Jan 17

Yuletide & 2017!

We had a great Yuletide season this year. Kicked off by purchasing our biggest tree yet and decorating it beautifully with lights and ornaments at the beginning of December already, and followed by visiting friends and markets in Freiburg, we were ready for the main events. This year I made fewer kinds of cookies, but no less delicious, and complemented by awesome German lebkuchen, we were not left wanting for sweets.


Solstice/my b-day celebrations started with a lavish breakfast of blueberry pancakes and a huge pile of presents (I wouldn’t want it any other way!). I got some beautiful stuff, including books and a Welsh print for the wall, and to top it all off a trip to Amsterdam in the spring! It’s gonna be awesome and I can’t wait. Since I already took the day off at work, I just lounged for the day, reading my books and enjoying myself. In the evening I went around town a bit to look at the lights and decorations set up everywhere for my benefit and celebration, and finally met Iest for dinner at Busaba Eathai.

The main celebration on the 25th was lovely as well, with lavish pressies (especially for me again), and fancy three-course meal including baked camembert with honey, figs and nuts as a starter, parmesan breaded garlic mushroom pizzas (made from scratch including Iest’s signature dough), and dark chocolate chilli mousse (made by me). I got (among many others) a membership of the UK National Trust for 2017, so that’s our weekend trips sorted – 581 places to choose from! We were extremely full and didn’t want to spoil the rest of the day anyway, so we left the packing for the next day morning and just enjoyed our day lounging and playing with pressies. Also played a full game of dice, in which I ruled like the dice queen I am.


On the 26th we packed everything (like, literally – I can’t believe we ever made it to Wales by train), and loaded our trusty Terrell, and drove up to the beautiful Snowdonia. Where we got even more presents, including a boat trip over to the Skerries sometime next year!

Tuesday 27 December
Weather reasonable (there is no snow though this year), so we went up Moel Siabod for a stroll. It’s like a little hillock up from Capel Curig, no biggie. It was quite foggy and windy up top, and the streams were nicely frozen over. We countered it with nice tea from our thermos and a serving of yule cookies. Overall, we defo consumed more energy than we gave up on the walk, but after the week of only eating, the fresh air and some movement did us real good.

Moel Siabod

Wednesday 28 December
Amazing sunny day, no other possibility than lugging our holiday weight up a nice range – we selected the Carneddau for the honour. Starting up from LLyn Ogwen, we took the National Trust route straight up (I allowed Iest on it, even though he’s not a member), and basking in the winter sun we made it to the first peak. From there on it was a nice ridge walk, sprinkled with tea and yule cookies. It was still quite windy up top, and water was frozen solid, but the sun was unwavering until the evening. We went down through an uncharted territory to make sure we’d get to the car before dark, which these days comes way too early. Lovely walk!



Pen yr Ole Wen

Crisp evening


Thursday 29 December
Weather so so, and clouds lying low on the mountains. Perfect day for another National Trust treasure visit – this time the whistling sands beach of Porthor on the LLŷn peninsula. A beautiful place, not so much whistly this time around, but still a pretty piece of coast. Had a cuppa in the small café, and swung also by another great NT place – Porth y Swnt in Aberdaron – on the way. This is a nice exhibition about the culture and environment of the peninsula, and includes a puffin hole!

Pan chwery chwa oddi uchod â’r môr
Mae hen angenfilod
Y dwfn I’w wyneb yn dod
I’w haileni’n wylanod

Evening watch of long-anticipated Charlie Brooker 2016 Wipe – what a year this was! He still covered it in only an hour, and did well as always.

Whistling sands

Friday 30 December
And since we were so into NT places now, we decided to visit the great Plas Newydd and gardens on the Menai straits. This elegant house was redesigned by James Wyatt in the 18th century, and has lots to see both inside and out. Because of the season not all of the interiors were accessible (so we’ll have to visit again), but the ones that were were nicely decorated with trees and presents and fireplaces and board games and seasonal music, so it was all very nice. The gardens likewise, plus beautiful views across the straits. Good choice. To top the day up, we went by Rhosneigr for a little stroll, and finally had a nice dinner with friends at Dylan’s in Criccieth.

Plas Newydd

Plas Newydd

Saturday 31 December
Last day of the year! Which actually does not mean much to us – we do not partake in forced celebrations and parties on the night. But we thought we could go camping in the wild again, like we have done several times before. Alas, the forecast was for heavy rains to come for the night, so there was really no point (the point is to wake up in raging sunshine in the new year, perhaps even dip into the sea on the occasion). During the day we decided to make one more small walk in the hills, and selected my fave Yr Aran for the occasion. The peak was submerged in cloud, but overall it was a very fine final walk for the year.
We made a nice batch of chickpea curry for the evening, and went to bed way before midnight.

Yr Aran

We did however, drag Gina out of the warmth and down to Dinas Dinlle, where we made our text-book year number (2017!) in lights, together with some heart light-graffiti in the cold, wet rain.

2017 Lights!

Heart Lights!

Sunday 1 January
Packed everything, it does not seem we have less stuff even though we offloaded all the kids’ pressies that were taking up the trunk, weird. Made our way down to our London home via Snowdonia, which had now been blessed with a sprinkling of snow on its highest peaks (just as it was pissing down through the night in the valleys), so we could make an impromptu photoshoot of Iestyn’s beard and slippers in the wild.
At home sweet home we watched new Sherlock (kinda so so, better than the last one, but long lost are the splendours of season 1&2), with some pizza and wine (for Gina) before going to bed.

Monday 2 January
Thank gods for this day off, so we could do all the laundry, clean up, and purge our little flat of any sign of the preceding festivities – took down the tree and all decorations, and that was that. Back to normal and to 2017!

Jul 14

A short Welsh weekend

As Gina has recently moved to London (!!), it’s now going to be a lot easier for us to head to Wales when we feel like it. This is pretty much exactly what we did over the weekend. I took the late ferry from Dublin, and Gina caught the train up from London – and we’d be meeting in Holyhead around midnight. Perfect!

The train ride, and boat trip went without any hitches, and we met bang on time in Holyhead, where dad picked us up and took us home to Groeslon.

We got up super early, and after some hearty breakfast and catch-up with Mum and Dad, we decided to head up to the Welsh mountains – the Carneddau. The weather wasn’t particularly favourable – from down in the Ogwen Valley we couldn’t see the tops of the Carneddau, but we decided to head up anyhow, to stretch our legs, and because we’re cŵl like that.

We started from Llyn Ogwen, and belted up the steep slopes of Pen yr Ole Wen. The fog was thick from around the 600m mark, so just before heading in, we took a few snaps, as I had borrowed a friends Wide-angle lens for the weekend.

Gina & Cwm Idwal

Gina & Cwm Idwal


What followed was a really refreshing 5 – 6 hour walk into the thick cloud, from Pen yr Ole Wen (978m), across and up to Carnedd Dafydd (1044m) across the ridge to Carnedd Llewelyn, a wee bit of scrambling before heading up to Pen yr Helgi Ddu, and then descending the road-path that leads from Ffynnon Llugwy down to the car. There was a few people up on the hills, as there was a ‘Vegan 10km’ race on – but me and Gina marched onwards, enjoying being out together in the hills.

Directly afterwards, we headed to one of our favourite eating places (especially after a big hike): Pete’s Eat. We had the usual Veggie Grill, with a massive mug of tea, and hot chocolate for me.

On the drive home on Saturday, I noticed that we might be in for a fantastic sunset, as the clouds were breaking up just above the horizon, so after quickly changing from our wet-hiking clothes, we dashed on down to Dinas Dinlle to catch the epic, fantastic pink sunset, which gave me an opportunity to play with another borrowed lens, a 60mm Macro lens which I’ve fallen in love with, while Gina took epic snaps with my iPhone for Instagram (something we’ve both adopted very well):

60mm Pebble shot

60mm Pebble shot

And that was it for Saturday night! We were both blasted by the day’s hard work, so we had an early night.

Sunday bought with it, much better weather, so after another super early start and hearty breakfast, we decided to go to Gina’s fave place in Wales: Ynys Llanddwyn, and as it was a super nice and sunny day – this was a great idea!

We jetted over in the van, blasting some sweet music from my younger days, to a fairly looking, busy Llanddwyn. Armed with an ice cream (and a chat with the ice cream vendor about my family – Wales is a small place) we made our way towards the island and lighthouse. Thankfully, the tourists were all crowded along the main entrance to the beach, once we past the first 100m walk, the tourists were no where to be seen, which was great.

Wide angled Gina, gallivanting

Wide angled Gina, gallivanting

60mm flowers, sea and mountains

60mm flowers, sea and mountains

We made our way over and across towards the lighthouse, where we sat and chilled, and enjoyed the sun together. I (probably) burned my face because of the sun, but it was nice to be by the fresh sea, relaxing with Gins.

Macro Ynys Llanddwyn

Macro Ynys Llanddwyn



From Llanddwyn, we decided to head on over to Rhosneigr for a spot of lunch. Our main priority was pancakes (clown ones!), but the wee cafe was closed, so we decided to have some proper seafood – Gina went wild and had some lovely Rhosneigr Mussels, while I had traditional Fish ‘n chips – with mushy peas! It was fantastic.

And that was it, our short weekend had come to and end – we had to head back to Groeslon to pick up our bags, and catch our trains and ferry, back to London and Dublin.