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Nestled deep in the Hirnant valley is what the Jones family call their “wooden cabin” where they host their shoot days, afternoon teas, and private parties for all to savour in the natural, earthy surroundings of Cwm Fedw farm. A wildlife and habitat-rich land with a core conservation value, it is supported by game shooting in one of the most remote parts of Wales. As you enter the beautiful cabin, you step into the glorious warmth of the roaring wood burner stove and are instantly hit by hearty mouth-watering smells from the kitchen.
This is “Hel’s kitchen”. Helen Jones, qualified chef and wife to Will, and mother to Harri and Carys, is casually creating “duck quackers”, canapés for the guests that were about to arrive. The duck was shot on the farm on one of their hosted shoot days. Helen tells me, “We have low food steps, not miles”. It is a room full of warmth in many ways - the fire, the food, the fun, and the friendliest of atmospheres.
Hosting alongside Helen is Izzy Hosking of Izzy’s Butchers, Pennant Valley Game, who brought with her a large selection of game, including venison, partridge, duck, and pheasant. Izzy’s own delicious game pies were soon devoured and washed down with something nice from the bar, perfectly positioned by the wood burner.
The guests were treated to a feast of game, with something to suit every palate; pheasant tikka, pasties, venison sausages, wild duck, game pâtés, and venison casserole delighted guests of all ages. Many of the people who booked their place at the event had never tried game before and most had no experience in preparing game. Izzy demonstrated how quick and simple it was to prepare a pheasant in many ways - a roast for the oven or de-breasted for a curry. She also showed us how nothing needs to be wasted, as the meat from the thigh and legs is used for pâtés and sausages.
Helen rounded off the kitchen demos with pheasant goujons with a side dip of chili sauce. Super easy and quick to cook, they are far healthier than any chicken nugget your kids eat at that well-known food chain... They are a firm favourite on shoot days and will definitely be on the menu here at home.
The hosts, the Jones family and Izzy, were incredibly generous. They did not charge for any part of the event, and instead took donations for the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust, raising over £200.
As guests were set to leave, they were handed free pre-prepared game and game in feather - another generous gesture from Izzy and the Joneses - leaving no excuses for guests not to take home with them what they had learned and enjoyed at Cwm Fedw.
I left Hirnant with a spring in my step after a lovely evening that highlighted the need to promote and protect shooting in Wales. Being at Cwm Fedw furthered my belief that without game shooting in these parts of Wales, the economy, the environment, the wildlife, and people’s health and wellbeing would be negatively impacted. As we celebrated Great British Game Week in the heart of Wales, we were acutely aware of the potential damage the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales could cause to rural Wales and its people. The Countryside Alliance will continue to work tirelessly to scrutinise and oppose their ill-thought plans, day in, day out.