Friday, 27 December 2013

Holy Island / Ynys Gybi

Holy Island (Ynys Gybi) is found on the west side of Anglesey. The island is quite charming. As I am re-discovering. Or maybe discovering for the first time. When I last lived here, it would seem that I barely knew it at all. Or even cared to know it. Youth wasted on the young, and all that.

Separated from the main island by a narrow channel of water, Holy Island is connected to Anglesey in two ways.

The first is a causeway which carries the main road links to and from the island (A5/A55) as well as the railway line. Designed by Thomas Telford, this was named the Stanley Embankment after the Stanley family who were major benefactors to the region (note also Penrhos Stanley local hospital, Stanley Street in Holyhead, the Stanley Arms pub). Locally, the embankment is more likely to be referred to as Valley Cob (or is that Cobb?). The reasons for this are unknown to me. Maybe it’s due the building materials?? I know not. But will endeavour to find out. At some point.

You should know that the Cob has always spooked me. Driving along between Valley and Holyhead, the wall separating the A5 from the railway line seems to draw your car towards it. I always felt there was something weird and wonderful about this phenomenon. Although I rather think now that there is a more rational explanation. Still, what’s more interesting is that the wall was apparently built so that the trains didn’t spook the horses on the road at the time. Who would have thought? Certainly not me. Spooked as I was...

The second link is a smaller road called Four Mile Bridge. Incidentally, also the name of the village it serves. A small, quaint village. One of many, indeed, around here.

The main town on Holy Island is Holyhead, a port known primarily for its passenger and freight ferries to Ireland (Dublin and Dun Laoghaire). But Holyhead is far more than just a port. It is home to many attractions, including the Holyhead Breakwater, Breakwater Country Park, Holyhead Mountain,  the remains of a Roman fort. Among other things. But I will return to Holyhead shortly.

It will not be surprising to know that the main attractions and destinations on the island involve beaches: Trearddur Bay, Rhoscolyn, Silver Bay, Newry, Porthdafarch, Rocky Coast. Okay, so the sun isn’t out as often as it could be. But these are stunning areas with or without the sun. With just the wildness of nature. Great places for walking, surfing, kayaking. Or just clearing the cobwebs away in the blustery sea air.
Then there is Penrhos Coastal Park and Nature Reserve, North and South Stack Lighthouses; the RSPB information centre, Elin’s Tower; the Ucheldre (art) Centre; Trefignath Burial chamber, Ty Mawr hut circles, Standing Stones.

But all in good time. I will tantalise you with some photos of the area. And endeavour to look into all these places in more detail. For my benefit as much as yours, you understand. :0)





Thursday, 26 December 2013

In Wales, it's eight different weathers in a day - Piper Perabo

I finally managed to get out for a walk today. Between the horrendous gales and incessant rain. Strode out and filled my lungs with cool, fresh, salty air. It was so delightful.

My thoughts remain with those across the country less fortunate. Who are clearing away the aftermath of the latest gales. Dreading, along with them, the next onslaught. Whipping up outside now as I write.

The greatest inconvenience afforded me here has been the inability to get outside freely and easily. Oh, and the inability to put the bins out. Without causing damage to myself or others. Minor inconveniences, you will agree. But inconveniences, all the same.
I did manage to clamber into my car during a break in the rain. I had to get out and drove around the coast. The sights were astounding. Trees bent over. Bins flying around. Waves beyond belief. And people lying on surfs in those amazing waves hoping for a ride or two. Absolutely astounding.

But walking out is so liberating. Faster or slower, as you wish. Or as your muscles will allow. I took a detour onto Holyhead Mountain while the weather was good. To see where my aunt previously lived. The memories! One thing though. I don't remember people being so vocal in their friendliness in days gone by. Everyone calls out greetings as you go by. It's heartwarming! Where did that come from? Maybe it was always there and I just didn't see it...

Something that certainly wasn't always there: the Christmas jumper. It has returned. Now where did that come from? It's the strangest phenomenon. I remember it as a child. Haunting us in presents from not-so-cool aunts and uncles. But then it became so uncool it wouldn't be touched with a barge pole by any right-minded person. Now it appears it's so uncool it's cool. It's taking some mental adjustment on my behalf to rationalise. Not judge, just rationalise. Such are the perils of the expat returning.


Saturday, 21 December 2013

I tramp a perpetual journey - Walt Whitman

Well, I am finally feeling settled. I have a job! I can now relax. For two weeks at least. Before my start date. But YehHeh! The relief is great. I have duly celebrated. And may well do so again before I start.

It feels like I've been applying for jobs for an eternity. So many emails to reply to, so many very long application forms to fill in. No really. As I said previously, applying for jobs is a job in itself.

And it so occurred that I had numerous interviews this week. And then had two offers on the same day. Thursday. With a third potential offer by telephone. Typical, n'est-ce pas? As the old adage goes: you wait all day for one bus, and then two come along at the same time.

But I'm hardly complaining. It's not necessarily unpleasant to have two buses at the same time. The only issue is deciding which one you'll take. And that's not always an easy choice. I've gone with my heart. I hope it's right.

So now I do feel settled. I'm baking and reading and walking and taking photographs. And visiting. Between storms and gales. Oh and relaxing too. Bien sûr. Before the madness begins again...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open - Jawaharlal Nehru

I am back on my feet and raring to go. Well, pretty much. The air is fresh and ever-so-slightly cold, so being outside is a relief after four days indoors. And a blast. In so many ways.

I made my first outing yesterday. Under the cover of my lovely little car. I pootled off to an interview in the middle of nowhere. A most beautiful nowhere. In the middle of the island. Just fields of the greenest green as far as the eye could see. Dotted with stone cottages and country lanes. Tractors. And sheep. Always sheep.

It was a wonderful drive. A tad difficult to concentrate on the scenery with the rather tight country lanes to negotiate. Still I took my time. And took in en route Llyn Alaw, a man-made reservoir of fair size. Although my fair size and yours may not be the same. So to be precise, a surface area of 3.6 sq² (1.4 mi²). Only mentioned because it made me smile. As only good memories can. Three of us bunked off school on my 18th birthday and drove out to the lake for a picnic. A blustery but clement September day. Full of fun. Followed by not-so-fun reprimands from the school. Good memories all the same...

Today I took in more air. I went down to the allotment. To examine the piece of land conferred to me. But mainly to work. Manure arrived. Oh yes. Tons of the stuff. Or what appeared to be tons. Delivered in a pile by a very nice farmer. To be wheel-barrowed onto our soil and spread. That was my job: spreading. Not as easy as it may sound. But spread it I did. And if the sharp air hadn't cleared my germ-filled lungs, then believe me manure did. Fresh and fragrant. Most foully fragrant.

But it was somehow fulfilling work. On the land. In the land. Worms and all. The dung will now hopefully do its thing and we'll reap the rewards throughout the coming year. I have great plans. Onions and garlic. Leeks and potatoes. Carrots and courgettes and aubergines. Now I just have to learn to garden...

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world - Gustave Flaubert

All my plans this week came to an abrupt standstill thanks to a battery of germs. Or should I say a battering from germs. Common cold ones. Nothing too sinister, methinks. But heavy-duty enough to down me for three days. No voice. No temperature control. And no breathing capacity.

I expected as much, to be quite honest. Big move means intense activity means huge stress. Once it all ends, the immune system staggers to a halt. And the germs move in. They can always sense an advantage.

Still, being ill and surrounded by family is an obvious plus. Bread and drugs delivered to your door. Along with a steady stream of chocolate and DVDs. Who am I to complain?

But like all things, germs pass. And mine are on their way. If slowly. Still they do leave their mark. I had much planned for the end of the week particularly. Two interviews being of higher importance on my list.

One I happily conducted over the telephone. Another recruitment agency. Another very nice lady. Very accommodating. Very patient. In view of my inability to speak clearly. And possibly coherently.

The second was for a job I really wanted. Receptionist at a doctor's surgery. I have no experience for such a position. No direct experience at least. But I liked the idea of human contact. The notion of helping people. If only indirectly. I called to try and re-arrange the interview. My temperature was spiking and I was finding it difficult to manœuvre myself around the house, never mind drive my car across the island. But no show, no interview. Tant pis pour moi, as my French friends would say.

I comfort myself that I wouldn't want to work for people who would not proffer a second chance. Or prefer you to expose yourself and your germs to all. Even a doctor's surgery. But platitudes are unsatisfying.

I do however have three and possibly four interviews this week. Which is good. And somewhat exciting. Although probably more daunting. Such is a week in the life of an expat job-hunter. More photos will follow. I promise :0)