Showing posts with label anglesey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anglesey. Show all posts

Monday 14 September 2015

Welsh Weekend

We like to get away in Nido at least twice a month, even if only for a short weekend away.  It gives us something to look forward to and acts like a mini-holiday.  We keep an eye on the weather forecast but if we made a ‘Go/No Go’ decision based on that, we’d never go anywhere!  Besides, we need to give the storage site a couple of days’ notice when we take the van away, so we normally just go for it.  In the past 6 weeks we’ve only had one weekend at home and then we weren’t too sure what to do with our time.  Next weekend we have a list of outside jobs to do, but this weekend we planned a trip to Anglesey, via a visit to a friend in Prestatyn.

Friday 11 September 2015
On our last trip away in Yorkshire, we had a couple of water leaks - one on the sliding door (felt covering overlapping the rubber seal) and one in the bathroom (dodgy tap).  Nido was booked into A&E (the name of the company that built him, not a hospital for campervans!) for last Monday to fix both; the former was done but they had to order a new tap, so he went back in on Friday to have the new tap fitted.  Cathy managed the A&E visits and brought the van home later in the morning, packing clothes, dry food and filling up with fresh water.  We have space to keep Nido across our drive for the odd night, but couldn’t keep him there permanently unless we made some changes to our drive and got rid of a car, not an option right now.

I returned from work at about 1730 and, after a quick turnaround and loading up the fridge, we hit the road.  Our first night was going to be spent ‘wild-camping’ at Prestatyn Golf Club.  Our friend - Julia - runs the Yew Tree Restaurant at the club, which is open to members of the public.  She’s been there a few months but is already getting good reviews for her food.  It was a warm evening and the traffic wasn’t too bad, so we made good time and arrived just over an hour later.  Coincidentally, Cathy’s sister - Maggie - was spending the weekend with Julia, so it was lovely to see her too.  On arrival we called them to find out where best to park - the answer was outside Julia’s flat, which would provide maximum protection from rogue golf balls!  Once we’d settled in Julia took us all off in her car for fish and chips, which we ate sat on the concrete wall on Prestatyn beach.  It was still warm although a bit windy and we could see a lot of dark cloud building to the west (ie in the direction we were heading tomorrow!) but we didn’t get rained on and Cathy & Maggie enjoyed their barefoot walk on the sands, with the tide out.  

Back at the golf club, we sat in Nido for a brew and a chat before moving to Julia’s flat; she wanted some help with restoring an iPad to factory settings - it’s very rare I’m asked to help with anything technical and some of my work colleagues would laugh reading this, given my ‘technical dyslexia’!.  I also had the chance to have a look around her galley (naval speak for kitchen).  It’s quite small for such a large operation but she’s planning to replace some of the equipment soon which will really help her.  All of us were feeling weary so it wasn’t a late night and we soon retired to Nido.

Our 'wild camping' spot at Prestatyn Golf Club
Saturday 12 September 2015
It was a wet and windy night outside.  The sliding door didn’t leak, but we were in quite a protected spot, so we need to test this properly in the wilds - shouldn’t take too long for the opportunity in this country!  After breakfast in the van, I filled up fresh water then Julia invited us up for a bacon buttie and a brew - how could we refuse a second breakfast!  She was gearing up for what would be a busy day; we had no idea that a wedding party would be arriving at 1800 that evening and had we known we’d have left her early to focus on that.  She seemed very calm about it all whereas I would have been in panic mode by then!  Still, she seems to be enjoying the challenge and we have no doubt she’ll be successful.  Eating our butty, the rain lashed down outside but eventually started to tail off, so we took the opportunity to say our goodbyes to Julia and Maggie and continue our journey to Anglesey.

Our first stop on Anglesey was the Halen Mon sea salt centre.  They have recently opened a new store and visitor centre and increased their opening days, which meant we could visit on a Saturday. It’s in a lovely spot in the south east of the island, just across the road from the straits. They do tours of the manufacturing process for £6 per adult, but we only wanted to look around the shop.  We bought a variety of lovely sea salt; they also sell other related products and it’s well worth a visit.  Leaving Halen Mon, we drove through the middle of the island, along some fairly narrow country lanes, but with plenty of passing places, before arriving at Lligwy Bay.  The car park is large and a bit bumpy in places, but there was space overlooking the beach.  We parked up next to a coachbuilt motorhome; there were about 4 motorhomes already there and looking like they stayed overnight.  I went into the cafe to pay for our overnight stop - £10 - quite expensive for a basic car park with no facilities but the view is great and, hey, UK isn’t cheap for motorhome stopovers.  Once settled in we enjoyed the handmade pasties Julia gave us - delicious - with a brew, looking out over the beach and the sea.  The tide was out, so we decided to take a walk along the coastal path, heading towards the village of Moelfre.  The weather was good and we were soon down to t-shirts and shorts, stopping occasionally to take a look at the rock formations and out to sea, before passing the RNLI lifeboat station and walking into the village.  Moelfre is quite a large village, with a small waterfront with a pub, cafe and a restaurant - Ann’s Pantry - which we ate at a few years ago, very good it was too.  After a loo stop we reversed our route and returned to Lligwy for a brew.  Later in the afternoon we took our seats down to the beach, with a G&T (Cathy) and a beer (me) to enjoy the sunshine.  But soon the clouds were building so we returned to the van, making it in time to avoid the heavy rain.  But we enjoyed the view, sat in the cab seats overlooking the sea, including some a great rainbow later, which fell on the beach and gradually moved out to sea.  Despite the heavy rain the sliding door didn’t leak, so hopefully that’s now fixed.  I cooked dinner in the van - lamb chops with a greek salad made by Cathy earlier.  We shared a bottle of Portugese Rose and then, perhaps foolishly, opened a bottle of red.  Washed up and everything put away, we watched the sunset over the cliffs before heading down to the beach in the dark, with a little light left in the sky, for a walk and a giggle!  Then back to the van for some hot chocolate before sleep.

Halen Mon sea salt visitor centre and shop

Brew view

On the coastal path towards Moelfre

Fisherman's cottages in Moelfre

Sundowners on the beach!

Sunday 13 September 2015
We woke to grey skies but it felt quite warm out.  I made a brew; Cathy had hers in bed and I stepped out to drink mine looking out over the beach.  Breakfast was bacon and egg muffins, cooked on the Cadac Safari BBQ outside, and enjoyed sat at a table and chairs on the grass in front of the van.  We took a morning walk along the beach, with a paddle in the ebbing tide, as the cloud gradually broke to give us warm (occasionally hot) sunshine, with hardly any breeze.  Families were arriving to enjoy the beach time and it felt like mid-summer, not mid-September.  We took our chairs down and I later made lunch (more pasties - thanks Julia!) which we enjoyed out in the fresh air.  After a bit of a wander along the beach and a read, it was time to pack up and head home.  We enjoyed our short weekend in Wales, somewhere we always seem to return to.

Great breakfast spot

Sunday 8 June 2014

Surprise weekend in Chester and Isle of Anglesey

Friday 6 June 2014
Our own van should have been ready for us to collect today but, true to form, it's been delayed yet again, this time for another 3 weeks - that'll be 4 months later than the original completion date! But that's another story.

So we had nothing planned for this weekend. Cathy was working down at the unit, preparing a couple of motorhomes to go out and once again, Dave & Lesley kindly suggested we take one of their vans away for the weekend, in this case th Eldiss.  So I was surprised to receive a text at work just before midday to say we're off in a van tonight so find us somewhere to stay. I popped into Morrisons at lunchtime to buy some food and was home by about 1715. Cathy was still down at the unit, but had packed some clothes: I added mine to the bag, grabbed a few other things and drove down to the unit.

Because it was such short notice I knew it would be difficult to get a campsite pitch, so had a think about where to stay. I decided on the Little Roodee coach park, by the river Dee in Chester for tonight, followed by a night overlooking the beach at Lligwy Bay on Anglesey.  So with the van packed up we headed off.  It was a really warm day so we were looking forward to a stroll through Chester and a night out.

We arrived at an almost empty car park and paid the overnight parking fee - £5 for large vans, but only £1.50 if you can fit in a normal parking bay.  The van looked quite lonely parked on its own, but a couple of others arrived later. A quick change and we headed off, walking alongside the river and up into town. We were headed for the Portas Tapas Bar on Northgate Street, but stopped off for a couple of drinks along the way.  Arriving at Portas, the outside seats were taken, given the warm, balmy evening, so we went inside. They were busy so we grabbed a couple of stools near the entrance and ordered a glass of wine until a table became free.  Once showed to a space to sit and eat - a couple of stools alongside a long bar-like table, we ordered our food.  It quickly came and we really enjoyed it, particularly the croquetas and calamari, but it was all delicious, quickly delivered and just enough. A couple of wine glass refills later, Cathy was ready for some pudding, a lovely chocolate pudding, which came with a dark, sweet sherry. We'll definitely visit this tiny Tapas Bar again.  The night was still and warm as we walked back to the van and sleep.

Lonely but soon to be joined by two more vans

Very tasty!

Saturday 7 June 2014
The coach park is a great option to stay overnight in Chester, if a little noisy. The gates are locked at 2230 and are supposed to be opened at 0630, but I heard the van arrive to unlock at 0430. We were up at about 0700 and had a quick brew before heading off. By this time the clouds were building and, as we joined the A55 and headed into Wales, we drove into torrential rain. By the time we reached Anglesey it had eased off and we pulled into the car park at Lligwy Bay under cloudy but warm skies. I reversed the van up to give us uninterrupted views of the bay and the sea.  Kettle on, we sat in the rear lounge with some bacon butties and a brew. After a walk along the beach and a quick paddle (the sea was bloody freezing!) we came back to put our feet up, read and watch the weather.  More heavy rain came over and we were both feeling tired, so I climbed into the over-cab bed, while Cathy stretched out in the rear lounge. A good snooze later, the rain and clouds were gone and the sun was shining, so we headed off for a walk along the coastal path, heading North. After a short while we realised we'd been here before - we were on the same path we had walked a few years ago, recorded in our first ever blog entry.  We sat on the rocks in the sun for a while before walking back along the beach. Back at the van we had a brew sat on the bench outside, overlooking the van, before heading back inside for a read. Dinner tonight was steak, sausages and Greek salad, with a chilled bottle of Cava. We know we won't be able to do afford to do this in our own van every weekend, but this trip was a surprise, so,why not! I'd packed our little yellow bucket BBQ so that was flashed up while we sat outside in the evening sunshine. We chatted to the couple next door, in a panel van conversion, from Warrington. They were very well organised and enjoyed their BBQ, sat inside with the sliding door open and in full sun, yet out of the wind - that'll be us soon. Well fed, we sat in the sun as it lowered, headed inside to wash up, sweep the floors, then watched the tide ebb as the sun set.  It's been a very relaxing day, just what we needed.  As the sun sets over the headland I know we'll sleep well.

View from our dining room

Soaking up the last of the sun

Sunday 8 June 2014
We did indeed sleep well in the peace and quiet of the Bay. After a brew sat outside and a hot shower, I cooked us bacon butties. After 24 hours parked up, we packed everything away and headed off along the coastal road. Next stop was Church Bay, down a winding and narrow road. We parked up easily opposite the Lobster Pot restaurant and took a walk along the coastal path heading south. It was sunny but very blustery and we enjoyed the cobwebs being blown away as we walked along the cliff top path. From this highpoint we were looking out towards Holyhead, a few miles across the bay. We'd not been there before and it was approaching lunchtime, so that was our next destination. We followed the signs for the town centre and then the harbour. Some free coach parking was right on the waterfront so we stopped there. We started to walk into town, but it didn't look promising, so we turned back towards the harbour and popped in to check out the Harbourside Bistro. We were pleasantly surprised, outside seating on a deck overlooking the harbour, with a fresh and modern menu. Cathy had goat’s cheese and fig parcels to start and I had the fish chowder. Both were excellent.  For main we both had the pan fried hake. This was cooked to perfection and came with some colourful steamed and glazed peppers, sweet potato, leek and parsnip, mushy peas, homemade tartar sauce and chunky chips. The presentation and flavour was very reminiscent of the sorts of bistros found in small French fishing harbours: a real surprise and somewhere to return. Back on the road, the plan was to find somewhere to park up, make a brew and relax for a while before driving home.  But some dodgy road signs meant we instead spent a couple of hours driving across Anglesey down narrow country lanes! Ending up back on the A55, we instead pulled off toward the NT Penrhyn Castle. We'd visited here the last time we were in Anglesey and knew it had quiet and plentiful parking. Parked amongst the trees, Cathy made us a brew while I caught up with the blog.  Then it was back on the road to get back to the unit, unpack and clean the van.

Considering we were expecting a weekend stuck at home, this was a surprisingly relaxing weekend, just what we needed.  Thanks again Dave and Lesley for letting us take the Elddis - we had a great time and still love motorhoming!

Harbourside Bistro, Holyhead

Al fresco breakfast

Sunday 9 March 2014

In memory of Toby Bear

We've dedicated this blog of our trip to Anglesey to Toby Bear or, as we named him 'Tobias Wildebeest Stagg'. Toby was a grumpy old man of a Jack Russell, with his own special temperament.  Mad about shiny lights and chasing shadows, he was also a lovely companion and liked nothing better than cuddling up with us on the sofa when he came to us for his holidays when his Mum & Dad - Katrina & Kevin - were on holiday.  He also enjoyed his walks, although we never dare let him off his lead!  Toby had been poorly for a while but this was being treated with medication and so he continued to live a happy and pain-free life.  But that all changed last week, when his health deteriorated rapidly and Kevin & Katrina had to make the very difficult decision to put him to sleep.  The vet came on Thursday morning and, despite putting up a good fight to the very end, Toby has left us.  Visits to his house won't be the same without his enthusiastic welcome, occasionally accompanied by a grinchy growl - well he was a grumpy old man after all!  Chase those Lights in Peace Toby - goodnight our favourite furry friend. xxx
The one and only Tobias Wildebeest Stagg
Friday 7 March 2014
Once again we were in a van hired from Live the Dream Motorhome Hire, as we wait for our own van conversion to be built.  This time it was an Adria Twin SLX - a similar size and layout to our own, so we were looking forward to trying it out.  It has a fixed double bed, a mid-ships bathroom, with the shower cubicle built into the central floor area, and a half-dinette up front. With 2 gas rings, sink and fridge, this is our ideal layout for simple campervan living.  Cathy prepared and packed the van on the Friday and, when I finished work, we dropped off her car at the unit and headed off.

I had booked two nights on a 5-pitch CL site in the village of Pentraeth, overlooking Red Wharf Bay on the Isle of Anglesey.  I enjoyed the short 2 hour drive as it gave me a feel for the van - although this one is a Fiat Ducato and ours is a Citroën Relay, they're built in the same factory in Italy and the layouts are the same. We arrived at the site in darkness at about 1940, to find we have the site to ourselves.  The owner welcomed us and showed us to our pitch, telling me in the morning we'd have a lovely view down to the Bay.  I hooked up the electricity while Cathy got the kettle on and, with the blinds closed and mood lighting and heating on, we were soon snug and warm. Cathy had already cooked a chicken before we left, spatchcocked and marinaded by me the night before, and we had this with salad, bread and an organic Rose wine.  With the music playing through our wireless 'Jam' speaker, we were soon chilled out.

Saturday 8 March 2014
During the night it became quite windy outside, but we remained warm and cozy.  Saturday morning came and I was up first (as usual!) to make us a brew.  A cooked breakfast followed and we prepared for our walk.  Leaving the site we took the unadopted road alongside, which wound down to the edge of the Bay. The tide was out so we were able to follow the (sometimes very muddy!) coastal path toward the white buildings in the distance alongside the edge of Red Wharf Bay.  First we came to the Ship Inn, then the Boathouse Cafe, before we headed up the hill and away from the water's edge.  We followed the footpath down to Benllech beach and walked across the sand before stopping at the Bay Cafe - coffee for me, tea and cake for Cathy (of course!). We carried on the coastal path as it headed up onto the cliff top, twisting and turning until we reached Penrhyn. Looking back, we could clearly see the summit of Snowdon which was covered in snow - Snowdon had been snowed on!!  Here we cut through a caravan/chalet site (filled with very snooty TCPs and their many 'PRIVATE' signs) before reaching the main road.  We followed this back, stopping off at Benllech to buy some painkillers for Cathy. I was tempted by the fresh crab, lobster & smoked fish shop opposite but resisted!  The walk back along the road was very windswept, and we were glad when we were able to shoot off onto a footpath, leading across the fields, back to the CL and the warmth and quiet of the van.  With faces tight and glowing from windburn and sunshine, we had a brew and looked out at the lovely view over the bay.  Cathy had a snooze while I read my kindle, before we walked all of about 100m to the Bull Inn for some liquid refreshment.

The Bull had Doom Bar on tap - my (and now Cathy's) favourite bitter.  It was very strange being in a pub where we were the only native English speakers. From pensioners to the youngest children, they all spoke Welsh, occasionally lapsing into the odd word of English.  Back at the van, we battened down the hatches (and blinds) and prepared our dinner, whilst looking out at the bay turning paler, then darker as dusk followed by darkness descended.  Both full, with washing up done and the van tidy and locked up, Cathy crashed while I sat with a brew.  We have no phone or wifi signal here - even the iBoost couldn't connect us - so our time is spent reading, listening to music (Cara Dillon is playing now) and staring out to sea.  I did have a text this morning to to tell me my new Ukelele had been delivered - I look forward to starting my musical learning again.

Sunday 9 March 2014
Another windy night (outside!) and the morning brought dark, menacing low cloud that threatened rain. I was up at about 0800 and sat with a brew, reading while Cathy slept on.  I always like these mornings to myself in the campervan. If the weather's good I'll sit outside and listen to the birdsong; this morning I could still hear the birds, but had to sift out the sounds of the wind in the trees and hedges.  With it being so windy, all the windows and skylights have remained firmly closed to prevent them sailing off towards the Bay. Breakfast this morning was bacon butties then, washed and cleaned up, we prepared to move on.  Our usual routine is for Cathy to pack everything away inside the van, ensuring all doors, drawers and cupboards are secured.  I sort out the grey waste and empty the toilet cassette, before finally unhooking the electric cable and fighting it back into its round, nylon bag, which always looks to small to take the cable!  All ready to go, we had a chat with the owner, thanked her for the stay and headed off.

For Christmas last year, Nicola and Chris bought us a year's membership of the National Trust. This was great as we planned to join anyway.  Our thinking is that most NT properties are set in lovely countryside, they always have good, large car parks (the majority of which will be free for us) and we'll have free entry to all the houses and gardens. Ironically, one of only two properties that still charge members for parking is Tatton Park, the closest property to home! Cathy is more interested in the houses than me, but we both like the gardens, I particularly like Victorian walled kitchen gardens - maybe I was an under-gardener in a previous life!  Looking through the handbook we found a NT property close-by: Penrhyn Castle in Bangor, with lovely views over the Menai Strait from the surrounding parkland.

With plenty of space to park, we showed our membership cards and walked up past the castle to walk around the gardens.  We liked the bog garden, but the walled area was disappointing.  The castle was built in the second half of the 19th Century in a Norman style, but during the reign of Queen Victoria. She stayed at the house and refused to sleep in the 2 ton slate bed they had spent 6 months making ready for her visit - don't blame her, it looked cold and uncomfortable. As always, we liked the 'downstairs' area, the kitchens and staff quarters.  We returned to the van for tea and biscuits before heading back along the coast road to Cheshire.  We wanted to stop off on the way for fish and chips but, as with most areas of England and Wales, the Councils make campervans very unwelcome.  So we carried on to the unit to clean and return the van.

So that was our weekend in Anglesey. With no phone or wifi signal, we enjoyed the peace and quiet.  We really liked the van and it reinforced the point that we had made the right decision to go for this size and type.

PostScript: Although Toby is gone but not forgotten, he has left a large hole in Katrina and Kevin's lives. So they returned to the area where Toby was born and found one of his relatives - a 12 week old Norfolk Terrier/Jack Russell cross, who is the absolute spitting image of Toby.  He's called Pip, we met him this evening and he is absolutely delightful. He's not Toby, but if he has half his personality and brings as much joy to his owners, then all will be good with the world.

Kettle's on
View from the van down to Red Wharf Bay

View across Red Wharf Bay

The Ship Inn, Red Wharf Bay

Coffee for me, tea and cake for Cathy!
Bay Cafe, Benllech beach
Parked in Penrhyn Castle

That's what you call a roasting spit!

Back at the Live the Dream Motorhome Hire unit - time to clean up

Cleaning up