Day 37. Flying Home

It’s been a great trip!

Early start, up at 5:00am, The Navigator is huffing and puffing stuffing last bits in here and there, I assist with the zip,on the bag that is. She asks if she should pack some glass Chrissy decorations in her check in bag that’s already closed,” I can’t recall what I said, Your Honour”, but it comes back to haunt me later.

Qatar Airlines checkin was done by Sonya so all good, just need to checkin the bags, a few questions are asked by the checkin lady and The Navigator needs to lighten her carry on slightly, she does then immediately repacks what she removed.

Through the gates of no return, The Navigator gets picked up on some glass in her bag, ” the aforesaid Christmas decorations your honour” …. ” how does the defendent plea?” …..” guilty your honour?” ……”your options 1.  are remove it 2. Carry it 3. Leave it with me for my Christmas tree?” ……..” Ah, you can have it, Merry Christmas then “

Breakfast is light, as we wait for our gate. Finally it’s up, gate 573, surely they don’t have that many gates? Maybe they do, there are gazillions of Easyjet flights leaving here to all over Europe and North Africa, west Asia. It’s a long walk but there isn’t 573 gates, obviously, we board and our seats are 12ABC&D. It’s a good flight, the woman in front doesn’t tilt her seat the full way, so she’s in my good books. Her 9 or 10 year old son in the middle seat is a battle for her, he’s busting for a leak but must be a shy slasher, he goes, comes back, goes comes back, with a strained look, his Mum grabs his arm, not sure what she says but I’m guessing he finally gets the load lifted as he finally returns with a happy look on his face. I watch a few movies, read a little and listen to music.

Doha airport is a bit of a cluster f… again, we have to go through 2 more security checks, the first they redirect us about 5 minutes walk from where they had us lined up originally, then out into huge crowd where we struggle to find a seat, unless you want to go to a bar, which we don’t. Then another security check into the waiting lounge for our flight, no toilets, lots of people people including a lot of young misbehaving children, we cross our fingers none of them were sitting with or near us. We end up very lucky, the couple in front of us have a 2 year old girl who is delightful, cheery little thing who hardly whinges to whole long haul from Doha to Sydney.

I wonder how they’ll ( Doha Airport) cope when hundreds of thousands descend on Doha in November for the soccer world cup? They’ll need to pick their act up, the airport is beautiful but the processes and staff performance leave a lot to be desired, in my opinion.

The usual thing on long hauls, food is crap, your body clock is thrown right out, but Qatar’s food has been good before so maybe it’s just me. Finally we arrive in Sydney, on time, through immigration, then customs after we declare chocolates as “dairy” and tea as “plant material” , we’re waved through. The 5 week trip is nearly done.

Rydges at the International terminal is a relief, big shower ( as in space with hood flow of water), a good wide bed, good food ( hotel expensive though) and a few beers before bed. Sleep happens then doesn’t happen, The Navigator chastised me for being restless, what do they say about people in glass houses? I say nothing though.

We’re ready in the morning, early, the checkin bags go through in the Transfer area at International, and we’re on the bus to Domestic in no time. A few of the Australia A Rugby team are transferring over to Domestic heading to Brisbane, they’ve just come back from a successful series against Japan in Japan. We see Vunivalu and some of the others, all enormous fit looking young men, I don’t see any of the old Country Eagles blokes from Elders days though, eg “Shed” Hanigan.

Breakfast is a relaxed affair we’re ahead of schedule for the 9:30 am flight home to Dubbo.

Finally we’re home, bags unpacked, Marks got the house and garden organised, good man! The Navigator is busy organising things.

Trip nearly done, a full sum up and some tips and recommendations will follow after I have a break for a few days.

CHEERS Pauolo.


Day 36. London –  another quiet day

Pauolo at The Rolling Stones shop in Carnaby Street  – my favourite album is Sticky Fingers – what’s yours?

Last day before the long trip home, shame we can’t keep travelling but I guess it’s got to end sometime. It rained last night but when we leave it’s just a light mist.

First stop off the Tube is Piccadilly Circus, the clouds are threatening but a very light drizzle comes and goes. The Circus us busy, the neon lights are bright in the dull day so we walk up, or should I say around the curved Regent Street ( expensive in Monopoly) to Hamleys toy store for the Murphy’s to see if  they can afford anything there. The Navigator and I explore  the shop then keep walking up to Carnaby Street, the old fashion street from the 70’s days of mini skirts, high boots, fluffy jackets, and it’s sort of like that still. The Navigator pulls off a minor win by finding some £3 earnings, on special, can’t be returned they say, she says “don’t care!”.

The Murphys’s catch us up and we explore Carnaby Street and its side streets, we find the Rollling Stones shop ( part of the Stones international business I guess) and buy some T shirts, Paul lashes out on a rare Stones vinyl in the shop, I reckon he should have asked for Mick, Ronnie and Keef to sign it but not that’sq happening. 

Lunch is at Shakespeare’s Head pub, something to do with Shakespeare I guess, some young Belgium soccer fans are sitting next to us downing Italian beer, not far away at another bar some young blokes are singing, loudly, what’s the story we ask. Well, West Ham United are playing Anderlect in the Europa Conference League game at London Stadium tonight. (spoiler alert – West Ham win 2-0), and the boys have crossed the channel to watch the game. Wonder why they don’t drink Begium beer, it’s better than Italian beer?

A grey Regent Street

After a short walk we decide enough is enough and get the Tube back to Earl’s Court to rest a bit before our lift to Gatwick arrives at 4:30pm. The black Merc van arrives in time and an hour and a half later we’re at the Premier Inn at Gatwick. Sonya has our seats and boarding passes sorted (not sure when she finds the time?) so we’re good to go for a 6am start for a 9am flight in the morning.

This will the last blog for a few days till I get home on Sundsy morning and get over jet-lag( if I get it?)

It’s been a great trip, well organised and planned, great company for celebrating Sonya’s birthday in Italy with long time friends and someone haven’t seen for a while, and then travelling on with the Murphy’s.

Cheers from Gatwick UK – Pauolo

Piccadilly Circus

Day 35. London – a quiet day

Westminster – Big Ben has been cleaned and refurbished since we were here last

Yesterday afternoon Genelle & Liz did some washing, as in clothes in a washing machine in our apartment in Earls Court, the spin cycle feels like there is a Blackhawk chopper landing on our roof. So the not quite dry washing is scattered through the apartment with the heating turned on, by about 10pm its like a sauna, its hard to breathe and so sleep eludes me for a good part of the night, even after the heating is turned down then off and windows are opened. Why did I tell you this, well I like people to know that I’m suffering, maybe even slightly hypochondriac, maybe, dunno?

This morning is an in house breakfast, then checkout the cost of a transfer to Gatwick rather than the Tube and then the Gatwick Express. Cost comparison is 24 quid each = 96 quid for the trains and a lot of stress and walking, 155 quid for a mini bus that is comfortable and no stress door to door, which one will we do?

Earls Court Tube Station is excellent for one reason, just about all the different lines converge in a way on Earls Court so its a great launching point, the main 2 lies are the District Line (access up the top and the Picadilly Line which you take the lift down to. You need to know the end station on the line and which way you are going and in central London you will hardly ever be more than 3-400 metres from a Tube Station. The Navigator is going to Covent Garden markets and shopping (thats a surprise!), Paul & Liz are going to the British Museum and I’m going to the Tate Modern Gallery so we all take the Picadilly Line to Covent Garden and I show the Murphy’s up to the museum (well worth a visit but you need a lot of time) then I walk down to the Thames, turn left and then cross the river over the Millenium Bridge and head East to the gallery.

The Tate Modern is free, like most museums in London, although they encourage you to donate 5 quid but thats entirely voluntary. The gallery is in the old Bankside Power Station, opening as a gallery in 2000. It holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to today including international modern and contemporary art. Its my first visit, there’s a Cezanne exhibition and a couple of others that you have to pay for, Cezanne is a long wait and I don’t have the time but the international stuff, the Jackson Pollacks, the Picasso’s, Matisse, Salvador Dahli, Andy Warholl and many others. This is the stuff I enjoy spending time looking at.

The Tate Modern building

Next step is the walk back over the Thames to Blackfriars and get a Tube to Westminster where I meet The Navigator and a surprisingly small purchase portfolio, only 2 bags, whats going on. We catch up with the Murphys, walk through Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square where we find a pub and have drink. Good decision.

Big Pauolo with Big Ben

Its getting late so we get the Tube back to Earls Court and have a small rest, book the airport transfer, then head to a pub not far away for dinner. Then we walk to Cromwell Road to Sainsbury’s supermarket to get a recycled shopping bag (I got one years ago and they are almost indestructible), some Fry’s Chocolate Creams and some other nibbles.

Tomorrow is our last day, tomorrow night we will be in a hotel at gatwick and early Friday morning we’ll be on a plane home via Doha in the Middle East.

Cheers from Earls Court London – Pauolo


Day 34. Llangollen to London

The Navigator – Navigating on a train, she knows exactly where it’s going!

Before we leave Wales thus morning I’ll give you a few reflections.

Thoughts on Southern England;

1. Accents are very clipped, very posh

2. Driving is ok, less narrow roads than Wales but drivers more aggressive.

3. People friendly but not as friendly as Wales

4. The scenery is pretty, very organised farms, neat hedgerows, a few tractors on the roads. The Cotswalds are so pretty, we could have spent more time in this area. We saw a documentary with now King Charles and Pam Eyre’s the poet at one of his houses Highgrove House which we missed. Could spend more time in this area.

Thoughts on Wales;

1. Drivers very patient, courteous, despite the odd Pembrokeshire wave and scary skinny roads that can cause a little stress. But, try and be clear where you are going, opportunities to turn around are often very limited. A clear Navigator or navigation tool is essential. Oh nearly forgot, everything here is miles per hour, not km per hour

2. Welsh people are very friendly, easy going and helpfully. We found it this way North and South

3. Wales is more beautiful than I imagined. I had a picture in my mind of smoke filled valleys, and crumbling villages, poor depressed people, however, it’s a diverse landscape, stone buildings, history from Roman times to the Norman invasion of 1066 to WWII history, farming country, grazing country, wild mountains devoid of trees, mountains and valleys with forests, wild streams and waterfalls, and a positive outlook and people proud of their country. I was more than impressed.

4. So much activity options here, outdoor adventure stuff, climbing, hiking, white water canoeing, cycling, motor cycling, trains, canal boats that can go all the way to London in about 6 days.

5. It’s all so close compared to what we are used to. From Chester to London on the express ways is about 4 1/2 hours drive, we chose to pay for a no return car hire and take the train. The Mercedes 200E station wagon has been brilliant but I’m done with driving and glad to be back on a train.

6. There are lots of tractors on the roads, even in close to the city centre of Chester.

7. Dogs. Almost everyone has a dog🐕 in Southern England and Wales. They take them into shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, anywhere they can. Now I’m mostly Ok with dogs, but they are dogs, not children, and mostly we don’t let our children piss on every corner wall, potplant or post they see. Almost every corner of a building, a fence, or post has a little straw coloured puddle trickling down the footpath, although they do mostly pick up the solids I know they can’t do anything about the piddle, but that doesn’t make me feel happy about it. Just a comment after something I heard on a tv show, I noticea lot of the owners look like their dog’s, or vice versa, at least thats what I think, could be wrong. Ok, I’ve had my say.

Now to today’s travel. Early rise, for me anyway. Fuel up in Llangollen, the tyre hose is out of order so we can’t top the two drivers side tyres up that are showing a bit down on the sensor. The drive to Chester is good until we hit a traffic jam about 8 miles out then it’s slow into town and Europcar at Chester. The car is handed over, no problems that we are aware of, they organise a taxi for us to get to the Chester train station.

Todays Travel by car and train

We are on a 10:55 from Chester to Crewe where we change on a fast train with allocated seats to London’s Euston Station. Then we are getting a taxi ( too hard on the Tube with our bags) to Earl’s Court where are booked into No. 1 The Mansions where we have stayed before, great location near the train station and lovely accomodation.

Six quid for our taxi ride to Chester Station and our young Bulgarian taxi driver squeezes the bags in better than we thought. A coffee, croissants and catch our breath before the small train to Crewe, it’s a diesel, fires up like a truck, not many passengers a we fang through the now English countryside to our next stop.

Dairy farm by the train track

11:43 train is delayed a bit but about 11:50 it comes in. It’s very full, our seats are scattered, it’s hard to get our bags located, spaces are full but we manage. The Navigator has a red shopping bag which I foolishly volunteer to carry, as I put it up on the rack a bottle of Pepsi I didn’t know she had in there falls out onto a blokes head sitting in the seat below. How to make friends and influence people on a train!

I’m sitting in a 4 seat table, 1 young bloke and his computer probably doing ridiculous PDP’s or some other inane performance review process, he’s in a tie so clearly feels he’s important. Opposite me is a middle aged couple reading books the whole way. Noone speaks, the couple don’t even talk to each other, so f… them, I find the blues playlist on my phone, it fills the 2 hours train ride London.

We’re in London by about 1.30, Euston Station is big but we find a cab pretty quickly, he fitts us and our bags in and quietly takes off in the almost silent black cab – its electric. What a good idea!

We check in at No 1 The Mansions at Earls Court where we have a 2 bedroom apartment booked, we can’t get in until 4 so we head up to a pub up Earls Court Tube Station for a late lunch and an ale. A top up of our Tube Oyster Cards, bit of shopping at Marks Spencer for breakfast, then we move into our apartment. They say its on the 6th floor but the lift only goes to 5, conf…fusing, then it makes sense, go to the 5th floor then up a set of steps to the 6th floor. Next try to configure our phones so they open the front door and our room with the app, some get it sorted easy and sme don’t BUT we get it done. There were some people with eastern European accents at the lift when we were coming up, a bit rude and a bit ignorant, don’t know where they come from but for they should lighten up or bugger off home I reckon. Maybe its just been a long day?

Not sure what everyone else is doing tomorrow but I think I’m having an easy day, maybe the Tate Modern Gallery, maybe a look around the shops, dunno.

Cheerio from London – Pauolo


Day 33. Wales – Llangollen, Chester & Trevor

Canal Boats at Trevor

Today its a slow start, a bit of a plan but we’re keeping it pretty fluid. We bought a few supplies at a SPAR store in Llangollen so we have muesli and toast and a cup of tea in the apartment for breakfast.

Todays Travels

The car is still where we parked it so its either fairly crime free or the car is hard to steal. Off we go to the “Red Dragons” aka Chester Association Football Club for Liz to buy some merchandise. Its a busy shop for a low level professional club but the staff are friendly and helpfull. We can’t get to see inside the stadium which is a shame but hey if I’m a Wests Tigers supporter I could be a “Red Dragons” supporter, maybe?

Next we drive into Europcar in Chester to check where it is and about transport to the Chester train station in the morning, that gets sorted but more importantly they don’t have a toilet ( I’m bursting ) well I guess they do have a toilet but they don’t let customers use it. Next stop is Chester Train station to check our tickets for London tomorrow, for me I go straight to the loo and The Navigator sorts out the logistics. By the way we cross from Wales into England, Chester is just in England.

On the way into Chester I noticed the sign Pulford, I Google mapped it and its Pulford in Cheshire, and its just out of Chester on a back road to Wrexham. Why, you may ask would I be interested in Chesire? Well, Its where my Great Great Great Grandfather was the Rector of St Mary’s for over 50 years from 1781 and where he was buried. He was educated at Brazenose College, Oxford, his brothers were in military, one a captain in the 17th Lancers and the second in the navy. His son James George Lyon is my two times Great Grandfather and was the first of the Lyon family to come to Australia. He arrived in Australia on the “Camden” in June 1836 and initially lived on the Allyn River in the Hunter Valley. Ironically they were near Eccleston and Gresford in Australia and Pulford is very near Eccleston and Gresford on the border of Wales and England. St Mary’s church is a lovely church and Pulford is a lovely village, the houses are big and it looks affluent. Inside the church is plain but elegant and the church is surrounded for headstones some very old and some recent. We can’t find one for James Radcliffe Lyon but its nice to have visited where he worked for 50 years. I also notice that there is an Alyn River here, right near Gresford, that couldn’t a coincidence could it?

Pulford, Gresford, Eccleston and the Alyn River – on the England Wales Border

Next stop is Trevor. Who the f… names a town Trevor? The reason we go there is that the Potcysyllte Aquaduct is there, the canal system goes high over the River Dee linking up with other canal systems. We luckily find that a 10 quid canal boat ride over the aquaduct is leaving soon, so we do it, well worth the money, a great thing to do. One canal comes back to just above where our apartment is in Lllangollen. A short walk to the aquaduct is worth the effort as well, but if you struggle with heights take it easy,its very high up and very windy a lot of the time.

A short rest back in Lllangollen, a bit of a walk around the shops and then dinner is booked for 6:30 at The Corn Mill, a hotel/ restaurant on the River Dee. A great place, good food and views over the river with the roar of the stream coming through the windows.

Tomorrow we head to Chester, drop of the car and catch a train to London for a few days before we head to Gatwick Airport and our flight home on the week-end.

Cheers from Wales for the last time this trip. Pauolo


Day 32. Betws-y- Coed to Llangollen, Wales

Just outside The Ponderosa Cafe

We have a plan to get to Llangollen (pronounced Lang – gofgch- ern) , or close to that. Before we leave our great B&B, we pause to take photos over the river and to leave some of Tim’s ashes in the river which will end up on Colwyn Bay and then the Atlantic Ocean.

Tim’s Ashes

The plan is as per a blog The Navigator read, travelling from where we are to Llangollen but taking a longer than the standard track. It proves to be a great option.

The route according to the blog is: Head south out of Betws-y-Coed and pick up the A5 heading east towards Llangollen – although this is ultimately the journey’s end, it’s not just a straight drag along a busy A-road. Dive off north on to the A543 at the village of Pentrefoelas and scud on to Denbigh.

From there, come back south on the A525 to Ruthin and thread your way through the little town, staying on that road until you reach the top of the Nant-y-Garth pass, where you’ll then be looking for signs for the A542 – also known as the Horseshoe pass. Lunch at The Ponderosa Cafe on Horseshoe Pass. The final leg is an up-and-over to Llangollen.

We’re sad to leave the pretty valley of Betws-y-Coed, the Snowdonia National Park is stunningly beautiful and we’ll see a little more of it today.

First stop is a surprise, Colwyn Falls, a 20 minute walk around a huge waterfall, The Navigator struggles with the pace and we nearly have to call for a defibrillator, she’s so puffed she can hardly talk, bloody terrible it is!

The road is fantastic, the country opens up and from wilderness it becomes more stone fences, hedgerows and sheep as we climb higher.

Motor bikes are everywhere, it’s one of the best motor bike riding roads I’ve seen. Peter English and crew, check it out for future travel options. We find the Ponderosa Cafe at the top of Horseshoe Pass, it’s packed with all sorts of bikes, roaring howling sports bikes, growling BMW boxer engines and Triumph Street Triple’s distinctive growl. The odd Porsche and German sports car enters the car park with a few hotted up popping farting rally type cars.

Lunch at The Ponderosa Cafe is good, we don’t spot Hoss or Little Joe but I did see a bloke who looked like Adam get out of a BMW M3.

The run down to Llangollwn from Horseshoe Pass is great. We decide to pass through Llangollen and go to Wrexham to visit the home of the Red Devils – Wrexham AFC, one of the oldest professional soccer club in the Uk, at the request of Paul Nd Liz’s son. The clubs fortunes have ebbed and flowed and ebbed and it was recently bought by 2 actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. There is a recently released mini series on the checkered history ( check it out on Google) of the club called Welcome to Wrexham. Their shop is shut so we’ll drop in to check out merchandise tomorrow when we go to Chester for a short visit in the morning.

It’s a short drive back to Llangollen where we find our accomodation, park the car, walk up the street then head to the Bridge End Hotel for an ale or two. The pub is busy motor bikes parked up on the footpath, beemers and Triumph’s, men and chick’s in leather drinking beer and spritzers, a lot of them taking in Welsh, its not all bad i have to say. Up in the north a lot of people have Welsh as their first language, it sounds like nothing else.

Dinner is just over the bridge at an eatery on the river.

We retire to our funky stone terrace apartment, small but kitted out in modern decor.

Ciao for today – Pauolo


Day 31. Betws-y- Coed and the north of Wales

Lakes and mountains on today’s drive home

A slow start this morning, The Navigator says I snored a bit last night, funny, I didn’t hear it so I claim innocence on the basis of diminished responsibility, I’m not sure what that means but it doesn’t matter, I’m guilty anyway.

Breakfast in the kitchen downstairs is a good selection of cereals, tea, coffee, toast, fruit and if you pay an extra 2 quid a hot breakfast. I do the hot breakfast option and leave the house pretty full.

Todays Travels

First stop is in Betws-y-Coed, Paul and Liz check out the railway museum beside the proper train station and The Navigator shows me the way over the railway line to shops that remarkably have no appeal to me at all, but never the less I try to look interested, but it is hard. The road to Colwyn bay is a lovely drive and the two backseat passengers see a bridge they’d like a photo at, clearly they didn’t see how narrow it was, maybe later on the way home we’ll check it out.

The first stop is Colwy Bay and Colwy Castle.Its another of my Great Grandfathers Edward I’s constructions during his conquest of the Welsh heathens bwteen 1283 and 1287. This one cost about 12,000 quid versus Caernarfon which cost 25,000 quid. Its a pretty impressive building but not, my view, as good or as impressive as Caernarfon Castle. The castle became a destination for painters in the last 18th and 19th centuries, much like the area around Betws-y-Coed because of the light. Ww take a wander around the High Street of Colwy, but The Navigator finds nothing to buy, she’s already emptied the shop at the castle and I guess the weight on her arm from shopping bags is getting a little tiring.

Next stop is the short trip over to Llandudo on the other side of the river/bay. Its a touristy spot with a pier with cafes and other entertainment but its not looking that appealing so we decide to head to Bangor for a look and some lunch.

On the North Wales Freeway a detour is made into Abergwyngregyn, to see if its a quaint Welsh village with a pub or cafe we can have lunch at. Its not the best call we make today, but the worst is giving it a second chance seeing if there is anything near the church, a left turn over a bridge and the road is so narrow its lucky to squeeze a motor bike let alone an expensive Mercedes. There is nowhere immediately obvious to stop and turn, its so close its claustrophobic, I feel sweat break out on my brow but luckily a driveway appears and a five point turn gets me turned around and out of the godforsaken goatrack going up a Welsh mountain. Back on the freeway we turn of to Bangor past Penrhyn Castle with Beaumaris Castle on the other side of the water.

Bangor doesn’t start well, the bakery where we decide to lunch has nearly run out of food, one woman serving has a dose of the blues and is banging chairs around, clanging cups together, she’s in a bad mood and we’re in a better mood after we leave the place. Not the best food but fuel for travel it is. We then head to have a look at the pier, it doesn’t look that impressive and we miss our turn into the park and end up taking the long road out of Bangor, and possibly the last time I’ll see Bangor.

We decide to head back towards Betwsy-Coed along a different road, the A5, the scenery is spectacular, lakes, rocky green mountains, cars everywhere, walkers, motor bikes flying past. Its a motor bike heaven up here. The Snowdonia scenery restores my sense of enjoyment in travelling in this beautiful place. Its just the mostly larger towns and cities that seem to annoy me, but maybe its just me.

We find the bridge mention earlier, god its skinny and high and just on the other side we find a carpark. Two young guys are fishing in waders with fly rods n the fast flowing stream and two older men, one I assume is their father encouraging them from the bank. Its a nice stop but they don’t catch a fish for us. As we leave and get to the middle of the bridge a silver Audi comes flying up the other way so I have to reverse back to the less busy side of the bridge, no Pembrokeshire wave from or to the wanker.

The bridge and the fisherman

Dinner tonight is a Abbasi’s, a curry house in Betws-y-Coed. Its a great meal after a few drinks at the Royal oak Hotel.

We’re back at the B&B a bit after 7pm. Tomorrow we move camp to Llangolen for two nights before we head to London for a for days before we fly home. I love the travel but after 2 of the last 3 months travelling I’m looking forward to some time at home.

Ciao Pauolo


Day 30. Barmouth to Caenarfon to Betws-y-Coed, Wales

Me with an effigy of my Pop – Edward I aka Longshanks

The night in the tiny room of Barmouth’s Sunray Guest House is OK, its tiny but clean with a great view over Afon Mawddach, the bay the town is on. The view first thing this morning is a cloudy grey sky with a howling wind blowing from the sea, boats bobbing furiously in the harbour and nobody on the streets, its quiet.

Breakfast is next door in a little cafe built of stone called Davy Jones Locker, there are locals in there who look like fishermen not going to sea today, beanies on heads, a three day growth, thick woolen jumpers and a familiar patter when they talk. The breakfast is cheap, good and the coffee is strong, I have a Flat White which is rare to see on a menu in Wales. It has a “vibe”, I like it.

As we’re leaving Davy Jones Locker it starts to rain, serious pissing down rain, blowing sideways with a wind behind it that probably came from Alaska. I’m in the drivers seat today, Port Meirion near Portmadog is the first stop of the day.

Port Meirion is not a proper Welsh village, it is noted as a place to see but its not my cup of tea. I’ll tell you why. Its a contrived Italian village built between 1925 and 1975 and while some people live here (according to all the signs saying “Private = No Access”). Now there were two things initially that pissed me off about this place 1. Entrance cost 13 quid and all there was were fake Italian type buildings and even a fake boat on the water and shops to sell you expensive trinkets and coffee and 2. It was absolutely pouring rain. Maybe I got out of bed on the wrong side, there wasn’t much room to get out of bed by the way, but its not a place I’d reccomend visiting, Wales is such a beautiful place with wild valley’s, pretty rolling farming country, gorgeous bays and coastal vistas, I don’t think it needs a fake garrish Italian village that you pay stupid money to visit. Enough said Pauolo, not get back the things you liked.

Port Meirion – not my cup of tea

Its still raining so we drive Porthmadog, it doesn’t grab us immediately so its on to Caenarfon which has a castle and that sounds interesting. The rain abates for the moment as we drive into Caenarfon Castle carpark, just below the town square. The castle looks big and really interesting, its also known as Carvarvon Castle. It was a wooden castle built in the 11th century and then in 1283 Edward I (my 18th Great Grandfather) began replacing it with the stone that its currently still built with. The Welsh and English lost and won battles over the castle and finally things settled down between the Welsh and the poms and the castles in Wales start to fall into disrepair. The last time it was used in war was the English Civil War when the Royalists held the fort. Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales here in 1969. There is a museum which has a lot of focus on the Welsh Fusiliers, still a serving unit in the British military. There is a lot of work going on here and its really worth visiting. The town looks quite nice and there is a huge town square behind the castle paved with slate and surrounded by lovely buildings. Dry scones and tea at one of my family castles for lunch, frankly, I expected better given my family connection!

Accomodation has been secured at Plas Penaeldroch Manor a B&B just outside the village Betws-y-Coed (pronnounced Bets ee Coid), its in the lovely Conwyn Valley in the Snowdonia National Park. The village has a bridge called Waterloo Bridge, I read somewhere that this was the inspiration for the Abba song “Waterloo” but I suspect the song is tied to the Battle of Waterloo but I’ll investigate further. So, now its early afternoon and the rain has mostly stopped to we head towards our accomodation into the stunning vista of Snowdonia National Park, huge green mountains, waterfalls, rushing streams, its breathtaking.

Our first attempt to find our accomodation ends with us up a skinny dirt road with a bloke waving his arms at us for blocking his gateway, we get no advice from him regarding where we are, he has the cranky look you need for the Pembrokeshire wave but not the slightly slanted finger, I suspect he may well have raised a middle finger at us if he’s thought of it. A phone call to our hosts from the Navigator sorts it out, its near the Pont-y-Pant train station on the Afon Lledr (a fast running river with rapids). We have an apartment, 2 bedrooms and a living room in an old manor that had fallen into disrepair then the current owners did it up, its quiet and lovely, a good choice for two nights stay.

We unpack, have a cup of tea with our hosts who are flying the Ukranian flag and hosting a Ukranian family, and rest for a short time. A walk down to river for some photo’s and I see 2 serious looking young guys drive in with serious looking kayaks, crash hats, floatation vests, and then they get in the river and charge down the seriously fast, steep and rocky rapids.

Dinner tonigh is in Betws-y-Coed at the Royal Oak Hotel, its a nice drive in, the village is lovely and the food and the drinks are good. We drive home in the rain and retire to our warm haven in the B&B, the river roaring outside. A good day.

Ciao, arrividerci for today – Pauolo


Day 29. Llangloffan to Barmouth, Wales

Badmouth Harbour

Another beautiful breakfast at Hen Ffermedy, Rex that great porridge and really good bacon & eggs. Compliments to our hosts Adrian and Sue of Hen Ffermdy B&B. A 5/5 from us and if you’re ever in this area then this is a great place to stay. Contact details are below;

Adrian & Sue, email, phone Adrian 07545 083496 or Sue 07967 818824 or instagram @escapetopembrokshire.

Compliments of the Prince of Pemrokeshire I have been proclaimed King Paul I of Dubbo, the Queen Consort shall be known from now on as the Regent of Retail and/or the Countess of Conversation.


We finally leave the house and get the car loaded, Adrian is a chatty chap.Our co guests last night are an English couple who had a tyre blowout in their Porsche and the German beast ended up in a paddock minus a wheel, they needed a bed while the tyre was repaired. The plan for the day is to travel inland and end up on the coast, maybe, somewhere about Aberwystith or a bit higher. We drive into the typical Welsh countryside, except for the narrow roads and lanes it reasonably easy driving, today I’m in the navigation seat. Villages everywhere, first stop is at Cenarth, and we see three guys fishing in the River Teif  that’s running really well, it’s salmon fishing we discover and while we are there they hook a huge salmon. Then they release it, thats the law here, fish number s are low so its all catch and release.

Fishing at Cenarth

Up country now, we pass through Newcastle Emly and stop in the village of  Lampeter for lunch. Its not a particlarly pretty place and the first cafe looks dodgy so we settle for a cafe called Grannys House where we get a decent lunch.

The mountains are getting bigger as we get closer to Snowdonia National Park. The roads get narrow as well as we head to Devils Bridge at a place called Pontafynarch. Its 2 quid to walk down the steep steps to see a waterfall going under a bridge, this isn’t conducive to titanium knees to I make it clear I’m not walking down and the others do the same. Still, its a pretty spot.

Devils Bridge Falls

In Aberwystyth, a larger town we pull up and gather ourselves and work out where we’ll go for the night, the decision is Barmouth, a place on the beach. The landscape gets wilder and rockier with bracken fern and rock cliffs as we loop around an estuary to get to Barmouth. We’re booked into the Sunray Guest House, right on the water but small rooms and pretty tired, maybe we could have done better  but I guess that would have come with a price.

The wind is blowing hard, the water is choppy, the boats in the protected harbour are bobbing up and down, the sea mist blows in and away as the sun sets over the Atlantic.

The Barmouth Bar & Grill for dinner, around in the Barmouth main drag, narrow streets, grey stone buildings, the sky is grey and mist is still blowing in, the puffer coats are needed. A few drinks and a good pub feed are what we need after a day on the road. Driving every day for a long time has given me a bit of a headache today, but a few glasses of grog cures that.

Weather tomorrow as we head north towards Liverpool and Manchester, rain, cold, windy then the same things in different order or together. Call me Nostradamus if you like, maybe it’s the divine powers that come with royal blood? Dunno, could be true?

Important – before we leave tomorrow we need to decide where we are going and stick to it, get some accomodation sorted so we’re not sitting in a car deliberating,

Cheers from Barmouth in Wales – Pauolo

The Pembrokeshire Wave
Welsh Countryside today

Day 28. Llangloffan, Wales

Firstly this morning is a great breakfast, porridge soaked overnight, fresh fruit, coffee and tea, smoked bacon (very very tasty bacon), and really fresh eggs. Once again we waste a lot of Sue and Adrian’s time chatting, about all sorts of stuff, again.

The garden at Hen Ffermedy

Outside the dining room window, a mass of birds are flitting in and out of the garden, wrens, blue tits (Adrian reliably tells me thats what they are), wagtails (similar but not like our willy wagtails and other birds. It hasn’t started raining yet but it soon does and the birds disappear to shelter. They are also encouraging barn owls by building shelters around their 5 acres, they are planting plants that birds use for food and lots of other interesting things.

We walk around their yard, a work in progress, their pond which is used for heating the house (don’t ask me hw that works but its innovative and seems to work). Where we are staying is lovely, modern, homely, clean and spacious and there are so many other buildings that have potential for them to develop into B&B accomodation, it would be interesting to see it in a fw years time after the “works in progress” are completed.

I write up yesterdays blog in the dining room while The Navigator and Liz get washing and chatting done, its not all hard work but I can’t say that can I? The Navigator likes their front door and a drying rack they have in their kitchen on a pulley, I see her brain ticking over.

The morning is shot, its been relaxing but we need a late lunch and at Adrians suggestion we head to Newport Links Golf Club via Fishguard and Dinas Cross, such a pretty drive through these quaint villages on skinny hair raising roads with a howling wind blowing off the Atlantic. The golf club has Cat Rock Cafe which looks over Cardigan Bay and Preseli Hills, the Newport Beach Life savers is below the golf course right on the beach, the wind is blowing so hard that if you lost your hat at the beach it would blow the 600 metres up the hill to the golf club. We watch golfers struggling with the howling wind and the rain showers, the course looks beautiful but also hard to play. Oh, the food is good, despite the fact that The Navigator beats me up for forgetting what drink I ordered, of course she remembers all the detail and reminds me that she was right and I was wrong, I don’t say that sometimes even when I’m right – I’m wrong, but courage deserts me at the critical moment, 44 years of living with her has taught me a few things.

The golf course

We drive back the coast, down to Fishguard Harbour, where the ferries come in from Rossclare in Ireland, then to Abercastle, Trefin and fianlly back to Portgain where we ate dinner last night. It is such a beautiful part of the world, although the spooky narrow roads freak me out a bit when you encounter tractors and cars on what looks to be single vehicle width laneways, but, there is no horn tooting, other people or you back up if needed, everyone seems patient and it works. Back home we’d have horns tooting, with tyre levers at the ready to beat the crap out of some brainless knob for holding up the f…g traffic. Here, the Pembrokeshire wave, the index finger, one finger only, pointed as low as possible above the horizontal, given with a dour, cranky farmer look on your face – so I’m told.

Its close to dark when we return to Hen Ffermedy B&B, we don’t need dinner, lunch was plenty for both meals so a pot of tea and some biscuits is enough. We read until 8 or 9pm and when everyone starts nodding its a signal to head to bed.

The plan for tomorrow is to head to Aberwystyth (pronounce that after a few drinks) – the correct pronuncication by the Welsh is I think aber – wyths -tyth.

Ciao, sayonara, dal chi nes ymlaen ( catch you later in Welsh) – Pauolo