyricists of the 20th century, and this special day was created to celebrate his legacy. His work and stature has been much debated by critics and biographers since his death, however, he has always been particularly popular with the public which secured his fame during his life and after death.

Even though Dylan spent much of his later life travelling, he based himself and his family in the Boat House in Laugharne for the last four years of his life. He chose a small shed as his retreat and wrote many of his most famous works from the space that boasts incredible views of the Tâf Estuary. fforest chief adopted a similar workspace, refurbishing the old boat shed at his home in Aberporth into an office complete with beach & sea views.

'It is the building most closely associated with the poet, and the stability of a permanent home meant he enjoyed a creative renaissance.'

Dylan Day

Special events, workshops, performances, talks & much much more will be taking place all over the country and across the pond in honour of this incredible man. For a full list of events, visit the Literature Wales website.

In the meantime, read one of our favourite passages from one of Dylan's most famous works, 'Under Milk Wood', a 1953 radio drama for the BBC that was later adapted for the stage. The date of the first transmission was on the 14th of May, which is why 'Dylan Day' falls upon this day each year.

'The sunny slow lulling afternoon yawns and moons through the dozy town. The sea lolls, laps and idles in, with fishes sleeping in its lap. The meadows still as Sunday, the shut-eye tasselled bulls, the goat-and-daisy dingles, nap happy and lazy. The dumb duck-ponds snooze. Clouds sag and pillow on Llaregyb Hill. Pigs grunt in a wet wallow-bath, and smile as they snort and dream. They dream of the acorned swill of the world, the rooting for pig-fruit, the bagpipe dugs of the mother sow, the squeal and snuffle of yesses of the women pigs in rut. They mud-bask and snout in the pig-loving sun; their tails curl; they rollick and slobber and snore to deep, smug, after-swill sleep. Donkeys angelically drowse on Donkey Down.'

- Dylan Thomas, 'Under Milk Wood'



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Grab your seeds, trowels & pots, it's time to plant your sunflowers!

Its time to sow your sunflowers! Mid-April to the end of May is the perfect time to plant your sunflower seeds and with a bit of love and attention, your sunshine plant will flower in August. Here's all you need to know about planting & growing sunflowers...

Growing conditions

Sunflowers like to grow in full sun and in well-drained soil. Individual seed packets vary so make sure you read the instructions on the back before you start.

What to grow

You might want to choose a tall variety of sunflower such as 'American Giant', which can reach up to 4m tall, or a sunflower that is a little smaller such as 'Teddy Bear' (60-90cm) or 'Big Smile' (30cm).

What you need

  • Choose a packet of sunflower seeds - remember to look to see how tall it might grow
  • Gardening gloves
  • A rake
  • A trowel
  • Plant label & a pencil

How to grow

  • Sunflowers can be sown straight into the ground where they are going to flower, so make sure the space you are going to sow is weed free by using a trowel to remove the weeds.
  • Rake the soil to a fine tilth (a fine crumbly texture) and make some drills 12mm deep. Leave a10cm space between each seed.
  • Place the seed in carefully and cover them up with soil. Don't forget to water the seeds gently. As they grow, if the plants are crowded, thin them out to about 45cm apart leaving the strongest, tallest plants.
  • Be careful as slugs and snails like to eat the new shoots. You may want to protect the seedlings by cutting the top off a plastic bottle and placing it over your seedlings.
  • As your sunflower begins to grow taller than you, you will need to help support the stem. Place a cane near the stem, loosely tie the cane to the plant with string, this will help your sunflower stay tall in the sunshine and grow even bigger.
  • The only thing left to do is to watch your sunflower grow and grow and grow and grow...
photo by sian @coldatnight

photo by sian @coldatnight

Send us your photos so we can see your progress, and of course to show off your fully grown, giant sunflowers! Tag us @fforest on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter

Text is adapted form an article by The Royal Horticultural Society



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The world stars of beer are returning to the Mikkeller Beer Celebration in Copenhagen

In 2006 he was a math and physics teacher that started experimenting with hops, malt and yeast back home in his kitchen in Copenhagen. Today Mikkel Borg Bjergsø exports his micro brewed beer to 40 different countries and is internationally acclaimed as one of the most innovative and cutting edge brewers in the world.

Mikkeller's style of brewing is considered to be unique, since many of its beers are experimental with novel tastes. During its history, Mikkeller has released 800 different beers in a wide variety of styles, including several variations on the same beers. All of the various recipes are engineered at Mikkeller's own facility in Copenhagen but the beers are brewed in collaboration with various breweries, which is why Mikkeller is defined as a 'Microbrewery'. Yet there's nothing micro or small about the level of Mikkeller beer production...altogether, the company's annual output is 17,000 hectolitres of beer!

The Mikkeller Beer Celebration was founded in 2012 and takes place each year in May. A festival dedicated to great-tasting beer which mainly features small breweries from around the world. Generally, these breweries use the Celebration to premiere new beers, many create small one-off batches of special beer brewed specifically for the festival.

'Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen has quickly positioned itself as one of the most recognised beer festivals in the world – among both guests and breweries.'

On a "research" trip last year, fforest chief and son Jackson visited the festival to sample some of the world's best beers. Unfortunately they can't remember the names of their favourites...



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Wild Guide Scotland: friends of fforest release travel guidebook of Scotland's hidden treasures

New from the best selling Wild Guide Series, Wild Guide Scotland is a compendium of hidden places, outdoor adventures, local/artisanal food and inspiring places to stay featuring hundreds of ideas for the perfect adventure in the wilds and wonderlands of Scotland.

In 2015, three very talented photographers/adventurers/dreamers embarked upon a two-year trip to discover, explore & capture some of the most idyllic places in Scotland. Their findings and photographs have been published as a travel guidebook: Wild Guide Scotland, which features incredible photography and enchanting travel writing. The collection of secret spots, with charming descriptions and enticing imagery, is a perfect guide for those looking to find adventure in Scotland; to climb a little higher, walk a little further, and to see a whooole lot more. 

Follow Kimberley GrantDavid Boyson Cooper & Richard Gaston (the authors) on their websites & on Instagram to see some more stunning photography. Purchase Wild Guide Scotland here



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fforest's recommended places to eat, drink & buy fresh local produce

At fforest we can offer simple, good very tasty food and the right drinks; from breakfast to supper across our camps, restaurants and pubs. But in the local surrounding area, there are plenty of fantastic restaurants, pubs, cafes, and local markets & producers that offer some of the best food & drink in the west. In no particular order we've listed a few of our recommendations:

El salsa

Mexican street food of the highest and tastiest quality, El Salsa create authentic flavours and wholesome meals all from their mobile trailer kitchen. They're pretty hard to pin down these days having been snapped up by a number of festivals all over the country, but we're privileged to have them based in west Wales providing fabulously tasty festival-style food throughout the season. The founder, Laura Elsaesser, a qualified professional chef, is committed to sourcing ingredients locally; from farm fresh welsh beef, chicken & pork from the local butcher Golwg y mor in Aberporth, to her own home-grown tomatoes, chillies, tomatillos, salads & herbs. You won't find a fresher, healthier, tastier takeaway than El Salsa's. Follow them on Facebook to find out where to catch them.

Telephone 07772610561 Website

Crwst: The welsh micro bakers

Organic breads & seasonal patisserie style bakes all handmade by one highly skilled baker in his home kitchen. The people behind Crwst: Osian (the baker) and Catrin (the brain) are a young couple with a refreshing creativity that shows in their baked goods but also their micro baker concept. When they say micro they mean one baker and small-scaled yet skilled production all from their home kitchen. Find their produce in local shops (Siop Cilgerran, very near fforest farm or The Carrot Cruncher, Newcastle Emlyn - to name a couple!) OR find them every Thursday & Saturday at the Cardigan Guildhall market from 10am. This is where you'll find the fforest office elves every Thursday, without fail!

Telephone 01239 842 338 Website
 

The beach hut

The best fish and chips on the west coast, The Beach Hut Llangrannog is a family run chippy & cafe/restaurant. Its location is as close to the sea as you could possibly get, sat inside the cosy restaurant you will feel as if you're dining right on the beach. Open daily throughout the season to grab your fish & chips, a wholesome lunch or a tasty supper, or a tea & a slice of cake if you're just passing through. If you're staying at Manorafon, you could walk the beautiful coastal path from Penbryn to Llangrannog, working up an appetite for The Beach Hut at the finish line.

 Telephone 01239 654642  Website 
 

bara menyn

A bakehouse in Cardigan town centre. One of our favourites - freshly baked bread, great food & coffee. Their simple menu is based around their freshly baked sourdough and is constantly changing. In fact, you rarely get the same thing twice. The bread has the crumb, chew and flavour of dreams and we would be lost without it. Daily specials range from seasonal veg-packed soups, fresh fish pâtés, exceptional sarnies & herby salsas, all accompanied by the trademark Bara Menyn breads.

Telephone 01239 621863 Website

cardigan bay brownies

Its hard to beat a good homemade brownie, but local baker Nerys brings all the warmth, comfort and deliciousness of great home-baking to the people of Cardigan and beyond. We love her brownies so much that we asked her to collaborate on a new flavour for the Pizzatipi, and so this season, we welcome the arrival of the beetroot, salted caramel & dark chocolate brownie. Nerys has a humbling approach to home-baking and even though she has ridiculous numbers of brownies to bake on a daily basis, she always calls in the help of her two sons to taste-test. Due to popular demand, her bakes are now available to buy online, CBB also attends a regular slot at The Guildhall market in Cardigan, catch Nerys there every Thursday & Saturday from 10am, or come to the Pizzatipi to sample our new flavour!

Telephone 07403624801 Website

Mandy fish*

*also known as Cardigan Bay Fish. Len and Mandy Walters have been processing fish and shellfish caught by their own vessels for the past 14 years. Cardigan Bay is home to a vast array of wonderful fish and shellfish, says Mandy: "Wild bass, lobster, mackerel and crabs are only some of the flavoursome and healthy produce that can be found on our doorstep." And she means that literally, their home in St Dogmeals often opens up to the public when a fresh haul arrives. Villagers listen out for Mandy's voice shouting, "I'm out the back!" But if you've been listening out and have still heard nothing, perhaps a more reliable place to buy from Cardigan Bay Fish is the Local Producers Market in St Dogmeals. There you will find Mandy from 10-1 every Tuesday.

Telephone 01239 621043  Website

Glebelands market garden

A six acre holding situated between Cardigan & St Dogmaels, Glebelands are experts in growing and selling veg. Think farm shop/allotment, this is the perfect place to buy seasonal, locally grown vegetables & leafy greens. Supplier of salad to the Pizzatipi, the freshest of leaves in all shapes, sizes & tastes. We eat the lovely edible orange flowers too. As well as growing and selling luscious produce, Glebelands are also committed to promoting sustainable food production. They offer information to those interested in the vital work of sustainable food production and can give sound advice to those setting up market gardens.

Telephone 07511 546701 Website 

bessie's

A hidden gem in the Gwaun Valley - Pembrokeshire's secret wooden valley.  Bessie's (the Dyffryn Arms) is like stepping back in time with beer served from jugs through a hatch in what feels like someones living room. Not the sort of place you'd necessarily expect to find in Alastair Sawday's Pubs & Inns of England & Wales, but that said it does make it into The Rough Guide to Wales, where it manages to rate even higher than St David's Cathedral as one of the places to visit in the country. No matter what time of year you visit, Bessie is always sitting behind the bar wearing a dirty apron and a black mitten (fingerless in summer), ready for a chat. "We are all just passers-by in this life and I am happy to talk to anyone," she says.

Address Gwaun Valley Road, Pontfaen, Pembrokeshire, SA65 9SG Telephone 01348 881305



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Hidden gems of wild west Wales

Ok, so they're not exactly secret, but they are places that perhaps few people know about, especially those who are visiting from faraway lands. As locals, we fforest elves love to explore the lengths of our coastline, vast countryside & woodlands, and if we happen to stumble across something quite special, the tendency is to keep it a bit of a secret! But some places are just too good not to share and with word spreading fast about a few of our top secret spots, we thought we'd tell you about some and, most importantly, how to reach them.

Traeth Bach

A short walk from Manorafon/ Penbryn, this spectacular coastal walk will bring you to Llangrannog eventually, but stop off half way and you will arrive at one of the most beautiful secluded beaches we know, 'Traeth Bach' (Little Beach), known to the locals as the secret beach. Its a difficult scamble down, but well worth it.

Walk time 45 mins Drive from fforest 25 mins /Manorafon 2mins Start Penbryn car park, head towards beach, then footpath past farmyard immediately on the right up to the hills. Notes take a picnic and spend the day in the most beautiful and relaxing surroundings, and have it all to yourself!

 

The witches cauldron

A high level coastal path walk with sheer drops and fascinating rock formations, you will arrive at the witches cauldron at the end of the walk- you can't miss it. A towering, collapsed cavern in which you can swim or canoe (both easily). Its a beautiful little sun trap on a good day; your own salty swimming pool complete with rock diving board. Take care with young children.

Walk time 1-2 hours Drive from fforest 20 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start in the village of Moylegrove, follow footpath signs for Ceibwr beach and from there head west on the coast path. Notes favourite spot for seals

 

Rosebush Quarry

Its only a very short walk to reach this spot. From the outside, you would never expect to find such a gem hidden at the centre of Rosebush quarry. Surrounded by rock and slate, the small freshwater lake is a calming and tranquil place. The translucent emerald green water is perfect for a swim but be warned, its pretty cold!

Walk time 10 mins Drive from fforest 20 mins /Manorafon 35mins Start at Tafarn sinc in Rosebush follow track for about 500m the quarry is nestled among the mounds to your right. Notes The quarry is equally as beautiful in rain or shine but visit on a warm sunny day and you will experience some truly magical scenery

 

Ffynone Waterfalls

Nestled deep in the Ffynnone woods is a beautiful clearing and impressive waterfall. Located in a secluded valley, ranging from fairly flat valley bottom to steep valley sides, the woods have four rivers and remnants of an ancient woodland - including veteran oaks - mainly located around the river system.


Walk time 30mins - 1 hour Drive from fforest 15 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start at The Nags Head pub in Abercych follow the lane with the pub on your right, you will reach a carpark enter the wood from here, follow the path & discover the waterfall deep in the centre of the woods Notes The falls are just deep enough to enjoy a chilly swim

 

baby seal beach

Also known as Pirate Cove / Rum Island, this beach is so secret that we don't even know how to give proper directions. Somewhere along the coastal path between Aberporth and Mwnt lies a tiny beach, home to many a seal and her pup. You have to choose the one and only way down to the beach off the path, very difficult to find, only a handful of walkers have dared to venture down the ridiculously steep cliff edge. If you do find the secret pathway, follow the zigzag all the way down where you will find yourself between two cliffs. A small waterfall trickles down from above, forming a river at the bottom that flows off the rocks, onto the beach and into the sea. Follow this river and you will find the beach. So if you see this seal, your best bet of finding the bay is to ask him for directions!



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fforest's favourite beaches on the coast of Ceredigion

If you're staying with us at fforest, you will no doubt have a busy itinerary already planned: Snoozing in front of the woodburner, sweating it out in the sauna, drinking welsh beers in the Bwthyn, eating delicious food in the lodge or venturing out to the Pizzatipi, exploring the surrounding fields & woodlands or staring blissfully into middle distance. Exhausting. Meanwhile, for the super energetic, all around us are some fantastic walks, beaches, places to visit and activities to try whilst you’re staying with us at either fforest, Manorafon or the Granary Lofts. So we've put together some easy guides featuring some of our favourite local spots to help you with your adventure planning.

Scroll down to see our chosen top 5 beaches on the Ceredigion coastline.

Penbryn


Penbryn beach is one of Ceredigion's most popular beaches and is virtually on Manorafon's doorstep. Owned by the National Trust, Penbryn lies between Tresaith and Llangrannog, two other popular coves linked by the Wales Coast Path, and a network of quiet wooded lanes. Walk time 30mins through the woods Drive from fforest 20mins /Manorafon 2mins Start at the national trust car park. From there head towards the woodland footpath and arrive at the beach at the end Notes On very low tide, explore the right hand side of the beach - beautiful rock formations, pools & cliff edges and a fabulous spot to watch the sun setting over the sea.

 

Mwnt


Visiting Mwnt's tiny secluded beach and climbing Mwnt is a highlight for many of our guests. Take a walk on the beach or climb Mwnt mountain, there are spectacular views all around. 
Walk time 30mins Drive from fforest 15 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start at the national trust car park. From there head straight up the hill or bear right and walk around the lower path for frequent views of seals and dolphins. Notes The sunset view from the top of Mwnt is something not to be missed.

 

Llangrannog


Llangrannog is probably the most picturesque seaside town of Ceredigion and the small beach there is just as beautiful. On low tide walk over to the right and discover Llangrannog part two, but be careful not to get cut off over there on high tide!
Drive from fforest 25mins/Manorafon 5mins Notes 'Carreg Bica' is the defining feature of Llangrannog beach. Its big, bold & wave-shaped, and is probably the most photographed rock of west Wales.

 

Ceibwr


A quieter beach just outside of Cardigan, its a perfect place to relax and have a picnic lunch with family & friends. If you're feeling adventurous, walk the cliff path to the witches cauldron, one of our favourite secret spots. Drive from fforest 15mins /Manorafon 20mins Start in the village of Moylegrove, follow footpath signs for Ceibwr beach and from there head west on the coast path to eventually reach the witches cauldron. Notes favourite spot for seals.

 

Aberporth


Aberporth beach will always hold a special place at the heart of fforest; it being the home of fforest chief and Sian. With two separate beaches, the right hand side is our favourite. Its also the backdrop to fforest chief's office shed.
Drive from fforest 15mins/Manorafon 5mins Notes The sunsets over the estuary are pretty spectacular.



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Who knew you could ski in west Wales?! Discover days out in the area with friends & family

A Bay to remember

Guided boat trips to bring you closer to the wildlife of Cardigan Bay: Dolphin, seal and sea bird watching tours. A Bay to Remember use modern purpose built vessels with the latest environmentally friendly engines and safety equipment that offer a safe and exhilarating experience suitable for all ages. Their booking office is located just outside the entrance to the Pizzatipi, some boat trips depart from this riverside location too.

Telephone 01239 623558  Website

Cardigan wildlife reserve

The stunning Teifi Marshes is one of the best wetland sites in Wales, with thousands of starlings coming in to roost and performing a glorious murmuration over the marshes before descending to roost. Families will love exploring the nature trails on foot or on two wheels, and discovering the abundance of wildlife around the marshes and the Welsh Wildlife Centre.

Telephone  01239 621600  Website

Castell henllys

Evocative Iron Age settlement set in the rugged, magical landscape of North Pembrokeshire. You can see how people lived in the Iron Age, what their houses looked like, how they dressed and how they went about their daily life. Enter the roundhouses and step back into the past, soak up the atmosphere of a bygone era and imagine what life must have been like for our ancestors.  

Telephone 01239 891319 Website

Heritage Canoes

The River Teifi has some of the most breathtaking otherwise unreachable stretches in Wales, Heritage Canoes has the only commercial contract to take you there. Winding towards the sea, the deep, tidal Teifi Gorge is a unique environment where fresh and salt waters meet and the species it is home to forms one of the most varied aquatic landscapes in the country. The gorge offers safe, gentle river paddling in open canoes for people of all ages and abilities. With the river flowing lazily past ancient woodland and wildlife habitats, a canoe trip should be high on your list of must-do’s on your holiday. 

Telephone 01239 623633 Website

Urdd centre

Fancy skiing in West Wales? You can do just that! Not far from Manorafon, the Urdd Centre is just outside of Llangrannong & has a dry ski slope, horse-riding, go-karts, indoor swimming pool & lots more.

Telephone 01239 652140 Website

National Wool museum

Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding history. Re-opened in 2004 following major re-development, this flagship museum is a exciting place to visit with something for everyone to enjoy. Families can have fun following the specially designed trail, 'A Woolly Tale', and create their own guide to making and using woollen cloth, trying their hand at carding, spinning and sewing along the way.

Telephone 0300 1112333 Website

THEATR MWLDAN

Mwldan is a vibrant arts and entertainment complex situated in the centre of Cardigan. It presents a year-round diverse and eclectic professional programme of national and international artistic activity across a wide range of artforms, including drama, music, dance, film, literature, opera, visual and applied arts. They also have one of best film programmes in Wales, offering over 3,000 screenings a year including both mainstream and specialist film releases.

Telephone 01239 621200 Website

Folly Farm

Folly Farm is a fun-packed day out for families with toddlers & young children. It's not just a farm either - it also has a zoo with penguins, lions, zebras & giraffes. For those wet days that we occasionally get in West Wales there is plenty to do indoors here too including the jolly barn & adventure playground.

Telphone 01834 812731 Website



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The sons of fforest. Meet the brothers running the Pizzatipi with their band of merry pals

 

'It started with cardboard dough and good times'

 

2009
The Pizzatipi started in 2009 between the 2 warehouses across the river from the Pizzatipi. Outside the then Cafe, now our offices, Mum & Dad (Sian & James) invited some friends over to make pizzas in an oven built by local craftsman/baker Tom Bean. Really, no one had a clue what they were doing (see image of rolling base with a wine bottle) but the pizza was amazing and they had a laugh.

2010
We broke that oven pretty quickly so the next year we bought a new one from a man in Gloucestershire and set it up in the now Pizzatipi courtyard offering people to make their own pizzas... Terrible idea, absolute mayhem. Dad was on the paddle raging in front of a fire hotter than the sun. The Pizzatipi nearly died an early death.

2011-2013
We got another oven, the same ones we have now, and we went from just Friday nights to Thurs-Saturday nights with a small menu & a booze license. We had bar in the corner of the room with a cool box full of Pen Lon beers and Gwynt Y Ddraig ciders.

2014
A top Aussy bloke called Josh joined us and we opened from Mon-Saturday, got a fridge for the beers and started to get pretty busy, constantly not making enough dough.

2015
We took over where Josh left off and merged the cafe and Pizzatipi into 1.

2016
We opened 7 days a week through the summer and we hardly slept.

2017
We're buying our first proper oven! Hopefully 2017 will be just as busy as last year and we'll have a big ol' oven to get those pizzas fired out! Over the past couple of years we have been so pleased to welcome back and recognise some familiar faces; from friends & family to holiday makers & fforest dreamers, and never forgetting our loyal local customers. This year we've asked some of the best of local food producers to collaborate with us: Jack from Bara Menyn makes a special sourdough for us which can be used as your pizza base if you so wish, and Nerys from Cardigan Bay Brownies created a new flavour of brownie for us and so beetroot, salted caramel & dark chocolate will be your delicious desert this year.

The way of the Pizzatipi

We make everything on site within the confines of our riverside courtyard. From freshly made dough & focaccia to our basil-packed pizza sauce, we cook and prepare with our own fair hands every day to make sure everything is as fresh as can be. Perfecting a few things have taken some time; like the perfect spiral of sauce on a freshly rolled base, our secret dough recipe (that we keep locked in a safe), or the crunch of a golden crust fresh out the oven. We are constantly learning and growing and hoping that our customers enjoy our pizzas as much as we do.

 

The Brothers

The four brothers in charge all have their own parts to play. Teifi (youngest,18yrs) is the dough boy, everyday he prepares each individual pizza base ready for rolling. He is also in charge of baking the daily cloud bread. Teifi's favourite pizza is a meatball & chilli with a few bits of red onion. Calder (20yrs) is king paddler. As well as being top dog in the pizza shack, he is mostly in charge of not burning your pizza. Calder loves a simple pizza with blobs of fresh pesto. Robbie (21yrs) is the leading pizza topper, he can top a pizza in a record time of 4.6 seconds. Robbie's preferred pizza changes daily as he always chooses from the specials board. Jackson (oldest, 26yrs) does a bit of everything but mainly oils the bearings. He enjoys a simple mozzarella with fresh basil & a burnt crust.

The Pizzatipi is open seasonally from 12-9pm everyday with special events planned throughout Summer and live music every weekend.
Come and say hi!

Visit the website here

The photos above were taken by our friends from Flatspot when they visited fforest and the Pizzatipi in July 2016. They took a good look around fforest farm and the Tipi, took some great photos of the brothers at work and even collaborated on a limited edition Flatspot pizza (meatball, red onion, gherkin, chilli + a sesame seed crust - wow!)



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