Lactic Enlightenment Searching for the essence of Milk and Milk Bars

Trip Report - Welshpool - revisited  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About General.

Pictures are here

Welshpool coincided with lunchtime. The NMB was open. (So was Safeways - I bought some insect bite cream)

I had the Welsh Rarebit I was denied in Machynlleth. simon had the special (Lamb and Leek pie). darkmuse had a mixed grill. We all had tea.

I asked for beans with my Rarebit. They came with Toast - There’s Posh. I was asked if I wanted the beans on the Rarebit or on the Side. I asked what the locals did. There was no consensus. I had them on the side - so as not to spoil the purity of the rarebit. Oh, and chips too. I’m christening this the “There’s Posh”: Welsh Rarebit, Beans (on the side - with toast) and Chips. You have been informed.

The Mixed Grill and the Special were, by all accounts, truly excellent. The “There’s Posh” was, by personal experience, fantastic.

We noted the names of the Cows (or Bulls - I’m no expert) in the pictures.

“Montgomery Liberty 10″
“Montgomery Mary 38″
“Montgomery Rosalind 95″
“Montgomery Mary 50″
“Pickland Threat Belle”

Pickland is by the bogs.

We had a discussion about the Children’s menu. It isn’t as regimented as the main menu (which has been the same in all NMB’s visited so far). But Llanidloes and Welshpool have the same one. Machynlleth seems to need to ration the sausages. This may be a detail too far.

I took a picture of Poppy’s (opposite the NMB) and we headed for dessert in Shrewsbury.

The rest of the trip - part II  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Sunday morning. Cold night. Boiling Morning. It was a lovely day.

We struck camp and headed for Fairbourne. My legs were killing me (from the insect bites) and I was _so_ looking forward to a paddle in the sea to calm them down.

We parked and set off for the beach. Walking down to the water’s edge, just after I’d taken my shoes off and was in bare feet, darkmuse pointed out a jellyfish.

It was only small.

And then there was another. and another. There were hundreds. All tiny - but still - hundred of the little b*st*rds.

I tried. So hard. I didn’t run away screaming (like I did once at Portmerion). I even got my feet wet. Then I bottled it and went back to the car.

Jellyfish are worse than insect bites. It’s official.

We had a game of Crazy Golf.

Hole darkmuse simon big cheese
1 5 2 1
2 3 4 4
3 2 4 6
4 2 3 3
5 3 4 5
6 2 2 2
7 9 3 5
8 2 3 2
9 6 (-3) 3 (-3) 6 (-5)
Total 31 25 29

simon won. I was suffering Post Jellyfish Stress Disorder, darkmuse had hayfever. We losers always have excuses.

We then had Ice Cream and headed home. Via a real car toll bridge. It cost 40p per car and it went over a river. Now_that’s_ value for money. None of your 2 quid to drive on a motorway rubbish.

The rest of the trip - part I  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About NowtToDoWiMilk.

Fuelled by two NMBs and two confirmed ex-NMBs, we walked once more, to Barmouth.

The walk is really pleasant. It’s an old railway track - so no hills. There’s also a viaduct. It’s about 1/2 a mile long in total And the bridge has a toll. 60p per person - each way. We never paid, due to the fact that the toll booth was shut every time we passed it. Four trips - that’s a pint each.

We had a shandy or two and then went in search of chips. We passed a shop called “Barmouth’s Original Milk Bar” I need to go back and take pictures and do more “research”. We had chips. They were great. I had a Meat and Potato pie.

We cut a long night short and set off as the sun was setting (about 9:45). It was light enough all the way home that we could eschew our torches in favour of night sight. As we crossed the bridge (for the fourth time in 24 hours) the light on the hills and clouds opposite was just amazing. No - I didn’t take a picture - just imagine it.

We arrived back in camp and started to make a fire. The guys in the tent up the hill from us donated a big glowing log and our fire was roaring in a matter of minutes.

The stars were just amazing. There were no clouds and there was no light pollution. simon saw four ’shooting stars’. Orion was out of sight (probably behind some trees) , but the plough was there, so was Cassiopeia. Now my view is this:

Everybody should be able to spot the plough and Orion. You have to be pretty geeky to know more that 3 constellations. So, Cassiopeia ( a wobbly W) is the clincher. That’s the mark of an interested, but not obsessed, person. ‘Can you identify Cassiopeia?’ Rule of thumb.

Why do all the best Ladybird books have Blue spines? ‘The Night Sky’ does.

We talked. I put stuff (wood) on the fire. We talked. We had a beer or two. Eventually we turned in for the night. It was cold. That’s the problem with clear skies. Cold nights.

Trip Report - Dollgellau  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are here

This was much more ‘on a limb’. I know I’d been to an NMB in Dolgellau on a previous road trip and was convinced that I’d recognise it if I saw it. Flushed from the Newtown success, we entered Dolgellau town centre and parked. Then the pressure was on.

  • Would I recognise the shop?
  • Would I be able to convice my fellows that it was the shop?
  • Was it all a figment of my imagination?

I rose to the challenge.

After getting my bearings, I wandered down a tiny street pointing at a shop “That’s it”. And it was. Looking through the windows it looks just like I remembered it. It’s now called “Ty Bwyta Da” (”Good Eating House”) - but it was an NMB.

Not just any NMB. The NMB I remembered in the bath. The NMB that started this all (not my first NMB, but the one I remembered with most affection). And here it was.

We returned to camp. High in spirits. We walked to Barmouth (again).

Trip Report - Newtown  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are here

Well - it was almost on the way home. I had an address ‘1 Short Bridge St. Newtown’ I wanted to see what was there now. We went.

We entered Newtown, impressed by its size. Proving that an old dog can learn new tricks, we went to the Tourist Information office to find out where Short Bridge Street was. Through the shopping centre and turn left (if you’re interested).

It was around about this time that one of the party got a ticket that allowed him to use the public conveniences of Newtown - all for the very reasonable sum on 10 new pence. A bargain.

simon picked up a leaflet in the Tourist Info which was a walking guide to the town. Sure enough, there was Short Bridge Street, We noticed that this town also had a stone that John Welsey preached from. Then we noticed that the leaflet was actually about Llanidloes and not Newtown. 2 towns with a ‘Short Bridge Street’ - what are the odds.

Approaching Short Bridge Street - we spotted a cafe that must have been an NMB. Not only did it look like it, but it also had NMB relics. This was just unbelievable. Now we need to find ex-NMBs just in case they still have NMB relics.

We had teas, but it wasn’t the same. just not ‘National’ enough I guess.

simon went to ensure that it really was Short Bridge Street. It was.

Campwards - via Dolgellau :-)

Trip Report - Llanidloes  2

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are here

So, Big Breakfasted up, we rejoin the milk-mobile-bis and head off to Llanidloes.

darkmuse had found a picture of the Llanidloes NMB on the Internet and it looks pretty posh to me. (looking for that picture - I found this one showing the Ironmongers in Victorian times, that became the NMB - fantastic.) While we’re on the subject of the Internet - here’s Llanidloes in Knowhere. Note how the Milk Bar is referred to as if it were a part of the fabric of society. Now - that’s special.

We entered the NMB (after suitable faffing) and then I went outside and faffed a bit more and then we ordered. Actually, I took a picture of the map on the back wall and then we ordered. 3 teas; 1 Choc Nut Sundae; 1 Freshly made pancake with maple syrup and Ice Cream and 1 hot choc fudge cake. Then I went to look for Crusha optics.

They had four - yes four. Chocolate, Lime, Strawberry and Banana. We all decided we needed one and that we nearly ordered one when the waitress was taking our order. I ran up to the counter like a 6 year old and gleefully ordered one Lime (for me); one Chocolate (for darkmuse - who obviously wasn’t getting enough chocolate in his hot choc fudge cake) and one strawberry (for simon). Banana lost out.

The desserts arrived and we had to take a picture of the lovingly created Choc Nut Sundae

We left the NMB suitably replenished and mooched around town for a bit. We found a Gaol; I bought a ladybird book for 15p; we found a postcard which, whilst failing to be tacky, did have a picture of the NMB on a rainy day. (this is where the parrot was - in the bookshop).

simon, who likes that sort of thing, read a placard in the town centre referring to a stone that had been used as a pulpit by none other than John Wesley (of Methodism fame).

We returned to the m-m-b, thinking we were returning to the camp site. I had other ideas….

Trip Report - Machynlleth  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are here

Friday. Bit of PLODding, trying to juggle simon’s work schedule and darkmuse’s car servicing (to be milk-mobile-bis for the weekend.) Anyway, set off for Dolgellau at about 4pm and immediately had an unscheduled stop to sort out T-Shirts.

Back on the road, via the M6 Toll (I still feel dirty having paid to use a road that doesn’t go over or under a big bit of water). Down the M54 and into Wales. Wales welcomed us with rain. Honestly. ‘Halfway House’ - dry; ‘Middletown’ - rain. Luckily it was just a shower.

We stopped in Welshpool. There were mutterings of hunger and I wanted to revisit the NMB to take a picture of the shop opposite. The NMB was shut (about 8:00 pm) and it was raining, so I deferred picture taking and we just went to a sit-in chippy. After being fed and entertained, we stocked up on provisions (bacon and bread rolls mostly) in Safeways and set off to the Camp site.

Arrived at camp site and pitched tents amongst a swarm of tiny little midges. Quite annoying, but too small to bite - surely. After camp was set, we frog-marched to Barmouth (a 3 1/2 mile hike) and went into the pub that was recommended by a bloke wandering down the street swigging from a can of Wife. I’m not sure whether that recommendation, or the fact that it was the first pub we came to, swang the decision. Anyway it was ironically named the “Last Inn” and did us proud. Beer and everthing.

Returned to camp (another 3 1/2 miles at a slightly more leisurly pace) and turned in for the night.

Plan for tomorrow is to get up - make breakfast and then go to Machynlleth and Llandiloes NMBs, followed by an evening at leisure (probably around a camp fire).

——————————— Tomorrow ——————-

Woke up at 7:00 am by an Alarm Bee. The poor little mite had got stuck between the flysheet and the inner of my tent and no amount of coaxing and verbal encouragement was going to let it out. Eventually I got up; removed the fly sheet; let the little darling resume honey collecting and rebuilt the tent. Then the sun came out. Now, the sun is a fine thing. But it does warm a tent up something rotten. It’s like being in a nylon sauna. Anyway - it was round about at this point that I realised that those little midges had bitten me to b*ggery. I’m sure that my legs said something profound in braille. Chapter 1 of War and Peace for example.

Managed to resume slumber until a reasonable hour. (11 ish) We all got up and set off in the milk-mobile-bis to get breakfast.

So, arriving in Machynlleth, the NMB was just there on the right. Managed to squeeze the m-m-b on the end of the parking space (only to find out later that somebody else managed to squeeze just off the end of the parking spaces - maybe they have a Centre for Alternative Parking here as well as the Center for Alternative Technology).

darkmuse was breaking his NMB virginity. simon was revisiting history. We entered. (actually, I faffed about taking pictures, buying a CD, taking more pictures and messing with my GPS, then we entered)

Oh joy. It’s amazing. There’s another Map on the wall. I take a picture (actually I did, but the camera didn’t - I need to go back and get this picture - damn :-) ) Two lasses laugh at me for taking a picture. There’s horseshoe seating - it’s fantastic. We sit in the Posh side by the window and order.

I order the Welsh rarebit. It’s off How can it be off? I rally and order a Big Breakfast to make up for the disappointment. darkmuse has a BB too, simon goes for the Farmhouse Grill. We all have tea. simon has an ‘ice cold milk’ and declares it to be good. He takes a shine to the glass, but is forbidden from liberating it. We refrain from a dessert, knowing that Llanidloes is just down the road.

Then I spy them. Two Crusha bottles on optics, by the Milk machine. I’m too shy to take a picture, but you can imagine how perfect that image would be. No Tunnocks Teacakes - you can’t have everything.

We scour Machynlleth to complete our Shopping list

  • Bit of wire (not found)
  • Tent Patch
  • Midge Cream
  • Newspaper
  • Beer (postponed until later in the day)
  • Tacky present for carys

Tacky present was a wallet. It served a dual purpose in that it was the kitty for the weekend too. It is plastic, made in China and has a dragon on it. Oh - and nowhere to put notes. Credit cards - yes; coins - yes; notes - no. Do they not have notes in China? Or do the Chinese just think that the Welsh don’t have notes?

Anyway. Off to Llanidloes.

Silence  1

Posted on June 15th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Well, it looked like it all went quiet for a bit then didn’t it? Well, just time pressure really.

Fri/Sat/Sun spent in Wales camping and effecting NMB research

Sun spent watching football and talking randomly ’til the wee hours (again).

Mon spent half at work and half recovering from the 873 midge bites on my legs (more details to follow) and then discussing Generation X (the book) down ‘t pub.

Tue spent at work and then making NMB banner in time for Glasto (John thinks NMB will be less geeky than his old faithful ‘Tux’ - actually not less geeky, but more esoteric)

So, expect to find out about: (in no particular order)

Midges, tents, Barmouth, bridges, tolls, 2 new milk bars, 3 new ex-milk bars, revisting 2 milks bars, t-shirts, banners, jellyfish at Fairbourne, crazy golf, 1 milk bar by proxy, more maps, a new Tourist Information centre, a camp fire, an alarm bee, stars, midge bite cream, gaols, postcards, John Wesley’s stone, a tacky present, cold nights, warm mornings and a sit in chippy. Oh, and a parrot.

Can you wait?

Warning  

Posted on June 15th, 2004. About JellyFish.

There be Jellyfish in the following trip reports.

Confession  

Posted on June 9th, 2004. About JellyFish.

In addition to Jellyfish, I also detest milk. Milk Shakes are fine. Ice cold fresh milk might be fine but I just can’t bring myself to try,

There is a good reason for this. When I was a wee nipper, we still had the free 1/3 pint of milk a day at primary school. (In the days before the Milk Snatcher). Anyway, what used to happen was that the milk delivery people used to just put the milk in little crates (the bottles were little too) outside the school doors. Now, in my school, nobody was bright enough to think to bring the milk in on a sweltering hot day. Ergo, the milk we were given at 11:00 or whatever was warm. Couple that with the facts (I’m certain) that we never were given the freshest milk in the first place and that some bottles would sit outside for days, basically meant that sometimes the milk we had was really 80% cheese.

Trying to suck sour, cheesy milk through a little blue straw was just too much for me. Nowadays I just can’t stand the smell of even slightly off milk.

But cold, fresh milk with pink syrup in it is a fantastic hangover cure.

There, I feel better having revealed that dark secret to you. I don’t think that it invalidates my quest.

Map Updated  

Posted on June 9th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Updated the map of known National Milk Bars Here

One Week On  

Posted on June 9th, 2004. About StatusReport.

One week after discovering a lack of NMB information on the web, we have the following to report.

National Milk Bars Known About: 13 (This is a hard number to pin down. Different information sources yield different answers.)
National Milk Bars Visited: 2
Cups of Tea Drunk: 2
Milkshakes Ordered: 0
Miles Driven: 288
Postcards Bought: 2
Jokes Told: 0
Hat Shops Photographed:1

Enjoy.

Trip Report - Welshpool  

Posted on June 8th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are here

So, fresh from a hearty brunch in Shrewsbury, back in the milk-mobile to seek out the next NMB.

This one’s special though. This is in Welshpool, the Corporate nerve-centre of the NMB conglomerate. Now, various internet sites (and we know how reliable the Internet is) show two (yes 2) addresses for NMB in Welshpool. One address is 9 Church Street and one is 21 Church Street. I’m presuming that one is a Restaurant (we know this from the napkin) . The other must be a twelve storey glass edifice, housing the quiet, efficiently humming infrastructure that is the NMB executives and support staff.

Descending into Welshpool appears to dispel that myth. No 12 storey buildings in sight. Anyway, on reflection, NMB would surely be housed in something more empathetic with their surroundings.

Finding the NMB was not hard - it was on the road as we came into town. And it was BIG. I mean twice as big as Shrewsbury. Heavens above - there was even enough frontage to write ‘Restaurant’ as well as ‘National Milk Bars’ on the front.

Parking was a bit tricky (it’s hard to find spaces big enough for the milk-mobile). Safeways proved excellent, with a little alley past a canal museum. The ticket machines were out of action - so, free parking; Brucie Bonus.

Entering isn’t the simple process you might think. There are two doors - one for the Restaurant (waitress service ‘natch). The other is for the DIY section. We sat down in the posh bit (where else).

Joy of joys - a no-smoking section. I ordered a Knickerbocker Glory and a cup of tea. carys had a coffee and a nice looking (and tasting by all accounts) cream and jam scone (feel free to pronounce this word as you like. In my world, it rhymes with ‘gone’) from the DIY section (waitresses daren’t go over there, so carys had to get it herself). Apparently the choice of cakes was large and inviting.

Logos - brilliant.

There was a nice green logo, which looked very old, inlaid into the kitchen bar.

But the mirror with the logo on was just fantastic, And then I spotted a mirror with logo and map on it. Oh rapture.

carys tried a ruse to obtain a menu, but was politley refused. I asked if I could take pictures of the mirrors. The staff were clearly bemused. We thank them for their kindness and patience.

Suitably replenished. We then trawled up and down the length of Church street looking fo Corp Head Office. None found. Another Enigma to solve. I was dragged into the Tourist Information, which proved to be excellent (and has a visitors book on the desk full of comments that prove it). I bought some maps and a postcard.

In my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the shop(s) opposite. dash - I’ll have to go back :-)

The rest of the day was taken up with finding a camp site, going to the beach and driving back home.

So first trip completed. More to come. Plan is to camp (at the camp site found above) over next weekend and take in some more National Milk Bars. Maybe I’ll see you there. We can have a good natter, and I might even tell you a joke.

Milk Bar History  

Posted on June 7th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk, WhatIsAMilkBar.

There’s a somewhat irrelevant description of Milk Bars at the freedictionary.com.
The claim to the first Milk bar being in Oz in 1934 seems a little unlikely, as the NMB logo in Welshpool says “Estab. 1933″.

But who are we to argue with the truth that is The Internet..

Logo  1

Posted on June 7th, 2004. About NMB.

john has very kindly created a facsimilie of the NMB logo seen on the Mirror in the Welshpool Restaurant. It’s not quite the same (different shield shape, slightly different fonts, etc…), but it looks pretty similar.

Thanks John.

Trip Report - Shrewsbury  

Posted on June 6th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are here

Well, early start, picked up carys and drove to Shrewsbury. (It is closer than Welshpool) . Breakfast beckoned. I had a Bacon, Sausage and Egg bap with a nice cup of tea, carys opted for the bruch with coffee option.

It was everything I remembered (with some slight exceptions which I’ll come to later.) Waitress service was excellent and lovely hot, filling food was provided. The Egg went everywhere, but I think that was my fault.

Well, we were presented with napkins that contained a picture of North Wales and the addresses of the various National Milk Bars (I need to update my list and map with the one in Denbigh).

We also noticed that the National Milk Bars corporation (NMBCorp) appears to have at least two divisions: “Restaurants” and “Coffee Shops”. We need to find out more.

The Map is a bit of an Enigma. “Caernarvon” is marked as a location on the Map, but not listed in the lists. More things to discover.

Some pictures.

Shrewsbury

The changes:

1) No ‘lost cat’ noticeboards. Could be a figment of my imagination.
2) No Crusha syrup in optics on the wall (This picture was taken in a non NMB shop). This is, in my opinion, a shame.

Now - off to the Corporate nerve centre in Welshpool.

Back Now  1

Posted on June 5th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

What an Exciting Day !!! Two National Milk Bars, One Camp Site and a ‘99′ at the seaside.

Off to pub now.

The Big Day  

Posted on June 5th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

So, it’s now 8:58 BST and I’m getting ready to go. Digital camera, maps and GPS are ready to rumble. Plan (which may change) is to go to Welshpool for Lunch and another National Milk Bar for afternoon tea. (and I need to visit a camp site near Dolgellau).

Just got to check the type pressures on the car.

I do hope that there is a corporate logo.

Where Have I been?  

Posted on June 4th, 2004. About NowtToDoWiMilk.

here

Map  

Posted on June 3rd, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Created a map of known National Milk Bars (TPN???) Here

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