Seaside

May. 31st, 2017 06:39 pm
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You all know that LJ scarefest earlier this year was all made up by Facebook. Anyway, this the latest from my LJ and Wordpress. Apologies if the layout is shite. Blame DW. Better pics on LJ and Wordpress.

It is well known, perhaps written in ancient scripture, that a day out to the British seaside is something everyone must commit to at some point in their life. In that regard, I am blessed for I try to make regular trips to the seaside.

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Living in the centre of the UK, where nearly everything is three and a half hours away, means that I am the furthest away from the seaside as you can be at any point in the UK. Moreover, the selection of seaside destinations reachable within a reasonable time from this point is a little bit grim. Hunstanton is one such place, with its miles of coastal caravan parks; Skegness is another, again with miles of coastal caravan parks. And yet for just a half hour extra drive, one can reach beautiful Cromer, which is where Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 and I have just spent our bank holiday weekend.

Cromer Pier
Cromer Pier
 

Regular readers (if there are any left) will know that I have visited Cromer before - a small sleepy Norfolk coastal town famous for its crabs. Cromer's tiny streets are littered with shops selling curios, knick-knacks and tat that most people will only use once, a place which once enjoyed a grander time of bathing machines, day trip ferries embarked via a pier and swanky hotels staffed by gentlemen in smart uniforms. A place as yet unspoilt by amusement arcades, kiss me quick hats and leery youths on drunken stag weekends.
 

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Cromer seafront, pier and approach
 
A trip to the British seaside comes with a checklist of things to do. Over the years I have pared down my list to three things:

  • Fish and chips

  • Ice cream

  • Walk along the prom


While I might also occasionally chuck in "a paddle", "Cream tea in the afternoon" and "A play on the penny cascades", the core holy trinity of food and a walk does me just fine these days, and this weekend I managed all three successfully. The waters around Cromer are Norfolk brown in colour and not the tropical azure that I am used to these days and the thought of dissolving my feet paddling in effluent still does not fill me with joy. Cream teas, while abundant at British seasides, are only really any good when in Devon or Cornwall (sorry, I'm a jam first kind of heathen) and the lack of (or inability to find) arcades in Cromer saw away any chance of chucking away half a tonne of copper coins in the hope of winning a bottle opener in the shape of a naked lady.


Fish and Chips
Fish and chips @ Mary Janes

Mary Janes, Cromer
Mary Janes, Cromer
 

None the less, our trip to Cromer was most enjoyable. The seaside ennui began with a late lunch of fish and chips in Mary Janes. Quality, no fuss large cod and chips and a roll and butter for me, with an unbattered haddock and chips for Zoe. I tell you, providing you do your research well, fish and chips at the seaside never fails to please. Unless you're one of those strange people who doesn't like fish and chips. Mary Jane's is a favourite of mine, with Scarborough's Golden Grid and Whitby's Magpie Cafe also in the top five fish and chip shops in the UK. Naturally, as any Yorkshireman would testify, the best fish and chips in the world are from Yorkshire, but alas, when it's a four-hour drive to the Weatherby Whaler, Mary Jane's will have to suffice. Oh, and don't let anyone tell you that Harry Ramsden's is quality fish and chips either. If they do, slap them with a wet piece of huss and tell them to get hence to McDonald's for a Fillet-o-fish.
 

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Further sights of Cromer

Next on the checklist was an ice cream. Now I'm a sucker for a whippy ice cream with a flake, but I'm also a sucker for locally produced ice creams as they tend to have unusual flavours. So we took a brisk walk along the pier and the prom (sadly, no brass bands tiddly-om-pom-poming) in hope of finding something worthwhile. Now, as the sun was out in all its glory in Norfolk this weekend, it seemed that every man and his wife, four kids and dog, were also out in force. As a result, the more ideally placed ice cream shops were rammed or had a line of queues outside. Indeed, the pier was quite busy, especially at the embarkation end (where the RNLI lifeboat station is) were middle-aged fathers tried to terrify their children into enjoying themselves by threatening them with freshly crab-laddered crabs. There were even a couple of armed policemen, but such a sight is the norm now that the British Police State is under martial law.

 



Henry Bloggs, Bigger hero than youCromer was also home to the bravest man who ever lived, Henry Bloggs. Bloggs and his chums would fearlessly brave the elements, row a wooden boat far out to sea and rescue drowning townies from watery deaths while smoking a pipe and looking rather cool in a sou'wester. In force 10 gales. For free. With rain lashing his chops. Now you don't see people doing much of that these days do you? No. You don't. Now that's bravery. And, when you're that brave, you get medals, your own monument and a museum named after you. Not bad eh? Oh, and you also have lots of murals drawn around your town in your honour. Makes helping an old biddy with their shopping seem a bit limp.

 

 

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Sadly parking is a premium in Cromer on popular days, so three hours is not enough to enjoy a sit and a watch of the world going by so we had to leave. Previous visits to this part of the coast, however, had involved a stay or visit to Sheringham and being a stickler for tradition, it was only fair that we popped in to see what the place looks like in season, even if it was only for half an hour.

 


Sheringham is the upmarket sister of Cromer. Middle classes, mostly with nearby holiday homes, price out the locals and swan about like they own the place. Mostly because they do. The stark difference between Cromer and Sheringham is evident from the upmarket theatre and selection of nearby restaurants in Sheringham. While Cromer's fish and chips attract some diners, it is Sherringham's mix of Nepalese, Thai and European restaurants that mark the contrast there. Indeed, short of organic, artesian gluten-free neo-paleo hypoallergenic ice creams, it is hard not to delight at the pomposity of some of the patrons. Children with names such as Pompidu, Sefton and Chanterey freely express themselves while aloof mums swig large glasses of Prosecco and dads pander to Parmesan and Chigley's ever increasing demands in an attempt to be the best fathers ever.

 
Indeed, much like Cromer, there are rows and rows of chalets lining the prom. For non-Brits reading, a chalet or beach hut is basically a really expensive garden shed which you're not allowed to live in. However, it is this quirk that makes this part of the coast so picturesque. The sight of painted wooden huts often with unusual names being cracked open for the first time in six months is a delight to behold and, much like the bathing machine houses in Scarborough and Cromer, is an important part of British seaside heritage.


With bellies full of noms and a distance to travel to our B&B, we left the Norfolk coast once more and headed inland for further bank holiday adventure.SaveSaveSaveSave
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Apart from when Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 and I visited in the early noughties, and when Mrs Gnomepants v2.0 HD+ and I went swimming there in 2016, the last time I was in Alton Towers was when I was 14. So what poetry it was to take my 14 year old niece there as an Uncley Treat. Of course, when I was 14, my fun Aunt had passed away a couple of years previously and my remaining grandparents were too frail to attempt the trip, let alone the standing around waiting for young me to get off the rides. Instead I had to wait for the school to take me which, tradition dictated, they did with all the other boys as an end of academic year treat right through secondary school, although during following years they offered other trips such as climbing mountains or some such. So it seemed right that I took my niece to the Earl of Staffordshire's pile where upon I took great delight at having her walk well over 9 miles in a day without actually realising. Hah! Alton Towers, for those not in the know, is the UK's premier rollercoaster theme park. Or at least that's what it claims to be. Set in the gardens and grounds of the ruins of a former stately home, some enterprising cove set about building elaborate nests of  twisted metal upon which people can sit and experience accelleration and exhileration at high speed with the associated pull and tug of gravity on their leathery chops. One such ride is Oblivion which teeters on the brink of an iron precipice before plummeting its screaming riders into a pit of darkness. There was no way I was going on that.

Another such ride was Nemisis which Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 HD+ claimed was "Nice and smooth" which must be the alt-fact definition of "OMG I'm going to die" as I found out. As for Smiler, well I'm quite attached to my legs so I didn't fancy going on that and I also didn't fancy whiplash so I avoided Rita too. However, I did manage Hex, Thirteen and Grand Canyon Rapids so I think I got my £30's worth. Especially as I was also tricked by Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 HD+ to go on Enterprise which by all accounts was just a tumble drier simulator. Of course Alton Towers is not just death roulette machines, its acres and acres of picturesque landscaped gardens. Some of the ruins belay the once grand manse that was Alton Towers. Summer houses and decayed greenhouses now overgrown with vegetation while here and there are hidden speakers piping irritating music into area where irritating music shouldn't be.  The cable cars over the area do give you a better, plinky-plonky-less experience.

If you've ever played the PC classic Rollercoaster Tycoon or early nineties Bullfrog classic Theme Park then, like me, you'd probably have spent the day imagining people walking round with think bubbles saying things like "£2.75 is too expensive for a bottle of pop" or "I feel sick" while sporting green pukey smileys above their heads. Or looking skyward in the hope of spying a pair of pincers dropping in a new ride or even imagining that the popcorn tasted good because the themepark management AI decided that it could do with an equal mix of salt and sugar. In all though it was a most enjoyable day out. I can't wait to do it again when my nephew is a little taller/older, but probably by that time the rides will all be different again.

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Before I blather on about how amazing Wales is I'd like to point out two important things.

1. On the subject of the Anti-American sentiment provoked Dreamwidth to LJ exodus: - I'm there as Stegzy too (http://stegzy.livejournal.com) although I rarely post here because I forget to do so but feel free to add if you are there. Alternatively, you can follow me on Blogspot (http://stegzy.blogspot.com ) although, to be fair, you'll only get to see articles and social media posts that I like there. Or you can find me on Wordpress (http://www.stegzy.co.uk)

2. Did you know that Smart Cars come with a free invisibility cloak? Similarly, Mercedes cars come with automatic road ownership deeds it seems.

Anyway. Wales.

Wales - that crinkly bit that keeps the West Midlands away from the sea. The bumpy bit that keeps Cheshire cheesy and the coaly bit that kept Cardiff busy for a couple of hundred years. That's where I've been.

If you've read this journal long term, you'll already be familiar with my love affair with the place but usually, I either float between the Llyn Peninsula, Anglesey or South Wales. This trip, however, we loitered with intent at the foot of Snowdon, in the glorious Conway valley while using the peaceful former fishing village that's soon to be the front garden of a nuclear powerstation, Cemaes Bay as a base to launch a sortie into Llandudno before scooting up the coast via Rhyl towards Liverpool.

Our journey began early Good Friday morning when, fortified with chocolate porridge, I drove (invisibly) north via the sat-nav's "Shortest route" which eventually seemed to want to take us through the heart of Coventry. "Stuff that!", I thought and quickly joined the M6 at Walsgrave and navigating by memory westward along the M54 bypassing Telford and Shrewsbury.

First stop was at the mysterious often cloud bound lake of Llyn Brenig. I first visited Llyn Brenig over thirty years ago with my Aunt Joyce. I remember the visit fondly especially as it was in the visitors centre there that she bought me a memorable puzzle book which featured a maze through a haunted house. More recently, Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 and I made a return visit to Llyn Brenig around 1999 where I was pleased to see that the visitors centre hadn’t changed, the shop still sold cool books and there was an informative exhibition detailing pre-Cambrian times, dinosaurs and ice ages and how they were important in supplying water to modern day homes in Wales.


Llyn Brenig hasn't changed in over 3000 years


As with all things, the sands of time have been harsh to Llyn Brenig. While the scenery hasn’t changed much, it seems that the visitors centre has. The exhibition, once so informative, is now reduced to a rotary leaflet cage and a couple of dodgy looking poster boards in an entrance hall; the vast majority of the floor space now given over to a new bright and airy cafe selling a range of trendy coffees and cakes. Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 HD seemed to enjoy it though, especially after a brisk wind lashed walk along the lakeside together.

Back to the car, we drove further north towards Bodnant Garden. Bodnant too has changed since my last visit nearly 15 years previous. The once dominant faux-Swiss log cabin cafe with the gorgeous cakes has now been replaced with a flimsy looking wooden shed like structure, sadly now lacking the gorgeous cakes.

One bonus change about Bodnant is that visitors no longer have to take risks with their own lives by attempting to cross the road from the carpark to the actual gardens. Now you can cross in safety by taking the tunnel under the road while trying to visualise where the dominant faux-Swiss log cabin has gone and whether those fifteen year old cakes were actually just a dream (surely no-one could really make profiteroles the size of cricket balls).

Another change about Bodnant is the footprint of the gardens. Since my last visit, new areas have opened up and there are some really interesting juxtapositions of man-made and natural landscapes enhanced by the lovely rhododendrons and other flora.



After a quick lunch and an even briefer lesson in Welsh at the disappointing cake sporting shed, we jumped back in the car again and yet again drove (invisibly) north then west along the A55 to the delightful Cemaes Bay.

We last stayed in Cemaes in 2011 but it seems I was starting a new job around that time so long pieces of prose took a back seat. It hasn't changed much. Some of the quaint little village high street shops have shut but everything else seemed almost the same. The hotel, mostly unchanged. The high street, mostly unchanged. The strange elderly man with his unusual tick, mostly unchanged. The quaint quay (or was it a jetty), mostly unchanged. The little kitten following us down the lane, mostly a different kitten. The peace and tranquility juxtaposed against the crying seagulls, lapping waves and irritating yapping from a distant dog. Lovely.




Equally lovely and unchanged (mostly) is Llandudno where we visited the following morn. A killer wind prevented (yet again) a cable car trip down the Great Orme. It has been thirty five years since I last travelled down the Great Orme by cable car. This time Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 HD and I caught the cute Victorian cable tram down the hill into the town.


Llandudno - Where the old go to die (and have a holiday).


Llandudno is where old Scousers go to die, much like how Worthing is where Brighton pensioners go and Scarborough is where old biddies from Leeds, Wakefield and Sheffield go. A massive Victorian seaside retirement town complete with remains of ornate gardens, grand hotel and a pier selling ice cream to wailing and demanding grandchildren.

You can see how Llandudno was once a grand place where the wealthy would adjourn to during the summer months following a busy year promenading around the city. Big former hotels, big wide sweeping boulevards and avenues, now largely an amount of old buildings just waiting to accidentally on purpose catch fire, be pulled down and turned into luxury flats.

From Llandudno we nipped back over the Conwy estuary to Conwy. A delightful town within a castle’s walls. I always think of Conway as being much bigger than it actually is. It isn’t big at all though. Consisting of about five short narrow main streets and the UK’s smallest house. The town is enhanced only by the constant throng of gawping tourists mooching around the place making everything expensive.


Conwy - Small and full of tourists


On this visit I managed to locate the UK’s smallest house and, as a bonus trick, was also able to visit Thomas Telford’s bridge and tollhouse. Such an amazing feat of engineering. I often feel that Telford is overlooked because of Brunel yet all Brunel did was make a railway that nobody could use and build three massive ships that bankrupted him. At least the majority of Telford’s legacies are still used, and he has a town named after him. Meanwhile most of Brunel’s creations are now reincarnated as tins of beans and a bit of Bristol.

We headed back to Anglesey and dined on mountain of fried seafood before sloping back to the hotel. The mountain of fried seafood was well worth every penny but it saddens me that mountains of fish are not as freely available in the UK as they are in other parts of the world. I sometimes wish I could go on a Mountains of Fried Seafood tour of the world. Perhaps when I’m a millionaire. Or retired. Or fed up of the sight of Fried Seafood.


It took 4 experienced climbers to rescue me from the top of this mound


The next morning I fulfilled my threat of taking Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 HD to Rhyl. If you’ve never been to Rhyl, you’re lucky. Rhyl was once a place where elderly Scousers went to die. Now it is where elderly scousers who live most of the year in static caravans go to die. Indeed, as if to illustrate Rhyl’s level, we espied a family happily having their midmorning cigarettes on the veranda of their static with a view of the main road while dressed in their nightwear. Awesome.


I didn't leave her there honest!
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Wordsworth eh? Never did like that dog. Had a stupid hat and rarely helped Jamie out. [Wasted on most readers that bit of derivative humour]

An anniversary weekend was had this year with a splendid trip to the Lake District. The last time I went to the Lake District I was 30, the time before that I was about 17. How the world and times have changed. Or is it, perchance, my aging memory has smudged some of my own memories following a brain defrag or that bang on my head I had when I was 18? Or the one I had last decade (can't remember the year, it was when I went gorge walking and fell off the waterfall, was that 2005 or later? I can't remember)?

Anyway, I took Zoe on a journey to pastures familiar and unfamiliar with a trip to the Tan Hill Inn, which is the highest pub in the country. That's not to say it has been smoking draw for years on end but that it is wayyyy up above most streets and houses on the North Yorkshire Moors on top of the Pennines (your geography may vary). My last visit there was in 2003 or thereabouts when I inadvertently re-enacted the Everest commercial a la Ted Moult by opening my car door and watching several bits of paper blow out of the passenger footwell together with the most relevantly important page of my AA Road Atlas. This visit was slightly less tempestuous, probably because of Zoe'[personal profile] zoefruitcakes calming influence.


Zoe was thrilled to visit a pub in the middle of nowhere


After a light lunch and half a pale ale, we continued to Keswick. My last visit to Keswick was probably about 1991 or 1992 when I was a member of a local church choir. I wasn't a member for holy redemption and blessings but as a way to meet girls. Mostly Sarah Bamber. She's now a dentist. Still, during those two holidays we stayed at the Youth Hostel in Keswick for a period of two days while Andrew Sharples, my former music teacher and, to some extent, role model, went to all the pubs in the area to smoke pipes, cigars and roll ups and drink plenty of beer and whiskey while the rest of us went on walks. However, apart from a memory of listening to Roxy Music's Flesh & Blood album sat on the veranda of the hostel overlooking the nearby passing river, I don't actually remember much else of the area. After much racking of brains and thought, I actually think I didn't leave the hostel for the two days.


The Youth Hostel where I lost two days


After a wander around the area and a text message that the £3 an hour parking was about to run out we checked into our hotel. Beautiful scenery and peace and quiet aplenty with lots of comfort made for a pleasant stay. Only slightly marred by the meagre "pay more get less" cooked breakfast (see picture) and the antwacky shower which was probably state of the art in about 1978. The hotel seemed to follow the "overcharge it, they'll pay" philosophy where something is seen as posh if you pay a little extra. I've had posher hankies.But, like I said, it was pleasant and I wasn't there for the hotel or breakfast, I was there to celebrate 2 years of happy marriage to my bride.


£105 worth of breakfast


To show her just how much I love her, I thought I'd take her to somewhere I'd never been to before. Through the magic of the Tourist Information Office, I got wind of a far off wondrous place, full of adventure, Georgian architecture, boutique shops, folk festivals and fine foods. A place with a mysterious sounding name....

MARYPORT.

Originally called Alauna by the Romans and then Ellenfoot, a local 18th century dignitary had the town renamed after his wife Mary. I can only imagine that he wasn't fond of her. Either that or 18th century Maryport was a lot nicer than 21st century Maryport. Nothing much to see in Maryport, unless you like mud, closed shops and shopping at Heron Foods (which unless you're from the north of England you might not have heard of; just be grateful if you haven't). Not wishing to overstay our welcome in the free all day car park, we high-tailed it out of Dodge and made our way south along the coast, just to see what Workington and Whitehaven were like. Indeed, it wasn't difficult to see that Maryport was the better of the three towns, by no stretch of the imagination.

No matter though, because we did get to see some interesting buildings and reluctance being our middle names, we continued further along the coast than planned and ended up in the contrasting St Bees which seemed a nice place even in bleak, cold and wet February. It was here that I convinced my darling wife to try some chocolate coated toothpaste known locally as Kendal Mint Cake. She seemed to enjoy it.


Mmmm...chocolate toothpaste

Not wanting to loiter longer than necessary for fear of attracting the attention of locals, we made our way back to the Lakes, this time to Grasmere for a visit to the Gingerbread shop. I love gingerbread. I love Grasmere gingerbread more than any other type of gingerbread there is. You can keep your Pepparkakken and your Jamaican gingerbread, I'll have Grasmere gingerbread any day. Of course, the shop is minuscule and the queues are long, more so with Japanese and American tourists so while the good wife queued in the rain, I took shelter under my hood and watched a RED SQUIRREL gambolling in the trees, squeaking cutely as he jumped.

Sufficiently warmed by the red squirrel gingerbread experience, we then headed to Ambleside for our evening meal at LUCY ON A PLATE. If you ever plan to go to the Lake District for whatever reason and you are looking for a place to eat, then LUCY's always LUCY's. I've been twice in my life and I've been bowled over by the service and food quality ever since. Saturday night further fuelled my love for the place. The tiny little flourishes (the menu is unique every night and to show this they provide news about your fellow diners), the attentive staff and, of course, the delicious food all add together to create a charming little popular restaurant. Go there. Go there and dine.

Next morning a visit to Wray Castle on the banks of Lake Windermere. Victorian rich bloke retired and he and his fancy heiress wife bought a sweet little cottage with lots of land. The cottage wasn't sweet enough so he had a MASSIVE CASTLE built in the back garden to entertain his guests. Of course, it wasn't long after the castle was completed they died with no heirs so by some chain of events the National Trust bought it. Of course, they didn't know what to do with it so they rented it out until eventually, nobody wanted to rent it anymore so they ended up opening it to the public. You pays your £10 and you too can wander round bare rooms looking at photos of what it once looked like. Ace.


Not to scale.

Homeward bound I fulfilled a lifetime ambition of getting my sat-nav to tell me to "TAKE THE FERRY" by catching the Windermere car ferry from Far Sawrey to Ferry Nab. I've always wanted to take my car on a cross-river ferry. I've taken it on the Isle of Man ferry but that's across the sea so there's nothing remarkable about that. But crossing a lake....or a river....now that's something special.


Take the ferry

Windermere is unremarkable, more so on a Sunday. It seems most people head to Windermere to catch the train or to visit the mega-Lakeland. We were there for the latter. An entire store filled with teabag spatulas, clothes peg cases, onion cosies and other stuff you never knew you needed until you saw it. Zoe loves it. Unfortunately, I have a sensible voice in my head that tells me that I don't actually need a sausage rake or a dishwasher pencil sharpener and that I can actually use my own hands to fashion a melon into an edible form without the use of an electronic melon scraper. Still, it was fun.

The 4-hour journey home wasn't much fun though. Traffic, roadworks and rain. Never a good combination and worsened by an approaching work filled Monday. It was a lovey break though.
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I posted this on the wordpress version of this blog a couple of weeks ago. It’s only just come to my mind that I neglected to post it here. Sorry. I’m sure nobody noticed.

 

 

After having carefully planned my working week to coincide with a visit to the North West to make it easier to travel to Wales, I set off from Liverpool on Thursday morning bound for Pistyll near Caernarfon to begin the third phase of the walk around the coast of Wales.




View Stegzy & Nick's Wales Coastal Walk

in a larger map

At this pace, I suspect I will have completed the walk some time in my late 80s. Probably on a mobility shopper. Regular readers will recall that last year we ended our walk at Porth Towyn having set off from Porth Oer. Because we were starting further up the coast, it made sense to change our usual campsite to a new….untested one. This year’s campsite was at the amusingly named Penisarlon Camping Farm near Pistyll. The camp site was very clean and peaceful with fantastic views across towards Nefyn (our goal for the Friday) to the South west and towards Nant Gwrtheyrn  to the North East with St George’s Channel to the north.



Looking towards Nefyn

Penisarlon Farm looking towards Nefyn



Looking towards Nant Gwrtheyrn

Looking towards Nant Gwrtheyrn

However as we had arrived earlier than expected we decided that, though too late to start our walk properly, we could start a bit of next year’s planned walk. This took us towards Nant Gwrtheyrn, though we did not reach there until later in the weekend. Instead we were treated to a lovely bog blocking our path, sheep, second homes and a quaint little church, St Buenos.



Lit by candles in the winter


St Buenos Church near Pistyll

On the Friday, we awoke to a lovely rainbow across the bay. Little or no rain during the night but plenty of snoring from me.



Up above the sea and houses

Up above the sea and houses Rainbow flying high

This year we began where we left off and made our way across the once more sunny cliffs and dips leading towards Porth Dinllaen.  Glorious views. Glorious weather.



Nick at the start

Nick at the start

Four hours of walking later we crossed Nefyn Golf course and reached Porth Dinllaen. During the previous night we had espied a strange structure out in the bay. It looked like a drilling platform and part of me was concerned that the greedy oil people had set their eyes on a protected area of outstanding natural beauty.

PlatformIs it an oil rig? Is it a fracking point? No! It's a slipway submarine construction diving platform

Fortunately, this was not the case. The platform was actually for the construction of a new RNLI Lifeboat launch slipway. So it wasn’t too bad.

 

enjoy a pint 

The construction site had an interesting staircase winding its way down the cliff side allowing access to the official coastal path bringing us out at the lovely Ty Coch Inn where we ended our second day’s walk with a delicious and rewarding pint before heading back to the campsite.

After a rather sleepless night for Nick (my snoring again!) who ended up sleeping in his car, it was agreed that completing the short trail up to the campsite would be sufficient for this years walk. Before that we needed sustenance in the form of a hearty breakfast. On the inbound trip, I espied a brown sign directing the visitor to a place called Nant Gwrtheyrn which had a cafe. Nant Gwrtheyrn is an old village built for quarry workers in the 1800s. If you were to follow the link above you will be able to read the history.  The landscape there is a bizarre mix of post industrial archaeology and nature. There’s a church there, a cafe and a collection of stone cottages available for rent by holiday makers.

Nant Gwrtheyren


The start next year

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However, the cafe didn’t open for breakfast so we scuttled back to Nefyn and the continuation of our walk. The short trail continuation took us from where we left off the day before and along a winding cliff top pathway. Again, plenty of luxury cliff top homes for the wealthy and privileged. Glorious views. It’s places like this that make you realise that no matter how hard the average Jo works, they will never attain a picturesque view (like that in the panoramic picture below) without luck, windfall or skulduggery.



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The path turned in land and took us through the village where we had earlier eaten our hearty breakfast before heading up a very steep looking hill. Eventually the path turned into something resembling Borneo. Overgrown gorse bushes, brambles and scratchy things took their toll on our bare shins, bitey creepies made a meal on our blood, and burny heaty hot sun scorched our flesh from on high. Yet, after three hours of walking, we reached the campsite and the starting point for our continuing adventure next year. -

 

----- Welsh Coastal Path – 2012

------Welsh Coastal Path - 2011

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Way back in the noughties I had the misfortune to work in a sixth form college. Regular readers will recall this was in the post industrial landscape that is Yorkshire. Cameron's recent moral panic calls to mind the overbearing system of "safe guarding" that was in place at the college.



Obsessive Compulsive Diserver

I must provide some back story. The IT manager could quite easily have been diagnosed with Aspergers had he been twenty years younger. He didn't like change. Not one bit. Dingleberry, as I will refer to him, was one of those people who insisted on particular ways. Deviation from which would bring calamity, disaster and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

For example, one hot sunny day in May he insisted that the units, switches, servers and tape machines in the server cabinet be taken out and arranged in numerical, colour and size order. Why? No reason was given other than aesthetics.

Every piece of software had to be installed with default settings. "Out of the box". Same with hardware. I dread to think of the security issues that he made with such a work ethic. Indeed, such was the "DO NOT TOUCH" attitude, the Active Directory contained accounts of people that had left the college over 5 years ago. That is the level of finickiness he operated on.

One day a whole class got into trouble for not submitting their history homework on time. The students were required to email their work to the teacher who would then assess the work and send it back. Only the teacher didnt recieve any work.

The teacher was a bit shit to be fair. She, like several other teachers I've met over the years, seemed to suffer from paranoia probably brought on by inadequacies, stress and plain stupidity. This particular teacher was convinced that this particular class had a grudge and were out to get her.

Sadly this was not the case.



A desk of help

However what happened was much more convoluted than any of her minor conspiracies.

The class were insistent that work had been emailed from home. The teacher became convinced that the class were telling fibs. Eventually she came to the helpdesk door to see me.

She told me that there was a problem with email.

Not so. I told her, demonstrating how I was able to send emails from an external account to my work account with ease.

The problem morphed into one to do with attachments.

Not so. Again, I demonstrated me sending emails with attachments with no issue whatsoever.

Aliens.

Don't be stupid. But I'll investigate further.

I asked the IT Manager if there was any issue with emails.

None that he could see.

I asked the IT Technician if there was any issue with emails.

Only an issue with the space between the chair and the keyboard.

I asked the Server Troll if there was any issue with emails.

No but there was an issue with his latest game of Dungeons and Dragons.

I asked the head of IT.

None that he knew of. However, I should check the newly installed spam filters.

I checked the spam filters. Therein there was over a hundred thousand emails. This was going to take me a long time to investigate.

Turned out that the spam filters contained "Out of the box" keywords. A whole lexicon or rude words, curses, inappropriateness and the like. Included were words such as: Pharmacy, penis, length, cock, schlong, kiddies, nazi, hate, escort, kill, death, murder, hitler, vagina, gash, flange, white power, drugs and much much more.

So you'll probably now have guessed. The out of the box filtering had picked up that the emails sent to the history teacher with the assignment on the Second World War contained foul language such as hitler, nazi, gas chamber, anti-Semitism. The very same settings that Dingleberry refused to allow me to change.



Out of  darkness

So I changed it anyway and released the history homework (Nazi, Hitler etc), the chemistry homework (pharmacy, drugs etc) and the biology homework. I released the personal messages sent from divorce approaching husbands regarding them picking up the "kiddies" in the Escort after work to their end of the line with you wives.

I added a keyword.

I won't say what.

But let's just say that Dingleberry no longer received emails. Certain...important emails.

stegzy: (Default)

Dear BBC,


I notice that you are increasing the regularity of the appearance of people who seem to be experts on everything and have opinions on everything which, for some reason, you think reflects society at large.

I would like to offer my services as a gobshite. I too have strong opinions on everything from David Cameron’s underwear to the cost of prawns in the Middle East during the Byzantium Empire. I am an expert on everything and nothing. I have several years experience of spouting utter crap to backup people’s clandestine agendas and I am happy to cast aspersions and morals to the wind without forethought for the wider consequences.

Hope this will cover everything. 

Lots of Love

Gnomepants

stegzy: (Default)

Testing testing 1,2,3

stegzy: (april)
Such glorious weather. Such bright warming sunshine. Seems a shame to waste it all cooped up in an office.
stegzy: (Default)
Hello

You've stumbled upon my DW account.

I started my DW account waaaay waaaay back when it first started. I was so happy at being one of the first to have a DW account.

Of course, in those days I was young and more able to write than I am now. So if you dig about here you may find some rare NON-LJ gems and you may find some CLASSIC LJ Gems. However I never seemed to get the same buzz from DW as I did from LJ. Shame really, it had a good ethic.

But you never know.

I do sometimes post here.

Anyway...if LJ is down and you're looking for stuff to read....you could try

http://stegzy.blogspot.com
stegzy: (Default)
Dear Arid Places in Africa,

We appear to have your rain. Please can you come and collect it before we get washed away.

Much Love

Gnomepants



I have a hole in my sock.

In true form, once I've given up all hope and moved my attention onto a new thing, the old thing seems to pick up and wiggle it's bum at me.

Soft fruit should be compulsory.

My big toe is cold because of the hole in my sock.

Dear uncomfortable seats

Stop hurting my back

Much Love

Gnomepants.

Update

Aug. 20th, 2009 10:54 am
stegzy: (Default)
1. Back in counselling
2. Still in Barnsley
3. Still looking for work
4. Still in some weird paradoxical state of enclosure and distance.
5. Mused about returning to LJ. Decided against it (though I have said if 100 people demand that I return then I might reconsider)
6. Internal battles in my mind.
7. Discovered a very old wound on facebook and have been battling with myself to prevent myself from picking the scab.
8. Future career plans are in my mind.

Addict

Jun. 30th, 2009 06:37 pm
stegzy: (june)
I have an addiction. It is a modern addiction. It is a debilitating and dangerous addiction. It is a serious health risk. It is a serious problem.

It's not hard drugs. It's not alcohol. You may be surprised (or not) when you work out (or I tell you) what the addiction is. You might be addicted yourself. I know a good many people who, on reflection, are just as addicted as I am, if not worse.

The addiction can ruin lives, kill, cause social and psychological problems and yet it is not widely publicised.

Of course, the first step to recovering from an addiction is recognising you have the problem and then doing something about it.

So let me tell you about my addiction. My addiction started in 1982. I was very young. It wasn't so bad then. I could sneak a fix without people noticing. I suppose those around me didn't know any wiser. I gradually became withdrawn. I interacted less and I became gradually obsessed with my new addiction.

I managed to kick the habit, mostly without realising, in 1990. I became more sociable interactive and better. But, like giving a glass of whisky to an alcoholic, by 1994 I was back on the addiction. You see, I didn't realise it then. But I do now. I know what the problem was and I can see it for what it is. I can see, reflectively what issues it has caused through my life. I can see when my life changed. I can see that changes in my life occurred when I was able to get my fix.

By 1997, because of a change in circumstance, I was able to kick my habit unknowingly but less than 2 years later I was, unwittingly, back in the addictive frame of mind.

This return was heralded by changes in society. I was able to gain my fix daily. Sating my addiction without anyone noticing.

Then we get to today. Don't get me wrong, this isn't completely a flash of inspiration here. This is a gradual understanding culminating with a huge smack across the face with the fish of reality. Today I realised my addiction. Tomorrow I am going to change.

Naturally the first place I looked to for a cure was the internet. The internet told me, in a perverse way, that yes I had an addiction. An addiction that is only now starting to come to light socially. There is little care or help available for people like me.

My addiction )

Thank you for reading. If you are reading this on LJ or one of the RSS feeds I have, please could you tell other people that know me about this post. Link to it if you will. It will hopefully make people realise that the first step is realisation, the second is control. Or something like that.

Bad

Jun. 29th, 2009 12:16 pm
stegzy: (Default)
Ok. He's dead. He hasn't risen again. It's not a publicity stunt. Now can we get on with ordinary news now please? I'm sick of hearing about him. OK?

Jobs

Jun. 26th, 2009 10:01 am
stegzy: (Default)
Like hens teeth, jobs in Barnsley are few and far between. Despite the recruitment agencies' hordings and placards declaring "Opportunities available now" every single one I've visited has resulted in "Just leave us your CV, we're a bit quiet at the moment because of the down turn".

This amuses and puzzles me. I have never had success through recruitment agencies. Never. Well, ok maybe once, but that ended in disaster.

Looking back:

3 jobs by visits
2 jobs by being in the right place at the right time
2 jobs advertised in Liverpool Echo
2 jobs via Job Centre
1 job via internal notices.

I don't know why I find it so hard to get a job. Perhaps it is my face. Perhaps my face says "Don't give him a job". Next week I am lowering my standards and going for whatever I can get.
stegzy: (Default)
See now, I remember Jarvis Cocker's crowning moment when he objected to Jackson's Christ thing. And the whole Jackson/Christ imagery and his love for the publicity stunt. So part of me is saying wait until Sunday in case he "miraculously" makes a recovery.

What an attention drawing stunt that would be. Gosh! :-|

cull

Jun. 22nd, 2009 01:28 pm
stegzy: (Default)
The weekend taught me that there are far too many people in the world. The places I visited were swarming with tourists and worse, screeching brats. While I am not a fan of segregationist policies I would wholly back a scheme where places were required by law to display whether their premises allowed screeching children. I don't know what it is about them but they always seem to get my back up.

I discussed, tongue in cheek, my plans, should I ever become supreme ruler of the Earth, of how the overcrowding of the planet could be resolved by the application of a voluntary cull. It would work by accepting applications from the populace to take part in a cull. The incentive would be that for a week, volunteers would be allowed to live in the lap of luxury. Fulfilling every whim and desire. Their payment for the reward? To be culled. Then, as a thank you for their sacrifice each volunteer would have their name forever engraved into a monument marking their contribution to society.

Of course I will not become supreme ruler of the Earth. So the cull would not take place. Instead we must look forward to severe over crowding, draining of resources, world poverty for the many and much worse.

I've been very gloomy of late. I suspect it is something to do with lack of things to occupy my mind.
stegzy: (june)
Went on my first Geocaching event today with [personal profile] zoefruitcake and met lots of similar minded people. This got me thinking about the variety of offline meets I've been to over the years and the differences between them.

Chat meets were much like meeting up with rowdy types in a pub. You know, the sort of gobby loud people you might like to mingle with when out being boisterous or what not.

LJ meets were more like meeting up with myself. In that I had an insight into what went on in the peoples minds.

Geocaching - very much like meeting normal people. At an event. Very enjoyable.

Saturday night TV is utter shite.
stegzy: (Default)
Last night I watched Psychoville, the new comedy from two of the League of Gentlemen, on BBC 2. As I am now confind to one room of my house I have jury-rigged a contraption using an old VHS player and a USB media converter which enables me to use my PC as a TV.

This morning, when I woke my computer up, as every morning, I flicked on my VHS player so that I could tune into BBC Breakfast. Now, the way the thing is set up is that sound comes out but not video until you use the video application on the computer then you can see and hear the TV.

So I heard the sound of the TV. It sounded like some character on a childrens programme talking about something that might be, in a casual listen, news. I thought "Oh My God These are better than Susanna Reid and Charlie Stayt!" and then I realised, I hadn't actually switched over from BBC 2 last night. Silly me.

Honestly Reid's news delivery is so painful its like shitting glass diahorrea while sat on a salty toilet seat.

I was pleased to note though, that BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting Purcell's opera Dido and Anaeas tomorrow night. I dusted off my copy of the score and fished out my CD just in case I miss it.

In other news, I made a cracking gravy last night. I used the pan I'd fried two pork chops in, added the water I'd boiled the cabbage in, a bit of mustard powder and some gravy granules before stirring rapidly. I then added a good slug of Henderson's Relish. When I finally move from South Yorkshire, I will miss Henderson's.

On the move front, we had our first viewers in 3 months the other night, they mooched about but to me it seemed like they were after a bigger place. The £15k share I was hoping for is decreasing fast. I just hope I win the Lottery-that-I-don't-play at the weekend so I can buy her out.
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