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Unfortunately I broke my neck at the end of February. This means that I am now wearing what is perversely called a “halo”, basically a metal structure screwed into my head to keep everything stable. Unfortunately I also suffered some nerve damage and still don’t have full feeling in my fingers or toes.

Things are improving slowly, but I am not expecting the Halo to be removed until the end of August. After that it will take some time for me to build up muscles etc again so I may not be out and about much until next winter.

In the meantime I have moved from north Wales and back to my native Yorkshire, so I hope to be taking photos of the north York moors and Yorkshire dales when I am finally up and about again.

Take care everyone, and have a good summer.

A happy Yule to everyone.

Yule is the celebration of the winter solstice and has been celebrated for thousands of years. The winter solstice this year is on the 21st December.

For 6 days at this time of year the sun appears to stand still on the horizon. It was a time of uncertainty and mystery as the ancients wondered if indeed the sun would return. When it did return, year after year, festivals grew up in just about every place and culture.

The ancients realised that the solstice was the longest night of the year. It was a time of celebration and rejoicing in the knowledge that soon the warm days of spring would return, and the dormant earth would come back to life.

Greenery such as holly, pine and laurel were used to decorate homes. Because they are evergreen it was thought that they had power over death and destruction.

Mistletoe was held as being sacred. It was hung over doorways as it was believed that it would bring fertility and abundance.

The yule log was usually oak. Traditionally it was burned continuously for 12 days. A bit of the wood would be kept for kindling next years fire and the ashes would be spread on the ground and used as a fertiliser.

A HAPPY YULE TO EVERYONE.


A north Wales miscellany.

For various reasons I haven’t been out much lately so to keep things ticking over here are a few photo’s that I haven’t used on previous posts. There is no theme and they don’t appear in any particular order. I hope you enjoy.

Aber falls from down the valley. 29 May 2008

Rhaeadr bach from a distance. 28 August 2008.

Wild ponies in the hills. 28 August 2008.

Autumn colour near Capel Curig. 24 October 2008.



Patches of autumn sunlight at Llyn Ogwen. 24 october 2008.

Bala steam railway. 20 July 2009.

Trees on the shore of Llyn Tegid. 20 July 2009.

Afon Lledr at Dolwyddelan. 13 May 2008.

The frozen Afon Lledr. 7 January 2009

View across Conwy Bay from Great Orme. 14 october 2008.

Llandudno and the sweeping curve of the bay from Great Orme. 22 Sept 2009.

Monument to commemotate the bard Taliesin at Llyn Geirionydd. 19 July 2009.

Tu hwnt i'r bont (Beyond the bridge), Llanrwst. 20 July 2008.

Reflections on Llyn Crafnant. 10 December 2009.

Llyn Dinas. 16 March 2009.

Llyn Crafnant. 4 June 2008.

Llyn Nantlle Uchaf. 16 March 2009.

Flooded car park and fields beyond, Llanrwst. 19 November 2009.

Flooded fields at Capel Curig. 19 November 2009.

Flooded fields near Llanrwst. 19 November 2009.

Flooded fields near Trefriw. 19 November 2009.

Wind and rain at Llynau Mymbyr. 19 November 2009.

Gwledd Conwy Feast

The Conwy feast is an annual event which takes place over 2 days every October. This year the entrance fee was £4 and this gave entry to all the tents, the castle and the RSPB reserve.

The quayside is lined with tents and stalls, and there are stalls in the High street as well as other tents around the town.

If you like food and drink, and you haven’t been to Conwy feast, look out for next years, it’s a great day out.

As I walked over the bridge there was a lovely sight…..

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A lovely start to the day.

……  and there was no flood. It was actually a very pleasant day.

From the bridge I could see the tents and stalls lining the old quayside.

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Tents along the quayside.

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The stalls were kept busy.

 

 

 

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Caught in a quiet moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Had to try these, and they were delicious.

 

 

 

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The tents were all busy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you like German sausages, this is the stall for you.

 

 

 

 

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I liked this stall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not all stalls though, there are regular demonstrations taking place.

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Demonstrations took place regularly.

 

 

 

 

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One of the demonstations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The busy quayside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s worth leaving the quayside and having a wander around the town. There are stalls and demonstrations scattered around.

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A vegetable stall in the High street.

 

 

 

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The High street was busy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it’s not all about prepared or preparing food either………..

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These Saddlebacks needed a siesta.

 

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Welsh black cattle.

 

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Welsh mountain sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lets not forget the drinks……..

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A good place to round off the day.

 

 

 

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Lots of different ales to try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Entertainment in the Real Ale tent.

There is entertainment all around the town too.

But now it’s time to head off home after a most enjoyable day. I’m going to eat my pies and wash them down with local ale.

http://www.gwleddconwyfeast.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samhain is a mystical festival rooted in ancient Gaelic tradition. Samhain is a Gaelic word which means (literally) “summers end”. The ancient celts divided the year into only two seasons. Samhain is pronounced a little differently in different countries, so it is “sow-in” in ireland, “saveen” in Scotland and “sow-een” in Wales. It is definitely  not pronounced “sam-hane” as it is by many in the USA.

It is an ancient festival with celebrations keyed to the end of the harvest, the shortening days and the coming of winter. Since ancient times in the Celtic culture, October 31st. has also been celebrated as a feast for the dead and also the day that marked the New Year.

This time of year marked the beginning of the cold, lean months to come; the flocks were brought down from the hills to live in sheds until spring. Some animals would be slaughtered and the meat preserved to provide food for the winter. All the harvest was gathered in; barley, oats, wheat turnips, apples etc. From November the Faeries would blast every growing thing with their breath, blighting anything that remained.

In addition to the agricultural significance, the ancient Celts also saw Samhain as a very spiritual time. October 31st. is exactly between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, and was considered a very potent time for magic and communion with the spirits.

The “veil between the worlds” of the living and the dead was said to be at it’s thinnest on this day; so the dead were invited to return to feast with their loved ones; welcomed in from the cold, much the same as the animals were brought inside.

The name Hallowe’en is derived from “all hallows eve”. When Christianity arrived in Celtic countries the church discouraged the fortune-telling, magic and communing with the dead as “evil”. A day of celebration of all the Saints of the Church, on November 1st. was created in the hope of displacing the old “pagan” customs. The celebration was called All Saints day, and the night before it came to be called All Hallows Eve, or Hallowe’en.

Many ancient festivals included bonfires, and Samhain was no exception. At Samhain a “new” fire was kindled for the New Year and brought into the house for good luck. The flickering candles inside hollowed out Turnips (or Pumpkins) were also thought to help the spirits who were abroad that night to find their way.

“Trick or Treat” ….. going from door to door for money, sweets or food has evolved in the USA. It is a more recent development and may have evolved from a number of traditions.

Because this was the beginning of the New Year, divination, or foretelling the future, and looking toward the coming year became part of the practice. Many of our hallowe’en traditions, such as bobbing for Apples, were originally part of the foretelling of the future. baking cakes containing “lucky tokens” also originated at this time, and is now used in some areas at the new year on January 1st.

Some of the things that were done to foretell the future included:-

Girls would place Hazel nuts along the fire-grate, each one to signify one of her suitors. She would then divine her future husband by chanting, “If you love me pop and fly, if you hate me burn and die”.

Several divinations used the Apple, the most popular Samhain fruit. “The Apple and the mirror”. Before midnight sit in front of a mirror in a room lit onlt by one candle or the moon. Go into the silence and ask your question. Cut the Apple into nine pieces. With your back to the mirror eat eight pieces then throw the ninth over your left shoulder. Turn your head to look over the same shoulder. You will see an image or symbol in the mirror that will give you your answer. (When you look in the mirror let your focus go “soft” and allow the patterns made by the candlelight, moonlight and shadows to suggest forms , symbols and other dreamlike images that speak to your intuition).

goodweek24

I have done two previous posts about Bodnant garden this year, in spring and summer. This post is mainly about the autumn colours so the pictures will do most of the talking.

There are still some colourful borders and some of the roses are still in bloom, but although today was a bright autumn day we’d had torrential rain (almost 2 inches) yesterday and the flowers had taken a battering.

An autumn border, 7 October 2009

An autumn border, 7 October 2009

Autumn roses, 7 October 2009

Autumn roses, 7 October 2009

There is still a lot of greenery, but this serves to show up the beautiful yellows, oranges and reds.

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Autumn leaves, 7 October 2009

Autumn leaves, 7 October 2009

Autumn leaves and berries, 7 October 2009

Autumn leaves and berries, 7 October 2009

Berries (Cornus kousa), 7 October2009

Berries (Cornus kousa), 7 October2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Autumn colours around the lily pond, 7 October 2009

Autumn colours around the lily pond, 7 October 2009

Autumn around the lily pond, 7 October 2009

Autumn around the lily pond, 7 October 2009

Autumn sun glinting through an old Cedar, 7 October 2009

Autumn sun glinting through an old Cedar, 7 October 2009

There are still a few water lilies, 7 October 2009

There are still a few water lilies, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

What are these strange things? 7 October 2009

What are these strange things? 7 October 2009

Splashes of autumn colour, 7 October 2009

Splashes of autumn colour, 7 October 2009

A splash of autumn colour, 7 October 2009

A splash of autumn colour, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Autumn leaves, 7 October 2009

Autumn leaves, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

Shades of autumn, 7 October 2009

To round off this colourful walk around Bodnant garden here are some photos of the wonderful Sequoiadendron giganteun. These great trees are in the Dell and have grown to over 145 feet high.

A Sequoiandrendron giganteun, 7 October 2009

A Sequoiandrendron giganteun, 7 October 2009

Sequoiadendron giganteun, 7 Oct 2009

Sequoiadendron giganteun over 146 feet high. 7 October 2009

Sequoiadendron giganteun over 146 feet high. 7 October 2009

Bodnant garden is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year, constantly changing but always a great day out.

More details about Bodnant garden can be found here: http://www.bodnantgarden.co.uk/


On Tuesday (29th September 2009) I learned that I had won the Visit Wales Blog Award.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone at Visit Wales, the judges and all of you who take the time to visit my blog. THANK YOU.

I started my blog in July 2008. I had visited blogs, but had no idea how to start one, so it took some fiddling around to even get it started. Originally it was to have a record of places I visited and what I saw, but after a few weeks I noticed that people were actually visiting. I didn’t want it to look too amateurish, so gradually I started to improve it. I think it is now much better than when I first started. I hope you agree, but any suggestions on how to make improvements are always welcome.

North Wales is a great place to live and to visit. There are so many places to see, so many different land and seascapes. From towering cliffs to golden beaches; lush valleys to craggy mountains; castles and ancient burial sites; lovely villages and vibrant towns. If you have been putting off visiting Wales don’t put it off for too long, you don’t know what you are missing.

I am delighted that so many people seem to enjoy my blog. All the walks I have posted about I have actually walked. If you think you won’t be able to do them I can assure you, you will. I have emphysema and my average walking speed is 1 mph, slower if there are long or steep ascents. There have been a few occasions when I didn’t think I would be able to finish a walk, but I always manage to, even though a 3 hour walk may take me 7 or 8 hours. Visit Wales, and get out of your car, stretch your legs and look around. The smells, the sounds, the peace and quiet are wonderful.

Finally I would like to say congratulations to all those people who were nominated for the Visit Wales Blog Award, too many to mention here. Congratulations too to the other blogs short listed. It’s a varied list, a great advertisement for Wales. Here are the other short listed blogs:

http://www.jazzinwales.co.uk/

http://paintingwalesdiary.blogspot.com/2009/03/towards-lletty-farm.html

http://martinveale.blogspot.com/2009/05/avas-diary.html

http://www.welshhillsagain.blogspot.com/

http://strangewriter.blogspot.com/2009/06/travelling-in-pembrokeshire.html

http://goodbyemould.blogspot.com/

And the Visit Wales site is here: http://www.visitwales.co.uk/

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