I headed for Pete's Cafe just by the crossroads in the village, as I knew I would get a good breakfast there, but when I got there I was disappointed to find that sometime in the last two years it had closed down and changed hands, and was now a charity shop. I had to think of an alternative, and remembered that there was a cafe next to the gift shop at the far end of the promenade, so I made my way down the hill and along the seafront - only to find that this too had changed, and what was once a proper cafe with tables and a counter was now an amusement place with slot machines and a small fast food kiosk in one corner. Now as much as I like cheeseburgers I don't eat them very often and I certainly didn't want one for breakfast! My third option was to go back along the promenade to The Bay cafe/bar, which had a sign outside saying that they now serve breakfasts - there is a lovely outside seating area there, overlooking the rocks and the beach, so I fastened the dogs to the railings near one of the tables and went inside to place my order. I decided to treat myself to a 'full English', and although it wasn't cheap it was very good, and made all the more enjoyable by the lovely surroundings and the view over the beach.
With breakfast over I made my way back to the site and my tent, and spent a couple of hours relaxing in the sun, looking at the view from my pitch, and planning where I was going to go over the weekend.
Since the last time I was there I had got a better camera, and the object of the weekend was to take some nice photos, so I decided to just drive about the island, visit places I had been to before and maybe find some I hadn't been to. My first port of call was back down to the beach - the tide had come in, and as I had never before got any photos of that beach with the sea up I didn't want to miss the opportunity. I managed to find a parking space along the promenade - I wouldn't be there long so it wasn't worth paying an all-day fee in the car park - and just wandered along with camera at the ready.
From there I drove on to Moelfre, the next proper village along the coast heading north, but on the way there I suddenly remembered that a few years ago I had gone to a little beach which was down a lane somewhere between Benllech and Moelfre, so I decided to see if I could find it. And my instinct, memory, and good sense of direction didn't let me down - turning off the main road I found the lane and followed it down to where it almost ended, in a large gravel-surfaced car park which was full to overflowing with 4 x 4 vehicles and boat trailers. It took several minutes to find a space, but once I was safely parked I got a ticket from the machine, collected the dogs and my camera, and set off to explore. Across the far side of the car park was a modern toilet block with showers, and on the corner was a small cafe and gift shop. The lane itself ended in a concrete slipway leading down into the sea - on the left was a white-painted bungalow with a dirt track behind it, and on the right a stretch of sand backed by a grassed area and the walls of a sailing club building. It was certainly a very popular little place - there were several boats bobbing about at the water's edge, with people either getting in or getting out of them; yachts were pulled up onto the beach or on the grass, some on trailers and some wedged on chocks; people were sitting on the beach enjoying the sun while children and dogs played at the water's edge, and out to sea a couple of jet skis were zooming around.
Walking back to the end of the lane I thought about exploring along the dirt track but unfortunately there was a 'private' sign at the entrance so I didn't go any further; however my attention was caught by the terraced garden of a cottage set back off the track. The whole garden was a riot of stone walls, trees, shrubs, hanging baskets, roses, fuschias and any number of other brightly coloured flowers - just the sort of garden I would love to have myself and certainly worthy of a couple of photos.
I had just taken my second photo when I had to move to one side for a 4 x 4 vehicle coming slowly down the track, towing a very posh-looking boat on a trailer - the driver had to stop before turning out onto the lane, so taking a chance I asked if he thought it would be okay for me to walk along and take some photos and he said it would be. And I'm so glad I asked as otherwise I would have missed something I thought was really special.
The top of the track widened out into a large gravel car park with yachts and other boats on trailers parked in a line along the edge, some with their towing vehicles parked alongside. There was also half a dozen old tractors parked in various places, obviously used for towing and reversing boat trailers in and out of the water. Standing at the seaward side of the car park I looked back towards the beach and it reminded me almost as if it could have been somewhere abroad.
It was when I reached the far end of the car park that I got a lovely surprise - an inlet from the sea led to a small sheltered cove where more boats were moored. Just in front of me a flight of steep stone steps led from the perimeter wall down into the sea, and over on my left a gravel slope ran down and over to the back of the cove. This looked to be quite a secret little place, and I felt very privelaged to be there. Surveying the scene in front of me I wondered, in view of the access track being private, how many members of the general public knew it was there - probably not many. And maybe, in the interests of keeping it private, I shouldn't be writing about it here!
It was all I could do to tear myself away from this pretty little place, but as I wanted to explore elsewhere I reluctantly made my way back to the van, stopping briefly at the cafe to get a can of Coke. Leaving the car park I followed the lane back to the main road and continued on to Moelfre, where I was able to park for free while I explored with the dogs. The small shingle beach comes up almost to the road, and at one point is only separated from it by a couple of bollards at its edge. A dozen or so fishing boats were pulled up onto the shingle and a couple of sunbathers lay on towels up against the sea wall.
The road through the village veers off to the left just beyond the beach, but a path to the right leads to a very pleasant cliff top walk past the lifeboat house and as far as the headland, with Moelfre Island opposite.
When I had seen all there was to see I retraced my steps back to the van and drove on to Lligwy beach - I had been there once before in previous years but on a very overcast day, so I was looking forward to seeing it in good weather. The car park was separated from the beach by low dunes, and I was quite surprised to see a few small tents dotted about in sheltered sandy hollows - I was later to learn that camping was permitted in the dunes, and the nightly fee was payable at the cafe near the car park entrance. The dunes were split by a wide stream which which wound its way across the beach and out to sea; to my left a wooden footbridge crossed the stream and to my right a few children were fishing for crabs and a couple of toddlers paddled in the shallower parts. Following a path through the dunes brought me to the beach - the tide had retreated, leaving a vast expanse of clean flat sand and quite a walk to the water's edge. The view was very attractive, and much nicer than the last time I had been there.
Walking back along the edge of the dunes towards the top of the car park I came across these two on a patch of grass near the cafe - I don't know where their owner was, or indeed if they both had the same owner, but they looked quite content in the sunshine.
After leaving Lligwy my next port of call was Cemaes Bay on the north of the island, another little place I had been to before. I drove along the seafront road towards the village and turned down the hill to the car park by the sea wall at the bottom - but when I saw the car park charges I promptly turned round and drove out again! I noticed there were quite a few cars parked by the grass verge along the seafront road so I left the van there and walked back down the hill. As with Llligwy the tide was out and a large expansive beach stretched between the small harbour at one side of the bay and the headland at the other.
With the dogs on their leads I walked along the promenade to the start of the headland then went down onto the beach, and letting the dogs free I walked out to the water's edge. The closer to the sea we got the wetter the sand became, and as soon as Sophie got her feet wet she became a bit wary of going any further - maybe she thought I was going to make her swim, and she didn't look very happy.
When we reached the water I walked parallel to the promenade and went back towards the harbour - the sea was lapping the sand in small gentle waves and it was very shallow for quite a distance out, so I walked in the water rather than on the sand. Sugar was playing her own little game with a piece of seaweed, tossing it into the water and retrieving it, though Sophie was quite happy to trot along just out of reach of the waves. Part way along was a yacht, anchored and up on chocks in the shallows, and the ladder up against one side suggested that the owner expected to be there for some time.
Nearing the harbour entrance I could see that the sand was becoming slippery with seaweed so I turned towards the promenade and skirting the nearby rocks I went back across the beach. There was a small kiosk at the corner of the car park so I bought a can of Coke, put the dogs back on their leads and walked through the fishermens' cottages out onto the harbour wall. Some of the boats moored in the harbour looked rather forlorn, beached on the sand and the seaweed-covered mud and waiting for the sea to return. Among the fishing boats and dinghies was an open boat which was obviously older than the others, and an information board on the wall told me that this was the Charles Henry Ashley, a recently restored lifeboat which was originally built in 1907.
By the time I had wandered along to the end of the harbour wall and back I was beginning to feel peckish. Looking at my watch I realised it was almost 7pm - the weather had been so lovely and time had been of no significance while I was exploring with my camera. No wonder I was feeling hungry - I had been out for well over seven hours and had nothing since breakfast other than two cans of Coke! It was certainly time to rectify the matter so I returned to the van, settled the dogs in the back and headed back to the site for a brew and something to eat. I spent the rest of the evening sitting outside my tent, and when the sun went down and the daylight finally began to fade I took the dogs for their last walk round the site before settling them on their beds and getting into mine. It had been a good day - the weather had been glorious, I had been to some lovely places and taken some good photos, and I just hoped that the following day would bring more of the same.