Sunday, June 11, 2006

Driving in Anglesey

To any visitor or stranger to Anglesey I must say "Watch your driving speed!" Anglesey is policed by the North Wales Police Force who have a Chief Constable obsessed with the crime of speeding. Coming over to Anglesey from Manchester in the east you have to watch your speed as soon as you are in North Wales. This begins just outside Queensferry.

Basically you drive westwards along the A55 after skirting Queensferry. For the most part, if you travel at the same speed as everyone else you don't seem to attract trouble. Pay particular attention to the 50mph speed limit through Colwyn Bay and all should be well. Eventually you come to the 50mph limit over the Britannia Bridge which makes sense. After that the problems arise. I warned a friend of mine who had come on a visit in her new car to watch her speed. Too late! She had already been caught in the Pentraeth area on the A5025. This has been a spot where many speeders have been caught. It is not that all drivers deliberately drive at breakneck speed through Pentraeth. Last year when Mavis was "caught on camera" the 30mph limit through Pentraeth was very short and many people were caught. However the limit now applies all through the entire village. From the bridges it is approached downhill in a 50mph zone in a stretch with many trees to restrict your vision of the 30mph sign. However, if you are driving quickly there is a warning flash straight after the start of the 30mph zone. In the opposite direction you approach through a 40mph restricted zone along a level road. This gives you less excuse for being caught.

There is, however, a problem for drivers. On the entire island there is not one single fixed speed camera. The police force uses a fleet of "Arrive Alive" vans in a variety of colours. You spot them when you see a rear window dropped open and a lens in the darkness behind. Pentraeth is an area where the vans were very active, but less so today. There are a number of short laybys they can use but they seem to prefer to park half off the road on a verge to catch you out. Wherever they are, they are waiting to record your speed, so you have to be very aware of the speed limits which change according to where you are. In other words, there is a moving target all over the island.

To be fair to them we do have a significant number of fatal accidents, many of which will include the speed factor. Like other places we experience drivers who cannot wait to overtake just because you are in front. In relatively few places on this single carriageway A5025 is it safe to overtake. Where there is extra width or an occasional short second lane you can be sure drivers will take advantage. But they often have to adopt racing circuit tactics to complete the manoevre. You now begin to see the need for anti-speeding tactics on the part of the police.

If you decide to come to Anglesey and even if you are a user of secondary roads anywhere in North Wales you need to be aware of the speed traps which keep moving. We are told it is too expensive to use fixed point speed cameras so we get the moving traps to contend with. When you are caught you will receive your letter in about 7 days. However, if you report a prowler you will not get your police visit at all. Clearly speeding is not something you can accuse the police of! Even elderly drivers, who normally drive far more cautiously than the rest of us, get caught in these moving speed traps. So, on Anglesey, no one goes to heaven with a clean licence!

The only thing I can say is what the police say, "Watch your speed!"
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Amlwch English Methodist Church

If you are visiting Anglesey over a weekend or longer why not call in and join in our Sunday worship at 11.10am? We are a small church but lively. Our local circuit is small but perfectly formed. The photo you see on this blog is that of our church and its extension.

In the 1830s the manager of the Mona Copper Mine, James Treweek, a Cornishman and a Methodist was instrumental in pioneering this tiny Methodist Church. In our circuit of 5 churches we have the second largest congregation and are noted for our singing! It was back in the 1970s that Rev Victor Tudor, a United Reformed Church retired minister was asked if he could give a couple of days a week to revitalise the church. He had settled in Anglesey to write books and ended up taking on full time (expenses only) a church. He said he would finally retire once he had got the membership from about 27 to 100. He did it! Although I never met Victor during his period in Anglesey I did meet him when he was the minister of the Spalding URC which extended a welcome to my tiny church in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire as part of a group.

Today, Victor's widow, Barbara, is a good friend with whom I work as part of the Anglesey Committee for Macmillan Cancer Support. The Amlwch Methodist Church is well known for its annual Flower Festival where a number of very artistic flower arrangers show off their art. Each year the ladies from Penmaenmawr Methodist Church make a pilgrimage to see our flowers. Barbara Tudor is the driving force (at the tender age of 89 years) of the Flower Festival which she brought from Spalding when she settled here.

Visitors are always interested to learn the history of our church when they come to see the flowers. It is a unique history where signs of resurrection have always been in evidence. As a member of the Publicity Group I am forever designing posters for various events and invites for holidaymakers to come and join whatever we are doing. The good news is that it works and we do receive many visitors over a season.

We have no organist and instead use the Digital Hymnary for accompaniment to our singing. Our minister is Deacon Stephen Roe whose family offers wonderful support to our church. The congregation is a mixture of Methodists, former Anglicans, United Reformed Church, Salvationists etc. At Christmas time our candlelit carol service is something to behold. Each Friday we hold a Prayer Fellowship for 15 minutes. Then we move into the extension for coffee and a chat. We extend a welcome to any people at all and some do come.

On Sundays we welcome the Welsh Congregation whose service precedes ours. Any Welsh speaker would be welcome to join the earlier service or, if preferred, the English Service at 11.10am. We have a number of good preachers who manage to reach parts other preachers cannot!

Amlwch is just about the farthest north you can go whlst still in Wales. Looking East your gaze would alight on Liverpool. If you wnat to go North you have to go South first! We are special people who welcome anyone at all to our services.
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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Penrhos Nature Reserve

If you travel across my lovely Anglesey and take the old A5 historical route you will eventually cross from Anglesey to Holy Island by the Stanley Embankment. As you arrive on the other side you can turn right and approach the lovely peninsular past the old octagonal toll house which now is a tea room with a traditional sign outside.

The other Sunday I has been preaching at the Holyhead English Methodist Church and returned to my home in Penysarn after a short sto at this place. As you drive from the main road past the toll house you have a small pond on your left. A number of birds share this pond. I noticed a coot and a moorhen. The moorhen had chicks of which I saw one. I had brought my new camera with me so I was ready to photograph whatever I could see. Suddenly the moorhen and the coot began facing up to each other. I suspect the young moorhens were at risk. The two birds were on the pond and flapped their wings and threatened each other. Then all went quiet as the coot beat a hasty retreat. I have never seen this sort of behaviour before. I thought I had taken photos but this was not the case so there was no record of the bird fight!

All over Anglesey there are places like this where wildlife abound and live a normal life, undisturbed by humankind. Another such place is the small lake near Mynydd Bodafon. There you can see different birds doing what comes naturally. You may see a fishing heron. You may even see a sea bird off course and exhausted.

All the time I see herring gulls sitting on local chimney pots and calling to their friends and family. Many pigeons sit up there calling away. House sparrows and chaffinches frequent the garden together with the occasional robin.

No matter where you drive you see Nature at her best. There are trees growing at an impossible angle where the prevailing south westerlies blow. In other quiet places there is no wind affecting the way plants grow. Our garden is sheltered from the prevailing wind to a degree so this accounts for our success in growing plants. Our friend, Ann, just round the corner struggles when the wind blows because her garden is elevated and in the teeth of the prevailing wind.

She has had bad luck with broad beans this year so while she is on holiday we have two trays of broad beans being brought on in our greenhouse. When they are ready they will complete in the veg garden. Speaking personally I have alreay done this to complete my supply of broad beans. I have already a single flower showing. You can use a greenhouse for filling in the gaps when they occur.

We shall be learning "on the job" for quite some time but success makes you try many different things, such as the various lettuce plants we have for picking instead of buying those bags in the supermarket. Our hanging baskets were started in the greenhouse. Last year I bought 6 strawberry plants. This year has seen them in larger numbers and there are hundreds of budding strawberries coming on as I speak.

All in all we are glad we decided to retire to this island of ours. It keeps on encouraging us to try more and more ideas in our garden. It seems to have its own micro climate that enables us to do so much in the garden. But everywhere we see evidence of growth and seasonal change and that is what it is all about. Add to this the wonderful seascapes we wee on the northern coast and you have an idea why we wanted to live here. Posted by Picasa

Where I love to be

It may be small but my garden is a haven of peace and quiet. I can sit on the bench under the arch and gaze on all our plants and pick up the movement of growth there. If I look towards the greenhouse I see a place where seeds are sown and grow into plants which populate hanging baskets and containers all round the bungalow. Then there is the barbecue all snug beneath its cover. It waits for the next time we sit out for a meal and down glasses of rose wine from different countries.

This year, after all the plants were removed to go elsewhere, we bought some lettuce plants for mixed salads. They are already growing vigorously, soon to be picked to go into a salad on a dinner table. Then we also bought seeds to grow salads and these are shooting up healthily.

The white wall in the picture and the property behind it shelter us from the worst of the strong winds which blow on Anglesey. This encourages the plants to "do their thing" and gives small weaklings a chance. This must be God's garden! We have geraniums, cistus, penstemons, scabiosa, alliums, Jacob's Ladder, poppies, philadelphus, tamarisk, mahonia, digitalis, hibiscus and many more. On a lovely day my favourite place is my garden in Anglesey. It reflects the beauty of the island and restores my soul.

When the weather prevents my being in the garden I find things to do inside but I cannot wait to be out there again. I enjoyed a pleasant garden at my last address but it was not as good as this. Everything grows well and looks content as it grows. It probably thrives like I do because I am in a beautiful place - Anglesey. Posted by Picasa