Friday, 30 January 2009

Llanberis Slate Museum

Llanberis Slate Museum

For the princely sum of £1 car parking for the whole day(!!) we enjoyed a splendid time at the Llanberis Slate Museum. Sounds boring doesn't it but in fact Mother (in her eighties) husband (interested in everything) me and the dog (yes they're welcome too) found the buildings, the railways and the living museums totally facinating.

The buildings were stout and purposeful, having stood for many years and with much life left in them yet. They housed not just the equipment necessary to run and maintain the mines but also the wooden moulds used to produce the bespoke ironmongery in the foundry. Pictoral images relayed the immensity of the sometimes huge frames, trusses and cog wheels needed to mine the slate that was so important to the area.

Trains were employed to move the slate and the workers around this vast site beneath the huge 'trash' piles of unworkable material. I hear that hand-cutting the slate was always done on a high point so if a mistake happened or the slate yielded an imperfection, it was just pushed down the slope out of the way. No time or further effort was made, there was after all, plenty more where that came from. The trains are run as a visitor attraction now - there is a small charge.

A demonstration of trimming slate was in progress - guess who was picked out to assist? I was guided to trim a slim roof-tile into a circular teapot's not bad either.

The 'living' museum was a short row of terraced houses. These had been relocated and resurrected here on the site and gave an amazing account of home-life from the early 1800's. The earliest cottage 2 up/2 down depicted the starkness which was everyday living. Many people could inhabit the small rooms for as some were leaving for work, others would be returning, to climb into the still-warm beds newly vacated. Cooking on a range over the fire and with no water they lacked even basic facilities (I think the outside lavatory was shared with the neighbours). The next property displayed the dourness of the Victorian era and the third cottage was uneasily familiar from the 1960's - I slept in a bed like that too!

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day for each of us and what a useful place to go on a rainy day.
Sue Allen

A Rare Close Encounter with a Chough

A Rare Close Encounter with a Chough

We arrived at the cliff above West Dale before the forecasted wind reached its peak. Even so small globules of sea foam blew up to meet us. We made our way down steps to the beach to find the bottom one already washed away by previous stormy seas.

We leaned into the wind and set off along the sand and shingle beach enjoying the dramatic wintry landscape. The bay is enclosed by Old Red Sandstone cliffs. Facing WSW it takes the brunt of prevailing winds. Huge crashing waves made a tumultuous roar as they rolled onto the shore making conversation difficult.

Amongst the flotsam and jetsam thrown up on the high tide line was the body of a Chough. It was a rare opportunity to make a close inspection of this seldom seen bird. Its glossy black plumage, bright pinkish red legs and long red downward curved beak told us it was an adult.

Choughs are scarce residents in the UK. Several hundred pairs only are to be found in south and west coasts of Ireland, in west Wales, on the Isle of Man, on a few Hebridean Islands, notably Islay and most recently in a small area of Cornwall. They favour coastal regions of sea cliffs, short turf for feeding and caves and cavities for nesting.

Once off the beach we followed the coastal path with spectacular views of Skokholm Island to St Ann's Head and then back to Dale via the road. Heavy grey clouds threatened us all the way but we reached the Griffin Inn without getting wet.

The open fire made our cheeks glow as we enjoyed a warming drink before heading home for spicy parsnip soup, crusty bread and some reading up on British sea birds.
Anne Incledon

A Winter Walk in Pembrokeshire

A Winter Walk in Pembrokeshire

We donned our boots, zipped up our jackets and wound our scarves tightly. We had already sheltered for ten minutes in the car for a lively rain squall to pass. As we approached the beach at Freshwater East the thunderous waves greeted us.

Half a dozen brave surfers paddled out through the breakers. In shivering anticipation they waited for an exhilarating, if short lived, ride on a seventh wave.

A comical Jack Russel repeatedly retrieved a Frisbee for its enthusiastic owners. He stood in the icy stream determinedly plunging his nose into the chilling water. After struggling, pulling and nipping the Frisbee relented and turned up its edge for him to sink his teeth into. Triumphantly and for the umpteenth time he dropped it at the feet of his Frisbee hurlers with a 'do it again' look.
We were bowled and buffeted along by the strong wind. The sea was wild. Gulls were soaring, pitching and rolling above us.

Ever since as a ten year old finding a green glass fishing float between the rocks on Marloes beach I have loved scouring beaches for treasure, especially after storms. No luck this time but I knew where to find a consolation glass...

We had earned our drink and Sunday lunch and so headed for the Stackpole Inn in the nearby village of Stackpole.

We were not disappointed. A roaring fire and welcoming hosts warmed and cheered us. They served a delicious lunch whilst chatting about their recent holiday in Poland with their Polish friend and chef. So enthused that they have organised a Polish evening for 6th February. An opportunity to sample authentic Polish fare in a convivial Welsh Inn. Another date for the diary. There are other regional evenings on the Stackpole Inn calender. We shall have to plan some more walks in preparation. Maybe alongside Bosherston Lily Ponds and onto Broad Haven beach.That should burn off a few calories.
Anne Incledon

Motoring Wales - Drive 1

One of the most beautiful, yet undiscovered areas of Wales are the Cambrian Mountains. A huge landscape in mid Wales, almost completely unpopulated, between Lampeter in the West, Buith Wells in the East and Machynlleth in the North. A number of the valleys have been flooded over the years to provide a water supply for more populated areas of Britain.
There are a number of roads which cross this lonely region and make for not only superb uninterrupted driving but also offer magnificent scenery.
From Tregaron take the tarmac track eastward into the hills. The undulating road winds and climbs steadily until it opens onto open moorland. Continue across the moor and take the right turn south having crossed the River Towy. An earlier right turn offers a short cut but it is worth driving the two sides of the triangle to experience the steep climbs and hairpins.
Following the Towy south you will soon reach the wooded banks of Lake Brianne. The road follows the southern banks of the lake offering many spectacular views. See picture of the Mk1 with views of Lake Brianne.
Having taken in the RSPB site some 2 miles form the Lake motor south and turn over the Towy Bridge. On the far side of the bridge is a welcoming Pub which offers exceptional value Pub Grub. On a hearty supper one can make for home either Westward towards Lampeter or south towards Llandovery.
Take care over the summits of hillocks on this mainly single track road and don't forget the sheep in this open countryside have little road sense.
Richard Sheen

Monday, 26 January 2009

Quality Cottages Pembrokeshire Tour Winter 09 - Holiday Cottages throughout Wales

A winter tour of the beaches and towns of Pembrokeshire

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Holidays In Wales - Welcome from Quality Cottages

Welcome to the Quality Cottages Blog.
Our highly experienced and knowledgeable team will be regularly posting their thoughts and observations from around Wales. Between us all we have accumulated many years of expert knowledge of Wales and its tourist attractions, scenic beauty, history and culture and look forward to sharing our observations.

The Quality Cottages Team