Friday, 22 January 2010

A confession

I’m going to put my hands up to making a very basic error, and one that has taken me over two years to realise.

When I visited Swansea back in August 2007 I went for the afternoon to Carmarthen. Part of the reason for going was to look at the castle, because I had heard lots of people going on about how good the castle was.

I didn’t think much of it, all there appeared to be were a couple of walls and a small bit of rampart. I thought I must have missed some really big site (to be fair I had already been to Kidwelly castle that day, and had to get back to Swansea to pick up my luggage and the train home, so I didn’t have lots of time to investigate.)

It was only with the planning of my current trip to Holyhead that it suddenly dawned on me that rather than Carmarthen castle people might have been talking about Caernarfon castle.

And yes, Caernarfon castle is spectacular.

To paraphrase a well respected Russian – Aleksandr Orlov
Carmarthen, Caernarfon, don’t even sound the same, Simples!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Not drunken Stag parties

The problem with Travelodge’s are that they are fantastically cheap, and consequently are first choice for anyone looking to book lots of rooms.

This does mean that in some towns (Newcastle, Edinburgh) you can be woken up at 2 or 3 in the morning by the sounds of groups of drunken people coming in from a stag or hen do.

Things at Holyhead are a little different.

I can’t think that anyone who’s not from Holyhead, or the surrounding area, would actively choose the place for a Stag/Hen do. It’s a very nice town, but it’s not renowned for its range of bars or nightlife (unlike a Newcastle for example).

Consequently you aren’t woken up in the very early hours by people coming in from bars. You are woken up though by people on their way out.

Both yesterday and today I’ve been woken up at 4 am by people leaving.

For this is the curse of a port town. Whilst there may not be stag parties, there are people hoping to catch the 5am sailing to Dublin, and if you don’t live in Holyhead, or want a night kipping in the departures lounge, then the hotel is probably your only choice.

I’d just wish some of them would realise that not all of us want the ferry to Dublin, some just want their sleep.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Why make it easy

There are two buses an hour between Holyhead and Bangor

However, they are not at half hourly intervals

One is the X4, it’s supposedly the express route, but wanders around the houses quite a bit

The other is the 4, except it doesn’t go to Bangor it goes to the town of Llangefni where you can connect onto Bangor on the 4A, except in Llangefni the 4 just becomes the 4A without anyone mentioning it. (Is your head hurting yet!)

Neither route goes down the direct route to Bangor, both crossing over the A55 main road on multiple occasions heading off down to random villages (I know that’s the purpose of a bus route, not sure its the purpose of an express route though).

At one point we even went through a village called Llanddaniel Fab. I don’t think Fab has the same meaning in Welsh as it does in English though.

I thought that the locals would know what was going on, but on several occasions I heard comments like “Oh, this ones going this way today”.

Perhaps I should have just taken the train instead!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Heavy Snow

Is falling somewhere in Britain tonight, but its not in North Wales.

As the train entered Wales the clouds started to clear, and as we ran along the edge of the North Wales Coast sunlight was sparkling off the still sea and the distant wind farm.

By the time I got to Holyhead this had turned to haze rather than full sun, but it was still better than had been predicted.

Of course, I know I am just being lulled into a false sense of security and by tomorrow evening will be suffering from acute trench-foot.

However, this evening, with the blue sea lapping gently on the beach, the sun setting behind Holyhead mountain and the light breeze rustling the ropes on the masts of the sailing boats in the Marina it was easy to forget that less than a week ago it took me more than 10 times the normal length of time to commute into work because of the snow.

And then I was woken out of the relaxing picture of the sun, sea and light breeze by the sound of a jet fighter roaring overhead as it headed back into RAF Valley on the edge of Anglesey.

Why Holyhead in January?

This is a question which I have started to ask myself over the last week or so as I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather.

I booked last June based on the last couple of years when January has been crisp, cold at times, but generally very dry.

I thought that there might be a pattern developing, that January might be becoming a very good month to visit the UK.

Then the Met Office started to jinx it all

First they predicted that 2009 was going to be a barbeque summer with long hot days.

“The UK is "odds on for a barbecue summer", with no repeat of the washouts of the last two years, according to Met Office forecasters.”

Queue one of the dampest summers on record.

Then they predicted that the winter was going to be mild, queue the worst winter in 30 years.

So I shouldn’t be surprised that the weather has taken a turn for the worst, and earlier this week the predictions were for “Continuous Torrential Downpours across Wales with the potential for serious flooding”

As my train leaves Crewe the weather forecast has been upgraded to light showers and some sun later in the week, so I’m expecting snow drifts!