A World Turned Upside Down pt 30. (A Welsh Adventure Part 3.)

Us, at Bala Lake

Day 7. (Thursday). What a curious pub, the Bryn arms is a strange mix, a new building, but the interior decor screams 1970’s at you.

We had some good news this morning, one of the campsites we had been chasing came back to us, so we were now booked in for three nights at Pen y Bont touring park Bala, brilliant, we could now run in front of the storm and head for Lake Bala.

So off we went, we decided on the longer but lower route as we didn’t fancy going up the A4124 which climbs up to 400m before dropping into Bala. We drove alongside Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid), and stopped to look at the view!

Bala Lake in the rain!

We had another half hour stop at the end nearest the town, the idea was to have a look at the lake and let Rhubarb have a run, but as the rain was coming sideways straight down the lake, we didn’t, we stayed in the van. it’s important to remember where we were parked in the initial photo – you’ll see why later!

We headed to the campsite, and got set up, when the rain settled we had a wander into Y Bala, a ten minute walk from the site, with lake views along the way.

Day 8. Friday. The weather was much better today, so we set off for a walk, following the track by the campsite, along the Cross Britain Way. We passed through the grounds of Bala Lakeside Hotel, once open to the general public, but now owned by the John Lewis Partnership, and exclusive for their use.

We left the Cross Britain Way and picked up the forest tracks through Cefn- ddwygraig, up over Mynydd Cefn-ddwy-graig, dropping down to Rhos-y- gwaliu and picking up the road back to Bala. All in all a nice 4.5 mile circular with a variety of woodland and moorland paths.

Looking back towards Bala Lake.

After a brew back at the van we went for a walk alongside the top of the lake, the next picture shows Rhubarb in the lake, but more interestingly we were parked along side the grass patches, when we first got to Bala, ( in the first photo), that are now under water – I guess the lake is filling up!

Bala Lake flooding the car park.

Day 9. Saturday – the weather forecast was duff, so we booked onto the Bala Lake railway, a narrow gauge railway running the length of the lake from Bala to Llanuwchylln, unfortunately I got confused by the Welsh names, and only booked tickets to Llangower, which meant we had to walk two miles to the station at the end of the line, in order to catch the train back to Bala, and pay extra for the single to Llangower – it worked out ok in the end, although I wasn’t too popular with Nikki for a while when we realised I had booked the wrong tickets! The railway is run by volunteers, and the majority of the engines used today have all worked in the Welsh slate quarries.

Rhubarb and Nikki on the train.

We popped back into Bala to top up supplies before settling for the evening, as tomorrow we are on the road again.

A World Turned Upside Down Pt 29 (A Welsh Adventure Pt 2).

Traeth Llygwy

Day 3. Sunday, and our first proper campsite, Darfan Rhos, Covid safe, with strict track and trace, and a no visitor on site policy. But very well run, and a lovely spot, our pitch at the back of the site was five minute walk to the beach. And what a beach, Traeth Llygwy, golden sands, and a beach that goes on forever once the tide is out! Rhubarb loved it, so much that she bought most of the beach back to the van attached to her!

Day 4. Monday, and time for a walk, so we set off on the Wales Coast Path towards Moelfre. The path followed the cliff top giving some wonderful views along the coast. The path dropped down into one bay, Porth Heleath, that was full of stone “sculptures”, piles of stones set up on the beach beyond the reach of the sea – I did add one of my own, but the wind had other ideas and quickly blew it over!

Stone Sculptures on the beach

The path climbed back up to the cliff top, and wound its way round the point to the village of Moelfre, with views across to Ynys Moelfre, or “Rat Island” as some locals call it! Moelfre is famous for its lifeboat and wrecks on the rocks, but it has a pub, so we had a pint.

We set back to the campsite across country so we could have a look at The Llygwy Cromlech, a neolithic burial chamber, Din Liygwy, the remains of an Anglo-Saxon defensive settlement, and Capel Llygwy the remains of a medieval church. So a trip through history on the way back! A good day of varied scenery.

Day 5. Tuesday, five days on the road already! Time to move on after two nights at Darfan Rhos, we had to have a look at Paul’s trailer ( Paul looks after the site for the season), his trailer is the type mainly seen in American or on Fairgrounds, it’s huge, the type with two sides that pull out a lounge, separate kitchen and steps up to the bedroom – he gave us a guided tour and is very chuffed with it!

We left the camp site and headed for Caernarfon to stock up on provisions, as it’s payday! Cupboards fully stocked next stop was the Llyn peninsula.

The campsite we had booked turned out to be less than we expected, Pen isa’r lon farm, we booked it as it sounded like “penis” – seemed a good enough reason as any for booking a campsite – the reviews weren’t too bad either. When we arrived we were told we couldn’t get onto one of the touring pitches as the ground was too wet. We were then pointed towards an electric hookup that was essentially on the drive! We decided to go for it as, at the end of the day, we just needed somewhere to park, and to see how it went – we did have a good sea view after all!

We walked along the cliff path (on the Wales Coast path) from Pystyll to Penrhyn Glas overlooking Porth y Nany before heading back on a circular path towards the campsite. We came across a couple who were in front of us, heading back along the path looking worried, they told us there was a bull in the field on the footpath and they daren’t go that way, we checked the map, diverted to the next field, and re joined the path further down. It turned out the Bull was a mother with two calves, still she could have been a bit awkward with the dogs, so all was well. The ‘townies’ were happy with the result and toddled off on their way to ‘Natures Point’ cottages where they were staying. We passed them going into their cottage just as the rain started, so we hurried on along the path back to the van. Later that evening my plan was to capture the sunset as the sun dropped just behind Tryn Porth Dinllaen, the headland jutting out to sea, just as I got the camera set up on my tripod, the sky turned very dark, the wind picked up and my tripod blew over – a sudden squall whipped in with vicious winds, sideways rain, and lightning out at sea. I grabbed my gear and ran back to the van, hanging onto the door as the wind whipped it open! Once safe inside we sat and watched the storm pass with the winds battering the van. We had a bit of a rough night in our exposed driveway, as the wind was coming straight off the sea and smashing side on to the van, rocking it from side to side!

Day 6. Wednesday. The weather was looking a bit kinder today so we set off on the cliff path to Nefyn. The walk was good with views across the bay, Nefyn looked a bit tired and run down, but the walk down to the beach was worth it.

View from the path towards Nefyn
Porth Nefyn

The walk back to Pystyll was on the same part of the Wales Coast Path, but with views in the opposite direction, so that was nice!

we decided during the walk on a change of plan – we were going to stay at a campsite near Aberdaron on the bottom of the peninsula, but 50 to 60 mile an hour gusts were forecast, so we decided to forfeit the £20 deposit on the campsite and head inland that evening to try and avoid the storm. We found a Brit Stop at the Bryn Arms, Gellilydan that had could accommodate us overnight in their car park, so we headed there to spend the night nestled in the shadow of Trawsfyndd nuclear power station.

A World Turned Upside Down Pt28. ( A Welsh Adventure part 1)

Sunset at Penmon Point

Day 1. Work is out of the way, the van is packed and ready. We’re on the road, it’s time for our autumnal road trip, and this year we are going west, to North Wales. To break the journey we are having a “Brit Stop” at the Huntsman pub near Holmfirth, on the edge of Saddleworth moor. A nice pub with comfy chairs, and if the inclination takes you, clay pigeon shooting in a Sunday.

Day 2. Off to Wales, ok so we got a little lost in Manchester, but we did see some of Trafford, and realised how lucky we are as once in the Greater Manchester area there is nothing but “urban” fir miles. It’s easy to see how some people never venture into the countryside.

We entered Wales with a fanfare, well we would have done if we’d had a brass section in the van with us! We stopped at Asda in Flint, ‘cause Flint has a Castle and James lived there.

Flint Castle

We then picked up the coast road passing through Prestatyn and Rhyl both bog standard seaside towns, run down full of chip shops and amusement arcades – nothing to write home about, we were looking for somewhere nice to stop for some lunch, perhaps with a sea view – no such luck, the road seems designed to keep you moving, although keeping moving is probably best in theses towns.

The scenery improved when we got to Conwy, although we only had a brief stop there. We were planning on a Brit stop at a pub inland from Conwy, but on ringing them, disaster struck – they were fully booked with no room for any more vans. This was a bit of an issue as we were booked onto a campsite on Anglesey on Sunday, but now had nowhere to stay tonight. We frantically rang around places but with no luck, everywhere was full, then inspiration struck, I remembered reading about Penmon Point and vans being able to stay over on the point after paying a toll. A quick Google to check, a bit of persuading Nikki it was a good idea, ( who was getting quite disheartened at this point), and off we went.

On arriving at Penmon Abbey, you pay a toll of £10 to use the road ( per day) and can then stop overnight on the point. What a wonderful spot, the weather was perfect, the sea like a mill pond, the beach perfect, and we found a good spot to park. We had an amazing peaceful night there, watching the sunset and Dolphins playing just off the beach – just perfect!

David and Nikki at Penmon Point
Sunset at Penmon Point

The next morning, Sunday, after a wander on the beach, we reluctantly left the point, paid out £10 toll for using the road that day, and headed for Beaumaris, just along the coast.

Penmon Point with a rock sculpture left to the elements.

Beaumaris has a castle that never got finished – I guess it’s a job for DIY sos! A pier that seems to be a haven for crab fishing, and some nice shops to wander round, there was also a craft market on while we were there, which was a bonus. We had lunch back at the van while watching a classic car rally, that had stopped off in the car park, leave the town on its way to the next stop somewhere on the mainland. While we set off for our first campsite of our road trip.

A World Turned Upside Down Pt 27

Holy Moly and The Crackers

So COVID restrictions have been eased way back, the wearing of masks in shops and other public places is no longer recommended. (Although actively encouraged in some areas). And interestingly, as these restrictions are lifted, the number of COVID cases rises, and hospital admissions rise – so much that provisions are being made in the hospitals where I work for extra COVID beds.

So, as things open up gigs etc are starting, we’ve been to a couple of small open air festivals with no problems. The other weekend was spent at Cottingham Folk Festival, an indoor festival in my local village, and very good it was too, and then we went to Northern Kin festival up near Durham.

It’s good to be able to do stuff like gigs and theatres again, but there is always that worry at the back of your mind that you could get Covid. At least having been through the Covid mill I can say getting vaccinated works, and any symptoms are much reduced. So go get vaccinated if you haven’t already, it really does make sense.

There is talk of re-deploying workers in our hospital again if the current bed situation worsens, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that we have enough projects on the go to keep us on our toes, or we get pulled into the Vaccination clinic to deliver boosters – I’m happy to admit I’m too old for the wards these days, and would be knackered doing 12 hr shifts!

So keep safe everyone, we may be on a downward curve, so fingers crossed.

A World Turned Upside Down Pt. 26

Jake Martin – Cottingham Civic Hall

It’s been a while since I last posted, the world has continued to turn on it’s axis, continued to warm up with record temperatures in America, COVID continues to run amok across the globe, and England football team lost on penalties once again (I do like a bit of continuity).

Sadly it would seem that COVID continues to be a problem, the Delta variant would seem to be on the rise, with infection rates going up, and hospital admissions starting to increase again. Monday is Boris’s “Freedom Day”, the day when we can throw away our masks, and run about hugging each other, is this thus going to be the day that sparks a massive increase in the infection rates?, sadly I feel it may be. Only time will tell.

Why do I think the rates will go up? It’s simple, people will relax, despite the official advice of caution, despite the advice from the Medics, people will argue the toss and refuse to wear masks on public transport, in shops and pubs, because Boris said it’s ok. Would they leap off a cliff if Boris said it was safe to do so? Sadly I fear some would!

I’m going to confidently predict a third wave, hospitals once again having to make provision for an influx of COVID patients, and routine surgery postponed once again, maybe even resulting in the Government being forced to introduce a further lockdown (although they will go out of their way to avoid this, at least until the NHS is in danger of being overwhelmed). There are already signs of this happening. I feel caution is they way forward, no great fanfares of freedom, people encouraged to act sensibly and still wear masks in closed public spaces. Although sadly, as proved at Wembley last weekend, the Great British Public is unlikely to be sensible, and is more likely to complain bitterly, get pissed, refuse to wear mask, turn off the track and trace app, and blindly run about hugging each other with glee.

I hope I’m proved wrong!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Hugs, I thrive on Human contact, this last year and a half have been most curious times, I can’t wait for normality to be back, I just feel normality should be back at the right time.

So, onwards and upwards folks, we’re going to a socially distanced festival next weekend – I’m looking forward to meeting up with various members of my lovely festival family, but I don’t feel I’m ready for bigger gigs yet. The picture at the start was taking at a socially distanced gig, with everyone sitting in their bubble and table service for drinks – it worked well. In fact I’m quite liking the table service at gigs and in pubs, I’ll be sad to see that go!

Right I’m done for now, so fingers crossed for “freedom day” lest hope everyone is more sensible than our beloved leaders ( who are currently self isolating due to a COVID positive test on Sajid Javid the health secretary !).

A World Turned Upside Down pt 25

It’s been a year since Covid 19 reared it’s head in the Uk, and pushed the country into the first lockdown, a year that has changed the world, and changed how we behave and interact as humans.

We now habitually wear masks when indoors in public places, we make a huge effort to stay away from each other, avoiding contact as much as possible as we walk down the street. As a social being I find this part quite difficult, others of course may welcome this separation from their fellow humans, but I thrive on physical contact, I welcome hugs with open arms!!

Wearing masks hides facial expression, another major form of communication, if I had 10pence for every time I have smiled at someone as I pass them in the corridor at work, only to remember I’m wearing a mask and my smile can’t be seen, I would be a rich man! As long as you are all aware, I am smiling behind the mask!

There are indications that some level of normality could be achieved in the near future, summer festivals tentatively getting ready to go ahead, pubs and shops opening up, UK holidays starting. Let’s just hope that as a population we take it steady and don’t dive in too quick, things could still quickly turn around, this virus is very unpredictable in how it behaves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to meeting all my wonderful “festival family” in the summer fields, and dancing like a loon! I’m not too bothered about going abroad, there is plenty of lovely parts of the UK I have yet to see, and people to meet. There are still problems in Europe with the virus slipping into a third wave, whether this is due to them getting behind with the vaccination or due to a virus variant it’s difficult to tell, personally I wouldn’t be too quick to run to the sun.

Anyway folks, it’s been a funny old year since Boris and his cronies announced the first lockdown, let’s be thankful we are all still here, and raise a glass to those we miss. Crack on folks, spring is officially here, it’ll be summer before we know it, hot sunny days in the garden with a book and a beer, hopefully meeting (socially distanced) with friends.

Keep on trucking, we’ll get through these weird times and look back on them in our old age!

Stay safe guys, see you soon!

A World Turned Upside Down pt 24.

Oh dear, what a mess! Yes we’ve got a vaccine, and we’re cracking n with delivering it – the hub I work in has vaccinated over 10,000 people, that’s quite good. We are concentrating on the first dose, with a ten week gap until the booster – I can see the logic behind this, but going against the manufacturers guidelines, is that a good thing? We’ll have to wait and see.

But, and it’s a big but, we are rapidly closing in on 100,000 deaths. 100,000 deaths on an island! 100,000 deaths that could have been a much lower number if we had quickly, efficiently, and forcefully closed our borders, introduced an efficient track and trace system, and closed down the borders much much quicker. And that’s not mentioning the madness of “eat out to help out”, or should that be “eat out to spread it about”!

Have the government made mistakes in controlling the virus ( in favour of keeping the economy running for the fat cats). I think they have, just look at how New Zealand quickly got to grips with the virus – a great example of how things should have been done. Should there be an enquiry, should the government be held to account for their mistakes? I would like to think so, but in reality………

At least we have the vaccine and that gives a glimmer of hope on the horizon, so let’s grasp the opportunity with both hands, get vaccinated when your opportunity arises, and let’s together get the virus controlled and a semblance of reality back.

So carry on folks, stay safe, stay healthy, and look after one another. We can win this fight, and when we have normality back, I have a whole pack of hugs to deliver – so get in line!!!

A World Turned Upside Down Pt 23

Phew – that’s been an interesting year!

Well, it’s Christmas Eve, who’d have thought last Christmas that for almost a full year the country ( world?) would have been brought to its knees by a bug? At least we now have the vaccination, and as this rolls out we can look forward to a return to some sort of normality, whether that will be the normal we were all used to, we’ll have to wait and see.

Right enough of the doom and gloom, let’s look for some positives!

From my point of view, my family bubble ( 7 adults in our house since the March lockdown) have ( fingers crossed) managed to remain virus free. ( And that’s with three NHS workers), so that’s a plus. We’ve managed to see some live music, thanks to some careful planning by the independent promoters – Wroot Rocks, Screaming Tarts, and Hull Adelphi / Fast and Boublous crew. We’ve also managed a couple of holidays in the van, which was nice. We’ve been lucky as we have still been working through all of this, my thoughts and best wished go out to those who have struggled this year.

Work wise I am currently busy delivering the Covid Vaccine at our vaccination hub at Castle Hill Hospital. I have a feeling I will be wearing two hats at work for a while, fitting in my Digital Nurse role around my vaccinating shifts. The Covid wards are still busy looking after poorly patients, in our trust we have around 150 Covid positive inpatients, so please ignore the deniers, it is real and still causing people to be seriously ill. Carry on with the social distancing and wearing face coverings, and we will get through this.

I know some of you will be quite frustrated by the restrictions placed on us by the government guidance, (especially at this time of the year), but please be patient and follow the rules, if we all play the game we will get the infection rates down much quicker.

Anyway, enough doom and gloom, as I said before, happy Christmas, happy yule. Enjoy your celebrations, however you celebrate the turning of the year, and we’ll all meet up in the fields soon for a party when all this is over!

A World Turned Upside Down pt 22

This beautiful old Oak stands in the grounds of Castle Hill Hospital, quietly, sedately, measuring the passing of time in the changing of the seasons, regardless of what is going on around it, it just gets on with life – I feel there is a lesson to be learnt there!

The last time I wrote, a month ago, I was in Norfolk, escaping for a few days, with the second wave of Covid was just starting to appear. It’s a different story now, here in Hull and East Yorkshire we have one of the highest Covid infection rates in the country ( we also seem to have our fair share of Covid deniers and members of the anti- mask brigade, which I’m sure hasn’t helped.). The local NHS trust continues to escalate their plans to cope as the numbers of Covid positive patients rapidly increases, opening more wards for infected patients and having to stop routine surgical admissions. The picture in the hospital changes from day to day. While the deniers happily witter on about government plots to control the population – don’t you just love ‘em!

So we find ourselves back in a lockdown situation, although this feels less of a lockdown than last time, the roads are busy compared to the last lockdown, there feels like more shops open, and more people out and about this time round. Still at least the pubs an restaurants are closed, and people are not allowed to gather in groups from outside their household, so that should be of some help in reducing the infection rates. Hopefully!

Autumn is already in full swing, and the end of the year rapidly approaching, it’s been a strange one so far! But we can go for walks and appreciate the things around us, the wonderful colourful trees, the autumn fruits, the birds and beasties fattening themselves up for winter – nature carries on all around us, even in these worrying times, so enjoy what you can see around you, there’s plenty to be positive about!

The Christmas lights are on in Cottingham village, they’ve been turned on early to cheer everyone up, normally I’d say “not before December”, but this year, go for it!! It’s certainly had an effect as there are a lot of families walking round the village after sunset ( all socially distancing), enjoying the lights, which is nice.

So there you have it, we’re properly upside down again! But roll with it folks, there is a clearer future as a vaccine is not too far off being delivered, which is a good thing. Forget the conspiracy theories, the vaccine will help to reduce the effectiveness of the virus, protecting the vulnerable in our society, and allowing us to get back to normal, which would be nice. Even those who believe in herd immunity have to accept this can only be achieved fully with an effective vaccination program.

Stay safe out there folks, we have a lot of partying in various fields to catch up on next year, so hang on in there!

Blessings and hugs to all of you xxx

A World Turned Upside Down Pt 21

The Beach near Dunwich

The weather at West Runton remained duff, so we went to visit the Shire Horse Centre in the village, we did manage to come back without one, which was a plus!

Onwards once more, as the lockdown areas extend – but this is ok, as these are local lockdowns organised by the local council / health authority, and as such obviously can’t be blamed on the Government. In fact better still, Boris can blame the locals in each area, in particular the Youth for the spread of the virus, obviously!

We are travelling further south, heading down the coast via Southwold. Southwold has a pier and some beach huts, and a beach when the tide is out, but much to Rhubarbs discust dogs aren’t allowed on the beach till the 1st of October, which when we were there happened to be the next day!

Our next camping spot is near Dunwich, a small village on the coast who’s claim to fame seems to be that there was a Franciscan Friary here, and they had a special cottage by the sea where the Lepers stayed, so that’s nice! Dunwich is a nice spot with a nice pub, so that’s good.

The campsite we are staying at has access on to the beach, much to Rhubarb’s delight, and has a nice walk across some lovely heathland to Minsmere RSPB reserve, where “Springwatch” / “Autumn Watch” is often filmed, we had a wonder round the reserve and saw some ducks, pheasants, and a Heron, but the Bitterns were apparently hiding and refused to be seen!