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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 …
And this what the golfer sees from the tee.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A walk was next. I followed the coastline.
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.
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.”