Sunday, May 21, 2006

Gardens & Gardening

This year we committed ourselves to improving the garden at the rear of our bungalow. Having lived here for 18 months we knew it was the right time to buy a greenhouse and start gardening in a more serious way. In February we ordered our green house which was erected and eventually commissioned by 21st March, the first day of Spring.
We bought packets of seeds which we sowed in seed trays on 21st March. They were faithfully watered as the days wore on and when the seeds grew into seedlings we began to plant them in tubs, containers, hanging baskets and wall baskets. Those left over were planted among the perrenial shrubs in the flower beds I had dug whilst they were growing. This was the first time we had tried ouir hand at growing. We were thrilled at the results.
Part way through this process we visited Bodnant Gardens in the Conwy Valley. It is a huge site on the slope of one side of the famous valley. It was inspirational and we shall visit it many times over the coming seasons to see it in all its glory. We are now members of the National Trust!
At the end of the week we paid a second visit to another National Trust venue, Castell Penrhyn outside Bangor. Only a castle in its building style, it is still worth seeing. Lord Penrhyn was the owner of some slate quarries in North Wales as well as some sugar plantations in the West Indies. The family only visited the Castell 3 times a year but it was kept as if they were in permanent residence. It was built to show off the family wealth from slate and sugar. But, I have to say, it is inspirational. The whole place is designed as one. The doors and all the woodwork are designed in the same style as the furniture. The dining room is a joy to behold. It is crammed full of masterpieces on the wall and trophies from horse racing on the huge dining table. Look behind the screens and you will see the facilities for the gentlemen to relieve themselves as they drank port and the ladies withdrew!
All this and more is available by just driving off the island for a tour in your car. If you wish to confine yourself to the island there is Plas Newydd where the Marquess of Anglesey used to reside. There are lovely gardens, a landing stage with a boat to sail on the Menai Straits and a huge house to explore. For my money the tour de force is Whistler's mural in the dingroom. The famous artist was a great friend of the family and agreed to paint a mural in their diningroom. It is well worth seeing!
Come to Anglesey and see it in all its glory! You will not be disappointed. There is a sea zoo, a butterfly palace, an old courthouse and a victorian gaol to visit. This is in addition to the beautiful symmetric mediaeval castle in Beaumaris. You can go sea fishing, visit a smokery and buy the most tasty smoked salmon you have ever experienced. There are many great eating venues for a taste of seafood and more besides. We even have a vineyard which produces an excellent choice of wine each year.
If you decide to come you will see the sign - "Croeso!" ("Welcome!")
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Llanbadrig Church

This afternoon I was out and about looking for some good seascapes for my wife to paint in oils for an art competition. However, I could not resist taking this photograph of a small Anglican church near Cemaes Bay which dates from the 5th Century.

The present church is not that old but stands on the site once occupied by a church built in the 5th century.

It is said that St Patrick was shipwrecked and found himself washed onto Middle Mouse, and island just off the Anglesey coast near here. Legend has it that Patrick swam the channel between Middle Mouse and Anglesey and founded a church here. The name, Llanbadrig, is Welsh, meaning Patrick's church.

Even the present building is of interest because it was provided by Lord Stanley who built the causeway that takes the road and the railway from Anglesey to Holy Island where stands Holyhead, the ferry port for Ireland. Lord Stanley's name is also used for the small hospital in Holyhead.

Unusually, Lord Stanley converted to Islam and this is why there are a number of typical Islamic devices which decorate Llanbadrig church. The Islamic colour, blue is used in some of the stained glass windows of the church and the chancel is tiled in Islamic tiles which makes the building unique.

The tiny church is used once a month in the summer for services. It possess a considerable churchyard which is bounded on one side by the Irish Sea. The other side of the cemetery is a steep cliff down to the sea. When I was there today I had to take care because a strong wind was blowing, making photography tricky with strong gusts apt to take one by surprise.

The reader may find it fascinating to know that close to the little church is Anglesey's only vineyard, owned by a former policeman from Manchester. I have tasted the wine and can report a very classy drink for the wine freak. The sparkling wine is the best I have tasted outside Champagne.

Just further along the coastline is Cemaes Bay, a popular village with beaches, a tidal harbour and a good pub, The Stag. When my family were young I took them to fish for small crabs at the end of the jetty (officially, the pier) at Cemaes. All you had to do was buy a fatty piece of bacon and tie it to a crab line. Then you could enjoy hours of fun, catching crabs and tossing them back into the harbour! In those days we referred to them as the "Kama Kasi Crabs of Cemaes Bay".

Close by is the nuclear power station at Wylfa Head. It is a major employer in Anglesey and has a contract to supply direct electricity to Anglesey Aluminium Co, anothe major employer on the island. As an old magnox power station it has only five years years left to supply electricity. However, there is a big lobby forming to retain it until a modern nuclear power station can be developed alongside the site. The fact is that if Wylfa Power Station is allowed to close the island will also lose Anglesey Aluminium. This would be an economic disaster. Posted by Picasa