They were a dream they’d wandered into, in the mist; a mystery, a stream of shadows under leaden sky.
On the way down we stopped off at Ultracomida in Aberystwyth and bought some cheese and some of their sour dough bread for the holiday.
Parking in Aberystwyth is a horror and the one way system has been designed by a town planner who’s sole intentions seems to be to keep you in the town centre by any means possible, even though you have to keep moving along with the other poor lost souls seeking either that elusive parking spot or a legal way out of the labyrinth, there is however a good park and ride system in operation – next time!
A gun metal grey storm driven sea was shattering against the harbour entrance with great plumes of cappuccino spray and there, just across the heaving water, was the old bridge that would take us on our way south. Unfortunately we would have to turn round and brave the one way system once more before we would reach it. Again we ended up for the third time in front of Ultracomida, perhaps its many awards have not a little to do with the fact that you keep meeting it when trying to escape the town (no that is really not fair).
For the rest of Monday we just read and slept and ate whilst the weather disintegrated even further.
Tuesday dawned with still heavy winds under a leaden sky which threatened more of last nights rain storm, so much so that when we went out many people were heard muttering that they thought it would rain any second and could not understand why it was not already. We decided that despite the weather the car boot sale might be worth a visit, when we reached the field all that was there was a very lonely burger van. Next on the agenda a drive down the coast and a visit to our favourite antique dealer to see if he had ferreted out any new pieces we might like. By now it was time for lunch and we thought we would try the little pub at Llangrannog.
The Ship – which has had one of those Carmarthen coast makeovers, where they put in a very expensive bar complete with a big stainless steel cappuccino machine and then paint everything white and blue – looked deserted but was in fact inhabited by three ladies who were sitting under one of the televisions waiting for their lunch. An unsmiling welcome assured us that our every wish would be considered! Soup of the day was off the menu because “he” did not know what it was “he” thought it might be chicken but would not serve it as the chef – obviously not “he” – was not contactable to verify the actual category. Perhaps fish then, but as the menu only said fish and not what sort we decided it probably was not worth pursuing, given the soup problem.
In the end we settled for Welsh beef burger and wedges. A “Welsh beef burger” turns out to be finely pulverised beef compacted into a dense rubbery slab, which is then grilled (I think) and wedges are triangular shaped chips. Actually it was not as bad as I am making out and the bun was very nice, well Isabel said it was, I had mine minus bun. Not wishing to outstay our unsmiling welcome and getting fed up with the conflict between both the television and the background music for our attention, we decided to head into Aberaeron and have coffee and cake instead of pudding.
Wednesday was mushroom hunting day, Isabel aided by the BBC weather fabrication department had decreed Wednesday to be the best day of the week, so after packing a bag of sweets and some water, off up into the mountains to check out some of our favourite mushroom spots. The best day of the week did not really extend far beyond the coast, we drove into mist and when out of the car the low dark clouds would occasionally throw just one single handful of raindrops at us as if in jest. We did however find several wild mushrooms mainly Hedgehogs and Giroles, (properly called Chantrelle until suppliers started calling something else chantrelle just to muddy the water) with the odd slippery jack (Bay Bolete). We both thought that had we had more time or more inclination we would have found lots of penny buns but perhaps another day.
On Thursday as we drove down to Aberaeron for dinner at the Hive on the Quay, the sun believe it or not, just broke through the heavy clouds making a statement of beauty that could only have been ignored by the fatally desensitize.
Dinner at the Hive was very a pleasant affair Isabel chose roast tomato and red pepper soup which she pronounced as being absolutely fabulous I had potted crab with crusty bread, which though very nice would have been better described as crab salad with toast sprinkled with olive oil, as the crab was not potted but mixed with mayonnaise, but that’s just me being picky over menu terms. Isabel`s main course of salmon with roast vegetables again met with approval as did my local Welsh lamb on creamed leeks. How Welsh can you get !
We were somewhat stuck when it came to ordering puddings not actually fancying anything on the menu. The pear tatin sounded nice, but I have only ever eaten one pear in my life, that was when I was five years old and was violently ill afterwards, probably not the pear’s fault but associations live with you. We chose instead some of the famous Hive honey ice cream so all was not lost.
One point I will make about the Hive is the service needs some sharpening, especially with the very slick operation of the Harbourmaster in sight just down the road. I understand the problems of getting restaurant staff these days, but when we write everything down on order pads why do they keep forgetting things?
The family in various guises have eaten now several times at the Hive and on each occasion something has been forgotten. One could understand this sort of laxity if the waiting staff were rushed off their feet but that is not the case, on Thursday evening four servers were dealing with four tables of two and one table of five, thirteen people in total, they forgot our water and Isabel`s liqueur, a bottle of wine for the couple on the left and the vegetables for the table on the right. They do not need lessons in customer service politeness or friendliness, in all these they are top notch, they need lesson in memory or perhaps they really need a different system. But even the forgetful service wont stop us going back, as the food is good ambience just fine and anyway there is always the chance next time they might forget the bill.