Dan Bedore in Wales and London, 2009

August 11 - 20, 2009

Sunrise from Lisa's place on the Menai Strait. Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
Today I took the bus from my sister Lisa's place in Menai Bridge to Amlwch. The port is a tiny fissure in the rock of the north Anglesey rocky coast. There are historic lime and sulphur kilns, warehouses, windmills, and etcetera ringing the port, so I spent 45 minutes exploring them. Then I headed east for a few miles on the coast path (it encircles the island in 125 miles). I walked a little past the lighthouse and enjoyed the scenery, then headed up to the copper mines, which had been used for thousands of years, and for a while were the busiest copper mines in the world.

Rotting boat near Lisa's place on the Menai Strait. Windmill ruins at Amlwch Harbor

Coastline east of Amlwch

Amlwch Harbor

A raven on the side of the road between Amlwch and the copper mines

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
We met Jorge at the train station, and went home to lunch and rest. He and I took an afternoon stroll, seeing the boats and causeways in front of Lisa's abode, and then heading west along the Menai Strait. We walked under the Menai Bridge, past the stone circle, and out to the cemetary on Church Island. On return, we crossed the Menai Bridge. Bangor lights from Lisa's place on the Menai Strait.

Stained glass in the church on Church Island

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Jorge and I were subjects in some research at the University, earning £10 each. Then we headed east to Conwy. We walked the defensive wall around the city, and visited the castle. I was particularly impressed by some relief carvings of the stations of the cross built into the city wall. Finally, we headed west on a walking path along the harbor, and caught the bus home.

The Mussels of North Wales are famous. Unfortunately, mine are not.

The wall and the Castle in Conwy. That's me in the lower middle of the Photo.

Jorge on the Conwy Wall

Stations of the Cross Carvings on the Conwy Wall

Gull at Beaumaris Castle Friday, August 14th, 2009
Jorge, Guest Author
Today we travelled by bus, or Bws as they say it here, to Beaumaris (Biwmares), where we visited the local castle. It was much smaller than yesterday's Conwy castle but in my opinion it was a much more interesting castle. It was more intact than Conwy plus it had a MOAT! Castles just aren't castles if they don't have moats. Sadly there was no monster inhabiting the moat, just some swans and some cows grazing beyond it. After some exploring of the castle, Dan and I headed off in search of some more activities within the town. However, because it was Friday many attractions were closed, like the Gaol prison. All was not lost however, the aroma of some Welsh pasties lured us into one of the local bakeries where we happily feasted on a sausage roll and a steak n' ale meat pie. After strolling the town a bit more, we wandered towards the beach and found an excellent look-out point next to some cows. You could see the coast as far east as Conwy. On our way back down the hillside, we encountered an abandoned beachside property that had been thoroughly thrashed and thus provided us with some excellent photo-taking opportunities. It was after this that we finally caught the bws back home...

Swan at Beaumaris Castle

Jorge in a window at Beaumaris Castle

Jorge and Dan in the Chapel at Beaumaris Castle

Battered Seawall at abandoned building near Beaumaris castle

Tree east of Beaumaris Castle and the view to the Southwest

Saturday, August 15th, 2009
Lisa, Guest Author
No sooner had we made a plan to head to Snowdon today than it turned into a wet windy Wales day. No mountain tops for us! Instead we went to Penrhyn Castle for some indoor sightseeing. Penrhyn is a fake castle - not one of the old ones. It has a relatively simple exterior but the inside is incredibly ornate. The owners, the Pennant family, owned the slate mines. There are sections of the building dedicated to the train engines that were used to haul the slate. One of the most unusual things that we saw was the slate bed that was made for Queen Victoria when she went to visit. The whole thing is made of slate including the base and the canopy. Apparently the canopy put her off and she refused to sleep in it. I cannot say I blamed her. The walled gardens are also extremely impressive. I think I'll head back on a less rainy day to take some pictures.

Jorge's Comment
No Moat!!!

This giant leaf plant is a common garden species in Wales.

Sunday, August 16th, 2009
The weather was much more pleasant than yesterday - no rain, and occasional sun. We headed west to Caernarfon Castle. This castle has been extensively repaired and renovated since it is where the Prince of Wales is crowned. With just a few guys standing around with armor, swords, and bows, it looks like it would be ready for a battle. There were a lot of towers, and I think I climbed all that were open. I had sausages and mash for lunch. The mash is potatoes, and rather than just being bland like in the US, potatoes actually taste good here. We had time to wander about town and visit the Maritime Museum. Much of the town wall is intact, but it has not been developed for tourists and you can't walk around on it - too bad.

Hallway at Caernarfon Castle

Jorge on helical staircase in turret at Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Sky and Menai Strait from Caernarfon Castle

Welsh Dragon on monument near Caernarfon Castle

Jorge won a stuffed horse and a ball at a street carnival kicking soccer balls.

Monday, August 17th, 2009
On the train from Menai to London there was great scenery along the north Wales coastline, and many views of canals and canal boats. The dense and jostling crowds of London's sidewalks and Underground trains were quite a shock after the slower pace of Wales. We took a few extra trains due to breakdowns and disorientation, but got to the Arsenal stadium as our first destination of the day. Jorge is a big fan. Unfortunately, all of the tours were sold out for the day. Jorge got himself a tour ticket for tomorrow, and we went on to the Greenwich Observatory. It was absolutely packed, and none of the displays really showed what the innovations were that revolutionized navigation, nor did they show anything but the outsides of the clocks and telescopes. Not too interesting after all. In the evening, we strolled around the waterfront, seeing the London Eye (Ferris Wheel), the parliament building, Westminster Abbey, etc. We stayed in the University College dorms, a good deal with a bathroom, desk, etc in each room, and with a communal kitchen area, all nice and clean.

Jorge Visits the Arsenal Stadium

The London Eye and the County Building Reflect on the Thames.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
A dragon along the Thames Lisa and I walked from our dorms down to Westminster Abbey and visited there, then moved on to the City of London Museum, both good places. The Abbey is fantastically ornate, and is jam packed with fantastically ornate monuments to all kinds of people. The museum had displays and artifacts explaining London's history back to Roman times, and was very good. We then joined Jorge, who had finished his visit to the stadium and moved on to the Tate Modern art museum. The building is an old power plant, and the main room is left as a giant empty space, but the giant riveted beams of the overhead crane are interesting. I liked a couple of the pieces, one with a lot of cracked mud and palm leaves, and another with ropes and cut wood, etc. Both had a lot of interesting textures.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
It was quite hot. We first visited the Tower of London. Then we walked down Abbey Road past the studio of Beatles fame. Finally, we saw the National Gallery art museum. Some of the paintings of landscapes and clouds were interesting.

I really enjoyed my hiking and visit with my sister in Wales. There was plenty of interesting things to see and do. Even though virtually all the land along Offa's Dyke is agricultural in some respect, I felt it was as beautiful as any other hike I've done. Certainly there were more historic sites than along my other hikes, and I really enjoyed that. London had a lot of great things to see, but the hustle and crowds didn't appeal to me. In general, the food was very good, better than I expected.

Dan's Offa's Dyke Walk