About Me

My photo
Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it

Sunday July 24th 2011 - Part 2 - Penmaenmawr, Llanfairfechan and fog

As I left Conwy behind and drove down the A55 back towards Anglesey I wondered what delights the next two places would have in store. Every time I've travelled along the coast road I've seen the signs for these two places but never seen the places themselves. On the landward side of the road are various houses but anything on the seaward side can't be seen as the road is above sea level with a high concrete wall obscuring the view, so it would be interesting to see exactly what was over there.

My first stop was Penmaenmawr - following the signs off the A55 took me through the back end of the little town to the far side of it where another road crossed over the A55 via a bridge and almost doubled back on itself, going down to sea level and ending in a car park at the end of the promenade. The promenade itself consisted of a long stretch of pink tarmac, bordered on one side by lawns, flower beds and the concrete wall of the A55 and on the other side by a very stony beach, though there would probably be some sand somewhere when the tide was out. Weeds and wild plants were growing through the stones at the edge of the tarmac, whether by design or accident I don't know, but I felt that they gave a rather untidy look to an otherwise pleasant promenade. About halfway along an underpass went under the road, presumably to the town, and ahead of me I could see four buildings with conical shaped roofs - when I reached them I found the smaller ones were shelters and the larger one was a cafe and ice cream kiosk. In the centre of them was a childrens paddling pool and at one side was a grassy play area with brightly painted slides and climbing frames - it was quite a nice area and certainly seemed to be popular with children of varying ages.

The promenade itself ended just beyond the play area but there was a coastal path and cycleway which continued from there - that was my turn around point and with no wish to go up into the town I headed back to the van. I wouldn't say the promenade was particularly exciting but it was a pleasant enough place and had at least been worth a look. My next stop was Llanfairfechan, and again the road took me off the A55 and through the back end of the town before going underneath the main road and down towards the promenade where it curved round to the right with a large car park on the left. A long low building at the far side of the car park housed a cafe and as I parked the van I could already see that there was more to this place than at there was at Penmaenmawr.

With the dogs on the lead once again I set off northwards first. The narrow road led past a long row of very pleasant looking garden-fronted three-storey houses, a handful of which were B & Bs and guest houses, and between there and the actual promenade were a couple of nice lawned areas. At the end of the row of houses was a play area with purpose-built slopes for skateboarders and just beyond it a lawned area with climbing frames and a slide. Another couples of houses followed then the road doubled back on itself with another underpass going under the railway line and the main road and leading towards the town.

The promenade itself came to a dead end there as the railway line ran close to the shore at that point and I could go no further, so I turned and retraced my steps back to the car park and continued southwards. Just beyond the car park a shallow stream flowed down into the sea, with a large house set in its own grounds nearby. The house had a turret on one side, and with the surrounding trees and the hills in the background I thought it looked very much like a Bavarian castle. Crossing the stream by a narrow footbridge brought me to a large park with a play area, tennis courts, cricket pitch and a large man-made lake which was a designated wildlife area and which looked like it was very popular with various ducks, geese, swans and seagulls. Beyond the lake the promenade continued past a row of large detached houses with nice gardens and uninterrupted views over the sea towards Anglesey - just the sort of place I would like to live, but I don't know which house I would choose as they all looked nice.

Just past the houses was a long field where a couple of dozen sheep grazed contentedly and a handful of birds pecked at the grass. At the far side of the field, backed by a row of tall trees, a motley collection of sheds and greenhouses signified the presence of several allotments, and with the hills in the background it all made for a very peaceful rural scene. Taking in the view in front of me it was hard to believe that the A55 was only a stone's throw away as it could be neither seen nor heard from there.

I could have walked further but time was getting on so I headed back to the van, and after giving the dogs another drink I set off to find my way back to the coast road and so on to Anglesey - if I was going to visit Louise later on I didn't want to leave it too late. It didn't take too long to get back to Benllech - I stopped at the shop to get something to go with a brew then back at the tent I fed Sophie and Sugar, put the kettle on then rang Louise to say I was 'home'. We arranged a time for me to visit and she said that as I didn't have a satnav it wouldn't be easy for me to find her house so she would meet me at Penrhos country park and I could follow her back home. As soon as I had finished my brew I tidied away my mug and plate then loaded the dogs back in the van and set off. Louise lived near Holyhead so it was quite a distance to drive - my route took me through Llangefni, and although Penrhos is on the A5 it was quicker for me to get onto the Anglesey part of the A55 and return to the A5 near to Penrhos.

Louise was waiting for me when I reached the car park at Penrhos and once I had given the dogs a quick few minutes out of the van we set off for her house. It didn't take long to get there and after she had introduced me to her husband Derek she made a coffee, then with Sophie and Sugar mooching about round the kitchen and the back garden we settled in for a good chinwag. To say that we had never met before and I had only previously corresponded with Louise through UKCS and a few emails I got on great with them, but then we did share a lot of common ground with our love of camping and caravanning. We talked about anything and everything and the time just flew by. Before I knew it it was getting late and time for me to go, so once I had put Sophie and Sugar in the van Louise told me the easiest way to get back to the A55 and we said our goodbyes. 

Following Louise's directions took me down into Holyhead itself and round by the ferry terminal before crossing over the railway line and joining the start of the A55. The first five minutes or so of the journey were quite pleasant with only an odd car here and there on the road - I think the residents of Anglesey must all go into overnight hibernation once it gets past a certain time - but all at once I drove into bank of swirling fog which lasted for quite a distance before it cleared. It was like that for the whole of my drive down the A55 - a clear patch with the bright moon up above then a bank of fog where I couldn't see very far in front. And to make matters worse the front windscreen had misted up and the heater wasn't working so the only way I could clear it was by driving with my window open - and it was absolutely freezing. I couldn't believe that after such a beautifully warm sunny day and evening the fog could make it so bitterly cold. Rather than go back through Llangefni and along the narrow country road I went as far as Britannia bridge before turning off onto the road to Benllech, and it was only when I got away from the A55 that the fog dispersed and everything was clear again. I don't know if night time fog during summer is common on the A55 or if it was just a one-off, but as much as I like driving round Anglesey I hated every minute of that journey. If that had been a fairground white knuckle ride I would have been screaming "Stop, I want to get off!!"

By the time I got back to my tent my fingers were numb through being on the steering wheel and I was shivering with cold - and all I can say is thank goodness for fan heaters. With no fog on that side of the island the outside temperture was quite reasonable but I plugged my fan heater in and sat in front of it until I got warmed up, then made myself a mug of steaming hot chocolate for good measure. Then after settling Sophie and Sugar on their beds I got into mine, and as soon as my mug was empty I snuggled down into my fleece blankets - if they didn't keep me warm nothing would. And I decided that once I got back home number one on my list of priorities was to get the heater in the van fixed!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I really appreciate good comments - who doesn't? - but due to a recent tide of spam from anonymous readers all comments will now be moderated, and only those with a direct bearing on this blog will be published. I'm sure my regular blog readers/commenters will understand the need for this - and to anyone whose comment isn't published, you know why.