We are sitting in the most amazing place, in a house, in a village which has remained unchanged in any way (at least to the eye) since the mid 1600s. There were people living in the cottage in which we are staying in 1640.
We are in the lake district, having moved up here today from Meifod via Liverpool. We stopped off in Liverpool and did a Hop On Hop Off bus tour of the city and although Liverpool has an amazing history, it does not have the “character” of the places to which we have become used to since our arrival here.
But to go back a few days…we were in Wales, an area which is not on the route of a lot of Kiwi’s when they visit Britain. It should be! Wales has history and scenery to match any other part of the British Isles and is so compact that it can be easily covered in a relatively short period. So it was that we set sail with the Astra at full steam for Snowdonia in the North West, an area that brings the Scottish Highlands to mind. The roads here are good, which is not always the case in Britain. The lanes I can understand, they have been there forever and were never meant to cope with cars. They are narrow and usually flanked either side by hedgerows or stone walls. A car fits snugly into these lanes with door mirrors just missing the hedge on either side, the trouble starts when a car, or worse, or bus, tractor or truck comes from the other direction. Every now and then there is a bit of a bump in the hedge and one or other of you needs to back up so the other may pass, and so on you go. Now, this may sound all very quaint, but when you have say 10 to 20 miles to still go, it can get a little tiresome. Every one is very good though and it all seems to work. As the lanes get a little wider and there becomes room for a car to travel in either direction without banging into each other, they paint a white dotted line down the middle. Buses, tractors and trucks still pose a challenge on these roads, but the biggest problem is now there is room to park. Usually this is confined to just one side of the road, but it takes almost to the white dotted line, so we are back to the lane situation because now half the traffic is on the wrong side of the road. They even have traffic signs “Narrow Road. Oncoming Traffic in Middle of Road.” Again this seems to work.
The Old Tractor up the Lane Trick
The overriding problem is if you are going the same way. Even these monster tractors seem to go for miles on some errand or other and remain oblivious to Astras and other road users.
Parking is a huge problem in Britain, but it seems that some in authority become a little zealous on occasions.
BBC news reported recently of a case where double yellow lines had been painted the entire length of a street in “Big City GB”. The residents complained. The council responded by painting double yellows down the other side. Now this street was a little under three feet wide and even a bubble car (remember them) would have to have burst to fit down this street.The council now confirm that “it would appear our staff have not taken the actual size of a car into account whilst implementing our new parking policy” well you voted for them.
Roads that are larger than those just mentioned are a pleasure to take to and even the Astra seems pleased after a long haul on the lanes.
Anyway, back to the road trip up through Snowdonia. One of our main objectives was to take the Rack and Pinion Train to the top of Mt Snowdon, regarded as the most exciting rail journey in Britain, so to give ourselves plenty of time we had booked into a hotel for the night.
Our first trip after negotiating a low mountain pass was a visit to Portmeirion, a small village built entirely in the style of a Italian village built by ite.”Sir Clough Willaims-Ellis between 1925 and 1975. It seems that he had fallen in love with Portofino and stated “How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site”
Port Meirion (In Gwynedd)
It is charming, but having been to Portofino…well it is just not the same. It may have been the weather which, after a few days of glorious sunshine, had taken a turn for the worse, in fact it was freezing. The Astra’s thermometer was maxing out at an outrageous 7 degrees and with a wind chill factor which must have been approaching -30, it made for a very cold wet old day.
From Portmeirion we made haste for Porthmadog and a hot cuppa and a quick flick around their fascinating little maritime museum. I found here that the origins of the name has nothing to do with mad dogs and it was just a matter of the Welsh language again. Porth = Port and it was founded an Englishman by the name of Madock and Madog is the Welsh equivalent. To get to our goal involved driving over what must be the finest mountain pass in Britain, outside of Scotland. It is breathtaking in it’s stark beauty, with great granite boulders strewn about in all directions. All homes are of granite with roofs tiled in local slate.
Snowdonia National Park
Sowdonia National Park
This reminds me of Central Otago and Central can get as cold as this too. Finally we arrive at the Snowdon Mountain Railway..only to be told that it is closed due to 80 MPH winds at the summit….”we can come back tomorrow”……”the forecast is for worse tomorrow, maybe by Saturday it will be OK”. DAMN, that’s two days in a row now that the gods have conspired against me. Onward we go to Caernarfon, home to the famous castle and to where our hotel is booked.
Next day, not to be beaten, we headed back to Porthmadog. They too have a mountain railway running up to Ffestiniog site of one of Wales’ largest slate quarries. This little railaway has been going now since the 1830s when a narrow gauge line (23.5 inch) was built and horses used to haul the wagons up the 700ft and gravity to get them down again. Steam was thought to be impractical on such a narrow gauge and it was not until 1863 that two steam engines were introduced by the son of the original designer.
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
So this little train was what I had now set my sights on…and we got tickets. It felt a little like Thomas the Tank Engine, but who cares and so it was with a little huffing and puffing and a lot of tooting we were off. It was GLORIOUS, we went up the 700 ft mountain, over little stone bridges, through the woods with mountain streams cascading down waterfalls and bluebells growing in profusion. It was a magic land and I’m sure that if you would just allow it, your imagination could place a gingerbread house just over there in that clearing. But we are adults, so no gingerbread house today in these woods. Arriving at Ffestinnog, the weather had deteriorated further and as well as the cold wind, rain fell steadily, so it was a dash to the tea rooms and another cuppa, before the descent in 40 minutes time. The journey was under 20 miles each way, but took a little over an hour to complete, so by this time we were about ready to head back to Meifod.
Yesterday, our last day in Wales, we actually crossed the border and went to Shropshire’s main town, Shrewsbury. What a higgilty piggilty town this is, with it’s black and white buildings at all angles, some looking like they were about to topple. They, by and large, had been here for centuries, so I guess there was no need for them to pick this day to tumble. We lunched at 15th c. pub and wandered around the town, this taking most of the day. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Grope Lane in Shrewsbury
Like everywhere in Britain Shrewsbury has some interesting street names, some beg the question “where did they come from” whereas others, such as Fish Street off which Grope Lane runs, may have obvious origins such as that’s where the fish market was, but GROPE LANE?
That brings us up to today and, as previously mentioned, the Lake District and a wee village called Hartsop. No pub, no shop (both a half hour walk on the footpath), just a collection of very old houses, occupied in the main by very old people with most being over eighty. There is one old fellow here, John, who is a New Zealander and was in the NZ navy during WW2. He is 93 and a meeting is being arranged. Everyone, it seems, has an interesting story to tell so it would be nice to meet with some of them. The village houses are all listed historic places and so very little can be done to modernize them, but I don’t think that that worries the villagers. We are here for a week so it will be interesting..
So it’goodbye from Hartsop
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Are You Smarter Than A 60 Year Old
THIS WAS HARDER THAN I THOUGHT…
THE ANSWERS WERE ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE… I REMEMBERED, BUT…
DON’T LOOK BELOW FOR THE ANSWERS UNTIL YOU HAVE TRIED IT OUT.
01. After the Lone Ranger saved the day and rode off into the sunset, the grateful citizens would ask, Who was that masked man? Invariably, someone would answer, I don’t know, but he left this behind. What did he leave behind?________________.
02. When the Beatles first came to the U.S. .In early 1964, we all watched them on The _______________ Show.
03. ‘Get your kicks, __________________.’
04. ‘The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to
05. ‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle,
06. After the Twist, The Mashed Potato, and the Watusi, we ‘danced’ under a stick that was lowered as low as we could go in a dance called the ‘_____________.’
07. Nestle’s makes the very best . .. . . _______________.’
08. Satchmo was America ‘s ‘Ambassador of Goodwill.’ Our parents shared this great jazz trumpet player with us. His name was _________________.
09. What takes a licking and keeps on ticking? _______________.
10. Red Skeleton’s hobo character was named __________________ and Red always ended his television show by saying, ‘Good Night, and ‘________ ________… ‘
11. Some Americans who protested the Vietnam War did so by burning their______________.
12. The cute little car with the engine in the back and the trunk in the front was called the VW. What other names did it go by? ___________&_______________.
13. In 1971, singer Don MacLean sang a song about, ‘the day the music died.’ This was a tribute to ___________________.
14. We can remember the first satellite placed into orbit. The Russians did it. It was called ___________________.
15. One of the big fads of the late 50′s and 60′s was a large plastic ring that we twirled around our waist. It was called the __ ______________.
16. Remember LS/MFT _____ _____/_____ _____ _____?
17. Hey Kids! What time is it? It’s _____ ______
18. Who knows what secrets lie in the hearts of men? The _____ Knows!
19. There was a song that came out in the 60′s that was “a grave yard smash” it’s name was the ______ ______!
20. Alka Seltzer used a “boy with a tablet on his head” as it’s Logo/Representative. What was the boys Name? ________
Continue to the answers !!
01.The Lone Ranger left behind a silver bullet.
02. The Ed Sullivan Show
03. On Route 66
04.To protect the innocent.
05.The Lion Sleeps Tonight
06. The limbo
08. Louis Armstrong
09. The Timex watch
10. Freddy, The Freeloader and ‘Good Night and God Bless.’
11. Draft cards (Bras were also burned. Not flags, as some have guessed)
12. Beetle or Bug
13. Buddy Holly
16. Lucky Strike/Means Fine Tobacco
17. Howdy Doody Time
19. Monster Mash
Send this to your ‘older’ friends, (Better known as Seniors.) It will drive them crazy! And keep them busy and let them forget their aches and pains for a few minutes.
Europe 2013 by David / 8h // keep unread // preview
I left you somewhat dangling at the end of my last effort, a result of my need for occasional food and sleep, but to continue…we left Ironbridge quite reluctantly as there was no doubt much more to this little one. We had told our next cottage people, though, that we would be in around 4ish so already being a day late we thought it prudent to make some effort.
Arrived more or less on time in Meifod, the home of our next cottage, and a welcome from host, Bob. The cottage is very nice and comfortable, except it has only a bath and no shower…oh and no wifi.
Our Cottage in Meifod
These cottages come with everything you need and are very good value. To date we have not been disappointed.
Kitchen of Maesnewydd Cottage
Monday and it is a Bank Holiday here in Britain and to listen to the news you would think it to be the first fine one in living memory. It was indeed a little cracker with temperatures hitting 22 and lots of sunshine, so off we went in search of places to go and things to do. Now it is a fact that when you have the above combinations of Bank Holidays and good weather in Britain, there is not one single person who stays home and does the garden, no… they all go to the beach, the castle or any old place where I may have thought to spend a peaceful day. And so it was that we joined the queue to get a carpark to park the car to join the queue to get a glimpse of Powis Castle, the former home of Clive of India. It was worth it though as it is furnished and kept as it would have been. There is also a small museum dedicated to the memory of Clive, very interesting.
Now those who know me, may be aware that I have always had a great interest in Morris dancing, I mean Ballet, Ballroom or Rock and Roll…all rubbish, Morris Dancing rules..OK.
My god! What are these people up to or have people been putting something in their food, I saw one of them later in Tescos still dingling and dangling with every step. I should leave them alone, they do no one any harm.
Morris Dancers at Powis
An even stranger phenomenon at Powis is the topiary. There are large Yew Hedges which have been sculptured in the most bizarre fashion.
Topiary, Powis style
With what was left of the day we made a brief visit to Gregynog Hall but was disappointed to find that only the garden was open and this, although well presented, was in no way spectacular.
Back home via Welshpool and an early night. Getting a bit tired from time to time as a result of all the driving.
This brings me today and what a right little cracker it turned out to be. Firstly we called to Oswestry, a market town which was a great place to wander around and then on to Llangollen (p. Clang cloche en I think) in the Dale of Dee. What a place this is with the Dee River running right through town, rapids and all.
Now this place, if you are a narrow boatman, is the Holy Grail of Canaldom. Nearby is the Pontcysyllte (p. pont…something or other) which is the highest aqueduct in Briatin at 126 ft. It was designed by Thomas Telford and opened in 1805…. still going strong. The aqueduct connects Froncysyllte (p. Fron… something or other) with Trevor (p. Trev…or). I am getting quite good at Welsh now. Today I found out that dd is pronounced th and ll as somewhere between cl and gl. But I got Trevor without any help whatsoever. Anyway this was something that I wanted to do. Let me take you back a bit. On the way to Llangollen we were sidetracked to Chirk Castle where we managed to drive the full two miles in by way of the exit road without any incident whatsoever, caught the shuttle from carpark to Castle had a cuppa and found it didn’t open (the castle itself) until twelve, so had a look around what was open then did the garden. This was far and away the best garden we had seen, with spring advancing more each day, this helped, but this is something special and it takes little imagination to see what it will be like in a few weeks when the rhododendrons will be in full bloom.
Gardens at Chirk Castle
We decided to give the castle a miss as there were things to do. Into Llangollen to check out canal trips. The one that took in the aqueduct is all booked out this week so that rules that out, so we decided to do a short trip just up the canal a bit in a one horsepower narrowboat. Now this one horsepower came with a name, Stanley or Stan for short, a likable old Clydesdale, but none too fast. This was like being transported into another age or place. It was so peaceful and with scenery to match. So with a clip and a clop of Stanley’s hooves on the tow path we made our way along the canal and then with Stanley pulling from the other end, back again. It was perfect.
There was still the aqueduct to deal with and although I couldn’t boat it, maybe I could walk it, it has the tow path after all. So it was then that we set sail for Trevor and the route to our goal. We could see it, but Mrs Currin was not to be fooled by my “it’s only a bit of a walk” talk and decided to take in such views of Trevor as were to be afforded from the comfort of the Astra. I promised to be no more than half an hour and set off at a good pace, overtaking narrowboats at will, glimpsing my goal from time to time through the foliage of the ever present trees. Finally the object of my travels was within my grasp. But then the tow path came to a halt and to be back even fifteen minutes late I needed to cut my losses and return. There was, however, still hope as there was a road going into a village at this point so we could drive in and have a look. Back to “I no complain” Mrs Currin and she too is keen to finish what is now unfinished business. Off we go, Astra at full revs, and find the turnoff. “It must be over there” say I, “No there it is over there” says Mrs Currin. “It can’t be” say I, “unless it goes under the road…oh it does along there.” And there it was indeed, the railway line going over a viaduct. This morning I had driven two miles “in” the “out” at the castle and now this afternoon this, it’s no wonder Mrs Currin is beginning to doubt me.
All in all though we have had a jolly good day.
The Elusive Aque..oops Viaduct
That’s all from Meifod, tomorrow we are off on safari to Anglesea, but back here Thursday.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Currin Family Updates – my brother David and his wife Lee are touring UK at the moment and found this shop – interesting name
Monday, May 6, 2013
A nice photo of Darren enjoying a Lion Red
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Most will go on to other classes after this – maybe more English, maybe maths or piano, violin or sometimes table tennis
Our A/C unit gathers some snow
Across the road from us
Snow seems about finished for now – more expected and colder too
Looking down below
Looking down below
A friendly spider found in New Zealand
Please Dont hurt me! I am your friend!! I am the Huntsman spider.
This species is also called the Avondale or housekeeping spider and they are common throughout the tropics/subtropics. They frequently live in houses (squeezing into cracks and behind furniture) and they could be said to be beneficial because they eat things like cockroaches and flies. They don’t spin webs but catch their prey by stealth and speed.
Due to its large size, it might look dangerous but this particular spider is not venomous (to humans) although the fangs (chelicerae) look like they could give a nasty bite! I was careful when I picked it up. By the way, the photo of the spider on its back does not show it dead, it just played dead when I put it on its back. Convenient for photographs!