Friday, May 13, 2011

Musical Anglesey

Anglesey has a population of approximately 67,000 people.   Before settling here we lived in a town of 200,000 people.   Yet here there is a surfeit of music and culture.    The former town does not possess such a pool of musical talent.  Tonight my wife and I were treated to an evening of barber shop singing by a group of mainly elderly women who just loved singing together.

It was an event organised by a friend who is a worshipper at St Eilian's church, Llaneilian, in whose parish our village of Penysarn falls.   The church itself has a wonderful history of over 500 years, as I can testify.   The enthusiastiv church warden, Roy, who showed me round took me into St Eilian's sanctuary, up on the Rood screen loft and even the bell tower.

But to get back to the singers, they were a joy to hear.   It's not often you get to hear an all women group singing Barber Shop.   The event was held in the nearby WI hall which has recently been renovated and is, itself, a rare example of a wholly owned WI hall.   I even have a stake in the renovation work as I dismantled the sliding door to the toilet and installed a new door & frame.

In previous years I have attended Christmas concerts by Cor Bro Dyfnan, a choir formed in Benllech some years ago.   They have an enormous pool of musical talent supported by Carys Eleri, a woman with a beautiful soprano voice.   When she sings O Holy Night you could cry!   All over the island you can find groups of musicians specialising in their own brand of music.

Last evening I attended the licensing service for the new vicar of Amlwch and experienced Welsh hymn singing that was, as our American cousins say, awesome.   I thought the roof would lift off!   Just another example of the Welsh involvement in music. 

It is such a privilege to live on this remarkable island.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring in Anglesey

Living here on this rural island is pure pleasure in the season of Spring!   With the sunny April we were able to enjoy days out with our grandaughter, Ellie.   We visited beaches and drove along narrow country lanes, all the while taking in the signs of the progress of Spring.

In the six and a half years we have lived here it has been a period of learning the many single track lanes and where they go.   Every time we drive over to Llangefnmi we take a route that entails a number of miles of single track lanes.   It is not only quicker but less stressful with the near absence of other vehicles.   When you meet a vehicle coming the other way you pull over into one of the many passing places and wave to each other.   It's called respect.   You notice the many hedgerows which the island's farmers maintain so well.   They are full of wild flowers, so the colours change from time to time.

With the better weather we can go for walks along the coastal path.   Occasionally one might see a holy well along the way.   Drive over to Penmon Priory and a short walk takes you past a pond to the holy well of St Seriol.   The saint, Seriol, is said to have walked across Anglesey towards Holyhead whilst the Holyhead saint, Cybi, walked towards Penmon.   This way Cybi got sunburnt and Seriol stayed pale as he walked with his back to the sun!

One thing to watch out for is the occasional finger post that some wag has twisted to point in the wrong direction.   One lovely drive is to leave the A5025 at the old Black Lion Inn and drive towards Llandeusant where you will find a preserved windmill that still grinds flour.   Its name is Lynnon Mill and the cottage through which you go when paying the entrance fee has a first floor cafe.   Go upstairs if you want to experience the most amazing cakes, scones etc with a cup of tea!   You will not come away dissatisfied.

Once Easter has arrived you will find that all the visitor attractions are open.   There is plenty to experience.    If you stay on the island in good weather you have about 20 beaches accessible to cars to enjoy.   Don't miss the lovely harbour at Cemaes and the refreshments at the visitor centre just up the main street.   Why not pop in the Cemaes Gallery and browse the many pictures for sale?   If you fancy a pint then the place to go is the Stag Inn where you can sit outside and watch village life.

Another attraction for the walking enthusiasts is the heritage trail around the former copper mine at Parus Mountain.   The walk is mostly on the level but watch out for a steep section towards the end.   All sorts of connected places are springing up down at Amlwch Port too.

What a place!!!!!