Saturday 24 August 2013

Commonwealth Games tickets

We are back in Nottingham for a few days and I am catching up with admin tasks, while Darren is tinkering with my bike and doing even more customisation of the campervan.
I had been meaning to apply for tickets to the Commonwealth Games that are being held in Glasgow next July but hadn't got around to it yet.
However, today we went to the opening of a new running shop just down the road from my mum and dad's house where we met Andy Turner, the current Commonwealth 110 metres hurdles champion.
I just had time to get a quick photo and then checked out his gold medal.
It gave me the enthusiasm needed to find my way around the Games website and book tickets for eight events.
Find out in about three weeks if we have been successful.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Manchester Ship Canal

Back in England and spent last night just outside of Chester. Cycled to Ellesmere Port to see the Manchester Ship Canal.
The lighting was good and got some great reflections in the water. I even found two swans who eventually posed for their picture but they looked pretty big and aggressive so I kept my distance.
The Ship Canal is enormous as you might expect, but no ships on it this morning.
Did a round trip including a Cornish Pasty stop in Chester. Probably not the most authentic local delicacy we could have found, but I can only think of Cheshire cheese and they didn't serve that with cappuccinos.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Porth Cwyfan

Atrocious windy and wet weather on our last day on Anglesey this morning, so instead of our planned bike ride, I picked the 'best walk' from a leaflet I had picked up.
The leaflet said 'A spectacular walk along the Coast Path from Aberffraw. Down the estuary around the headland to Porth Cwyfan and the tiny church on its tiny island. There has been a church here since the 6th century and at high tide it is surrounded by water.'
What it didn't mention is that sometimes the tide is so high that the seawater covers the path so at the start we had to climb along the grass verge in the estuary, and that the road in the village had disappears beneath the waves.
It got easier as the path along the cliff emerged and was on higher land so we made good progress for a while.
The signs then led to some steps down on to a beach and disappeared. The only thing we could do was clamber over rocks at the far end of the beach, although I was sure we were dangerously lost. The signs we were following were for the Wales Coastal Path and I thought there was no way it would be submerged at high tide.
I was wrong though and after a while risking life and limb, we found the path again and got to the bay with the church in the sea.
Dramatic and surprising, the church seemed to be on a man made walled island in the middle of the bay. Just like a massive version of a sandcastle.
Continuing with this theme, I was amazed as we drove off of Anglesey on the A55 and saw two little houses and a tiny harbour peeping out of the water in the middle of the Menai Strait.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Rhosneigr and Trearddur Bay

Another cycling day, this time setting off from the campsite and immediately missing the right turn to Holyhead. We then headed straight down the main A55 towards Bangor.
Two mistakes but then it got better, we found the nice quiet roads and were either whizzed along by the wind, or forced back as we made our way around RAF Valley to Rhosneigr beach.
It is a very beautiful coastline and we stopped for a picnic in the sand dunes just back from the beach (mainly to keep out of the wind).
I walked down to the beach and found a very happy dad with a little spade. He had built a canal to funnel sea water around a large sandcastle and he was collecting pebbles to make a sea wall. No sign of any of his kids, but I could have happily spent the afternoon helping him, particularly once the tide started coming in.
I dragged myself away and we carried on, stopping at a big blackberry bush for pudding.
Nearly home and we came across a little seaside town called Trearddur Bay. It was the most perfect place with soft sand, rock pools, little boats and people flying kites.
It was just the type of place that the Famous Five would have loved.
64k and quite tired, all I need now are lashings of ginger beer.

Monday 19 August 2013

South Stack Lighthouse

Arrived at Holyhead and finding out what there is to see.
The main event is South Stack Lighthouse, but at 2pm the weather was cloudy and not great for a visit. Checked the BBC weather app and it was due to be sunny between 3 and 5 so we set off on the 4k walk to it.
Got to the lighthouse and joined the queue to climb up to the light as the sky was beginning to clear.  By the time we had heard all about it, the sun was out.
For the record, it was built in 1809, the light bulb was tiny, and it is 1,126 steps from the top of the cliff to the top of the lighthouse and back up again.
The sun shone brightly until just after 5pm and then gradually disappeared as we took the coastal path back to the camper.
Good old BBC, it's not always right, but on the button today.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Parys Mountain

After a complete washout yesterday we are out and about again.
Visited the copper mine site called Parys Mountain near Amlwch.
The copper was discovered in 1768 and for the next half century there was intensive mining, resulting in one of the most extraordinary industrial landscapes in Europe, according to the guidebook.
It was completely amazing and the bright orange and purple rocks stood out against the surrounding green landscape.
The mine has been used in films as the surface of the moon, Dr Who and most recently, Mortal Kombat 2.
Well worth a visit.

Friday 16 August 2013

Hills and windmills

Arrived at our new campsite near the northern coast of Anglesey. It is a bargain price behind a pub car park, but it has tv and phone reception, views of a windfarm and obviously a pub next door.
There are a few clues here that we are on quite high ground. Our circular cycle to the seaside this afternoon was very undulating and no part of it was on flat land. It also got windier and windier as we followed the route past an old windmill and the modern wind farms.
Very pretty route on quiet roads, but really tired by the end of it.
I bought a bara brith cake today which I think is a Welsh delicacy, so had a huge chunk of it as a reward for getting back to the camper.

Thursday 15 August 2013


Spent three hours yesterday while a man tried to fix my bike spoke with the wrong sized tool. It is fixed and now we are on Anglesey near a little town called Beaumaris.
There is bad weather on the way so I dragged Darren out early on a 30 k ride, so that we would be home before it hits.
Our first stop was the view of Puffin Island, but no sign of the cute little birdies. I then suggested an add on to the route to see a beach that looked interesting. I really ought to start looking more closely at the contour lines on the map as we descended on the steepest road I have ever seen and we nearly had to cycle (sorry walk) back up a road with a 35% incline.
Very dramatic beach though.
Just had gin and tonic battered haddock and sitting in the cosy camper as the rain is starting.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

You win some.......

For those who know Snowdon we caught a bus to the Snowdon Ranger route and then walked down via the Rhyd Ddu path.
I was pleased that we could not see through the clouds near the summit as it seemed quite a ridgeway with steep drops at either side, so maybe ignorance helped although my imagination did go into overdrive.
However, after about half an hour of descending the sky started to get brighter and then suddenly we were under the clouds and the view opened out in all directions.
It was well worth the wait and made the journey more dramatic than if it had been sunny all day.
We followed the path down to the road then walked home, collecting blackberries for a feast later.

On the top of Snowdon

We waited especially until today to climb Mount Snowdon as the last time we saw a weather forecast it said that it would be bright and sunny this afternoon.
Here we are on the top at nearly half past two and it is completely in cloud and blowing a gale.
Sitting at the top in the cafe enjoying the warmth and the wifi and hoping that we see the view on the way down.

Monday 12 August 2013


Camping at Beddgelert tonight and walked along a footpath to check out the village.
On the way we came across a farmer herding his sheep. Some of them took fright at the sight of us and ran off along the tiny steam railway tracks so he had to whistle the dogs who ran off and collected them. It was exactly like the tv programme 'One man and his dog'.
Beddgelert is very pretty, full of tourists and unhelpful staff in the Tourist Information Office. They chatted in Welsh to each other all the time that they weren't speaking to us, so it gave me a bit of a complex that they might be saying rude things about us to each other.
Beautiful scenery yet again today in Snowdonia.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Harlech castle

Caught the bus to Harlech today to visit the castle.  It is a very grey building, and together with the very grey clouds and Darren's jacket make some very colour coordinated photos.
When it was built the castle was right by the sea and it had a 200 foot long stairway from the castle to the cliff base, where supplies were brought in when it was under a seven year siege.
I presume that they didn't need to bring in water as it rains often enough to keep an army going.
We walked back to the campsite along a public footpath by the sea, and had to negotiate a lot of fields full of farm animals. Fortunately, mainly sheep but there were some worrying moments with large cows and a dog sighting.
Can't wait for my bike to be mended and we can go back to being on the opposite side of the fence to all these creatures. Nice walk through.

Saturday 10 August 2013

"I am not a number, I am a free man!"

"I am number two, you are number six." "Who is number one? " said the Prisoner.

Today we walked to the amazing Portmeirion, created by Clough William-Ellis. He spent 50 years working on Portmeirion, starting with a hotel on the estuary, and gradually designing buildings and follies.  He also bought or was given sections of existing buildings and statues to add to his Italianate village in mid Wales.
However, nowadays it is probably best known as the setting for the brilliant tv series The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan. Download an episode or two if you have not seen it.
We read that we could visit the village for free if we had lunch at Castell Deudraeth, which is a fancy restaurant on the edge of the village. So it was a great excuse to eat out in a lovely place with good food.
We followed it up with a wander around this fascinating place.

Friday 9 August 2013


After rain overnight it was a lovely morning so we walked on the beach at Freshwater East before we set off on our nomadic lifestyle again. We have had to move so often recently as the seaside campsites have been pretty full.
We have driven up to north Wales and are now near Harlech. It was a beautiful drive but a bit of a surprise that the main roads were so small and windy.
We got completely stuck for quite a while at one stage. It was a very narrow A road and an artic and a lorry could not get past each other and traffic jams built up in both directions. Eventually one driver got out and helped the artic driver get past. He then sat in his cab, looking hot and bothered and smoking a cigarette. I was worried about getting past him but he said he was staying where he was and I managed to get round him.
It also got a bit dramatic at the campsite as I did about a 15 point turn to get the van into it's spot. I know how the driver felt and I am not going anywhere for a while now.

Tenby and a broken spoke

Changed campsites today to a tiny place called Freshwater East. The site is nestled just behind the beach in a little wood at the bottom of an enormous hill. Annoyingly, there is no Internet or phone signal so you won't read this until tomorrow.
We set off for an afternoon trip to Tenby on our bikes. The route there was up on a ridgeway, but quite a few dips and troughs as well.
Tenby was packed and great to wander around as the council have banned cars from the city centre for the whole of August.
Cycling back along the coastal road when suddenly my bike made a loud ping and a spoke broke. Hope it's not because I weigh too much.
Darren had to leave me sitting outside a pub drinking cider and eating peanuts while he cycled back on his own, and then brought the van out to pick me up.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Fish and chips in The Shed

We moved to St David's on the Pembrokeshire Coast today.  On the recommendation of Paul, who was here on holiday last week, we cycled the 12 kilometres to Porthgain to sample fish and chips at The Shed. It is a lovely little restaurant right down in the harbour, and the food was great. Crunchy chips, bright white tasty cod, home made tartare sauce and a bottle of Taffy's apple cider.
Afterwards we made our way back as near to the coast as possible, as evidenced by the shot of Darren on the cliff edge. We ended up on a footpath and had to carry the trusty bikes down a steep path and steps to Abereiddy Bay.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Rhossili and the Gower Peninsular

The BBC weather channel said that the sun would come out today from 12 o'clock onwards.
We had a double header outing today with the morning at Llanelli, lunch back at the campervan, and an afternoon outing, in the sunshine to the Gower.
We are staying at the east end of the Peninsular and we set off to Rhossili which is at the furthest point west.
It is an amazing place with the village high up on the cliffs and the beach down a steep path many steps below. We stayed up high and went to the end of the cliffs to see what is called the Worms Head (pic 3).
Apparently there is a path that can be walked along at low tide, but it looked very unlikely.  The signpost at the start of the path said 'too late to cross', so we didn't get to see it.
We stopped for a massive icecream and then carried on along the south of the Peninsular, stopping at another bay, then the Mumbles and eventually got back home.
We cycled just about the whole of the Gower and a new record distance of 104 k.

Welsh sporting heroes

Here I am in Llanelli rugby tackling the local hero and British Lyon, Phil Bennett.
On the very same morning we were cycling along the coastal path and came across Sir Ian Botham who is doing 'Beefys Big Walk'  along with many supporters.
Finally, a few days ago when we were in Cardiff we found Nathan Cleverly who is the current WBO light heavyweight world champion, and another Welsh hero.
I am now hoping that the next sportsman we find is David Beckham. I know he's not Welsh, but who cares.