Welsh pony show

I only stayed long enough for the Welsh Mountain Pony (A) and Welsh Pony (B). There are four sections of pony type and go from small to largest. The other two are Welsh Pony of Cob Type (C) and Cob (D). On the other side of the “in-hand” classes, were the riding classes, but there was no where to sit and the warm-up area was on that side — although I did see a youngster take a tumble and the lead pony class where the child and parent dressed alike.

Most interesting was the judges who were quite formally dressed. Male judges could be distinguished by their bowler hats and the women were in long dresses or skirts and looked as though they were going to a formal 1800s afternoon tea. Tradition lives on.



Beautiful ponies. A lot of chrome. And a bit excitable — at least the in-hand group were. Watched one in the upper field do an airs-above-ground then kick out and clip another horse on the chin.


The in-hand was supposed to show off movement at a trot. This exhibitor had the most colorful outfit but lost the class.

Transportation is different. The more popular mode was the van. There were a few of the light hitch trailers usually pulled by basically cars. No pickup trucks, big dualies or goose neck trailers. They can’t turn around in the small horse yards where space is a premium (including at Bryn Moel). Tim says there are a few people with the big diesels and gooseneck trailers, but they are impractical. I’d like to see one try to get down the one track road I went on to Pwll-glas yesterday or even a Ford 1500 and a two-horse slant load.


This was the more common horse transport for two horses.

Fairy tales

Angel, the fairy dog

Cowboy Tim told me last night over dinner that Angel was his fairy dog. (And he has had several.) He tells me that fairies live in nearby Clocaenog Forest, and will send their fairy dogs out to live with people. The spotted fairy dogs will show up at a person’s door to be adopted.

At this point I asked, “but aren’t fairies small?”

Tim just looked at me as if I was some naive outlander and said, “fairies can be any size they wish.”

The dogs are to be well cared for and if they should be mistreated misfortune will fall on the home.


No mucking today

Janette’s chiropractic clients. Their owner intends to show the one closest to the camera. Both are newly purchased and come from old Scottish bloodlines.

Got the day — the whole day — off. Janette is a licensed chiropractor for humans and horses. So I was invited to go along to her appointment to work on two Shetland ponies. And I said yes, of course.

We stopped here first.

Our first stop was a favorite of Janette’s. The merchandise was eclectic and included the owner’s wood finishing and woodworking pieces. And the dragon was for sale.

We headed out for Tywyn to a small holding where the ponies have this view.


Afterwards we had tea and cake in front of the farmhouse. It was turning out to be a spectacular day.

Tea and fresh sponge cake with a raspberry jam filling was enjoyed. Janette’s Aunt Pam (center) came along for the ride.

Tywyn is on the beach and when the day is nice people flock to the beach. With it being Friday and the weekend having a bright, warm (67 degrees) forecast, this is going to be a busy area.

The promenade in Tywyn. It’s low tide. At high tide, the water comes up to the promenade.

We took a short detour to Aberdovey. Where Tywyn is a decidedly Welsh village, Aberdovey has a Victorian flavor.


From Aberdovey, we headed back to Bryn Moel and went through Bala, a popular tourist spot. Lake Bala, another deep glacial lake is a particular attraction.



And on to Bryn Moel.

Mucking and lamb dinner

Meet the youngest member of Bryn Moel, Humphrey, as he is affectionately called, is about three weeks old. While I was  giving the mare some grooming attention, Humphrey was nibbling my jacket and kneeing me adorably.

Picked up a lot of poo today (and will tomorrow and the next day and so on …); baptized my new waterproof Ariat boots with Welsh mud (they did well); Cowboy Tim (the Welsh cowboy)  work with an owner and her Welsh pony who has the attention span of a gnat  (the horse is staying here in what Tim calls boot camp); held horses, opened gates while the other two guests of Bryn Moel worked with their horses; swept stalls and the walkway to make them pristine; then went to dinner at the community inn, lamb shoulder and “shiny” sauce, parsnip and potato mash and peas (all delicious) and wine. It was a full day.

More Humphrey:

Movin’ on

Today I left Rachub to go to a horse barn near Ruthin. It was only going to take about an hour to get there, so after I got packed, checked and rechecked to make sure I didn’t leave anything, and talked to the cute, young Welsh guy who showed up to get the apartment ready for the next guest (and he took my luggage to the car), I hit the road.

Wales is even more beautiful on a sunny day. I headed out on the A5 to have tea and a scone at Ty Hyll, the Ugly house and then to Betws y Coed.


I spent a little time in Betws y Coed, looking for something to help my blistered heel and visiting the potter I always visit. I figured that any place that catered to hikers and climbers dealt with blisters. At one shop all they had were the socks that helped not get the blisters in the first place, so I bought a pair. The second shop was out of a gel you could apply to protect it, and Londis, a small grocery had a tape I could use.

i had planned to stop at a favorite chocolate shop in Pentrefoelas. I did and it was closed! I did check the long list of open/close times and dates. I’ll just have to catch it on the way back.

Arriving at Bryn Moel, I was shown my nice accommodations, introduced to a couple who were staying a couple of days, watched the Welsh cowboy ride a horse brought to him with some issues, climbed three gates in order to check on some horses and had a very tasty supper, great conversation and a Coors light beer (haven’t drank that since I was 18).

Tim, the Welsh cowboy, and his wife ride western and show across Europe. Evidently they do quite well given the number of trophies and ribbons. Tim trains horses and riders; and has a western riding club. Here’s the logo:

Dragon Western Riding Club

I was here as a volunteer helper. In exchange for work, I get room and board with plenty of time off to explore the area.

So, I’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Rhaeadr Fawr

The blister felt okay this morning. Didn’t even feel sore. So I applied the moleskin and hoped it would be okay. The sun was going to visit for a while and Rhaeadr Fawr (Aber Falls) was on the day’s agenda.

Dave was working in the garden when I left. He warned me about the one track road from the village Abergwyngegyn to the falls car park. This meant if you meet a car on the road, one of you have to back up until one can pass. And the regular roads in the village were tight. No sidewalks or shoulder and walls lined the way. The one track road had some one car bridges and blind curves, but I made it there easily — no confrontations. Got the car parked and the parking ticket in the window and headed down the well-defined trail.

Dave and Catherine had both commented: “It’s an easy walk, no problem.” It’s 2.5 miles to the falls on an uphill grade. As I entered the gate, I kept thinking that at least  it was down hill coming back.

After a short walk this bridge crosses the Aber (river) Rhaeadr Fawr to to main trail.
The well-defined trail winds through the Aber Valley.
Mossy tree
Moss gives the woods an aged look. But it’s the lichen that tells how old the trees are.
The falls can be heard before you see them.
The photo doesn’t do it justice
Better perspective.

On the way back down the trail I could feel my blister again. Once back to the car, I headed to the village without meeting another car. I stopped at Caffi y Hen Felin, very clean, small cafe in Abergwyngegyn. I had my first taste of elderflower, yum, and a cream cheese, cranberry jelly and “bacon” panini. Bacon was what I would call Canadian bacon. I expected crispy bits, but I found out later from Sally that our version of bacon is called “streaked” bacon. The cafe had a supply of baked goods so I took the last piece of carrot cake and a cheese/herb scone to the apartment.

So now it’s washing and packing so I can be out of here by 11 a.m. I’ll be on the other side of the mountains near or in the Clwydian Range for the next ten days at a horse barn with time off to explore.


Meeting an artist and sunshine

Ray Keats
Ray Keats has turned the front window into an art gallery. During Christmas her window was a local attraction when she did the 12 days of Christmas — one each day. Her style is eclectic and changes with the subjects and her mood. The colorful paintings in the window are the result of brain scans she did as a volunteer at a university.

While contemplating a blister on my heel the size of a 50p piece (half-dollar size), my neighbor came by to take me to meet a local artist, Ray Keats. What a delightful woman! I was sat in front of a large window for an incredible view of the mountain behind Bethesda and given tea, of course. Unfortunately, I forgot I had taken my memory card out of my camera and wasn’t willing to stop the conversation to go get it. It will just have to stay as a memory.

Sally and Ray gossiped a bit and shared the Welsh custom of distinguishing among people with the same names. In this case it was Malcolm. There’s Malcolm sex and violence (because he said he was writing a book on the subject — it stuck) and Malcolm ne’r-do-well and Mad Malcolm.

We had to leave too soon.

I put some moleskin on my blister and finalized my day. The rest of my day was to be spent in travelling down the Llŷn Penninsula to the fishing hamlet of Porthdinllaen near Morfa Nefyn. The peninsula was uncharted territory for me so I set the GPS and headed out. It was beautiful. On the best parts of the drive, there was no place to pull over and snap pictures. In one area, 10-foot rock walls lined a barely two-car, winding road with no shoulder (no-shoulder roads are the norm here) and the trees on both sides formed a canopy. At one point, wisteria was part of the canopy. No photos. I was well out of the area before there was any place to pull over.

I had planned to eat lunch/dinner at a pub, Ty Goch, that was only reachable by a 20-minute walk to a golf club parking lot and inbetween fairways. (Residents of the hamlet could drive.) Signs warn walkers to keep an eye on golf balls. Not many golfers, which was a surprise. Now having attempted the game I found this astounding …

Water hazard
This is right in front of the tee. (My camera settings were wrong so it came out a bit flashed.)

And this what the golfer sees from the tee.

Golf Moelfre
One golfer’s reaction to the view, “I just don’t want to hit that bloody hole.”

When I made it down to the beach and pub, I was too late for a meal (website said until 4:30; it was 2:30, evidently it was still considered the low season) and the narrow strip of beach by the pub was packed.

Ty Coch
The crowd was around the pub. The rest of the beach had much fewer people.

I wandered down the beach and a fishing boat was being unloaded. To do this they had to take a motorized raft to the boat, load the raft, bring in the cargo and unload.

Going out


It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place.


A Day in the mountains

Start of the Miners’ Track and so named because of the copper mining. The entrance gate was designed to represent the trail and the mountain scenery.
Starting out
The sun was breaking through the clouds when we started.

Today was hiking one of the trails that lead to the Snowdon summit. The summit wasn’t our goal, walking and experiencing the scenery was.

We got a late start waiting for Catherine’s friend, Jem who was coming up from southern England. The rain stayed away (for the first time in 3 days), although the clouds hung around. I took the gate shot at the end, but it does show where we started from.


Waterfalls fed into the glacial lakes.
Copper crushing
Looking back on the trail. The ruins are part of a copper crushing station.
Stopping point
The large boulder trail marked were the trail took a definite angle higher. We took the trail to the next curve and called it quits. The trail curve to the right then to the left. Just off center to the left, shrouded in a dropping fog is Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).
Heading back
Heading back to the car park. The structure to the right is a remnant of the copper mining operation in the 1800s.
Llyn Llydaw
Looking over Llŷn Llydaw. The setting sun is setting a light on a distant mountain.

Back at the apartment, we gathered for a taco party at my place and talked about the state of the world. If I ever moved here, I would have to learn how to make tortillas and make my own salsa. The only available “Mexican” products were Old El Paso, which hardly match the homemade tortillas and salsa choices in San Antonio.





What is that bright stuff?

Menai Bridge
Menai Bridge done by Thomas Telford. Buses have to slow down to a crawl to pass through the standards.

About noon I saw the clouds breaking up over Anglesey — even saw some blue sky. A trip to the Isle of Anglesey was the plan. A system of coastal walks cover the entire coast of the island, so I randomly picked a small town called Moelfre on the north coast. Once I crossed the Menai Bridge, the world brightened considerably.

I was hungry and stopped at Ann’s Pantry.


The lamb burger was wonderfully moist, the fries crisp and soft inside, and the salad tasty.

Ann's Pantry
Lamb burger with raisin and apple chutney, crisp fries and mixed salad. Yum!

A walk was next. I followed the coastline.

As I started the walk, I had to turn around and shoot what I was leaving. Ann’s is on the left and my car is second from the left.
Bunnies were out in force munching the green grass — and it was this green. The first part of the trail was passing by some healthy backyards.
Lifeboat station
So far the trail is wide and relatively dry as I come on the Lifeboat station. It has motorized rafts and larger tug-sized boat with an all volunteer force.
Fishermen's houses
The trail although still defined gets a little narrower as it passes by the fishermen’s cottages, which are now self-catering holiday homes.
Old rock
By this time a soft rain is falling and the wind picks up. The trail is a one person path and although muddy has a gravel laid in to make it less slippery. The trail rises to follow the rising cliffs.
I’ve been to the ocean a number of times and these were unfamiliar. Eurasian oystercatchers. They kept turning their backs to me.
More cliffs
The rain is still soft, but more … Trail is muddier but still solid. Have to step up and down off rocks. One man goes past and grumbles, “12 minutes of sunshine.” I’m not ready to quit and continue on past those building at the top and stop at the kissing gate, where the trail descends to a rocky beach, contemplating whether I want to continue. A man comes up the steps slightly out of breath, rosy faced. “Not sure I want to try that,” I said. He says, “It’s not that bad. I hate this rain.” So I started down. Halfway down my foot caught just mud and I went splat — mud butt. That was enough.

I went home, burnt a scone in the microwave and had a little tea.

Tomorrow: Snowdon walk, even if it rains. Although Sally and I may head back to the cafe before her daughter and friend do.


The sun lost its battle with wind and rain

Finally someone has art brushes in Bangor.

Nothing exciting here. Just a brief glimpse of the sun, but mostly rain, wind and gray skies. It’s supposed to clear up in a couple of days. No trip into the mountains – nothing to see but fog.

It’s been a soft rain. One where you don’t feel like it’s worth the effort to put the rain hood up and then be surprised at how wet your hair is.

I did find a gallery in Bangor that had brushes and had a lovely talk with a young artist whose art was interesting, so much so that I may bring a piece back.

Oh, and I slipped on a slate walkway and went down on one knee. No hiking for me.

But that is only interesting to me, so I’m going to cut this short. An older man with a cane was letting me and another woman by on a narrow Bangor sidewalk. As we passed by, he said, “I’m just afraid I’ll fall down and get ticketed for littering.”