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.
A whale watching trip has been on Jude’s bucket list (and mine if I was honest and had a bucket list) for as long as I can remember. So, with whales, basking sharks and all sorts of dolphins and porpoises routinely spotted off the west coast of Scotland, it was no surprise then that we booked a seafari trip while we were on Tiree.
Our trip would take us all the way across to Tobermory on Mull, where we had lunch, before returning to Scarinish Harbour. Our day was not complete though, as we packed a picnic and headed off to one of the other beaches to watch the sun go down.
As you can maybe appreciate, capturing good photos of sea life from a boat is not easy and a lot can be trial and error, but the prize for the best shot of the day goes to Jude for picture no. 14. It sort of sums up our wonderful day.
One thing you notice when you come to Wales is that all the road and most shop signs are written in both Welsh and English. So it only seems right that I should do my best to follow suit here. (Though why I didn’t write many of my other post titles in French or German or Italian I’m not sure… Perhaps I did sometimes. 🤔)
Anyhow, it was only last week that I realised I’d not posted these pictures of our trip to the aforementioned Ynys Llanddwyn (island), which lies off the southern edge of Anglesey. It’s not really an island so much as an isthmus which is cut off at high tide.
So the following gallery harks back to 23rd March 2022, when Jude and I went for a drive around to one of our favourite places. And, my apologies for yet more beaches, but I shall be returning to the mountains very soon I’m sure…
Some (approximate) pronunciation notes:
The letter ‘w’ in Welsh is frequently pronounced ‘oo’ as in ‘look’ (more or less like a double u sound), but at other times like a ‘w’ as in water.
A double d, ‘dd’, is pronounced ‘th’ as in ‘the’.
A ‘u’ is pronounced like an ‘i’, sometimes short, like ‘tin’ and sometimes long, as in ‘been’.
The ‘y’ is perhaps the most confusing, (to non-Welsh speakers that is), as it is sometimes pronounced like ‘uh’ as in ‘cut’, but at other times like an ‘i’ as in ‘bin’ and others like ‘ee’ as in ‘been’.
There is no English equivalent to the double L. ‘Ll’, is best described by putting your tongue to the top of your mouth and blowing out!
Hence Cymru = Cumree, Ynys = Unis, Llanddwyn = Llan-th-oo-in. (Hope this helps!)
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! 😉
Long-standing followers may recall that some friends and I often take on a multi-day walk. I think I originally mentioned it in June 2015 when we did the first (or last) 50 miles of the 640 mile long South West Coast Path, from Minehead to Croyde. Then, just before the COVID lockdown started, in March 2020 Pete and I did the last (or first) 65 miles or so, from Poole to Abbotsbury. With restrictions easing across the UK, we were all itching to take on another challenge and, since one of our merry band (Tim) now lives very near to the coast path in Cornwall, we chose to do another 50 mile section from Trevone to Gwithian.
Day 1 was around 12.5 miles or 20km long, finishing at the rather grandly named Bedruthan Hotel and Spa, where only Dave and I took advantage of the heated and not-so-heated outside swimming pools. As you will see from the gallery below, it was a mostly sunny day, with lots (and lots) of coves and beaches. 🏖
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… 😊
We awoke to freezing cold mist. Even the bouquetins (Ibex) were looking for shelter. (See pic 1). And, I confess, the last 2 photos in my post yesterday were taken on the morning of Day 4, mainly because the evening before we were all glad to get out of the rain and into the warmth and comfort of the hut.
The four in the Elite group had done an extra bit at the beginning of Day 3 and so the rest of us waited nervously, and for what seemed like an age, for them to arrive as snow started to fall. Werner decided he’d go out and look for them and about 20 minutes later, they all arrived, but Guy was in a bad way – suffering from both exhaustion and hypothermia. He was almost incapable of speech and so was stripped where he stood, though he could barely stand. Thankfully after several hot cups of tea and a warm shower, he thawed out and was fine for the rest of the trip.
But as you will see below, the going was still not easy. At the higher altitudes it was more suitable for skiing than mountain biking. And, remember, this was during July.
The photos cover Day 4 from the Terri hut to Sedrun, via Campo Blenio, Luckmanierpass; Day 5 from Sedrun to the Grosse Scheidegg via Passo Maighels, Andermatt and the Furkapass (with a little help from a bus and train) and Day 6 from Grosse Scheidegg to Kandersteg. I offered to drive the minibus on Day 7 to Gstaad, so I have no pictures of that particular leg via Adelboden I’m afraid.
But, I have to say that, despite my inexperience and the obvious challenges posed, it was a fabulous trip!! So good in fact that I went with them the following year, from Orsières in Switzerland to Monte Carlo on the Mediterranean, all the way down the French/Italian alps ! Thankfully the weather was much, much better… Post to come in due course… 😊
On day 5, Pete and I had the pleasure of walking without our rucksacks as we did a circular route around the Isle of Portland. As you can see from the map (pic 22), the ‘Isle’ is not really an island, because it’s connected to the mainland by a causeway, created by a rather incredible coastal formation called Chesil Beach. The beach is 18 miles (or 29 km) long and is up to 50 ft (15m) high and 220 yards (200m) wide in places. It’s made up of shingle or pebbles, which increase in size from north west to south east. Behind the beach is a shallow tidal lagoon, called the Fleet.
After searching the flights for a late summer/autumn beach holiday, we decided on Mykonos and it proved to be a great choice. Although the wind blew quite strongly some days, the air and sea temperatures were perfect.
As you will see from the selection of suitably watermarked images below, Jude takes much better pictures than I do.
Let me take you on a little journey from Stockholm to the Åland Islands, which are an autonomous region of Finland…
Travelling to new countries (and blogging about them) certainly teaches you a few things, like there is hardly any tidal movement in the Baltic sea (which is why the thousands of islands are always visible); the water is not as salty as the ‘normal’ sea and, despite belonging to Finland, the islanders all speak Swedish (and most also speak English thankfully).
We caught a Viking Line ferry, called Grace, which was more like a cruise ship, from Stockholm to Turku, on the Finnish mainland. It’s a sailing which is highly recommended, if you ever get the opportunity, as the boat weaves its way through the almost impossibly narrow channels between the many islands. After an overnight stop and hiring a car, we then hopped on and off 2 more ferries to get to the group of interconnected islands called Brändö. (See map pic B11).
A particular highlight of our time there was a day on the island of Jurmo. We arrived too early for the ferry, but an extremely friendly local, called Ari, offered to give us a lift in his small boat. There was a harvest festival type celebration on that weekend and we were treated to a tour of the island on a tractor trailer.
Like yesterday, I’ve divided my photos into 3 distinct galleries. (Click on any image to get a larger view).