Grand experiment over

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This getting a house ready to sell just so I can possible get more out of the sale better be worth it. I’ve been bleeding money — I really need a transfusion, quick.

Meanwhile the grand public transportation experiment is over. I spent a month going to a public park and ride (45 minutes from home) then riding the express bus to downtown San Antonio (another 45 minutes depending on which express bus I managed to catch).

By car, getting to work takes me an hour. By car, then bus, it was almost two hours. My 10-hour days turned into 12, so I’m back to driving all the way in.

I do miss the walk. Instead of catching the trolley or bus that would take me closer to the office, I decided to walk the Riverwalk. I also got to enjoy a part of town I had not been familiar with.

I got off the bus at Delarosa and Main. Here was Main Plaza, San Fernando Cathedral and the red sandstone courthouse.

The Bexar County Courthouse was built in 1897 and is the largest and oldest continuously operated courthouse in Texas. It is comprised of native Texan granite and red sandstone, roofed in  green and red tiles.

Across the street from the Main Plaza is the Bexar County Courthouse built in 1897 and is the largest and oldest continuously operated courthouse in Texas. It is comprised of native Texan granite and red sandstone, roofed in green and red tiles.

 On Main Plaza is San Fernando Cathedral, founded in 1731, and is the oldest, continuously functioning religious community in Texas.

On the Main Plaza is the San Fernando Cathedral, founded in 1731, and is the oldest, continuously functioning religious community in Texas.

The more interesting path to the Riverwalk was on the Main Plaza, opposite the cathedral, where steps led down to a curved, short path that lead to a bridge taking you over a bridge to the opposite side or to steps to the same side. Poetry and sayings are carved into the stone blocks.

The more interesting path to the Riverwalk was opposite the cathedral where steps led down to a curvy path. Poetry and sayings are carved into the stone blocks.

Old tools and artifacts are imbedded on the concrete path.

Old tools and artifacts are imbedded on the concrete path.

And are also imbedded by the stone blocks.

Imbedded by the stone blocks are more artifacts.

Next, the Riverwalk from Delarosa St. to Houston St.

Major revision

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I’ve lived in my current home for 14 years. I’ve never been one to set down deep roots, but they got pretty deep here.

So the house is going up for sale. Maybe. I don’t know. All I know is I’m restless and have been for at least the last five years.

The realtor ( a colleague of mine) and her boss came out yesterday to evaluate my house and let me know what I can do to increase the value and get it sold quickly. I haven’t signed anything yet. But, after being initially overwhelmed with what needed to be done, I’ve broke down the projects and am feeling much better about completing them.

In spite of my ambivalence, I feel a budding excitement. An excitement I haven’t felt since, well, forever. I’m shooting for putting the house on the market June 1, or thereabouts. I had decided to move out and this was encouraged by my visitors yesterday. Houses sell better empty, or so I was told. As much as I love my cats (3), litter boxes are quite unattractive. And my cats do not deal well with strangers in the house. My dogs, who think strangers are their next best friends don’t understand the feelings are not mutual from potential house buyers.

And I’m facing a potential problem of trying to rent with 3 cats and 2 dogs. That could be difficult and potentially expensive. Generally it’s $300 nonrefundable deposit for one dog (sometimes for 2 small). I’ve decided that when I figure out it’s time to sign the contract with the realtor, I’ll find a place. (Now I need to find a St. Joseph statue to bury in the yard when I’m done prepping the house.)

Wish me luck…

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A most wonderful close to a holiday

I’m a bit sad. I’m coming to a close to my days in Wales. But it’s been a grand day, even after losing a UK hour in its time change. (Haven’t I been through this once this year?)

What can be better than spending the day with horses?

Izzy, the Hanoverian

Izzy, the Hanoverian


With this scenery from the house and arena?
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The house sits up above the arena (“ménage” here).
See the chimney? From that to the right side of the house is 200-250 years old. The rest was added on.

See the chimney? From that to the right side of the house is 200-250 years old. The rest was added on.


The barn (or yard). The right two stalls are modified goat pens where the roof was lifted to accommodate the horses. The other two stalls were built after purchase.
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I brought my landlady’s daughter with me who was thrilled to be around horses and said she learned more in 15 minutes with Sue than she had in a year’s worth of lessons. (I had met Sue at the workshop.)

Max, the Halflinger, and Katherine with Sue behind K.

Max, the Halflinger, and Katherine with Sue behind K.


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I got on for a moment and did a walk trot.

We had tea on the terrace and swapped stories. I was fascinated with the sightings of pheasants as we drove in. When one appeared in the yard, Sue grabbed my camera to shoot a photo.
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Before we knew it it was time to head back.

Ramblin’ and song

This sign indicates a walking path.

This sign indicates a walking path.


The little walking person appears everywhere in North Wales. It can be pointing down a paved path.
Paved path in the village that simply takes you to a street. I guess as a walker you can just pick a direction until you find the next walker.

Paved path in the village that simply takes you to a street. I guess as a walker you can just pick a direction until you find the next walker sign.


Or a well defined path.
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Or a path that may be defined in spots and crosses through a pasture or two.[/caption]
The cat veered off as I started down this bramble path.

The cat veered off as I started down this bramble path.


This sign was seen quite a bit and often under the walking person sign.
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How about this one?
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Snapped while rambling.

Snapped while rambling.

And another...

And another…

Choral groups in Llandudno.

Choral groups in Llandudno.


Spent the night listening to very good amateur A capella choral groups. One my landlady, Sally and a friend, Liz, are in. The songs were drawn from almost all continents and in many different languages. One, as one choral member announced, was a Spanish song to be sung in French, English and the chorus members’ favorite language, ooooooh.

The two hours went by quickly; the singing was that good. There was even an audience round. (The audience was made up of choral members, friends and family.

Taking a break had us at a nearby pub and with a half pint of cider (and trying to escape the noise of an extremely boisterous group of happy men.

A highly entertaining ceilidh (Kay lee) followed. Traditional music and dancing – in this instructions were given for each dance then moves called out with with the music.

And here is the ever vocal, demanding Norfolk terrier from next door, Bindy.

Bindy let her opinion of leaving her behind be known.

Bindy let her opinion of leaving her behind be known.

A long walk on a beach

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An incredibly lovely day! It was a cloudy, non-rainy day, as it has been for a while. I zipped over to Anglesey (Ynys Mon) to do a walk in Newborough Forest on the southwest end. I had intended to walk in the forest, but decided to do a beach walk instead. I ended up on the shadow of land in the background of the photo above. Not many people there that early and it was incredible peaceful and meditative.

The pine forest lines the beach.

The pine forest lines the beach.


Dogs accompanied some of the few people out this early. Dogs are banned from the beach May-November.

Dogs accompanied some of the few people out this early. Dogs are banned from the beach May-November.


The tide was going out leaving a thick light brown sand. I was fascinated with the sand patterns.
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The area is called Llanddwyn, bordered by Llanddwyn Bay, and to the northwest was an island accessible at low tide. The island is called Ynys (island) Llanddwyn and on that island are the ruins of a church to St. Dwynwen, two lighthouses and inside the dunes pilots’ houses.

St Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers making her the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine. The Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine’s Day would be Jan. 25. (Her death in 495 a.d.)

She lived during the 5th century and legend has it that she was one of the prettiest of Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters. Dwynwen fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else.

Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.

God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry. All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God’s service for the rest of her life.

She founded a convent on Llanddwyn Island where a well named after her became a place of pilgrimage after her death. Visitors to the well believed that the sacred fish or eels that lived in the well could foretell whether or not their relationship would be happy and whether love and happiness would be theirs. Remains of Dwynwen’s church can still be seen today.

Remains of St. Dwynwyn's church.

Remains of St. Dwynwen’s church.


Cool, huh?

There were horses on the island, cared for by the wardens. You are basically walking in their pasture and they keep their distance. Or, did until I came up behind one who just flattened his ears despite my clicking (well, guess my clicking wasn’t in Welsh — and they aren’t trained after all). I had to move to the side and that got him out of the path.
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I spent most of the day there.

Gates to enter the areas where the horses stayed, which was most of the island.

Gates to enter the areas where the horses stayed, which was most of the island.


The paths went in more directions than the sign indicated.

The paths went in more directions than the sign indicated.


Steps made for climbing the dunes.

Steps made for climbing the dunes.


The larger of the two lighthouses at the tip of the island.

The larger of the two lighthouses at the tip of the island.


Outcrops of "pillow" lava

Outcrops of “pillow” lava


The colors and patterns of the rocks below changed from cove to cove on the island.

The colors and patterns of the rocks below changed from cove to cove on the island.


This pattern was in another cove.

This pattern was in another cove.


Then I had to leave the island and beach.

Then I had to leave the island and beach.


I reluctantly left and set off for Holyhead to drop off the car. Took the train back to Bangor and got lost in Bangor trying to find the main bus terminal. No problem, just asked a couple of college students (the town is home to Bangor University) who escorted me to the right road. The terminal is in the retail area which was having a huge market. Vendors had set up tents in an area with no through traffic. I found a farmer selling produce and he had leeks (hadn’t been able to find single small ones for soup). So I picked up leeks, potatoes and an old-style carrot (lighter in color and not as sweet).
The carrot and diced potatoes.

The carrot and diced potatoes.


By the time I had the veggies cut up, it started to rain. Great time for soup!

Welsh cakes and slate

Dolbadarn Castle still holding vigil over Llanberis Pass.

Dolbadarn Castle still holding vigil over Llanberis Pass.


The day started with a lesson on making Welsh cakes. The day held a promise of sunshine, despite a rain during the night. My landlady, Sally, was my teacher.
Sally Welsh cakes
Sifting sugar in.

Sifting sugar in.


And the results.
One half our results. I made Sally take half!

One half our results. I made Sally take half!


We had talked, made cakes and drank tea all morning. For the remaining day, I went back to Llanberis to visit the part of the National Slate Museum not viewed on the last visit. I visited the tiny miners homes in the back. There were cowboy books on the bookshelves in the 1960s home which made me smile. I’ve had three North Welshmen tell me this trip about being fascinated with the West and cowboys. Shouldn’t have surprised me with my encounter of The Ponderosa gift shop and cafe at the top of Horseshoe Pass on the previous trip. And there was this at the beginning of the week.
Could be a barn in Texas (unless you're experiencing the weather.

Could be a barn in Texas (unless you’re experiencing the weather.


The rest of the tour was a bit eerie going through the machine shops, forge room, etc. It felt as though the workers were just on a break and would show up any moment.
Machine wheels displayed.

Machine wheels displayed.


It was getting late and getting cooler. I went in search for Caffi Sam where I had visited before. Finding it I decided on the chicken and mushroom pastime with salad. The serving was generous.
Took over half of this home.

Took over half of this home.


Tomorrow’s plan is to do a walk on Anglesey and turn the car in.

Unexpected opportunity

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Because of an accommodating Welshman, I got a completely different view of my favorite castle, Dolbadarn.

Just before leaving for Llanberis, I dropped by my landlady’s home to get an air pressure gauge. Instead of the gauge, I left with a personal guide and Sally’s Norwich terrier, Bindy. I could relax not having to drive.

Bindy was NOT a cooperative passenger. She howled and barked and whined most of the car travel. She was only quiet when we got out to walk.

We first went up to Dolbadarn Castle. Leaves aren’t on the trees yet, but the moss is prevalent and emerald green.
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Then we went to the well-defined trail in Padarn County Park through the sessile oaks. I imagine with leaves the forest would be impressive.
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Then we came upon a mining pit now used by a diving group.

Warning sign at pit. Depth at 80 feet.

Warning sign at pit. Depth at 80 feet.


The cart in the art transported the slate slabs, called a bogey.

The cart in the air transported the slate slabs is called a bogey.


The green color is from the copper in the water.

The green color is from the copper in the water.


Look carefully upper middle, little green dot.

Look carefully upper middle, little green dot.


See him now?

See him now?


We went to lunch on Anglesey so I could finally get a photo of the Telford bridge, considered the first modern suspension bridge.
Telford bridge built 1826.

Telford bridge built 1826.


After lunch, my guide took me to the top of the hill overlooking Llanberis. The view was indescribable and surreal. I had not found this overlook in any resource, nor was it easy to get to. The first photo, Dolbadarn Castle, is from this perspective.
The well-defined, slate covered path gave a great perspective of Snowdon.

The well-defined, slate covered path gave a great perspective of Snowdon.


Below is a signature of the slate industry and on the other side are the hills and Snowdon defining the pass

Below is a signature of the slate industry and on the other side are the hills and Snowdon defining the pass


Tomorrow morning is a Welsh cake lesson and a trip to Anglesey to return the car.

A restful day

The daffodils are blooming everywhere

The daffodils are blooming everywhere


Yesterday was an unexpected catch-up day. The sun was out and I woke up sore. The walk to Jubilee Tower left its imprint on my hip joints and calves.

After a duck egg breakfast … (Big eggs with a tough shell)

Difference in size and the yolk is large in proportion to the white.

Difference in size and the yolk is large in proportion to the white.


I decided to walk almost to the A5 to walk a trail. It was overcast, but bright. My hips protested and about three-quarters of the way to the sign, there was a sharp pain on the outside of my left calf and a dull ache in the back.

I tried ignoring it, thinking it would work out. It got worse. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the tea from morning breakfast was announcing its impending exit. So I returned to retreat my pains, the legs with my essential oils. Evidently last night’s application wasn’t enough.

So, wanting to be able to walk later (several sunny days expected), I decided to go to Bethesda to try a restaurant Sally had suggested last year, Fitzpatrick’s. I dressed a bit better and drove into Bethesda. It was closed. Close by was the Douglas Arms. Closed. Aargh! There aren’t a lot of places in Bethesda to choose. So back to Rachub.

When I reached the stoop and stopped to talk to Dave, the overcast sky suddenly cleared and the sun shone brightly. I had just been telling him my woes and said, “see? I’m being told to stay.”

I had a pleasant ham and cheese sandwich with an alcoholic ginger beer (yum) outside on the porch.
Lunch
The sun stayed out. I read one of the books I had purchased in Ruthin. When the sun disappeared for a bit and a cool breeze came up, I disappeared into the cottage and took a nap.

It evidently was what I needed. This morning I’m off for Llanberis for a walk in the sessile oak forest, a revisit to the slate museum and another walk with a bit of a climb.

Walking jubilee

I’m sitting in a small room with a blazing fire in the furnace and a hot tea in my hand. It has been an incredible day: a stay in a 1600s pub & inn, a climb up to Jubilee Tower, lunch at the Ruthin Craft Center and a wander around Ruthin.

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The main building is from the 1600s, while the extension to the back and side were added on. There are only five rooms at the top of the narrow stairs. Mine was cozy, comfortable with its own bathroom.

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I was the only overnight customer and not only did they keep the kitchen open late for me (serving a huge meal I couldn’t finish), but Huw (landlord, council man and multiple business owner) cooked me breakfast. He offered a Welsh breakfast, but I couldn’t manage a huge breakfast after the late dinner. Once I was satisfied, Huw left. He returned just as I was settling the bill. He had taken his dogs up and back Jubilee Tower in 50 minutes.

So I went to climb Moel Famau, the highest hill in the Clwyd range to the never-finished Jubilee Tower built for the golden Jubilee of George III. The morning was sunny, windy and nippy.

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I was about halfway at this point. One and a half miles up.

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Took me an hour and a half to reach the tower. The walk up was SO worth it the view was stupendous.
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The distant white at the horizon is Snowdon or in Welsh, Yr Wyddfa.
Other scenes:

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The dogs on the trail were so well behaved. Most were off lease and didn’t interact with strangers. The man in this photo had a large terrier, a Jack Russell and a spotted spaniel with beautiful black legs. The dogs crisscrossed the road and into the brush, but bothered no one and stayed close to the older man.

When I returned to the car, i made my way down the single track road and made my way to the Ruthin Craft Center for a delicious tomato basil soup and homemade bread. The craft center was a group of artist studios, education room, gallery and gift shop.

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Leaving my car at the center, I went to explore Ruthin. There is a castle there – a manor home built on the ruins of a 12th century castle, now a hotel. The red sandstone in the area gives A different look to the buildings.

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City walls at one end.

The older part of Ruthin is built on a hill. I made a comment about the steep streets to a man passing by and I ended up having a delightful conversation with a very distinguished 90-year-old man. I walked into a store and had a long conversation with the proprietor who gave me an impromptu Welsh lesson. His shop was a Welsh craft shop and it was one of th older buildings.

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Before leaving Ruthin, I walked into this.

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I walked out with half a dozen eggs and honey.

Leaving Ruthin I hoped to get a cup of the best hot chocolate I had ever tasted, a place I stopped at on my way to the workshop. This is what greeted me.
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Four seasons of Wales

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It snowed!

It snowed! Morning scene outside the cottage at Bryn Moel.

Haven’t seen snow for at least 10 years. Had to take a few photos before I scurried back to the warmth. The snow melted pretty quickly. Then it rained softly. The sun came out as the workshop got started. Then it snowed in a windy fury. The rest of the day sunshine and rain battled for dominance. The rain won out.

I’ve met some amazing people. Besides leading the Masterson Method workshop, Diane (who was certified with me) is a Chinese/Japanese translator and fluent in French and German. She lives in Geneva, but is American. Her assistant instructor is from Yorkshire. My roommate is a student in the course and is a policewoman in Glasgow. (But she’s Austrian, who also lived in Boston and thinks I’m funny because I don’t understand what she says in her Scot/German/Boston accent.) Besides the one from Scotland, students hailed from Wales, England, Czech Republic and Italy. Quite a mix.

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And here I was in North Wales helping people work on Appaloosas. The owners have competed all over Europe and have collected a room on trophies and ribbons mostly in western competitions. Wonderful horses that taught us how to help them feel better.

Instructor Diane demonstrating the bladder meridian.

Instructor Diane demonstrating the bladder meridian.

The nearby village rescued the local pub from receivership and that’s where we had an excellent dinner. A local farmer was the cook (he also has a B&B on his farm) and the locals work the tables and the bar.