Holiday

I’ve been musing and fantasising about going to Wales, I got thinking about the way my Dad used to take us to Porthmadog in the 70’s and 80’s. Instead of taking the A55 along the north coast through Conwy and then down the A470 through to Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog we would scuttle down the A494 via Mold and through Denbighshire to Ruthin and Bala before gimbling down the A4212 which goes round the beautiful Llyn Celyn.

During this time my Dad drove a yellow MkI Ford Escort. It had vinyl seat coverings. Alighting from the car on a hot day would always result in cries of pain as you left the upper epidermal layer of your thighs on the black seat coverings. Regardless of this inconvenience, it seemed like we would always stop at Llyn Celyn and have our lunch while my mum told us about the village that was flooded to make the Llyn.

Lunch on such occasions nearly always consisted of cold bacon sandwiches on white bread with a thickish layer of butter or margarine. The sandwiches would be wrapped in silver or aluminium foil and they would be accompanied by a melted KitKat and a cup of warm milky coffee served from a tartan thermos flask. We would eat our lunch at the road side picnic tables and watch the rest of the holiday making public go past to their destinations. This seemed to be a traditional repast in the Gnomepants household as whenever my Auntie Joyce took us on picnics, the same fayre would be served (though more often than not accompanied by sweets and cake).

Our hearty lunch devoured, we would then continue on our route, down some twisty bendy B Road across the Snowdonian moors bypassing Blaenau and then down the A487, along the causeway (paying our 5p toll…heh) before pulling into Porthmadog itself to do the grocery shopping that would see us through the week of staying in Uncle Nat’s caravan.


In case you don’t know From Left to Right:- Me mam, our Carl (avec trainee scouser moustache), me (the little one at the front in the Paddington Bear tshirt), me dad (balding one) and our Chris (looking thin there, now he’s a bit chunky).

The caravan was near the fabled Black Rock Sands in a caravan site called Greenacres. Now it has its own swimming pools, luxury static caravans, security watch towers and special 4×4 Chelsea Tractor parking facilities, Cocaine snorting area and swinging club. Back then, in the 1970’s/80’s it was a basic caravan site with a small amusement arcade containing table top Asteroids and Space Invaders. If you wanted a swim you would nip down to the beach and paddle in the sewage outflow safe in the knowledge that nasty diseases and child snatchers hadn’t been invented. (Now you need to take a prepreswimmingpoolshowershower, a preswimmingpoolshower and a swimming poolshower before you are even allowed to look at the swimming pool, then you are required to have a postswimmingpoolshower, a postswimmingpoolshowershower and then remain in quarantine for a week incase you pass something on to one of the precious little darlings that people insist on taking on holiday). The sea was unimaginably cold. Well. I suppose you lot that live out near the flipping North Pole (robynz,zelest and think4yrself for example) would probably scoff at me saying that. But Cardigan Bay was bloody cold.

Of course, at this time nasty skin cancer causing ultraviolet rays and holes in the ozone layer hadn’t been invented and if it wasn’t for my fair complexion requiring me to wear a tshirt when I went swimming which although protected my torso, didn’t do much for the arms and legs. Added to that, I wasn’t the strongest of swimmers because I had ear problems as a child and wasn’t allowed to go in water incase I did damage to the surgery. Not that it did like. All that meant was I couldn’t swim very well until I was about 10. But I digress. Greenacres also had acres and acres of sand dunes to explore and views of the Carn Fadrun, the Snowdonian mountains and Harlech Castle.

Further along the beach cars were permitted to drive. Two things stick in my mind about this privilege, the first being my first ever “drive” of a car. When the beach was quieter my dad would take the Escort onto the beach and I would sit on his knee and turn the wheel while he operated the pedals. The second thing being that often people would park their cars on the beach then bumble off to the pub or somewhere further along the beach to enjoy themselves. This would frequently result in people forgetting to check the tidal times and hilarity would ensue when cocky holiday makers would return to find their car somewhere in the middle of Cardigan Bay. Of course you wouldn’t get that today. Pretentious wankers in their smart pristeine cars would probably have some sort of tidal early warning system hot wired into their brain. Also the “risk” of having a car on the beach would probably be too great and the council have probably stopped the practice of cars on the beach in case someone mistakes a Porche for a tube of Smarties and chokes. Or in case it incenses someone’s religious beliefs or some other PC crap.

Happy times. Irreplaceable times. These days Porthmadog is spoilt by the frightful hordes of frightful families in 4x4s and other fat arsed cars. Screaming overly spoilt and cotton wool wrapped kids, disenchanted husbands and hyper-fussy mothers who either don’t give a shit about their kids or give too much of a shit about their kids. Cafe Bars, expensive boutiques, surf shops, stinky burger bars and snooty retired pensioners trying to recapture their lost childhood in their autumn years. But I doubt kids today have as much fun as I did dicing with death and mistaking cars for tubes of smarties when I was their age. This year I would love to travel to Wales along that route described. Eat cold bacon sandwiches and drink warm milky coffee from a tartan thermos flask. I long to stand on the platform of the Ffestiniog Light Railway, inhale the steam from the trains and admire the view across Cardigan Bay. Relive part of the magic but not all. Before such practices are banned because someone might get offended or some boffin discovers that there is too much salt in cold bacon sandwiches or that holidaying in Wales is bad for the environment. Happy fond times.

Thank you for reading.

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Camping – Day 1

Damn! I forgot pillows!

Aberdaron has changed. You wouldn’t know to look at it. It is a timeless place after all: narrow streets, humpty back bridge, quaint buildings and people hoping to squeeze every penny they can out of the passing visitor.

It has changed though. Something in the air. Intangible. Maybe it is just me. Things seem further away than they did and the people here…they’re different somehow.

I had half an inkling that zoefruitcake would join me earlier than she suggested. Kind of like a surprise. But after struggling with the six-man tent I thought I’d check my phone for messages.

Now in the past, I’ve been with Orange, Virgin and O2. All had fairly good reception at this location. I am now with T Mobile. Checking my phone I discovered that T-Mobile coverage was non-existent in this part of Wales. Even travelling up the nearest mountains failed to produce even one bar of reception. Not to worry.

Still, I have a good pitch in Mr Jones’ campsite at Mynnedd Mawr. Far from the amenities, far from the road and cattle grid, but with a beautiful view.

As I sit and write, mist and clouds roll in from the Irish Sea and Cardigan Bay, shrouding Bardsey in a cloak of cloud.

The temperature drops, but the light is still strong at 10pm. A foreshadow to midsummer and the crowds that come in search of holiday nirvana. In a month, this very field will be full, the eleven tents here will seem like a back yard sleep over in comparisson, Campageddon will come to North Wales.

Planz

So this is the plan.

There is a walk I’d like to do. It is a long long walk. But I think it would help me clear my mind and procrastinate without actually sitting on my arse playing World of Warcraft all day. It would probably help me get fit too. I am terribly out of shape and I worry that unless I start to be proactive about stuff I will end up in an old people’s home being force fed puréed carrot by a Polish nurse with BO.

Continue reading “Planz”

Holiday

So I said to GtHD “This year, we will be exploring the Lincolnshire Coast”
To which he replied “Oh you’ll have a great time. I went t’ Skegness at Easter”
“What’s it like?” I asked, expectantly
“Typical seaside resort” he replied “All that coast is great”
“I’ve always imagined Skegness to be like Blackpool
“Oh no it’s not as bad as Blackpool” he assured “Mablethorpe is nice too, it’s a bit ‘old pensioner’ is Mablethorpe, but it’s reet nice you’ll have a grand time”

So on that reccomendation, Tuesday morning after completing a few errands, the wife and I packed the car with the camping stuff and shuttled off down the A631 to the east coast. The journey was pleasant enough, sweeping landscape of crop laden fields, the hilliness of South Yorkshire giving way to the flatness of Lincolnshire. The straight straight roads littered with signage warning motorcyclists to kill their speed not themselves. Several hours of driving and I was in need of a break. So for lunch the wife and I stopped in Louth catching a sandwich in a local bakers shop before hitting the road once more and onward to the coast.

Saltfleet was our first stop. Now, on the map, Saltfleet looks like a relatively nice place. In between the rowdy clatter of Cleethorpes and Mablethorpe by all accounts it should have been a peaceful fishing village with old houses and interesting twisty bendy lanes. Tea and gift shops aplenty. Well….maybe anywhere else. Here on the Lincolnshire coast it just goes to prove that one can not judge a village by it’s position on the map.

It was pleasant enough. The village of Saltfleet was a good distance from the seafront. In fact a great distance. I suppose this should have been the first warning. The village had modern well kept bungalows. I couldn’t see any shops. I could see a sign, however, directing me to the sea. A 5 minute drive following this sign took us past acres upon acres of holiday site. Static caravans as far as the eye could see. “Fair enough” I thought “Maybe the action is just at the end of this road”.

 

How wrong.

The free empty and vast parking area should have given it away. The lack of amusement arcades; the dearth of demanding and hyperactive children; the lack of PEOPLE. Should maybe have given me some clue. But it wasn’t until I saw the signs warning me not to step on the sands and if I did not to touch any suspicious object that I realised Saltfleet was probably not a good place to come on holiday.

So turning round we headed south along the coast and to Mablethorpe.
Now those of you who have never been to a British Seaside resort should. No really. You should come to the UK, legally or illegally, and visit somewhere like Brighton, or Eastbourne, or Bournemouth. There in you will get an idea of how British seasides are typically laid out. Using the material availiable to me, and having never been there, I can only imagine Coney Island though as I say, I’ve never been there. Maybe even a sort of chavvy Weston-Super-Mare. Still struggling? Well ok imagine a coastal road lined with bingo halls, variety clubs, fish and chip shops, screaming little bastards, teenage mums, burly hairy tattooed vest wearing men and women, lots of old people wandering round looking at things with some faded fondness, fair grounds, gaudy illuminations, mile upon miles of caravan sites and the like. Oh and some sea, maybe a bit of sand and plenty of icecream.

Well yeah that’s the Lincolnshire coast for you.

Anyway, shocked as we were, it was too late to head to Scarborough, so we bit the bullet and headed to Skegness for our holiday. Our campsite was the lovely Sycamore Lakes (mosquitos) at £15 a night for our tent. We then despatched ourselves to the centre of Skeggy for a look round. Therein we discovered a tasty fish and chip shop and a rather splendid shop selling ice cream.

The next day involved a look round Skeggy, a trip to Gibraltar Point (a local area of beauty) and finally a drive into the market town of Boston. Our moral sapped, we agreed that on the Thursday we would head north once more and return via Cleethorpes.
OMG. Cleethorpes is positively grand and vogue compared Skeg. Sadly we could only spend a few hours there before our will to live was sapped. We then headed back to Brierley.

The end of our holiday was wrapped up nicely with a trip to Liverpool to catch up with some good friends. Theres nothing like a dose of homesickness to really top off your Barnsley Icecream.
Home now though. It’s late. Time for bed said Zebedee.

 


Abridged Version

Brierley -> Sheffield -> Saltfleet -> Mabelthorpe -> Chapel St Leonards -> Skegness -> Burgh le Marsh -> Boston -> Alford -> Cleethorpes -> Brierley -> Liverpool -> Brierley.

<edited 24/05/18 replaced pictures and made some  corrections here and there>

 

Ho Lee Dai Part 3

Further holiday adventures

I swear, I’m sure you’ll get bored of this before I do.

Welsh Beer = Sheep Piss

The evening after the cycle trip was again spent sat round a campfire reading Buried while the serenity of the Welsh Countryside went about its business. Sticking with things Welsh, I imbibed this delightful ale from a local brewery.

And now I will have to kill you for looking upon this secret facility, Mr Bond.

Next day was another glorious day. It was to be our last full day on the Llyn so we turned it into a beach day. Onward to Porth Oer. Porth Oer is sometimes known as the Whistling Sands. Legend has it that you can walk on the sands and they whistle. Something to do with the crystalline structure of the sand. Bollocks though it may be the beach is really clean and unspoilt. I say “unspoilt” but of course dreadful types had already started staking out claims to little shaded corners of the beach and their awful children were being frightful.

Never the less, it was interesting to watch the world go by from under the shade of a hat and sunglasses. One hideously awful family (Rowena, Georgie, Eliza, Gordon and Rupert) sat within earshot discussing willies and Uncle Harvey’s horse boxes while the mother of another dreadfully frightful family endevoured to stop her children from having fun (“Stop that Alfie you know your sister does not like to eat sand”, “Benjamin! Please dont run. You might fall and graze your knee!”,”No mum Alfie does not want an ice lolly he is allergic to ice remember”).

By midday the sun was threatening to turn my skin into pork crackling. I can not abide sitting on beaches doing nothing. I want to be active, swimming, walking, doing catalogue poses and the like. So using my skill of tactical moaning I managed to persuade Mrs Gnomepants that the beach was becoming far too overcrowded and hot for me and that a walk up the mountain would be sufficient to cool me down. And so it was we drove to Mynnedd Rhiw. You might recall that Mynnedd Rhiw is the mountain upon which my Uncle Nat had a cottage in the 80’s.
We parked in the “car park” of the secret government radar station and walked toward the radio mast and the neighbouring trig point, from where, the views are astounding!

After an evening meal we took to the top of Braich-y-Pwl once more and were rewarded by further stunning views.

The sun sets on the first leg of our holiday
Bardsey once more


The next morning we broke camp and headed off for the next leg of our holiday. Anglesey, Rhosnieger and beyond!

In part 4.