The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Hotter Than July (Part II)

Yesterday's BBC Regional News in the evening had two interesting Welsh weather statistics for us to chew on whilst we sweltered gently in a post-prandial haze; Wales has been the sunniest (but not hottest) part of the UK in this present bout of serious summer.  Other areas have had higher temperatures, but we have had more hours of sunshine.  Add to which the fact that by yesterday - 17 July - we had already had our average July monthly quota of sunshine, even though we were only just past the half-way mark for the month.

I was suitably impressed.

It will explain why the North Welsh resorts and historic sites we visited in our three-day break away from our mid-Wales country fastness had an exotic continental feel to them.  We sat in pavement cafes and the outdoor seating areas of restaurants, dog under the table grabbing what shade he could find, all of us heavy with heat, soporific with sunshine, our walking pace slowed to an idle saunter, and even that felt a mite rushed at times.

Our View at Lunch in Criccieth on Monday

We ate virtually all our meals out of doors, but for one late-night curry and the breakfast part of the B&B we had booked for our first night away.  The dog was in our bedroom with a deep bowl of cool water and the telly on low while we went out for the first of those, as all the open restaurants with outdoor seating areas in Criccieth were already fully booked, and its being Monday most other eating places were enjoying their night off.  Good old curry houses!  Open until eleven, seven nights a week.  Boy!  Do those Bangladeshi chaps WORK?!  I suppose you were aware that the vast majority of "Indian" restaurants in the UK were run and staffed by Bangladeshis.  If not, please accept this curious fact with my compliments and a liqueur on the house.  We always get given a liqueur on the house after a curry, don't you? 

My Boys at Aberdaron

 Abersoch Bay

Some of the Smaller Houses with Sea Views

The first afternoon away we spent on the very lovely Lleyn Peninsula, spending the afternoon on the beach at Aberdaron where I swam in cool crystal-clear water and emerged exceedingly refreshed.  The Husband and The Dog merely paddled sedately (see above), being boys and therefore frightened stiff of a drop of cold water.  Later we took a walk around the harbour walls at Abersoch, which is like a Celtic St Tropez, lots of yachts and motorised gin palaces moored in the harbour and the bay and socking great detached houses, millionaire nests every one, overlooking the water from the wooded hills above (also see above).  All exceedingly couth and expensive, and in the weather we were having exactly like the French or Italian Riviera, on a smaller scale, and all the prettier for that.

After our night at Criccieth, we headed off to Caernarfon, parked the MGB slap bang next to the castle and set out to explore the grids of streets of brightly painted houses inside the old mediaeval walls.  We drank a pre-lunch drink under a huge umbrella outside a timber-framed pub which was festooned with flowers, people-watching as the streets filled with tourist parties from Spain, and then America, and then the Far East.  Not being schooled in oriental languages I can't be more precise than that.  Once they would have been almost certainly Japanese, now they are more likely to be South Korean or Chinese, I guess.

On the swing bridge at the entrance to Caernarfon harbour

Then, amongst the throng I suddenly spot a familiar face from home!  My choir conductor and her husband are also gadding about spending their Grey Pounds on a couple of nights away from home, we are told.  They joined us at our table and another round of drinks and much hilarity ensued.  The four of us having exchanged local musical gossip and put the world to rights the two couples settled up and went their separate ways in search of lunch.

Mid-afternoon we drove along the Menai Straits to the first road bridge and crossed over to Ynys Mon - aka Anglesey.  We had thrown our tent, bedrolls and sleeping bags in the boot of the MG and the plan was to camp somewhere on the island the second night.  After tootling through the lanes and along the coast to Beaumaris and slightly beyond we decided that our fondness for watching the sun sink into the waves rather dictated we look on the SW side of the island for somewhere to pitch for the night, and so we crossed over the middle of the island and started to look for a billet. 

In the end we settled on Rhosneigr, which is right next door to RAF Valley where Prince William works as a search and rescue helicopter pilot, and it is also the nest for the supersonic fighters we love so much which contour-chase through the part of the Severn Valley where we live.  It would be fun to see them take off and land during working hours (8.30am-5.30pm on days of good clear weather), we thought.  What we hadn't appreciated was that the Sea King helicopters took off, landed and flew very low overhead at night as well, with one roaring thundering flight crossing the sky just above our tent at 2.00am!  That, and the baked-hard ground and our very thin and totally inadequate sponge rubber bedrolls, added up to a fitful night's sleep, and by 9.00am the tent was far too hot to stay in and doze to catch up on zzzs.  We were going to be in for another sweltering day.

Having struck camp and packed up we drove the short distance to Aberffaw, where we had a Full Welsh Breakfast in a delightful cafe, in a rose-filled courtyard, and then we walked to the little rocky bay where can be found The Church in the Sea.  I'd love to show you our photos of that, a small white-washed stone church on an island that can only be reached at low tide, but we haven't got round to uploading the photos off The Husband's smartphone yet. 

We crossed back to mainland Wales at about noon and decided to take the Snowdonia route home, breaking for yet another al fresco lunch in Beddgelert.  Such self-indulgence!  Not for us home-made sandwiches and flasks of tea in a lay-by, I am afraid.  We like to eat out and eat well, in comfort, with bar staff and waiters and loos nearby.  I have got soft in our old age, and The Husband also has a lifelong dislike of picnics, and sandwiches full of sand, or butties full of bugs.

We were back home by late teatime, hot from the journey in an open-topped car in temperatures in the upper 20sC or possible even 30C, and tired after our restless night under canvas (well, two layers of thin nylon, in the interests of accuracy), and glad to be back, to feed the birds, water the plant pots and catch up on some sleep.  Next adventure we aim to head south, to New Quay, and Tenby, and The Gower, and do more camping.  As this weather is set to last at least another week, perhaps even a fortnight, that may happen sooner than you'd think, but not until we've bought an inflatable double mattress and a pump!


  1. Hari OM
    what a wonderful trip, Marion! Definitely looks "Medo" from those piccies, I must say. Beautifully described, I felt like I shared the trip with you.

    "Aitch" was muttering about the heat over in Suffolk, so this weather is at least being even-handed. Glad you are able to take such advantage of it. Looking forward to more!! YAM xx

    1. We are keeping cool indoors now we are back, as this heat has gone from welcome, to remarkable to ever-so-slighlty ennervating. As is always the case, it took about four or five days before folk complained it was getting to be "too hot", and these are the self-same people who happily spend hundreds if not thousands a year in search of sun abroad.

      This has always struck me as exceedingly odd.

      My approach to living in heat is to HALVE the mental list of things to do, and then do about half of those again (very slowly) in the morning, and the other half in the evening, and bugger ALL in the afternoons. Add to that walking only on the shady side of the street and taking frequent tepid showers and I always manage to cope, even when the mercury hits 30C. Now we are retired there is no excuse NOT to manage, or even enjoy, I find...

  2. Doesn't Wales look incredibly beautiful when the sun shines? I know just what you mean about the Mediterranean look. I always think Aberdovey looks like a southern fishing village - all steep hillsides and brightly painted houses.

    I'm glad you had such a brilliant trip and am crossing my fingers that your foray south will be just as sunny. You're made of stronger stuff than I am if you're still willing to camp under canvas. The ground is too hard to get up from for me, as well as just too hard full-stop. :-) Happy travelling.

    1. Wales is very heaven in a good summer, in the mountains and at the coast especially.

      I have now ordered a double mattress with built-in electric pump, and a converter to run it off the car battery. All off the very wonderful eBay. They will arrive next week. Meanwhile we are resting up, and recharging our ooomph, and if it is fit to travel then we may take another of couple of nights away at the end of the month.