Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The way that Christmas has fallen this year means that I have only have two days holiday, and one of those was my usual day off anyway, so in effect, I actually only had the one day off work. Still, last year I had our days, so I shouldn't grumble - some you win, some you lose......

Christmas Day was not great weather wise as it rained for most of the day. Sally's parents came for the day, arriving just before noon, having lunch with us, and spending a really nice few hours with us before braving the M1 to go back to Derby.

Sally had pulled out all the stops and had created a wonderful Christmas dinner for us, a choice of melon or smoked mackeral pâté for starters, followed by pan fried salmon with new potatoes, veg and parsley sauce, and finally homemade cheesecake to wind the whole meal up. Later in the afternoon we had snacks (mostly homemade by Sally) and coffee and mints.

Boxing Day saw a little bit of a lie-in for me, which was very pleasant. I went to pick my parents up just after lunch, and brought them over to our new house for the first time. They seemed to like it, and once again, sally had made some snacks for us. Mum managed the stairs which was old, as we had worried that she would struggle with them. Thankfully she was able to see the whole house rather than just the ground floor.

The evening was finished off by yet another stunning meal by sally of turkey, roast potatoes and veg. (with smoked salmon for starters and cheesecake to end with) another success. Thank you baby!!

Oh, to round the break off, the new series of Miranda started and had tears of laughter rolling down our faces. Fab.

Back to work in the morning :-(

Friday, 21 December 2012

Right, time for a rant.....

My journey to work is only about 6 miles, and usually goes without any "events", but this week has seen so many moments of dangerous/inconsiderate driving that i am going to start "shaming" the people involved......

Today we had the lady driving a silver Renault Scenic who cut me up on the Asda island near home, damn nearly taking the front of my car off. Madam, you were in the wrong lane and were not indicating, hope your manouver saved you a few seconds on your journey time.

Then we had the BMW who cut me up at the next island to get onto the A46. Like most BMWs, his indicators were not working - they really should make them a standard fit and not an optional extra on BMWs.

To the driver of the Audi A4 estate who felt the need to flash their lights at me while i was in the fast lane to get out of their way......did you not see the other cars in front of me which meant that i couldn't actually go any faster than i was. Hope the 2 seconds you saved on YOUR journey were well spent. And yes, that was two fingers i was holding up to you when you did get past me. Perhaps they were to indicate how many seconds you had saved yourself. Perhaps not.

Finally to the driver of the burgundy BMW 330 that decided he was far too important to wait in the queue on the left hand slip lane coming off the A46 to turn left towards Leamington, the right hand lane is actually meant for people turning right towards Kenilworth. Not only did you annoy me by cutting in front of me without indicating (again, get the option pack next time), but you would also have annoyed the other driver who was in the correct lane to turn left by almost taking the front of their car off when you cut them up too. Hope the saved time on YOUR journey to work was productively spent.

As from next week i will try to note the registration numbers people. you have been warned!!!!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Closer still....

We are still waiting for definite confirmation of it, but it looks as though we will be moving on Wednesday 14th November! Hooray.

It seems to have taken forever to get to this point, and i was beginning to wonder if we ever would, but it seems as though we are over the worst of the process now. We've started packing gradually and have the removals company pencilled in for the 14th.

Ikea will be getting quite a lot of our business over the next few months, and we already have quite a shopping list......

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Nearly there.....

Strewth, i know they say that moving house is one of the most stressful things that you can do, but does it REALLY have to be this stressful????

At long last, it seems that we are nearing the end of the saga (it feels as though i should soon be able to be a member of Saga to be honest!), and the date being mooted for the move is now in the middle of November. The original hope had been to be in for Sally's birthday, but it now looks as though it will be just in time for mine instead.

This is the 4th house purchase i have been involved with, and everytime i have vowed never to do it again, and everytime i have vowed never to use whichever solicitors we have used ever again. So far, i have only been able to keep to the second vow.

Why do they make it so hard? I know that they have to make it appear complicated so they can justify their charges, and i realise that theyt have to act in the best interest of their client, but why do they have to make such a meal of the whole thing?

For instance, last Thursday we received a letter from our solicitor asking for some answers to questions that our buyers' solicitor had asked. Fair enough, until you realise that the letter had been dictated on the Friday before, and only typed up on the Wednesday, thereby wasting almost a week. They have our telephone numbers and email addresses, so they could have had an answer to their questions within minutes or hours at worst rather than a whole week later. I was not impressed.

Anyway, we are getting there now, and we can actually start to think about packing at long last.....

Sunday, 12 August 2012

....erm, so it looks like we're moving then!!

OK, so for those who didn't know, we have sold our house, have chosen a new one, and started the ball rolling for moving!!

The date that we are aiming for is 21st September, which is the day before Sally's birthday.....does this mean that i don't have to get her a present this year then? I have yet to find out for sure!

It all feels so much more official today - i have taken down my ham radio antenna, which means there is no changing our minds now as far as i'm concerned ;-)

We also tackled the garage at long last - 3 car loads of junk taken to the tip - we have been fairly ruthless, but stopped short of ditching all the camping gear just in case we can't afford "proper" holidays anymore.

I am aching like crazy now, but i will have to get used to it, as there is still a lot more to be sorted out and packed up in the next 6 weeks....if this doesn't help me to lose more weight then i don't know what will.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Late Father's Day present...

While we were on holiday, it had been my intention to do a small cross-stitch project for Sally's dad for Father's Day. Unfortunately, while i had taken the aida, threads, needles etc with me - i hadn't realised that the chart was ONLY in the magazine, and not in the folder with all the other bits, so in the end i couldn't do it! Grrrrrr.

When we got back home, i made a start and got the body of it done in a couple of evenings, only to not find time to back stitch it and finish it off until Friday/Saturday evenings.

As we were going to see Ron & Beryl on the Sunday just gone, it was important that i got it finished, and managed to just about.

I stitched the whole thing onto a sheet of felt for extra strength as the intention is that he uses it as a book mark.

So, here is the finished project.........

Friday, 22 June 2012


Thursday 21st June - the longest day of the year. Really? I beg to differ this year! Yes, it chose to be a dull and wet day this year. Sally woke up with a headache, so we decided to have a lazy day. The weather made the decision very easy in reality.

Just after lunch time it brightened up a bit and Sally was feeling a bit better so we walked into Criccieth town for the first time. I knew that there was a shortcut from the information pack in the appartment, but like a fool, I had forgotten to make a proper note of the directions. This meant that the first route we tried was hopelessly wrong. I knew that there was a footpath after five bungalows, I just didn't know which road these five bungalows were in!!

Eventually we found it, and it did mean that the route into town was both quick and non-hilly, so it was worth the effort in the end.

The town itself was a bit of a let down though. We knew that there was not a lot there, but even so it was basically a waste of time. The walk was pleasant though, so that was good.

On the way back, we stopped at a cafe by the beach that we had driven passed every day. There we had a pot of tea and Welsh cakes. They were not the usual bought ones and were absolutely lovely. The tea was, unusually, loose tea and involved using a strainer when pouring. How very civilised, and how very tasty!

Afterwards we sat on a bench on the seafront, enjoying the air and talking about the holiday and our thoughts about going back to work.

It started to rain a little, so we carried on walking back to the flat. This involved walking up a steep hill which had almost killed us the first time we did it, but now we were finding it much easier and were able to carry on our conversation while doing it too. Either we are a bit fitter than when we first got here, or the hill has worn down somewhat!

We briefly stopped off at the castle for a look around the visitor centre, but decided not to go into the castle itself, partly because the weather was turning a bit more threatening, and mostly because after looking at the photos of the castle remains it appears that the best view is the one you get from outside of the castle!

Not long after we got back in, it started to rain a bit more, so we had timed it just about right. Sally did some more crocheting and I read.

We had decided to go to the same fish + chip shop as last week for our last night, and had the same cod, chips, mushy peas, bread and a pot of tea. It was just as good as last week, and once again, I really enjoyed the mushy peas. Normally I can't stand them, but these were great.

We just about made it back to the flat before the heavens opened, and it threw it down for the rest of the evening. It actually became even rougher into the early hours, the wind got up and the sea became really rough, the tide was in more than we had seen before, and we wondered if the waves ever made it up onto the road where we were parked.

I couldn't get to sleep to begin with, but eventually drifted off and was only woken by the alarm on my phone going off at 7am. We had already taken some things out to the car on Thursday, so it didn't take too long to finish getting packed. The car seems fuller now than it did on the way here!

The rain started in earnest again as we left Criccieth. The low clouds meant that all the views were hidden, and it seems like a good thing that we are on our way home.

The rain continued pouring and the clouds remained low hiding the mountains all the way through Wales almost to the border. We are now in England (I am typing this from the passenger seat as Sally drives) and all the road signs are so much smaller - they only need to be in one language! The signs painted on the road only say "slow" and not "araf slow". It has stopped raining though, which almost makes up for the fact we are going home and the holiday is over.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Wednesday 20th June

Another sunny day, another list of places to visit! Sally wanted to go to a woollen mill near Betws-y-Coed, so i perused the map, and came up with a list of six places to go, knowing that some, if not all, would not take long to visit.

First off we had to headed to Beddgelert, which is always nice, but this time we didn't get to stop there, as our first port of call was Sygun Copper Mine which is just the other side of Beddgelert. This is, as its name suggests, an old copper mine that has been turned into a visitor centre. There is a small cafe and gift shop (oddly selling nothing made of copper!), and then you can go for walks around the old works, or indeed go down into the mountain to the mine itself.

We only spent a short time in the shop and looking around the area. The views are stunning, as we have become used to, and if we had not got other plans, we would have gone into the mine - something to save for our next visit to the area.

Next stop was Swallow Falls, which are just before you get to Betws. The village they are in has been very clever, and made it so that you have to pay to get to see them - i gather that they use the income from this to fund the upkeep of the village. Not a bad idea, and although there is part of you that feels a bit cheated by having to pay to see a natural feature, it is only £1.50 each, and if it keeps the place nice and tidy, it is well worth it.

The falls are in two parts (called the "upper" and "lower" falls.....wonder how long it took them to come up with those names?) I"m sure that if we had been here a couple of weeks ago when the area had the flooding problems, that the falls would have been even more impressive. As it was they were still pretty good though, and i'm glad that we made the time to go to see them.

Following this, we headed to the woollen mill at Trefriw, which turns out to still be a working mill turning out its own products, rugs, bedspreads and such like. The gift shop also sells lots of other similar products from around the world, as well as other usual touristy type gifts.

Their own products are rather expensive, but when you see the work that goes into them, and factor in the British labour costs, rather than the Far Eastern ones, it all makes sense. If we all just look at the price of things and go for the cheapest it can only ruin the UK's manufacturing prowess even more. We have already pretty much knackered it up as it is!

Heading back through Betws and out the other side we made our way along the A5, and then onto the A543 heading towards Denbigh. If you ever have the chance, this is another of those must drive roads. It was more like one of the roads across Dartmoor, or up in North Yorkshire, up and down, windy twisty, but wide and EMPTY. Views to impress, and bends to bring a smile to your face. You can see the road disappearing into the distance, and in our whole time on the road i think we only saw two other cars.

Turning right onto the B4501 we headed into wooded area, and towards the Brenig Reservoir. There is a Visitor Centre there, where we stopped for a pot of tea and a slice of really nice home made cake. Unfortunately, while we were there in the cafe, which was fairly busy, one man came in who was very loud, and slightly obnoxious.

His first words to the lady behind the counter were "Answer me yes or no, can i have a cheese and ham toastie?" Having been told that he could, he ordered one and sat down and immediately started a conversation with the people on the next table. "where are you from?" , "Suffolk" came the reply. "Oh, that's where Harwich is isn't it?", "Yes" was their reply.

"Did you know that you can't take a car with you from Harwich to Norway anymore?" was his next comment. "No. Really?" came their beleaguered reply. "No, not for a few years now. You can still get cruises from there though can't you. Ipswich. That's in Suffolk isn't it?" he babbled on. Strangely, this other couple made their excuses and left.

We sat there shaking our heads in disbelief. Then people wonder why the English are so disliked!! Thankfully now that everyone was ignoring him he returned to reading his birdwatching magazine.

Leaving the reservoir, we headed back towards Betws, but turned off before there to find Penmachno Woollen Mill. Either it was very well hidden, or it no longer exists. There were no signs for it, and where it is shown on our map, there was nothing that looked like it was a woollen mill, so that was quickly ticked off the list, and we headed on toward Blaunau Ffestiniog.

We were heading for Llechwedd Slate Caverns, which is a working slate mine. Again, there is a gift shop, cafe and visitors centre. You can also go down the deep mine if you wish, something we will also have to keep for another visit.

So, five out of six places visited in one day - not bad considering it was almost lunch time when we started out! Tuna pasta bake for dinner - we are trying to finish up the things we have started, so that we have as little as possible to take home.

Tomorrow is our last full day here. Time has flown, but it also seems as though we have been here for ages. I am kind of looking forward to getting home, but will also miss the sound of the waves and the view from the window......

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Tuesday 19th June

Another bright, sunny morning! Yeehaa!! Summer is here at last (maybe). Yesterday i managed to get a sunburnt head. Every year i manage this, and every year i vow not to make the same mistake again, but i always manage to. Thankfully, it's not as bad as in previous years, and my scalp isn't quite glowing like a beacon, but let it be a lesson to me. (again)

Today, we went a bit South, and took the coast road from Porthmadog to Harlech. We knew that there is a castle there, but didn't really know anything else about it. It turns out to be a much smaller place than we had thought, but it is a very pretty little town/village, with a few shops, mostly antique ones and tea-rooms, and then the castle hidden down a side street.

We hadn't planned to visit it, and hadn't put enough parking time on the car, but i did take a few photos for you.

And the view across to the mountains inland.....

Some of the roads in Harlech are seriously steep - the photos don't really show it, check out the road sign in the second one!

We moved on from Harlech to Barmouth, which turned out to be larger than we had expected, and also had the first really sandy beach that we have seen all holiday.

We were a bit naughty and had a cream tea, and then had a walk around the town. It was a mixture of gift shops selling the obvious holiday tat, antique shops and cafes. There was even an amusement arcade, which i managed to keep Sally out of! We did nip into the Co-Op for a bit of a top up for the larder, and then, having put these in the car, had a brief sit on the beach.

While we were sitting on the beach, a "mature" lady managed to get stuck on a low wall. She and her husband had walked off the sand, and had assumed that the wall surrounding it was the same height on both sides. Unfortunately it wasn't - they had to step only a few inches off the sand onto it, and then discovered that it was about a two foot drop down to the pavement.

The husband managed to get down and carried on walking, leaving his poor wife stranded, not quite knowing how to get down. I went to her rescue, like a knight in shining armour (well, like a fat balding bloke in t-shirt and jeans actually), and helped her to get down and sort herself out.  I was less than impressed with her hubby for leaving her....typical the rest of us a bad name!

Anyway, our parking time was now up, so we made our way back along the coast road, but this time decided to try the "Toll" bridge across to Porthmadog. We had ignored it on the way there, as it only saves about five miles, and had expected it be quite pricey. (There were no signs on the approaches to to with prices)

Imagine our surprise when, as you get a few yards from it, the board lists the cost to cars as 50p (yes, fifty pence). We were more than happy with that. It is a single track bridge, and you have to wait to cross if something is coming the other way. Imagine our surprise again that there was no one to collect the toll at our end of the bridge (or indeed anything to put the money into) - not to worry, it must be at the other end we thought....but no.....nothing at that end either! So, it is clearly the cheapest Toll bridge in the world.....or we can expect a letter demanding payment throught the post at a later date......

By the time we arrived back in Criccieth, the sun had gone home, no doubt tired of all its shining, there were more clouds in the sky, and even the odd spot of rain. Another day done and dusted, another successful day of our holiday.....let's just hope that the England team finishes the day off well in the football tonight. Mustn't worry though, after all Rooney is back tonight, and we all know what a "hero"he is........(cough, cough), and anyway, it's only a game.....! ;-)

Monday, 18 June 2012

Monday 18th June

Another lovely sunny morning to wake up to, and another place to visit - today it was the turn of Caernarfon. Now, I had been looking forward to visiting Caernarfon for two reasons. Firstly the castle, and secondly the camera shop.

The carpark we found was very expensive if you wanted to stay longer than 2 hours. The cost rose from £1.50 for up to two hours to £4.50 for the next category which seemed rather a jump.

Having paid for the two hours, I knew that the castle was going to be out of the question, but we were still looking forward to a good look around the shops, as well as finding the Camarthen Camera Centre.

We were surprised just how compact the town centre was, with the castle seemingly just across the square from the shops. There was a small market in this square (about four stalls) and the traffic was also being sent across the middle of the cobbled square where there were no road markings. All very strange.

The quantity and quality of the shops was a disappointment - even though there were a fair few shops, they didn't really sell anything if you know what I mean. We did buy something at one of the gift shops, and I used the opportunity to use some of the minuscule amount of Welsh that I have learnt. The two staff were chatting with someone who was presumably a friend of theirs in Welsh, and when the one lady had finished serving me, I said "Diolch, hwyl fawr" to her (translated, thank you, goodbye, and pronounced dee-olch, hoy-al vow-arr). This always seems to both surprise and delight them, and probably makes them wonder just how much of their conversation you had understood!

Even more frustrating was not being able to find the darn camera shop! I asked the girl in WH Smiths, and she didn't know, she asked the man behind me in the queue, who she presumably recognised as being a local, and he didn't know. Of course, I had neglected to make a note of the address of it, so that wasn't much of a help either.

By now I was getting really frustrated, even more so when the mobile signal was letting me down while trying to google the shop on my Blackberry. Finally, I found the website with the address, and was now feeling more confident of finding it, with or without the help of the locals.

We walked down pretty much every street, but still couldn't find it, so I was now thinking that it must be on the outskirts of the town or something, so I finally gave in and asked someone else for help.

I picked the middle-aged lady who was standing outside of an opticians. She obviously worked there and was just catching a breath of fresh air. Up I sidled, smiled, and asked her if she could tell me where "Parcmaen Street" was. She asked me to repeat the name of it, and knowing that I had probably pronounced it wrongly, I spelt it for her too.

She still seemed blank as to what I was talking about, so I pulled my Blackberry out and showed her the website with the address on. She looked, looked again, and then pointed out that the shop is in Camarthen and we were in Caernarfon! How stupid did I feel? I'd seen a couple of different ways of spelling Caernarfon while we have been here, so just assumed it was yet another one, but once it had been pointed out to me, it was obvious. No wonder we hadn't been able to find it!!

We decided to move on from wherever it was we were, and ended up taking the road to Beddgelert again. This time it was a different route to the village, and it was once again pretty spectacular. I have to confess that I have developed a real soft spot for Beddgelert, and was very happy to go back there again. We had lunch at a tea shop there, which they called posh fish finger butties. It was a long sub roll filled with lettuce with four small fish goujons with beer batter, a few chips and some tartar sauce. It was very nice indeed.

We followed this up with a walk along the river to see what Beddgelert is really all about - the grave of Gelert. Many centuries ago, a nobleman lived there and he had a faithful hound called Gelert. He trusted the hound with his life. One day he went out hunting, leaving the dog guarding his infant son. When he got back, Gelert came running out of the house to greet him, his muzzle dripping with blood. He rushed into the house, and found that his sons crib was empty. Thinking that Gelert had killed his son, he took his sword and drove it into Gelert.

As the dog cried out in pain, he heard a baby start crying. He followed the sound and found his son lying in the grass nearby, totally unhurt. A short distance from the child was the dead, bloodied body of a huge wolf.

He realised in anguish that Gelert had not killed his child but had saved him from the wolf, and killed the wolf. Totally distraught, the nobleman buried his faithful hound, and legend has it that he never smiled again. Beddgelert translated is Gelert's Grave.

A rock marks the dogs grave, and it now has a tree planted next to it, and a plaque explaining it. As you stand at this spot, whichever direction you look offers you a breathtaking view, with mountains virtually surrounding the village, and the river gently babbling along to one side. Sometimes you get to hear the "hoot" of the steam train as it approaches the station. Yes, I like it there.

Back in Porthmadog, we took advantage of the still nice weather to have a walk around the town. Again, it was a bit disappointing, but I'm sure that if you lived there, you could get most things that you would need.

Back at the apartment, a lovely cup of tea was called for, and as the sun went down on another lovely day, we find it hard to believe that we have been here for a week now. The time has flown by in one way, but it also seems that we have been here for ages, it feels like home, and that's nice.

Saturday and Sunday

Saturday was a bit of a washout again, and all we did was go to the Lidl in Porthmadog to do some food shopping. The carpark there was flooded, being ankle deep in the middle, but thankfully the edges were still useable.

The rest of the day was spent back at the flat chilling out, reading, colouring, and surfing the net.

By Saturday late evening, the rain had virtually stopped, and the wind had calmed down, meaning the sea was much gentler. We went to bed with high hopes for Sunday.

We awoke to glorious sunshine, calm seas, and a beautiful day. We had already decided that we were going to try to have lunch out, so headed out onto the Llyn Peninsula to see what we could find.

Driving through Pwlhelli, we made our way through beautiful countryside to Abersoch. This is little more than a village, but it has the benefit of being right on the coast. There are plenty of surf type shops there, along with a few pubs, and we chose to go to "St. Tudwells's Inn". We had a very pleasant lunch there, gammon again, and enjoyed watching the world go by outside.

We had parked the car near to the beach, and on the way back I was able to take a few photos of the wonderful view.

Back on the road again, we made our way towards Aberdaron, which is pretty much as far West as you can go without going down farmer's tracks. This turned out to be a tiny village with just a pub and a couple of shops, but it was packed with people, so we took the sharp left turn up onto the narrow coast road, which wound and twisted its way, up and down steep hills, until we came to the National Trust property "Plas yn Rhiw", which is a small house with stunning gardens that had been saved from ruin by two sisters in the early 1900's.

It was a compact house, but very well laid out as though they were still living there, and it was very interesting. Their beds seemed tiny and very low to the ground - they couldnt have been very comfortable!

The view from the gardens across the bay is lovely. The photo of the two of us was taken in the gardens with the help of the small "Gorillapod" tripod that i keep in my bag these days - a very useful bit of kit!

More narrow roads through incredible views brought us to Morfa Nefyn on the Northern coast of the peninsula. Again, this offered us lovely views of the coast that just begged to be photographed.

I also used this opportunity to switch the black and white that i so love.

We then headed back to Criccieth for afternoon tea. Sally did some more crafting and i chilled out again - i am getting to be very good at it!!

The weather forecast for the next few days is looking promising, so fingers crossed.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The waves today

Sally's work

Friday 15th June - rainy day blues

Well, it had to happen at some point. A full blown rainy day. Not only did it throw it down with rain for 97% of the day, it was seriously windy, with the waves crashing onto the shore like we have not seen before during our time here.

We decided to have a lazy day here at the apartment, and while Sally spent some time colouring, I spent a fair bit of time dozing while listening to the radio.

We finally emerged into the bleak weather this evening so that we could have the fish & chips that we had promised ourselves. The wind almost blew you off your feet as we went out of the door, and the ferocity of it did take your breath away.

Despite the chip shop only being about a quarter of a mile or so along the road, we elected to take the car, and to make it more worthwhile went into town to pick up some essentials at the Spar shop before heading to the chip shop.

Castle Fish & Chips has a good reputation locally, and they have a small dining area as well as the take away that makes up the majority of their trade. We elected to eat in, and ordered the fish, chips & mushy peas, with a pot of tea.

The service was quick and efficient, and the food was very good, with the fish being both fresh and tasty.

I also asked our waitress how to say "thank you" in Welsh. I thought I had misheard her answer, but the word is "diolch", which is pronounced "dee-olkh", so we can add this to the small range of Welsh we know!

I'm sorry that there isn't any more to tell you about our day, but there you go - we are on holiday after all!!

The photos are to show some of Sally's work, and the state of the waves.


Sent from my iPad

Thursday, 14 June 2012


This is just a quick test message.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday 14th June - Surf's Up!

I was writing yesterday's blog entry in bed last night, had done all the text and gotten the photos just how I wanted them, but could I get it to upload? No chance. After some time messing about with settings, I gave up and went to sleep.

This morning, I had another go......major problems.....the program I use on the iPad crashed and refused to work again. Fearing that I had lost the whole lot, I downloaded the latest version of it and tried again. Phew, my work was still there, but there was no way that it would upload.

I tried posting a test entry directly via the web browser and that worked fine, so I knew that it wasn't Blogger itself that was the problem. No worries, I would just copy and paste the whole thing between the programs.

Yeah, right....because everything with computers is simple isn't it? Eh, no. I had to do it a paragraph at a time, and it would not let me do anything with the photos. Once the text was uploaded, all the formatting had been lost so it was one huge paragraph. I was not a happy bunny.

So, Scallywags came to the rescue, she edited the text on her laptop, and after a looooongggggg wait got all the photos to upload, and finally, after about two hours of messing about, the entry you see for yesterday now looks just like the one I created on the iPad before I went to sleep last night! I hope you think it was worth the effort!!

So, here we are, mid-morning, and still in the process of getting up and ready to go out. It is sunny again after last nights rainstorm, but it is very windy, and the waves onto the shore are by far the biggest we have seen since getting here, hence the blog title for this morning!

Breakfast (which I am about to make) will be Shreddies, with toffee yoghurt and banana.

Today we decided to have a touring around day. The first place we went to was Beddgelert. What a lovely little village it is, full of history, legend, and gift shops that actually sell things you might want at a price that doesn't make your eyes water!

The river running through the village gave up some nice photographs, and the views on the road up to the village offered some impressive views.

The road from Beddgelert to Capel Curig gave us some even more spectacular views, including some of the top of Snowdon. The weather was still sunny, but now very clear, and it was impossible to show the sheer scale of the scenery in photographs. The one below has a house in it - find it and you will start to understand the scale!

There was a small parking spot with views of the Snowdon Horseshoe, again, the photo won't give the full impression of the enormity of what you are seeing.

Now I have a favour to ask of you. Please please please make the effort to drive along the road between the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel and Llanberis. It is the A4086 through the "Pass of Llanberis".

The journey along this road heading North is one of the most amazing, stunning you will experience in the UK. To begin with the road climbs steeply up into the mountains, before dropping almost as steeply into the pass. The mountains of the Snowdon Horseshoe tower above you to the left, and to the right the remains of mountains that have been quarried for slate and rock tower to your right.

The sight is both breath taking and awe inspiring. That mother nature created such a thing and man then took what he wanted from it against huge odds. It was a sight that I actually felt physically if you know what I mean - I felt it in my heart.

I wasn't able to take any photos as there was nowhere to stop, but there would have been no point anyway - they would not have done it justice at all.

We turned around in Llanberis and took the same route back. It is not such an impressive journey going South on the same road which seems a bit odd, and it didnt seem to take as long either.

After this, we went on to Betws-y-Coed, where we stopped for a look around the town and lunch at a pub. We both opted for the gammon, and I have to say that it was the best gammon that I have had for years.

Leaving Betws-y-Coed, we took the A470 back towards Porthmadog, going through Blaenau Ffestiniog, which was a bit of an eye opener. All of the mountains surrounding the town have been quarried for slate to such an extent that the whole area looks how you would expect it to look if an atomic bomb had been let off there. It is, quite frankly, a mess! It must be very depressing for the locals to have to live there with the remains of their now basically defunct source of income glowering at them.

By now, the weather had changed, and it had started to rain. By the time we got back to Criccieth, it was pouring down. We had planned to go to the local Cadwalladers Ice Cream parlour this evening as they were having live jazz, so at half six we braved the still pouring rain, and trudged up the hill.

The band was still setting up when we got there, and the parlour was filling up quite quickly. We sampled their famous ice cream, which lived up to its reputation. The jazz was supplied by a trio of trumpet, guitar and upright bass. They were very good even though some of the tunes they played were not really the type of jazz I'm partial to.

We stayed until eight, and made our way back. It was still raining, although not quite as heavily. Almost as soon as we got back, the heavens opened again, so our timing was pretty much spot on!

I'm going to end today's entry with another photo taken in Beddgelert, which made us smile. ( by the way, the majority of the photos so far have been taken by Sally)

Wednesday 13th June - Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway

I was woken this morning by a loud rumbling noise. My first thought was that it was my tummy, but soon realised that it was thunder. The rain was lashing down, and the odd rumble of thunder was followed by a bolt of lightning. Thankfully the thunderstorm did not last for too long, but the rain seemed settled in for the day.

Because of the weather, we decided to go to Pwlhelli as there is a market there on a Wednesday, one which claims to be the largest in North Wales. We set out with high hopes of finding some local produce.

By the time we were on our way to Pwlhelli, the rain had pretty much stopped, and the skies were brightening up. The journey didn't take too long, as it was only a few miles. More by luck than judgement we found the market and, more importantly, somewhere to park.

It was now quite sunny, and we were already doubting our choice for the day, and when we discovered that the market was actually rather a let down, and was just the same as any market you could find in any town, we were very much in the mood for a change of plan.

We had a brief wander around the town, but there was little to keep us interested, and so we headed back to the apartment much sooner than we had expected to so that we could check on the timetable for the trains. We found that the next train left Porthmadog at 1:35pm, which gave us around 45 minutes to spare.

Once back in the car, we quickly got to Porthmadog, although finding somewhere to park was a bit less simple. The carpark at the station was full, and so we had to use one of the normal ones, which was not only quite expensive, but also meant that the timings involved with our trip were tight.
Our original plan had been to take the train to Blaenau Ffestiniog, stay there for about an hour and a half to have a look around, and then go back on the train. This would have made us way too late for the carpark, and so we had to get there, wait while they refilled the tender for the engine and then come straight back.

As it happened, this was not the end of the world, as it appears that there was very little to see once you are there. It is a very bleak town, dominated by the remains of its previous slate and mining industries. Even in glorious sunshine it was not too welcoming, but thankfully the journey there and back on the narrow gauge steam train more than made up for it.

The route the train takes is both beautiful and awe inspiring. I gather that it is the only railway in the UK that has a spiral in it. This is something that makes train enthusiasts from all over the world want to experience it. Now don't get it into your head that it is like going on a roller coaster ride at a theme park, because it is not anything like that, but it is quite something to see the track go around a small hill and double back over itself. At one point the front of the train is pointing 180 degrees different to the rear of the train.

The track winds it's way up the sides of mountains, through woods, and alongside small cottages. Many times along the route you could reach out of the window and touch the cottages it passes. There are numerous level crossings, most of which just have lights and beepers on them rather than gates or barriers. At one point the train actually goes across  and along the main street of a village before carrying on up the mountainside.

The views just get more spectacular as you round every corner, and no matter how hard you try, photographs just cannot do it justice - they give you no idea of the sheer scale of the scenery.

The carriages are obviously very narrow and not particularly comfortable to ride in. Thankfully the journey is only an hour and ten minutes each way, but even so, the harsh ride gives you a numb bottom by the time you reach your destination!

The sun shone for the whole trip there and back, and it was all very pleasant, and we are very pleased that we have done it. Yes, I would do it again, just not too soon - I need to get over the aches first!

The evening started to come over very dull, and the clouds took on a threatening look. Eventually the rain came, and the wind picked up. By now it was almost dark though, so we didn't mind. Considering the forecast had been for rain all day, we can't complain.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Tuesday 12th June - Portmeirion

Well one thing is for sure - the bed is REALLY comfy! We both slept very well, and agree that this is probably the most comfortable bed that we have had in any of the places we have stayed. Indeed, it is probably just as good as ours at home.

I had the inevitable lie in this morning, and when i finally awoke, it was to find the sun shining, and the start of a glorious day. Despite the weather forecast threatening rain again, the sun has shone pretty much all day, and even though there have been clouds, there has been no sign of the wet stuff. (so far.....the forecast on the TV for tonight and tomorrow is not good)

We took advantage of the good weather to go to Portmeirion - as Sally said, i have wanted to go there for years, so it would be a shame to miss out on going on a nice "might" be the only one we get....

We are only a few miles from it, and so it didn't take very long to get there. I think it took almost as long to discover how to get into the car park as the rest of the journey had taken! The entrance driveway seemed to go on for ever.

Once into the village, i have to say that i was not disappointed - it wasn't quite how i expected it to be, but if anything it was better. Its always a fear that when you have looked forward to something for so long that it turns out to be a let down....that was not the case with Portmeirion.

Yes, it would have been nice if you could have gone into more of the buildings and looked around them, but i can understand why they wont let you. We had a good wander around the village, checking out the shops, and the bits you could go into.

We went down as far as the beach, and even walked along the coastal path for some way. The sand seems to go on for miles, but i gather from the info that the tide can come in very quickly.

The buildings in the village are truly stunning - you feel that you are somewhere in the Med rather than in North Wales. The colours really sing to you. It is wonderfully designed and well looked after.

I was using the 35mm film camera, which made a nice change, while Sally took command of the digital one. This meant that while she was going crazy with hers, making sure that we have photos of everything, i was trying to be a bit more "artistic", and was brushing up on my technique. It was good practice for me on calculating the exposures.....despite it being a couple of years or so since i have needed to, i was still able to predict the required exposures pretty accurately,and didn't need to make too many changes once i had set them and looked through the viewfinder to check the readings the camera was giving.

We spent four hours or so at the village, had a couple of cups of tea, and a turkey & salad roll each. We also took advantage of the road train to have a look around the woodland section of the estate.The whole visit was very successful in our opinions, and very good value at £10.00 a head.

On the way back to Criccieth, we stopped off at the Lidl in Porthmadog to top up on provisions, before heading back to the apartment. I managed to fall asleep during the early football match, having gotten myself very comfortable on the beanbags in the bay window. I have managed to create a kind of nest for myself with them, and once i get settled on them, i'm as happy as can be!

Dinner was a mix of tuna, mackerel and salad, which was both tasty and filling. The evening is still very clear and the views are MUCH better than they were yesterday - you can see much further and the tops of the mountains in the distance are very clear today. The waves are lapping onto the shore below the window, and sound a lot more fierce than they look. It almost sounds stormy, and then you look and it all seems quite gentle really.

Sally is busy doing some colouring for her cards, the football is on the telly, and all in all, it has been a really good day. Let's hope for another good one tomorrow!!

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Monday, 11 June 2012

Monday 11th June.

We awoke to a dull an drizzly morning. As we couldn't get into the apartment until 4pm, we didn't have to make too early a start, and so, I took advantage of a lie in.
This also meant that by the time I was up, some of the neighbours had gone to work, and I was able to move Sally's car a bit closer to our house. Otherwise it would have involved a bit of a trek with all the luggage to pack the car.
I got the majority of stuff into the car, and then we had a lovely breakfast of bacon, eggs and mushrooms. Very tasty indeed, and a good way to fuel the day.
We managed to leave just before 11am, but had to make a brief pit stop at the post office to get a few parcels posted. This meant that it was more like 11:15 when we left properly. By this time it was raining pretty heavily, and it was rather unpleasant. We hit the M6 and headed towards Birmingham. The traffic was very heavy, and the spray made visibility quite poor. We elected to take the M6 Toll road to avoid the worst of the traffic around Brum, and this proved to be a good move.
As usual the toll road was pretty much empty, and we able to make good progress. Not only that, but it seemed we were outrunning the weather too, and by the time we got off the toll road near Wolverhampton, it had virtually stopped raining.
As we got further along into the journey, and over the boarder into Wales, the skies cleared and the sun began to shine. Which meant that we were treated to the breathtaking beauty of the mountains. This truly is a stunning country, it just needs some half decent weather to appreciate just how beautiful it is.
We had a very brief stop for some fruit not long after Welshpool, and then made another stop at a craftmill near Dolgellau where we had a cup of tea. It turned out that the couple running the cafe were from Coventry originally! It is a small world.
Carrying on the journey again, we hit a lot of roadworks - they seem to be doing an awful lot of work, and in places it would seem that they are making the roads wider. They would be better employed making the hills less steep in my opinion!!
Passing through Porthmadog, we saw an Aldi and Lidl almost next door to one another, and rather than give our custome to the dreaded Tesco that we knew are there too, we elected to use Aldi, and bought a few bits that we needed. Unfortunately, it had started raining again, and come over very cloudy.
Criccieth is only a few miles further along the road, and we soon arrived, and then had to find the place we are staying. This proved to be easier than we expected, and it really is just across the road from the beach. If it weren't for the low clouds and poor visibility, the view from the apartment would be astonishing. We can just about make out the shapes of the mountains across the bay, but on a clear day, it would be magnificent.
The apartment itself is lovely. The three flights of stairs may well kill us off by the end of the holiday, but apart from that it is great.
The living room, dining room and kitchen are all one large room, with two comfy sofas, two bean bags in the bay window, large TV, dining table with four chairs and a nicely laid out and equiped kitchen. (Hob, oven, microwave, fridge, kettle, toaster and dishwasher)
There are two bedrooms, one has a double bed, the other two singles which can be made into a king sized - that is the one we will be using. The bathroom is set out as a wetroom. Its all very modern, nicely set out, newly decorated, and so far we have no complaints.
There was some milk waiting for us in the fridge, some cake, and a box of assorted twinnings teabag. Very thoughtful.
I sort of watched the England v France game, though it was not very exciting, so I was more than happy to star writing this during it.
Dinner was chicken, bacon and cheese. It may sound a little odd, but we are following the Slimming World diet, and today was a "red" day which means we can eat as much meat as we want, and have to watch the carbs. I haven't gotten my head around it really yet, but Sally has, and we have both lost weight on it so far, so who am I to argue with it.
We went for a walk along the seafront after dinner for about an hour. It has become a very pleasant evening - not sunny, but dry and fairly warm.
Back at the apartment now, Sally is watching the telly, and I'm going to finish this up before doing some reading I think. I'm sitting on a bean bag in the bay window, with the sounds of the waves crashing onto the sand drifting up to me, and the smell of the sea catching me too.
A lovely end to the first day away. Here's hoping for decent weather tomorrow!

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Nearly ready.......

Hooray, hooray, we're on holiday!!!

Yes, at long last, it's that time of the year - time for our holiday. Now remember, we hadn't imagined that we would get to go away this year because of the house move, but as this isn't going to happen for quite a few more months by the look of it, we decided to go for it.

So, what exotic location are we jetting off to this year? Well, we are going abroad.....kind Wales. This time we are going to North'ish Wales, to the town of Criccieth, which is not far from Porthmadog.

I have never been to that part of Wales before, and i am REALLY looking forward to it, not least because i have wanted to visit Portmeirion for many many years. (ever since seeing the TV series The Prisoner i suppose)

Of course, the weather over the last few days has somewhat changed our expectations - there have been some pretty major flooding not very far South of where we will be staying during the last 24 hours or so. Sally spoke to the owner of the apartment this morning, and all seems to be OK where we will be, but even so, we have to expect fairly wet weather, and anything else will be a bonus.

Here is the website of where we are staying:-

I have spent some of the evening planning the route and checking out a few places to visit while we are there. I'm not making too many plans, as a lot will be dependant on the weather, and i don't want to be disappointed.

The important thing is to have a rest, chill out, and enjoy our break from work.

I'm taking the ipad, which should allow me to blog, play games and read books/magazines. I was hoping to take some radio gear to do some portable work, but i have pretty much abandoned that idea now. I will take a small receiver with me, but no proper HF gear.

Also, now that i have got new glasses, i'm hoping to get back to doing some more cross-stitch. I haven't touched my big project for months, and it would be great to make a bit more headway into it.

Right, that's enough for tonight - more to come!!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

keep calm.......

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

wow - where id THAT quarter of a year go?

OK, so i have just realised that it has been THREE months since my last post......and then i wonder why i don't have more followers!

Right, so what has been happening here? Not a lot, and quite a lot all at the same time.

Sally and I have put our name down on a new house - it hasn't even been started yet, but hopefully they will start building it around July time, and so it should be ready for us by the end of the year.

It is a three storey, 4 bedroomed semi on the new estate on the ste of the old Peugeot works on the Humber Road here in Coventry. Why do we need a 4 bed house when there is only the 2 of us you ask, and the reasoning is as follows....

The master bedroom is on the top floor (ie the "attic"), that will be for us. (unless my snoring gets any worse, in which case i may be relegated to the garage!). One of the bedrooms on the middle floor will be set up as a permanent guest room - this means that we can have people to stay without the current palava that we have. The hope is that Ron & Beryl will come and stay, and if they like the area, possibly move down here themselves. It also means that if any of the parents are ill at any time, there will be somewhere for them to stay while they get better. Craig, Rachel & Frankie or Sean, Arancha & Xavier will be able to come to visit too and stay over.

The other "big" bedroom on the middle floor will be Sally's craft room/office - she is already planning how it will be set out with all her "toys", and the hope is that she will be able to get even more crafting done. The "small" bedroom will be my radio room, and will probably also have the ironing board in it - so i will be able to play radio while doing my chores! Excellent. This room also faces onto the rear garden, which is pretty vital for the antennas.....

Talking of which, i am already planning my antenna "farm", and the hope is for a wire dipole, HF multi band vertical, 28mhz vertical and VHF/UHF vertical - yes, the neighbours are going to love me!

We hadn't planned to have a holiday this year because of the house move, but have decided to have 10 days away, and are going to Wales - Criccieth near Portmerion. I have never been to that part of Wales before and am really looking forward to it. The apartment we are staying in is just across the road from the beach, so hopefully, weather permitting, we will be able to have some evening walks along this.

Unlike previous years, i have not yet made any major plans or notes of places to visit, and apart from wanting to go to Portmerion, have decided to wing it and make it up as we go along. A lot of it will depend on the weather anyway, so it is probably better to do it this way rather than get too many hopes up.

Enough for now, i just wanted you all to know that i'm still alive ;-)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A bit of an update

It has been a little while since I updated this, so I thought it was about time I put the latest "scores" on.

Since the 8th of January, I haven't do quite as much radio as I would have liked, but have managed the following:-

Countries HEARD = Monaco, Lithuania, Armenia, Brazil, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Wales, Estonia, China, Scotland, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Latvia, Nicaragua, Algeria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Sweden and Namibia. (New total is 54 heard)

And my signal was HEARD IN = Australia, Monaco and Ireland. (New total is heard in 30 countries)

As for large locator squares, I am now up to 40 heard and 20 heard in.

I have mostly been concentrating on Europe on the 80m band, which has done little to add to the above countries and squares total, but it has helped my total for smaller locator squares, and my map of Europe is being coloured in fairly rapidly.

Most of my activity has been on JT65, which has quickly become my favourite mode, although I have done a little PSK31 (and indeed some PSK64 in the contest!) and a bit of RTTY, again during contests.

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Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Hello everyone and a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!!

I hope that 2012 brings you everything that you hope for.

I have decided to not make any New Years Resolutions as such this time - i can never keep to them, so what is the point. I do however, have a few things that i would like to achieve this year:-

1. Lose some weight. Easier said than done, but it has GOT to be done!
2. Go swimming more. What was the point of learning how to do it, finding that i really enjoy it, joining a leisure club so that i can do it whenever i want, and then hardly ever going? This will also help with point number 1 on the list!!
3. Read more. I really enjoy reading, and must make more time to do so. I have a pile of books that i want to read and am looking forward to.
4. Play a bit more ham radio. See my other blog ( for more info on that.
5. get on with my big cross-stitch project. I haven't done any for a while, and i do miss it. I never seem to have the time to spend on it when my eyes aren't tired. I must make the time!
6. Try to get off my anti-depressants. This is a big challenge as there are certain things that will make this VERY hard to do. Those who know me well will know what/who i mean by that! ;-)

There may well be some "big'ish" changes around the corner this year for us - fingers are tightly crossed by Sally and I that this will come to fruition one way or another. Let's just say that it would make us very happy if it comes off. There are a couple of alternative scenarios, and either of them would be very welcome. Ultimately the decision is not totally in our hands, but we are keen on the basic plan.

I wish you health and happiness for the coming year - a bit of extra wealth wouldn't go amiss either would it?! ;-)