Yearly Archives: 2012

Tools For Self Reliance Cymru

Tools For Self Reliance Cymru collect old and unwanted hand tools, mostly those used by gardeners, and their volunteers clean, repair and sharpen them. They send their refurbished tool kits to grass roots community groups in Africa.

As they explain, “Tools mean work, and the chance to shape their future, just as important to a young person in Tanzania or Ghana today as it is in Britain.”


In addition to sending tools to Africa, TFSR Cymru also buy tools and items made by blacksmiths in Africa, those they have supported in the past, and bring them back to the UK for sale.

TSFR Cymru also sell a large number of tools that they receive for refurbishment but which are not required by their African partners, either because they are easily made locally or are not needed there. These tools are also cleaned and sharpened, fitted with new handles where necessary and often have much more character than modern tools.


We encountered TSFR Cymru at this year’s Abergavenny Food Festival when their box of rakes, hoes, cultivators, dibbers caught our eye. When we saw how reasonable the prices were, Pete could not resist purchasing a cultivator, which shall be put to good work in the garden and allotment in coming months.

There were also some smaller gardening and other tools available which would be ideal for gardeners, or as gifts for gardening friends.


Tools For Self Reliance Cymru are an independent registered charity based in Crickhowell in South Wales, and they collect tools from across Wales.

For those outside Wales, if you have friends and family closer to TFSR Cymru  or are planning a holiday, do look at whether you are able to contribute any old and unwanted tools for them to refurbish. TSFR Cymru have four groups in Wales as well as a network of collectors who also help them gather suitable tools.


(There is also a separate UK Tools for Self Reliance organisation which does similar work and may have centres near you).


With thanks to Abergavenny Food Festival for press passes to attend the festival.

Photos from A Hop Garden

Aaaah. August! When the sun was shining and the sky was blue… it seems so long ago now…

On the last day of the month, Pete and I were invited to visit a Hop Garden in Kent, and learn more about how hops are grown, harvested and processed before being used to make beer. Our hosts, Shepherd Neame are based in Faversham, and are committed to using British hops as much as possible. They took us for a tour Mockbeggar Farm in nearby Teynham, where owner Tony Redsell showed us around.

You can read more about the visit on Pete Drinks.

For my part, I’d simply like to share some photographs from the day. (Click on individual images to view at larger size).

Out in the fields:

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Stripping hops from the bines:

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ShepherdNeameHopWeekend-1712 ShepherdNeameHopWeekend-1704

Drying the hops:

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ShepherdNeameHopWeekend-1749 ShepherdNeameHopWeekend-1755

Packaging the hops:

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Chatting to owner Tony Redsell and Shepherd Neame’s Head Brewer, Richard Frost:


A London Gardener visited Mockbeggar Farm as guests of Shepherd Neame.

Last Of The Hops


I’ve finally cut down the hop bines, and taken off the remaining hop flowers.

The majority of the flowers were taken off a couple of weeks ago to go straight into my green hop beer; this small collection was all that was left, but it’s still a much bigger crop than I had dared to expected when I planted the hop earlier this year.

It only took a couple of hours in a very low temperature oven (with the door open) to dry them out properly – they’re now all safely tucked away in the freezer waiting for me to decide what beer to brew with them!

Eden Project 2012

During our summer trip to Cornwall, we spent a lovely afternoon at the Eden Project, near St Austell.

Registered as a charity, the Eden Project is not only a beautiful place to visit, but a hugely educational one, and we loved exploring the enormous biomes and gardens.

In one is the world’s largest "rainforest in captivity", large enough that there are many distinct environments such as the mangrove swamp, a large waterfall and rainforest, mini rice paddies, vegetable fields and soya plantations and an absolutely incredible collection of flora.

The smaller Mediterranean biome doesn’t feel quite as real, in some ways, though it’s still delightful.

In the gardens, we admired plants more suited to our climate, and a range of sculpture and art.

The educational centre is more geared to children, but we did appreciate the immense stone egg sculpture inside – a shame it’s not on display in the gardens, where one could enjoy it from all around.

We were very impressed by both the quality and the price of the food served in the enormous Eden Bakery. All the food and drink offerings use local, seasonal or fairly traded products wherever they can. I also loved my baobob ice cream, from the small stall just outside the rainforest biome.



Our visit to the Eden Project was part of a week-long South West Tour courtesy of The Eden Project and The Food Travel Company. The Food Travel Company offers specialist trips for food lovers, with group departures and customised itineraries available.