Snow on Snowdonia

17th January 2016

The weather is settling day by day, less rain, more blue sky and definitely less mild. As I sit in our kitchen writing, I can see Bangor Pier and the trees and buildings of Hirael reflected almost perfectly in the still waters of the Menai Strait.

Beyond are the gentle green slopes of the foothills leading ever upwards to the mountains of Snowdonia. There is a light covering of clouds blanketing the very tips, but clearly visible below them is a beautiful covering of white snow.

Sun rising over snowy hill os Snowdonia

This beauty is, of course, deceptive: up at those altitudes the temperatures are well below anything experienced where we are – near sea-level. The Mountain Rescue volunteers are kept busy at this time of year, so if you wish to walk in snowy mountains, be well prepared and stay safe.

January 18th 2016

Fireworks to Bring in The 2016 New Year at Beaumaris Castle

On New Year’s Eve we went with friends to the midnight fireworks at Beaumaris Castle. Despite the rain which had fallen across the UK for weeks, the night was dry and mild with only very gentle breezes – just perfect for fireworks.

We stood in the square with all the other revellers gazing up at the perfectly orchestrated display on Beaumaris Castle walls.

Beaumaris fireworks on New Year's Eve 2015

It’s our favourite way to bring in the New Year.

Join us next year.

Happy New Year and the best very for 2016 to all our guests and friends!

December 31st 2015

The Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle Race 2015 – statrted in Beaumaris

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015. Stage 1 wim at Wrecsam

The Aviva Tour of Britain – Britain’s biggest professional cycling race – in Beaumaris
6th September 2015

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.

The weather was perfect, slightly overcast but bright and dry for the Tour of Britain which started on The Green, Beaumaris, with crowds enjoying introductions of the teams, autograph signings and having time to be amazed by the massive organisation necessary to hold this event. There was even a fly past coordinated with the time they all set off at 11:17.

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.

Daf and I settled ourselves not in Beauaris but at the end of the Mile Road, near the top of Allt Goch (Red Hill) – the riders’ first steep climb after leaving Beaumaris. We didn’t have long to wait. The roads were closed to traffic by police motorcyclists in a rolling programme along the route and watching them manouever was absolutely fascinating – I suspect they enjoyed every moment too! Stewards on more motor bikes sped by, no doubt heading for their allocated positions around the route.

It all made a great warm up for the main event. The imminent arrival of the peloton (the main group of riders in a cycle race – ok, so you already knew that – I didn’t!) was announced from a radio car, next came the red lead car, immediately followed by the formal square of riders, looking not at all impressed by the climb they had just made – SWOOSH – and they has all sped by.

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.

I understand they were prevented from breaking formation and beginning to race properly until they reached Pentraeth, so they made it look like a (speedy) ‘stroll in the park’ with friends: I know it all became a lot more serious later.

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.

What followed the cyclists was a cavalcade of support vehicles, masses of them, all sprouting spare bikes and parts from their roofs, as well as the ambulance, more officials and finally the remaining police bikes, re-opening roads as they went.

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.

Although the route was 25.8 miles passing through Pentraeth, Benllech, Llangefni,Penmynedd and on to the Menai Bridge, Daf and I quickly got back to our car and drove down to Menai Bridge where we parked at the east end then walked through the town to the bridge. We were passed by all the livery painted team coaches, making their way off the island./p
Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.
pWe settled ourselves on the roundabout by the Menai Bridge and enjoyed chatting to other spectators who had chosen this spot with a good view of both arriving cyclists and the bridge itself. There was a great festive atmosphere.

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.
Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.

At 12:17, only an hour after the start, the four leading riders shot into view, sped round the roundabout and powered across the bridge.

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.

Soon after, one lone rider followed them, then at 12:29, the peloton appeared, swished round the roundabout, crossed the Menai Bridge and disapperaed on their way through the mountains on onward to the finish in Wrecsam.

Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.
Aviva Tour of Britain Cycle race 2015.

Daf and I had enjoyed the whole event and on the way back to the car, we called into Harri’s, on the High Street for a very pleasant lunch.

Afterwards - a meal at Harri's in Menai Bridge

Great fun day.

September 19th 2015

Menai Bridge Food fair. Sat August 22nd 2015

Saturday is our changeover day in the Cottage and last year we failed to get to the Seafood Festival. Having heard how good it was, we were determined to make it this year. Luckily our lovely guests had left the Cottage very clean and tidy – thank you to Dominic, Kristina, Helen and Adam – and we were able to finish in good time and spend a happy hour in Menai Bridge.

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

It was quite stunning: Water Street, St George’s Pier and the old wood yard area were closed to traffic and I have never seen such throngs people in Menai Bridge, all enjoying the festive atmosphere.

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

There was lots of food and drink available to try from the multitudes of stalls and marquees

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

there were companies there I didn’t even know existed on Anglesey!

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

The weather had started the day wet and was forecast to continue,

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

but, the weather dried up and allowed everyone to mingle, meet friends and enjoy the social aspect of the event.

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

I was very happy to discover a man I have heard a lot about – sorry,I don’t know his name: he has been teaching people who are using Poblado Coffee, in restaurants and cafes, how to make ‘proper’ coffees. Of course Daf and I had cappuccinos, superbly made!

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

In one large marquee there were food demonstrations by chefs, with large screens either side of the stage so the audience could see every detail.

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

In another marquee crafts-people were selling their work – this is where I found my friend, Jayne Huskisson with her lovely silk paintings.

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

Hi Jayne (and Egrin, of course).
I hope we can get to the Seafood Festival again next year and we definitely recommend it.

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

Thank you and a huge ‘WELL DONE’ to everyone concerned in putting on this amazing event.

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

22nd August 2015

image from Menai Bridge Food fair 2015

Tee Hee!

Me in Cwm Idwal after six months

Today, a mere five and a half months after my hip operation, Daf and I wandered off the island and took ourselves deep into Snowdonia for a little adventure.

We parked by Ogwen Cottage and set off walking up hill towards Llyn Idwal: the first stop, however was at the bridge over a beautiful waterfall a very short distance from the car park. I just love taking time to gaze at the water rushing between the rocks and under the wooden bridge.

Idwal waterfall. Cwm Idwal

From there we carried on up the well maintained stone path until we got to the lake (llyn), where, once again, we paused to gaze at the brown tinted water. The route then takes you either clockwise or anticlockwise round the lake: we chose to go anticlockwise.

The path began to climb again, at first gently, then fairly steeply, but my hip behaved really well and we made it round the upper path until we had a clear view of the lake and the surrounding hills. By this time the sun had burned through the clouds and the lake was reflecting blue.

I was near the foot of The Devil’s Kitchen … wow!

Dot at the foot of The Devils Kitchen. Cwm Idwal

The descent back to the lake was slightly quicker, and we sat by the water watching a shoal of tiny fish darting about in the sun warmed water close to the shore: we’d seen a heron a couple of times earlier, but these little fish avoided being lunch for another day.

The rest of the descent was straightforward and after another stop to watch the tumbling cascade of the waterfall, we set off for home. What a sense of achievement!

A red Lilly - by Daf

Daf simply couldn’t resist adding the image of one of the beautiful rich red lilies, flowering in the tubs by our main entrance.

August 13th 2015

Surf Snowdonia

Surf Snowdonia in Dolgarrog

Daf and I heard about a new venture – Surf Snowdonia. This totally confused me at first: how can anyone surf a mountain range?!

A quick visit to their website explained everything.

Surf Snowdonia - expert surfer on a wave

In Dolgarrog, in the Conwy Valley, an old aluminium works has been turned into an exciting open air pool with a huge wave machine which creates ideal conditions to learn to surf.

On Sunday we spent hours there watching beginners, people of all ages, being taught the basics of this brilliant sport, while some very advanced surfers gave an idea of what can be achieved.

Beginners at Surf Snowdonia

There are other facilities, an indoor restaurant and bar, with a huge glass wall, overlook the pool, so you can while away time watching all the fun. We had really good cappuccinos too, something we can rarely find.

Now we can’t wait to try surfing ourselves.

5th July 2015

Ancient Monuments and Wetlands on Anglesey.

You would think that living on Anglesey for eighteen years, I would know quite a lot about the island – well, recently I made two new discoveries, both of which I found surprising and quite wonderful. I have been aware for years that Anglesey has a benign climate and is very fertile, both very attractive features to settlers, right back to prehistoric times: and that there is a lot of evidence left behind for us to discover: I even dug up a stone axe head at Coed y Berclas, which is currently with Ian at Oriel Ynys Mon to be recorded and for an expert assessment of its origins etc.

Bryn Celli Ddi at Llanddaniel, Anglesey. Image:

I have seen some of the standing stones and cromlechs (megalithic tombs consisting of a large flat stone laid on upright ones), and have visited Bryn Celli Ddu, a burial chamber on the south of the island. Barclodiad y Gawres, another burial chamber with spiral and zig zag carvings on some of the internal stones, is on my ‘to do list’. Nevertheless, although I had heard the name Din Lligwy, I had no idea what to expect. It is close to the east coast of Anglesey, near Moelfre.

Din Lligwy settlement near Moelfre, Anglesey. Image:

Daf and I drove over there on Sunday evening and were both surprised and thrilled by what we saw: in a glade of trees, on a mound surrounded by fields are the well preserved lower walls of a farming settlement sitting in its pentagonal outer/protective wall. It would appear that the two circular buildings were dwellings and the rectangular ones were used as workshops and for storage. The settlement probably dates back to the Iron Age and was still in use during the Roman occupation of Anglesey, so we were amazed by the state of preservation. We can definitely recommend a visit.

Aerial view of Din Lligwy settlement near Moelfre, Anglesey. Image: The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

The other new discovery was that Anglesey is an important area for wetlands, second only to Norfolk, in England and Wales, for rich-fen systems.

Damsel. Image: L Roberts.

There are grazing marshes and peat based wetlands scattered across the island and they form important habitats for rare species including otter, brown hare, water vole, harvest mouse, bittern, cuckoo, reed bunting, grasshopper warbler, lapwing, adder, great crested newt, southern damselfly and medicinal leach. It also has its own collection of plant species: marsh fritillary, black-bog rush, bog bean, northern marsh orchis, butterwort, bog myrtle, and waterwort.

Ragged Robin. Image: L Roberts.

Wetlands have been used by humans for thousands of years for various purposes, but they are also important to us today: they help to prevent flooding, capture and hold green-house gases and filter ground water. They are vital environments and Anglesey is using government funding to inform the public and conserve them for the future. That’s how we found out about them – from a booklet produced by Anglesey Council.

14th July 2015

Caught in the Act

Dorothy painting the cottage

I’m doing one of my un-favourite jobs – painting the woodwork on the exterior of the Cottage. At the beginning of the week the paint and I were both sizzling. Today I was stopped by showers but as the evening has reverted to blue skies and sunshine, I’ll be back up my ladder as soon as I finish this blog. The Cottage is looking refreshed and prettier than ever! Bye bye for now – sunshine and a paint brush are calling me.

2nd July 2015