The calm after the storm

Storm Doris didn’t really hit my local area until yesterday morning was well under way. When I went to work at 7am it was fine, dry and there was no wind; I don’t know exactly when the rain started but when I came out of work at 8.30am it was lashing down and I got drenched just running across the car park to the van. I’m currently looking after Aphra, my friend Janet’s dog, and she was due for her morning walk but there was no way I was taking her out in that – and I don’t think she wanted to go out anyway – so she just got a quick five minutes in the garden. Driving back home past the fields and lower moorland there were several large areas of standing water across the road, testament to how hard it had rained in such a short space of time.
The wind hit from nowhere, blowing up round about 10am, and it was constant until the early evening. Back at my friend’s I discovered that one of her artificial flowering plants, which had been in a concrete-weighted tub outside the front door, had blown away, and although I looked in neighbouring gardens and searched the immediate area it was absolutely nowhere to be seen – it had disappeared completely. Other than a few empty wheelie bins being blown over the village seemed to have escaped fairly lightly, but in other areas of the town trees have been blown down across roads, a couple of house and garden walls have collapsed and my friend Lin who lives round the corner from me has had her back fence blown down.
This morning it’s a completely different story; it’s fine, dry, sunny and calm, and when I went up to Janet’s to take Aphra for her walk I took the camera with me. Only a couple of hundred yards from the house I passed a garden with a bank of snowdrops nestling in the shelter of a large conifer tree; there were even a few purple crocuses coming into flower in one corner. There was a bit of a chilly breeze coming off the moors and rippling the surface of the Blue Lagoon reservoir but it was quite pleasant in the early morning sunshine and Aphra got a good walk to make up for not going out yesterday.
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The Blue Lagoon with Winter Hill in the background
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Looking west
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As I drove back down the hill towards home later on I could see several grey clouds gathering beyond the south of the town. I don’t watch tv weather forecasts so hopefully storm Doris has passed, and although those grey clouds may well bring more rain later on I’m enjoying the current sunshine while it lasts.

A discovery walk on the Llyn Peninsula

Linking up with Jo’s Monday Walk this week, this is one I did while camping on Anglesey the year before last, and not only was it a very enjoyable walk but it also gave me a very delightful and unexpected surprise when I discovered something I’d previously been completely unaware of.
As always, when I’m on my travels I never go anywhere without my AA map book, and having consulted it before leaving the tent that morning I decided to go off the island and explore part of the the Llyn Peninsula. Marked on the map book was a place called Morfa Nefyn and a beach which I’d never previously been to, so I decided to check that out for any possible photo opportunities. Nefyn itself was quite a large spread out village with the main road running through it and I fully expected to see a sign for Morfa Nefyn somewhere but there was nothing, though I did eventually see a sign for ‘beach’ pointing down a long straight lane so that’s the way I went – and ended up in a golf course car park.
With no other signs around I was totally at a loss but as I stood wondering which way to go a couple who had obviously just finished a round of golf came to their nearby car, so I asked them where the beach was and was told to follow the gravel track across the golf course and a fifteen minute walk would take me to it. So off I went, and with the blue sky, sunshine and great views over the coastline to my left it was a very pleasant walk. Eventually the track split into two and down the short steeply sloping tarmac part to my right I could see a beach – I’d found what I thought I was looking for, but it was far more than just a beach.
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A view from the golf course
The track took me down behind a row of cottages on my left and at the bottom of the slope, almost on the beach itself, was a small parking area with just about enough space for half a dozen cars. When I emerged onto the sand I discovered a tiny and very pretty little hamlet with the cottages, three or four houses set in a small courtyard, and a pub/restaurant with an outside dining area, all set at the base of the cliff and within just a few feet of the beach – it was such a quaint, unexpected and out-of-the-way place offering plenty of photo opportunities and I was really glad I’d found it.
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Porth Dinllaen
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Cottages and Ty Coch Inn
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After spending quite some time wandering about taking photos I found a footpath leading round the headland at the end of the beach; there was a house in the distance at the water’s edge so I decided to go round as far as there. The footpath was quite narrow in places with bits of the edge missing where it had crumbled into the sea but I reached the house without mishap and after taking a few shots I retraced my steps back to the beach.
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Instead of going back up the track to the golf course I walked along the sand; four tractors with trailers were parked just above the high water line and once I’d got past those I had the beach almost to myself. Eventually my way was barred by a small headland jutting out into the sea and a path took me off the beach and through a tiny enclave of half a dozen cottages before leading me back onto the sand further along the bay. I was just hoping that there would be a way from there back to the golf club car park otherwise I would have a long walk back the other way but I needn’t have worried; the beach gradually became more populated and eventually I came to a concrete slope leading up to a tarmac lane, and after passing several houses I came out at the start of the long lane leading up to the golf club.
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Looking back at Porth Dinllaen – what you see is what you get
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Another house at the water’s edge
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Morfa Nefyn beach
Just up the lane was a cafe with a few tables outside; it was a good opportunity to stop for coffee and cake before returning to the van and it also gave me a chance to find out the name of the quaint little seaside hamlet I’d discovered. The beach I’d just come from was Morfa Nevyn, the one I was originally looking for, though somehow I’d missed the sign for it, and the hamlet was Porth Dinllaen. It seemed it was quite a popular little place, though I didn’t recall seeing it in the map book so a quick check when I got back to the van confirmed that it isn’t shown on the map.
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My walk, clockwise from yellow spot
Thinking back later on I was glad I’d missed the sign for Morfa Nevyn beach; Porth Dinllaen couldn’t be seen completely from there so if I’d found that beach first I may just have taken a couple of shots of it without going any further, and I would have missed a nice walk and some good photo opportunities in one of the most unusual places I’ve ever been to.

Something cute for the weekend

Searching the internet for something earlier on I came across this photo on a Pinterest page and thought it was so cute I just had to share it. Unfortunately there was no indication as to who the photo belongs to so I can’t credit the owner on here, but if I do find out who it is I’ll happily add his/her name underneath.
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So from one Jack Russell owner to another, whoever you are, thank you for making me smile.

After eight years of faithful service….

My bedroom tv recently died. It was towards the end of last week that I noticed when I turned it on there was a pale red haze on the picture, although it had cleared in less than a minute. Everything was fine when I watched it on Sunday night but on Monday morning when I turned it on it had sound but no picture. Well that was okay, I didn’t need to actually watch the quiz programme, I could listen to the questions and answers, however a couple of hours later the sound disappeared too – my faithful little tv had finally died.
I bought the set back in March 2009 – with built-in Freeview and dvd player it was great for in the bedroom but being only a small size -15.6ins – and very light it was ideal for taking camping too. It was a Technika, Tesco’s own brand, and I ordered it online from Tesco Direct, to be collected two days later from my local store. On the day of collection I got an email to say I could collect it any time after 4pm so I went over to the store after I finished work at 6.45pm – and that’s when things didn’t exactly run smoothly. The assistant on the collection desk told me it closed at 7pm, and although it was only 7.05 I was told I would have to go back the following day – and the conversation went like this :
Assistant – “Sorry, the desk is closed and the store room is locked, you’ll have to come back tomorrow”
Me – “There was no mention of a closing time on the email, it just said ‘after 4pm’. I’ve just come five and a half miles from the other side of town to get this”
Assistant – “That’s nothing to do with me, all I can say is come back tomorrow”
Me – “And all I can say is I can’t come back tomorrow so I’d like my tv now please”
Assistant – “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do”
Me – “Well I’m sorry too, but I’m not leaving here without my tv”
This same conversation went on for a couple of minutes and I was beginning to get mildly irritated at the assistant’s obvious refusal to help so –
Me – “Okay then, get me a supervisor”
So a supervisor was duly summoned and was slightly more helpful in that she went to see if there was a tv on the shelf in the store but there wasn’t so again I was told to go back the following day. Now many people may have given up at that point but I’m not many people so –
Me (leaning over the counter with arms folded) – “Now we can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way. You’re open 24 hours aren’t you?”
Supervisor – Yes, we are”
Me – “Well I’ve nothing to go home for and I’ve got all night, so I’m quite prepared to stay here for however long it takes, but I’m not leaving this store until I get my tv”
Supervisor to assistant – “Radio security”
I’m now thinking I’m going to be escorted off the premises, however when the security guy arrived the supervisor explained the position and he immediately went round behind the collection desk, unlocked the store room door and came back out with my tv, which had been sitting just inside the door – it really was that simple. So I’d stood my ground and without ever raising my voice I got what I wanted – and that’s the only trouble my tv has given me until now. And I have to say it’s been a brilliant little set – it’s even survived being dropped onto hard ground twice.
The first time it hit the deck was back in June 2010 while I was camping in Norfolk. A teenage lad playing football slipped and fell into the side of my tent, knocking over the table with the tv on it – I feared the worst but luckily the tv was fine. The second mishap came when I was camping again later that same year. The tv was on top of my larder unit which is about three and a half feet tall, and I returned to the tent after a day out to find the set face down on the floor – a wind had blown up while I was out and the tent side had bowed inwards, catching the back of the larder unit and rocking it enough to send the tv crashing to the floor. I fully expected the screen to be smashed but surprisingly it was still in one piece, and even more surprisingly the tv still worked, so even though it wasn’t an expensive set I was impressed with the quality as it certainly turned out to be drop-proof – and it’s given me almost eight years of trouble-free viewing.
So with this in mind, when it finally died a death on Monday I had no hesitation in sourcing another one from Tesco. Unfortunately smaller ‘portable’ tv sets seem to be hard to come by now and the smallest available was a 24ins but the price was right – only £20 more than my original set – it has the built-in dvd player and Freeview and a host of features the other one didn’t. Okay, so it’s pink – or rather it’s PINK!!! – but that doesn’t matter as my bedroom is pink so it doesn’t look out of place. It was ordered on Monday evening and I collected it yesterday with no problems, and twenty minutes after I arrived home it was in place and working – and if it lasts as long as it’s predecessor I’ll be more than happy.

 

A long canal walk

Have you ever started something then after a while realised it’ll take longer than you think, but if you give up part way through there would have been no point starting it in the first place so you carry on regardless? Well that was me a week ago when I set out to walk a section of the Leeds-Liverpool canal. My starting point was Bridge 91A by the Boatyard Restaurant at the side of the canal at Riley Green on the A675, just a fifteen minute drive from home, and my walk was to take me eastwards to Green Park on the outskirts of Blackburn. I’ve been along that particular section of canal a few times, the last time about four years ago, but as I’ve always previously cycled with various dogs running alongside I would actually now be walking it for the first time.
I set off in glorious sunshine but I hadn’t been walking long before it clouded over so most of the afternoon was rather grey, although the sunshine and blue sky did return briefly a couple of times. The footpath was very wet and muddy in several places too and it was quite heavy going at times so I was glad I’d thought to put my wellies on – and needless to say, the two little dogs who started out clean and white very quickly became black and dirty.
The first bridge I came to was 91B, Finnington Bridge, and just beyond it was Finnington permanent moorings with half a dozen narrowboats moored up; most of them seemed to be uninhabited but a couple of them had someone living on board. Several more minutes walking brought me to a wide bend in the canal and after the next couple of bridges I passed a boundary marker and a derelict water tower, the last remaining part of what was once a paper mill – I would have taken a photo but it’s an ugly looking building. I remembered that once I was past there I would soon see some modern houses with boat moorings on the far side of the canal but somehow they weren’t as close as I thought they were – I came to them eventually but it took a while.
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Leeds-Liverpool Canal walking east
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Finnington Bridge
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Approaching civilisation
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My next landmark was a block of modern apartments set right next to the tow path and again the distance to get to them was greater than I remembered. I seemed to have been walking for hours, I was beginning to get tired and my end goal, Green Park, still seemed a long way off. It didn’t help that I had the beginnings of a cold and I’d been feeling a bit ropey before I left home, but I’d thought a bit fresh country air would do some good – and I’d gone so far by then that to turn back without reaching Green Park would have made the walk pointless, so I kept on walking.
Beyond the next bridge, which was No.95, a large area of allotments ran parallel to the canal and stretched for a couple of hundred yards; most of them had greenhouses or small sheds on them and the side of one of the sheds had what appeared to be several dead wild animals nailed to it, though when I got closer I could see that they weren’t actually corpses but wood carvings, presumably done by whoever owned the shed. They were very well done and certainly looked quite realistic from a distance. Beyond the allotments and under the next bridge I came to four rows of red brick terraced houses set sideways on to the canal path; a large cat was sitting on the path up ahead but when it saw Sophie and Poppie it quickly scarpered halfway up a nearby tree and sat there looking daggers at us.
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If looks could kill….
From there it took another three bridges and two relatively short sections of canal and I’d finally made it – Green Park was on my left down below the canal bank. Under normal circumstances I would have gone down to the park and lingered for a while on one of the benches but the afternoon was wearing on, I still had to walk all the way back to the van, and I didn’t want to run out of daylight before I got back there so I quickly snapped another couple of shots then set off on the return journey.
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Almost into Blackburn
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Green Park
I’d been walking for a while when I came across an information board, which I hadn’t noticed before, set back off the path. It had a diagram of the canal and its bridges, with distances between various points; from there back to Green Park was 1.6 miles, and onwards to the Boatyard was three miles – so by the time I got back to the van I would have walked a total of just over nine miles. Of course Sod’s Law decreed that the late afternoon would turn out much nicer than the rest of the time I’d been out but I didn’t have time to linger – one final shot and that was it for the day, I walked without stopping again.
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My route from the yellow spot – 4.6 miles each way
The Boatyard was lit up by the time I got back there, and although the sun had finally gone down there was still quite a bit of daylight left – with all the narrowboats moored up beside the restaurant it would have made a good picture but by then I was in no mood for any more photo taking. I was just glad to see the van, get in it and drive home – I think the dogs were glad too as they just curled up and I didn’t hear a peep from either of them all the way back.
Casting my mind back over my walk it seemed strange that everything along the canal which was familiar to me had seemed so far away and had taken so long to get to but thinking about it, when you’re tootling leisurely along on a bike in the summer sunshine and enjoying your surroundings you tend not to notice the distance – until you walk it like I just did. 4.6 miles wasn’t really any great distance but double it and it was far enough, especially as I wasn’t feeling 100% fit. I think next time I go along there I’ll be back on the bike!

 

Linking this with Jo’s Monday Walk where this time she’s back in England and walking through a pub!

 

 

Why I will never go to Betws-y-Coed again

Five years ago, while camping in North Wales, I visited the village of Betws-y-Coed, and even though it’s a very popular little place I wasn’t particularly impressed with it, and for more than one reason I decided not to bother going there again. However, last Easter I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and make a return visit, but I was soon to regret that decision – and an incident which happened there only a couple of months ago has reinforced my original vow to never go there again.
So here they are – my own personal reasons for never going back to Betws-y-Coed –
1 – It’s not exactly the prettiest of villages. It’s full of nothing but drab dark grey stone buildings which make it look dreary and dismal. The nicest part of it is over the bridge at the far side of the river.
2 – Every other shop is an ‘outdoor’ shop selling nothing but cycling, walking and hiking gear and expensive outdoor clothing. When I wanted some spare guy lines for my tent not one single shop had any; in fact there were very few camping accessories to be had anywhere in spite of there being two camp sites in the village. It may be an okay place for those who like walking and hiking and need to buy the relevant gear but I really don’t understand why it’s such a big attraction for everyone else, as other than a handful of gift shops and cafes there’s not much else there.
3 – The pavements are far too narrow for the amount of people walking on them, meaning you very often have to step into the busy road to pass people coming the opposite way – not good if you have a couple of dogs in tow.
4 – Shops, cafes, restaurants, even the Londis and Spar mini markets – you name it, everywhere is overpriced.
5 – Parking is a nightmare when the place is busy and you can drive round and round for ages before finding a space. My attempts to find a parking space last year resulted in a two foot long dent in the bottom of the side door of the van – and a bill for £160 for a replacement door when I got home.
6 – The Royal Hotel. I’ve never been in there before but even if someone were to offer me a million pounds I wouldn’t go anywhere near the place. I’m very much an animal lover and I abhor cruelty of any kind, so an incident which happened there in December shocked, sickened and upset me very much. Following the incident the two staff members involved were sacked but I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks the manager should also have been sacked. I’m not going into details but the link to the story is here – be warned though that it’s not very nice to read. Following on from that there’s also an online petition here – if just one person reading this blog signs it with a comment I’ll be happy.
So there you have it – the reasons why I will never ever go to Betwys-y-Coed again. Bear in mind that this is my own personal experience and opinion of the place – there are many people who do like it, hence its popularity, but it’s not for me. I’ve been to much nicer towns and villages on my camping travels and those are the ones I will return to; North Wales is a lovely place with beautiful scenery but Betws-y-Coed? – never again!

 

Stewy, Lily and Dylan

After a few days of being laid low with a very heavy cold (believe it or not, the first one I’ve had in over eight years) and not having been out properly since I did a 9-mile walk last Saturday (don’t ask!) I thought I’d inject a bit of the ‘Awww’ factor into the blog and introduce Stewy, Lily and Dylan.
Stewy and Lily belong to one of the design engineers at work; they are Bengals and from the same litter, although Lily is bigger than Stewy and looks older. While Stewy is very affectionate and likes cuddles and a fuss Lily is very shy and will hide away from people she doesn’t really know. Last October I looked after them in their own home for two weeks while their owner was away and for the first five days I didn’t see Lily at all; I’d just got to the point of thinking that somehow she must have escaped when I finally found her in the wardrobe behind all the clothes. I looked after them again just recently, for three weeks this time, and again Lily was always hiding in the wardrobe – that’s where she was when I took the photo, and she doesn’t look best pleased at having the camera pointed at her.
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Stuey
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Lily
Dylan is a Seal Point Birman and belongs to the boss at work who I clean the house for. He seems to spend most of his time lazing on one of the beds, though he can be very playful when he wants to be and sometimes on the days when I’m cleaning we play a game of ‘chase’ up the stairs. He’s mainly very quiet but when the mood takes him he’ll wander round after me while I’m working and constantly squawk at me, though a quick cuddle is usually enough to keep him happy. He looks decidedly grumpy on the photo though – I think he’s another one who doesn’t like the camera.
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Dylan
Today I got a text from Dylan’s owner saying he’s going away tomorrow for a week and asking me if I could look after Dylan for him – no problem there as it’s only a couple of minutes up the road from me. I’m already, as from today, looking after a friend’s dog while she’s visiting her mother in London but another furry creature to care for is neither here nor there – I’d look after a whole zoo if I ever got the chance!

Anglesey Coastal Path – the White Arch and Tyger’s memorial

Linking up to Jo’s Monday Walk this week, this is a walk I’ve done twice in the last couple of years. One of my favourite places for camping is Anglesey – I’ve been there two or three times a year almost every year since 1997 – and this particular section of the Anglesey Coastal Path features the White Arch and a memorial stone to brave Tyger. I’d previously found the story of Tyger in a book about Anglesey; it said that in 1819 a Liverpool-bound ketch, sailing through a thick mist, struck the rocks off the coast near Rhoscolyn and sank. Only Tyger, the captain’s retriever, seemed to sense the direction of the shore and with the ship’s boy clinging to his collar he swam half a mile to safety then swam back to aid the captain and the other two crewmen. Thanks to Tyger they all reached the shore, but Tyger himself was so exhausted by the ordeal that he died on the beach in his master’s arms. The courageous dog was buried on the nearby cliff top and a memorial stone placed on his grave. I thought it was such a lovely but sad story that I wanted to seek out Tyger’s memorial and see it for myself.
My walk started at the small car park just behind the main beach at Rhoscolyn, and a footpath from there joined the Anglesey Coastal Path and skirted the northern end of the beach, taking me past two smaller back-to-back beaches and through a small hamlet of houses before hitting open fields and grassland. Across the first field the land rose sharply ahead of me with ‘steps’ up the hill cut into the earth; when I got to the top I could see the coastguard lookout station ahead of me and when I turned round I was rewarded with a good view of Rhoscolyn beach, the hamlet I’d just come through, and Rhosneiger in the distance, with the Snowdonia mountains in the background.
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Borth Wen beach, Rhoscolyn
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Looking back to Rhoscolyn with Rhosneigr in the distance
From the coastguard lookout I got a lovely view of Seagull’s Islands and the Rhoscolyn beacon; the terrain went downhill again from there and a bit further on I came to the ancient St. Gwenfaen’s Well. A nearby drystone wall went up over the next hill and the path followed it closely for quite a distance, with the terrain and the coastline becoming more rocky as I went along. Down the other side and ahead of me was Pink Bay, so called because of the pink colour of some parts of the cliff face, and the path skirted round this cove and over another short incline before crossing more open and less rocky land
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Seagull’s Islands and Rhoscolyn beacon
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St. Gwenfaen’s Well
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A very rocky coastline
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Pink Bay
Information I’d been given told me that the White Arch and Tyger’s memorial were in close proximity to each other and once I got past Pink Bay I wouldn’t be far from either of them, though I would have to look for Tyger’s stone as it wasn’t immediately obvious. I walked on a bit further then ahead of me and to the right, a distance away from the path, I saw a long line of stones, possibly the ground level remains of a wall, crossing the open land; other large stones and boulders were dotted about here and there but the shape of a certain one caught my eye so I went over to take a look. And that was the one I was searching for – Tyger’s memorial. With no indication anywhere that it was there, anyone not knowing Tyger’s story would quite easily continue along the designated path without ever seeing it.
A large slab of stone with a flat surface, it had been turned on its end and sunk into the ground. It was less than 3ft tall and had a simple inscription chiselled into its surface, though there was no indication as to who Tyger was or why the stone was there. Situated where it was, close to many others of the same kind, it was a very ordinary piece of stone but it signified so much. From there I made my way over to the cliff edge and I didn’t need to walk far before I found the White Arch, and though a big part of it was in shade it was still worth taking a few photos. I even met a couple of friends in the form of two white goats which were wandering along the cliff top.
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The White Arch
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Two ‘escapees’ from the herd on Llandudno’s Great Orme
When I’d taken all the photos I wanted I went back to spend a few minutes at Tyger’s memorial; sitting on the grass in the warm sunshine with my own two dogs at my feet, I thought about Tyger and the reason why the memorial was there. Growing about twenty yards away were several large patches of wild flowers so before I left I went across and picked a small posy then laid it in front of the stone in memory of a very brave dog who gave his life to help his master and crew.
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Tyger’s memorial
I didn’t know how far it was from the beach car park to Tyger’s memorial – and I still don’t in spite of trying to find out from several different sources – but I guessed it to be about two miles, although because of the undulating terrain and meandering path it seemed to be longer than that. So it was another two miles or so back to the van but in the sunshine it was a very pleasant walk and anyway the distance didn’t really matter – I’d found Tyger’s memorial and I’d got some good photos so I was more than happy.

The joys of being a commercial cleaner

Although I’m not sure if ‘joy’ is always the right word.
Over the almost thirty years I’ve been a commercial cleaner I’ve worked in many different offices and premises for a very diverse range of businesses; these have included bookmakers, solicitors, surveyors, builders, private nurseries/kindergartens, insurance brokers, dental practices, a textile manufacturer’s, an advice centre, a health and fitness club and a cosmetic clinic. Currently I’m working at a steel works, a sign makers and an accountants, with a couple of house cleans thrown in. All of these places have, at some point, thrown up various problems and situations, some surprising, some amusing, some mildly irritating, some very annoying and some downright disgusting, and I’ve dealt with them all as part of my job.

So here are some of the things I’ve encountered in my working life –
The bookmakers premises which was raided during the night. The thieves disabled the outside alarm, broke into the disused upstairs offices and hacked their way through the floor into the shop below. Unfortunately for them they couldn’t hack their way through the safe so they left empty-handed the same way they got in; when I arrived to do the cleaning the following morning I found a chair in the middle of the floor surrounded by lumps of broken ceiling tiles, a big hole in the ceiling above it, and the back of the counter a total mess where they’d tried to break into the safe. The police were called and were busy for quite some time but the culprits were never found.
The dental practice where the hard vinyl floor in one surgery was bordered on three sides by carpet. It sometimes happened that while I was vacuuming I would hear the faint rattle of something being sucked up the vacuum cleaner pipe; I’d been cleaning there for a while when I realised that the various rattles were fragments of patients’ teeth which had landed on the floor during treatment.
The cosmetic clinic where the staff would practise giving Botox injections to each other after hours. If the various squeals of “Oww!” and “Aargh!” were anything to go by it certainly wasn’t a painless process, and I decided there and then that I would never subject my own face to such procedures.
And the dental practice which had suffered a break-in over a weekend. The alarm code was changed as a result but no-one thought to inform me, so when I let myself in on the Monday evening the alarm was activated and I couldn’t stop it. As it was linked directly to the local police station I soon found a couple of policemen hammering on the door ready to arrest me for being a burglar – I had to phone the practice boss and get him to confirm who I was before they were satisfied that I wasn’t raiding the place for drugs.
Annoyances and irritations in my working life come in many forms so here are a few which have bugged me on a regular basis –
Waste paper bins in inaccessible corners which I can’t reach.
Staff members walking over a just-mopped floor before it’s dried, leaving it looking like it’s never been mopped at all.
Crisps and other bits of food dropped on and trodden into the carpet by members of the public when there are notices saying food and drink isn’t allowed in the waiting area.
Staff members who use the vacuum cleaner in my absence and don’t put it back where I keep it, usually meaning I have to search an entire building before I find it.
Cardboard box lids shoved into waste paper baskets, with bits of food and waste paper dropped in afterwards, meaning that when I pull out the lid to put it in the recycling bag the bits of food and paper go all over the floor.

And I long since came to the conclusion that many office workers are complacent and lazy, probably because they know there’s always someone who will clear up their mess. Their antics include – spilling coffee/sugar on the kitchen worktop and not wiping it up, which leaves a sticky mess; heating uncovered food in the microwave (very often soup) which boils over or explodes, leaving a complete baked-on mess inside; stirring a brew and just throwing the used teaspoon into the sink instead of washing it, and dropping the cardboard tubes from toilet rolls on the floor underneath/behind the loo – why?? These people are adults, not children.
As for the disgusting, I once came across a pool of vomit in a client interview room at one of the places where I used to work, and I regularly encounter various staff toilets where the contents haven’t flushed away properly, though a bucket of water poured from a dizzy height in conjunction with another flush will usually be enough to make things disappear. The most disgusting of all my encounters though was what could only be described as a ‘curry explosion’ in the toilet at one place where I worked. The huge mess wasn’t only in the loo, it was round the bowl, on the seat, the cistern, the walls, door and floor – I think the only place it didn’t reach was the ceiling. I never knew who was responsible for that lot but it was certainly a mammoth task to clean it all up.
So there you have it – a brief insight into my life as a commercial cleaner. Definitely not a glamourous job and certainly not without its problems; it also has its responsibilities in that I’m a key holder for wherever I work, and as I’m usually the last person on the premises it’s up to me to make sure everything is locked up securely when I leave. The job does have a lighter side though and also a few advantages, reasonably flexible hours being one of them, and because I work at both ends of the day it gives me plenty of time to get out and about with the dogs and the camera when the weather’s nice. And if I ever want to go camping for a weekend I only need to tweak my work round a bit and I can have Saturday, Sunday and most of Monday to myself – and I’m certainly not complaining about that!

A walk up to Crow Castle

Dull days, grey sky, mist and occasional drizzly rain has meant my dog walking has been kept to a minimum over the past week and I haven’t been able to get out with the camera, so I’m linking up to Jo’s Monday Walk this time with a walk I did while camping in North Wales at Easter a couple of years ago.
Castell Dinas Bran, otherwise known as Crow Castle, is a medieval ruin which sits in a prominent hilltop position high above the small town of Llangollen in North Wales. I’d once made an attempt at driving most of the way up to it via a back lane but scared myself silly in the process so this time I was doing it on foot. My walk began from the road near the canal bridge in Llangollen where a narrow footpath took me past the side of a large secondary school before reaching open land, and right from the start at road level the route went very steeply uphill. Eventually I came to a hamlet of several cottages and just past the last one the path took me through a gate with the sculpture of a crow on the post; there was a good view over the hedge just beyond the gate so I stopped there to get a photo or two.
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Crow sculpture on the gate post
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The view from over the hedge
After another several minutes of walking, and about two thirds of the way up the hill, a fairly level plateau offered a respite from the climb so I stopped there to snap a few photos and renew my energy before tackling the last and steepest part of the route. From the plateau a zigzag path helped to make things a bit easier but it didn’t go all the way to the top and the final couple of hundred yards were steeper than ever – I was just glad I had two fit and strong little dogs to pull me up the last bit to the very top.
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Looking west from the plateau
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The last and steepest part of the walk
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Back down at the start of the path a signpost at the roadside said the castle was a mile from there but the route was so steep it felt like I’d walked far more than a mile by the time I got to the top. Being up there was like being on top of the world though and I could see for miles in all directions, but the clouds had closed in a bit and the view across to the Dee valley in the east wasn’t as clear as it could have been; the sun was still shining though and the views to the west were much clearer so I still managed to get several good shots.
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A hazy view to the east
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On the way back down
The descent back down the hill was definitely much easier than going up, though I had to watch that the dogs didn’t pull me down any faster than I wanted to go – sliding out of control down the steep shingle path wasn’t really part of the plan. We made it back to road level in one piece though and as we all needed a drink by then I headed for Llangollen’s main street and the Courtyard Cafe, where Sophie and Poppie lapped up copious amounts of water from the bowl by the cafe door and I quenched my thirst with a mug of good coffee before returning to the van.
So would I ever do that walk again? Maybe not, as the route really was very steep and strenuous and the castle ruins will never be any different, but if there’s an absolutely cloudless blue sky and I know I can get some better photos of the views then maybe I will – all I can say is never say never. If ever I do go again though, I’ll remember to take some water with me – that steep walk was certainly very thirsty work!