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!

Coedydd Maentwrog National Nature Reserve and Ffestiniog Mountain Railway Walk, Gwynedd, North Wales

If you like nature and/or steam railways, this is a post for you. 😊 Please read on…

Many people, in the UK at least, will be aware of the narrow gauge railways which were once used to ferry slate from the mines and quarries in North Wales to Porthmadog for onward shipment around the world. Some of those historic steam trains are now being used by the Ffestiniog and Welsh Mountain Railways to take holidaymakers from Porthmadog to either Caernarfon or the old mines themselves at Blaenau Ffestiniog. However, not many, including me before I went on this walk, will know that the area is also noted for some of the last Atlantic oak woods in Europe.

The Coedydd Maentwrog Nature Reserve is described as one of Wales’s “rainforests” and, like all rainforests, is considered of global importance. Conditions here are perfect for the growth of 200 (yes, that’s two hundred) species of mosses and liverworts and 120 sorts of lichen. (Who knew that there were that many on the planet, let alone in one small wood in the corner of North Wales and how do the experts distinguish the difference? 🤔) In addition the woods are home to over 286 different kinds of small moth and the area is the UK stronghold of the rare Lesser Horseshoe bat.
(The numbers are truly amazing, don’t you think?!)

In the gallery below, I’ve captured a few images of some moss and lichen as well as some flowers but I’ll leave you to work out what sort they might be. 🤔

As for the route, Judith and I set off from the car park next to Llyn (lake) Mair and walked up a path which runs, for the most part, alongside the railway track, until we reached Dduallt station, where the track does a complete 360 degree loop. We waited there until the next train arrived and we watched the happy, waving passengers go by! (We were just like The Railway Children!! 😊)

We walked back the same way and, on the way, as a special treat for you steam train enthusiasts, I took a video of one of the trains passing by. 🚂 Note that the first two carriages are two of the first ever (and possibly last remaining) fixed wheel carriages built in the UK. At the time, the engineers were worried about the carriages toppling over on the narrow gauge. So, firstly, the carriages are very short (so that they could go around the bends – it was only later that bogies were added at either end to allow the carriages to be longer and the wheels to ‘turn’ independently) and secondly, the passengers sit with their backs in the centre facing directly outwards, (to keep the centre of gravity over the centre of the tracks). You live and learn. I hope you enjoy!

Footnote: All of these images were captured on 11th October 2021.

Croeso i Cymru / Welcome to Wales

Although I have posted some pictures before of the views from where we now live, I thought I’d kick off the start of this new chapter in my/our lives and this blog, with a few images taken from or around our house – to set the scene as it were. You should glean from the pictures below that the weather is quite a dominant feature here in North Wales.

All of these photos were taken sometime over the past 12 weeks.

Butterflies and bugs…

I promised you some butterflies from my last few weeks in Switzerland and here they are…

All of the photos below were taken near to our chalet in Evolène, on either the 23rd or 24th August or 1st September. Although I have seen a few since arriving in Wales, (most notably a Peacock, a Tortoiseshell and a Comma), I’m definitely going to miss the abundance and variety of these little beauties… 😌

Verbania (Pallanza) and Lake Maggiore, Italy

As soon as we got back from our trip to the UK, we put our chalet on the market and Jude started packing. We initially bought 20 largish boxes from the local DIY store, but they were soon filled. Little did we know at the time that another 40 would be needed “We don’t have much stuff”, we said. After 4 or 5 weeks of intense packing (n.b. by Jude – I think I managed one, almost) we decided it was time for a break and we went off for a few days by Lake Maggiore.

By then it was mid-August and, thankfully, the thunder storms, which can often ruin your summer evenings, never materialised. We went swimming in the lake and, of course, for a boat ride around the upper part of the lake, visiting some of the lakeside villages and the Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens. I’ve posted about this fabulous location before but, hey, you can never have too much of a good thing! 😊 Though. even I was surprised to find the little creature in photo 24 hopping amongst the leaves by the side of one the ponds.

Becs de Bosson Cabane from Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 2 of 2)

Even from the Pas de Lona, the Cabane de Becs de Bossons looks tiny and it’s still a good walk to get there. However, it’s well worth the extra effort as, on the way, there’s more Edelweiss growing along the crest than anywhere that I’ve ever seen in Switzerland. (See pics 1 & 2).

Like most mountain huts, the cabane is situated in a fabulous location, with glorious views to the east, south and west. (See pic 6). From there, my plan was to go over the top of the Pointe de la Tsevalire (at 3,025m / 9,925ft) but, even in August, there was quite a bit of snow covering the path, so I took the much easier route which traverses around the south side. From there, on a fine day, you can even see Mont Blanc. (See pic 12).

The descent took me back to L’A Vieille, where I retraced my steps home to Evolène. Oh, how I miss those blue skies!!

Becs de Bosson Cabane from Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 1 of 2)

I thought I only had a couple of posts to catch up on, but a quick flick through my old photos, yields at least four more (not counting this one and part 2). Still to come we have a short trip to Lake Maggiore, a few butterflies, a walk up the Pic d’Artsinol with the Pounders and the Swiss Ironman… (This was not completed by me you understand, though I may yet tell you about the outcome of the Sierre Zinal ‘race’, which I mentioned waaaay back in May…)

It was with this event in mind that, as part of my training, I decided to do one of the more challenging walks on my list – to the Becs de Bosson Cabane. As you will see from the Route map and profile at the end of the gallery, it’s around 20.5km or 13 miles long and has an overall ascent of over 1,700m or 5,600ft.

The route itself is straightforward… After reaching Volovron, along the track leading out of Evolène, the path climbs through the woods. Emerging slightly to the right reveals a view of the small hamlet of L’A Vieille and a wide panorama down towards the Rhone valley. (See pics 16 & 17). From there, the going gets steeper and steeper, until you reach the Pas de Lona, where we will leave this walk until tomorrow… (I’m such a tease! 😊)

Col du Tsaté and Col du Bréona from Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 2 of 2)

We left our walk yesterday at the Remointse de Tsaté. From there, the path ascends, quite gradually at first, to the Col du Tsaté. (See pic 1). The route then goes right and I believe there is a way directly up and over the ridge to the Col de Bréona. However, I wasn’t sure how difficult it was, in terms of climbing or scrambling (or how precipitous), so I took the ‘safe’ route that I knew, which traverses slightly down then back up to the unnamed peak at 2,985m (9,793ft). The views from there are spectacular. (See pics 5 and 6).

On the descent to Les Haudères I encountered many more butterflies – making at least 18 different species altogether on this walk. The ‘best’ of them, from a rarity point of view, was the Dusky Meadow Brown, shown in pics 11 and 26. My book says they are vulnerable but, thankfully, as we see here, they seem to be thriving in the Valais. 👍👍

You will not be surprised to read that I will miss this abundance of butterflies. 😌

Col du Tsaté and Col du Bréona from Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 1 of 2)

My apologies again for the delay in posting these images, but my feet have hardly touched the ground since we arrived in Wales. Six weeks already! Where does the time go? (I do know of course – visiting and being visited by family and friends and a few games of golf in between, but I’ll not bore you with all the details). So, without further ado, let’s catch up where I left off…

On the glorious 12th (of August) I set off to walk from our chalet to the Col du Tsaté then along the (mainly side of the) ridge to the Col de Bréona and back again. It’s a walk I’ve done before, but never in this direction. As you will see the skies were perfectly blue and the butterflies were out in force. 😊

Part 2 tomorrow… (I hope).

Arrived in North Wales…

My sincerest apologies for being off the radar for the past month or so, moving house is bad enough, but moving countries has its challenges. There’s been more admin signing out of Switzerland (e.g. changing addresses and cancelling health, accident, house and car insurance) than signing in to Wales (though getting car insurance has also been a bit difficult, due to our Swiss driving licences). And crossing the border, especially out of France, with a van load of our belongings, turned into a bit of a nightmare. (We had to empty almost all the van, which took a day to load, to prove that we had no migrant stowaways). But we’re here now and all is well…

As you will see from the above header photo, we have a lovely view and plenty of wildlife has been to welcome us to our new home. There are 3 buddleia bushes in the garden, so several butterflies have visited over the past 3 weeks, as has at least one dragonfly and a very friendly pheasant. The previous occupant had obviously fed him as he comes running when you open the kitchen window. We’ve called him Phil. (He looks a bit bedraggled below as it was pouring with rain the other morning).

I still have at least 2 Swiss walks to post sometime, but I thought you might like to know that Jude and I are still alive and well… 😊