Category: Travelling

A Drive Out

M and I decided to go out for the day since the weather was going to be good. Originally we were going to go to Hebden Bridge, but after seeing the forecast of rain, we drove south-west and over the border into Wales. We first went to Betws-y-coed and had a short walk there before driving through Snowdonia National Park through the mountains and then on to Bala Lake. There is a cafe on the lake where we had coffee and bara brith, and I chatted to an old guy called Dave, who was doing the rounds chatting to everyone there, he was nice, although a little potty and latched on to us after he asked if we were local, and I told him that my family come from Rhuthun. I let the dogs go for a paddle in the lake which is always a big thing for Mazikeen as she heads for ay body of water to swim in.

After that, we headed for the Great Orme where St Tudno’s church is. Saint Tudno is said to have been one of the seven sons of King Seithenyn, whose legendary kingdom Cantref y Gwaelod in Cardigan Bay was submerged by tidal activity. According to the theory, Tudno studied at St. Dunawd’s college in the monastery of Bangor Iscoed, in order to make recompense for the drunken incompetence of his father, which had led to the loss of the kingdom under the waves.

Seeking a place to live out the religious life, Tudno went to the great ancient limestone outcrop of the Great Orme (Cyngreawdr), jutting from the Creuddyn Peninsula, to bring the message of Christianity to its people. He lived initially as a hermit in a small coastal cave with difficult access known as Ogof Llech, which provided protection from the elements, and a source of fresh water from a spring well Fynnon Llech. From this base, he constructed a church. Nothing remains of this 6th-century church building, although the present 12th-century church, dedicated to St Tudno, stands on the same site, and has a continuous history.

It was a lovely day out covering over 250 miles (I love to drive about), nice vistas, food and people.

St Tudno’s Church Outdoor Alta
Inside the 12th Century Church – Church closed when we were there, this image is care of http://www.greatorme.org.uk/
Dolfechan, the Curates glebe farm house within the grounds of St Tudno’s
One of the oddest gravestones we have come across
Where the tree lies is a lady sleeping on the grave
The sleeping lady
Me watching the girls paddle in Bala Lake
M and me with a backdrop of the Irish sea beyond the cliff face

Prague

Back in February M and I went to Prague for a few nights. I have meant to post about it, but every time I went to I got distracted. Anyway, it was a present from a friend for my 50th Birthday. Part of me didn’t want to go as I just didn’t want to leave the dogs in the kennels. Not that there is any problem with the kennels as Barbara and Peter are really nice and good with the dogs, but Mazikeen can be a funny bugger when it comes to eating, and we tend to have to coax her into eating. Harper, on the other hand, will hoover any food about without a thought, as most dogs do.

Our flight out was at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and flights were starting to be grounded. As we watched the departure boards more and more flights were grounded, Paris, Madrid, Milan, Hamburg, Brussels, Malaga, Lisbon, and on and on it went. More and more people looked disappointed and one by one left the terminal bar. In the end, our flight along with Amsterdam and a couple of other places were the only 4 left. Not that that was easy, as we were delayed for an hour and a half. As we had transport booked from the airport to our hotel I had to call them in Prague to explain what was going on. Once we boarded the captain said that he would try his best to make up for the lost time in the flight which he did, and we arrived only 45 minutes after the original landing time. However, once we retrieved our bags the taxi company called me to berate me for being late. WTF! I shouted back at him telling that I had called to say that the flights were delayed and his company said that they knew about it and would track the flights and it was not a problem. What an arse hole he was. We were introduced to our driver and whisked to the hotel which was another 40 minutes, and at no point did he talk apart from asking if we minded if he put music on. We didn’t mind and was completely amused at his choice. It was like a mixture of Klesma, rap and folk, quite a different sound. It must be what the youngsters there are listening to. But I am glad it was not all the factory-made crap that the western music industry spews out day in day out.

We stayed at the Grandior which was fabulous. Our room was enormous and I could have fit all three of our double bedrooms into it. There was a beer spar and a casino, but as I do not gamble the casino was of no interest, however, the beer spa was, but as we were only there for a few days I wanted to explore the sights and go out for nice meals than sit in a bath and drink beer, although Czech beer is really nice, then again so it Czech red wine.

We visited many places including the castle, Jewish quarter which included a lot of synagogues, and wandered about taking it all in. The hotel was a short walk from the old town square which depending which way we went took us through some really nice streets with old trams running through them.

We went to a lovely restaurant, Beefhouse Grill & Bar for my “birthday meal”. It was fantastic. I had for starter beefhouse tartare and my main was a 400g Veal T-bone steak with fries, grilled vegetables and champignons. Needless to say, it was quite a lot to eat and I was busting at the seams. We did not have dessert as I could not fit it in, especially after two huge beers.

Prague is a beautiful place, and I will definitely go back there. The weather was mostly nice. However on our first day it went from sunny to cold and rain, driving rain, violent winds and rain, then the sun was out and it was tee shirt weather again. The evenings were cool but not cold which was not their usual weather at the beginning of February, usually down to minus 6 and snow. We did have a little snow the night we left and the aircraft had to be defrosted as the wings were all frozen up, and at this point it was minus 2.

All in all, it was a lovely place to visit, the people were really nice, and the food and drink was excellent. The culture was all around and in all honesty I could have been there for a few weeks exploring the city, and I would have definitely done the beer spa.

Here are a few photos from the trip.

Short Jaunt…

For my 50th, my friend surprised me with a trip to Prague, she paid for a 4-star hotel bed and breakfast, transfers, flights and 20kg bag in the hold. I am not too sure if airlines about the world are as tight fisted as the UK ones, but Ryanair you have to pay for literally everything. Seating used to be free, but now you have to pay for that on top of the flight. Baggage is extra no matter what now, apart from a very small bag that can go under the seat in front of you, no overhead lockers in use now.

So, off to Prague, we go tomorrow (Sunday) for a few days. The dogs have been booked in with the kennels, paid for our seats, booked parking, which is expensive too, and special assistance for M. The special assistance is usually great as we get through the airport in no time as we are escorted to a disabled section, and M is taken in a wheelchair through, so no hard slog walking and I don’t have to push! Not sure on the way back though. Rome was great, Amsterdam was crap, Ireland a dream, so fingers crossed.

We are staying at the Grandior Hotel & Spar in central Prague, and have decided not to plan anything, just go with the flow, so we will not be restricted. I am looking forward to all the food I will admit. I like to try all the foods on offer when in another country, no point sticking to familiar food, we have to live a little, although I doubt it will be as good as the food in Italy, but not as bad as that in Amsterdam, which I thought was really bad, even the burgers, well, apart from Burger King, which was okay.

Since we have a good few hours in the airport, the flight which is only 2:15 I decided to get a new book (why as I have loads not read yet) to while away the hour traveling.

We have decided this will probably be our last foreign jaunt as it really takes its toll on M. We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world with massive changing landscapes, mountains, lakes and so much more, so why not explore our surroundings. Wales is quite literally on our doorstep, we can see the mountains from our beach each day, and to the north, we can see the mountains of the Lake District. A 20-minute drive and we can see the start of the Pennines, so what’s not to love. Also, we can take the dogs with us everywhere we go, not to mention saving a fortune on kennel fees.

This time tomorrow we will be on our way…

6 weeks later…

I keep meaning to do a post, and then something comes up, and later I realise that I didn’t do my post, and think I will do it now, but manage somehow to get myself sidetracked and BOOM! Forgot to post again. I do not know what is going on with me. So, forgive me for my tardiness!

Fish…

Since last we “spoke” as it were, I finally got rid of my large tank in the lounge. Part of me was glad to get rid of it, and part of me was sad to see it go. The fish love their new smaller home and my Cameroon shrimp seems happy too. Although it was a great tank it took up quite a lot of room, being so massive. We have a unit that we moved into one of the halls when we got the tank, so that is now back in the lounge. My thoughts for getting rid of the tank was to move the smaller tank onto the said unit and get another small tank and finally do a nano reef tank. However, the cost of doing a reef tank is high. I have found a nano tank I like which is £150, but then I need a skimmer and a heater so that’s another £90. Add sand, live rock and all the other bits I need to get it started and I am close to £500 without even adding fish or coral. So, before I take the plunge I have downloaded and printed a book on the subject and intend to read it in full before I decided on what to do. Having spoken to a few people the jury really is out. Some say it is easier than tropical, some say get a large tank as a nano can have problems being small, and others rave on about nano tanks, so there is no real help chatting to others LOL.

I bought an external 12-litre canister filter for my other large tank which works like a treat, but today I added on an extra 2-litre filter canister to that. In essence, water is drawn out of the tank to the small sub canister then passed into the large canister and finally put back into the other end of the tank. I did manage to make a bit of a watery mess as I had not fastened one of the inlet pipes properly oops! I had lost a few fish over the last few weeks, so thought the canister filter would help sort the water quality out. It has UV inside so sterilises the water as it filters. The lighting I have on the tank also decided to die, only 6 weeks after it being exchanged after the first one died after 4 months. Thankfully the aquatic centre where I get most of my equipment and livestock were very understanding and spoke to Fluval who admitted there was a problem that they have now sorted out and to exchange it for me.

Dogs…

Harper with her Birthday monkey

It was Harpers 5th Birthday on Sunday. As always we took them to McDonald’s for hamburgers, then to the pet store so Harper could pick a toy, which this year was a rather large monkey, and two packs of balls. Needless to say, they both had a great time.

Knitting…

Thought about it, even mentally made a pattern for a hat for winter, but that was it, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

Books…

I was reading The Massacre of Mankind which is a sequel to War of the Worlds and in the end, I gave up as it was so slow and the author was trying to write in the style of H. G. Wells but failed page after page. As most of my readers will know I love classical literature, so have no problem with ancient writing and old English, but this bad, if he had written it in current English it would have been a good read.

Outings…

I went to a joint Christening and Communion party a few weeks ago, got very drunk and had a ball.

Last week we went to Delamere Forest again, which for some reason driving there we managed to take all the wrong turns. I came off the motorway/highway onto the expressway in order to go over the Mersey Gateway Bridge, which when you get to the end of the expressway is straight over the roundabout, however, when you follow this, you end up in an industrial estate and nowhere near the bridge. It would seem the directions for the bridge do not exist, and when you get to the end of said expressway you turn left and ignore the signs. But as I managed to turn the wrong was we ended up back on the motorway heading in the direction of home. Time though was on our hands. My satnav said we would get there at 11:15 when we left home and although I managed to go on a long diversion of 20 minutes we got there at 11:22 thus proving that time travel can be achieved.

Education…

The degree is now on hold. I was so undecided about doing it that I thought it best to put the thought to one side until I was 100% committed to doing it.

General…

After returning from Ireland I had tests and a cardiac assessment done. My blood results came back reporting a lack of vitamin D, which is about right living so far north and the general lack of sun. But I also did not have enough of the good cholesterol either, but this could be due to coeliacs disease. The doctors’ office suggestion was to take vitamin D tablets and eat more oily fish etc. Luckily I found a company that sells vitamins on Amazon and they do a vitamin D that is 4000iu, and when you buy a product they thank you by letting you pick another one for free. I decided on Hemp oil tablets as they are for omega 3 and 6, so that’s the bloods sorted.

The scarecrow festival came and went, and I managed to take exactly zero photos of it. I mean, what is the point of having a great camera, living in the country, and having festivals if I do not record it? Answers on a postcard, please!

We bought new garden furniture, namely a table, chairs and a parasol, just in time for the monsoon season to hit us. Yes, my luck/timing really is in at the moment.

I have managed to have a few barbeques lately, between showers that is.

I finally took the leap into meditation after dipping my toes off and on into it over the last few weeks. I have joined Headspace for a year, and am finding it quite good and just have to add it into my daily routine.

In other news, I had a puncture in one of the rear tyres on the car.

So, how are you all?

A walk in the park…

We decided to take the dogs to Lurgan Park for a wander around the 56-acre lake this morning. Originally owned Baron Lurgan aka The Brownlow Family is situated next to Brownlow House aka Lurgan Castle. Whilst it was a very pleasant walk, the ground was still saturated from the last three weeks of constant rain. I took a few photos whilst walking. 3km walk.

Yes, that’s my finger bottom right. Doh!
Mazikeen having a rest after the 3km walk, which she ran in circles, so did about 10km

Trip To Ireland

The Ferry on the Mersey with Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in the background.

It’s fathers day, and we are aboard the good ship Mersey sailing to Ireland to see M’s parents. The dogs are with us and are in the onboard kennels. They are not too happy, to be honest, but it is better there than left in the car or left at the boarding kennels back home. I have had my breakfast finally along with a gallon of black coffee, so I am happy. M is in quite an excitable mood, but I think it is because he is going “home” and with that, it’s like watching a kid in a sweet/candy shop with everything for free.

We arrived at the port at 7:30am, and finally boarded at 9:30am. The ship is rolling from side to side so I guess we are off. We have a 4 birth cabin on the main deck which is good for M, no stairs to use, also the dog kennels are on this deck too, so we will be in and out for the next 8 hours checking up on them and walking them on the outer deck where they can go.

Unfortunately, Mazikeen seems to be suffering from disagreeing of one of the treats from last night, so I have had to clear up a few times after her on deck, but, it’s all part of having dogs.

I went a little mad and bought myself some new cologne in the duty-free shop. The lady there was spraying all kinds of fragrances for me to try, but most of them were too sweet smelling. I like dark and moody aromas to my aftershaves, finally, we found one called Spicebomb by Viktor & Rolf. It has notes of cinnamon which is a good start, £20 cheaper than in the shops, bargain.

We have about one and a half hours of sailing left until we dock and I think I have exceeded my calories for a week so far. Apart from a fried breakfast with toast, at lunch, I had fish and chips with mushy peas and tartar sauce and a pint of Pepsi, three black coffees between meals and one white tea after, and now I am sitting in our cabin with a large pot of Jelly Bean Factory beans. I have two bars of liquor chocolate, one Irish gin the other Irish coffee.

Needless to say, I am shattered and the humming of the ship is causing me to want to have another nap. Yes, another one. I had a power nap before and felt worse for it. I don’t know if it is the dryness of the air circulating the ship or I am coming down with a cold, but my throat feels raw, I hope it is the former or my friend Eileen has a lot to answer for LOL.

The Kennels and Excercise Area

I cannot complain about the journey. The restaurant food is all good, there is a bar if one wants alcohol, and a cafe for snacks and soft drinks is excellent. A little expensive though. But, we do have satellite internet, it is slow, almost like having dial-up again, but at least we have it. There is a free cinema too showing three different films. Also, we have our car with us, so that’s a bonus.

In Search Of Heathcliff

Yes, that one…

Today we went to Penistone Hill in Yorkshire to do our Bronte walk. The sun was out, and although it is still winter here it was a glorious day with highs of 13c. I parked 1.4 miles away from the Bronte Parsonage and headed towards Bronte Bridge and Falls. I had not been here for just over 21 years, so it was nice to visit it again, although I have been to Haworth many times in the past 10 years.

Our Route
Heather on the Moorlands
Bronte Bridge Approach
Bronte Bridge
Marker stone after the bridge was rebuilt after being destroyed by floods
This is NOT Top Withens obviously, just an old farmhouse that we passed on the hike.

Wuthering Heights Inn was a lovely pub that we stopped at for lunch. They are dog-friendly which was really nice, they provided us with dog treats, bowls of fresh water and a warm welcome. M had a hot beef and gravy sandwich with thick chips. I decided to have a dirty burger which was a half pounder with cheese, pulled pork and chilli mayo, side of salad with sweet balsamic dressing, fries and onion rings. Needless to say, it was rather delicious and was washed down with a pint of bitter shandy. Mazikee and Harper helped eat the chips.

Our view whilst having lunch
Me and Mazikeen – as usual by my side with a stick.
Me with Harper watching the sheep
Mazikeen now locked on to the sheep. She was doing a very low growl, then howling at them which was very funny to watch.
Looking for Heathcliff
The Reservoir

All in all, it was a lovely day, I am slightly burned from the sun and wind, mostly the wild and windy moor. Alas, we never found Heathcliff or Cathy or managed to get to Top Withens, but will go that way next time. All told I hiked 6.5 miles with the girls. Mazikeen probably did about 12 miles or more as she was off lead and ran about everywhere, leaping into every muddy puddle, stream, and the waterfalls. I kept Harper on her lead as she is a bugger for taking off on her own adventures.

Not too sure where we will hike next Saturday weather permitting that is, but I am looking forward to more adventures.

A Taste of Japan

This morning we went on a little trip (with the dogs too) to have a taste of Japan.

Although we did not physically go to Japan, we did go to the site of the International Garden Festival in Liverpool.  I remember as a kid, along with millions of others visiting the site in 1984.  It was full of different gardens from around the world, milature railways and so much to see and do covering 95 hecters which is 230 acres.

Alas the site is now very very small, the rest of the site referred to brown land which should be re-developed into thousands of houses, retail area and a new ferry terminal.  It is a shame to see that most of the site has been lost, but if Liverpool Council do what they say and pump £700m in to the site, then it should be a lovely place to live.

The Beast is Back…

I took delivery of my car yesterday, and not before time.  Just a week of not having it, and I did miss it.  The hire company Europcar were a right pain in the arse if I am honest.  My car was delivered to work, so as my insurance only covers me for my car, or a hire car whilst mine is being repaired then I could not legally drive both.  I called the hire company at 10:15 when the repair centre called to say that they had completed all the works including a full valet.  They said they were just carrying out a few last tests to ensure it is 100% safe they would deliver it on a transporter and should be with me in the next two hours.  My car arrived just after noon and I parked it up and transferred the dog’s bed and their water etc from the hire car.

2pm arrived and I had not heard from the hire company so I called them only to be told that they were sorting it out and would be there soon to collect it.  4pm arrives and nothing, so I called again and was told they were having trouble getting to me and may have to do it today.  I explained that the industrial area that I was in that day may not be safe for the car to be left, in all honesty, I could just drive it down the road to where the houses are and it would be okay there, but I decided that they had had enough time, so screw them.  I could also have left it in the compound, however, my friend who owns it said that it would be entirely on the heads of the hire company and not her.  They declined and said they would come back to me and asked if the car was at my home address.  This was now growing tiresome as I knew they were just fobbing me off, and using any excuse.  I told them that I had already given them the details at 10:15, and could play back the recording if they wanted.  4:50 pl came and no call, so again I called and told them that they either get it collected this evening, or it stays on the street as I have off-hired it and it was no longer my concern.  With a huff and puff he decided that he would come and collect it himself after he finishes work at 6pm, so I knew he would not be there till 7pm.  I told him I was going home and he was to call me 30 mins before he got there and I would drive back over with the keys as I had no intention of hanging about.

7:15 he arrived and took the keys and with a rather pissed off tone in his voice said thanks and off I went laughing to myself at his bad attitude.

Calm Achieved…

Yesterday’s chaos finally came to an end at 6pm when my hire car was delivered.  Not my first choice but I needed a large car, and this is what I got.  A Vauxhall Zafira Tourer SRI Turbo 7 Seater.  Enough room for us and the dogs and everything else we have with us when out and about, usually dog stuff as they can be high maintenance LOL.  Not the worst car, but it’s not my lovely X-Trail.  Drives well, and is very nippy, but that could be due to it being petrol and having a turbo.  My X-Trail is black and inside is all black and chrome and privacy glass and tinted front screen, so inside it is quite calm and low light, but the hire car has standard glass, and there’s bloody tones of the stuff.  My car has a double privacy glass retractable roof, and the hire one does not, and it still streams in more light than the sun can pump out.  One thing I cant get used to is the missing items I have use of every day like rain detection windscreen wipers, automatic light, touch button parking brake which disables when I go to pull away, the hire car is manual lights (when I eventually found them) manual windscreen wipers whos controls are backwards to all other cars, and a handbrake that I keep forgetting is there when I get in and go to pull away and the car does not move.  I am nitpicking really as it will get us all from A to B and I should only have it for a week or two.  I just miss the comfort and lazy modern man’s tech and gadgets I have in my car.

However, above all, yesterday is now in the distant past and all the car troubles can now stay there, in the past.

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