It was, like, 9.30am when we did a dodgy looking slow drive past Caffle Brewery. We pulled over and shuffled up to the wall, peering over it, looking for signs of life in the large, stone house which looked like it could have been a school at one point. We were wondering if we should go and knock or just swing by at a slightly more sociable hour when a woman opened the door, eyed us quizzically, and asked if she could help us. I wouldn’t be surprised if she already had 999 dialled on her phone with her finger hovering over the call button.
Turned out that she was the daughter of the couple who owned the brewery which they’d set up three years ago in their garage. They were off that day doing some manner of epic cycling thing around Pembrokeshire but she could sell us some beer. It would have been lovely to meet them, it’s shame we couldn’t. Their daughter told us they liked to experiment with local ingredients to produce different flavours which resulted in Tarrant buying a beer with rosemary in it called Sprilly Maid. We also bought bottles of Skirp Gold, In The Grip, and Skaddly Pluck. Apparently the names are taken from Pembrokeshire words and slang. Basically, Caffle ale is local as fuck.
We stashed our new haul in the car and continued on to St David’s which is the tiniest city in all the land on account of the fuck off great big cathedral there. The cathedral was closed though because someone was having the audacity to get married there so we headed over to the ruins next to it, Bishop’s Palace, where we parted with £3.50 each to have a wander around it. I love a ruin. They’re roofless pieces of history. There’s not much off limits here, you can explore most places including the corridors and spiral staircases that the servants used to get around without being seen. They’re very fucking narrow and steep. You wouldn’t want to be a servant with a penchant for pies, and you’d shuffle up and down the steps in the constant fear that you’d trip and fall and unceremoniously distribute the contents of that chamber pot you were carrying over the palace walls.
The most impressive part of the complex is the Great Hall, and at the end of this hall you can make your way up a narrow spiral staircase whilst clinging onto walls for dear life and hoping no one is trying to get down as you’re climbing up, then you’re rewarded with this stunning view over the Great Hall, all the way to the cathedral. Definitely worth the shattered nerves it cost you to get there.
The Bishop’s Palace was built by Henry de Gower and don’t get me wrong, it’s impressive. One of my main problems with religion is how rich the churches are, reaping money from people who probably can’t afford it, so church leaders can build opulent palaces to entertain rich guests. There are information boards scattered throughout the ruins so we were able to learn a few things and apparently the bishop would have rarely stayed here anyway. He was usually travelling.
There was a bedroom designed to impress guests with lots of natural daylight, which shared the wall with the Great Hall so it was nicely heated, and there was an en suite privy. There’s also an elaborate chapel where the bishop’s “distinguished guests” could worship. Religion, in medieval times, was central to everyone’s lives. The church marked births, marriages and deaths, and church bells told people when to rise, work, eat, pray and sleep. Yeeaahhh, fuck that shit. Ain’t no bell telling me I’ve got to get up before 10.30 and eat at certain times. I’ll stuff my facehole full of cheesecake any time I damn well please.
The Great Hall was, obviously, where guests were entertained with lavish feasts prepared in a kitchen attached to the hall itself so servants didn’t have far to carry the food, and certainly not through those ridiculous hallways. Not for any comfort of the servants, y’understand. Just so the food didn’t get cold between the kitchen and the hall. But it was a very well designed kitchen with high windows to let in light, four chimneys for the stoves, a hole in the floor to easily chuck away slops, and a hatch in the wall so servants could grab ready dishes and deliver them to the faceholes of the posh folks. To be fair, any leftover food was distributed to the poor because the bishop had to be seen to be doing charity work for the locals in between building massive palaces and travelling around the country.
Once we’d got our ruins fix we shuffled by the cathedral again to see if we could get in but it was still closed, but this did mean we could allocate more time to the consumption of cream teas. Very important. It’s not a holiday if you don’t line as many arteries as possible with clotted cream. The we thought we’d go have a look at Cardigan because there were meant to be more ruins there and we were on a roll. Turns out there ruins are more of a wall, most of which is buried, and they were building come manner of concert stage in there.
Ah fuck it then, we decided to have a stroll through town which I’m pretty glad we did because we found several cheesy 80’s CD’s in a charity shop where nobody tried to discuss vaginal infections with me like they did in the last charity shop we went to, and we also found a woman who sold homemade dairy free ice cream from a funky little trailer. Mate. It’s amazing. Now, as much as I enjoy consuming the nipple juice of another species, Tarrant can’t, so we’re all over anything dairy free and delicious. Ice Green make their ice cream from cashew nuts so if you’re dairy intolerant and have a nut allergy then I’m very very sorry. Here’s some lettuce instead.
There’s also a brewery in Cardigan called Mantle but we couldn’t get hold of them to see if we could visit, so we found a few of their beers in a local produce store where Tarrant went for a Dark Heart, a dark ale as the name would suggest because she’s a proper beer drinker, and I went for a lager called Hoodwinked because I’m still a filthy lager whore at heart. I do like a nice lager though, gone are the days where I considered Fosters an acceptable beverage to consume in public.
Not entirely sure what to do with the rest of our day, we decided to head to New Quay to try and find Penlon Brewery, failed miserably, and settled for parking up in New Quay to try and find a feed because it looked really pretty. At the risk of sounding like a judgemental arsehole (spoiler alert: I’m very much a judgemental arsehole) We didn’t really like it around here. New Quay is pretty but the atmosphere wasn’t very nice so we swung by a local shop, grabbed a couple of bottles of Penlon beer and headed back to Tir Bach (which was, as always, shrouded in cloud) to sip our beer on our high horses in front of the woodburner.
St David’s & Cardigan, South Wales
Stayed at: Tir Bach Farm Campsite, Llanycefn, Pembrokeshire