Monday, July 28, 2008

Entertaining Children when you live in Anglesey

As with the last blog I have to report that we now have our two youngest grandchildren with us. They are Isabel ( years) and Emelia (6 years). Being younger children than our other grandchildren they need to be found interesting things to do instead of watching TV which Isabel will do indefinitely. As I was forcd to be at home during the replacement of our garage door which gave up the ghost during the bathroom upgrade the girls went swimming with Pauline. They were taken to the Amlwch Leisure Centre pool and they had a marvellous time for several hours. How anyone can still be enjoying a swimming pool after 2 or 3 hours is beyond me. However, the trick worked because Pauline was in the water with them. Involvement is the key.

On Saturday I received a request/suggestion that we take the Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu (pronounced Rid Thee). We drove over, purchased tickets and boarded the train. On board, I asked one of the staff which locomotive was on the train. I was fascinated to learn that it was one of the very first Garratt locos, built in Gorton, Manchester. On the other train that we would pass later along the line was one of the last Beyer Garratt locos to be built. As a railway watcher all my life I became very interested in the line. The ride was excellent. We soon started climbing up through the Snowdonia National Park. Eventually the scenery was nothing short of excellent.

Having driven in Snowdonia over the last 3/4 years I considered it just rocks and scree. But the WHR route takes one through some very beautiful scenery. By Easter 2009 it is planned that the railway will continue through Beddgelert and down into Porthmadog to join the Ffestiniog Railway at Harbour Station. There is already plenty of evidence of the tramway that will pass through Porthmadog to link with the Ffestiniog Railway. When the link is opened it will mark the coming together of two great narrow gauge railways.

My task on Sunday, after travelling over to Rivertown URC to lead worship, was to take the girls to Caernarfon Castle. As I did so I was reminded of the day and a half when I did jury service at the Crown Court by the castle wall. The girls dashed into the castle and immediately started exploring all the passages which run through the great protective walls. Eventually, after visiting two souvenir shops and having their photos taken at strategic points they followed me out through the postern gate of the main gateway which had closed for the day.

Today, Pauline and I had to wait for the fitters to arrive to set up the new window blinds before we could take the girls out again. We eventually drove them over to Hen Blas Country Park near Bodorgan on the island where they could see all the interesting elements of farming. After talking to some of the livestock they found a bouncy castle and that was that for some time. Next they wanted to play crazy golf so Pauline went with them and I wandered off in the opposite direction. My luck was in as the owner came round to tell everyone that he was about to walk the ducks.

This took the form of 3 sheep dogs running round and herding a group of Runner Ducks in the farmyard. They were taken through the face painting room and then out through the mold painting area. Then they were taken up a walkway from which they slid down into a tray of water. This they did several times and then they were driven through a number of coloured hoops held by the visiting children. The finale was to be driven back to their pond where they climbed a ramp and slid into the pond. Next we witnessed the dogs working with a group of 8 sheep. The shepherd explained how the dogs were trained to respond to specific commands and then showed how each animal worked with the sheep. It was fascinating.

Having rejoined my family I was called on to take a ride round the farm on a tractor and trailer. This completed, we got in the car and came home for a well deserved evening mealcooked on the barbecue and eaten in the house as it was threatening rain.

All this effort and no visit to a beach!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Toadstools on Holyhead Mountain

For almost a week recently we had our Grandson, Josh, staying with us. Other than when he is fixed to the chair before this PC he likes going out with me exploring Anglesey. We had a quiet morning standing at "Fraggle Rock" as it is known to trainee pilots and their tutors at RAF Valley. Last year in August we bought Josh a pair of binnoculars for his 16th birthday and they really came into use on this holiday with us.
Initially he used them last Sunday when he visited Portmeirion with us. It was a particularly good day for visibility because the Isle of Man was not only visible from our village but it looked as though it had been lifted up and re-sited closer to Anglesey. At Portmeirion he used then to look across the bay and he was very impressed.

On the day in question he was using his binnoculars to see the pilots in their Hawk jets as they prepared for take off. Not many aircraft took off but it was enough for Josh. He thought the view through them was terrific and expressed these sentiments. As it was rather quiet we drove over to South Stack where I parked opposite the stile that led to the Holyhead Mountain Hut Circles. I had visited the site on a number of occasions before and talked about the use of the various buildings whose foundations were evident in the ferns growing on the mountain.

The round ones I considerd dwellings and explained the method of roofing them and also how fires were lit at the centre with the smoke from them finding whatver way it could through the roof. The square and other rectangular buildings I suggested were animal shelters and grain stores. It was easy to imagine the construction of a floor above the cold earth where the grain from the settlements was dried and stored.

But when I walked over to two constructions of round buildings I had a shock. I came across 3 separate toadstools of gigantic proportions. The largest of these is shown in the picture with this blog. The top of the toadstool measured 12 inches across and the plant was just amazing. I had never seen such a sizeable fungus like this before!

Take a long look at my photo and let me know if you can identify the fungus by name.