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.

Jodie and Alex’s Wedding

Almost exactly 5 years ago now, I posted pictures of Hannah and Mike’s wedding. Well, after a 2 year delay, due to you-know-what, it was the turn of her sister, Hannah, to marry Alex.

The wedding was held at the Loch Melfort Hotel, which is around 20 miles south of Oban, on the west coast of Scotland. The happy couple were blessed with glorious sunshine all day and the actual ceremony took place in what can only be described as a magnificent setting, right by the side of the loch. Inevitably many kilts were in evidence and a piper played… I hope this video and the gallery below gives you a feel for the atmosphere on their very special day.

(Suggestion: For the optimum “Scottish” experience, after viewing the video, allow the music to loop around while you view the gallery of photos). 😊

South West Coast Path Walk, Day 4 of 4, Porthtowan to Gwithian, Cornwall, England

Although Day 4 was perhaps the shortest, at around 11.5 miles or 19km, it certainly had more ascent and descent, as you will see from the pics below.

The logistics of this event were a little more complex than usual, but I’ll not bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that it would be very remiss of me not to mention a few people who supported us during our walk. So a very big THANKYOU to:

  • My wife, Jude, for ferrying me to the start and back from the finish, not to mention helping with our car in the middle.
  • Tim’s wife, Hayley, for similarly providing a taxi service for the boys to the start on Day 1 and for us all on days 3 and 4. And to both Tim and Hayley for accommodating us in their wonderful home, which included a fabulous celebratory meal at the end.
  • Three and a half year old London and her mom, Tiffany, for the welcome banner as we arrived back at Tim’s, (see pic 36). London was an endless source of fun and games. I shall forever be known to her as Grandpa Pig (of Peppa Pig fame), while Dave is “The Naughty Boy”, for not coming down from his bedroom when told.
  • And, lastly, to Pete, Liam, Tim and Dave for their excellent company over the 4 days. It never ceases to amaze me how we fill the days talking about anything and everything, most of which is absolute rubbish! 😉

I hope you enjoyed our little walk.

Cheers! 🍻

Moel Ysgyfarnogod Walk, Gwynedd, North Wales (Part 2 of 2)

We left our walk yesterday overlooking Llyn Eiddew Mawr. Just a few steps further on, to the left, is it’s smaller sibling Llyn Eiddew Bach, which had THE most perfect reflection. (Llyn means Lake, Mawr means Big or Large and Bach means Small btw). From this you can guess that the landscape is littered (or maybe that should be flooded) with lakes or ponds of various sizes and from there I ascended slightly off the route to have a look at Llyn Dywarchen, (pic 31), simply because it looked a nice shape. As it turned out, I could also see it from the secondary hump next to the Ysgyfarnogod summit, (pics 40 & 41) but it was worth the short detour.

I thought I’d have the summit to myself (after only seeing the one cyclist in yesterday’s post), but I was surprised to see a couple leant against the trig point. They were having their lunch after walking up from their home in LLandecwyn. (It was a regular walk of theirs apparently).

I had hoped or thought about walking back down via Cwm Bychan, but the route back home from there was along a long narrow road and, in the event, the path on the ground to Cwm Bychan wasn’t very clear. So, to save retracing my steps completely, I took the direct route down via the very Tolkien sounding village of Eisingrug. (I didn’t know it existed either until I walked through it – and there were no Hobbits to be found! 🤔)

Saillon to Fully Walk, Valais, Switzerland

With temperatures set to soar into the 20’s C (70’s F) down in the Rhone valley, it was an easy decision to go for a walk in that area yesterday. After a quick scan of the map, I settled on doing another section of the Swiss Regional Route no. 36, “The Chemin du Vignoble”, between Saillon and Fully.

As you will see from the gallery below, the route also takes in a lot of the other farming activity which goes on along the valley floor – most notably the orchards and various poly-tunnels encouraging what looked to me like strawberry plants.

Of course I was also hoping to find a few ‘new’ (for this season anyway) flowers and butterflies and I was not disappointed. There were two distinct ‘hot-spots’ where I must have spent 20 to 30 minutes trying to chase down a Clouded Yellow – but the best shot I got was from a distance and hence why pic 21 is so poor. However, as any Twitcher or enthusiast will understand, I was extremely excited to discover a completely new ‘find’ (for me) when I checked the identity of pic 23. According to this Papillons de Suisse website (see last entry on the page) the Chequered Blue is only found in some parts of the Rhone valley, Ticino and a few other ad hoc areas in the south of Switzerland. Now that’s what I call a good day out!! 😊

Walk around Lac de Montsalvens, Gruyère, Switzerland

Like many of you no doubt, Jude and I have been longing to get away for a bit of a break. The hotels in Switzerland are still open and we took advantage of a special Dinner, Bed and Breakfast offer at a hotel in the small village of Charmey.

I think it’s fair to say that the Gruyère region is more ‘chocolate box’ pretty than the more rugged Alps of the Valais, as I hope these photos show.

Deer, deer, deer… (Nature watch, Evolène, Valais, Switzerland)

With the snow still being around, I put the trail cam up around the tree to see what might wander into our garden. Jude and I wondered whether the stag might return, but no, last Saturday evening the camera captured this (young?) male Roe deer (below). His antlers are just growing and somewhat smaller than those of ‘our’ Red deer stag!

I should point out that Jude has been putting up the bird feeders during the day and taking them in at night, which is why they seem to like grazing under the tree and a little too close to the camera. So I’ve been adjusting it and the 2 plant pots, which were beneath the tree, as the week has progressed to get some better shots of the action.

The following night (around 2am on Monday morning) he returned and was surprised, but seemingly not concerned, by another visitor…

And, the following night, (Tuesday at 1am), a slightly more mature male visited…

Around 4 hours later, (5am Tuesday) a female arrived. She obviously felt at home as she settled down for a rest…

And then last night, this fox was obviously taken aback by the ‘eyes’ (aka lenses) of the trail cam…

Finally we have 2 videos, (one taken at 3am this morning and one at 5:45am) of both a male and female happily grazing together on the bits and pieces that we had left out for them… (I also have a clip of 3 together but it wasn’t as good as these… 😊)

Lacs de la Corne and de la Brèche Walk, Valais, Switzerland

Yesterday, Jude and I took advantage of what might be the last drop of Spring sunshine for a while, by driving down to the Rhone valley to do a bit of bird spotting. Our route took us through the woods around 2 small lakes and alongside quite a few holes of the Sierre Golf Course.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get any decent shots of any of the birds but, for any enthusiasts out there, we spotted a few Goldeneyes, a pair of Mallards and a female Goosander on one of the lakes and 2 European Nuthatches, a (probably Great) Spotted Woodpecker, a Treecreeper, a Crow, a Robin and several Blue, Great and Long-tailed tits in the surrounding woods. Had I had a ‘fishing rod’ with me, I could have collected about 20 golf balls from the streams running between the course and the footpaths.

And, yes, that is a very hardy lady swimming in one of the lakes in picture 8. The air temperature couldn’t have been more than 13 degrees C (55 F) maximum, so I would imagine, after clear skies overnight, the water temperature was in single digits C (or somewhere between 32 and 48 F). We stopped nearby for lunch and saw her drying herself, like a cormorant, with arms out and facing the sun. Once dried and dressed she walked by and Jude asked her if she swam every day. She answered by saying that she tries to go in as often as she can, within the confines of her work schedule, which is about 2 or 3 times per week. Brrrr….!

Another Stag Night in Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

After a quiet night on Monday, when only a fox appeared on my Trail cam, last night it captured another case of wanton destruction of the bird feeder. Jude had deliberately removed all the bird food containers to see whether the stag(s) would still demolish the holder.

It snowed during the day yesterday, leaving about 3 inches of fresh snow covering the garden. The pictures below show the view this morning from our upstairs balcony. As you will see, there were lots of hoof prints, the main pole had been uprooted and bent, while the top part of the feeder was about 10 yards away, down in the field below.

This time I’d pointed the Trail camera towards the feeder to catch the culprit(s*) in action. Unfortunately, in the event, the first 10 second video was OK, but the remainder of the videos were only 1 to 2 seconds long. (I’m not sure if this is a fault in the camera, e.g. if there is constant movement when the ‘hybrid’ photo/video option is selected). Anyway to save me posting and you clicking through numerous 1 to 2 second videos, I’ve merged some of them together to show a) the stag’s arrival and b) the start of the demolition.

*One of the later videos captured, (not included here), shows the pole moving up and down without the stag in view touching it, so we suspect there is another one off camera pulling and/or pushing at the top of the feeder. Certainly we did catch 2 pairs of eyes on camera coming into the field the other night and someone in the village posted a picture of 2 stags during the daytime on facebook a few days ago. So we know there are 2 lurking in the vicinity.

Clearly they are simply looking for food and not vandals after all. But, to save dismantling the bird feeder every night, we are now going to move it up to the corner of our balcony, well out of the reach of those long antlers!

I’m afraid the following 2 videos are a bit jerky, but I hope you will get the idea.

Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Valais, Switzerland

The 15th August is normally the date when the Mid-summer Festival takes place in our village. But this year, for obvious reasons, it was cancelled. So we were not treated to the helicopter rescue of the dummy which had fallen (or was he pushed?) off the rockface, nor the stream of vintage cars. And the usual procession, of the villagers demonstrating the traditional arts and crafts, will have to wait until next year.

So, I decided to have a wander through the village and take some photos to show you what our village looks like during the summer. Normally the main street would be packed from one end to the other but, this year, there were just the usual weekend and holiday visitors. It was also nice to see the locals dressed in their traditional costumes, simply relaxing and enjoying some time with their families.

If you would like to see an example of what we all missed, here’s a post of the Mid-summer Festival from 2016.

Note that the last two images, courtesy of Wiki, position Evolène on the map of Switzerland and the canton of Valais and give some facts and figures about the Commune – just in case you wondered… 😊