Only in Ireland…..

Early on Monday evening Michael left here for a holiday in Ireland to coincide with his birthday which is tomorrow (Thursday). He travelled overnight by coach and ferry, arriving in Dublin at 6am yesterday morning and getting a coach to Roscrea almost immediately, finally getting to the family home just before 9am. He’d already had a breakfast on the ferry so Nellie made him a brew and being tired from the long journey he took himself off to bed, finally waking up at 4.30pm in time for a cooked tea.
At lunch time today he phoned me to let me know he was okay and to tell me a couple of rather funny stories. When he’d got on the coach at Dublin yesterday and said he wanted a ticket to Roscrea the driver asked him if he knew where he was going – well obviously he did, he’d just asked for a ticket for there! However what the driver really meant was did Michael know the way to where he was going – it seems it was the driver’s first time on his own on that route and he wasn’t sure which way to go or where the stops were, and he actually stood up at the front of the coach and made an announcement to the other passengers to say that if anyone knew he was going wrong along the way then to shout out and put him right. Luckily it’s a direct route with not many stops so with Michael sitting in the seat directly behind the driver ‘just in case’ they eventually got to Roscrea – the final destination was Limerick so hopefully the driver eventually ended up there.
The second funny story concerned Michael himself. He’d taken a packet of bagels with him which he’d brought from work specially to give to Nellie when he arrived yesterday, and he took great pains to tell her that they weren’t just any old bagels, they’d been made personally by him during the course of his previous day’s shift at work and they were specially for her. So this morning he got up and went downstairs for breakfast, only to find that along with scrambled eggs Nellie had done him…..three bagels! Now if that isn’t very much like taking coals to Newcastle I don’t know what is! Of course he wouldn’t upset Nellie by not eating them but he impressed on her that she really must have the other three herself as that’s why he’d taken them. It just seems so funny that he’d gone all the way from here to Roscrea and ended up eating his own bagels, but as we said of both stories – only in Ireland…..!
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A short holiday away

On Tuesday evening this week I arrived back home after a short almost-six-days holiday on Anglesey. I’d actually booked seven days off work and with two weekends I should have had eleven days starting on the first Saturday of the month, but circumstances beyond my control kept me at home for the first few days. I finally set off for Anglesey late last Thursday morning, with the recent good weather staying with me all the way from home, and once at the site, which was very quiet, I was able to set up camp in near enough the same place as last year. Having had no opportunity to open out and dry my new tent, which had been packed away very damp at Easter, I was dreading what I might find so I’d packed my spare green one ‘just in case’ and set up the van to sleep in but I needn’t have worried – although quite a bit of moisture had got trapped between the plastic windows and the blinds the rest of the tent was fine and surprisingly there wasn’t a mark on it anywhere. After a quick wipe over the moisture on the windows soon disappeared in the hot sunshine and the tent served me well over the next few days.
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All dried out
Day 2 arrived sunny and warm again so I decided to have my ‘big day out’ off the island and set off late morning for Llanberis, just over 18 miles away on the mainland. Ages ago a cafe in Llanberis had been recommended to me as a good place to get a meal so I decided to try it and I wasn’t disappointed – I opted for a cheese and onion toastie and it came absolutely oozing with filling and with a salad garnish, and Sophie and Poppie even got a treat of a sausage each. Unfortunately not long afterwards the sky clouded over and the sun played a good game of hide-and-seek but it didn’t spoil the afternoon too much and I still walked right along the lake side to the slate museum and back. When I got back to Anglesey I found the sun and blue sky were just as bright as when I left so with hindsight maybe I should have stayed on the island.
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The cafe where I had lunch
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Llanberis lake side
Day 3 was another hot and sunny one and after starting off at the car boot sale just outside the village I made a return visit to Portobello beach in Dulas Bay, which I first went to last year. This time though I went when the tide was going out and almost at its lowest so there was no danger of getting cut off on the riverside like I did before. From the beach I drove into Llangefni and parked up at Asda then took the dogs for a walk through The Dingle nature reserve and up to Cefni reservoir and back, and it was when I was approaching Asda from the entrance to The Dingle that I noticed an old windmill with a strange top, on a rocky outcrop above and just beyond the store. Of all the times I’ve been to Llangefni I’ve never noticed that before so I just had to find it and photograph it.
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Portobello beach
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Afon Goch (Red River) estuary flowing across the beach
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Bridge over Afon Cefni, The Dingle
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Cefni reservoir
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Llangefni windmill
Day 4 started off at the big car boot sale on the Anglesey show ground then from there I went over to Rhosneigr in search of Sausage Castle. Not actually a castle but a large house with castellated walls – real name Surf Point Villa – it was built next to the beach in the early 1900s by Charles Palethorpe, a member of the famous pork butchery family, and soon became known as Sausage Castle. A short walk along the beach soon found it and from there I continued along the sand to where the Afon Crigyll flowed out across the beach.
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Sausage Castle (Surf Point Villa) from the beach

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Afon Crigyll estuary
From Rhosneigr I drove up to Penrhos Coastal Park and enjoyed a coffee and cheeseburger from Pete’s Burger Bar overlooking Beddmanarch Bay, then went to Breakwater Country Park on the far side of Holyhead. After a walk round the lake I tackled the steep path up Holyhead Mountain but only went up far enough to get a couple of photos overlooking the park and the rest of Holyhead;  it was getting on for 6pm by then so time to make my way back to the camp site.
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The lake at Breakwater Country Park
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View overlooking the park
Day 5 was hot and sunny once again and this time I was on a quest to find and photograph the old abandoned brickworks at Porth Wen, a place I’d been told was very difficult to find and get to, so difficult in fact that many of the locals didn’t even know how to get there. I was put on the right track by a lovely old gentleman I got talking to while wandering round Cemaes harbour but it still proved to be quite a long and challenging walk along part of the Anglesey Coastal Path, with a couple of rather hairy places where the path was within inches of a very steep and unprotected drop down the cliff into the sea. I found the place eventually though and also had the added bonus on the way there of unexpectedly finding the old Llanlleiana Porcelain Works.
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Cemaes harbour
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Difficult to photograph through the hedge but I couldn’t resist this one
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Llanlleiana old porcelain works
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Porth Wen
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Porth Wen old brick works
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Porth Wen stone arch
Day 6 was going home day but it was still hot and sunny so I decided to prolong the day as much as I could. I took my time packing everything away and left the site just before 1pm, but as is my usual custom I took the dogs for a final walk along the beach; it was so nice down there that I decided to stay a while longer and as it was lunch time I made myself a couple of sandwiches from some chicken I had in the cool box and got a takeaway coffee from the nearby kiosk, then sat in the van and had a leisurely lunch with a great view of the beach.
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Benllech beach
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It was getting on for 3pm before I finally managed to tear myself away and set off for home, though I did make three more stops on my way along the coast. The first was at Llanfairfechan, a lovely little place I hadn’t been to for several years, and the second was at Penmaenmawr, smaller than Llanfairfechan and maybe not quite as pretty but still very pleasant. My third and final stop further up the coast was an impromptu visit to my blogging friend Eileen, and we spent a very nice couple of hours having a good natter over a mug of coffee. It was nearly 7.30pm when I finally set off on the last leg of my journey and after a very quick stop at Chester services, where I briefly saw a squirrel near the van, I arrived home at 9.15pm.
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Llanfairfechan
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Penmaenmawr promenade
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Admittedly the holiday hadn’t been near enough as long as I’d originally intended but I’d made the most of the few days I did have and packed as much into each day as I could so I hadn’t missed out on too much. At least I’d found out that the tent was okay after its Easter collapse and subsequent soaking, I’d found and photographed a couple of out-of-the-way places, the weather had been great all the way through and I’d gained a near-enough Mediterranean tan just by walking about and exploring so I can’t complain too much. Now all I have to do is update my camping blog with more details and photos from the last few days – that should keep me occupied for a while!

The call to a place (1)

Reading a post on Anabel’s blog just recently I found it so interesting that I decided I could do a similar post of my own. Some of you reading this will know from reading my camping blog that one of the places I return to regularly is Anglesey – and here’s why.
Back when I was a child I never got the chance to go camping. Many of my friends went with their families, or with their other friends and families, or with the Brownies and Guides or even the school; I would have loved the adventure but whenever I asked my parents if I could go the answer was always the same – “No!” No explanation, just an outright “No!” So the nearest I ever got to camping on a warm sunny day was an old sheet thrown over the back yard washing line, pulled out at an angle and held down with a few bricks, and a piece of old carpet or a cushion to sit on. Sometimes my mum would come out with a plateful of sandwiches and a cold drink for me – I would read whatever book I had at the time and pretend that I was camping.
Family holidays with my parents back then were always taken at a hotel in a seaside resort somewhere in the UK. I well remember the “Where shall we go this year?” discussions, and following a plethora of holiday brochures arriving by post mum and dad would spend hours going through them and making a list of possible places to go to. Finally a decision would be made, a hotel booked and my mum would tell me “”We’re going to **** this year”. I remember as a child going to Eastbourne, Llandudno, London, Great Yarmouth and the Isle of Man among other places, then in my early teens it was the Isle of Wight, Torquay, Folkestone and Scarborough. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all those holidays, especially when, at the age of 12, I was given my own proper colour camera with all the lenses and filters, meaning I could take my own photos of all the places we went to – but for some reason we never went to Anglesey, and all through those years I still never went camping.
Fast forward into adulthood, through two long-term relationships and the birth of my now-adult son, and back in 1994 I met my last partner, Peter. Previous to us getting together he’d camped at a particular site on Anglesey several times while on fishing trips with his brother and he’d told me about it more than once. Then in 1997 it happened that my birthday in early June fell on a Saturday – with the whole weekend available and the weather being warm and sunny I wanted to do something different and suggested that he take me to the place on Anglesey that he’d so often told me about. We had no real camping gear, not even a tent, so we packed his hatchback car so we could sleep in it, added a few basics plus the two dogs, Skippy and Sandy, and off we went. I’ll never forget Peter’s words to me as we were driving along the A55 coast road “I hope to God you like it ‘cos I’m telling you now there’s sod all there!” – and there wasn’t. The camp site was very basic, just a few fields with a couple of rough toilet blocks and the odd fresh water pipe here and there – well you can’t expect much for £1 per night can you?
And so began one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. The site was on a slope and as we drove along the top to pick a nice spot the view of the bay opened out in front of me and it was just “Wow!” Our cooking facilities were very basic and sleeping arrangements in a car with two dogs were cramped, but for two nights we managed and I loved it. We only had the opportunity to go to a couple of places on the island but it was enough for me to know that I wanted to see more – we returned to Anglesey a couple of weeks later after buying a two-man tent and some proper accessories, and my love of camping and my love of the island began. Even though we had a 2-week holiday in Italy every year we always went back to Anglesey at some point during the summer, and since that first time there’s only been two years when I haven’t been there – once when our planned long weekend was cancelled due to bad weather and again in 2009 when Peter and I went our separate ways and I couldn’t drive. Other than that I’ve been to Anglesey at least once each year and yes, the camp site is far better now than it was the first time I went!
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The view that started it all
I have to admit that there was a time a couple of years ago when I felt that I’d been to Anglesey so many times that there was nothing left for me to see, and as beautiful as the island is I should consider having a change. That was until I read Ruth’s coastal walking blog, and found out that she had been on Anglesey at the same time as me that year, although she was two days ahead of me – and through her blog I realised that there are still many places on the island that I haven’t yet seen or been to. And so my love affair with Anglesey will continue for some time yet – whether it’s the sentimentality of it being the first place I camped with someone I loved, or the beauty of the island’s countryside, fabulous beaches and wonderful places, something keeps calling me back. And as long as that something keeps calling then I’m quite happy to go.

 

I’m linking this post to Cathy’s blog, where her most recent call to a place is to the Four Corners area of the USA, and which, through Anabel’s blog, has inspired me to write this – follow the link for some great photos and to find out more.

Bank holiday hell

Just before 7pm this evening I arrived home from an afternoon out with Michael – and he is now under strict instructions that if I ever again  suggest going to a car boot sale on a bank holiday weekend he must take away my van key and lock me in the house! It was only last night that I suggested going to this particular car boot as Michael was only doing a short 4-hour shift at work today, and as he would be finished at 11am I could pick him up and we could go straight there. The car boot is a big one at St. Michael’s near Garstang, we could be there in less than an hour and as the stalls don’t pack up too early we would have plenty of time to look round.
All went well until I drove off the M65 to join the M61 – the motorway heading north was jammed with nose-to-tail traffic which was barely moving, and in the current hot weather with two dogs in the back I didn’t fancy sitting in that lot for any length of time, so I went twice round the roundabout to give myself some thinking time then came off just before the motorway exit. I was heading for somewhere I’d never been before but if I could get to the A6 , which is where I was originally heading for anyway, albeit at the far side of Preston, I could make my way from there. However, it didn’t work out like that….
For once, in spite of my excellent sense of direction, I had to admit that I really hadn’t a clue where we were – one road led to another which in turn led to another and another, there were no signs for the A6 anywhere and wherever we went there were roadworks, traffic lights by the dozen and queues of traffic everywhere. Eventually I saw a sign for Lytham and St. Annes, and as we had planned on going there anyway after the car boot sale I took that turn-off – even then we seemed to be going all round the houses and in totally the wrong direction but eventually we emerged onto the A583 at the far side of Preston and heading for Blackpool. We were a long way from the car boot sale though and to get there would have involved a lot more mileage so we decided to give up and just go straight to St. Annes. Our traffic problems weren’t over when we got there however….
Although there were no problems driving along the seafront through Lytham it was a different matter when we got to our usual cafe at St. Annes. The place is next to a large pay-and-display car park and has about 30 designated spaces which are free to cafe customers, however every single space in that car park was occupied and I very much suspected that many of the cafe spaces were being used by non-cafe customers. I drove round and round several times but there was no sign of anyone vacating a space anywhere so eventually I gave up and went elsewhere, finally finding a quiet avenue about three streets back where I could leave the van for as long as I liked. And finally, after taking over two hours to do what would normally take less than an hour, we sat down at an outside cafe table and had a brew.
With the brew finished we went for a wander along the promenade and while Michael went in the pier amusement place I wandered round the gardens and took some photos, then we met up again a bit later and went back to the cafe for another brew and a meal. A walk along the less populated part of the beach followed then we made our way back to the van – I’d originally intended driving on to somewhere else but after the horrendous journey getting there I was in no mood for any more of the same so we just set off for home, and sticking to the A roads I had no problems at all coming back.
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A very busy corner of St. Annes beach
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The bandstand and empty paddling pool
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Promenade gardens and shelter
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Mother duck and her family
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A less populated part of the beach
Of course, with hindsight, I should have realised that on a bank holiday weekend and in such good weather the world and his wife would be out on the roads, but the problem has never occurred before. On bank holidays I’m usually away camping somewhere and I always make a point of going very early on the Saturday morning and not coming back until the Tuesday, thereby missing any traffic jams in either direction – and I’m so used to doing it that way it never occurred to me that a simple afternoon out would be blighted by horrendous traffic problems. Needless to say it’s a lesson learned, and the next time I’m at home on a bank holiday weekend that’s where I’ll stay – at home!

2017 – Looking back

As we come to the end of 2017 I thought I would look back on some of the events in my life over the last year. The first few days of January were very cold and frosty but with clear blue sky and sunshine it was great dog walking weather. My New Year walk was taken along a section of the Bolton to Bury canal which I hadn’t been along for about fifteen years, and it was during this walk that I had the lovely surprise of seeing a beautiful Mandarin duck swimming around in a clear section of water.
It was towards the end of the month that Michael finally called time on a very bad 10-year marriage and came back home; initially I expected him to stay only for a few days like he’d done on many previous occasions but this time he stuck to his guns and he’s been here ever since – and I have to say that although I like living alone it’s been good to have his company.
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Early February saw me taking the dogs for a walk along a section of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, a walk which turned out to be much longer in distance and time than I remembered it to be. Needless to say, the dogs and I were glad of a rest when we finally got back home! In the middle of the month my bedroom tv finally died a death after eight years of faithful service and it was replaced by a pink model of the same make but a bit larger, then towards the end of the month Storm Doris arrived and caused a fair bit of havoc, though locally the day afterwards was beautifully calm and sunny and I got some nice photos while out on a dog walk.
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Leeds-Liverpool canal
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Snowdrops after the storm
Locally March turned out to be quite a rainy month so there wasn’t much opportunity for any decent dog walking, but a couple of dry sunny days in the middle of the month gave me the chance to walk up to the top of Winter Hill which, although only three miles from home, is somewhere I hadn’t been for many years. There’s a lot of local history attached to the place and it was good to find and photograph various points of interest. Mother’s Day at the end of the month brought me an unofficial ‘present’ of two packets of hot dog rolls, two packets of teacakes and a packet of sandwich rolls courtesy of Michael’s daft sense of humour, although he did give me some proper presents as well, and as it turned out to be a nice day we drove out to the coast for a meal and walk along the beach.
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Winter Hill
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One of my ‘official’ Mother’s Day presents
The first Sunday in April saw me having a major clear out in Michael’s room to make way for all his clothes and other possessions which had been dumped in my garden one evening, and during the proceedings I managed to get my large gym-spec treadmill wedged in the bedroom doorway with one of its legs part way up the wall, though I freed it eventually and found a new home for it on the landing. The following weekend turned out to be glorious so I did a two-part walk, going up Winter Hill for the second time in three weeks then driving round to Rivington and walking up to the top of Rivington Pike on the far side of the moor – the path wasn’t the easiest and the climb was steep but it was worth it for the views when I finally got there.
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Rivington Pike tower
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View from the Pike
The Easter holiday was spent camping at the lovely quiet and peaceful little site of Felin Uchaf near Corwen in North Wales, and apart from my first full day which was reasonably sunny the weather was mainly cloudy and grey though it didn’t stop me from getting out and about. On a visit to Bala lake I encountered the most difficult stile I’ve ever had to climb over, at Chirk Castle I came across the prettiest garden view I’ve ever seen, and on the way to a llama trek I got shouted at by the most verbally aggressive and awful woman I’ve ever met – not an experience I would want to reapeat.
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Bala lake
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Gardens at Chirk Castle
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Eddie and Kubera
In May my scheduled camping trip on the first bank holiday was reluctantly cancelled as I felt it was too soon after Easter; that was the weekend we heard scratching noises behind the wardrobe in Michael’s room and thought we had an unwanted rodent living there but it turned out to be the neighbours scraping wallpaper off the wall in the adjacent room next door. Weather-wise it was a bit mixed but the sunny days were lovely and I went on several good local walks with the dogs; it was on one of these walks that Sophie went for an unexpected swim when she fell into a stream. Sticking with the ‘animals’ theme it was while I was at work one morning that I found the tiniest little baby frog behind the kitchen bin; it was scooped up to safety and released in the nearby woodland, hopefully to find some friends and live a nice life.
The bank holiday at the end of the month saw me camping again at Felin Uchaf but after several previous days of glorious hot sunshine and blue skies the weather let me down and became very grey and wet, though on a second visit to Chirk Castle I did manage to get some reasonable shots of the many colourful rhododendrons and azaleas in full bloom.
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The creek where Sophie fell in the stream
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A grey damp day at Chirk Castle gardens
June was the month in which I undertook to ‘Walk All Over Cancer’ and raise money for Cancer Research by walking a minimum of 10,000 steps every day for the whole month in memory of Michael’s dad who passed away six months previously. With plenty of sunny days and lots of dog walking I exceeded the target every day and at the end of the month I’d done 336,151 steps and walked a total of 66.5 miles. A hot sunny day in the middle of the month saw me going for a longer-than-expected walk round a local reservoir and a couple of days later Sophie went to the vet’s for an operation to remove a small non-cancerous lump from her front right leg. Less than a week later Michael had an accident and broke his left ankle quite badly, ending up with a late night visit to the local hospital.
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View over Anglezarke reservoir
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Sophie post-op
The first weekend in July was spent camping in glorious weather at Elvaston Castle Steam Rally; it was also the weekend when I gained the first tear in my much-loved tent. Just over a week later, on the first day of my Anglesey holiday, the tent finally died a death when it gained a much larger and probably irreparable tear across the roof, though I’d already got a back-up plan in place so it didn’t really spoil the holiday. Weather-wise the days were mixed but there was more sun and blue sky than anything else so I got some good photos on my travels both on and off the island. This was also the holiday when I got cut off by the tide while looking for and photographing an out-of-the-way beach, though fortunately the situation wasn’t too serious and I was able to wade the short distance back to dry land.
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The fairground at Elvaston Castle
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Nefyn beach
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Sunset over the camp site
August was very much hit-and-miss weather-wise with not many sunny days so I didn’t do any really good long dog walks. With Michael being unable to work because of his broken ankle he was spending a lot of time in Ireland and one day in the middle of the month saw me almost losing my patience and the will to live because of a glitch in Ryanair’s online check-in procedure and the apparent  incapability of one of their customer services staff to sort out the problem. The weather improved for the August bank holiday and Michael and I spent a great weekend camping at Manorafon; on the way there we met up with my blogging friend Eileen and her little dog Annie, then over the course of the weekend we visited Gwrych Castle not far from the camp site, Talacre beach and Barkby beach, and Anglesey.
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Manorafon camp site
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Talacre beach
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Parys Mountain, Anglesey
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Benllech beach, Anglesey
September started with the mother of all disasters when a shelf fell out of a kitchen cupboard while I was cleaning at the boss’s house and several items of crockery got broken; it was a complete accident though and luckily the boss was very understanding about it. My camping holiday in Norfolk was full of mishaps and disasters right from the start and it turned out to be the wettest holiday I’ve ever had there – I only had three really nice days out of the ten and one of those was the day I came home. It was so bad that at one point I was really considering giving up and coming back early, though I did manage to get some nice photos on the days when the sun came out.
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Overlooking California beach
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Potter Heigham on the River Thurne
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East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens
A grey start to October saw me attending the autumn Open Day at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, then a couple of weeks later Michael and I spent a gloriously sunny afternoon at Southport, a place I hadn’t been to for several years, and where a meal in the lovely old fashioned Westminster Tea rooms made me feel like I’d stepped back into the 1920s. That month also saw me joining Postcrossing and to date I’ve sent 24 postcards and received 24; it’s a great hobby and I’ve had some lovely cards from different people in different parts of the world.
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Some of the Bleakholt residents
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Southport – Marine Lake
A sunny Sunday in early November was a great opportunity for a dog walk along part of the local canal and the last day of the month saw me flying over to Ireland for a memorial mass for Michael’s dad and uncle Jimmy on December 2nd. November was also the month when Michael brought me the wrong bread from Asda, not once but twice!
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Bolton – Bury canal
My five days in Ireland at the beginning of this month were very enjoyable and with some good weather I was able to explore a couple of different places and get some good photos. A couple of weeks ago, after looking to make a complaint at the local hospital, Michael finally got an appointment to see a specialist about his still very damaged ankle. At the moment he’s still a touch off colour with the bug he’s had for the last week but he’s getting better slowly and tonight we are driving up to the moorland road not far from here, where we can see all over the town and for miles beyond so we can watch all the fireworks going off in various places.
So there you have it, a round-up of my year, although to be honest this post has turned out to be a lot longer than it was intended to be – I hope I haven’t bored anyone! All that remains now is for me to thank everyone for visiting this blog over the last twelve months and wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year – I hope 2018 is a good year for everyone.

A long walk before home time

Just like the previous day the morning started off rather dull but it did brighten up as time went on. With only a small cabin bag and a backpack it didn’t take long to pack my things for coming home then I took a walk up to town as there was one thing I wanted to do – get something suitable to leave at the grave. Sometime during the summer Michael had added half a dozen solar lights and only a few days previously had put two vases of fresh tulips there ; Nellie had added a remembrance plaque for Jimmy, the lantern which I’d left there last year was still lit, and with the remembrance plaques Michael and I had put there last year and another couple of flower arrangements, albeit artificial, the plot looked quite pretty, but I still felt like I should add something. Eventually I settled on a bunch of  red and white flowers and and a small plaque and made my way up to the cemetery.
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Back at the house, and with some time to spare, I decided to go in search of something I’d only found out about since my stay there last year – a stream with man-made waterfalls running through the grounds of Mount St. Joseph Abbey, which I hadn’t seen when I walked round there last November. Having previously promised Trixie that I would take her for a walk sometime I clipped the lead on her, grabbed the camera and off we went ; it was 11.15am and my coach wasn’t until 3pm so I would have plenty of time to walk two miles to the abbey, find and photograph the stream and walk the two miles back again.
All the time I was walking the weather was brightening up until eventually the sun came out and blue sky appeared, and my brisk pace made me so warm that I ended up taking my jacket off and tying it round my waist. I reached the monastery in forty minutes and following Michael’s directions went past the parking area and round into the woods where I found the stream quite easily, and realised that if I’d walked just a little bit further into the woods last year I would have found it then. Being surrounded by trees it was a bit gloomy but I got a handful of photos and made a mental note to revisit, if possible in spring or summer next time.
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The abbey grounds
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It was 1.15pm when I got back to the house so I’d only been out a couple of hours, and I hadn’t been in long when Nellie put a dinner on the table for me – she said she didn’t want me travelling home without having had a decent meal even though I told her I could get something at the airport. Michael was out but he came back in time to come up to the bus stop with me – he wasn’t coming home with me but staying on for another week. Nellie said she would come too as she needed to post a letter, so after saying goodbye to Trixie who was curled up on her cushion we all walked up to town together.
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Recovering from her long walk
Now while I may have had no problems at all on my journey from home to Roscrea the same couldn’t be said of the reverse. The coach to the airport arrived bang on time at 3pm and it was a very pleasant ride up to Dublin although with traffic building up through the city centre the coach was twenty minutes late at the airport, but that didn’t matter as my flight wasn’t until 7pm so I had plenty of time. The delay was actually with the plane itself ; wherever it had come from it was late, and though the departure gate closed at 6.30 there was no sign of any staff or any indication of when boarding would start.
Eventually, just before 7pm, the staff arrived and after a load of faffing about started the boarding process ; I was third in the queue but it didn’t make any difference as everyone had to queue up again and wait for the door onto the tarmac to be opened. Then when we got to the plane we had to queue up again  before they would allow us on as they were still trying to clean and tidy up. Finally we were allowed on, and it was obvious they’d only done a quick job as there were crumbs on the three seats and the floor where I was, and probably in many other places as well. Eventually the plane took off forty minutes late and finally landed in Manchester at 8.15pm, but even then my problems weren’t over – and this is where it gets ever-so-slightly stupid.
On my three trips to Ireland last year, on all outbound and return flights and the flight to Dublin a few days previously, passengers have always walked the very short distance from the plane to the airport building but not this time. When everyone got off the plane we all had to queue to get onto a couple of shuttle buses ; I thought maybe the plane had pulled up quite a distance from the entrance we had to use so that’s why we had to go on the buses but in actual fact the plane was right where it should be and the buses just turned in a big circle and pulled up right outside the building! Of course the second bus, which I was on, had to wait until everyone had got off the first one and it had driven off before it could pull up to the entrance – yet another few minutes delay and there were grumbles coming from several passengers. Honestly, it would have been quicker to walk across the tarmac as on previous occasions! I really couldn’t understand the reason for all that at all, and I’ve actually done a very  rough drawing to illustrate it – as you can see, I’m no great artist!
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This just didn’t make any sense at all
By the time I’d got through the airport and done the ten minute walk to the station Sod’s Law decreed that I would just miss a train and I had twenty minutes to wait for the next one. Fortunately it only made three brief stops going through Manchester so I was back in my home town a bit sooner than I expected. With a taxi from my local station I finally arrived home almost eight hours after I left Roscrea; needless to say the dogs were pleased to see me so I took them for a quick walk then made a coffee and retreated to my bed – any unpacking could wait until the morning. I’d had such a tiring and frustrating few hours I just wanted some chill-out time and a good night’s sleep – and with the whole bed to myself I was sure to get it!

A visit to Nenagh

Sunday morning December 3rd was very much a chill-out morning after the previous rather uncomfortable night. Nellie had gone to morning mass so I made myself some coffee and toast and took it back to bed to relax with my book for a while, only getting up when she came back in. Even though I said I’d already had breakfast she insisted on making me another one and did me some more of her divine scrambled eggs – I don’t know how she does them but they really are delicious.
Although the day had started off dull it brightened up by late morning so I decided to take myself off to Nenagh, a half-hour coach ride away from Roscrea ; Nellie had told me that although the town centre wasn’t a big place there was a nice church and a castle there so it would be worth going to take a look. As the coach got further west the day brightened up even more until I arrived at Nenagh in bright sunshine with blue sky – that would do for me.
Nellie had told me that if I turned right when I got off the coach I would find most things of interest close by so that’s what I did. The first thing I came to was the Courthouse, designed and built in 1843, and in the very pleasant grounds were the bronze sculptures of three Olympic gold medallists with links to Nenagh. Next was the gatehouse to the old prison which now has only one cell block left intact and with its unique octagonal governor’s residence is classed as a historic monument.
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Nenagh Courthouse
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L-R Matt McGrath (weight thrower) Johnny Hayes (athlete) Bob Tisdall (athlete)
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Old prison gatehouse
Further along the road I came to St. Mary’s of the Rosary Catholic Church, a neo-gothic church built in 1895 – and this must be the most spectacularly ornate church I’ve ever been in so far. The whole place was truly beautiful and it was hard to know what to look at first – if I’d been using 35mm film I would have used up more than one roll. As it was, with limited time if I didn’t want to fall foul of the odd bus times back to Roscrea, I stuck to just over a dozen photos but that’s one place I will definitely return to at a later date to get some more shots.
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St. Mary’s of the Rosary Church
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Out in the grounds, and adjacent to this church, was the smaller St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, built in 1862 and seemingly a much simpler building than its more ornate next door neighbour. Any intention of looking inside though was forgotten about when I saw that the castle keep was right next door, separated from the church grounds by a tall wrought iron fence and gate. Unfortunately the gate was locked so I took a shot of the keep through the bars then went off in search of another way in.
I was destined to be disappointed however, as when I did find the official entrance that gate was locked too and a notice informed me that the castle isn’t open on Sundays, so I had to be content with a couple of shots from a nearby car park down a narrow side street. Also down the side street was the back yard wall of a pub which fronted onto the main street, and set into the wall was a very colourful mosaic picture – pubs and alcohol don’t interest me but the picture was worth a photo.
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St. Mary’s Church of Ireland
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Nenagh castle
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Mosaic picture set in a wall
From there I made my way round to the main street to have a look at the shops. The town centre was a bit bigger than Roscrea but it didn’t take long to look round ; I only went into two shops though I didn’t buy anything from either of them, and just two hours after arriving in Nenagh I was back on the coach to Roscrea. I hadn’t been in the house long when Nellie said dinner was ready ; it was a lovely meal and I couldn’t have eaten another thing afterwards. As soon as it had gone properly dark I nipped out to take a shot of the Christmas display in the garden of a house a few doors away then I settled indoors for the rest of the evening.
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There’s more but it wouldn’t all fit in the shot!
Nellie told me that the people who live there add one extra thing every year – it certainly looks pretty and it brightens the street but I wouldn’t like to get their electricity bill afterwards!