Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Thursday, 29 September 2022

This and That

This entry is just a brief catch up on stuff since our return from Wales.

Jacob has recently joined Rossendale Harriers running club. On Sunday, he and Seb and Francis took part in the Under 13 Boys relay race at Sports City, next to Manchester City's home at the Etihad Stadium.

I went along after Car Park marshalling duties at Wythenshawe Community Run. Francis got the team off to a great start, and was leading the field as they sprinted out of the stadium on the 3.1km course.

From there, it was downhill all the way, unsurprisingly as Seb and Jacob are only 11, and Jacob has been out of action for weeks with a broken toe. Even so, he completed the course faster than I could have done, and as a United supporter he could be heard to announce that this might be the only time this season that they could run rings around City.

Meanwhile, a message from Izzie said she was looking forward to her second birthday.

On Tuesday Sue and I attended Ian Carr's funeral. (Blog posting here.) A sad occasion followed by a gathering at Arnside Educational Institute, where Ian used to play badminton. We enjoyed a brief walk along the prom before a shower drove us homeward. It's a shame that Conrad was busy bagging trig points near Pateley Bridge, so we didn't get to visit him.

Sadly, this was the second such occasion amongst our friends in the past couple of weeks, Colin Hardy's funeral having taken place in Ilkley on the day we went to Wales. I was in touch with Colin quite recently, when he provided some photos to supplement the ones I took in 1980 on our Lechtal Alps backpacking trip.

On Wednesday, it was Isabella's second birthday. A joyous occasion, though I'm not sure whether she really likes that helmet!

Finally, you may have noticed the image at the top right of this blog, referring to my participation in the Loch Ness Marathon this coming Sunday. As usual I'm raising much needed funds for the Levana School Partnership

Thanks go to all those who have so far generously donated. All donations, however small, are really appreciated and can be made here.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Ian Carr - 11/8/56 to 1/9/22

Tuesday 27 September 2022 was a sad day. 

Ian died on 1 September after contracting E.coli that led to multiple organ failure. A very rare cause of death. Ian was exceedingly unlucky. We thought he would live for ever. His dad was amongst the mourners.

Ian appears on my trip reports for the 1970's and '80s, and he enjoyed legendary 'Minivan trips' with other friends before settling down to family life with Rona and his children, Hilary and Duncan. But he did continue to 'wander the hills' and he joined us more recently on evening walks in Cheshire, before moving to a lovely location in Arnside, where Sue and I were occasional visitors.

Ian was given the sort of farewell that may be the envy of many - a life remembered and celebrated, with very appropriate readings, photos, and music.

A sad day indeed.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Saturday 24 September 2022 - Pwllheli parkrun and a railway journey to Blaenau Ffestiniog

Another lovely day in Porthmadog. Above, our breakfast view.

Then Sue and I went to the Hafan Pwllheli parkrun. 34 of us jogged up and down the beach composed of soft sand. Here we are, waiting for the 9am start.

Then we returned to Porthmadog and took the 10:30 train to Blaenau Ffestiniog. We were joined by my brother Dave, who's a member, so the price was relatively modest.

It was a lovely ride, and a great way to finish our holiday.

It's not easy to take pictures from the train. These are the best I could manage.

Back in Porthmadog, a half marathon race from near Blaenau was preparing a welcome for the finishers.

Then we packed up, cleaned up, and returned to Timperley, after a most enjoyable week, albeit lacking the pleasure of Isabella's company yesterday, as her mum had a day off.

Friday, 23 September 2022

Friday 23 September 2022 - Cwm Cywarch

Today we drove to Dinas Mawddwy, an old settlement with Iron Age forts nearby. The row of houses pictured above probably date from more recent times (C19) when houses were needed for miners from the nearby slate quarry. 

Walk 23 in 'Snowdonia South' is a pretty straightforward stroll up Cwm Cywarch to the end of the valley, and back down the other side.

We took our time. Sue gave up on trying to identify flowers (no new ones) and switched her allegiance to fungi, successfully finding the following today:
Common Earthball
Common Milk Cap
Poor Man's Licorice 
Mica Cap
Pleated Ink Cap
Snowy Waxcap*
Field Mushrooms*
Red Cracking Bolete
Neofavolus alveolaris

A big bush of Harebells bulged in the hedgerow.

Buzzards mewed and a collared dove cowered, as we stopped in a grassy passing place on a section of road for elevenses with a view.

The track had become a little muddy after yesterday's rain. Not helped by three trial bikes.

As we approached the end of the valley a grassy meadow led towards a car park from which the hills beyond the Cwm can be ascended.

Sue posed for a picture at the head of the valley.

There were nice views back along the valley. The low flying aircraft were not captured in the next image, taken near a pretty lunch spot.

A shower near the end of the walk put paid to any more mushroom collecting.

Here's our route - about 13km with 250 metres ascent. It took us a very leisurely four hours.

* These were collected and converted into a tasty starter.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Borth-y-Gest and Y Sgwar restaurant

A wet day was forecast. The view from our breakfast table wasn't inspiring.

After a leisurely morning that included a visit to Dave in number 30, and our customary thrashing at cards, Sue and I donned our waterproofs and headed past the harbour. 

A peregrine falcon had flown beside the estuary, as we looked out from number 30, but we observed nothing special after that.

The path around the harbour leads to Borth-y-Gest, where it was raining quite hard.

Garreg-goch beach was passed, deserted, before we reached Porthmadog Golf Course and a caravan park.

After a bit of faffing amongst the static homes (we failed to find our intended path) we walked a short way along the main road before turning right opposite Pen Rhiw and making our way through woodland to our outgoing route and the easy return to base.

The next scene from our living room window, taken with mug of tea in hand and shortbread on the table, indicates why we spent the rest of the afternoon at home.

Later, the rain stopped in time for us to stay dry on our walk down to Tremadog for some 'fine dining' at Y Sgwar restaurant as part of our 20th wedding anniversary celebrations. 

What a contrast to the experience that Cary and I had in the Kings Head in Ravenstonedale a couple of weeks (is it really that long) ago in the Yorkshire Dales. Here, all the staff were smiling, for a period they were clearly working flat out, and the kitchen was so well prepared that it seemed to be performing miracles!

We'll be back...

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Wednesday 21 September 2022 - A 14km Ramble from Aberdyfi (Aberdovey)

This was one of the more distant (from our base in Porthmadog) walks in Alex Kendall's Cicerone guides, taking us over an hour to drive to Aberdyfi, where we parted with £5.50 for the privilege of parking in a convenient spot.

After coffees in 'The Fridge', we wandered along the sea-front (pictured above) then took a zigzag path up the hill heading north. 

The views grew, and looking back to the coast south of Aberdyfi brought memories of childhood visits to Ynyslas - a big adventure for our Austin Somerset MJW 770 armed with its useful AA badge.

I remember bringing a Bee Orchid home, found whilst playing in the dunes; it lasted for weeks in a vase in my bedroom. In those days - mid 1950s - it was not a sin to pick flowers or collect birds' eggs.

We followed the route of the Wales Coast Path up a hill past startled pheasants, derelict caravans, Mexican Fleabane, and overgrown private pathways.

At the top of the path a friendly message on some black silage bales encouraged us to 'Enjoy Your Walk'.

As we continued over the crest, we could admire the view ahead to Cwm Maethlon and beyond. This used to be the main route in these parts, until the coast road was built.

We continued down, with the sounds of distant farm machinery and mewing buzzards, alongside a wood of sessile oak trees, and into Cwm Maethlon, passing hazel trees, apple trees, sloes, blackberries, and most of the flowers recorded earlier this week, plus the yellow blooms of ragwort and gorse, shepherds purse, black bryony, red campion, chickweed and lesser stitchwort.

Chaffinches chattered in the hedgerows.

A row of martins on a power line suddenly became agitated. A red kite appeared above. To our surprise, some of the martins proceeded to mob the kite.

We continued along the road for a short way, before taking the track to Gwyddgwion and finding a nice spot for lunch in a field.

Alex's dire warnings about the poor condition of the next path proved unfounded, and we made our way uneventfully down to the main A493 road and thence to the beach.

Earlier, we had spotted some Sheathed Woodtuft mushrooms, thought to be edible, but rather soggy looking. In the fields before the dunes were lots of Parasol mushrooms. They seemed very dry so we thought they were past their best for eating. I'm not so sure now - they may have made another delicious starter.

The walk concluded with a 3.5km walk along firm sand, punctuated by my frequent stoops to collect more shells for Isabella.

That amounted to a 14km circuit with 300 metres ascent, taking us about 4.5 hours.

Another excellent day out in fine weather. No other walkers seen, though two trial bikes did briefly sour the atmosphere. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Tuesday 20 September 2022 - Plas Newydd and Aber Falls

Sue had never been to Plas Newydd, a National Trust property on Anglesey, next to the Menai Straits and one of the Menai bridges.

One of the main attractions is a 58 foot canvas mural by Rex Whistler. This alone is a good reason for a visit. The mural is a 'trompe de l'oeil', and we enjoyed a guided half hour during which some of its features were explained.

Can you spot Aber Falls?

These two pictures just provide a flavour of the huge mural.

After looking around the house, we visited the arboretum and other attractions. More pictures will follow when we get home to some wi-fi, but here's a lofty sycamore for starters.

Then, after lunch on a convenient picnic bench, we drove the short distance to Abergwyngregyn and embarked on a short walk to Aber Falls - number 3 in 'Snowdonia North'.

We headed away from the falls at first, then rose steeply to a contouring path with good views over the Menai Strait to Anglesey and Puffin Island.

Having gained all our height at the start, the walk to Aber Falls was basically a lovely amble along a grassy/bracken path strewn with flowers - Harebells, Autumn Hawkbit, Devilsbit Scabious, Tormentil, Water Mint, Common Dog Violet and loads of Soft Rush Grass, all with the rugged backdrop of the Carneddau peaks.

There were people bathing below the falls, just below a freshly deceased sheep.

We met more people now, including a heavily tattooed girl, being on the tourist trail from the car park, but nobody had cared to harvest a few mushrooms that Sue's 'Seek' app identified as Button Mushrooms. That seemed a rather stingy name, given their dimensions!

Here's our 7km route with 150 metres ascent, taking 2 hours.

Later, our planned starter was abandoned in favour of mushrooms sautéed in garlic and butter, washed down with a bottle of 2002 Seleccion de Plata Tempranillo - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla. Delicious.

I've no idea how we managed to find a 2002 bottle of wine to bring here!