Tag: coast

Nature photo challenge – day 7

I’m going to cheat a little bit here, with two photographs. Ok, technically three. They are from the same destination though, and I really couldn’t choose between them as they all give me all the feels, so ner.

Both of them were taken at my favourite holiday destination on Mainland Greece. Stoupa is a small coastal resort at the base of the Tygetos mountains on the Mani peninsula and is quite possibly my favourite place on earth. I first went there about 15 years ago with my Dad, and returned many years later with my husband. I didn’t expect him to like it as it’s so quiet, but he was immediately besotted with it’s quaint charm, slow pace of life and amazing food. So much so that we went twice within 6 weeks!

The sunsets there are stunning. The contrast of the sky against the dark coastal rocks is just gorgeous.

There’s no better way to start an evening in Stoupa than sitting in a bar with a cocktail and watching the sun descend; turning the sky amazing shades of yellow, orange, red, indigo, violet and inky blue, before ending in the blackest of blacks due to lack of light pollution. During one trip the moon which followed was blood red for the whole week, which was eerie and fascinating and exciting, all at the same time.

This second picture was taken on the coastal path as we walked from Stoupa to neighbouring village Aghios Nikolaos.

Stoupa to Aghios Nikolaos

The blue of the sky, the darker sea glistening under the sun and crashing in white foamy peaks against the rocks and the cool sea breeze is the epitome of being alive. It’s like an instagram filter has been placed over your eyes and brought everything into super HD quality; the blues, the greens, the sandy path, the dusty pebbles, the black rocks, the pale mountain peaks. Along the path is the occasional house with white washed walls and tumbling pink bougainvillea. It makes me feel so relaxed yet so alert, all at once. Magical.

And that’s it! The end of the 7 day photo challenge. Thank you so much to Terri-Louise at TouLou89 for nominating me, I’ve really enjoyed it. So many memories, happy thoughts and things I’d forgotten.

For my final nomination, I invite anyone who’s reading and would like to get involved. Do let me know in the comments if you take part so I can check out your posts!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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An afternoon in Polperro

Two weeks ago, on our way to Looe Music Festival, we visited Polperro. It’s a little fishing village just about 5 miles away from Looe, with restricted vehicle access. You have to park your car at the entrance to the village and walk down to the harbour. It’s a twisty turny maze of little streets, cute buildings and eating places, and very very pretty.

Here are some pics

Polperro fishing boat

View of Polperro

Pretty Polperro house

The Buccaneer Polperro

The Pottery Shop Polperro

Bunting and flowers Polperro

The stream runs down to the sea, between the street and houses, so people have to cross individual bridges to their homes!

Polperro stream

Polperro bridge

Polpero houses

Polperro is still a working harbour. Back in the 1300s it used to be rife with smugglers.

Polperro fishing boats

Polperro boat

I bet there was some loot in this cave!

Polperro cave

Cave in Polperro

Smugglers House sign

The village is dotted with rowing boats filled with flowers, and pretty colourful hanging baskets

Fishing boat planter

In between Polperro houses

Nelsons Restaurant Polperro

Polperro pub

We had lunch – look at that for a fish pie!

Fish pie Polperro

My sentiments exactly, ha ha!

Children sign Polperro

I’d definitely recommend a visit and a wander around Polperro if you’re ever in the area.

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A weekend in Cornwall – Looe Music Festival

The husband came across Looe Music Festival a couple of years ago and we went for the first time last year.

We loved it so much that we said we would 100% definitely go again. And so we did.

As is usual with me I was watching the weather forecast on an hourly basis; hoping for sunshine but not counting on it. But we woke up to clear blue skies, packed the car, and off we went!

Driving to Cornwall

Looe is such a pretty place. I hadn’t been to Cornwall prior to our first visit last year, and was immediately struck by it’s beauty. A pretty harbour town, it’s split into East and West Looe by the River Looe – the two sides connected by a town bridge. It’s a myriad of small streets and fishing boats, leading down to a wide clean beach.

Out and about in Looe

Houses in the hills Looe

Looe harbour and houses

Looe harbour

It has a lot of history – check out the plaque on the Smugglers Cott pub! Built in 1430!

Smugglers Cott

During the music festival the whole place comes alive, with multiple stages around the town and bands playing in pubs, restaurants and out on the street.

It’s an absolute bargain at around £80 for a 3 day ticket, and there really is something for everyone. This year’s headliners were The Proclaimers, Jules Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, and Johnny Marr.

We stayed in a Parkdean caravan about a mile away from the centre which was comfy, cosy and in a great location.

The organisation is second to none. Well laid out with plenty of well priced bars, lots of clean toilet facilities and friendly helpful stewards, as well as lots of different streetfood stalls. Shuttle buses run every 10 minutes or so at peak times, stopping off at all the main holiday parks and campsites and dropping people off in the middle of Looe for just a pound each way.

The main stage is on the beach.

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Looe Music Festival main stage

The whole area is so pretty…

Looking inland from Looe bridge

…and sparkles with lights as dusk approaches.

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Looe evening

We ate noodles, paella, and Cornish pasties from various street food vendors.

Lamb, mint and potato pie with mash and gravy from Grumpies of Cornwall deserves a special mention. I could have eaten everything on their menu!

Grumpies of Cornwall lamb pie

Grumpies of Cornwall

Ate cake and drank wine at the harbourside after dark.

Cake and wine

And ordered handmade cocktails from the Beetle Juice van!

Beetle Juice cocktail van

The stage and beach light up for the headliners.

Looe Music Festival at night

Jools Holland at Looe Music Festival

Personal highlights included The Dodge Brothers – an Americana skiffle band. Mark Kermode – of film critic fame – plays the double bass; my favourite instrument in the world.

Looe Music Festival The Dodge Brothers

Wille and the Bandits played the BBC Introducing stage. We’ve found out they’re playing at a venue near us in a couple of weeks, which is great news!

Wille and the Bandits

And an afternoon in the Bullers Arms pub watching Steve Flanders play a great set which had the whole pub singing along.

Steve Flanders

The weather was fantastic all weekend – I had my legs out enjoying the last of the summer sun! (obligatory festival hats were worn too)

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Me at Looe Music Festival

I don’t like to be a creature of habit, because I want to see and do as many things in life as possible, but I already know there’s a very good chance we’ll be back for the third time in a row next year. That’s how special it is.

**Some photo credits to the husband on this post, including the ones with me in them, obvs!

 

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Pretty Portmeirion

This one’s a little bit of a cheat because it’s not actually from my most recent Welsh trip; it’s actually from the year before but I figure I can call it a #WayBackWednesday post (I don’t even know if that’s an actual thing, but I can’t wait until #ThrowbackThursday because I have other things I want to be posting about) and shamelessly shoehorn it in; if only because it’s too pretty not to share.

I mentioned that we spent a weekend in Wales last year for my Mother in Law’s birthday, and one of the days we went to Portmeirion. It’s about an hour’s drive from Betws-y-Coed, not a particularly scenic journey (apart from driving through Dolwyddellan with it’s green valleys and castle ruins) but it’s well worth the trip.

It was designed between 1925 and 1975 and pays homage to the Mediterranean and Italy. 60s TV series “The Prisoner” was shot largely on location there. It has a huge beach (which is actually an estuary) and is set in acres of gardens which you can take a little land train journey round.

The colours are magnificent – all of these pictures are point and click; no filters or improvements at all.

Pastel building Portmeirion

Portmeirion 2

Portmeirion

Looking back to PortMeirion

Every year, in September, they host Festival No. 6, and many of the cottages and rooms can be rented overnight or for a longer stay throughout the year. There are shops, a tea room, and a restaurant on site.

Gorgeous, right?

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A massive sigh of relief, “I-tal-you”

From what, you might ask?

(or might not!)

Is it relief at having passed my job probation? Relief that the weather forecast in Wales has improved since my last desperate post? Relief that the Foo Fighters have rearranged some dates after cancelling Wembley due to Dave’s broken leg?

Nope. None of those things.

It’s relief that finally, at last, after weeks of deliberation and stress…

…we’ve booked a summer holiday.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a predilection to being dramatic, but in this case rightly so. I truly believe that we have never struggled to agree on a week away as much as this year.

Timing was an issue; we have so much on over the remaining summer months (I know, diddums) that we were struggling on when to go (and no point shoehorning something in for the sake of it). Realistically we don’t have time until mid October, by which point many of the traditional resorts in Europe are too cool temperature wise to guarantee a great holiday (not that it’s all about lying in the sun, but for what we were originally looking at that would probably have been the case).

Expectation was also an issue, because neither of us would commit to what we actually wanted from a holiday – was it just lying around doing nothing at all, or maybe with some sightseeing thrown in, or total sightseeing? We’ve danced around each other nervously, with husband eventually telling me that he would go along with whatever I wanted to do (probably because I was getting this wild woman of Borneo look in my eye and started twitching whenever a week off was mentioned).

Egypt was on the list; Sharm el Sheikh for late season sunshine and a day trip to the Pyramids as we’ve both always wanted to go. But recent horrors in Tunisia made us rethink that plan. Even if we scrapped the pyramid visit and just stayed in the resort, where there’s increased security, Egypt is a bit too close to the conflict for comfort; especially when attacks have happened from the sea. And do I really want to be sunbathing and watching an armed security team from the corner of my eye. Er, no.

Hong Kong was also on the list, but then with even more things popping into our calendar that require time off here and there, we don’t really have enough annual leave to do it justice. And it’s a bloomin’ long flight to only have 5 real usable days once you take travel time into account. Plus it would be full on doing and seeing stuff, which I don’t think is what husband really wants (although he’s too scared to say anything – negative or positive – by now, in case it finally tips me over the edge!!) So that was shelved.

Greece was a real contender, as it’s still warm into October and they really need tourist investment right now. But we’ve been to Greece for the past two years and weren’t sure if we were just considering it because we didn’t know where else to go.

And then I came across an amazing deal in Italy. Flying into Naples, staying just outside Sorrento in a cliff side hotel. Free minibus to Sorrento multiple times each day. Excursions to Vesuvius and Pompeii. A boat trip to Capri. A drive along the Amalfi coast. All options that are open to us, if we want them. OK, it’s not going to be scorchio in October. But it will, at worst, be t-shirt and shorts weather in the day, perfectly nice for sitting outside overlooking the sea and reading a book. Ideal temperature for sightseeing. And should the worst happen, and it rains, we’re staying at a fabulous all inclusive hotel so we can sit inside and eat and drink all day long.

I’m thrilled. Beyond thrilled, actually. I’ve been wanting to visit the Neopolitan Riviera and always just assumed we’d do a city break. This way we get the best of both worlds – relaxing AND sightseeing, It’s a really economical way to do it as well, which is always good (OK, that’s all relative, but cheaper than a city break and a separate chilling holiday, and also great value due to being all inclusive, as food and drink in Italy is expensive). We’ll probably eat out a couple of times, and obviously spend money on some excursions. Pompeii!! I come over all Frankie Howerd (oo-er) just thinking about it!

(and now my poor attempt at humour in the title of this post makes sense as well, no?)

Meanwhile, to get me even more excitable, here are some pics. Just wow!

Sorrento Sorrento 2

Pompeii

Vesuvius

Green Grotto of Capri Amalfi Coast

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A trip to the seaside – Weston super Mare

My husband is a big fan of the band The Wildhearts. Front man Ginger Wildheart has been doing a Song and Words tour, where he talks about his life, his experiences, and plays songs from his albums across the years. More of that tomorrow, as it deserves a post of its own.

Anyway.

For one reason or another, husband didn’t make it to the Birmingham show, and was suitably gutted as he’s a massive fan (of both the band and Ginger). Being the good wife that I am (!!!) I kindly offered to accompany him to the last date of the tour in Weston super Mare, which just so happened to fall on a Saturday night, meaning we could have a mini weekend coastal break.

Selfless, eh?

Weston is the closest beach location to Birmingham, and is often known locally as Birmingham on Sea. We tend to drive down once a year, when the weather starts getting better, for some sea air and to eat fish and chips on the beach. It’s become a bit of a standing joke and a yearly pilgrimage.

There’s nothing cosmopolitan about Weston. It’ a typical English seaside town – faded in places, past its best, with donkeys on the beach and shops selling buckets and spades, rock and fishing nets all along the front.

But we really like it!

Husband has childhood memories of trips to see family and all the sentiments that surrounds it. And I love it because he loves it. His happiness makes me happy (sorry, vom-tastic moment). And also, well, ‘cos it’s seasdide innit?!

So, we headed down yesterday afternoon and checked into our B&B; the delightful Florence Guesthouse.

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Situated slightly back from the seafront, my eyes were immediately opened to a side of Weston I hadn’t seen before. I’ve only ever walked along the promenade. Away from the beachfront there’s a plethora of fabulous buildings set back into the hills. Our guesthouse was a stunningly pretty terraced villa building with original features in the breakfast room and a well tended basement garden. I found it on hotels.com and booked the last available room – a superior double. It was a great size, with a comfy sofa as well as the bed, an immaculate en suite bathroom and strong wi-fi connection (such a sign of the times when that’s a selling point!) We were welcomed by a very friendly lady who is the perfect guesthouse host, I certainly couldn’t do it. Imagine going to bed at night knowing strangers would be sharing your roof??!!

From there we headed down to the front. It was a beautiful day according to my camera – clear blue skies. In reality it was mega windy and pretty cold. But it didn’t matter, ‘cos it’s seaside innit?!

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Work on Weston Pier started in November 1903 and it opened in June 1904. That’s pretty good going when you consider how long things take these days.

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I remember reading in the news that the pier had set on fire in 2008. Everyone suspected arson, but it was recorded as most likely to be an electrical fire.

In a good move for the British tourist industry, the pier was rebuilt. Weston also has a permanent Big Wheel “Eye”. More than Birmingham has, but that’s another post…

So, what next? Fish and chips, obvs! We always get takeaway and sit on the beach wall, but it was actually too blinkin’ cold, so we went to Tony’s – a fish and chip café set just back from the promenade and on a downward slope to protect from the wind. Bloody hell, what a decision! Cod for me, plaice for husband, curry sauce to share and the sunshine warming our bones without the harsh wind in the more exposed food establishments. It was as close to the ultimate fish and chips as I’ve ever had. Gorge.

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Today we explored more of Weston, away from the seaside.

Nature is so persistent. The prettiest flowers growing out through stones.

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Where do these steps lead?

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Up to these lovely houses. They have a fab view of the beach.

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Finishing the day with obligatory seaside drinks photos.

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On Sunday we went for a post breakfast stroll (big mention again to Florence Guesthouse for the breakfast..I sensibly availed myself of EVERYTHING! Including cereal, yoghurt, toast, full English and tea).

There was a vintage car show in Weston Gardens..

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And so endeth Weston.

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Final day in Nice – time to soak up everything about the city

Our last day in Nice was all about seeing every last bit of the city – revisiting parts we’d already seen and enjoyed as well as discovering more nooks and crannies. We hadn’t been to Castle Hill, and the steps looked steeper than ever after 2 days of walking, so we went touristy and got the little train from the seafront.

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It covered a fair bit of the Old Town that we were already familiar with, before going back out to the port and ascending the hill up to get views across the city roofs and the coast line.

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Back at sea level, the gardens run through the middle of the city. The Jardin Albert 1er – the oldest gardens in Nice are a green oasis and very well used by residents and tourists alike. Fountains, mist coming through the floor, a sculpture and beautiful flowers and trees combine to make a perfect escape space.

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On the Promenade du Paillon sit the fountains – I was rather taken with this as shown by the number of photos (and this is the cut down version!)

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After all that that walking it was time for an ice cream! Pamplemousse (grapefruit) and menthe (mint). The grapefruit was refreshingly sorbet like.

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Look at the colours and flavours!

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After the hard work of an ice cream, it was time for a cocktail – frozen daiquiri for me and an old fashioned for husband.

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Quite a pleasant view!

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Some more piccies of the stunning architecture before we left

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Place Massena underwent a 13 million euro refurbishment in 2007. The buddhas on the lampposts light up at night. There are 7 of them, each representing one of the continents,

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The windows and balconies on the side of tis building are painted on – not real. The attention to detail is fantastic.

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Some last minute pics of the coast, taken from the pebbly beach

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And so it was Au Revoir to Nice!

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A day out by train, because we Cannes! (and Antibes, too)

While researching Nice and all the nice things to do, I read that it was easy to get out and about for the day by train. Blessed with almost 3 full days and being located about 5 minutes walk from the train station, we set off for Cannes.

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Just half an hour along the coast, we arrived there at around 10.45 and found our way to the seafront. It’s evidently an area with money, noticeable by the proliferation of designer shops. Designer collage

Luckily, with it being Sunday, everything was closed, or I’d have gone on a shopping spree (ha, ha, RIGHT!!! £1500 for a bag? Never! Although the window display at D&G was very pretty.

D&G 2

Unlike Nice, the beach in Cannes is soft white sand, and there were lots of people sunbathing and children playing. The sea is just as blue as in Nice, and the waves lapped gently at the shore as we meandered along.

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I’m very partial to Birds of Paradise flowers – I had them in my wedding bouquet.

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The most imposing hotel we saw was the Carlton – a drinks menu showed 11 euros for a Coke!

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The town is gearing up for the film festival, and there was evidence of staging being built in preparation for the town coming to life. I’m sure there’ll be more and more yachts arriving this week, but those that were already in the harbour were pretty impressive.

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Not being overly enamoured with Cannes (I know it has an old town but we had already walked miles) and wanting to squeeze in Antibes on the way back, we headed back to the station for the 3 short stops to our next destination, where we had promised ourselves lunch. The graffitied trains were something to behold!

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Antibes is much prettier, more French and less touristy, but still with the same blue sea and another well stocked port.

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A small and pretty cathedral is at the centre.

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I couldn’t resist a picture of this well lived in decorated van at the street market

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After a lunch of chorizo and ratatouille crepe with copious amounts of rose wine it was time to catch the train back to Nice. Double decker trains – such a novelty!

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Nice Ville station is very ornate.

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We walked around 10 miles over the course of the day, but everything was so pretty we hadn’t even noticed. My feet certainly felt it once I took my sandals off though.

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The French Coast – a look back and a peek forward

2 weeks today I’ll be on a plane to France, hurrah! Invariably it will be wet and dull in the UK, in true bank holiday style, so I’m making the most of it by jetting off for 3 days in Nice, on the French Riviera.

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Living in land locked Birmingham, it’s always good to get to the coast, especially when it’s as stunning as this. The Cote d’Azur has a micro climate and 200-250 days of sunshine each year, so I’m hopeful that early May will be warm and pleasant, and I might even get to dip my toes in that stunning blue sea.

As well as a stunning coastline, Nice has beautiful architecture, lots of greenery and a colourful Old Town that I’m looking forward to wandering around.

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Nice cathedral

Nice old town

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It’s 5 and a half years since I was last on the French Coast. We went to Marseille for a our first wedding anniversary, and totally fell in love with it. Just 6 hours door to door, from home via Birmingham airport, it’s a gem of a place and we immediately declared it our weekend bolthole when we fancied getting away. Unfortunately Ryanair had other ideas and cancelled the route soon afterwards so we haven’t been back since, but I would definitely return.

Here are some snaps.

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Persistent petals and seeing the sea

A couple of weeks ago I bought some pre-potted bulbs. I never think to plant bulbs; partly as I only have balcony pots to put them in but mainly because I always forget until it’s too late. With the job of potting some up already done by the shop, along with the fact they were starting to sprout, I invested in some red tulips, hoping for a sunny day to get them outside.

I carefully transferred them home in a carrier bag…and promptly forgot about them.

So, now that I have remembered them, they’re ready to be thrown away, right? No water or sunlight for more than 2 weeks, stifled in a plastic bag in a corner. They’re bound to have withered and given up.

Wrong! Look at my beautiful tulips!

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Not only have they miraculously continued to grow, but they have done so in the most peculiar way; obviously growing towards the air and trickle of light that was available. Searching out the life force to not only survive, but flourish. That’s pretty bloomin’ special.

Curved tulips

I’ve now popped them on my kitchen window sill, flooded them with water, and hopefully they’ll straighten out and grow upwards towards the sunlight; after which I’ll transfer them to my balcony.

I still have some snapdragons from a couple of years ago that refuse to throw in the towel; I thought I’d cleared them all out at the end of the summer but they sprouted back up in November and came into bloom.

Here’s a couple of pictures from the North Welsh coast from my weekend trip.

 

It all looks rather gloomy, but I quite like the power of a wild and windy seaside in cloudy weather. Not as much as I like a clear blue sky and white sandy beach, but the chances of that in Wales in March are slim to none.

And how quaint is this cottage?

Hafan y Mor chalet

Its one of the holiday park rentals; looks like something from a fairytale.

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