Monday, 27 May 2013

Taking advantage of the sunshine.

The Bank Holiday weekend was forecast to be changeable with some sun over the weekend before the chilly days returned. Indeed, as I write this, the wind and rain has returned. How glad we are that we abandoned plans to 'do jobs' on Saturday and escaped to the sunny mountains of North Wales.

With the A-Z map of Wales on my lap I plotted our course.
'Where do you want to go?' asked my hubby as he sat at my side, peaked cap protecting him from the glare of the fierce sunshine, the top of the car down and the engine revving ready for take-off.
'What about Llyn Brenig - going over the top of the Denbigh Moors?' Or, I soon changed tack, 'What about going over the mountains to Llandegla, across the A5, then through Cynwyd, Llandrillo and on to Bala Lake? We could then go through the mountains towards Welshpool. You know, the road we went on when the group of Gold Wing bikers from Germany came a few years ago?
'Okay. You are not going to sleep? You will be awake to tell me where to turn? 

You bet! Sat Nav was tucked away and I could happily stick pins into the map.
Heading out of Wrexham on the A541 towards Mold, we turned at Pontblyddyn on the Corwen Road. The sun cast its fingers of light and warmth over the valley as we rode higher and higher towards Llandegla and the Cyrn-y-Brain mountain. At Llandegla we headed straight-on (a left turn would take us to the Horseshoe Pass above Llangollen which would no doubt be busy with bikers at the Ponderosa Cafe).

Through the beautiful, isolated village of Bryneglwys, the Llansysilio Mountain rose on our left. Meeting the A494 Ruthin Road we soon came to the A5. A quick left and sharp right put us onto the B4401 - a yellow road -  where we headed towards Llandrillo and Llandderfel. I reminisced that the first time I came up here, it was winter. I was on my way to meet a new learner for a work-based learning qualification. I actually went too far before turning round and finding my destination on the edge of the mountain - an old converted farm! I really had no idea of where I was going as I drove through the forest.

We also remembered the last time we had been this way. We were on our way to a meeting in Betws-y-Coed. The heavy rains had caused floods; the Corwen A5 road was closed. We detoured onto this road but eventually, due to more detours, found ourselves on the edge of Bala with the lake washing over the bridge. It was scary seeing sheep trapped on lower ground and whole fields submerged.

Today though, the sun was shining with little cloud in the blue sky. At Pale we ignored the sign for Llandderfel and went straight on, taking the sharp right turn to the to the B4391
which brought us over the bridge of the Bala Lake overflow and start of the River Dee; that mighty river which wends its way through spectacular countryside, through Llangollen, negotiating many twists and turns before it releases into the sea beyond 
The water was calm today as we reached Lake Bala or Llyn Tegid in Welsh. In the car park, a school bus and trailer was waiting for adventurous pupils to return from their canoeing on the lake. We were also on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park at its southern part.
Strolling through the town - which was not really busy for the time of the year - had everyone embarked on a sun-seeking exercise? - we settled for a snack lunch at the White Lion Royal Hotel on the High Street.
Well, we thought it was a snack lunch but what a snack lunch! A melt in the mouth warm baguette held the most tender bacon you could imagine, enhanced with warm brie cheese. The usual side salad was accompanied by a HUGE portion of chips! I am sure that everything was locally produced and was fresh.

Replete, we made our way back to where the car was parked and plotted the next move.
Retracing our steps we headed back on the B4391 but kept straight on at Pen-y-bont-fawr for Oswestry and Welshpool rather than detour to Lake Vyrnwy. We soon found that we were riding on the side of a mountain (Berwyn Mountains) with a deep valley stretching as far as the eye could see.
It was a timeless scene. never changing apart from the seasons - but that of course means that it changes month-by-month, week-by-week, and even day-by day.
Through forests, villages and valleys, we came to Pen-y-bont-fawr where  I commented that, 'over the mountain on our left is Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and the waterfall'.
'Well. we are not going there today,' was the reply.
It is a very narrow road once leaving the village you see. At Llanrhaeadr, we took the sign for Oswestry which brought us onto an unfamiliar road (we know Oswestry very well) and eventually to the main A5 and home.

The contrasts from a few weeks ago was amazing. Most of the trees had their new Spring clothes on; the hedgerows were full of wild flowers; the lush, green fields were home to grazing sheep and little lambs, the valleys were bathed in sunshine and shadows. Above all, the birds were tweeting and twittering as, in the late Spring sunshine, they sang their hearts out in joy .

A timeless scene and one not to be missed at anytime.
But one really best experienced on a motorbike - a Gold Wing for preference and comfort!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A little chatter after some silence.

They say that silence is golden. I agree with that but we all need to have a little conversation from time to time.

This month has flown past and I am horrified to see how long it is since I last posted some thoughts on this and that.

Marketing ORANGES: A Journey has been a journey in itself. Books4Spain are now listing it, paperback only for now but the e-book will be listed there once the Amazon promotion ends. The promotion period will go out with another FREE download day on June 3rd. 
We thought that we would try the KDP Select programme for the initial 90 days as you get five free promotion days. In truth, after the first month I was getting very frustrated at not being able to have the other e-book formats anywhere at all.
So watch out for June 6th when the PDF and ePub will roll out. 

ORANGES has had some favourable reviews in the Amazon UK store and informal feedback and is currently No 34 in France in its Spain and Portugal category where this contemporary fiction novel is set.

Having got all that sorted, The Long Leg of Italy reared its head and came knocking on my door, pleading to be let out of the corner where it had been stored for a while.

The north and south of Italy are quite recent adventures, being escorted tours, but Rome, Florence, Venice, and Sorrento which cover the middle of the 'leg' are our earlier adventures where we embarked on three and four centre trips for special anniversaries. The first one was after only going abroad twice and we were completely on our own between cities as transfers were not included.

Playing the video back which we were able to film on the second trip has been a very emotional time. Why? Well, realising just what we did, out there in the unknown when we weren't seasoned travellers. It was a wonderful experience. When OH said he wasn't having a party but a little trip instead, he did not quite know how I would interpret that.

Looking at the photo album now I am up to the point where we were going up to the top of the dome of St.Peter's Basilica. A plaque at the start reassures you that there is a lift up to the terrace (on the roof) but warns that there are 330 steps in the stairway. Actually you know, you don't go around the dome but in a zig-zag inside the double skin up one side. And come down the other side. After a time you have to huff and puff up the spiral stairway and hope that your heart holds out! And you do really have to experience Rome to appreciate just how BIG it is with the ancient, old, and new all merged together. 

We were ready for a rest in Sorrento after that. 

Until next time. Be good. Happy reading.

Rosalie xx
PS. Have you been to Italy? What did you like / not like about it? Feel free to post a comment.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Savouring a sunny afternoon in Snowdonia.

With another sunny morning giving promise of a beautiful day, I put work on hold to spend time in the garden. The pots needed a good tidy; the creative juices needed to flow. Taking refuge in a garden chair after a couple of hours work, I looked around in satisfaction.

OH returned home. 
'Let's go out,' I suggested, 'with the top down [car], while the sun is shining. I will take the day off.'
He didn't need any encouragement so I put the cap on the creative juice bottle while we decided which direction to take.  Should it be east into Cheshire; south into Shropshire; north to the coast; or west into Snowdonia.
It was no contest. Snowdonia won.
'The views from the A5 are different as the seasons change,' OH reminded me. 'The last time we went down there, the snow was three feet high over the hedges.' (That was only a few weeks previously.)

What a glorious day! The roads were quiet as we headed down the A483. Turning onto the A5 Holyhead Historic Route at Chirk we gradually headed towards the mountains. I was amazed at how many sheep there were but my OH explained that as spring was late they were still grazing on the lower slopes. The late spring also meant that the trees were late coming into leaf. Peering over walls and hedges, I could see babbling brooks and streams as they tumbled over stones before rushing round a bend and disappearing from view. Here and there, sheep paddled in the water.

Most of the snow had melted but I could see patches of white nestling in folds of the mountains. Small lambs everywhere either kept close to their mothers as they foraged for food or lay in the sun as they slept. One or two, becoming playful, hopped and jumped about, full of the joys of being alive.

Once again we pulled into the re-furbished Waterloo Hotel at Betws-y-Coed for a snack lunch of  Bacon, Perl Wen (soft cheese) and Cranberry on Rosemary Focaccia. Delicious! All washed down with a chilled thirst-quenching drink.

Heading towards Capel Curig on the A5, we revelled in the ever-changing view of brooding  mountains, buds bursting on mostly bare trees, lakes and the spring sunshine. Turning at Capel Curig we were soon driving through the Llanberis Pass, heading towards the Bangor on the coast. Mighty Mount Snowdon dominated the sky. 

I was so relaxed that I fell asleep in the sunshine, missing the fantastic views of the slate quarry at Llanberis. Reaching Bangor, we shunned the busy A55 coast road in favour of heading south east on the A5 back to our little corner of North Wales. This took us through the old village of Bethesda. On the right were the slate quarries; the face of the mountain scarred black. 

This stretch of the A5 is so beautiful and peaceful. I couldn't help thinking how it must have been in the days when  a stage-coach, drawn by a team of horses, was the main means of travel from London to Holyhead from where travellers would have caught the boat to Ireland. At various points along the roadside are signs reminding the traveller of today that they are on a historic route.

Just past Bala, we turned off the A5 to go across country on the A5104 towards Wrexham. The sun was still shining as we arrived home. After such a hard winter and heavy,late, snowfalls the change in the weather is welcome. After all it is the month of May. (It is also my youngest grandson's sixth birthday.) 

Refreshed, I might let the creative juices out of the bottle tomorrow!

Rosalie x