Thursday, July 8, 2010

Arrival in Wales: an introduction

Leading up to the Wales trip Cliff watched the weather obsessively. Comments like, "so far the weather looks good for our Wales visit next week" would pop out of Cliff's mouth every so often.  My impression from Cliff and Joy is that the English don't like to vacation in England. The weather is too unreliable.  For me, who would only be visiting England for two weeks, it didn't matter.  In fact, a little cold and rainy weather provides the proper atmospherics for a visit to Britain.  But, let's face it, nice weather is welcomed anytime by everyone.

When Monday morning arrived it was again raining hard.  Again, we dillydallied getting out the door.  But we had errands to run in town before our departure so we finally did pack up around mid-morning and got on the road to Wales.

We had purchased sandwiches from Marks and Spencer for our lunch - (excellent pre-packaged sandwiches, by the way.)  We arrived at the nice location above with a pullout for the car.  As I ate I scanned the mountain creek for either Gray Wagtail or Dipper but did not see either. It was not really deep or wide enough for Dipper, but certainly seemed reasonable for the wagtail.

Sometime a little later we arrived in the town of Llandovery and stopped for postage stamps (for postcards) and a cup of tea.  In Wales, all signs appear in both Welsh and English.  As you can see in the above photo, the sun is beginning to shine.

The street above is just a small, residential lane that was so typical of the Welsh villages, towns and city we passed through.  The photo does not reveal how attractive it was in real life.

The sign above gives, in both Welsh and English, the history of a castle ruins that was adjacent to the parking lot where we parked for our walk to the post office and tea shop.  I like it because it's bilingual. And, of course, the castle dates back to a time well before Columbus discovered America.  For history buffs here's more about Llandovery Castle.

We continued on to our destination.  Sometimes it was overcast and sometimes the sun broke through the clouds.  Cliff said, more than once, "Wales is very wet." I guess he was trying to warn me.

Finally, around mid-afternoon, we arrived at our destination, the Newport Links Golf Club and Resort.  Driving toward the golf club on a narrow, little lane revealed the beautiful Newport Bay on the Irish Sea. I couldn't believe it when I opened the curtains in my room and looked out at the view before me.

The room was large and attractive and the bed was extremely comfortable.  There was free wireless and the sun was shining.  In short, it was perfect.  We would stay here for three nights.  You'll see from the rest of the photos that the weather remained perfect for our entire stay.  Quite possibly, it is the nicest place I have ever visited.  

As soon as we checked in and unpacked we got out to walk on the smooth sand, tidal beach as quickly as possible.  We were giddy with happiness at our good weather fortune.  Of course, we didn't know it would be perfect for our whole visit, so we wanted to take advantage of every minute.

The rocky, coastal cliffs of Pembrokeshire are completely beautiful.  The cliffs bracketed the beach and people hiked the coastal path along the top.  As it turned out, this was standard scenery for our entire visit.

From the beach, we then walked along the coastal path and Nevern Estuary.   I became distracted by a couple of butterflies that I stopped to try to photograph.  Joy stayed with me and Cliff walked ahead.  The butterflies were not cooperative and so the photos took awhile.  When we continued walking, Cliff was out-of-sight.  This led Joy and me to unexpected good birding fortune.  Wanting to catch up, we walked faster.  Still Cliff was not in view.  We walked even faster.  When ahead we saw a group of people standing on a bridge over the estuary, we thought, Cliff must be with them.  We walked up to the road and scanned with binoculars.  Cliff was not among the people standing on the bridge.  We stopped at the road trying to figure out how we could possibly have not caught up with him.  Just then a woman drove by slowly and, perhaps seeing our binoculars, stopped to tell us that the people standing on the bridge were looking at a Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).  We hurried over to the other birders and one guy had a spotting scope on the bird.  Despite looking for Kingfishers in several locations throughout my two week stay, this was the only one we would see.  We got great looks through the spotting scope and binoculars, but unfortunately the bird is very small and was too far away for even me to attempt a photograph.  For terrific photos of the Kingfisher check out Alfonso Perdel's blog entry Los tesoros de un Rio and scroll to the bottom.

By the time we returned to the hotel, we found Cliff sitting on the patio drinking a beer.

Next:  Skomer Island 

1 comment:

Jerry Jourdan said...

I'm loving these posts, Cathy! Don't come back, ok? :)