Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold

I’ve still not quite got back into the blogging habit, have I. Things have been a bit busy, well, busier than I have been used to for quite a while anyway. Pete and I have both been doing some teaching at the University, only a couple of hours a week but often quite spread out so we end up spending most of our days there.

Things are going to be getting even busier for Pete now though, as he got a job this week! As of the 1st of November he will be a full time teaching assistant and PhD student at the uni. We are both so happy and I am very proud of him. Not only is it great news because we a) have an income and b) have a definite reason to stay in North Wales for at least 3 years, but he has been trying to get funding to do a PhD for a long time now, so it’s so nice that all his hard work has finally paid off.
He interviewed for and was offered the position on Wednesday, but as we had to work again on both Thursday and Friday we put off celebrating until Friday evening. I cooked a huge Chinese feast, as he loves Chinese food and it meant I got to go to the local Oriental Supermarket and search through all the exciting things. My favourite bits are always the ‘accesories’ – prawn crackers, spring rolls and fortune cookies πŸ™‚ I meant to get pictures but it all got eaten so quickly I didn’t get chance!

The plus side of being kept busy during the week (other than making some money) is that our weekends feel more proper again and we try and make the effort to get out and do things – ideally things that Alf can join in with as well.

Last weekend we visited the local Farmers’ Market and picked up some pumpkins to carve for Halloween. If you are a regular reader you are probably aware that I LOVE Halloween (see my previous Halloween posts here,Β here, here, here and here). My plans this year include pumpkin carving, helping out with a kids’ Halloween craft event at the nearby National Trust property (including dressing up) and going to see Benedict Cumberbatch as The Creature in Frankenstein at the cinema. Oh yes, and hopefully get some Halloween baking in :)I’ve been trying to think of a design to carve into my pumpkin this evening. I’m not totally set on an idea yet, but I’ve put together some ideas on a Pinterest board. I will blog about it once it’s done.

Today we went on a trip to Beddgelert (pronounced Beth-gelert), which translates as Gelert’s Grave. Beddgelert is a village in Snowdonia National Park which (allegedly) takes it’s name from the nearby grave of/monument to Gelert, a dog that belonged to Prince Llewellyn, Prince of Gwynedd. The legend of Llewellyn and Gelert tells how, upon returning from a hunting trip, Llewellyn was greeted by Gelert who was covered in blood and discovered his baby son missing from his crib. Llewellyn immediately drew his sword and slew Gelert for murdering his son, but, as Gelert gave his last whimper, Llewellyn heard the cries of a baby and discovered the child, unharmed, alongside the dead body of a wolf. Realising his error, that Gelert had in fact saved his son and not killed him, Llewellyn had his faithful hound buried in a big ceremony and was said never to have smiled again.
We were following a route from a new book my mum bought us – Countryside Dog Walks: Snowdonia. It’s a really good guide, breaking walks down by level of difficulty (this one was an ‘Easy’) and gives helpful information about parking and facilities. The instructions are really clear and easy to follow, even for someone with as poor a sense of direction as me, it was obviously written by someone who has walked the route and not just looked at it on Google Earth.

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The route took us briefly through part of Beddgelert village then onto Gelert’s Grave just on the edge of the village. The grave itself was quite humble, a large rock flanked by two trees with two plaques in front of it telling the story of Gelert (one in English and one in Welsh). Just beyond the grave are the ruins of a small building, inside which is a bronze sculpture of a dog which we tried to get Alf to make friend with, although he wasn’t exactly sure. Most of the other visitors made it as far as the grave, a few ventured the extra ten or so yards to the house, but once we ventured on with the walk past the ruins we didn’t see another person until the end when we returned to the car park. On one hand it’s a shame that everyone else missed out on the beautiful scenery and views, but on the other, it was really nice and peaceful having the whole place to ourselves.

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The title of the post is taken from the song of the Dwarves from The Hobbit, which came into my head as we walked through a forested area with several rocky outcrops and a carpet of fallen leaves, moss and mushrooms – it just seemed appropriate (even thought it was, thankfully, not particularly misty or cold). The lack of people did make the whole walk feel like a bit of a mysterious adventure – going through forest, through gaps in stone walls and along and across rapid little streams.
Alf absolutely loved it, running through the trees, smelling every smell he came across and climbing every rock and wall that we encountered along the way. He got thoroughly wet and muddy and was really quite tired by the time we got back to the car – he slept wrapped up in a towel on Pete’s lap the whole way home.

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We were rather lucky with the weather, just as we got back to the car it had started to spit with rain and had started absolutely chucking it down within minutes of us leaving.

I really love living up here, it’s so much more relaxed and beautiful than the south coast. There are certain things I miss about Southampton and it’s proximity to London, but I’m not sure they’re worth giving up living here for. Plus, once I get my own job, it shouldn’t be too hard to make the occasional visit πŸ™‚

I hope things are going well for all of you and that you’re looking forward to Halloween, however you chose to spend it.
Also, what do you think of the new blog look?

Love,

Betty

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Blackberry Crumble Cake

One of the best things about having moved from our titchy flat into my parent’s house (temporarily) is their kitchen. In the flat we had a pitifully small box masquerading as a kitchen with barely enough storage space let alone enough surface space to indulge my joy of cooking and baking. I think I did pretty well with the space I had, but it’s so nice to have the space to move around and not have to stack ingredients, bowls and tins on top of each other whilst baking.

I had decided I wanted to make something for dessert after Sunday dinner over the weekend, but was torn between a good old cake or a warming autumnal crumble using the blackberries my mum had gathered from the garden. Luckily enough, I came across the idea of a crumble cake and my decision was made!

Berries Collage

I used a combination of two recipes; the preparation of the berries fromΒ this one from the BBC and the overall method fromΒ this one from HippapotamousseΒ (although I used Vitalite instead of butter due to Pete not eating dairy).

It was actually very quick (other than the 40-60 minute bake) and easy to make and I was very pleased with the result. More importantly, it was also very yummy. I had maybe expected the berries to be a bit more tart but I don’t know if the lack of zing is due to the wild berries or the method of preparation from the BBC recipe.
It all went down very well with the family. My parents had theirs with yoghurt while Pete and I had ours with ice cream (vegan ice cream for Pete, obviously). I was quite tempted to zap it in the microwave for a few seconds before serving, to properly embody the crumble side, but didn’t in the end as I was worried the jammy fruity middle might get unnecessarily hot and destroy my taste buds. If I make this again I think I might take the risk though.

Construction collage

I only found Hippopotamousse’s blog while searching for a good recipe for a blackberry crumble cake, her’s was by far my favourite and I’ve also had a good look around the rest of the site and really like her recipes, as well as the fact that she is also a scientist. Plus, she is a far better photographer than I am – beware looking at her site if you’re hungry!

Complete Collage

I have, of course, been keeping up with The Great British Bake-Off, which has fuelled my desire to bake somewhat. I’m a bit torn on my favourite this year – I quite like Kimberley and shee seems to be a very good baker, but she’s possibly a bit over confident, I like Christine and Becca but their baking has seemed a little hit and miss, I’m very torn on Frances, she’s very inventive but can also be a bit hit and miss and I’m not totally convinced by all of her novelty bakes (although I adored her Secret Squirrel Cake), I am not a fan of Ruby at all, I find her annoying and I don’t like the way she seems to skate by by the seat of her pants.

Who else watches GBBO? Do you have a favourite, or least favourite?

Hope you are all well,
Love