Tag Archives: wales

Redbrook Walk

Redbrook HDR 1

Redbrook Walk, a set on Flickr.

This morning I walked from my home in Wales across the border into England, specifically the village of Redbrook in the Wye Valley. these are some HDR shots taken with my iPhone using the TrueHDR app.

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Restaurant/hotel review: “The Drawing Room”, Powys

We stayed here recently and I though it might be worth sharing our experiences.

More a restaurant with rooms or a boutique hotel, the owners of The Drawing Room set very high standards of presentation, decor, comfort and cooking, without being stuffy or overly formal. If you are staying in the area and can afford it, I’d recommend this over one of the larger hotels in Builth or Llandrindod Wells, particularly if you like elegance and peace and quiet.

The rooms are decorated in pastel shades with hand-made wallpapers and furniture in keeping with the archtiectural era of the house. Sumptuously thick materials suggest no expense was spared in getting the curtains and bedcovers right. There were more pillows and cushions than I could imagine using. Bad luck meant we weren’t able to get one of the larger rooms, but ours did not feel cramped.

As for the food, starters of a sort of crab timballe and a seafood meunière were competent and tasty while not dramatically good. The main courses delivered on their promise though. I had a Tournedos of Welsh Beef with caramelized Shallot “Tarte Tatin”, Potato and Root Vegetable Pavé, Horseradish and Parsley Cream and Beef Jus with Oxtail while Mrs Monnowman had a haunch of venison with sweet potato and asparagus. Both were very good, though of the two I was glad I had gone for the beef: the shallot tarte tatin was a revelation.

Cappuccino Mousse was a very grown up (read: “not too sweet”) dessert for Mrs M. while I went for the Toasted Pine Nut & Honey Tart with poached Figs and “Glaslyn” Estate Wild Flower Honey Ice-cream: a delightful combination of flavours and textures.

The passion of the proprietor chef for good, local ingredients, sympathetically cooked, is obvious in the richness of flavours delivered without the food becoming over-contrived in that fashionably- Michelin-starred way.

Only quibbles were the request in the literature not to drink your own alcohol in the rooms (you are asked to buy their -very expensive- stuff); we could easily hear our neighbours in the adjacent room; and the hostess, when serving food, said “thank you” too often!

But these are minor niggles. We really enjoyed our stay and the food was very good: recommended.

England or Britain? A guide for Americans and too many English people

“We call our islands by no less than six different names, England, Britain, Great Britain, the British Isles, the United Kingdom and, in very exalted moments, Albion. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?”

George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn

This BBC News article, combined with a recent visit to the USA reminded me of the misunderstanding that exists in the minds of not just Americans and others but – embarrassingly – English people about when to use the word words England and English. I should stress that I don’t believe it’s malicious; more a bad habit whose avoidance can prevent giving offence to those born in the constituent countries of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland outside England. I also stress that I’m no constitutional expert: my own qualifications are merely having been born in England and living in Wales.

Credit: Wikipedia

In short England is used wrongly to refer to the sovereign state whose formal name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This misuse went on in political circles until relatively recently, with Winston Churchill speaking during World War Two of ‘England’ when he was referring to the aformentioned sovereign state. Or was he? There’s an essay for a first year PPE student.

Recent devolution of some government powers away from the United Kingdom government and parliament in Westminster to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have served to make this issue more important to handle sensitively.

My guide for the uncertain:

  • Only use England when referring to the constituent country called England. Don’t use England if you mean the United Kingdom. If you are talking about someone or something from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and the constituent country is relevant, don’t say ‘English’. Say Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish. If you’re not sure, see below.
  • Use ‘Britain’ or ‘The United Kingdom’, or ‘The UK’  when referring to the United Kingdom or if you’re not sure – or it’s not relevant – to which constituent country you are referring. The same goes for the adjective British.