About Me

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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

Monday June 4th 2012 - St. Mary's Church, Menai Straits & Plas Newydd

On waking that morning I found things to be in complete contrast to the previous day - the wind and rain had gone, the sky was blue with fluffy white clouds, and the sun was shining and already warming the van. Not wanting to waste a second of this now glorious weather I was soon up and ready for my day, with the first task being to take the dogs for a decent walk to make up for not having been out properly the day before. Then it was kettle on and toast made and a consultation with the photography book to decide where I was going to go. The weather was now so clear that the Snowdonia hills across on the mainland looked to be close enough to touch with one finger, so I decided that my first port of call would be the Marquis of Anglesey Column near Llanfair PG - I should get some great pics from the top on such a clear day - then I would follow the book to St. Mary's church and the shore along the Menai Straits, where I should be able to replicate the photo of Britannia bridge and Nelson's monument.

With the breakfast things washed and put away and the dogs' water container filled ready for the day I put Sophie and Sugar in the van, disconnected the awning and set off in the pursuit of some photographs. Unfortunately though my first port of call turned out to be a complete no-go; as I turned into the car park near the Marquis of Anglesey Column I was surprised to see it completely empty, and on investigation I found a hand written notice stuck on a board near the path saying that the column was closed. Now had it been the previous day I could have understood it in view of the very high winds, but they had died a death and there wasn't even the hint of a breeze by then, so heaven knows what the reasoning was behind that one. Needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed - it was a gloriously calm, sunny and clear day, perfect for taking photos from the top of the column and yet the opportunity was being denied me. I felt like kicking the fence in frustration!

Hoping that my second stop would be more successful I pulled out of the car park and drove the couple of hundred yards along the road to the winding lane which would take me to St. Mary's church. The church was at the bottom of the lane, and the lane itself widened out on both sides allowing room for several cars to park, though there were no other vehicles there just then. A notice on a board by the church gate said that dogs on leads were welcome in the church grounds so at least I was able to take Sophie and Sugar with me while explored. Holding my book open at the relevant page for reference I walked round the gravestones until I found the spot the author's first photo of the church was taken from, and although it was a different time of day, therefore different light conditions, I got almost the same photo. Satisfied with that I followed the path through the graveyard and down to the shore, stopping to take a couple of photos of the church through the trees, then I set off along the rocky shoreline to find the right spot from which to take a shot of Britannia bridge.

The book's author stated that he had walked for about ten minutes from the churchyard path to get to the spot where he had taken his photo so I did more or less the same, though when I took my own shot I found that Nelson's monument didn't seem to show up as well as in the book, again probably because the light was different. Looking further along the straits I could see a concrete jetty with a peculiar looking little white building at the shore end of it so I decided to walk along to see what it was, but when I got there I was none the wiser. It was a round building with a hexagonal-shaped slate roof, looking almost like a larger version of a garden dove cote; railings prevented public access and there was nothing anywhere which gave any indication of what it was, though set back away from the shoreline was the car park of what seemed to be a small sailing club so it may have been something to do with that.

At the far side of the jetty was a quiet little cove with a white cottage across the other side; after snapping a quick photo I turned round and made my way back towards the church, and by keeping close to the waterline I was able to get a shot of the bridge with Nelson's monument clearly visible. I was very tempted to scramble over the rocks at the base of the monument to see if I could get a photo of the front of it, but I could see that the whole area was covered in slimy seaweed and not wanting to risk any accidents, either to the dogs or myself, I decided against it, though I did get a shot of the far side of it from just beyond the end of the churchyard path.

Walking back through the churchyard I pondered on where to go next and decided on a visit to Plas Newydd, a large stately home and gardens just along the straits. I must confess that I'm not really a lover of stately homes but I do like gardens, and as my son had bought me a National Trust membership last Christmas I thought I may as well take advantage of it and have a look round. It didn't take many minutes to get there and when I drove into the car park I found that there were no designated parking spaces, it was very much a 'park where you want' sort of place so I found a good spot in the shade under the spreading branches of a large tree. Entrance to the grounds proper was through a small gift shop, and it was great to be able to just show my NT membership card at the counter and go through without handing any money over - that was a saving of £9 so I was well pleased.

From the gift shop a path meandered past a wooded area and the end of the car park and came out at the top of a long steeply sloping lawned area with wide shallow steps cut into one side; down at the bottom was the house, and beyond the house were the Menai Straits with the Snowdonia hills in the distance. Following the map on the leaflet I was handed at the counter I went down the steps and round to the far side of the house, and passing the terraced garden I followed the path along through the woods - I was heading for the rhododendron garden, which the assistant on the counter had told me was a mile and a half away, but she mustn't have had much idea about distance as it was less than half that. Anyway, if it really had been a mile and a half I would have ended up back at Britannia bridge! Unfortuately though, when I got to the garden the rhododendrons were all past their best and there weren't many still in flower, but the ones which were made some lovely splashes of colour among all the surrounding greenery.

When I'd finished wandering round the various paths among the bushes I made my way back through the woods for a look round the terraced garden. There wasn't a lot of colour there, it was mainly laid to lawn, surrounded by box hedges with a fish pond in the centre of the lower terrace and huge urns and earthenware pots placed at regular intervals, but neverless it was rather an attractive area with a good view of the straits to the hills beyond and it was certainly worth taking a few photos.

Those were to be my last photos for that day as my camera batteries decided to die a death; I still had other parts of the gardens to see as well as the area down by the water, but even if I could have got some new batteries from the gift shop it wouldn't have been worth it - the camera uses quite a lot of battery power, especially on the zoom facility which I use a lot, and ordinary batteries don't last five minutes so I decided to go back to the camp site, recharge my existing batteries and return to Plas Newydd the following day if the weather was still nice. I was feeling a bit peckish by then anyway so on my way back to the van I called in the tea room for coffee and cake, and I have to say I was well impressed with the coffee. It was a proper latte coffee, made exactly the way it should be made, and it tasted exactly like the coffee I've had at the restaurant I always dined at while on holiday in Italy; in fact it was so good that I went back to the counter and ordered a second one. The coffee and walnut cake I had was very nice too, and together they rounded off what had been a really nice day out.

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