An angel and a lost Superlambanana



Saturday lunchtime we were walking through the woods around the back of Llanberis when we found ourselves looking out over a field at the end of which stood a lone  Superlambanana looking slightly lost under a glowering grey sky and the benign look of some white cottages.

We had spent the night before eating soup and drinking beer amidst good company and gearing up for the prospect of a night spent in a mini Swiss chalet nestled amongst some hobbit hutches and a Celtic meeting room. The beer was flavoured with elderflower and went down very well indeed and managed to stave off the worst of the midges for a while.

The chalet was cozy until I woke at 4.00 in the morning as the beer took its toll and I was obliged to stumble out in the semi-dark with a torch so I could find a convenient tree on account of not yet having worked out the location of the compost loos. I had had a go of course earlier in the evening but found myself peering in through the windows of what transpired to be occupied hobbit hutches.

After the adventures of Friday night a walk was planned.

The plan kept simple. All we had to do was walk back up the hill until we found some white markers. We could then follow those to an old slate mine where we would find a stairway to heaven and a house full of old shoes.

Somewhat to our surprise the plan almost worked. We followed the white markers and they took us past the Superlambanana and then onto the slate mine. The slate mine was suitably abandoned and grey under the mountains. There seemed to be a number of options for the stairway to heaven and it transpired we took the wrong one. We scrambled to the top of it any way and ate flap-jacks and drank a pint of beer. We then scrambled our way back down.

Having scrambled our way down I put my hand on my head and realised that a new leather hat had been left on the top of the steep path we had just scrambled down. I had taken it off to better tip the can of beer down my throat. There was nothing for it but to mutter an oath and head back up the hill to fetch it. Three days later I can still feel the tightness in my thighs.

We didn’t find the house of abandoned shoes.

Back amongst the hobbit hutches some of us went for a swim in the lake whilst others got ready to do battle with the midges by sampling more of the elderflower flavoured beer. We then stood around a fire outside in the gloming and listened to stories and drank at prosecco fished out of a blue box in a cold stream. The same blue box also held some excellent smoked beer which joined forces with its elderflower flavoured ally. There was then time for more good food before a gathering in the Celtic hut where a fire was lit and we listened to talk of the mountains, and a whistle.

Later as we stood outside the midges descended. Vast bottles of emollients were produced and all available skin duly lathered. I did without confident that the combination of smoked and elderflower flavoured beer and the smoke from the fire would keep them at bay.

I was wrong of course and 24 hours later I became a twisting mass of bumps and itches.


We made it back home Sunday afternoon and I cooked a rum flavoured Jamaican chicken curry with rice.


Was that the hottest day of the year so far or was it just the hottest day when there was time to lie in a hammock in the garden and fall asleep – all the other hottest days coming mid week whilst I will be sat in an office looking out over the blue sky and sun.

Either way it seemed right for a BBQ.

It was duly fired up and a chicken was cut in half and spatch-cocked. A pat of butter was mashed with tarragon and garlic and this mixture was slid under the skin.

We ate it as the sun went down behind the trees, and yet again I bemoaned how tall they were, with potatoes that had been finished off in butter and mint.

Miracles can happen

Imagine one of your favourite bands from twenty or thirty years ago split up and slipped into an obscutirty tied up with record company goings on that made it impossible to get hold of any their records. That didn’t matter too much as you had them first time round on vinyl and over the years one of them became one of your favourite records. A strange lilting record about childhood and dogs.

Imagine spending a Friday evening with that same band, the guitarist and singer, more or less playing in your front room.

That is what happened to me Friday night in a room on the top floor of The Jericho Tavern..

Somewhere upstairs in the attic in the pile of old NMEs going back thirty years there is probably a review of their first short album, The Backyard. It was the same time as REM and in my mind I lumped them together. But there was something different about Miracle. Legion. They were not quite so fully formed but with their rough edges they could have been something different.

But it was their second album that did it – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. It was one of those records that get under the skin and you can never quite get hold of. I bought it when it came out in 1987 and there are probably years that have gone by when it doesn’t get played. But every so often it comes out and it is like it has never been away and over the years the songs have drawn me in.

There are a couple of songs that can stop me dead in tracks – especially All For the Best – which may be about a father and son, or maybe brothers, and regret and memory and how love can endure through those things.

There were only the two of them playing Friday night – Ray Neal the guitarist and Mark Mulcahy the singer.

There were only about 25 people in the audience. Most of them men of a certain age with straggly beards and all being careful not to catch anyone’s eye although most of us were there for the same reason with our own worn copy of Surprise, Surprise, Surprise propped in near a record deck somewhere at home. There were a few tables and chairs set up in front of the stage and given the size venue they could have been playing in your living room.

They played All For the Best at which point I could;d have gone home happy. But then they played Gigantic Transatlantic Trunk Call and I was a pool of beer smelling jelly on the floor.

You can download most of their music from

You know you should.

I was back home on Saturday dozing in the garden, listening to the rain and cooking prawns with rice.

Asparagus, cream & pasta

I mentioned Saturday night I forgot to cook the two packets of Asparagus I bought from Claremont Farm in the morning.

We had them this evening as part of a throwaway supper.

A large pan of water was brought to the boil. I snapped off the bottom ends of the asparagus and then cut them into pieces an inch long. Once the water was boiling it was salted and the asparagus were tipped in. I kept the tips behind.

After a couple of minutes the tips went in as well. They were given another minute and I then fished them all out. I did this rather than draining the water so I could cook the pasta in the water that had been lightly flavoured by the asparagus.

A packet of pasta went into the still boiling water. Ten minutes to go.

In a small pan I melted a pat of butter and cooked a couple of crushed cloves of garlic. As the garlic started to take on some colour I added the asparagus and gave it a stir. A tub of double cream was then stirred in. It was given a good grinding of pepper and some salt and then a few minutes to heat through. Just as the pasta was done I added some chopped tarragon.

Drained pasta and the asparagus cream mixture were then all stirred together and served in a large white bowl.

We listened to Miracle Legion. And then listened to them again.