Saturday, 29 September 2012

Locally Grown

Local Support
Regular readers of this blog will already know that at the Oakeley Arms, we're super proud of the beautiful area that we live in. And here in Snowdonia we're really lucky to have a huge choice of local producers and companies who supply us with a great range of fabulous products and services.
We firmly believe in supporting small and local businesses, because we think it's important for the economy of our area and that it encourages jobs and prosperity. It also helps to keep communities alive with a diverse and interesting selection of characterful produce and businesses, rather than indistinguishable mass produced goods and services. We also hope that in turn, other local businesses will support us too.
99% of what we use here at the Oakeley is bought locally - from beer to cheese and toilet roll to tin foil. We're proud of our local ales, chocolates and fresh produce and we think it all adds to our warm Welsh welcome.
The Oakeley Arms are proud to support local, small and homegrown businesses.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Snowdonia Autumn

Awesome Autumn
Here in Snowdonia, the relentless summer showers have finally given way to beautiful late September days. There's no denying that Autumn is well and truly on it's way - there's a chill in the evening air and sometimes a sprinkling of frost on the Oakeley lawns first thing.
We snapped this picture of the beautiful mountains last night. It was a gorgeous autumn evening - perfect for a stroll to appreciate the stunning views.
There are lots of fabulous walks in Snowdonia from the Oakeley Arms Hotel - you can check out our previous blog posts here and here, or ask staff for details.


Monday, 17 September 2012

National Cupcake Week

Cake Heaven
Wow, there's a giddy feeling in the air at the Oakeley Arms this week! And that's because it's National Cupcake Week! And those of you who know us well, know we love a good cupcake!
We might think that cupcakes are a modern fashion, but these little parcels of joy date as far back as 1796, when American cook Amelia Simmons first mentioned a "cake to be cooked in small cups" in her book American Cookery.
In America, the name "cupcake" also comes from the measurements used to bake them - ingerdients are measured in "cups" rather than by weight. Small cakes were often called 1234 cakes because they were made up of 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs.
Cupcakes were hugely popular in the 1960s, and in the UK were called Fairy Cakes because of their miniature size. They fell out of favour in the 70s and 80s until recently, when they have been enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity. There are books, television programmes, shops and even whole weeks dedicated to the delicious art of cupcake baking!
So, why not celebrate National Cupcake Week! You could bake a batch of your favourite variety, or try something wild and different (what about Beetroot and Vanilla or Chilli Chocolate?).
Never baked a cupcake before? Worry not, you can find tips for the perfect cupcake here.
And if you can't really be bothered with the whole mixing, baking and perfecting, then why not pop down to the Oakeley Arms and just enjoy the eating! We have a daily selection of cupcakes available that are made fresh every day in our kitchen by our fabulous and talented chefs. Treat yourself today!

Image by Greenbay on
National Cupcake Week starts on the 17th September. Find out more information here.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Helfa Gelf 2012

On your Art; get set; GO!
It turns out that September is a pretty special month here in North Wales, and today's blog post is a celebration of the fabulous Helfa Gelf (Art Trail) that is taking place in artist's studios and galleries across North Wales.
Every weekend this month, Welsh artists give you the chance to create a unique trail across North Wales, visiting artists at work in their galleries or studios. The event is totally free, and includes a huge range of artists and disciplines from painters, sculptors, potters, wood-turners, basket weavers, photographers, jewellers and printers, to name a few!
And if you take part in the trail, you'll visit unique studios, homes and places - some of which aren't usually open to the public, from garden sheds and back rooms to modern studios and spacious galleries.
There are artists in Gwynedd, Conwy, Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire taking part. Close to the Oakeley Arms Hotel, you could visit Jane Chapman and Ross Webb, artists whose studio is near Harlech. Or how Robert Dafydd Cadwalader's gallery in Criccieth? There are also several studios in Porthmadog to visit (Michael Webber, Bill Swann and Pethau Melys) or in Llanfrothen you could visit Ian Marsh's workshop or the gardens of Portmeirion architect Clough Williams Ellis at Plas Brondanw.
The choices really are endless! Check the map on the Helfa Gelf website for more information and details of the artists taking part. And you never know, all the arty-goings on may inspire us here at the Oakeley to dig out the easel and brush!
image by iprol on
You can see some great pictures of artists at work on the BBC News website (link here)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Spin the Yarn

A Woolly Lesson!
Here at the Oakeley Arms Hotel we're surrounded by the lush fields, sweeping countryside and beautiful valleys of Snowdonia, and there's quite a few residents of this landscape that love to chomp, bounce, graze and bleat their way through the seasons. They are one of our little country's most famous features.
Of course, we're talking about the fluffy, woolly, lovely sheep that are dotted across the hills and fields of Snowdonia! Wales is renowned for it's population of woolly sheep, but most modern breeds of sheep are thought to be descended from the wild mouflon of Eastern Europe and Asia. A sheep's woolly coat is the most widely harvested and used animal fibre in the world - it is sheared and utilised for a huge variety of purposes from clothes to bedding to house building materials.
image by goejsen on
Turning the fleecy, woolly material that comes off the sheep into a usable piece of wool is an art that has been practised in Wales for many centuries. And if you fancy learning this ancient art, then you should get yourself down to the Moelyci Environmental Centre this Wednesday (12th September) where they're running a special course in yarn and wool spinning, in association with the BBC Handmade Britain initiative.
Spin the day away, and get knitting a bright woolly jumper, just in time for Christmas!!
image by ariana873 on
From 09:30 to 16:00.
Suitable for adults over 18 years
Cost £30 per person.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Beachwatch Big Weekend

We do like to be beside the seeeeeaside.
On the coastline of Snowdonia, just a few miles from us here at the Oakeley Arms Hotel, are some of the most stunning beaches in the country. We think we're pretty lucky to live so close to this magnificent coastline, so when it comes to looking after it, we'll jump at the chance to give a little something back....
Beachwatch Big Weekend is an initiative now in it's 19th year. It's organised by the Marine Conservation Society and it's basically a big beach clean! It takes part across Britain, and is a way for the whole community to be actively involved in keeping beaches and coastlines clean and rubbish free.
This year, the Beachwatch Big Weekend runs from 14th - 17th September. The event is a crucial part of the Marine Conservation Society's work to keep beaches clean. Much of the wildlife and nature that lives along our coasts and beaches is under threat because if the huge volume of litter and waste in the sea. Some wildlife actually get trapped and entangled in pieces of rubbish, and some accidentally eat it. Over a million birds and 100,000 sea mammals die from the effects of rubbish in the sea every year. And it's not great for humans either - a beach scattered with nasty looking rubbish and sometimes hazardous waste doesn't make for a pleasant day out.
Each year, the Marine Conservation Society produce a report on the type, and amount, of waste that is found on the country's beaches. The latest report shows that since this project was started 19 years ago, beach rubbish has increased by a staggering 135%. They have also found that over half of the rubbish found is plastic, and that dog poo in plastic bags has increased by 11% in just one year!
So, if you fancy doing your bit for our beautiful Welsh beaches, volunteer to take part in the annual Beachwatch Big Weekend and help out with a beach clean. You can find more information at the website here. You can volunteer for an event already taking place, or you can organise your own beach clean up.
Let's banish that waste and get our beautiful beaches clean!

Harlech Beach, close to the Oakeley Arms Hotel

Monday, 3 September 2012

Maentwrog's Poet

Love Maentwrog
Just a short hop and a skip from the Oakeley Arms Hotel in Snowdonia is the pretty village of Maentwrog; a place steeped in history and legend (you can find out more at some of our previous blog posts about Maentwrog and it's beautiful church).
One thing we didn't know about our lovely village of Maentwrog is that in the nineteenth century, it was host to one of the period's most famous writers and dandys.
Thomas Love Peacock was born in 1785 in Dorset - quite a way from Maentwrog! But, the poet and novelist was very fond of travelling. After completing a walking tour of Scotland in 1806, he travelled up to Wales from his mother's home in Surrey in 1810 and he settled for a time in Maentwrog.
Portrait of Thomas Love Peacock by Henry Wallis
Perhaps he was captivated by the pretty village,  grand stone built houses, the babbling streams, quiet woodland and the shadows of Snowdonian mountains. He was certainly captivated by a local girl, Jane Griffith, the parson's daughter.
Thomas stayed in Maentwrog for almost a year and courted Jane, although they didn't marry straight away. Thomas first of all walked back to southern England from Maentwrog; he left in 1811. His journey took him of Cadair Idris, through Towyn and Aberystwyth and over Devil's Bridge. We hope he had a good map!
Jane and Thomas did eventually marry in 1820 - it probably took him that long to walk home! They had three daughters and a son, but sadly only the son survived them. Jane died in 1865 and Thomas the following year in 1866.
We're not sure if Thomas and Jane ever made the long journey back to Maentwrog. And if they did, we certainly hope that he didn't make his young bride walk it!
You can find out more about Peacock's life and work at the Thomas Love Peacock Society