Glamping in Wales (Part 2): Eat

Welcome to my second post in my series of three Sleep-Eat-Do blogs on my recent trip glamping in Wales. You can catch part 1 Sleep here but today I’m talking about the food I ate and the places I dined.

Eat

One of the most convenient aspects of this trip was that many major supermarkets deliver to the site and my shopping was already unpacked when I arrived. So there was little else I needed in a fully stocked and fully equipped semi-outdoor kitchen. There’s a bit more detail on this in my previous Sleep post so here I’ll talk about eating out in Tintern and the home cooked vegan curry that was cooked for us on site by a talented chef.

The Anchor Inn at Tintern

After a long walk through the stunning Wye Valley on our first full day in Wales we stopped off at a cute pub called the Anchor Inn, right next to Tintern Abbey. When we arrived we were wet – and I mean wet – so the staff let us leave our sodden coats at a different table while we ate. We took the large table in the centre by the fire that was placed over these really cute tiles that I fell in love with.

Tea and cake was served: red velvet cake, victoria sponge… And for us vegans we got some tasty vegan bites and a really delicious poached pear with sorbet. I rarely go for fruit as desert but this was so perfectly sweet and beautiful cooked and flavoursome that I would definitely choose this again – even over cake, and that’s saying something from me. I also got a really good decaff soya cappuccino to warm me up after the long walk and the Anchor was a lovely environment to relax and recuperate in.

We briefly explored the outdoor area, which has a lovely garden terrace with views of the abbey, so it would be a great place to sit with a pint in the summer. The pub itself dates back to the 12th century so it’s steeped in history – it was even the cider mill and grain store for the abbey.

Home cooked food by Infamous Catering

On Wednesday evening we were treated to an absolutely stunning vegan curry cooked for us on the yurt site by Ian from Infamous Catering. This is a really unique feature of Hidden Valley Yurts – that you can get a chef to come visit and cook you dinner without you needing to travel to a restaurant. I don’t know of anywhere else that can arrange this!

Ian cooked us a fresh vegan curry using the kitchen facilities on site. When we arrived nibbles were already being served and Ian turned out to be a friendly guy and passionate chef.

Nibbles

Ian provided several dips, most of which I have now forgotten the names of but I can assure you they were all delicious. The stand out was really the wild garlic crostinis, which we completely devoured. Ian foraged the wild garlic himself and makes a specialty of using foraged, local seasonal ingredients.

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Vegan curry

Normally vegans are an afterthought to chefs cooking for a group of omnis, so I was so pleased and impressed that Ian decided to take on the challenge of cooking a delicious vegan curry for everyone. This makes a lot of sense for a chef as they only have to cook one meal that everyone can eat, and Ian said he enjoys cooking vegan food as it’s a new challenge and he always finds people are impressed that vegan food doesn’t have to be bland.

Raw chocolate torte

Kudos to the brave chef who attempts a vegan desert. I won’t pretend it’s easy if you don’t know what you’re doing but we were in safe hands. We enjoyed an absolutely delicious raw chocolate torte that, despite being quite rich, we easily devoured it.

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Ian ‘Barney’ Barnes from Infamous Catering is all about seasonal, foraged, local ingredients, and this really came across is the freshness and flavour of the food he cooked for us. What’s more, Ian is brilliant company and we all learned a lot about local ingredients and how to experiment with cooking. It’s quite an unusual concept – Infamous Catering doesn’t have its own restaurant but does workshops, events and private dining experiences, so Ian is really versatile.

The 5 star Tripadvisor reviews say it all!

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Glamping in Wales (Part 1): Sleep

In the final week of April I took on a challenge that was so far out of my comfort zone as to be in a different postcode. I spent 5 days glamping in south Wales, an area of the UK I’ve never visited before.

I was invited to stay with Hidden Valley Yurts, a glamping site in the Wye Valley, near a tiny Welsh village named Llanishen. I was promised a back-to-nature digital detox experience and I was not disappointed.

I’m going to share my experiences with you through a series of three blog posts focusing on the accommodation, the food, and the activities. So first of all I’ll start with the site.

Sleep

Hidden Valley Yurts is located on a farm in the Welsh hills, with access to tourist hot spots like Tintern, the river Wye, Monmouth and the Brecon Beacons. I can’t call it “easy” access as the roads are as to be expected – narrow, hilly, and not for the faint-hearted. You can read all about the history of the site here but to summarise: the new owners took over in 2015 and have given the yurts and facilities a full makeover and created a really special place to stay.

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The Yurts

Mongolian yurts are a really cosy concept. The decor inside is intricate and the beautiful furniture gives it a homely feel. The beds and futons are ridiculously comfortable and, despite being out of my comfort zone, I had some of the best nights’ sleep I’ve had for a long time. Partly this was the incredibly comfortable mattress but I think the darkness also had something to do with it.

Each yurt comes equipped with a log burner and all logs, kindling, paper and firelighters required to get a roaring fire going. This sometimes presents a challenge for many visitors but I’m pleased to report it’s a skill we all managed to master. It didn’t take long for the log burners to heat up the yurt and we were soon cosy and warm – a very essential feature in rainy Wales!

Facilities

This is camping made easy. The yurt site boasts a fully equipped kitchen with all pots, pans, cutlery, washing up materials, so you really don’t need to bring anything like that with you – there’s even an espresso machine! The communal kitchen is really beautifully made and although it’s covered it is partly open air, so whilst you’re waiting for your food to cook or the kettle to boil you can gaze at the impressive canopy opposite and try to see how many birds and squirrels you can spot.

I did, of course, end up bringing too much food with me and had to leave some behind for the next guests. One of the most helpful aspects of this trip was that most major supermarkets deliver to the site and when I arrived Mike had already put all my shopping away in the kitchen for me. This meant I could eat well and easily, especially as there is a fridge and freezer in the kitchen.

The bathroom and toilets are really quite posh for a glamping site, let alone a campsite! The water was always warm and there’s even a bath if you fancy a long relaxing soak after a hard day’s hill hiking. There are also some compost toilets for yurts 1 and 2 and yurt 1 has its own smaller kitchen so if you’re not into communal campsite living you can always book yurt 1 and enjoy a bit more privacy.

There’s a lovely little campfire area with BBQ and outdoor seating but sadly we never got to try this as the evenings were either rainy or windy, which was a real shame as I can imagine it would have been so nice to sit by the fire roasting vegan marshmallows.

The farm

The yurts are located on Lower Glyn Farm, an old working farm with woodlands and meadows. I would have loved to have seen the wildflower meadows in full bloom but I visited in April; I did, however, see plenty of bluebells dotted about the site and they put on a particularly good show in the ancient woodlands with the wood anemone. In fact, there are plenty of wildflowers to be found so it’s a botanists dream. (Please don’t pick the wildflowers though – the bees need them.)

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Lady’s smock

There are plenty of excellent walks around the 80 acre farm for all abilities. I have to be honest and point out that this is a valley and there are hills so some of the walks are quite steep. I’m a Norfolk girl so this was quite challenging to me! (For all my non-UK readers, Norfolk is known for being completely flat.) But after a few days I adapted to hill-walking and I even think my ankles might have changed shape.

Throughout the site runs a stream that children would love to play in. It’s very shallow in places and provides a very relaxing sound when drifting off to sleep. There are quite a few bridges across the stream throughout that you come across when walking and we even found a really attractive little waterfall. I’m told that occasionally kingfishers and otters can be spotted though I didn’t have such good luck. On one of our walks we came by a tree swing near the stream in a really private area – a really good find for families!

Speaking of families, there is also a large supply of board games and outdoor games, including a boules pitch and a football pitch. There’s plenty of space to run around in and explore and I can’t imagine any child being bored here.

The farm uses some animals for conservation grazing on the meadows – highland cattle, soays sheep. I even came across a pony. But by far the best animal on site is Tilly the dog – the friendliest, most lovable spaniel! She likes nothing better than just hanging out and having her belly rubbed. One afternoon she took me for a walk through the woodlands!


Hidden Valley Yurts has been a wonderful place to stay to get away from city life and reconnect with nature. It’s so easy and welcome to have a complete digital detox here – for a start, there’s no WiFi and phone signal is poor. This is of course camping for those who like a few mod cons, like a proper kitchen and clean bathroom facilities. I was so impressed by how cosy and comfortable the yurts are! I also really liked the fact that there are endless walks on the farm and in the local area so you don’t even have to travel anywhere if you don’t want to – you can just stay on site and explore the natural world and get away from modern life. The landscape is truly stunning and the woodlands provide so much wildlife to enjoy – it’s a birder’s and nature lover’s paradise.

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Bluebells

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Buzzard

Homemade Granola

I’ll admit it, I initially attempted to make granola bars but I got the liquid ingredient measurements clearly wrong – basically, the bars instantly disintegrated.

But I’m an improviser so I made granola instead. Yeah, I just let it crumble a bit and used it as normal granola. I’m still a legit food blogger, right?! I’m sure I could make an inspiration quote out of this story.

You’ll notice from the recipe below that I don’t believe in measurements. Put in as much as feels right to you and seems to level out to create balance. I’ve used Biscoff spread because I absolutely love the caramelised flavour (it’s great on toast as well) but you can use peanut butter or any other nut butter, depending on the kind of flavour you’re after.

The dry stuff

  • puffed quinoa by Indigo Herbs
  • oats
  • pumpkin seeds (as much as you want)
  • chia seeds
  • some sliced glace cherries (or raisins, goji berries, cranberries)

The wet stuff

The method

Mix up the dry stiff, gently heat in a saucepan the wet stuff, then combine it all together. Spread out and flatten on a baking tray (with parchment or greased) and bake for about 20 minutes. Serve with (vegan) yoghurt and fresh blueberries.

Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake: a review

The New Year brings new challenges and having already undertaken the Veganuary challenge I decided to try a weight loss challenge as well. I used Nutribuddy’s breakfast shakes for 14 days to see what effect they would have on me and my body and this review is all about that experience.

I chose a 14 day supply of Nutribuddy’s Vanilla Breakfast Shake and with it came a glass jar to store the shake powder, a bottle to drink from, and the shake itself. Nutribuddy kindly sent me this package to review their breakfast shake and I was already expecting to enjoy it because there’s so much I like about the brand and their standards, but I was surprised to find that the shake is also really tasty and filling and it’s so convenient for me to just make this for breakfast before rushing off in the mornings.

So what do I love about the brand? Let me list the ways.

  1. Vegan friendly and gluten free
  2. Soy free & sugar free
  3. 121 calories per shake
  4. Source of fibre
  5. Organic, natural ingredients
  6. 31 day happiness guarantee
  7. Recyclable glass packaging

This breakfast shake contains oats, seeds and coconut and is completely organic and vegan friendly. It’s free from preservatives, emulsifiers and stabilisers, so no nasties to be found here.

When I received this product in the post, I found the glass jar was wrapped in the most impressively sturdy bubble wrap I have ever seen – I’m going to save it for future house moves for sure. Also, can I just take a moment to congratulate Nutribuddy on using glass as a storage jar – in this plastic-frenzied dystopian world, it’s so reassuring to see a company taking the effort to send fragile glass jars in the post because they recognise that we need to move away from plastic storage and embrace recyclable packaging. Plus, it’s a great storage jar, so if you don’t replenish your stock of Nutribuddy shake (why wouldn’t you?) then you can reuse it to store pasta, rice, grains, etc.

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What about the taste?

I’ve used a well-known weight loss shake before and using their powder forms I had a lot of trouble shaking it enough to make it all mix in – I would always get unpleasant lumps of powder, no matter how vigorously I shook the damn thing. Not so with Nutribuddy – it blends in instantly, and because it’s made with oats, you do get flakes of oaks as you drink so it feels like real food but it’s part of the drink and not a horrible lump. The vanilla flavour I used is really nice, very subtle and not too sweet (I don’t always like sweet things in the early mornings.)

What I loved most about Nutribuddy is the convenience – their breakfast shakes have given me an extra 20 minutes in bed every morning. I cannot understate how valuable this is to me. To be able to prepare and drink my breakfast 5 minutes before I need to leave the house for work is an absolute godsend.

So thanks, Nutribuddy, for sending me your delicious vegan breakfast shakes, helping me to lose a little bit of weight after my festive indulgences, and thanks so much for giving me a lie in.

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Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake: first impressions

Today I received an exciting package in the post from Nutribuddy – their vanilla breakfast shake to review! I’ve heard great things about this brand before so I’m interested to see how I get on with their breakfast shake. I’m doing Veganuary this year and trying to move from a vegetarian to a more vegan diet, and finding a breakfast shake with no animal products at all has been a bit tricky, so I was pleased to come across Nutribuddy.

My first impressions

The package

It took a while to get into the parcel because it was so carefully and properly packaged – no breakages possible. Because Nutribuddy favour glass over plastic, they sent the product in a glass clip-top jar, which requires much tougher packaging. I really like the look of the storage jar as well and it fits quite nicely on the kitchen worktop – clear glass jar, classic design, no garish colours. 20180131230133_IMG_2184

The product

Looking at the actual shake powder I can see it has real oat flakes in, which I think will make it an interesting texture. What is normally so unsatisfying about weight loss shakes is that they are just drinks and you don’t feel like you’re eating food, so I feel like the oat flakes will be a good addition. I’ve read on the Nutribuddy website that their breakfast shakes are organic and suitable for vegans; they are also gluten, soy, and sugar free, and are high in fibre, so really it ticks all the health boxes.

The accessories

It comes with two little spoons for the shake powder that are a good size and fit inside the storage jar, which is handy. The bottle for the shake is again thoughtfully designed and has a handle so you can drink the shake on the move.


Overall, this feels like a really good product that perfectly fits the branding – I’m impressed with the eco-friendly choice of glass for the storage jar, I like that it has oat flakes in, and I like how it looks in my kitchen. Very excited for this 14 day trial and to see how I feel! I’m hoping to lose a little bit of that post-Christmas excess tummy and to see how much energy I have for a day’s work after this shake for breakfast. Sometimes when I walk into work instead of drive I don’t have much time for breakfast, so hopefully this will give me an easy way to get nutrients and stave off hunger with very little effort on my part! Stay tuned to read my review at the end of the 14 day trial of the Nutribuddy vanilla breakfast shake.

Veganuary 2018

So this has been a long time coming. I’ve been meaning to take the plunge to quit eggs and dairy altogether but have so far not managed to commit. A month ‘trial’ is a perfect excuse and gives me a get out if it turns out I completely hate it (which I doubt – I’m practically there anyway.)

What’s Veganuary?

As the name suggests, the idea is to go vegan in January, the best time of year for making changes. The whole Veganuary campaign is hugely popular and successful and there are plenty of resources on the website to guide and encourage new vegans. They also have a very helpful myths section to debunk some of the strange ideas surrounding veganism and to explain in more detail why it’s a necessary change for the environment, for health, and for animals.


One of my main worries is eating out – will I be able to find a place that offers something for me? I’ve been a vegetarian for years and it has always been simple eating out as there are always some veggie options. In fact, it has been easier – while my friends spend ages trying to decide between the lamb and the salmon, I scan the menu and select the only veggie option available. So I’m glad to find that there’s another really helpful section on the Veganuary website that lists high streets restaurant chains and coffee shops and lists the vegan options available.

I’ve read some of the books, have some comprehension of a vegan philosophy but do not wish to watch any of those films or documentaries like Earthlings or Cowspiracy that turn a lot of people vegan – I already know, or at least, can guess.

So what I’d really like from you, Dear Reader, is some recommendations and advice – where to shop, what to watch out for, how to stock up on the essentials? Are you trying Veganuary this year or did you do it last year?

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Alternative vegetarian & vegan Christmas dinners

I don’t want to lecture or rant.* You’ll do what you want, regardless. But maybe just consider that the seasonal slaughter of turkeys and ducks is not completely necessary? There are some alternative meals you could be enjoying instead.

Scouring Pinterest for some veggie Christmas dinners for this post has been mouth-watering stuff, and actually all the recipes I’ve found seem quite easy. No defrosting the bird in the bath overnight only to find it’s too big for your oven. And what with Sainsbury’s vegan cheeseboard, procuring affordable non-meat and non-diary food stuffs is actually starting to be feasible.

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Here’s my top 5 suggestions for veggie mains that I’ve narrowed it down to. What should I choose?

  1. Beetroot & squash wellington
  2. Squash, chickpea and spinach filo pie
  3. Vegetable, almond & brazil nut roast
  4. Stuffed roasted squash
  5. Chestnut, port & thyme strudel

I’m also hosting a small Christmas party and looking for ideas for veggie canapes and snacks – does anyone have any ideas?

And if all else fails, Yotam Ottelengi will save me from a meaty Christmas.

*But it would be remiss of me not to provide a few Christmas turkey facts for you to consider.

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