Tag Archives: Italian cafes

I Scream Ice Cream

17 Feb


Just a quick one at the end of the evening, a speedy sketch I did at the local ice cream parlour, Joe’s, a landmark for generations of Swansea Jacks, one of the widespread Italian cafés that grew across Wales in the early 20th century.

The ice cream is sublime, possibly the best vanilla in the world.

Drawn with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen size F into my A5 Tate Gallery sketchbook.

Curry, Faggots And Mushy Peas

20 Feb

Ink drawing: at the curry house.


We have a regular babysitting slot looking after one of our great-nieces after school each Monday and this week she had a treat, dinner at The Vojon, our local curry-house [for fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, that’s just one letter away from the worst poets in the Universe]. I sketched us in the large mirrors at the end of the restaurant, reflecting the elaborate light fittings. It’s great the way that curry houses have democratised eating-out in Britain. When I was little, there were lots of Italian cafes in the city that served tea, coffee, ice-cream and steamed pies to working class people, but that was only in the daytime. Restaurants were few and far between and could only be afforded by the well-off.

If you didn’t want to cook in the evening, there was the fish and chip shop and, down the High Street, a faggot and pea shop. I can remember my Dad taking my hand and walking me down the street with a basin in his other hand. At the faggot and pea shop, they filled the basin with hot faggots in a savoury gravy and a pile of mushy peas and covered it with the teatowel Dad had brought. Then we carried it back and Mam had made some mashed potato to go with them. Delicious. Still one of my favourite meals, althought the faggot and pea shop has long gone and we buy our faggots in the local market. Then right at the end of the 1960’s the first curry house arrived in the city, serving cheap meals in the evening. It had velvet flock wallpaper, ever so posh.

Just so you know, the little Italian cafes used to heat up small round meat pies by jamming them onto the steam pipe on the coffee machine and giving them a blast of steam, making them lovely and soft and chewy, more like a suet pudding. And faggots are small savoury meatballs, considered quite a delicacy in Wales. There’s a lot of rivalry between Swansea and nearby Neath, over which has the best faggots. Swansea obviously 😉

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