Lactic Enlightenment Searching for the essence of Milk and Milk Bars

Trip Report - Aberystwyth  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are still here

While thebigcheese and cohorts were galivanting around Mid Wales, Debbie and I were staying with my parents . The prime purpose of the weekend (other than just seeing them, and their posh new bathroom) was to sort out telephone extensions and network cards and routers and stuff, for the impending arrival of broadband Internet in their home.

So it was that on Saturday June 12th 2004 Dad drove us into Aberystwyth with two objectives:

  • to buy some 4-core phone extension wire, an extension socket and a connector box
  • to visit the NMB

We parked outside Trinity church, on Buarth Road.

We stopped in Ellis’ hardware shop, and found only a BT wire insertion tool, which Dad bought for 55p.

We stopped in Dixons on Great Darkgate St., with only the very last remnants of its closing down sale remaining. They did have some phone extension kits available, but the wall mounted socket was smaller than the master socket we were replacing, so I decided it would look messy.

We stopped in a small electrical supplies place on Pier St., whos name I forget, and which doesn’t appear to be in Yellow Pages. The proprietor was very helpful, and showed me his wide range of phone extension kits, none of which was quite right. I’m not sure he understood why I didn’t buy anything.

All that was fine. These were only stopoff points on our way to Radio Shack on Pier St., where I knew we’d find everything we needed. I was wrong.

We walked along the prom, to Terrace Road, where the NMB is. The NMB was a sorry sight, with its broken signage and its scaffolding surround - but it appears the scaffolding is there because they are actively working to spruce it up. Painters were at work. A return visit in coming months may prove rewarding.

After I’d taken a few photos, we went in and sat down. We pulled out thebigcheese’s checklist and filled it in. It being mid-morning, and since we knew Mum would have a splendid lunch for us soon, all we ordered was drinks. Debbie had a chocolate milkshake, while Dad and I had coffee. I was impressed that we were given the option of coffee made with hot milk, or coffee made with water. All too often in a Welsh coffee shop you’ll be given a cup of hot milk with half a teaspoon of Nescafe stirred in. We asked for ours made with water. The coffee was good, as was the milkshake.

Aber’s NMB has historical photos of Milk Bars dotted around the wall. Above the cutlery rack there is a photograph of some ship or other, surrounded by signatures of 101 Squadron Brize Norton, as a token of thanks for the NMB’s support.

On the way back to the car, Debbie cleverly remembered that we’d been asked to get Mum a Western Mail, for reasons I can’t quite fathom (”Llais y Sais” and all that). For this Dad was most grateful. In the newsagent, Debbie asked if they had any Vanilla Diet Coke, and not only did they not have any, but the lady had never heard of such a thing!

We made a few false starts in the Buarth / Trinity Road one-way system, but ended up heading down Llanbadarn Road toward the newfangled Parc y Llyn retail park, and it’s Focus DIY shop. Here we found all the phone extension supplies we needed, in the “Trydanol / Electrical” section, and returned home with all missions accomplished.

Two Weeks on  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About StatusReport.

National Milk Bars Known About: 12 (This is a hard number to pin down. Different information sources yield different answers.)
National Milk Bars Visited: 4
National Milk Bars only Visited by proxy: 1
Ex-National Milk Bars Visited: 3
Cups of Tea Drunk (In NMB) : 5
Milkshakes Ordered: 1
Miles Driven: 693
Postcards Bought: 4
Jokes Told: 0
Hat Shops Photographed:1

Trip Report - Aberystwyth  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are here

john - you need to write a report

Trip Report - Shrewsbury - revisited  

Posted on June 16th, 2004. About InSearchOfMilk.

Pictures are here

On an ‘Ex NMB’ trip - we went to Shrewsbury.

Finding 13 High Street, we discovered that it had become a KFC. (which fits in with This news item from 1999.

The other Milk Bar (on Shoplatch) was closed and so I made do with a new picture and we left.

Home via the M6 toll (which isn’t even signposted from the M54) in time for the football. England won most of the match.

I’m sunburnt and bitten to b*gg*ry.

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.

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