I love to plan. I make plans to make plans. I am also a bit of a to-do list junkie.
To-do, to-read, to send, to-see list jostle for space with numerous recipes – together populating the email inbox, binders, folders… I really should stop listing out list locations since the husband is not fond of my hoarding tendencies. I wonder why then do opposites attract. Moving on.
When it comes to holidays I prefer unplanned travels. Ones that take shape one rainy afternoon, the ones you make up as you go along the highway. Obviously it’s always good to know where you are headed and how (that is if you, like me, are still willing to hold down that job and plan to get back to the grind. If not, good for you!).
Elaborate planning has its place – when you are visiting a place for which you are forking out a lot of money or are likely not be visiting again. Even then, in my experience ‘elaborate’ plans set you up for disappointment, especially if you missed witnessing that famous painting or visit the ‘must see’ site and so on. But then that’s my take. To those who don’t buy this logic, I say let’s agree to disagree. Live and let live and all that.
This Bank holiday since I had the man and the machine at my disposal, a decision to visit Wales was made – sort of. The spouse and I were visiting family in Swindon anyway, the choices were to either return on Sunday and ‘recoup’ n refresh for the week or (gas) pedal on to higher(ish) ground. On Saturday afternoon we were headed to the Brecon Beacons.
Following is the rough map of the route we took.
It was a gorgeous drive past lakes, valleys, tiny hamlets…
One highlight was this.
Made me feel like a tiny tiny lego person crossing a giant harp.
Next up a short break by a lake near Myrthr Tydfil.
Next we made a detour to a Tent show – don’t ask why. We just did. We had read about it on a promotional leaflet while refueling the car and decided to give it a go. We went, we saw, got very excited and bought a tent.
So far the unplanned trip was coming along splendidly. It had led to some interesting discoveries, as seen above… and some interesting insights/knowledge as displayed below.
We reached our destination by late afternoon. Took a stroll around the Talgarth town centre. Spent some time catching the sun, reading, with a new friend giving me company.
Next morning after a leisurely breakfast, we did a quick online search to figure out what to do. The husband decided he had to see a waterfall before we left Wales that day.
We were in luck. Within a couple of miles of our (then) current location was the Pwll-y-Wrach or ‘The Witch’s Pool’. With a name like that, how could we not check it out. The Brecknock Nature Reserve’s website informed us that the woodland that sloped down to the River Ennig was the its most visited site.
Driving through some very narrow paths,
and encountering some of the warmest and friendliest people, we landed at our destination. Almost. It was a short trek to the pool. On the way we checked out the local flora.
The photo above doesn’t do justice to the place. Unfortunately, I don’t have a better one to share. My apologies.
As you can see we were occupied otherwise.
Once the two of us were done monkeying around we were joined by two lovely souls who accompanied us on the trek and among other things brought us up to date with the folklore. The pool at the bottom of the waterfall got its name as it is said to be the site where “witches” were supposedly drowned.
It may have been intrigue that got us here in the first place, but once here, even a city slicker like me was smitten by the beauty of the place and possibilities it offered to learn and explore. Explore nature, observe the flora and fauna-stuff you had only read about- as well as have a front row view of the husband’s inner child.
There was much to learn too. As you can see that so far there has been no mention of food; this maybe a good time to bring in some culinary elements.
What I learnt on the day was thanks to our new friends who introduced me to foraging and wild garlic. Turns out that the pungent smell that I had encountered near the pool earlier was because of the large patch of wild garlic growing on the bank!
Encouraged I bit into a picked leaf. It had a delicate garlicky flavour, one that would do nicely in a salad or in a minimal pasta dish. After I collected a couple of handfuls of the greens, we called it a day and headed back.
Dinner the next night was a simple meal inspired by Nigel Slater’s Pea, Pasta and Parmesan recipe, where I added garlic leaves and buds for added flavour. It worked well because the original dish is very mild with none of the ingredients fighting for supremacy. I added some carrots too for colour and crunch.
The recipe, inspired by the original which can be found here.
- Butter: 50 gm
- Peas (shelled): A cup. If using frozen, defreeze before use
- Carrot: 1 small, cubed
- Parmesan (grated): 1/3 cup
- Basil leaves: a bunch
- Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
- As the pasta is getting ready, we prepare the veg.
- Melt the butter
- Add the carrots, followed by peas. Saute for a few minutes till the two are just cooked. Season with a bit of salt.
- Once the pasta is done add it to the veg. followed by the garlic leaves and buds and chopped/torn basil leaves. Mix them well and let them wilt.
- A few seconds later add the Parmesan.
- If you’d like, season with fresh ground black pepper.
A trip to Wales should include a mention of some manner of Welsh cakes, however this time round I couldn’t sample that or any local delicacies. Something I will be remedying on the next trip- one I hope that is soon.
P.S: This post marks the beginning of a new section, Travel, on What’s Cookin’? I will update it with my upcoming travels and some from the recent past. I am quite excited to add this section, for I have much to share with you. I hope you will join me on my adventures.