rock pools, winkles and crab linguine

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We were very lucky to spend ten very lovely days at the start of the summer holidays in our friend’s 1960s beach chalet, which sits in beautifully wild isolation, nearly at the end of the Llyn peninsula in Wales. A stream runs through the garden and steps lead down to a wonderful horseshoe bay with great rock pools.

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Most days were spent on the beach (nearby Whistling Sands was our favourite) where Ruby made witches’ brews and witches’ soup full of dragons claws and pottered about in rock pools that were teeming with life. The sand was full of life too, full of worm casts (we dug for lug worms for fishing bait), snail trails and Ruby trails.

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When I talk about ‘beautifully wild isolation’ we could walk around the beach to a pub, very convenient. We visited the gallery at Llanbedrog in a spendidly gothic building with a great cafe featuring lots of local ingredients. On the only cloudy day we set off on a long coast path walking adventure to the end of the headland where we enjoyed the wonderful views of Bardsey island, and realised as we ate our picnic that one of the rocks was actually a seal.

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 Ruby and I spotted another seal while exploring the fabulous rockpools at Porth Colman and of course found lots more ‘treasure’.

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And we wandered round the beach at Porthdinllaen, picking up lots of shells on the way, to Ty coch Inn, the pub on the beach. Could totally understand why this has been voted one of the top 10 beach bars in the world, it’s a great place to sit outside with local cider or beer, some freshly caught and cooked seafood and enjoy the sea. The bar would be such a cosy place to hole up during a wiinter day too, watching a stormy sea from a comfortable seat by the fire.

Mostly though, with hardly any mobile phone signal, no TV and no broadband, we settled into a lovely routine of pottering around on foot from our chalet. It felt as if we were in a very relaxing bubble of honeysuckle and foxgloves, driftwood beach-fires for toasting marshmallows, very sandy sandwiches on the beach, Roald Dahl and rock pools.

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We gathered winkles from the rockpools below us and boiled them before dipping in malt vinegar.

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Once again our fishing, however, was a bit too sustainable (we fed the fish lots and left them all in the sea) but luckily, last time we visited we’d been given the number of Huw the fish. Aberdaron bay is a great place for crab and lobster and as it was the freshest ever and very reasonably priced, it seemed crazy not to try both. One day, we came across Huw bringing his haul in at Fisherman’s cove, an hour later he turned up at our chalet with crabs for us. The crab was sweet and delicious, and such an easy holiday supper eaten simply with salad, lemons, and bread from the bakery in Aberdaron.

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With crab to spare, the next day I cooked crab linguine – the cooking is minimal, so it was perfect for a summer evening by the seaside. The only cooking is of a pan of pasta, otherwise it’s really more a case of assembling a few good ingredients.

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Crab Linguine

Enough for 4 people

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons maldon sea salt

1 red chilli

Roughly 200g white crab meat and 100g brown meat, or your preferred white/brown mix

100 ml extra virgin olive oil

juice & zest of 1 lemon (good with lime too)

400g linguine

Start cooking the pasta as per packet instructions. Meanwhile, bash the garlic and salt together in a pestle and mortar (I used a rolling pin with no pestle & mortar in a holiday kitchen). Add the seeded and chopped chilli and crush this too. Tip in the crab meat, lemon juice & zest and olive oil and stir with a fork. Taste for seasoning and to see if you want to add more lemon or lime juice. Mix with the cooked pasta, crack over some black pepper and enjoy. At home I would add a handful of parsley, rocket or landcress from the garden to this at the end too but it’s still lovely without.

And sorry about the pics, I think I was a bit too relaxed by this stage of the holiday!

 

 

in my garden Aug 2013

In my garden…..

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….there’s suddenly so much to eat! Yellow and green courgettes threatening to grow into marrows every time I look, dark purple beans and lots of broad beans. New potatoes and beetroot are reaching gigantic proportions. Plenty of salad too.

In my garden there’s been ten days of neglect. This is my only excuse:

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We had a wonderful time staying in our friend’s 1960s beach chalet on the Lyn peninsula in Wales (more of this to follow in the next blog post) and when we returned the garden had gone crazy. Mother Hubbard squash had turned into triffids, the calendula were intent on conquering the garden and purple orach was erupting everywhere:

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In my garden this month I’ve been spending a few evenings since we returned attempting to tame a few things. Although I do love my crazy mix of flowers and veggies and and can’t resist the prettiness created completely accidentally by self-seeders that I can’t bring myself to pull up:

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The bees and butterflies seem to be loving both the planned and accidental combinations too, I can’t believe how many I’ve come back to:

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 Of course some of the visitors aren’t as welcome:

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 Some of the broad beans are being attacked, others are perfectly healthy. I’m hoping my blocks of different varieties in different spots around the garden will help to ensure I have lovely beans for a while longer as I’m very partial to them in pasta and on bruschetta. I’m on daily caterpillar hunts in an effort to save my brassicas too and have to keep reminding myself that this happens every year and they always somehow survive the cabbage whites.

In my garden this month…

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there’s a bald courgette. I’d been talking about de-heading flowers with Ruby. She was horrified at the jungle that had erupted around the bean that she’s very proud of (planrted at school) and I said that she could use her scissors to trim back her purple orache and snip the heads off a few calendula. Happily getting on with my own trimming, I suddenly noticed that her courgette plant was a tad sorry for itself.

My instructions were obviously not quite detailed enough. Oh well, at least we have plenty of other courgettes.  It does make me smile though whenever I stumble upon the poor bald courgette plant. I may kid myself that I’m exerting some sort of control in the garden but as I look at the self-seeded calendula spreading across yet another area, view the tangles of weeds, and see the results of my daughter’s confident snipping, it’s quite evident that it’s not me who’s the boss out here!

In my garden this month….

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….there’s been lots of playing in the treehouse and around the new paths and rustic wigwams. The treehouse still needs a roof and sides, the runner beans still have to complete their growth up the arches that curve over the paths but it doesn’t seem to be bothering Ruby and friends who are getting on with enjoying it all. Grown-ups have even been invited to sample the luke-warm, very murky mint tea that’s been made up in the tree-house. Not an activity I’d recommend unless you have an incredible immune system.

The children are reminding me that this is definitely the month to make time to enjoy it all. I hope I can manage to stay shoddy in my gardening, enjoy the imperfect chaos and find time to leave my tools like this:

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Maybe on these lovely hot summer days, I should even take a tip off Mog:

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Having really enjoyed having a look at other people’s gardens around the world, I’d love to include this in Lizzie Moult’s lovely garden share collective.

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