Madog, the Welsh Columbus


By Andrew-Paul Shakespeare It should hardly be surprising of a man who has nineteen sons (and, presumably, a similar number of daughters, the insatiable old goat!), that most of them were illegitimate; although, since six of them were legitimate (and, presumably, a similar number of daughters), Madog’s mother was certainly no slouch. The problem was […]

December 28, 2017

Welsh Rarebit


Welsh Rarebit is still very common in Wales, and well understood as a piece of toast covered in a sauce made from cheese, beer and mustard, and grilled for a couple of minutes until melted. So I was surprised to find this Victorian recipe (Mrs Beeton No 1652) from 1861, which prescribed a Welsh Rarebit […]

December 20, 2017

Curse of the Sand Faeries


By Andrew-Paul Shakespeare Henry de Beaumont, the French-speaking Norman 1st Earl of Warwick, was a horrid man: aggressive and arrogant. Hunting one day in the district of Three Cliffs Bay, his party espied a pretty Welsh girl singing in a clearing in the woods. Consumed with lust, he ordered his men to kidnap her, and […]

December 18, 2017

So Just Who Was St David Anyway?


By Andrew-Paul Shakespeare For a nun, his mother seems to have put it about rather a lot!  St David’s father is variously said to have been Sant, prince of Ceredigion; or Sandde, prince of Powys; or King Arthur; depending which tradition you refer to, but they’re all agreed that his mother was Non.  He was […]

December 7, 2017



Very often, food that is said to be “traditional” is greatly adapted.  Just look at how Welsh rarebit has changed since Mrs Beeton’s day. Not so in this case.  Cawl is about as authentic as it gets.  It’s the broth of peasants, for whom cooking meant an iron pot that simmered permanently on the hearth, […]

December 3, 2017