Bendylegs Granola, a great local brand?

How well do you know your local business community?

It’s fair to say that most of us are aware of the shops on our local high streets – the baker, butcher, or fishmonger – but how well do you know the myriad of other businesses that exist, some thriving, many struggling, in your community?

I thought that I knew my local village, Mumbles, pretty well. However, today I discovered that a brand I once thought of as national, coming from somewhere in west London, actually calls Mumbles home. That brand is Bendylegs Granola.

Bendylegs Granola - a great brand born in Wales

Bendylegs Granola

Bendylegs Granola is the brainchild of mother-of-two Jo Watkins. Jo explains on the business’ website how her family loves the outdoors, how they like to shop local, and how they like to know what they’re eating. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that dissatisfied with the taste of supermarket granola she decided to produce her own.

Needless to say Jo’s granola was so tasty it caused quite a stir (no pun intended!) making the decision to step up and produce it commercially an obvious one. Now you can buy Jo’s Bendylegs Granola at a range of shops and cafes around Swansea.

A great brand?

The design is certainly pitching at a young, health conscious audience. The font used is often seen on Tumblr blogs with images of open seas and skies, striking a chord with VW Campervan and surfing enthusiasts.

A quick read of the Bendylegs website and you warm to Jo’s experience and passion for good wholesome food using locally sourced ingredients. The tone of voice is spot on.

However, I think that in its present form, closely associated with granola, the brand is fairly limited in its scope. It’s fair to say that Bendylegs has legs. By dropping the granola and diversifying one can imagine see a range of Bendylegs clothing, made in Wales using organic cotton, possibly to rival Howies, but I may be getting a little excited.

Meanwhile, Jo’s got a great brand with a strong wholesome ethos. It appears good and hearty, qualities that ring well with more affluent consumers.

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Chill beans. A stroke of genius?

Have you ever opened a tin of beans only wanting to use half? What do you do with the other half? You dirty another dish just to keep your beans in the fridge – annoying.

Fret no more, Heinz have come to the rescue with a new fridge pack, a small innovation in packaging that makes life a little easier.

Genius? It’s certainly great marketing. Heinz have examined the everyday lives of its consumers and responded with new packaging that enables them to enjoy Heinz beans at their convenience, without the hassle of having more dishes to wash.

That said, is it environmentally sustainable? The plastic packaging used in the new fridge packs is not as widely recycled as cans. Heinz could easily address this with refill packs in sachets, but then that goes back to square one.

So is Heinz’s new pack of beans you can chill a stroke of genius? Yes, and no.

Have a look at Heinz’s recent advert building an emotional attachment with the brand and differentiating their product from cheaper ‘own-brand’ competitors.

Lamb Kleftiko

Slow cooked lamb with garlic, oregano, lemon and potatoes.

This is a lovely recipe that’s easy to cook and recreates some of the flavours of the eastern Mediterranean.

Ingredients:

  • Lamb – a shoulder or leg joint cut into several large chunks
  • Potatoes – waxy if possible
  • Garlic
  • Dried oregano
  • Bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Lemons
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

Place the lamb potatoes and garlic (don’t worry about peeling it) in a casserole dish. Then add the oregano, bay leaves, olive oil and lemon juice.

Give it a mix – go on get your hands in. Season with salt and pepper and add some more olive oil and water to cover the lamb.

Place in the oven, at around 190C for approximately 3 hours.

Serve with green ‘runner’ beans and a nice glass of red wine.

Such a perfect birthday

T’was my birthday yesterday (5th July) and I quietly celebrated with a cold glass of Peroni at a sunny Langland Bay – bliss!

The day started with a rather rare occasion – I stayed in bed while my other half went off to work. My wife’s a teacher so it’s usually the other way around.

After pottering around the house and garden, catching up with some of the jobs I’ve been putting off for weeks, I headed into the village (Mumbles) for a haircut – number 2, back and sides, shortened and thinned out a bit on top.

I sat at Cafe Valence in the sun drinking coffee and reading The Maestro’s Voice by Roland Venrnon – promises to be a good read.

Getting itchy feet, I got up and strolled over to Langland Bay, it was particularly pleasant. I sat on the beach for a while before taking a few photos, getting my bum wet whilst crouching down to look into a rockpool – I’m such a klutz!

Having sufficiently dried off I walked up to Langland Brasserie, sat on the balcony and quietly drank a glass of cold Peroni, but I prefer Moretti.

I then headed home to see what Em had bought me. I’m really luck to have met someone so kind and loving. She really spoils me, and my birthday was no exception. I had a portable gas stove for our camping trips plus a few aluminium pans, a new pair of shorts, a Star Wars T-shirt and £100 for my study fund (I’m planning to start an OU Degree course in the autumn – Politics, Philosophy and Economics).

After a quick shower we walked down to Verdi’s for tea – pasta shells with tuna, cherry tomatoes, olives, white wine and parsley sauce and a bottle of Pinot Grigio. We dined alfresco watching the sun set behind Oystermouth Castle – totally relaxing. Living in Mumbles can feel like being on holiday quite often.

We had a few beers in nearby Salt (The George) before cheating and jumping in a taxi to go up the hill to home.

It really was a perfect day and I’d like to thank my wonderful wife Emma for her small but significant part.

Just married! Well, about two months ago.

On Wednesday 7th April I got hitched to my best friend and one true love, Emma, at the Civic Centre in Swansea.

We had a really lovely day, the weather was fairly bright and sunny. It was a little  funny as I used to work at the Civic Centre for quite a few years. I knew the deputy registrar and it did feel like something of a busman’s wedding.

Anyway, the ceremony went well. It was rather intimate with just my wife’s parents as guests and witnesses.

After the ceremony we had a few photos taken outside with the bay in the background.

We then left Swansea and headed for Abergavenny where the four of us (my wife and I and the in-laws) were staying the night and dining at The Walnut Tree.

We arrived around 2.15pm so we had a starter for light lunch, I had a delicious Steak Tartare with a few bottles of Dorothy Goodbody’s Golden Ale, brewed by nearby Wye Valley Brewery. Dorothy Goodbody’s is perfectly quaffable ale and I must admit she’d be quite a looker – check out the 1940’s style image of her they use in their marketing.

We spent the afternoon lounging around the Walnut Tree’s Ivy Cottage sipping champagne.

Come the evening we headed to the restaurant where I had a crab cake-like starter, belly pork main and rice pudding for dessert. Wow! It was heaven.

Really, if you want to eat well, head for the Walnut Tree. The head chef and proprietor is Shaun Hill. A well-known and much respected chef who had a restaurant in Ludlow, and on leaving there for London, thought twice, and headed to Abergavenny. 1-0 to Wales.

The following day we headed to Emma’s parents’ house in Cheshire for an overnight stay before flying out to Italy’s Lake Como, our adventures there I’ll write about soon.

Here’s a photo of my wife, Emma, and me on our happy day. Awh!

Spaghetti a Gamberetti

Prawns with spaghetti

A signature dish - yummy!

I love cooking. It’s how I switch off. Last night i made what is probably my signature dish – spaghetti a gamberetti.

Ingredients:
Spaghetti
King prawns
Red chillies
Sun-dried tomatoes
Garlic
Lemon
White wine
Rocket

Method:
Boil the spaghetti. Finely chop a few cloves of garlic and de-seeded chilies. Juice and zest a lemon. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a blender for a few mins.
Add some extra virgin olive oil to a large pan and gently fry the garlic and chillies. After a minute or two add the prawns and gently fry untlil they turn pink.
Add the wine (about a glass) and the sun-dried tomato paste and simmer for a fdew minutes.
Meanwhile drain the spaghetti and add to the pan. Turn off the heat throw in some roughly chopped rocket, lemon juice and zest. Mix it through a little before serving.

I like to use a Pinot Grigio with this dish – it also goes down rather nicely with it. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Bon appetito!

I must admit my partner, Emma, loves this dish. We’ve some fond memories of candle-lit dinners in the kitchen – very romantic.