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Snowdonia Long Weekend

Following on from my blog written 1085 Metres above sea level on the summit of Mount Snowdon, I have been gathering my thoughts. On what was a truly amazing adventure we had the pleasure of enjoying one of the most picturesque of places visited to date.

The drive to our campsite was beautiful. As soon as we passed the Welsh border, we were greeted with winding roads offering some beautiful views. Mountains, open rivers, streams and fields full of nature on show setting a lovely background story to what lay waiting for us.
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Cae Du is a beautiful campsite, very neatly presented within a border of the Snowdonia Mountains. This campsite offered spacious pitches and a well stocked shop. The prices were good value considering the remoteness of this site. The facilities on this well maintained site included basic toilets open 24 hours with more modern and newer washing facilities open between 7am-10pm. The views all around the site were breathtaking and there were some lovely parts we walked around on the site including a secluded mountain stream.

Saturday was our judgement day as we climbed Mount Snowdon. Following on from my previous blog, I can confirm the decent was far more demanding than I thought it would be. My fiancé had to strap a heat pack to my calf and help me carry our numerous stretches to aid my tight calfs and sore ankles. Despite the aches I am still feeling, I wouldn’t have swapped this experience for anything.

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On Sunday we headed to the local village called Beddgelert. This village was so beautiful and the walk from our campsite took around ten minutes. This is a very lovely place and the walk into the village took us along a rocky river which was overlooked by some very attractive houses. One snap shot of this walk seemed to take us back to Greece, this picture is below.

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We had a walk around the shops and bought a couple of pieces from a craft shop. There was a lovely ice cream parlor where we sampled some delightful flavours. I had a strawberry, melon and Cointreau Ice cream which was amazing. We spent some time chilling at one of the local pubs and watched the world pass by as we rested our achy legs and bodies.

There is a sad local story to this village which played a huge part in the naming of Beddgelert. My story is very rough and if I’ve missed anything I do apologise. A prince dating back to the 1300s lived in this village and he had a loyal dog as his pet. One day he came home to find his empty sons cot covered in blood, the prince feared the worst and slayed his faithful companion Gelert. The prince frantic over the death of his air to the throne was in despair. It wasn’t until he searched the house that he found his son unscathed and the blood was from a wolf that had tried to attack him. The wolf was killed by his loyal dog Gelert. It is said that after this event the prince never smiled again. Gelerts grave remains to be seen today, the photo below shows his grave as well as a statue of Gelert.

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We had a couple of meals in Beddgelert which were decent and enjoyed the lovely feeling this village gave us. The streams were beautiful and the sunshine lit up all the flowers and bright colours around the streets. This is a place we will visit again and one little treat we didn’t expect to find. The final night at our campsite was chilled and we played a couple of games of Scrabble before settling down. The rain was heavy and kept us awake but by the time it settled it gave us time to get some sleep ahead of our journey home tomorrow.

Before we got on our way home we decided to visit a place called Portmeirion to have a walk around the coastlines or that’s what we thought it would entail. Our adventurous streak got the better of us and once we walked around the streets with brightly coloured painted houses and pools filled with piercing blue water we found ourselves thrown into our own adventure.

Portmeirion is spanned over 70 acres and whilst most of it is mapped, we decided the sign pointing to a Ghost Garden was too much of a temptation to resist. Off the map and past the Dog Cemetery we were trying to find, we found ourselves clambering through Rainforests filled with bright plants, loud wildlife and areas that not even the most local of residents had passed.

We finally got stuck as we were presented with a steep sandy bank down around 30 feet of cliffs. We managed to clamber down safely and the walk led us down to the beach. Fortunately the sea was out and we could enjoy a lovely albeit lengthy walk back to the village centre. It was one adventure, one we didn’t expect to participate in, however it was bloody good fun.

Portmeirion turns out to be quite a famous place with many tv programs filmed there. These include The Prisoner and Doctor Who. It certainly offers a lot and we did enjoy some lovely cake in their cafe. It is very quaint and a strange thing is that some of the buildings have windows painted on them, now that is weird!

The drive back was pretty boring in comparison to the amazing long weekend we experienced. Snowdonia we will be back. Thank you!!

DarcyB

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1085 Metres Later

As I sit here sipping my coffee on the summit of Snowdon I find myself reflecting. This challenge we set ourselves has been one amazing journey, one that through strength, determination and togetherness we managed to navigate.

1085 Metres altitude over rocky terrain and hazardous pathways behind us it’s certainly a sense of achievement. It’s far too early to even think about the return journey back down the route we have taken, one thing is for sure it will be a bit less demanding on the body and my legs.

The views have been truly breathtaking as the climb gradually saw us see the world from different heights and views. Great Lakes turning into puddles the further we headed upwards to the summit. The weather has been kind to us, some moments when the sun peeked around the clouds it became too hot, the overcast conditions for most of the climb a welcome present.

This is one of those moments you need to savor and I will certainly do so, it is when you do something as epic as this you begin to wake up the adventurous monster that lurks within my soul. This has certainly reminded me of the Grampians that I climbed in Australia but it is nowhere near comparable. This has been one awesome adventure, another one to the long list I am lucky to be compiling with my fiancé. Life is good!

DarcyB

My Blog is 1 Year Old – Happy Birthday

A year ago I decided to start my blog, over 80 posts, 5,000 views and 70 followers later I have never felt more accomplished than I do right now.

I must once again place my thanks on record to my friend Jaki Jelley whose similar minded approach to her blog gave me the final push I needed to start my own. So what has happened this year and have my random ramblings really entertained my readers or drove you to despair? I’d personally like to think it’s been a mixed ride with many different topics covered.

So what have been my highlights? Well this year I’ve written about Leeds United on quite a few occasions, I am still hopeful that I will get a piece published by one of the fans pages this season. I’ve had some fun adventures and holiday trips with my awesome fiancé, mainly involving the tent.

I’ve written about my travels, gardening and nature stories including our ever so near attempts to get a blue tit nesting in our garden right through to creating a hotel for our bee to lay it’s eggs in. I’ve cooked pickled Beetroot, attempted to grow tomatoes and even written up a couple of my favourite recipes.

I’ve managed to get an article on the Autumn Towcester Beer Festival published on the about my area website and have written further blogs about my love for local ales. There have been some exciting pieces on Music Festivals including the surreal In The Woods Festival.

I’d like to thank you all for taking that little bit of time out of your busy days to read my blog and I promise that this second year will see even more stories from my crazy world and the life I lead.

On one final note I’d like to share some awesome news with you all. I secured my promotion at work and have finally become a Branch Manager. This is something I’ve wanted these last three years and from the beginning of August I’ll finally be there. This is a big deal for me and I am so proud of myself and also would like to place on record my thanks for the support my fiancé has given me throughout my career.

So as we embark on another adventure this weekend in Snowdonia, I can already feel my next piece formulating together in my head. Here is to the future and the exciting times it promises to bring.

Thank you.

DarcyB

York City Adventure – Part 1

We decided to take advantage of the late May Bank Holiday break and packed up the tent for the first camping trip of 2014. The Destination was York, to revisit a city I fell in love with in my early teenage years. I’d hoped to study at Askern Bryan in York for my Diploma before a change of events put that dream to bed. Despite this disappointment I have always loved this city and couldn’t wait to explore it properly with my fiancé.

The weather forecast was mixed which suited us perfectly. This kept changing as we drove up the M1, M18 and finally the A1 as we were greeted by Wagtail Park and the hardest of grounds to pitch our tent on. We were asked to bring Rock Pegs which on first inspection seemed like overkill. It wasn’t until I cockily hit a standard peg into the lush green grass that I discovered it was merely a topping. What lay under this welcoming layer was a silt filled, rocky mixture of quarry type material. After a dash to the local camping shop we had enough rock pegs to erect our tent and canopy securely.
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By the time we’d pitched the tent and got camp set up it was too late to wander too far away. There was a lovely fishing lake close by which we walked around and after we’d cooked some chili and drank a couple of beers we watched a film and called it a night. It wasn’t the coldest of nights, however as it was our first camping trip in nearly 9 months we needed to acclimatize. We survived the night and after a late breakfast which comprised of a bacon roll we headed into York.

The Park & Ride is quite simply excellent value for money. To park the car and get a return ticket cost £2.70 each which is far cheaper than parking in the city centre. We used the Sunday afternoon to explore the streets of the city as well as sampling some of the local food and ales. We walked up the Shambles which is a quaint cobbled narrow street lined with shops on both sides. The hustle and bustle of the bank holiday crowd evident and we were caught on a wave of visitors.

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We had our Sunday Beef Roast at The Golden Fleece which is the oldest pub in York. It is also the most haunted pub in the city, a claim backed up by the Most Haunted crew, who spent a weekend filming here in the pub/hotel. The place itself is typically quirky and feels very welcoming. There are a couple of skeletons that sit at the bar on a stool and also in the pub garden. All of the floors are wonky and slanted, so much so that my pint of ale was slanted and the gravy was trying to escape from my plate. A quickly constructed defensive wall using my mashed potato prevented any casualties. When we sat for dinner my fiancé did feel a cold sensation next to her side which hung around for a few minutes. It certainly backed up the claims of the owners and many guests who have stayed there.

We had a walk around Parliament Street which is the widest most open street in York and also had a tour of the York baths. This was conducted by a very knowledgeable Canadian historian by the name of Ryan, who not only told us about the Roman Baths in York, but also covered wars, deaths, Christianity and many other topics. By the time we left this small room which gathering heat the longer we stayed down there we were gasping the fresh air to celebrate our freedom. Joking aside it was well worth the £3.50 it cost plus a small contribution to Ryan’s education costs!

By a friends recommendation (thanks Aimee) we went to an off license called The House of the Trembling Madness. Above this there was also a bar which quite simply oozed class and style. The decor comprised of stuffed animals and randomly placed gothic designs framed by some stunning timber open framed roof trusses and beams. The place was busy and the small number of chairs and tables filled. The bar was small and quaint and the food smelled delightful. We helped ourselves to a couple of IPA’s and shopped till we dropped as I was reunited with some of my favourite Australian beers imported in their shop.

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We returned to camp just before the forecasted rain and had a very chilled out Sunday night. We ate some cheese and crackers and watched Taken 2 and the first half of American Hustle. Following on from last nights shock chill factor I put on an extra layer in an effort to get a warm comfortable nights sleep to get me in good stead for Mondays day of adventure. Historical visits, walks, haunted sightings and more local pubs awaited us, we certainly had a lot planned!

One final York related story before I bring this 1st Part of the blog to a conclusion. There are cats all over the city on various buildings. It is said that any building that is graced with the presence of a cat, is a happy place. We spotted a couple of these cats with one been on the front of The Golden Fleece Pub. Based on this story, I think it’s safe to say that my fiancé encountered a good happy spirit!

To be continued…….

DarcyB

Telling Stories

As I sit down taking shelter from the Cornish wind, rain and mist, it certainly makes me appreciate the week away we’ve enjoyed. We have certainly been fortunate with the weather these last 7 days, so it’s only fair that we had one bad one thrown in for good measure. We have literally zipped up the tent and taken stock of our supplies in an effort to get through the day and night in one piece.

Now it may sound overly dramatic but it is like this when the elements are against you, that you truly appreciate the warmth. Throw in the satisfaction that you can safely erect a tent correctly so that you can enjoy the moments like these. So as we enjoy the sip of a cold San Miguel and nibble on the remaining Dairy Milk Nut Bar I stored in our fridge, I am really feeling the benefit of a great holiday break.

Yesterday we found the energy and desire to drive to the Lizard and visit one of the bays off this picturesque stretch of coastline. It is certainly a place that you could be forgiven for mistakingly thinking was in the Mediterranean. The weather was clear, bright and sunny. It was because of this that you could really differentiate between the greens and blues along the clear coastlines within the sea. I have to admit it looked not too dissimilar to the Aegan Sea that I swam in during our Greek holiday in May. We walked around 3 miles taking in many steep tracks and fields with the cliff top views a beautiful backdrop.

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This is a place I visited a couple of years ago with my best mate James, however we went along a different route and the weather wasn’t so clear and kind. One other thing I noticed was the bright dark yellow glows that the Lichen had. Now I appreciate that this isn’t a fascinating subject, however it did drive home the fact of how clean and fresh the air is along this part of the country’s coastline. Lichen thrive on these conditions, which is why when you live in towns and cities the color isn’t that distinct or the areas aren’t as dense. I took this photo which I hope for all you Lichen enthusiasts shows off this fact.

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One thing that me and my partner love about Lichen is the Water bears that live within them. If you haven’t heard or seen these, then please take a moment to go on YouTube and check them out.

On a more somber note it was sad to hear the passing away of Jon Brookes earlier this week. Jon was the drummer for the Charlatans, a band that we are both big fans of. I was very fortunate to meet the band for my birthday last year and we spent some time with Jon and the band before their Telling Stories gig in Edinburgh. In the time we spent with Jon, we found him to be a genuinely decent and friendly family guy. During the gig we were stood at the front and despite being one of many Jon threw his towel into the front row for which my partner caught it. It is rare that the death of someone famous actually hits you so hard. Jon you will be sadly missed and would like you to know that you really touched our lives. It is another painful reminder of how valuable life is.

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DarcyB

Champagne Bucks

As the weeks holiday comes drawing to a conclusion, it’s at times like these that I wish I had really concentrated on the Back to the Future films. I am sure had I really understood it, that I could have created a device and fitted it to my Car in an attempt to go back to last Saturday when we first arrived here. I would obviously pick the moment after the 7 hour journey and also with the tent and canopy all set up. In fact I would like to be in the exact moment of time where I’m sat down in my chair with a nice cold can of beer in my hand! Not too much to ask for.

Since my last blog we have experienced another couple of days out and about and have ticked off both the Saints from the Cornish town list. We went to St Just on Wednesday and despite initially finding parking spaces a challenge to find, we were able to park up and have a wander around the centre. I had my first Cornish Cream Tea, to which I later discovered had got the Jam and Clotted Cream the wrong way around! Only I could do that and a successful shop in a local Craft Shop provided my partner with some creative options further down the line. We then finished the wander with a nosey of the local church. If there is one thing we have noticed in Cornwall it is the tidy presentation and appearance of their churches. This one was no different, however it did provide me with a chuckle when I discovered a certain book title in their give a way section. You couldn’t script it any better a hardback copy of The Satanic Verses, free to a good home!

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The journey took us to Cape Cornwall and another climb to see more amazing scenery off the coastline. Now Cape Cornwall may not sound dramatically interesting, however it is the only point around the entire United Kingdom where two different seas or oceans merge together. I will always try and offer some education along the way and this is my token gesture! Another musing was to discover that the tower on Cape Cornwall was constructed by Heinz as a marker of their decision to purchase Cape Cornwall and donate it to the National Trust. It was exactly at this point I noticed a similarity between the tower and a certain accompaniment to chips!

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On Thursday we went to St Ives and just about survived the crowds flocking to soak up the Summer Rays that were hitting the beach and coast lines. St Ives is a lovely place and one that I intend to visit again when it’s not so in season. If you visualize the letter U it gives you the perfect image of St Ives. There are two extremely high points and the main part of the town is in the dip between them. We were parked on one of these high points and walked over to the other, crazy stuff but even more beautiful views to take in. It was here that I learnt the correct way to eat a Cream Tea the proper way and also to discover they aren’t even scones! In a nutshell St Ives is beautiful, creative and has a nice positive vibe to it. There are however a few too many Art Shops each selling exactly the same pictures and prints!

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On the way back we went via “St Ives Cider” farm and met the guy behind supplying St Ives with the majority of its Cider. It certainly was an eye opener to say the least. He just finished a 10,000 litre batch of one type and it was then we discovered that he bottled it four at a time! Now that is one effort that needs saluting. The set up was no bigger than two medium storage units and it shows the belief and desire that he has in his product. It was this evening that I finally tasted the Cider that my partners step dad has produced this year. Percy certainly didn’t disappoint and I’m pretty certain that the other bottle I’m lucky enough to have will be enjoyed later this weekend.

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Finally I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Milton Keynes Bucks Baseball Team on clinching the AAA title last weekend. I have been very fortunate to play a couple of games for the Bucks this year and its so amazing to be so close to the success. They have played terrific Baseball this year and the First Team are a terrific bunch of guys, well done again you all deserve it so very very much! For my non Baseball followers this is the equivalent of winning the league and earning the first seeded ranking going into the Play Offs. Jon and Ernie a special thanks goes to you guys for making all this possible!

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DarcyB

Local Legend of St Buryan

So following on from my last blog there are a couple of things that I can confirm. Firstly we got here in one piece despite every attempt the A30 threw at us. It was a scene similar to that of The Truman Show, where when he tries to escape he is faced with many man made blockades to prevent him from doing so. The journey itself took a little under 7 hours and once we’d got the tent all set up, we were very very relieved to sip that first cold beer. The second thing I can confirm is that Scrabble didn’t make the trip, my partner has convinced me that the Puzzle Book she bought would be a worthy substitute! Only time will tell on that one 😉

We have certainly made the most of our time down here so far. We are both massive fans of walking and exploring and have found some truly amazing sights and views. To the untrained eye an Ordinance Survey map seems dull and boring, to us it’s pure ecstasy. We have successfully found our first Cornish Stone Circle, located some standing stones, found ancient burial sites and our first Ordinance Survey Marker.

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Now we are also fans of doing the more well known sights, just in case I need to dispel that concern you may have as you read this. We have not only visited the brand new theme park styled Lands End, but we have also survived the Causeway and long winding uneven walk to the top of St Michaels Mount. The views from the bottom were impressive, the views from the top simply breath taking! We spent a day in Penzance and walked along the harbors and along the streets, this is a beautiful town with flags gracing every part of it. The weather so far has been lovely, it’s only rained when we have been asleep in our tent!

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The nature we have witnessed first hand down here has been amazing to say the least. As we walked along the Sand Dunes yesterday from St Michaels Mount we saw a Weasel chasing a Rabbit ahead of us, it was in a comical way similar to Road Runner and Wiley Coyote! We think the Rabbit escaped. We have seen many colorful butterflies including Red Admirals and large Moths which resembled Red Tiger Moths. On our walk to the top of Chapel Carn we saw wild ponies and many birds as well as the sweetest little Field Mouse and yes I got that close to it using my IPhone Camera. Finally the evenings turning into nights have seen many a creepy crawly trying to invade our Tent and surrounding areas, the slugs have proven to be somewhat brave and large.

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Finally our visit to St Buryan proved to be an interesting one. They say the term “legend” is used far too regularly and that it loses value, however I am quite confident that its a fitting term for this instance. We went to grab a pub lunch and popped into the pub in St Buryan. Now it’s always a strange feeling when you aren’t a local popping into a village pub and in this instance it wasn’t too daunting. We were presented with a nice bar area with many arrays of local memorabilia on the walls and three locals, two of them together.

After we ordered our drinks and sat down, we were greeted by an elderly gentleman called Basil. The conversation quickly turned to Cricket and we were talking about the current Ashes Test that was on and how England needed to set around 250 to give them a chance of winning it. Suddenly I was pointed to a newspaper article framed and hanging proudly on the wall. It was a copy of a Schoolboys Cricket match in August 1974 when a certain Basil took all Ten Wickets in a match. I must say it was at this point I realized this was Basil. He proudly talked me through his successes and exploits as if the game had been played yesterday. For any non cricket fans out there, then the equivalent of this is hard to compare. All I can say is this is a very rare achievement and one I’ve never seen before. To that Basil I raise my glass to you, you are an awesome real life local legend of St Buryan!

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DarcyB

Camping Holidays Rule!

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Well it’s the first time I get to write about going on Holiday. I am not going to sound smug and rub it in, however I am extremely excited and looking forward to it.

Me and my partner are heading down to Cornwall for a week. If there is one thing we certainly do, it is making the most of every day that we can when we escape away. We are both into our camping and have the most awesome tent, trust me, my previous experiences of camping have involved having to crawl around the tent due to lack of head space. Well not now, I have to admit it was the most savvy purchase that we’ve made, all the research was undertaken by my better half and I can honestly say it makes camping a delight. Not only can we stand up, but we have our own bedroom and living room compartments which when kitted out actually feels like living in a static caravan, well a spacious static caravan!

We have certainly got the knack of putting it up and have already made five camping trips this year. From the extremes of Derbyshire in March where we experienced temperatures of minus seven, right through to the heat of Lewes. We stayed at an amazing place called the Secret Campsite last month where we also watched Mumford & Sons Live at the Gentlemen of the Road Festival. Practice has very much made the process much easier as the year has gone on and I can’t wait to get the car all packed up in the morning and start our next adventure.

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I am a real geek when it comes to packing bits on a camping trip and I am confident that I will not only manage to sneak the Scrabble Board amongst our bits but I may even get a game! I love setting up our Mini Purple BBQ called Cookie and firing up the Coals so we can cook either breakfast or some lovely burgers for dinner. I am still convinced that I will be able to BBQ a full Chicken on it, but I think that’s just me dreaming.

Basically if you haven’t worked it out from my words above, I love adventures, I love camping, I love holidays but the most important thing is having the company of my awesome girlfriend. All of these factors mixed together make the experience a total delight. There is a rumour that the campsite we are staying at has WiFi, if this is the case I will write a couple of Holiday Blogs whilst I am in Cornwall. If not there will be one big one waiting for you all to digest in a weeks time.

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DarcyB