Red Wharf Bay is only a ten minute drive from the camp site, and what a difference I saw when I got there - instead of the vast expanse of sand which I'd always seen before there was water, and lots of it. The lane down to the bay ended in a small car park by the sea wall; to my right was a row of white-walled cottages and bungalows with a pub at the end, and leading from the car park was a grass-topped sand and shingle spit of land jutting out into the sea and forming a lagoon in front of the pub and cottages. Boats bobbed about on the water, and while the sea on the far side of the wall had been whipped into waves by the wind the water in the lagoon was very calm and still with only a few ripples. It was a very attractive scene, and certainly deserving of several photos.
From Red Wharf Bay I drove down to Britannia Bridge and crossed over onto the mainland, turning off the main A55 and following the signs for Caernarfon. My first port of call though was Port Dinorwic, a small village and port on the Menai Strait - this was another place I had seen on a calendar a few years previously, the picture inspiring me to go there, but on my one and only opportunity the weather had been rather overcast so a second visit was long overdue. Following the sign off the main Caernarfon road took me down a lane and round behind the car park of a sailing club before emerging on the village foreshore. Three rows of cottages bordered one side of the lane while on the other was a long expanse of well mown grass interspersed with car parking spaces along the road side and with a children's play area at one end. At the far end was a low sea wall and a small stoney beach and a pub at the end the row of cottages, and past the beach was a row of very modern and attractive white-walled houses overlooking the water.
Finding a parking space, which seemed to be free as I couldn't find a ticket machine and none of the other cars had tickets on them, I reversed the van in, clipped the leads on the dogs and set off to explore. Walking past the beach and round the sea wall took me past the first row of modern houses and led me round a corner to another row of houses and a large marina where many private boats were moored alongside the floating jetties.
The marina was backed by yet more houses, and walking past these brought me to the entrance to the little port. Boats were moored along both sides of the quay and a swing bridge spanned the water. On one side of the quay was a pleasant grassed area and a hardstanding where several boats were being worked on by their owners - it was a very nice little place and I spent quite a while wandering round taking photos.
When I was satisfied that I'd seen all there was to see I made my way back to the van, going through the houses this time. And what lovely houses they were - ultra-modern semi-detached and town houses set on a quiet one-sided lane, each with an integral garage, block-paved drive and either a lawn or shingle area with plants, shrubs and trees, and all of them having wonderful views over the Menai Strait from their rear balconies. I noticed a For Sale sign up outside one of them and it crossed my mind that if I were to win the lottery then I would seriously consider buying it. However, daydreaming wouldn't get me to the next place on my list, so after giving the dogs a drink and settling them in the back of the van I left Port Dinorwic behind and headed off for Caernarfon. It didn't take long to get there, and following the signs round the one-way system through the town - which strangely goes right through the market place even when the market is on - took me to a large car park beside the river and right next to the castle. The camp site warden had previously told me that I could park for free at the supermarket just out of town but when I passed it on the way in I realised it was too far from where I wanted to be, so the pay-and-display car park it had to be.
By the time I had found a space and parked the van I realised I was feeling a bit peckish so I walked up the hill into the town in search of something to eat. I didn't have to look far; there was a nice looking cafe on a nearby corner with a few tables set outside, so hitching the dogs to a nearby lamp post I went in to order then chose a table close to the dogs. It seemed to take forever for my coffee and cake to arrive, and when it did I wasn't terribly impressed - the cake was quite nice but the coffee was only just about warm. Now normally I'm not one to complain but there was no way I could drink that, it just wasn't as hot as it should be, so I took it back - the assistant did apologise and said she would bring me a fresh one, which she did, and thankfully it was much hotter than the first. So with my hunger and thirst finally satisfied, albeit temporarily, I set off to have a look round the immediate vicinity.
Just by the side of the cafe was a very narrow pedestrianised street - not much more than an alleyway really, and appropriately called Hole in the Wall Street - which ran alongside part of the outer wall of the castle so I walked down there a little way first. There didn't seem to be much down there other than a handful of little restaurants and bistros but I was struck by the colourful fronts of the buildings, especially with the sun shining on them - certainly worth a photo. Down another side street I came across two old stone buildings set at right angles to each other, and built in the angle was a modern square tower with a high arched entrance with ornamental gates, white walls and a fancy roof, and high up on the front wall was a colourful coat of arms. I didn't know what the building was supposed to be but the tower looked very attractive and certainly deserved a photo. From there I went to the market place and had a look round some of the stalls before going back down the hill to the car park and the riverside quay. It seemed to be a popular place for crab fishing as there were quite a lot of children and teenagers with crab lines and bait sitting with their feet dangling over the edge.
From the quayside I went across the swing bridge at the mouth of the river and walked a little way along the sea front road but there wasn't really anything much along there so I retraced my steps and made my way back to the van. I had to wait several minutes to cross back over the river though as the swing bridge had been opened to allow a yacht with a very tall mast to sail through.
Back at the van I gave the dogs a drink, which for once they weren't really interested in, then with them safely back in the van I set off on the next part of my day. There was one particular little place which I really wanted to go to but after that it was anyone's guess where I would end up - I suppose you could say I was undertaking my own private mystery tour!