A Travellerspoint blog

Revisiting the Streets of Wales

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Ooo a bit tired from yesterday so a sleep in until 830 just happened.
We threw some breaky down, went out with a trusty map, passed the pretend steamboat funnels and smoke stack at the front of the hotel and legged it to town. We used the bike path, on foot, and managed to see the closed sign, again, in the Antiques store we saw 2 years ago! I suspect the excess baggage men are refusing us entry! It apparently is open on Thursday, so maybe we'll get in there eventually. There are floors and floors of....we don't know what yet.
A quick stop off at the train station to collect our tickets for Fridays journey out if Cardiff and to check if the trains will be running tomorrow for Jenny to catch from Cheltenham to Cardiff for our Girls Day Out, Yes! Got tickets and trains are all go for tomorrow.
Then to leg it around the city and pass those sites familiar from our last trip here and to note changes. Rob booked for a haircut and I mosied while he was busy. I upset him by buying a smelly bath thing from Lush for a relaxing bath later..... He made a few derogatory comments about me offending most of Wales with the 'smell 'coming out of my handbag.....Great, that means a quiet bath soak as he won't come near the smell!...such a bloke!
We purchased a couple of cold drinks and sat in the mall people watching for a little bit. The contrast between Lerwick and Cardiff would fill a book. One arcade is as big as Lerwick's main street, and almost as wide. People are noisier in Wales, grafitti and rubbish can be seen around the city centre. Welsh though are as patriotic, they love Wales.
Did you know you can buy Doom by the Bucket? Rob's sense of humour drew him into a game shop where a display showed a game titled "Bucket of Doom ". Looks as though it will be for dessert at our next dinner with the kids when we get home as we are the proud owners now of our very own bucket of doom!... you can only imagine!!
We boarded The Princess Katharine at Bute Park and sailed to Cardiff Bay at 2:30. While waiting, we talked for a little while with a young girl, probably about Ally's age. She'd done quite a bit of travelling around Australia, been to New Zealand and when she returned to England she relocated from East Midlands where her family were to Bristol to a new job. She works for the train system so was taking advantage of the free travel to see around Cardiff. She seemed so gentle and friendly, seeking company. We almost invited her to join us! Rob, however was due to register for his conference so she went off to discover the Bay, following some of our recommendations of worthwhile things to see, Bute Castle, Roald Dahl's exhibition, Dr Who centre......
The walk back to our hotel from The Wales Millenium Centre went through the Red Dragon Complex where The Cadwalder begged us to stop for coffee in their comfy leather seats, so we obliged.
Between making a dinner reservation at the steak house across the road from the hotel, to arriving for dinner we chilled a bit, and unwound.
So I am now off to smell out the bathroom and read a book, while Rob lays on the bed probably with tissues up his nose and avoid blowing up games of Minesweeper on his ipad.
The jury is out yet as to whether we will hire a car and go driving on Thursday. If Rob considers some sessions of the conference are not relevant, boring...... he'll play hookey and we'll play elsewhere!

Posted by DeniseUK15 18:38 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

Hellos and Goodbyes

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Hello Goodbye

Hello West Shetland mainland 900, hello Lerwick 1200, goodbye Shetlands Island 1605. Hello Edinbugh 1730, goodbye Edinburgh 1930 hello Cardiff 2050.
Our final drive in Shetlands for this trip was with our little Kia full of luggage all the way to very West coast of the mainland being, Melby near Sandness.
Along the way we enjoyed the countryside of Wormadale, Whiteness and Whitness Voe, otter territory. Still no otters sighted.. We could see out to the islands from Stromness and up around Weisdale Voe where there were spectacular views to Hoy, Hildesay, West Burra.
We saw Peat cutting piled up at Bixter and drove along the Firth to the Bridge of Walls. At this point it turned into single lane road with passing places and a very winding road. There were many moors, a few Lochs and wandering Sheep and lambs. At the end of the A971 was Melby. From this point we could see the Holm of Melby and the Sound of Papa. The island off the coast was Papa Stour. The couple who lived in the house at the end with the double red door were out walking with their three cats. In the water a seal was chomping on a fish while the gulls above were swooping low to see if any was on offer to share. The seal ate the lot.
On our return trek we wanted to look at the Shetland Jewellery Workshop at Hellister, but it was closed so we kept on our way.
Our final look around the town of Lerwick was very quiet. Sunday in Lerwick is sleepy and peaceful. The church bells were ringing, boats were bobbing in the very windy harbour and pathways were wet from prior rainfall. Once again our luck was in and the weather was fine for our lunch at The Paparazi.
In total we drove 330 miles in the Shetlands and sailed for 4 hours around Bressay and Noss, and walked and walked steep streets and cobbled pavements, grassed paddocks and hung over cliffs.
Our checkins and flights Lerwick to Edinburgh then on to Cardiff were smooth sailing/flying with lovely checkin ladies who did not charge us for the excess baggage. Very fortunate. The ones who have charged us along the way gave been men...typical they don't understand the necessity for a bit of extra weight. I do look forward to our Emirates flight home though when I can off load the contents of my back pack into the 30kg allowance luggage and give my shoulders and back a break. I have proved exercise does not help a body like mine lose weight, otherwise I'd be returning trim taut and terrific. If only for the weight lifting.
We are writing our blog aboard City Jet WX305. Rob has coffee, I have wine and the flight is a quarter empty. We will be landing earlier than our scheduled 1925 arrival.
Tomorrow Rob registers for his 3 day conference and we 'do' Cardiff separately and together for 4 days with a Denise and Jenny girl day on the 9th.
We were collected from Cardiff Airport by a very chatty Welshman who opened conversation with..."I'm nosey, where do you come from, where have you been and where are you going". Other than to Malta on family holidays he has spent his life here in Wales. Maybe he travels vicariously through his passengers.
We are settled in The Future Inn in Cardiff now for the last stop of our trip, my dream trip. Nice room, nice company and a bath to soak in.
Today we have driven for 3.5 hours, flown for 2.5 hours been driven in a taxi for 30 minutes and sat in airports for 3.5 hours. We've eaten in a hotel, a restaurant, the airport, an aeroplane. We've talked to Erik and Mum in the phone, with Ally via messenger and to each other over engines, cases and tables.
We're off to bed now to get ready for the next adventure.
Night everyone we're tired.

Posted by DeniseUK15 21:59 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

Can You Remember

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Can you remember back to a time when life was such that you could or would;
Park your car for free in town, get out and walk away ... no need to lock it.
Drive along waving to all the people who've used the passing bay to let you through...them waving back that's ok.
Walk around with your bag open, no one touches it..in fact leave your handbag on the chair outside the toilet so you dont have to take it in with you.
Nod and greet everyone who passes your way in the street, when on foot.
Take long, carefree walks.
Clean public toilets everywhere.
People take pride in their homeland.
see community place huge emphasis on handmade crafts, locally produced food.
Or where;
There is no housing competition for size, features, or extras.
People wear practical clothes and no one notices your wind blown hair 'style'.
Speed cameras and police road patrols are not used because everyone adheres to the road rules.
Only a couple of traffic lights at pertinent places in the whole place.
School children, mixed ages 5 up, in remoter areas catch the bus to their village/suburb and all get off at a central place where they bundle themselves together. They either walk the rest of the way home, crossing streets, pick up the unlocked bike they left by the fence in the morning and cycle towards home or more rarely get picked up by car (least likely choice). Kids all smiling laughing and helping each other out.
The airport perimeter is 5ft high with fencing wire and barbed wire.
Where you have to drive over part of the runway to get to part of the island and you walk on the tarmac to and from the plane.
Mobile phones and internet exist but are of little importance.
Shops are independent, not chain and small not large. There is no price competition on sales.
Most everything closes early on Saturday, very little is open on Sunday, and no one has late night trading.
In my life that was life about 40 years ago until last Wednesday. Now I can say we were in a place with all those qualities, today! Meet The Shetlands. . ....... What a unique place where population, technology and fast pace has not yet tainted REAL LIFE.
I've always had a soft spot for farming, 'warm fuzzy' links to Mullewa holidays as a child. I've always found the beach and waves crashing on the shore or rocks relaxing. I have often juggled in my head if I had to choose between a farm like environment or the beach to live at, which would I choose. Shetlanders have the two together.

Posted by DeniseUK15 16:30 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Cliffs and Clefts

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Cliffs and Clefts
Up at 7:20, breakfast at the hotel and into the car onto A970 North aiming for the cliffs at Esha Ness.
Rob took lovely shots out the right side of the island towards Gletness, Eswick. Then passing the Loch of Girlsta we commented on the blueness of the water. We went up through Peat laden hills with plenty of sheep and down again towards Lower Voe and the Olna Firth where a little fishing trawler port sat at the end of the firth and many crofter ruins sitting on the green hills. We passed the old whaling station and looked out to Muckle Roe as we drove into Brae.
We stopped for a cold drink from the Co op store and continued along our way to Mavis Grind. There we chatted with an older lady who had lived in Australia but returned 'home' a numbernof yrs ago. Rob and she briefly discussed geology and viking ways of moving boats. It was a unique spot at the base of a quarry but mostly because Mavis Grind is the entrance to Northmavine and is a spot where the Atlantic Ocean is less than 200 metres from the North Sea. So by dragging your boat acrozs Mavis Grind you avoid having to sail all the way around Northmavine. The otters were hiding today and we did not have a boat to drag so continued driving and reached the cafe at Braewick. What a view!! The views of the heads of Grocken could be seen out of the 100 degree window facing over the rocks. Inside a group of ladies were having a meet and sew session. Lovely! The Braewick beach can be seen from cafe as well.
Arriving at Esha Ness Lighthouse, we walked along the cliffs along Calder's Geo. Lots of views of the cliffs and rocks with many nesting birds such as Gulls, Terns and a solitary Puffin. The dramatic drop showed the faces of the cliffs, made up of volcanic rock with water swilling below and birds cruising between.
We turned right to Stenness to photograph the Dore Holm, magestic and the old fishing lodgers.
At the Tangwick Haa we passed a fundraising group of smash up derby drivers, writing off their cars in a mud 'race ' circuit...... different. The attendant at the museum commented on this when we spoke with her following our viewjng of the museum. There was a glorious wedding dress, all hand made in gold silk with lace and fine pleating, stunning! There were also samples of the wonderful lace knitting I have been admiring...with 2 and 1 ply wool.
Heading back towards Hillswick, stopping for a bit of a walk on the heads of Grocken, where you get panoramic views of the Sandwick, the Ness of Hillswick and The Drongs (large rock pillars standing tall and erect out of the water).
Heading back towards Brae we saw a photograph shy curlew, a few road hogging sheep and more peat cutters.
On the way to Brae we stopped to photograph Mangaster Voe and witnessed a herd of cows moving steadily together in a direction. Next the farmers voice could be heard, calling them in from about a km away. It was brilliant to watch.
Near Lower Voe we had a wander around a little Loch.

From Brae we went directly to Scalloway Museum, through the B road from Tingwall, following the Loch of Tingwall and passing thr golf course. There was a little airstrip at Tingwall.
Making it to the museum in opening times today, we ventured in and saw their display of the Shetland Bus....which is not a bus but a boat shuttle service that ran during the war to assist the Norwegian Resistance, really interesting. Some people had amazingly difficult and challenging lives. Part of the museum is the Scalloway Castle, linked to Earl Patrick....the rotter we've mentioned before. Another teensy weensy width staircase to manoever. No joke, their steps are triangular and the widest part is not as wide as my hand is long. How did they do it gracefully one has to ask! Fortunately I have managed to not tumble down. I find those as challenging as Rob finds the short doorways on croft houses...
Back to Lerwick again and as we have missed lunch we will be up for an early dinner.
Tonight we pack up again and squeeze everything into our cases and backpacks for tomorrow's flights to Edinbugh and Cardiff. Cardiff will be our last stop, and this time next week we will be home. We are starting to miss it all already.

Posted by DeniseUK15 08:07 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Sailing on the Wind

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While Rob was at the hospital lab with Geoff, I sat at Fjara waiting for my coffee to come, looking longingly over the grey waves crashing on the rocks. I wanted to see if any seals were visiting today. The lady at the next table and I both saw the one and only seal in the water at the same time and commented to each other. From there we exchanged a few pleasantries and realised Rob was in a meeting with her brother. Sheila and Eddie moved and sat at my table and we talked for almost an hour. They'd 'heard' about Rob from Geoff......and I learned a few things about Geoff from them. What lovely, people! They'd arrived in Lerwick only 1 hr before and the wind had blown them my way.
Yesterday the wind had eased so we went for a sail to bird watch. This morning the wind had picked up and we felt its force at The Sumburgh lighthouse as we observed the birds sailing in the winds off the cliffs.
We were pushing against the force of the wind to stagger up a pathway to where we could see Puffins. We'd been told if we went to Sumburgh and hung over the lighthouse wall we'd see them. We doubted it but set off to try.
Oh what a glorious sight....PUFFINS PUFFINS EVERYWHERE .... nesting, preening, gathering grass in their beaks for their nests that were burrows in the side of the cliff side and mountain banks.
Their cumbersome bodies used that wind to their advantage. They used it to catch a lift to take off, hover before set down, stand tall against the gusts with their mates. They let the wind carry them backwards and upwards to the ledge they were interested in.
We revelled in their beauty, their strength and their ability to use what would appear to us to be adverse conditions, to their advantage.... wise survival strategies. I fear if I'd stopped pushing against the wind I also may have been uplifted, but I don't feel certain the way I'd have landed would have look puffin elegant!
After 37 million photos of puffins we pushed our way back to the car, we were laughing with delight, as children would at their first Christmas.....just the bestest experience.....woo hoo.... we both looked incredibly windswept, but who cared...my hair was really a mess!
We'd driven 35 miles to Sumburgh which is at the south end of the island, to turn around and be guided back by the heritage and craft trail maps.
Jarlshof sat at the end of a winding road. It is neolythic, pictish, viking and medieval ..quite unique site. It is rare to see all the varieties in one location. Storms were to thank for their discovery, as with Scara Brae in Orkneys. Fierce winds can bring good change and reveal what is hidden below the surface.
Munching on grass in the foreground of Jarlshof were calm, friendly Shetland ponies where 3 babies were playing chasy.
Treking back toward Lerwick the next item on our agenda was wool, knitted goods....
The wind of chance led us to a beautiful lady with exquisitely knitted goods and of all the people in the world, it was the lady who knitted the jumpers for the Shetland ponies advertisement, postcards etc seen world wide. Again we discovered Doreen's identity during extensive conversations where she was asking us about us, and we discovered this about her. Ally loves those pictures so I HAD to buy her a scarf and matching beret so she can say it came from the lady who knitted jumpers for shetland ponies.
Great timing...we arrived at the Croft Museum in the hour it is closed for lunch! The strong standing croft house with its tiny doors, was in remarkable condition with a watermill further along the track. In the paddock bordered by grey stone walls 3 Shetland ponies took a two second break away from mowing down knee high thistles for a nose rub. I remember when I was little my dad always talking to me about shetland ponies, so I gave one a huge nose rub from Dad, and took his photo for Dad.
In search of coffee we assumed Quendale Watermill with its water wheel and museum would be a good choice. However, after being held captive to sit through the unrivetting presentation both orally and dvd-ly on the history of the area and the original watermill and its restoration and and and.... we prised ourselves out the door of mr watermill man's hold and gave coffee a miss. We have to catch a plane in 2 days, if we did not escape when the opportunity rose we may have never been seen again, we've have died of boredom! The facts would have been interesting in a summarised version delivered by puffins on a ledge. Picture the IKEA advert.....start the car!!!!!
A quick flit to pick up the laundry from town and a take away coffee from Fjara had us back southwestwards to Scalloway for the museum and the castle. By this stage rain was joining the wind and seas were rough, skies grey and clouds closing in.
We arrived at the Scalloway museum at 10 to 4! Bugger they close at 4! We'll try again tomorrow.
We did put on our car floaties and head into the storm to reach East and West Burra via Trondra and we went all the way to The East House in Burra. Minn Bay, Papil was 350 yards (1km) from the last roadworthy spot. I suggested we tackle it anyway on foot with our wet weather gear on.....Rob suggested we didnt. I suspect it had something to do with 9 degrees, forceful winds, rains and 40 min walk each way. Keeping in mind my asthma's been touchy, I let him win that one. He said we'll come back on a sunny day even if it's 10 yrs from now!
On the windy road back to Lerwick it was peak hour traffic, actually had to stop in passing bays for oncoming cars and at one T-juction there were 5 cars in each direction! I had to slow down for two sheep but we arrived back at The Lerwick Hotel safely.
The view outside our window for this summery day as opposed to Wednesday's summery day is on Face book for you to see.
So despite the weather and other gale forces surrounding us, we made the best of the day. The wind brought changes into lives of those around us, and people into our lives who made a difference today. We watched little birds use big winds to their advantage...reminded me of the Rock and Water program I taught at school. Both elements have different forces that can be positive or negative, it all depends how you use the force as to whether it blocks you or strengthens you. So try sailing on the wind.

Posted by DeniseUK15 18:55 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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