The Great Japanese Food Cycle

tim_union_tongueWatch this space for eccentric Englishman and food lover Tim Keates on his next mission to uncover the great food and great food producers of Japan. He is cycling the length of Japan in search of delicious experiences & knowledge.

Southfields Harvest 2016


I am delighted to be asked to attend my local summer’s end harvest event by the organizers.
Southfields Harvest is hosted by a local church, St Barnabas, in its community hall.

Over the last couple of years the event has grown and grown to  include local food producers,
a local brewer, a honey producer, local foods, and of course there will be an opportunity to taste the magnificent Southfields Sausage, from the The Village Butchers, along with other sweetmeats and delicacies.

This year I hear chefs from brunch café Lupo Bros and Salt & Pepper Café will be knocking up delicacies for visitors too.

Of course there will be a hotly contested competition for baked good. Victoria sponge, fruit or chocolate cake and vegetable cake too.
My palette leans towards savoury so I’m more interested in the chutney & pickles competition, especially with a hunk of cheese & a doorstep of freah bread or a cheesy scone – Lip-smacking!

There will be game and amusements for the little ones with drawing and my favourite, a competition to make a funny face out of whacky vegetables.

I believe Abundance Southfields will be offering to crush & juice homegrown apples and pears in a bid to make more use of windfalls and reduce wastage.

Southfields Harvest is a perfect opportunity for young and old to see what is possible & to ask more informed questions of themselves (if they haven’t already) around their food choices.

All-in-all a fun-packed afternoon with the SW18-SW19 community coming together to shine a light on great food, being together and sharing sustenance with love & laughter.

Web materials.

Finished the ride in Caernarfon

A quick note to say I successfully finished the ride in Caernarfon Saturday 8th at 14.30 delivering a bottle of Waen Brewery Snickledodle beer to Y Pantri Cymraeg, on the main square Caernarfon. Thereby completing the circle I began on 23rd Oct having taken Bara Brith from them in the first instance. Becky remembers me setting off only 17 days before.

More info will be forthcoming on these pages, once this food cyclist can gather his thoughts from such a grand and information rich tour.

To be continued…

Thank goodness for the Royal Sportsman Hotel


Some times the greatness of my journey is unclear to me. At a given moment this food cyclist is dealing so intentionally with the problem at hand that the wider picture isn’t in focus. Such was the case as I stumbled up the steps of The Royal Sportsman Hotel.
Having been soaked to the skin from 11am till 5pm, sapped of my reserves of energy all I wanted was to get dry and warm.

Tweed, the reader may not know, when wet has the ability to keep you from getting cold, unlike man-made fibres. This wearer’s experience is you are not actually warm, you are just not cold.

The luxury of warmth & comfort only comes with a hot shower and a change of clothing.
Thank goodness for serendipity &
The Royal Sportsman Hotel

I arrived in Porthmadog wet through and began my search for accommodation. My schedule had changed & I had no clue I’d be in town that night. The Royal Sportsman in the centre of town has a bold & impressive silhouette. It stands like a boulder in its own ground, away from the nearby row of shops.
I thougtht it unlikely I could afford such a private hotel on my meagre budget. And under normal circumstances that would be the case, however on enquiring if they had a budget single room Ian, the manager at the consiege desk saw my plight and took pity on this sodden cyclist and squeezed me in at a special price.

Lickerdy-split like a water rat up a drainpipe I had Betsy’s basket off the bike and in the dry.

Seldom has this food tourist had a better or more revitalizing hot shower in my room.
As has been my experience during my Welsh adventure my wet woolens were peeled off and on this occassion hung in the boiler room. For gentle drying throughout the night.

After a shower that lasted at least twice as long as it need to, warmed to my core, I checked Betsy had also checked in to her night’s rest in the cavenous boiler room.

With time before dinner I went to explore such an interesting hotel.
Grand from the late Victorian era the Royal Sportsman has a illustourous past, of shooting parties, walkers, climbers and industrialists.
I was so lucky to snare one of the last rooms , as a large party of steam train enthusiasts were in town to celebrate a special run of the Ffestinjog mountain railway. The bar was abuzz with talk of steam and British engineering, both at home & overseas.

The bar that night was a fabulous mix of diversity. I surveyed the neighbouring tables; families come to dine at the bar, treating themselves to a holiday meal, The Royal Sportsman is rightly known for its excellent menu and use of local produce. Japanese students on holiday updating their profiles, pictured about to eat plates of stylishly presented Welsh fare.

Across one wall a larger group of gentlemen of a certain age, several sporting mutton chops and waistcoats rumbunciously discussing the glory days of steam with numerous empty glasses of ales and a scattering of savory snacks.

After an excellently conditioned pint of Purple Moose beer at pub (rather than Hotel) prices.
I retired to sleep like a baby in my annex room.

I woke to clear skies, dry tweeds and a truly superb breakfast.
Of course I feasted on the breakfast of champions, scramble eggs with local smoked salmon and grainery bread, with copious fresh brewed coffee.
However my greedy little eye, was very tempted by the fresh selection fruit platter, fresh danish-style pastries, or cerials.

My stay at the Sportsman was brief but energizing. It was a genuine tonic and lifted my spirits after a wet & windy period cycling the byways.
Since getting home I noticed their newly updated website says they have been given the highest possible rating by Welsh & British tourist organisations. I say very well deserved. The Royal Sportsman Hotel, 131 High St, Porthmadog. http://www.royalsportsman.co.uk

Apologies for dropping off the radar

Dear Foodie,
Apologies for not updating the blog as regularly as perhaps might be expected.
This food cyclists has had difficulty getting regular mobile signal and blogging from a mobile device even when at his accommodation. 
After cycling for 6-8hrs in mixed weather what this perambulist needs is a shower, a decent bit of nosebag and a soft pillow to rest his weary head. Not to go in search of internet connectivity.

Welsh telecommunication providers, please continue to upgrade the service.

Thank you.

St. Dogmaels & Cardigan Bay Fish

I set out with new purpose towards one of my own food heroes.
Several years ago when I began to reasearch my journey and search out fascinating food produceres I heard of several fishermen who caught Salmon around the Cardigan Bay area by coracle.

Coracles in Wales are a very ancient method of transport and more information & pictures can be seen here.

Ken & Mandy Walthers run Cardigan Bay Fish Co and I visited them in St.Dogmaels.

Alas it wasnt the season for salmon so I swopped a fresh live lobster packed in ice by Ken for my onward journey a beautiful pair of hertitage pork chops, was my payment deep frozen from the farm and triple wrapped I had taken on

Thank you Tom at New Image Bike Shop Cardigan Bay

Thank you to Tom at the NEW IMAGE bike shop in Cardigan who stayed late after work to help me. He stripped down the rear hub, extract the broken threaded rod and fit a new one. His years of experience had it working better than ever.
With renewed vigour I set off for St. Dogmaels and a bountiful catch…

Cardigan and the surrounding area was a find to this rider. After some tough cycling and some poor weather the day before, my few hours in the town was great.

Caws Cenarth and the mother of storms

After Vic North’s Cookery School it was a short journey to Caws Cenarth. That would be under normal circumstances …however the rain was falling heavily and foolishly I followed the roadsigns for the dairy. Unfortunately the place of interest brown signs take the vehicle drive around the hillside the long way. Missing out what I learnt later was nicknamed ‘the road of death’ anyway I was off the bike and pushing Betsy up a slippery road scattered with twigs and leaves. The wind was gusting I would think 25mph and the trees began to whistle. After an age I got to the dairy completely drenched.

Caws Cenarth Great British Food Cycle Tim Keates

Carwyn Adams was surprised to see me in such weather, but there I was bold as brass.
We immediately snapped a few pictures in the cheese store and tasting room. The pictures don’t show that if I stood still water run down my legs and flowed out of my shoes as I walked!

I still had a few miles to go to find accomadation and the storm was worsening. Carwyn loaded me up with a few examples of their excellent cheeses.
It was a terrible hardship, but I had to try a few nibbles too.
This rider was offered cheese biscuits for later, but knowing the bumpy ride declined, as in an hour riding the rutted lanes I would have a wrapper with panko crumbs not biscuits.

Leaving ladened with scrumptious cheese I laboured up the hill right in the face of the storm.
Carwyn had called around local hotels and guest houses and found me a room at the luxury Emlyn Hotel. The difficulty was getting to it.

I passed through a copse at the top of the rise and the wind ripped through the mixed woodland sounding more like heavy waves on a shingle beach. It was almost deafening. However my concentration was on the fine beam of light out front keeping me moving ahead. Missing potholes and twigs that could obstruct Betsy’s wheel. Then I heard dong! The telltail sound of a thorn in the tyre being caught & dragged out by the mudguard. I looked but couldn’t see a thing. And sure enough within a minute the front tyre was like a pancake.

It was so miserable I pressed on and discovered I could cycle very slowly forward in first gear with a flat tyre. Result!
I was only realising 3-4mph but better than 2mph walking  in a filthy storm. I freewheeled down hill towards Newcastle Emlyn and made the four miles in about an hour.

I was drenched and the evening staff at the hotel were great as I created a puddle in reception. They kindly whisked me off to my room and put a ‘caution -wet floor’ bollard up were the food cyclist had once stood. I certainly made my mark!

Later after a hot shower and a change of dry, warm clothes I was ushered to the hotel boiler room to wring out, then hang my entire days’ clothes to dry in relative ease.

What joy it was to have a Halloween inspired (spiced pumpkin) local pint,  one of the hotels famous local steak pies with twice cooked chips & veg. Sitting back as the storm raged to watch my first tv for almost two weeks.

More to follow…

Tea & croissants with Vicky North

A chance meeting had the food cyclist visit with Vicky North famed baker in the Cardigan area.
Set in spacious gardens Vicky runs a bakery school from what was the old  vicarage set outside of the village of Abercych. If tou are at all interested in artisan baking in whatever form I strongly recommend this great location and small class sizes.

A generous victorian kitchen gives participants plenty of room to hone their skills and space to make a mess if necessary.
Vicky’s adroitness comes from her patience and competence to teach from the basic to the highly skilled.
I arrived pretty much on time (which is very unusual) and was greeted with a hot cuppa, fresh croissant and good conversation.

This hungry rider devoured her croissant with homemade preserves and after a polite pause swiftly moved on to bread & cheese. She providing oven fresh wholemeal and lucky me supplying a hunk of Hafod Organic cheddar. Perfect partners with Vic’s cherry chutney we sampled.

Suitably replete I braved the heavy rain towards Caneath and well known organic cheese producer Caws Caneath.

Vic North Bakes

Further info to follow…

Carrot Cruncher Newcastle Emlyn Wales Great British Food

Carrot Crunchers of Newcastle Emlyn


Carrot Crunchers on the High Street of Newcastle Emlyn is bursting with goodies.
The proprietor Stuart graciously accepted my invitation to be involved as I cold called on my way through.

Carrot Cruncher Newcasatle Emlyn Great British Food Cycle Tim Keates

The guys at Teifi Valley Railway (where I stopped for coffee & superb homemade carrot cake) had recommended veggie shops & delis in Emlyn.
The vibe of the shop and the helpfulness of the owner is excellent. Local and seasonal vegetables. Larder provisions and special treats rubs shoulders with low & zero carbon goods. Bulk buy laundry liquids and Fairtrade products. A really well-rounded shop for this rural town.

I also happened upon the fabled Lemon Curd fairy who was dropping off another batch of jars of scrumptious lemony goodness.
(pictured center). Would give her name, but the town know her as the lemon curd lady!

Lady luck had me also meet Phoenix (pictured in green) who was shopping at Crunchers, a eco shopper who insisted on buying me lunch (thank you) and helped me by dropping me & Betsy in Cardigan at the bike shop as my weary legs wouldn’t get me there by closing time with the tantalizing possibility of getting the gears working after 7 days of one gear!
To be continued…

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