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Aromatic Lamb and Eton Mess

Aromatic Lamb with Dates

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

500g diced boneless lamb, from the leg

300g sweet potatoes, cut into small chunks

2 tsp each ground coriander and cinnamon

1 tbsp tomato puree

50g pitted dates

2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and lamb. Quickly fry until the lamb is lightly browned. Add the sweet potatoes and spices, mix well. Pour in 425ml boiling water and the tomato puree, then bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 mins until sweet potatoes and lamb are tender, adding the dates for the final 10 mins. Sprinkle with the coriander and serve with couscous.

Posh Eton Mess

600ml double cream

3 tbsp icing sugar

8 meringue nests

700g strawberries (not large) hulled

200g bar dairy milk chocolate, grated

300g packet chocolate digestive biscuits

75g butter melted

Butter and line the base of a 23cm spring form tin with baking paper. Put the chocolate in the fridge for a while before grating. Prepare all ingredients before making up in tin.

Blitz the chocolate biscuits in a processor, tip crumbs into a bowl. Add butter, mix well and spread into the base of the tin. Level off and pat down with a flat bottom glass. Hull strawberries and cut each one into 4. Divide in half and place in two bowls. In a bowl grate the chocolate and return to the fridge. In a large bowl scrunch up 6 of the meringues. Blitz the other two in the processor.

Using a food mixer or hand mixer with a bowl whip the cream until it forms peaks add the icing sugar and continue to whip until it becomes a little stiff. Tip the cream into the bowl with the meringues and mix well.

Divide cream mixture into two and spread one half onto the biscuits in the tin, level off. Top the cream with one half of the strawberries, level off. Sprinkle half the chocolate over the strawberries. Repeat again with the remaining ingredients, cream, strawberries and chocolate. Sprinkle the blitzed meringues over the top.

Place in the fridge to chill before serving. Run a hot knife around the mess and the outer ring of the tin and unclip. Enjoy!




National Meadows Week

National Meadows Week

We celebrated National Meadows Week in July with a ‘walk and talk’ around the Upper Orchid Field. We are fortunate to have this facility on our doorstep and it is well used by visitors, dog-walkers and joggers whilst providing a haven for wildlife. The UK has lost around 97% of its wildflower meadows in the last 100 years and there are few remaining examples around Cardiff and the Vale.

So, what is a ‘meadow’? It is an open area with herbaceous and other non-woody plants and from which a hay crop is taken every year. It is not grazed by livestock. Fields which are grazed are referred to as ‘pasture’. The vast majority of the non-arable fields in Wenvoe are pasture, mainly grass and with minimal biodiversity.

Hay meadows are an important element in mankind’s cultural and social evolution. Finding food for livestock over Winter was never easy but once we had developed the tools like sickles to be able to take a hay crop, cattle, sheep and goats could be kept in enclosures during the coldest months and fed the stored hay. And so, we had haystacks, hayricks and barns.

The hay meadows attracted plants that would grow happily in grass, would set seed and then be cut in the Autumn for storage. These flower varieties are very different from the weeds of arable (ploughed) fields like Poppies, Corncockle and Cornflower. In contrast on the Upper Orchid Field you will find Primroses, Cowslips, Knapweeds, Agrimony and, of course, Orchids, along with over 100 varieties of herbs and grasses.

This range of species is ideal for our threatened bees and other pollinators and the disappearance of our meadows is one of the reasons for the decline of our insects – a crisis which we are warned about daily by scientists. Meadows also act as a carbon sink – another topical issue. In next month’s issue we shall say a bit more about the Upper Orchid Field – who owns it, what its status is and what the Wildlife Group are doing to preserve it. In the meantime, enjoy the field and its flowers and trees. On our walk we found Bee Orchids – a wonderful but easily overlooked little plant. What can you find?

The Upper Orchid Field



History Of Wenvoe’s Allotments


As a former allotment holder I was fascinated to read this article in the South Wales Star dated 31 March 1893.

Next business: the selection of Field wardens for the Allotment. Mr T Thomas and Mr G J Thomas re-elected.

Wenvoe Vestry Meeting: The Allotment question. In reply to questions the Chairman stated the whole of the allotments had been cultivated this year. Last year there was one left uncultivated but now they had some difficulty in suiting all who applied and had to divide two or three pieces between two persons. Last year three prizes had been offered and he was pleased to say that this year the Rector had expressed his willingness to give a prize of 10 shillings for the allotments.

Mr J Thomas also explained what had been done in the past in regard to the allotments. He stated that at the Dinas Powis show 3 prizes had been given for the cultivating of the allotments- 10 shillings, 7 shillings 6 pence and 5 shillings. The judges had said people could not expect a prize if they only grew potatoes..if they did it showed they had a garden elsewhere and only set potatoes in the field. The allotments were intended to help the men who cultivated them as gardens. They had done well with their allotment; although they gave the people 8 perches for 1 shilling a year they had sufficient money in hand to give them about 2 shillings worth of lime for their 1 shilling.

There were 24 allotments of 8 perches each. They belonged to the working classes and had been left by the Enclosure Commissioners for the industrious poor of the village when that body took over St Lythans Downs.

(|Note: 8 perches is 0.05 of an acre; one shilling is 5p in new money)

by Nigel Billingham

The Wenvoe allotments are located at Twyn-yr-Odyn adjacent to the playing field. Please contact to enquire about the allotments and contact the Wardens for any concerns.




A Floral Safari


The strollers were promised a flora safari and were not disappointed with the multitude of flowers found in the fields around Cosmeston. Orchids grew in abundance next to the footpaths, and the more knowledgeable botanist walkers pointed out the different varieties. The warm, wet weather seems to have made it a bumper year for orchids. Take a look next time you are in Cosmeston, or join us on our next safari…who knows what we might find?




A Lot More Work Needed


On a miserable July morning the team were joined by Lowri, pictured here with her dad. They set about clearing the pavement that runs down alongside the old quarry road. Lowri showing true team spirit having travelled down from London to help.

At the other end of the village team B started work on the Wenvoe triangle at the bottom of Pound Lane. Like the Bermuda triangle team members in the past have gone in there and not come out. A lot more work is needed here, so if team members could meet there on Monday 9th August at 9.30 that would be great



The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

At last the Covid 19 restrictions relaxed enough to allow us to meet in Jill’s lovely garden with delicious cake to follow!

We discussed The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. For Raynor Winn and her husband Moth, the cruellest of diagnoses and the simultaneous collapse of their business opens an unexpected door to salvation through a journey which, over its length, transforms into a sweeping narrative of inner courage and nature’s ability to heal. They have almost no money for food or shelter and must carry only the essentials for survival on their backs as they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter, and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.

There were mixed feelings regarding the book. Nearly everyone agreed that it was a good read with great evocative descriptions of the weather, geography and the hardships encountered. It was not a negative book despite the sadness of their situation with lots to smile at.

However, many felt that it didn’t quite ring true. There was some criticism of the lack of Moth’s viewpoint or communication with their children, despite the couple’s closeness; Ray seemed in denial of Moth’s condition and that she was pushing him. Ray came across as not a very nice person. Many felt that there had been a lack of planning in relation to equipment, irresponsibility in not considering Moth’s medical condition or medication and some resentment about their taking advantage of others.

All agreed that it was good to read a book that led to wider discussions regarding ‘wild’ camping on private land which could encourage others to think that it was possible and right to do (although illegal in much of Britain), the problems of litter in wild places and sharing long distance walking stories.

Scores out of 10 ranged from 6 to 9 resulting in an average of 8.

Other books discussed:

Barak Obama’s autobiography

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards

A Single Thread by Tracey Chevalier

The Bell in The Lake by Lars Mytting.




Green Flag Judging

Wenvoe Wildlife Group

Green Flag Judging

It has been a frenetic few weeks as we prepared for Green Flag judging on some of our sites. As gardeners will know the weather has contributed to a mass of vegetation and it has been a challenge to keep paths open. Green Flags are for open spaces, the equivalent of a Blue Flag for a beach, and factors taken into account include ease of access, information on site, tidiness and biodiversity. The scheme is run by Keep Wales Tidy and this year we have applied for 7 awards. The next highest village in Wales has two! The results will not be out until late Summer/early Autumn, but we are keeping our fingers crossed. The photo shows our judge at the Bee Loud Glade.

We are now involved with the Barbastelle project for the Vale of Glamorgan. This woodland bat has not been recorded yet in the Vale, so a programme has been set up to deploy special bat recorders in 10 locations around the county. We shall be looking after two of them. This involves installing the recorders which are about twice the size of a credit card, changing the batteries every 3 weeks and downloading the data – this goes on for a year! Anyone wanting to help with the project can contact the Wildlife Group.

And, finally, our thanks to those who have donated items to the group. We have received wildflower seeds from a resident in the village, plants from Dinas Powys and two Cherry Trees and some slate tiles from Radyr.




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