May 2014 Snapshot: Castle Ward

Bank Holidays are great. Hootsuite is also great. People are more able to pay attention online to charities when they are off work, so I usually have a few updates lined up and this means we engage people while enjoying some time off, too!

On Monday we headed towards Downpatrick, to the International Bread Festival at Castle Ward. The grounds are incredible and would be amazing without anything else going on…a beautiful garden, a view on the sea, lots of towering trees…and a very interesting building.

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The 18th century creation was the home of Lord Bangor and Lady Ann Bligh, who couldn’t agree on a style of architecture so had one side of the house each: one preferred Georgian Gothic while the other liked a Classical Palladian style.

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The festival added lots more fun to the day. There were three sites with so much to see: local bakers selling their goods, live demonstrations (we saw potato and soda bread being made on a griddle) and lots of ready-to-eat (sometimes non-bread-based) lunchtime food available – pizza, paella, soups, fudge, chocolate and more.

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We got to see Angela Hartnett make pizza and focaccia before our very eyes…and also got to taste the focaccia which was out of this world. I found the recipe here and am so excited to try it!

It was really fun to explore a part of the country we aren’t usually in, and so lovely to celebrate both local and international food. I was struck by the emphasis on using homegrown, fresh, pure ingredients – this often leads us to looking for local growers and sellers, and the festival definitely pointed to this. I know I’ve just mentioned focaccia, but actually most of the ingredients you can find local versions of in NI! Reminded me of last March when the girls and I lived on local produce only (apart from Diet Coke). As much as it was difficult, it is much more earth (and human, and animal) friendly…and it changed the way we cooked/ate. Good to have that resolve and passion renewed this weekend!

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