This trip was always going to be a challenge, basically due to the fact we had to drive from home, with all the kit. Sadly we could not really fly, so we set off in the early afternoon and arriving early evening after a lovely drive, including driving over the famous Menai bridge.
The Ye Olde Bulls Head Inn was a lovely surprise after a long trip, welcoming, cosy and well run. We stayed in The Townhouse, across the road. This has been finished to a very modern style, the rooms are airy, bright and not what I was expecting. The only annoying part was the very stiff door closing and sharp shutting the bathroom door.
The small town of Beaumaris is a pleasant, welcoming place with amiable locals. The main street is a mix of hotels, pubs and gift shops, right by the seaside. After a good pint, we ate in the hotel brasserie, with a nice menu with plenty of variety. My risotto was a bit too creamy for my liking and could have had a few more vegetables, but it tasted okay. The steaks we had were very good with nice chips and amiable service. After this, it was off to bed as we had an early start.
After a nice breakfast, we awaited the arrival of my transport, a lovely soft top Westfield sports car. Yes, this was how I was going to get around Anglesey for the next couple of days, what fun! Simon delivered the car and stayed with us for the duration, and what a car it was. He gave me a strict safety briefing, and off we went.
We set off to film driving over the Menai bridge. This took slightly longer than we expected, so we were late filming in Moo Baa Oinc, the butcher’s shop where Brian Thomas sells his families wonderful meat. It’s a lovely shop packed full of Anglesey products, and I picked up some Welsh Black steaks for cooking later. I also added some chilli sauce and a little cranberry and onion relish.
We then went to the farm to film with Brian’s father, O J, and his son Carwyn, and of course, their cattle. Their 900-acre farm has spectacular views and is a perfect place to rear cattle with its unique sea air and lush grass. I was really looking forward to cooking and tasting this fabulous meat later in the day.
Next, it was off to Nerys Roberts to find out about Bara Brith, the iconic Welsh cake, or was it a bread? That was my first question on camera to her. In fact, it can be both, made with yeast or just simmered butter and fruit, flour, eggs and then baked. It was lovely, especially with fresh Welsh butter. In fact, it’s better after about three weeks, Nery’s assures me.
Finally, after a long day and running even later after we got lost, we finally got to meet Helen Holland. We were here to try her award-winning Barra Brith ice cream. The sun was setting, so we had to be quick, doing several pieces to camera in the field with her two horses and dogs (Coco Chanel, Fudge, Pudding and Modlan). Our director JD assures me that it was the best shot of the day.
That night we rushed back to Moo Baa Oinc to eat the Welsh Black steaks. They were delicious indeed, full of flavour and very tender, and even better as they were all cooked by Aled Williams, he of Great British Menu fame. My Carpaccio, though, was a little tasteless, and I would have preferred a simpler presentation and chips rather than a buttery mash with my ribeye. But that’s only my personal view.
The next day, I’m off again to film a few more general views, and then I had to wait on a windswept, deserted beach whilst JD & Geraint filmed from a helicopter. We were to try and film the opening to the series. The trouble was that the helicopter could not hover low enough due to local regulations, so I’m not sure what happened there.
After an hour or so, it was straight off to the White Eagle pub to cook Brian’s steaks on the barbecue for the finale to the film. As we got there, the heavens opened, and it hammered down. At this point, I wondered if we would ever get to cook outside. All the friends I had made were due to turn up, and I was to cook for them.
So as we all waited patiently, I tucked into an excellent haddock and chips but would have preferred real mushy peas. Nevertheless, it was fresh, had great flavour and was well cooked and delicious. At the point when I forked down the final chip, the sun suddenly burst through the clouds, and we all rushed out to get ready. What a stroke of luck!
The head Chef, Roger, and the team were fantastic, helping us way beyond the call of duty. I cooked steaks rare, then sliced them into thin-ish strips across the grain of the meat added this to a local seed bread, topped with roasted peppers, wild rocket and cranberry relish. I think everyone enjoyed their late lunch.
After filming more general driving shots on the roads and lanes, we finally started to head home.
Well my thanks have to go to all the people who helped in sometimes difficult conditions, and us all turning up late, but I have to say I really enjoyed my first trip to Anglesey and will be back very soon.