Hello & Welcome

to the July issue of the BAY magazine

WE’RE BACK! When the lockdown happened back in March, we were halfway through production of our April issue and had to make the difficult decision to call a halt. Not only were our advertisers getting concerned that they would not be open for business, but we also had to consider the safety of our delivery team.

All of our advertisers this month have assured me that they will be following government guidelines and safeguarding their workforce and their customers. We need to get the economy in Swansea moving again, so do make that call and employ that tradesman. I have personally used local businesses since the lock down. Nigel Davies of Nigel Davies Property Services has done some plastering work for us – we weren’t in the house and so there was no contact. Jon Gemine of Digital Solutions came to work in the studio and the house – all without any need for close contact. Being in lockdown meant we weren’t using the car, when we did eventually want to use it, we found that one of the tyres was flat! Fortunately, Smartyre were on call and fixed it – fuss free. See Editor’s Choice for more details on these highly recommended businesses.

But we have been spending our lock down time productively. Simon turned his attention to the renovation of our daughter’s house and was so pleased that our local hardware store Davies’ in Eversley Road, remained open for business. They had all the right protocols in place, with 2 metre distancing and hand sanitizer on the counter.

I sometimes joined Simon in the great renovation challenge – mostly in an advisory capacity. Not that my advice was requested or listened to. But I did learn one new skill – tiling. It’s amazing what you can learn from a YouTube video. When I wasn’t doing DIY I was at my sewing machine.

Early on in the lockdown, a shout went out for people who had a sewing  machine  and  could  sew  extra  PPE  for the  NHS.  I  joined  in a group of people under the direction of an amazing lady, Lisa Parez who began to coordinate the making and distribution of surgical scrubs and masks.  This  band of volunteers grew exponentially and I am still not sure how many of us there were.

I asked Lisa to give me the lowdown on how this amazing group got started, and she sent me this statement.

“Swansea Bay UHB For the Love of Scrubs was started on 1st April 2020. In the ten weeks we have been going, we have completed and sent out just short of 21,000 items – headbands, scrub caps, laundry bags, face coverings and pairs of knitted/crocheted hearts – to hospitals, care homes, nursing homes, community groups and special needs provisions across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. We have made just over 800 sets of scrubs and have another 700 currently being cut for us to sew for the Swansea Bay University Health Board, and medical education unit. So many people have been involved in everything that has been made – from donations, to picking up and delivering items, bagging requests, organising people to sew, fundraising, raising awareness and buying fabric.

Gower Gas and Oil Heating Services Ltd lent us an office, and Jodie  Passmore  has  been  helping  us  pack  and  deliver  requests whilst  furloughed.  Wendy  Bartlett  from MedTeam Recruitment has been doing all our fundraising and admin support. Simon Taylor from Pennard Golf Club has been picking up, delivering and co-ordinating across the whole Gower area. The Swansea team of Eon engineers has been picking up and delivering finished items, whilst all furloughed, with Mike Lukes co-ordinating them.

Tracey Lewis from Ferrari’s Café in Port Talbot has been co-ordinating the scrubs fabric and cutting that First Corporate Clothing Ltd has done free of charge for us. We’d be nowhere without the hundreds of sewers, knitters, crocheters, fundraisers and donators though. The community has come together in such an amazing, loving, caring, beautiful way. It’s been lovely to see it grow and an honour to work with such a dedicated group”.

Lesley James the curtain maker from Penclawdd set up a scrubs production line in her workroom, and her staff put their curtain making talents to good use. Gower Gin stopped their usual production and turned to the manufacture of hand sanitizer which they donated to individuals as well as the NHS. These are just the ones I heard about – there must be many more – if you know of a business or individual that you’d like to see mentioned in Bay, please get in touch.

Lesley’s loaf

Judging by the pics put up onto social media, the whole of the country started baking bread. I was lucky enough to have been on a course with the one-mile bakery in Pontardawe last year and learnt the basics of bread making. Now was the time that I could put my new skills to the test and I’m pleased to say that the family gave it the big thumbs up. I even mastered a focaccia, but I have to save that for high days and holidays as the calorific content is a bit high.

I was contacted by reader Helen Jones of Bishopston whose lockdown began with a curtailed trip to Spain. She sent me her thoughts on the lockdown.

“People say they always remember where they were when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot or when Elvis Presley died. I will always remember when lockdown started because it was a few days after my aborted birthday weekend to Valencia. It was to be my first visit to the Spanish town and together with my husband was excited about the days to come.

Approximately 1 hour after we unpacked Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared lockdown and we were faced with “How can we get home tomorrow?” Some hurried enquiries with our airline showed it would cost £1000 to get home the next day. We opted for the day after at a relatively cheap and I use the word loosely £300 extra to what we had paid originally.

In the hours that followed we managed to see the Holy Grail in the cathedral and have a plate of Jamon Iberico as all the restaurants had closed. The next day we walked around the central market; a gastronomic and visual pleasure. We wandered the empty streets of this beautiful town which felt exclusive and special.

Helen’s loaf and eclairs

We arrived home to our lockdown and things changed possibly forever. I learned to bake my own bread, make choux pastry successfully and clear out cupboards that were badly in need of a makeover. I kept in touch with friends through the Internet and had time to walk all over the clifftops near my home. I miss my singing and going out for dinner with my husband, but a close friend spent weeks on a ventilator in Epsom and I don’t think I’ve ever prayed harder in my life. He is thankfully, now out of hospital, and making a slow steady return to health. Whenever you are tempted to break the lockdown rules think of him, 6ft 2in City of London detective who runs marathons, felled by a virus”.

Although the magazine has rather been hijacked by the Coronavirus, we do still have some regular contributors who have managed to get through a full article without the C word! Dan Rouse gives us her favourite wildlife to look out for when we can travel and we have a wonderfully Welsh recipe for a prawn pasta with seaweed sauce, from a lovely little book of seaweed reviewed by Dr Alyson Hitch. We also have a recipe from Rachel Jamison of Cool Beans Cookery School. Rachel’s recipe for Gazpacho is a winner whether you are into a plant based diet or not. It’s the perfect starter for a hot summer’s evening and is really simple to whizz up in a blender.

Simon and I did Ian Bateman’s walk in mid-June – it took a little longer than Ian’s suggested 3.5 to 4 hours, but we did have our 5 year old grandson Archie with us and that meant stopping to investigate every snail and creepy crawly that we encountered. It’s a fabulous circular walk that takes in the south Gower beaches of Pwll Du, Brandy Cove, Caswell, Langland, Rotherslade, Limeslade, Bracelet and Mumbles. There aren’t many places to get a coffee etc. at the beginning of the walk, so I’d suggest taking snacks with you – especially if you have children with you.

I hope this wonderful weather continues into July. Lockdown has been made all the easier because we’ve been able to spend time sitting outside in the sunshine. We all seem to have a healthy glow – probably because we’ve all been making the most of our permitted exercise time.  Simon and I had a regular route for our daily exercise, which took in both a walk in the park and a stroll along the beach from the slip at the bottom of Brynmill Lane to Blackpill. Never has Swansea Bay looked so beautiful as in those lockdown weeks. We all too often head out to Langland and Caswell when we want a day on the beach which is crazy when we have miles of beautiful sand just a 15 minute walk away. We would vary the timing of our walk to fit in with the high tide, so we could take off our shoes and paddle our way along the beach.

Funnily enough, I was contacted by a PR company at the beginning of June. They said that they had looked at Google search data for 12 key exercise, wellness and health trends during lockdown, and that the analysis of the search behaviour of the UK’s most populous cities, found that Swansea was the least healthy city.

I responded that maybe that was because people in Swansea weren’t sitting on their backsides looking this stuff up on Google, but, were actually getting out there and doing it! The seafront was crowded at most times of day with people running, walking and cycling. So much for Google analytics!

Have a wonderful July, please stay safe and well. We’ll be back in August.