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Hi, I am back! 🙂
Since starting this blog I have been in touch with a few readers who have been asking me questions about Wales and life here, and last week I met two people who have just moved to Swansea to have a chat with them (I mainly just found an Italian football game for them at the pub, really 🙂 ).
It was a fun meeting and some more questions came up, so I though I could try and incorporate these in an article, in case anyone else is wondering about them.
What is the typical food?
Before starting this topic, I have a confession to make. I have been a vegan since January and a vegetarian before that, so I have no idea what most of the foods I am going to list taste like, but I will do my best to give you some idea of what is available.
First of all, aside from traditional Welsh/British food, there is a lot of choice of different type of foods available: Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Turkish, Middle-Eastern, French, Thai, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Lebanese, etc, etc.. so you won’t get bored 🙂
St. Helen’s road is particularly multi-ethnic and you will find different restaurants and shops selling food and goods.
In terms of traditional foods though, let’s list some:
Cawl (pronunced kowl) – a thick broth – soup made mainly of lamb, leeks swedes, carrots and other vegetables. It is possible to make a vegetarian version without the lamb. It is prepared especially on St. David’s day (Patron Saint of Wales), on 1st March.
Leeks – they are the typical vegetable of Wales.
Rarebit – also known as ‘posh cheese on toast’, is a dish made with a sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot, after being poured over slices of toasted bread.
Cheese – there are various types of local Welsh cheeses, one of the most famous probably being Caerphilly.
Laverbread – is a traditional Welsh dish made from laver (seaweed) and it is traditionally eaten fried with bacon and cockles as part of a Welsh breakfast.
Glamorgan Sausages – is a traditional Welsh “vegetarian sausage” for which the main ingredients are cheese (usually Caerphilly), leeks and breadcrumbs.
Sunday roast – it can be found in many pubs on a Sunday or just made at home, and it consists of a meat roast with roasted potatoes, potato mash, and vegetables like carrots, broccoli, sprouts, etc with gravy and yorkshire puddings. There can be many different variations according to taste.
All day breakfast – served in most pubs it is usually made from sausages, fried egg, mushrooms, bacon, toast and baked beans. Vegetarian versions are often available serving veggie sausages. Vegans can ask for a veggie breakfast with no eggs or butter. The traditional ‘Welsh breakfast’ however, is made of eggs, cockles, laverbread, with bacon and sausages.
Jacket potato – These are big baked potatoes that can be served with a wide range of fillings: baked beans, cheese, meat, tuna etc
Curry – Thanks to the strong connection that the UK has with India, curry can actually be considered a typical dish, served also in pubs.
Fish and chips – Found especially in seaside resorts, fried fish and chips is a typical dish in the UK.
and let’s not forget what you will mainly eat anyway:
But what about the cakes?
Welshcakes – made from flour, sultanas, raisins, and/or currants they can also include such spices as cinnamon and nutmeg and they are typical little cakes found in Wales.
Bara brith – can be a yeast bread enriched with dried fruit or something more like a fruitcake made with self-raising flour and traditionally made with raisins, currants and candied peel.
There are obviously more well-known British cakes and sweets available everywhere like muffins, scones, cheesecakes, cupcakes, etc.
and what about the drinks then, I hear you say.
A local Welsh Ale is the SA Brain and there are local ciders like Gwynt Y Ddraig and Ty Gwyn.
Original Image Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BThe_Brewery_Tap.jpg
For my vegetarian/vegan friends, there are two main veggie places in Swansea: Govinda’s and Crumbs Kitchen 🙂
Also, you might feel confused about what time of the day it actually is, hearing people having tea at 6pm, dinner at midday and a breakfeast that does not look like a breakfast at all, but don’t panic, in Wales they just use to call the lunch ‘dinner‘ and the dinner ‘tea‘ or supper. Not confusing at all 😉
Is it possible to take part in races and is it required to have a medical certificate for them?
There are several 5k, 10k, half-marathons and marathons that take place in Swansea and Wales and a quick search on the internet can give you several results. In terms of 5k the most famous is probably Race for Life in support of Cancer Research UK (unfortunately women only 😦 ) and there is the Admiral 10k (that also lets you fundraise for a charity, like most other sport events) that takes place in the city. For a list of half-marathons, this website is useful.
In terms of medical certificate, there is no need to go through a medical examination, you usually just need to sign a paper saying that you are in good health and take responsibility of the statement, but no other paperwork is required.
What is the best gym?
There are several gyms in town, the main ones are the LC2, the YMCA and The Gym (yeah just “the gym”). They are all in the centre of town. There are other smaller gyms of course, but I have never tried them.
LC2 – Is the one with the wider range of classes and very good equipment. It is situated in the centre of town, not far from the Marina and offers many classes and also has a swimming pool. More information can be found on the website.The cost of the contract gives you access to the equipment and the classes and it is possible to book the classes online. the price of the membership is the highest among the three.
YMCA – This gym is also close to the centre (near St. Helen’s) and offers gym equipment as well as classes. This gym doesn’t have as much equipment as othersm but the classes are great and the atmosphere is really friendly and there are other cultural activities going on like theatre and dance. More information can be found on the website and the membership can include just the gym or also the classes. There are also martial art classes that take place in this gym through other associations like Two Dragons and Saru Jujitsu. There are volunteer opportunities offered at this gym for various projects, support to the community and a LGBT support group. The price of the membership is medium.
The Gym – This Gym is also very central and presents the cheapest option among the ones listed. It is possible to use the equipment and there is no contract, but there are no classes available. This gym is open 24/7. More information can be found here.
Is there any place to play football in town?
If you study or work at the University of Swansea, there is a team called Team Swansea that you can join. Otherwise for more information about teams in the area you can check this website or this.
Just to mention that a swimming pool, badminton, tennis, golf, archery and more facilities are available as well in the area 🙂
Are there ironing and laundry in town? Do they iron clothes as well?
Yes. If you check the website, this one offers cleaning and also ironing services and is very central. There are also launderettes in town.
What mobile phone provider is the best?
I am not sure what provider is best, I have been with O2 since arriving here and I never had reason to change. There are various offers for either contract or pay as you go and most providers have a shop in town, so it’s easy to just go in and ask information (or look it up on the websites). Some of the main providers available are Vodafone, 3, Tesco Mobile, EE. Some of them also offer some ‘international sim cards’ that can make calling abroad a bit cheaper (especially landlines).
Are there Catholic churches?
Yes, there are Catholic churches in Swansea and also in Mumbles. The ones closer to the centre of town are: St. Benedict in Llythrid Avenue, Sketty SA2 0JJ, Diocese of Menevia in 27 Convent Street, Greenhill SA1 2BX and then Our Lady Star of the Sea in Mumbles Promenade Terrace, Mumbles
Swansea, South West SA3 4DS. More information can be found at this page.
Are there Welsh courses?
Yes. Swansea University offers Welsh classes and so does Gower college. For more information see here and here.
Is it possible to surf in the area?
Yep! Wind and sea are two things we do have here. A quick research on the internet will give you results for courses in the area.
What is the agency fee for renting a house?
It depends on the agency, but asking around I heard it might be around £150-£200 (if anyone has different experiences feel free to comment/correct me!)
- 2014 is the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth and since this writer was born in Swansea many events are taking place at the Dylan Thomas centre.
- On 17th May, there will be a Veggie Minifest, which should be interesting if someone else is interested in vegetarianism and healthy living. This is the facebook page of the event.
I hope this information is useful, thanks to Garry, Fabio, Alex and Tim for helping me finding information! Cheers guys!
As usual please get in touch for any question and see you soon! 🙂