Portmeirion, Gwynedd, North Wales

I’ve mentioned a few times that our house looks over an estuary towards the tourist village of Portmeirion. (See banner picture at the top of the website – which now includes a winter view taken this morning). I went there many years ago, but have not been since arriving back in the UK. That is until last weekend, when they were hosting a Food and Craft Fair. Entry to the village was a tad cheaper than normal, so I thought I’d take advantage and have a look around (not to mention taking a few photos to post of course! 😊).

Portmeirion was the brainchild of Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis. He was an architect and he essentially designed the whole village, often using bits and pieces from other dilapidated or demolished buildings. The land was acquired in 1925 and the village was pegged out and the most distinctive buildings erected between then and 1939. Between 1954 and 1976 he filled in the details.

Though, I have to say that it’s not all about the buildings, as the grounds, “The Gwyllt”, are also a delight, with woodland trails set out for visitors, both young and old, to enjoy. Many of the trees and shrubs originate from all around the world. (See pics 23-27).

The village is recognised worldwide as the setting for the cult 70’s TV series The Prisoner. The Round House, where No. 6 lived, is now a shop selling memorabilia.

As you will see, it wasn’t the brightest of days for photography but, given the huge number of visitors that day, I’m amazed that the images are almost people free.

Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) Walk, N.Wales

For the past few days we’ve had our good friend Arthur staying. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before but, he’s an artist and a very good one at that. He’s a Member of the Society of Architectural Illustrators, so it came as no surprise when he walked across our estuary to paint a picture of Portmeirion, which is now posted on his website, here.

Anyway, he had never been to the top of Snowdon (Wales’ highest mountain at 1,085m or 3,560ft) so, on a reasonably clear day, with intermittent showers possible, we set off. We took the PYG Track from Pen-y-Pass to the summit, before descending to Llanberis along the path which runs, for the most part, close to the railway line. For some reason this is called the Llanberis path. πŸ€” The top section of the track was closed for engineering works, so the summit was not as busy as usual. (See previous post pic here).

As you will see, we did get caught in a shower, but Arthur came prepared…

Moel Hebog Walk, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

I don’t have tick lists as such, but one of my goals is to walk up to the top of all of the mountains that we can see from our house. Moel Hebog is the one which is more or less in the centre of the banner picture at the top of my site and is 782m or 2,566ft high. I’m surprised it’s taken my this long to do it, but on Sunday, with the heatwave still going strong, I set off from the car park between Nantmor and the Aberglaslyn bridge. After 2 minutes, I realised that I was heading in the wrong direction, but I was glad in a way as otherwise I wouldn’t have captured the two butterflies in pics 1 and 2 below. πŸ˜€

The route follows the east side of the river (or afon) Glaslyn to the quaint little village of Beddgelert (which was packed with tourists) before heading almost directly up to the summit. From the top, with my binoculars, I could just about make out our house through the heat haze, but the views in all directions were fantastic. Not only that but, while I sat and ate my lunch, I was treated to a fly past by a red kite and several Wall Browns living up to their names on the dry stone wall leading up to the summit cairn.

On my return, I’d hoped to see one of the Welsh Highland Railway steam trains passing by, but I had to be content with a shot of one in the Beddgelert station. (See pic 31).

Isle of Tiree, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Knowing that we would have a long, 8 hour drive to Jodie and Alex’s wedding, Jude and I decided to extend our stay in Scotland with a trip to two of the islands in the Inner Hebrides – Tiree and Coll.

Known as the Sunshine Isle, for having the most sunshine in all of the UK (I’m told), Tiree is noted for its stunning beaches (see also the detailed map below). In the few days that we were there we tried our best to get around them all and below are some of my best pics. I hope you enjoy.

Walk from Boulmer to Low Newton-by-the-Sea and back, Northumberland, England

While we were staying in Alnwick, Jude went off for the day to see her best friend Kate in Edinburgh. I therefore took the opportunity to do a long(ish) walk (of about 14 miles or 22.5 km) from Boulmer. OK, I admit it, my main motivation was to stop for a beer at the Ship Inn in Low Newton-by-the-Sea. πŸ˜‹

As you will see from the gallery below, the weather was breezy, but quite kind until I set off for the return journey, when the winds dropped and the rain took over. I got so wet, my mobile phone screen decided to pack up and, despite my best efforts to revive it (by leaving it in a bag of dried rice for a week), it still doesn’t work.

Over the past few weeks, Jude and I have been in the habit of collecting bits of sea glass and washed up pottery from all the various beaches that we have visited. I therefore couldn’t stop myself picking up the handful in picture 2, which were all found in the small area seen just below my hand. Another load was safely put to one side until I returned, when I managed to completely fill my sandwich bag.

The route also took in Dunstanburgh Castle and Embleton beach which I’ve previously posted here. My apologies for the duplication, but I don’t think you can ever have too much of a good thing!

Embleton Beach and Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland, England

Jude and I have just returned from a week in Northumberland, staying in the wonderful town of Alnwick. As you may have gathered by now, we’re drawn, almost magnetically, towards the sea and the beaches along this stretch of coastline are fabulous.

So it was that we went for a walk to Dunstanburgh Castle along Embleton beach. For added interest, to me anyway, there’s an 18 hole links style golf course which runs alongside. I was fortunate to spot 2 golfers on the horizon while I had my camera set to black and white and I thought it made for an excellent photo. (See pic 7). Little did I know at the time, until I turned the corner and spoke to them, that the lady hitting the shot to the par 3 “signature hole” 13th had put it to just 2 feet away from the pin! (See pic 8). Great shot Marcia!! (In case you’re wondering, yes, she did sink the putt for a birdie!)

As you may already know, Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England – over 70 in fact. Dunstanburgh Castle was built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster between 1313 and 1322, taking advantage of the site’s natural defences and the existing earthworks of an Iron Age fort. As you will see below it’s now a shadow of its former glory. For more information, please click here.

Unusual Sightings at Benar Beach, Gwynedd, N. Wales

Just before Christmas, Judith and I were slightly alarmed to hear a whirring noise outside the house. We looked out of the kitchen window and saw not one, but two, powered paragliders (or paramotorists) flying up and down and then across the estuary. This was a first in nearly 4 months of living here.

It turned out to be a nice day, so we did our usual thing and went for a walk along Benar beach (which is about 9.5 miles or 15km further down the coast). And, hey presto, another came whizzing along! At least this time I had my camera ready. 😊

As we walked along, Judith spotted some small lumps or bubbles emerging from the sand. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it before and I’d be interested to know if anyone else has….(?) They were filled with air because, as soon as you touched the top of them, they deflated. But how on earth they were formed, given that we’re talking, albeit wet, sand here, I don’t think I’ll ever know.

They only appeared, near to the sea, over a stretch of no more than 30 yards (of a very long beach) and, as you can see from the pics below, there were quite a few of them. Their size varied from maybe an inch or 2cm across, up to 8 inches or 20 cm. Very strange (and we’ve not seen any since)!

Craig y Garn Walk, Gwynedd, N. Wales

From our house you can see a number of mountains and, almost inevitably, it has become a bit of a goal of ours to ‘top’ each one of them. One of the smallest is Craig y Garn (at 363 metres/1,191 feet) which, on a clear day of course, we can see above Porthmadog as we look across the estuary. We found a route to the top in a small book called “Walks Around Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog”, published by Kittiwake, which itself has 20 different walks and may also become a bit of a ‘challenge’.

So it was that on 21st November 2021, Jude and I walked to the top from the village of Garndolbenmaen. As you will see, you don’t have to climb too high in Wales to get magnificent panoramic, 360 degree views. Plus, of course, if we can see the top from home, you should be able to see our house from the top. And if you zoom in on photo no. 9, you may be able to make out a white house on the far side of the estuary – above the lowest point of the ‘V’ between the two hills (slightly left of centre).

Christmas Quiz – My Answers

Firstly a very happy and hopefully very healthy new year to all my followers and a special thanks to all of you who have commented over the past 12 months, it is very much appreciated as I’m sure you all know.

So to the, well my, answers to all those images (repeated below in case you missed my original post), with a little explanation in case you don’t ‘see’ it:

  1. Is obviously a fish – and many commented that it was an Angel fish, which is even more precise. I was pleased that the, albeit quite large, stone was in the right place, making it look a bit like one of those from the deep. The gaping mouth added to the drama!
  2. A tricky one this, which some may have thought was a squirrel and I’d go with that, but I initially though it looked like a deer running away to the left, with its butt in the air. There are two small antlers too, to the top left, so that was my answer.
  3. As soon as I saw this in the sand and maybe it was because we’re now living in Wales and I was hoping to find one, that I thought it was a dragon, breathing fire out of its mouth to the top right and a claw off to the left. But I can also see a lady’s dress.
  4. Again, this ‘spoke’ to me immediately as a roadrunner. My thoughts went back to my youth and all of those wonderful Looney Tunes, with Bugs Bunny (my favourite) and the hapless, but very inventive, Wile E Coyote always failing to catch the Roadrunner. Beep, beep!
  5. Another fairly obvious one which many people got – definitely a scorpion.
  6. Less obvious was what I thought looked like a horse (one of two in this list). It reminded me of one of those sit-on horses on a merry-go-round at the fair, with it’s head in the air and feet never quite touching the ground.
  7. Perhaps the easiest of them all, with it being a rather chic (perhaps Christian Dior?) dress. Maybe the beach is where they got some of their inspiration!
  8. Not so clear is the jellyfish. Perhaps a little bit manufactured to get into this quiz, but at least one person spotted it. Well done Brian!
  9. In the same vane, this horse was not so obvious – particularly with it’s tiny head. but it reminded me of one on those ancient cave paintings, where the perspective is not quite right.
  10. A little clearer was the goose or duck or swan. Again the white ‘eye’ was already there…
  11. …as it was in this image, which looks like a shark to me, but could be many sorts of fish I suppose.
  12. Last but not least was what I thought was a squirrel, with its little legs running off to the right and bushy tail dragging behind.

I hope you enjoyed this little quiz. I think it’s amazing what nature conjures up!

Christmas Quiz – 2 new images and some answers to help you…

Further to my post on Christmas Eve, my thanks to those who have already commented but, in case you are still trying to work them out, below are some possible answers to match up with the images. I’ve posted them all again below, so that you will have everything in one place. And, since I’ve just realised that I missed a couple pictures, there are now two more for you to puzzle over!!

However, be warned, I’ve only given you 11 possible answers to the 12 pictures – so one of the answers appears twice, but I’m not going to tell you which one. (I’m such a tease!)

Anyway, here are my ‘answers’ and I’ll publish which I think belongs to each image later in the week.

  • Scorpion
  • Horse
  • Goose
  • Dress
  • Shark
  • Dragon
  • Deer
  • Squirrel
  • Fish
  • Roadrunner
  • Jellyfish

So, just let me know what you think images 1, 2, 3 etc, are… E.g. 1 Squirrel, 2 Scorpion, etc. etc.

Lastly, remember, there are no ‘right’ answers (and please do let me know if you are convinced one of them is something not in the above list) plus, of course, it’s only a bit of fun!