Feasting at The Anchorage

After four years of summer renting of The Anchorage (sleeping 10 persons in 5 bedrooms), it is emerging as a popular place for family reunions. In September 2014, we had our own family reunion there. We were myself and my wife, our four children and their partners and three grandchildren aged between two and a half years and six months. One son travelled from Edinburgh with his family, the other with his American fiance from San Antonio in Texas and the rest from Kent. It proved a splendid week with all sorts of surprises. We were greatly amused to find that two year old grandson Charlie fell madly in love with our youngest son’s American fiancé and sparkled with her and offered her is best toy cars to play with. I said to our youngest son “You had better marry that Texan lady soon as you have competition from Charlie, who is not that far behind you”.

Our youngest daughter Alice organised the food so that each limb of the family was responsible for one evening meal. The resulting menu was:

SUNDAY. BBQ (Pete and Anna)

MONDAY. Deep South Surprise (Matt and Caitlin)

TUESDAY. Paella extravaganza (Brendan and Alice)

WEDNESDAY. Fish Pie (Mum)

THURSDAY. Fish and chips a la Mackerel Stage (Dad).

FRIDAY. Succulently marinated Finger Lickin’ Chicken ( Joanne and Steve)

It was also a time for the family photograph which is shown here. Amazingly the reunion occurred at a time of 5 weeks of unbroken sunshine from late August through September.

The BBQ was cooked and eaten in the Monks Garden – our patio area with raised flower beds after the Elizabethan Haverfordwest. On Monday, The Deep South Surprise required buying a lot of fresh landed cod fish in Milford’s docks. For Welsh people, fish seems to have become very expensive, but the lady in the shop was most pleasantly surprised when our Texan lady Caitlin explained how very inexpensive it was compared to cod prices in San Antonio. The surprise was to have the fish spiced and peppered and served up in Mexican frijoles with vegetables and salad.

The most exotic meal was Brendan’s paella which he alone prepared. He had learned how to do this from a Spanish friend. It was his dish that won the highest praises and was entirely eaten up with some having to three helpings. The fish pie went very well and of course and all meals were helped along by copious quantities of wine with much conversation to catch up on family matters.

My evening of fish and chips on the mackerel stage in front of Milford Docks was different and I was a little worried in case of cold winds. The idea is to book and then collect a large meal of fish, chips and mushy peas with soft drinks at Milford Havens top fish and chip shop – the Hake Inn in Hakin – on the west side of Milford Haven. On collection the cars have to rush it to the mackerel stage at the entrance to the Milford Have Docks – less than a mile away. There on the stage above the sea and sitting out surrounded by a panorama of the haven and its ships and boats one can enjoy the fish and chips and share surplus chips with the many sea gulls that look out for such activities. At the last moment one of the mothers was worried about a small son falling into the sea off the rather high mackerel stage, so we switched to benches on the Rath (grass gardens overlooking the sea) on Milford’s seafront. Happily the Indian summer provided a warm airless evening where the waters of the haven were glass smooth. The seagulls performed much to the astonishment of the grandchildren.

The last evening was had been planned as steak and kidney pie by Steve and Joanne but a search of Milford shops on the morning failed to locate either suitable steak or kidneys. So Steve and Joanne substituted roast chickens and vegetables that went down very well.
During the days some of the young children played in the gardens, there were family outings to Marloes Sands and Lindsway Bay and Carew Castle. Some walked the coast path from The Anchorage westwards and back again, while there were several visits to the crabbing bridge where very many crabs were caught and released.

The meals were large and much wine was drunk and the 10 seater dining table at The Anchorage was once more the centre of much enjoyment and conviviality at such a rare meeting of all the family and the first time the grandchildren played together. However it was a case of feasting rather than carefully balanced eating. But it has provided our family with some lovely memories. We will gather again next year in San Antonio (where Davy Crockett’s Alamo still stands) for Matt and Caitlin’s wedding. It was an important occasion for us all to meet Caitlin (and vice versa) who will become the latest member of our family. Caitlin has proved to be a very accomplished photographer with a superb camera and she obtained many excellent photographs, some of which are included here.

Here is the receipe for the outstanding seafood and chicken Paella as cooked by Brendan. Preparation time is about an hour with about 30 minutes cooking time


170 gm chorizo cut into thin slices.
110gm pancetta cut into thin slices.
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped.
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced.
1 red pepper, diced.
1 tea spoon full of soft thyme leaves.
Quarter tea spoon full of dried red chilli flakes.
570ml or 1 pint of Spanish short-grain rice (calasparra).
I tea spoon full of paprika.
125 ml of dry white wine.
1.2 litres or 2 pints chicken stock, heated with a quarter teaspoonful saffron strands.
8 chicken thighs, each chopped in half and browned.
18 small clams, cleaned.
110 gm fresh or frozen peas.
4 large tomatoes with seeds removed and diced.
125 ml olive oil.
I head of garlic with cloves separated and peeled.
12 jumbo raw prawns in shells.
450gm or 1 pound of squid, cleaned and chopped to small pieces.
5 table spoons full of parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper.

1. Heat half of the olive oil in a paella dish or heavy-based saucepan. Add the garlic and pancetta and fry until crisp. Add the garlic, onion and pepper and heat until softened. Add the thyme, chilli flakes and calasparra rice, and stir until all the grains of rice are nicely coated and glossy. Now add the paprika and dry white wine and when it is bubbling, pour in the hot chicken stock, add the chicken thighs and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Place the clams into the dish with the join facing down so that the edges open outwards. Sprinkle in the peas and chopped tomatoes and continue to cook gently for another 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil with the garlic cloves in a separate pan and add the prawns. Fry quickly for a minute or two then add them to the paella. Now do the same with the squid and add them to the paella too.
4. Scatter the chopped parsley over the paella and serve immediately.

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