Saying goodbye

Dolbadarn from a different angle

Today I left Llanberis for Dublin on my way back to San Antonio. I’m already homesick. Except that I kept dropping things and left my debit/credit card in the reader (I got it back), the trip back was uneventful.

In Dublin, the Holiday Inn Express has nice rooms (my only complaint . . . no outlet in the bathroom), and it’s a fairly new hotel near a large park. So, I took a nice long walk. With a free shuttle to the airport it meant my one night needs.

I have a few things I’ve learned this trip:

* Never schedule a vacation over a holiday, in this case, Easter.

* I simply cannot pronounce Rhiw unless I here someone say it and I repeat it 10 times. And I still make people laugh with my pronunciations. (I do a decent job at the ll and ch sounds — at least I don’t get laughed at. Pwllheli was quite difficult. “W” is sort of an “oo” sound and when combined with “ll” near impossible.)

* I’m quite competent handling one-track roads, roundabouts and understanding the traffic signage.

* It’s worth the extra cost getting a car with automatic rather than standard driving.

* 4-lane highways are 70 unless other wise designated. There are no signs to tell you this.

* Lighted streets are 40 unless designated as 30, or 20 for a school zone. Usually there is one sign indicating the change, rarely any more warnings.

* There may be a lighted warning of the speed camera reminding you to slow down. (On the pavement is huge 2 line letters “ARAF SLOW” just before the reduced speed sign.)

* Two-lane/country roads are 60. Except where designated slower. This is also not posted.

* For traffic speed violations you may be stopped by a patrol, but more than likely it will show up on your rental charges without you knowing is was caught on camera.

* Coming across a traffic sign warning me there were “No more cats eyes.” Had me stumped. So I looked it up once I quite driving and had a WiFi connection: Cats eyes are the lighted reflectors on the dividing line in the road.

* Clamping (a sign near a parking lot) is locking the wheels for a parking violation.

There’s more, but they slip my mind.


Inside Snowdonia

Slept in today. Didn’t realized I was so exhausted (two cider half pints weren’t helpful).

At 11 I was up and looking for a place to have breakfast since I missed the Inn’s. Every place was packed with hikers who weren’t hiking because of the rain. I walked the length of High Street and decided to just take a longer walk.

Dolbadarn Castle still guards the pass.

I went by my castle. It was rainy and overcast, but the gorse was blooming and everything was so green.

The slate fence was for the park’s aesthetic. It wasn’t meant to keep anything in or out.

You can walk the entire perimeter of Llyn (lake) Padarn. I didn’t, but I enjoyed the bit I walked even as it drizzled.

I ended the walk at the craft center cafe near the Inn where I was staying. I grabbed a snack — tea, Welsh cakes and a slice of bara brith. The cafe had few patrons, probably because it was a bit more expensive.

I had not made any specific travel plans, so I decided to go to Rachub to see if Sally was home. She was and we had tea (of course) and talk. We talked some about her daughter Catherine’s plans to come to Bandera in September for a couple of days. I’m looking forward to playing tour guide.

When we parted, I had to figure out what to do with my last day in Wales. Beddgelert was where I had initially wanted to go yesterday, so to Beddgelert deep in Snowdonia I went.

Even with the overcast, rainy weather, the colors were bright on the way to Beddgelert

It was a beautiful drive even if I didn’t get to visit the town except to drive through. Again, no parking. Even though I was hungry, I did not want to park a mile out of town and walk back.

About three miles out of Beddgelert, I actually found parking at the Red Dragon Holidays, which had a cafe and I ordered this:

Lamb burger with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce, accompanied by crispy chunky fries. The catsup in the tomato container is homemade. And an elderflower drink. Yum!

The coffee chocolate sponge cake slice I took back to Llanberis for later was delicious.

The drive to and from Beddgelert was along the side of the mountains and squeezed to a narrow lane and maybe a half. Driving was a little tense in some areas, but the scenery was incredible. Occasionally there was parking on the side of the road and a few parking areas. Usually these were use daily by hikers to park and hike on the paths indicated by the numerous walking person signs.

This needs to be huge to give the impact of actually being there. I am standing at the head of a trail that goes to the gorse (the yellow) and heads downward. Where the mountain on the left dips down, Beddgelert is at the bottom.

Tomorrow it’s back to the ferry, Dublin and home . . . work.




Chocolate and one-track roads

Gourmet chocolate

First stop after leaving Bryn Moel — Chocolate! And a little lunch in Pentrefoelas at the Chocolate Shop and Tea Room. While I had a simple toasted ham tomato and onion sandwich, I explored my travel options for the day. SI had two options and decided to take the one to Beddgelert.

I promptly got lost. The road was well paved, a track and a half and generally in the right direction. So I decided to have an adventure. The scenery was incredible and included traveling over national trust land.

The road to the quaint, coastal towns was a generous two-lane.

In Llan Festiniog and I found the road to the Llyn Pennisula, and took it. And so was everyone else. Passing through some of the quaint, popular seaside villages of Porthmadog, Criccieth, Pwllheli and Abersoch, there was nowhere to park. I had to dodge cars and people. In Cricceth, a castle ruin overlooks the village from a large hill that juts out in the sea. Awesome sight. No photo, just a memory.

Narrow, no-shoulder road after Abersoch.

After Abersoch, the roads squeezed to one track most of the way to Rhiw. I lost my way and was heading to the ocean. Got turned around then stopped at a busy pub for a nature break and directions.  I got a half pint of cider and met a delightful young woman who helped me out.

Her English was a bit hard to follow because of her heavy Welsh accent and she told me her first language is Welsh. She’s also fluent in French and learning Spanish.

I made it to Rhiw and knowing my time was short moved to the overlook to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) on more one track roads.

Ynys Enlli is the first site of the early Celtic Christian church. St. Cadfan established Wales first religious house there in the 6th century.

After Ynys Enlli, it was getting to Llanberis so I could check in to  y Gwynedd and have dinner. The room is tiny but comfortable. I went into the pub to have dinner and a man had his friendly dog at the bar and another man in a wheel chair had his non-service dog with him. I had an interesting talk with A pool player. He had been to Austin and related a tale of him being singled out by a drunk at 3 a.m. on 6th Street as an Arab and was told to go home. Said he went up the the guy, introduced himself as Ed Porter from London. The guy backed off after hearing the strong accent. We discussed Mexican food, barbecue, travelling alone (he was with his girlfriend), climbing Snowdon, why I didn’t choose to visit London and blogging.  All this talk started from him wanting to move the chair at my table to make a pool shot. With little juice in my iPad and my cider gone, I left for bed.

Starting back to Llanberis

Stanley cooker

I’m not a vegetarian, but Tim and Janette are. So my evening was vegetarian at Bryn Moel. It’s been quite interesting and surprisingly good food.

Some time ago, Tim decided that he didn’t like the way pigs were slaughtered at the time and decided to eat vegetarian. Janette thought it was a good idea. Laws have changed since then in the U.K. and slaughter follows strict humane guidelines. They remained vegetarians.

I wanted to contribute to an evening meal and made a lentil dish. I cooked on this:

This Stanley is an oil cooker. It serves triple duty for it also heats the house and the hot water

It was a lot of adjusting. The burners really don’t have any controls. First I had to pour boiling water over the rice and lentils (separate pots) then place them on the  burners shown below (both lids had to be open to accommodate the pots). Then everything was mixed in one pot and cooked over the burners.

DSC_0414With Janette’s coaching, I ended up with a decent meal. 

Several days later, noting I needed to use an avocado soon and seeing Janette was having a long day, I told her I’d make a nacho casserole. I went shopping for what she didn’t have and made some quacamole. I put Tortilla chips on the bottom, topped with cheese, then topped with kidney beans, chick peas and refried beans. Then I repeated the layers, topped that with salsa and crushed tortillas. Stuck all that in the oven. And just had to wait until the cheese had melted. Came out quite tasty.

I don’t know how she does it, but she bakes pretty tasty cakes in that oven. The oven has some temperature control, but not real precise. I guess it’s all what you get use to.


Last day at Bryn Moel

Security crew at Bryn Moel

I didn’t take my camera to the barn when I went to work in the morning, so nothing to record the six+ wheelbarrows of muck taken from the stalls and dumped, the leftover haylage (fermented hay) I took  from the stalls to a nearby pasture, the sweeping and raking done in the front yard, the setting up the stalls for the evening with haylage and feed, which is what I have been doing in the mornings 8-noon. There are usually two of us and today — my last day — Tim was the second person. Francine, a local young woman, has been the usual second person, but was off. She is getting ready to go to university and study to be a veterinarian and has been riding with Tim for years.

Francine worked chores to pay for her riding time and lessons, Here she is riding Dreamy who has competed successfully in the European western competitions.

I have enjoyed watching Cowboy Tim teach people and horses after the work is done. So for the past five days I’ve not left the place except to make a wine and nacho run, and to attend a concert in Llangollen. The nacho run was to picking up what I needed to make a nacho casserole. More on cooking in a separate entry.

Cowboy Tim doesn’t have his cowboy hat on, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t stopped trying to convince Cath to ride her 17.2 Irish draught cross in a western saddle.

I’ve even ridden a tiny bit, twice. Basically I have gotten on the offered horse and walked, did some turns, tried trotting. Felt like I was back in novice class. Both horses were light and respond well to leg pressure.

Thursday, Cowboy Tim had Lydia riding her thoroughbred without a bridle. Her horse Inca came in with dangerous horse syndrome: rearing, bucking, coming at people. It’s a long story about what was going on with him, but in short, Inca had back pain from what was diagnosed as a kissing spine. The memory of that pain and his reaction is what Tim has worked him through, to the point that Lydia was riding him at a walk, trot, canter with no bridle. (And Tim has her riding on a western saddle.)

Cowboy Tim with hat helps Lydia with the leg commands on the different stages of opening and closing a gate.

I did some of my work on Inca and gave Lydia a lesson on some things she can do and was rewarded with a bottle of pink moscato set on my doorstep 2 days later. It’s not bad for a sweet wine.

Last night I went with Tim to a concert of junior high/high school aged students from four counties. It was a performance of a Cerddorfa Linynnol (string orchestra) and a Cerddorfa Chwyth (wind orchestra). Incredible music and display of talent. Aunt Pam (of the trip to Tywyn and shetlands) was there; it was her grandson performing in the string orchestra. Afterwards I experienced Mr. Taod’s wild ride, when Tim decided to take a different route home on a curvy, one track road running on the side of a high hill. And he drives fast. But I’m still in one piece.

So tomorrow, it’s clean the apartment and head out to Pentrefoelas for chocolate.



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 all over 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 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 truck, big duallies 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.