My route to Anglesey showground took me on a B road from Benllech village across the island, through Llangefni and up the A5 in the direction of Holyhead. I had only just left the outskirts of the village when I came across a baby rabbit lying dead in the middle of the road - now I know this probably sounds mad, but being the animal lover I am I hate to see any sort of 'roadkill' and I didn't like the thought of this poor little rabbit getting squashed by another car, so I stopped as soon as I could, parked the van on the grass verge and walked back to 'rescue' the rabbit, laying it gently in the long grass beside a stone wall. With my 'good deed' done I returned to the van and continued on my way, following the winding road through some lovely countryside to the small town of Llangefni. At the far side of the town the road becomes an A road which ends in two roundabouts linking the original A5 with the newer A55 bypass. The A55 passes diagonally across the A5 and it's very easy to take the wrong exit off the roundabout - I almost did, but realised in time and fortunately managed to take the right one. There was hardly any traffic on the A5, so driving through the villages was a pleasure - as I rounded a bend I could see the airfield at Mona on my right, and up ahead the sight of many rows of parked cars told me that the car boot sale was well and truly on. When I finally arrived I had to wait a couple of minutes in a traffic queue, such is the popularity of the sale, but once through the gates I paid my £1 entrance fee and found a place to park in a less populated part of the showground.
The first thing to do was get some breakfast, so I made my way to one of the big catering trailers and ordered a bacon and egg roll and a large coffee, and looping the dog leads over the trailer's towbar meant I had both hands free to deal with my food and drink, which I enjoyed while sitting at a nearby table. Once breakfast was out of the way I set out to browse the stalls, walking up one row and down the next till I had seen every one - and out of all those stalls I only made two purchases; a large lion picture for my African-themed living room at home and a suitcase camping stove. After I had taken these back to the van I took the dogs for a walk round the far end of the showground where there was plenty of space for them to run off the lead for a while, then I settled them in the van ready to drive to my next port of call - I was heading for Trearddur Bay, and I was going for a reason. A few years ago at work I had seen a calendar photo of a little cove with boats moored in the water and a white hotel on the headland above; the caption underneath gave the location as Trearddur Bay and it was such an attractive picture that I wanted to find the place and get my own photo, but although I had been there more than once since then I had never found that spot. And spending an hour or so wandering round with a camera is never particularly easy when someone else is with you, so now I was on my own I had all the time I needed to go in search of that cove - and I wasn't giving up till I found it!
Driving through Trearddur village I approached the bay itself from the northern end, going past the big white Trearddur Bay Hotel and the general store with its buckets and spades on display outside, and arriving at the car park which is separated from the promenade by shallow dunes. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that this seemed to be the cheapest car park yet, at only 50p per hour or £2 for all day - I didn't think I would need more than a couple of hours so I paid my £1, got my ticket, then collected my camera and the dogs and set off to explore. Walking through the dunes and out onto the promenade it struck me that things seemed to be different to when I was last there three years ago, and looking round me I realised that the whole promenade was completely new. A low concrete wall with built-in seating areas separated the promenade from the dunes, and curved blue-painted railings ran the whole length of the outer edge which, coupled with the white concrete of the promenade itself, looked really bright and attractive.
I walked along to the northern end of the promenade where there was a couple of fast food vans and treated myself to an ice cream which I ate while sitting on the wall - I knew there was no point going farther than that in my quest to find the cove as I had looked round that end of the bay before, so with my ice cream finished I set off for the far side of the bay. In previous years I had only gone as far as where the promenade itself ended but there was a road beyond there so I was going to try my luck in that direction. When I got to the end of the promenade I turned and surveyed the scene in front of me - the sea was on the retreat, leaving a wide expanse of flat clean sand, the water lapped the beach in ripples rather than waves, and the view was certainly deserving of a photo.
From the promenade I went up onto the road, and as I walked along the terrain changed from flat beach to rocky outcrops which sheltered several small sandy bays and inlets, where people sunbathed and boats bobbed about with the motion of the tide.
At one point the road veered away from the sea and passed through a small hamlet of white-painted bungalows and guest houses - mindful of the time, and not wanting to incur a parking fine on my van, I wondered if it would be wise to continue my walk as I didn't know just how far I would have to go to find the place I was looking for. But I wasn't giving up that easily, and as the saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat - so I turned back the way I had come and went back to the car park, then with the dogs safely in the back of the van I drove back along the road I had just walked down. At the far side of the hamlet the road rounded a bend and opened up to provide a view of a small sandy bay with several boats anchored offshore, and as I drove past and looked to my right there it was - the white hotel on the headland. I had found my little cove! It took a few minutes to find somewhere to park, but once that was sorted out I was able to take the dogs and my camera and explore at leisure. At one end of the bay was a large car park which was busy with boat trailers and 4 x 4 vehicles from a nearby sailing club, and a small promenade bordered the beach so I walked along there first and took a few photos.
My main objective though was to try to replicate the calendar photo which had started my initial quest, and although I wasn't lucky enough to have that picture with me the details were firmly etched in my mind. It took quite a bit of walking round and scrambling over rocks before I satisfied myself that I was in near enough the right place, and although there weren't as many boats as in the original picture all the other details were the same. The resulting photo obviously wasn't as good as the professional shot on the calendar but it was good enough for me, and I was just happy that after searching for so long I had finally found what I was looking for.
I spent quite some time scrambling round the rocks and discovering hidden inlets and corners where boats were moored, and I even saw a young couple sunbathing on a rocky ledge which looked to be totally inaccessible.
When I had finally finished my rock scrambling I returned to the road and made my way back to the van - and that's when I came upon what must be the most gorgeous house and garden on Anglesey. Double gates led into the private driveway where a couple of vintage cars were parked; the well-mown lawn was bordered by a low conifer hedge and a couple of ornamental gas lamps stood sentinel by the path up to the door. The house itself was black and white, with a large blue-faced clock above the front door and flower-filled window boxes and hanging baskets all along the front facade. Round the side the garden was filled with exotic palms, small trees and pretty flowering shrubs. It was chocolate box pretty and would, to my mind, have made a wonderful subject for a jigsaw puzzle.
The house made such an impact on me that I could hardly tear myself away, but when Sophie started to get impatient I continued back to the van and set off for the next place to explore. I was heading for Rhosneigr, a place I had never been to before, but just out of Trearddur I saw a sign for Rhoscolyn, another place which was unfamiliar to me, so I decided to make a detour - and in some ways I wished afterwards that I hadn't as the route wasn't the easiest. The lane was a very winding single track barely wider than the van, with small passing places which were few and far between, and I was just hoping that I wouldn't meet something coming the other way. But on a ninety degree bend I did - I came face-to-face with a large 4 x 4. Luckily there was a cottage on the corner with a small gravel driveway so I reversed into there far enough to allow the other vehicle to pass then continued on my way. The rest of the journey was without incident, and the lane eventually ended in a rough-surfaced car park backed by low dunes - and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the car park was free. A path led from there through the dunes and onto the beach - I don't really know what I was expecting to find when I got there, but I certainly wasnt expecting to find a whole lot of nothing! The beach itself curved round in a wide arc of flat sand with a rocky outcrop at the far end; there was a handful of dinghies pulled up onto the sand near the dunes, and an old blue and white Ford tractor in pristine condition was parked nearby. The total number of people on the whole beach was exactly six, so it certainly wasn't a busy place, and I wondered if that was why there was no charge for the car park - maybe not enough people go there to make it worthwhile installing a ticket machine and collecting the money.
It certainly seemed to be a 'get-away-from-it-all' type of place and if I'd had more time I would probably have stayed for a while and enjoyed the peace and quiet, but I didn't want to leave it too late to go to Rhosneigr, so after a quick wander round I returned to the van and prepared to negotiate the single-track lane back to civilisation.
My route to Rhosneigr took me inland over Four Mile Bridge (which is actually only a couple of hundred yards long) and onto the A5, where I headed down towards the Anglesey showground before turning back towards the coast. Eventually I arrived at a crossroads in the centre of Rhosneigr village and I could see the sea at the end of the road in front of me. It was aptly named Beach Road, because not only did it lead to the beach it led directly onto the beach, but unfortunately there was no convenient place to park so I went back onto the main road in search of somewhere. I finally found a little turn off leading down to the beach, with a patch of very rough land about halfway along which was being used by water sports enthusiasts as a car park - it may have been rough but it was also free so that was good enough for me and that's where I left the van.
At the bottom of the lane a path led through dunes onto soft pale sand dotted with rocks, and with firmer darker sand nearer the water's edge. Letting the dogs off the lead I walked along till I came to the end of Beach Road where I bought my second ice cream of the day from a nearby van and sat for a few minutes on a wall, just taking in the view. The beach curved round to the left, several dinghies were pulled up on the sand near the wall, and even though the tide was out there were quite a few kite surfers out on the water.
Once I had finished my ice cream and taken a couple of photos I made my way back along the beach to where I had left the van - the day was still gloriously warm and I would have liked to stay longer, but I still had to pack up my tent and go home so unfortunately I had to leave, though I promised myself that I would go back another time.
When I finally got back to the camp site I made myself a coffee and a sandwich and had an hour of relaxation before I started packing things away. That didn't take long as I only had my own bed and bedding, the dogs' beds and the tent to pack, everything else was in the van - and as on previous occasions, it was with great reluctance that I drove away from my pitch and the site. I didn't leave the village straight away though, I drove down to the beach and took the dogs for a final walk - by then it was getting on for 9pm and the beach was almost deserted, but the sun was still shining and it made a lovely end to a lovely day.
The drive home was easy and uneventful, and with the dogs being tired out after all their walking they slept for the whole journey. I arrived back at 11.30pm, tired but happy - I'd had a great weekend, the weather had been glorious, I had been to some lovely places and taken some good photos. My life as a solo camper was going brilliantly, and I couldn't wait for my next trip!