HEM is written exclusively by HiH users
This issue I, Lilia Le Fay, will be covering for writer Jamie Pevensie, our usual reviewer. Although she was going to return to write this issue, she was unable to due to last minute problems, though will hopefully be back next issue to write for us again. This month, however, you'll have to put up with a review of mine!
Today I will be reviewing a destination that will most likely be unknown to almost all students of Hogwarts, located in the Welsh wizarding village of Marronhead. However, a few of you may have heard of this settlement in tourist guides and more famously as the Hogsmeade equivalent for students of Tregarten Towers School of Witchcraft, Wizardry and the Performing Arts.
Located somewhere in North Wales (thought to be in one of the mountain ranges) Marronhead is a little like Hogsmeade in the way that it is open to students of the nearby school to visit any weekend and contains many shops that benefit from this arrangement. It is also an all-wizarding community. However, it is different in that Marronhead was founded in the early 1900s by witches and wizards who wished to escape the hoards of Muggles working on the nearby slate mines but wanted to stay in their home country. The landscape is also far bleaker, though is very pretty when the sun actually shines!
Marronhead is famous food-wise for its traditional British foods such as pasties, pies and stews. Therefore I headed there with my wizarding friend, Sisa Cordoba, when my family and hers were staying nearby and chose the most popular pub in the village, 'The Cauldron's Pit' (our opinions were undecided on whether the name was fitting or confusing) and seated ourselves within to have lunch.
We did order butterbeers and noted them to be the usual pleasant brew, nothing out of the ordinary, but also requested the non-alcoholic version of a strange draught named 'Streywater'. This came to us a few minutes before our meal, looking distilled stagnant water and very unappetising. Sisa actually asked the barman if he'd mistake our order, but the stiff Welshman simply shook his head and moved away. Looking at each other nervously, Sisa and I then dared to lift our classes to our lips and take a sip of the drink.
Note that I said we requested the non-alcoholic version. Note also that one sip tasted strongly of mulled wine and sent my head spinning before making me feel like I was floating on cloud. Sisa seemed to have been feeling the same as she turned to me with hazy eyes and questioned in a low voice; ''What the hell is this stuff?''. Before we could ask anyone, however, having attracted the attention of a group of Tregarten Towers students, our senses returned to normal and we stopped swaying. However, I noticed that I felt considerably fresher and Sisa and I exchanged glances again before one of the students, a nineteen-year-old boy clutching a picture of firewhisky, explained.
'Streywater' was apparently given the name because, when brewed, a masking spell is added to the mixture to make it appear like stagnant water; the kind wizarding slate miners used to carry in their water bottles. Apparently several wizards from the area would have to work in the mines to bring money in because magical work was scarce in the village, but they grew tired of having to act like the miners and thought they'd improve the way they felt. One of them, by the name of Davy Teer, developed a brew like gillywater that refreshed one's mind and body upon consumption, although he enhanced the effects, then made it look as if it was normal water so the Muggles he was working with wouldn't find out. It was others who added the alcohol, though apparently that was for an extra 'kick'. The miner benefitted from the drink profoundly and, by offering it to magical folk who were not native to the area, it became a tradition due to the reactions that were usually produced.
After this bit of interesting history, Sisa and I shyly thanked the nineteen-year-old and turned back to the drink to consume more. Halfway through and feeling considerably more refreshed, our main meal arrived and we dug into that straight away.
Sisa had ordered an English classic with a twist - steak and kidney pie but with an ingredient that made the sky and atmosphere seem a lot brighter, later explained by the helpful nineteen-year-old to be another invention of the wizarding slate miners to make it brighter when they got out of work (the skies in North Wales are certainly dark). Apparently it was a simple cheering charm but adapted to work on the eyes and before being cast on the pie pastry. It was certainly interesting to eat more magical food that actually had an effect on the taster.
My dish was a classic - fish and proper British chips. Both were exquisite and very well done, considering they're generally a more Muggle delicacy. Instead of peas with it I received a serving of a strange green mush that was surprisingly delicious and was later revealed to be dandelion leaves and salted gillyweed, of all things. It was also interesting that I did not gain any abilities from the gillyweed, a waitress later revealing that salting it took away the plant's powers.
For dessert we both order a scone, which came with another strange creation that I am sure I will only ever eat in that town; a deep blue jam apparently made from sloe berries - wild berries typically used only in wines - with an added 'secret ingredient'. However, it was very bitter, and though had gelatine in it, left your mouth feeling parched and your tongue dry - I would not reccomend to buy it if you ever go there.
All that was left was for us to pay the bill and be on our way, though stopping briefly to thank the then tipsy nineteen year old, who kept us for a little with more information whilst his friends laughed from the corner. I then made my final review as so;
The staff were not the greatest - like many of the Welshman from the North they were slightly sullen and did not answer questions. However, the food - minus the sloe Jam - was very nice, and it was great to know the history of it and helpful to receive the cheering effects from both the pie and the 'Streywater' to combat the dreary sky above that had been getting us down. On the whole, I'd recommend it as the place to dine in Marronhead, though I am slightly dubious to what the other places for dining in the village are like if that was rated the best for, though it was pleasant, the Three Broomsticks is better in my mind! However, I am pleased to give the dining house three and a half stars on account of the fun food and drink.
That's all from me! Apologies for Jamie's absence - I'm sure she'll be back to write next issue!
Lilia Le Fay