Village Life - Aberkenfig and Sheilagh's Thoughts...

This is a place for stray thoughts and musings on and from my home village after thirty-odd yearsaway.

My Photo
Location: Bridgend, Wales, United Kingdom

I have recently moved back to Aberkenfig, my home village and have decided to write about it. I have a mixed Welsh, English and Maltese heritage and have spent some time (decades!)in Cardiff. I gave up fulltime work to go part-time and write. I am a mediator, trainer, facilitator, advocate and consultant and also do regular work with adults with learning disabilities - and love doing so. What else? I'm a very contented feminist living a pleasant life back in the village...

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Cafe Society...

...chippies, icecream vans, pies and Welsh-Italians

Sadly Hotpots is no more - the lease came to an end and they decided not to renew.
For earlier thoughts on cafes in Aberkenfig and South Wales and the delights of Hotpots see earlier post:
 Hitchin's, brilliant breafasts and the old sweetshop

The post got a response from a descendant of Mr Moruzzi who used to run the cafe in the square when I was growing up. As said in earlier post - this was a typical Welsh/Italian caff as described in "Lime, Lemon and Sarsparilla"
Lime,lemon and sarsaparilla

[Just had a quick google and discovered the first body found washed up after the sinking of the Andora Star was a Moruzzi:
wiki SS Arandora Star

This was the ship transporting "prisoners of war"  where many British Italian men lost their lives and is featured in the book.]

Anyway - back to caffs - What I really remember Mr Moruzzi for is his ice-cream! He made it himself and it was wonderful.  And in the days before freezers in the sixties and early seventies ice-cream did seem more special. There were Lyon's Maid and Walls and the icecream vans - and that was it. These were the days when whippy ice-cream had started and it was popuar with ice-cream vans - although I do remember an ice-cream van called "Langford's" that also did nice ice-cream.

Moruzzi's was also somewhere you could buy a bar of chocolate on a Sunday evening. As said earlier - I never hung out there, but was always impressed by those that did.

I love visiting traditional Welsh/Italian (Italian/Welsh?) caffs in South Wales and here are still a few around in valleys towns and villages. And Fulgoni's restaurant in Porthcawl still make their wonderful ice-cream but whether they make it or not now depends on the weather ! In the summer you can buy it at Rest Bay as well as their restaurant and I often drag friends to Porthcawl for a Fulgoni's!

Over on an Aberkenfig Facebook discussion site, "You know you're from Aberkenfig..." all sorts of cafe memories have emerged resulting from a memory of "steamed pies":
 facebook: You know you're from Aberkenfig...

I do remember that the bottom chip shop run by Mario Crucci used to heat pies by dropping them into the chip fat. I think before microwaving the top chippie had a hot cabinet but would also do fat dunking on request.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm not a censor...

...and welcome all posts.
The ones that have been deleted are obvious spam.
It's great that the blog has stirred memories for some!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Local tourism - St John the Divine, Aberkenfig

My Backyard/Garden!
I love being a tourist and as I often say - even in my own backyard. Not done that literally but have enjoyed exploring Aberkenfig anew. And have now (literally) been a tourist in my own street. 

There is an 18th century Church in Wales church at end of my street. My father's family were nominally Protestant and my grandparents are there somewhere in the churchyard. As the daughter of a Maltese Catholic I was brought up Catholic.

St John the Divine, Aberkenfig
In my youth, Catholics were discouraged from going to churches of other denominations - I used to get "permission" to attend church parades when I was in the St John Ambulance Brigade and people did similar for weddings, christenings and funerals - especially if one had a more old-fashioned Parish Priest who took these things seriously and we did have such a priest. So although I used to play in the churchyard, I have only one memory of entering St John's.

Another blast from the past - In days of fridges with small freezer boxes and  before freezers were common-place buying ice-cream from an ice-cream van was more common-place. And sometimes we'd buy a dish of ice-cream - just take a dish and buy so many portions. I was collecting a dish of ice-cream when I dropped the glass dish. I was probably quite upset and the local Vicar offered to show me the harvest festival display in the church. All very respectful and kind but I remember being torn by need to be polite to a grown-up and worrying about my immortal soul if I went into a Protestant church without permission. In those days Catholics (to my knowledge) didn't "do" Harvest so was very intrigued. I did go - didn't know how to say no - but don't remember any details. And until this week that was my only recollection of entering the church.

Now that ecumenical thinking is more the norm my Mother had been there several times while "doing the rounds" but I'd not done so. All the churches in the village are kept locked but I was passing St. John's after a service and took opportunity for quick peep. I was kindly given a tour by Diana Wood - Sub Warden (Hon). It's a lovely church with thoughtful modernisation so back of church is now community space with quite cosy church area that can be combined as needed. There is a rather nice wrought metal Stations of the Cross that is now in the Lady Chapel. I'd not realised that before the houses were built (end of 50s) the Vicarage was joined by a path to the church.
There's a nice PP presentation with pictures here:

And some background to the larger picture regarding this and neighbouring churches:

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Roasties p.s.

My Mum was te melt-in-the mouth roastie maker!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Talking of roasties...

...this is a fictional account of my Mother's roast potatoes I put in a short story...

They always had a take away in the evening. James could put together practically any dish they could think of but he couldn't re-create the traditional Sunday roast that both their mothers turned out practically on automatic pilot. There was something about their ancient roasting tins and overcooking that produced the most succulent roasts. James would never dream of overcooking his veg but somehow his mother's overcooked cabbage seemed right with her brand of crisp roast potatoes and gravy. Karen's mother would start her roast at some unearthly hour of the morning and cook it on such a low light that at first James had been worried about food poisoning despite Karen's reassurances. He'd wondered if the Davies’s had developed a natural immunity but now he was as hooked as Karen on her mother's melt-in-the-mouth roasts and the soggiest, softest but most succulent, flavoursome roast potatoes and parsnips in the world.

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Another Proustean moment - butter wrapper...

Was roasting a chicken today and didn't have much oil so basted with combination of oil and butter.

Unusually I had solid butter as I'd bought for cooking - usually use the spreadble type in a tub.

Went to check chicken and it seemed a little dry so added last of butter  and as it was last of pack smeared it on with wrapper and suddenly remembered my Mum sometimes cooking poultry with the butter wrapping over breast of bird to keep moist so did the same.

Sadly I can't do my roasties like hers, but frozen roasties smeared with fresh cooking juices are pretty good!

When she first came to Wales (from Egypt) my Mum nearly caused an International Incident. Dad had a Yorshire friend who went on about the delights of Yorshire pudding. The first time my Auntie Gladys made them for my Mum she was really disappointed by their ordinariness after the build-up - Not the way to get on with your new sister-in-law!

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Hop-scotch, gambos and levitation

Loved John's comments on the Opies and kids' rhymes. I love all that stuff and have blogged about some I remember:

I went to junior school in Aberenfig, but when I went to Secondary school I was with children from Bridgend and Maesteg and realised they had different games, game words and rhymes despite being only two and eight miles away. When I went away to college in the big city - Cardiff(!) - a whole twenty miles away I found more differences. What I thought of as aeroplane hopscotch was simply hopscotch and the rhymes for playing two balls or skipping were endless. I particularly liked:
??????? had a fright
In the middle of the night
She saw a ghost eating toast 
halfway up a lampost

And there were those naughty rhymes where you nearly/sort of swore:
Lily was in the garden playing with the cat
Down came a bumble bee and stug her on her...
Twice she went to the doctor's...

While I find it hard to remember poetry or lyrics to songs I can recite the whole of the piece of filth above!

The word gambo has caused me great excitement - I should get out more! - it was what we called home made go-carts in Aberkenfig but were buggies or go-carts in Cardiff. The word actually came up on"call my Bluff" many moons ago.
 Wiki -Call My Bluff
The definition was a hay cart in the West Country.
Further excitement was caused when I saw the word on a cart wheel in the wonderful coracle museum in Cenarth in Cardigan:
 coracle museum.

 I wonder how many people attempted the levitation thing where you chanted to try and make a person weightless and the group attempt to pick the person up from a prone position supporting them with two fingers of each hand. There was a variation to make someone fall back as well where you pretended to make holes in their back and then thread and pull an imaginary string... Universal or just Aberenfig I wondered, but - as so often - the wonderful Wiki provided an answer:
wiki Light as a feather, stiff as a board

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Caramac bars


There's nothing like confectionery to take you straight back to your past. Proust may have had his madeleines but yesterday I spotted and bought some Caramac bars in Azda. Tasted so wonderful I ate the lot - four bars - I always think there are more interesting things to cause guilt than what one eats so I remain unrepentant and smiling. I am pretty sure Caramac used to be called chocolate, but is no longer - presumably it doesn't qualify under EU regs and is probably well dodgy in terms of  non-nutrients but tasted delicious!
While looking for a picture I discovered Caramac icecream bars and Kitats - such unrealised dreams! There were also search suggestions for Caramac cakes, recipes and Easter eggs - what a World!

I also found this picture of 60s confectionary - a jigsaw from the Robert Opie collection. Robert is the son of the couple who collected the games, language and lore of children.
Wiki -Iona and Peter Opie
He had an amazing museum in Gloucester called the "Package" which had wonderful collections of - packaging! I seem to remember reading it had all started with a Munchie packet and I was right: Robert Opie's museum info

So what do you remember? Many old favorites are now back and some never went away but may have changed names. I loved the shilling bars of Cadbury's Milk tray where you got a pretend box of chocs in a bar. I also remember being given a one layer 1/4lb box of Milk Tray - not seen less that 1/2lb or equivalent for years.

Although I find marzipan quite sickly I seem to remember the ratio to marzipan and Cadburys chocolate worked for me and it's one that's not been resurrected. And I'm sure Mackintosh used to do a soft caramel in chocolate bar for 2d (now I'm showing my age!) that was shaped like a long oval but indented so it went in in the middle and seemed rather bone-like in shape to me.
The current Cadbury's small flat bar were once thruppenny bars and there were smaller tuppeny and penny bars available. I also liked the Cadbury's minatures which I seem to recall being known as "flat 20s" when in boxes of 20.

And of course there was the classic Fry's Five Boys which rivalled the Cadbury's bars until they got taken over by what was once Cadbury's and is now a massive food empire.

I was more into chocolate than sweets, but did like sherbert - the coloured crystals rather than the white powder you got in Sherbert dips. The only way to eat it was with a well-licked finger which would then change colour...

I also remember when Lucozade was thought to be for people who were ill and I got weird looks when I drank it  regularly in the seventies. I once took Lucozade to a party and my friend John Taylor got all nostalgic then polluted it with whisky! I was obviously not the liveliest of party-goers...

Now there are all these nostalgia/sweetie shops springing up everywhere it's easy to trip downthis particular memory lane.

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