Monday, March 04, 2013

The New Moelfre Lifeboat

It's now some five or six years since the first Tamar Class Lifeboat began service at Tenby.   Since then I have looked forward to seeing on of these impressive boats stationed at Moelfre.   Today it actually happened.   The event coincided with the opening of a revamped Seawatch Maritime Museum in Moelfre.
The arrival of RNLB Kiwi was to be at 2.30pm.   However, there was a half hour delay and she arrived at 3.00pm.   Once she was on her way from Amlwch where she had berthed in readiness for her big moment at Moelfre, the old Moelfre lifeboat, Robert and Violet launched and set out to meet Kiwi to escort her into Moelfre.   It was not long before the pair appeared round the headland and we were able to see the fastest slipway boat in the RNLI.
The two lifeboats criss-crossed in front of the crowd of hundreds of people and the Kiwi then showed her ability to stop and start quickly as well as do a 360 degree turn.   As she sailed past us the crew were waving, proud to bring her home from Poole, Dorset, where all lifeboats start their first journey.
After some manoeuvring, the two boats were bow to bow before us.   It was then that prayers were said to bless the new craft and those who would sail in her to rescue those in danger.   The priest stood on the bow of the old lifeboat with two crew members ready in case he slipped.   He was dressed in cassock and surplice but with the addition of a safety harness.
I was pleased to be there to welcome Kiwi.   I hope she will offer another 25 years of service to those who sail near Anglesey.   God bless her.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Musical Anglesey

Anglesey has a population of approximately 67,000 people.   Before settling here we lived in a town of 200,000 people.   Yet here there is a surfeit of music and culture.    The former town does not possess such a pool of musical talent.  Tonight my wife and I were treated to an evening of barber shop singing by a group of mainly elderly women who just loved singing together.

It was an event organised by a friend who is a worshipper at St Eilian's church, Llaneilian, in whose parish our village of Penysarn falls.   The church itself has a wonderful history of over 500 years, as I can testify.   The enthusiastiv church warden, Roy, who showed me round took me into St Eilian's sanctuary, up on the Rood screen loft and even the bell tower.

But to get back to the singers, they were a joy to hear.   It's not often you get to hear an all women group singing Barber Shop.   The event was held in the nearby WI hall which has recently been renovated and is, itself, a rare example of a wholly owned WI hall.   I even have a stake in the renovation work as I dismantled the sliding door to the toilet and installed a new door & frame.

In previous years I have attended Christmas concerts by Cor Bro Dyfnan, a choir formed in Benllech some years ago.   They have an enormous pool of musical talent supported by Carys Eleri, a woman with a beautiful soprano voice.   When she sings O Holy Night you could cry!   All over the island you can find groups of musicians specialising in their own brand of music.

Last evening I attended the licensing service for the new vicar of Amlwch and experienced Welsh hymn singing that was, as our American cousins say, awesome.   I thought the roof would lift off!   Just another example of the Welsh involvement in music. 

It is such a privilege to live on this remarkable island.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring in Anglesey

Living here on this rural island is pure pleasure in the season of Spring!   With the sunny April we were able to enjoy days out with our grandaughter, Ellie.   We visited beaches and drove along narrow country lanes, all the while taking in the signs of the progress of Spring.

In the six and a half years we have lived here it has been a period of learning the many single track lanes and where they go.   Every time we drive over to Llangefnmi we take a route that entails a number of miles of single track lanes.   It is not only quicker but less stressful with the near absence of other vehicles.   When you meet a vehicle coming the other way you pull over into one of the many passing places and wave to each other.   It's called respect.   You notice the many hedgerows which the island's farmers maintain so well.   They are full of wild flowers, so the colours change from time to time.

With the better weather we can go for walks along the coastal path.   Occasionally one might see a holy well along the way.   Drive over to Penmon Priory and a short walk takes you past a pond to the holy well of St Seriol.   The saint, Seriol, is said to have walked across Anglesey towards Holyhead whilst the Holyhead saint, Cybi, walked towards Penmon.   This way Cybi got sunburnt and Seriol stayed pale as he walked with his back to the sun!

One thing to watch out for is the occasional finger post that some wag has twisted to point in the wrong direction.   One lovely drive is to leave the A5025 at the old Black Lion Inn and drive towards Llandeusant where you will find a preserved windmill that still grinds flour.   Its name is Lynnon Mill and the cottage through which you go when paying the entrance fee has a first floor cafe.   Go upstairs if you want to experience the most amazing cakes, scones etc with a cup of tea!   You will not come away dissatisfied.

Once Easter has arrived you will find that all the visitor attractions are open.   There is plenty to experience.    If you stay on the island in good weather you have about 20 beaches accessible to cars to enjoy.   Don't miss the lovely harbour at Cemaes and the refreshments at the visitor centre just up the main street.   Why not pop in the Cemaes Gallery and browse the many pictures for sale?   If you fancy a pint then the place to go is the Stag Inn where you can sit outside and watch village life.

Another attraction for the walking enthusiasts is the heritage trail around the former copper mine at Parus Mountain.   The walk is mostly on the level but watch out for a steep section towards the end.   All sorts of connected places are springing up down at Amlwch Port too.

What a place!!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010


It has been an extraordinary week! Last Friday, 17th December I had to postpone the transfer to my car of a consignment of lamb direct from a Snowdonia farm. Saturday was bad and so was Sunday. I began to wonder how the meat would ever get through. The main problem was that I could not move my car out of the drive which slopes towards the house. Eventually, with help from a number of people we made arrangements for the farmer to bring the meat over to Holyhead where the bulk of customers live. So, on Monday 20th December, my friend, David and I went over in his car to Holyhead to make sure all arrangements when smoothly. Amazingly, we drove almost to the Britannia Bridge to pick up the A55 and dive to Holyhead. In case you do not know our island this was a circular tour! By 11.00am the farmer had found his way to the church and the lamb was offloaded. David and I then returned to Penysarn with the remaining lamb for local friends.
During this period it had been decided to cancel the morning service at Amlwch Methodist Church as well as the evening Candle lit Carol Service. Our planned service intended to be held yesterday for the residents at Bryn y Mor Residential Home also was cancelled. The next casualty was the Christmas Eve Midnight Communion Service. As the snow had ceased falling we wanted to continue with the Christmas Day and Boxing day services. By this time we realised that the icy state of the road and the steps at the church meant high risks were being taken so these services have now cancelled.
The Carol Service is now re-scheduled for 2nd January but I cannot take part as I am hopefully leading worship at Holyhead Methodist Church. I have never known such a period for cancelling events at church. It is a remarkable end to a pretty awful year. May 2011 be better and more fruitful!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow on the island

It was my birthday on Saturday, 18th December. I was due to get a consignment of lamb from a farmer over past Betws y Coed. It was Monday before we could get the lamb. The farmer came over to Holyhead where the majority of customers live and I was driven over there by a friend. We drove almost to the Britannia Bridge and then back along the A55 dual carriageway. Amazingly we took only 15 extra minutes to get there. Eventually we offloaded the lamb, paid the farmer and set off back with the lamb for people living near me. We made it safely home with all customers satisfied.
It is quite rare for Anglesey to see so much snow. It is over 20 years ago since the last time it was so heavy. We are used to telling others who are suffering snow how well we are doing here. Even now, as I write this, the snow is falling lightly! This morning our neighbours were going to the Co-op supermarket in Amlwch in their 4 wheel drive so we hitched a lift to buy final essentials. The only thing we forgot was washing up liquid! When it runs out we shall use the dish washer a little more!
Our neighbours are Bob and Stella who were planning to drive tomorrow to their old home city of Bristol to stay with family at Christmas. They have had to cancel the visit so they are coming next door for Christmas this year! So instead of two there will be four on Christmas Day - GREAT!!! The photo above shows our car covered in snow and unable to travel.
There are many people who live in hilly places in the island and they are stuck until the thaw where they don't own 4 wheel drive cars. But they will have neighbours helping them out and that is the sort of spirit we need in this life. I just wish I could get the car out and take photos of the many snow scenes which abound. Not to worry, we have a good talking point that makes a change from politics and cuts!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snowy Anglesey

Finally we are under a white blanket! Last winter we had a serious fall of snow on one day only. It was Tuesday 5th January and I was due to come home from a short stay in hospital. The weather closed in and the hospital transport stopped running. I came home that day in my neighbour's 4 wheel drive!
Today we have about 6 inches and more is forecast. Tomorrow I am due to collect a consignment of Welsh lamb direct from the farmer. Our meeting place is Betws y Coed on the A5 trunk road where it meets the A470 which runs down to South Wales. The forecast is heavy snow overnight for Anglesey, Betws y Coed and Bala which is not far from the farm. It looks like we have a problem!
I have no doubt we shall get through OK in terms of food and warmth, so best not grumble. My logs for the multi fuel stove have a coating of snow and they are in a log shelter I built last year! It has obviously been windy during the night. All looks very pretty just now. But wait till the thaw arrives and snow becomes slush!
Tomorrow will see a cancelled market in Llangefni and folks will be battening down the hatches whilst talking about the snow as if they live in high mountains! Yesterdays satellite photo from Nasa showed the UK covered in snow except occasional tiny patches where it had not fallen. No doubt today's picture will be of complete snow coverage.
For now I shall have to ensure that there is food outside for the birds and continue reading my book purchased at a recent Christmas Fair at Amlwch Methodist Church. Tomorrow sees another birthday to remind me how I am getting old! We have guests for dinner and they, luckily, live just round the corner.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Polite Anglesey

Since coming to live in Anglesey six years ago we have noticed a big difference between living in a large conurbation and living on an island where local residents have a separate identity. Because it is a quiet place the teenagers we encounter are very polite as opposed to those in the large towns where they are quick to offer abuse to older people. This was very apparent as soon as we arrived.
To say that the local Welsh speakers are unfriendly and keep one at arm's length could not be further from the truth. On one occasion 2 or 3 weeks before moving house we went into a food shop to buy something for lunch. The shopkeeper asked us if we were here on holiday. We replied that we were due to come and live here very soon. "Welcome to Anglesey" was the friendly response. The new neighbours were also very welcoming and we knew we should be happy here. We had moved house on seven occasions previously and we felt welcome on only two occasions.
I was told that a warm welcome was to be had at the local Methodist Church in Amlwch and this proved to be the case. The people from the other local churches have also been found to be friendly and warm in their welcome. The only exception was the then Chief Constable, Richard Brunstrom, with his aggressive attitude to speeding motorist. Under him the police were encourage to rack up large numbers of reports at the expense of the public they served. The new Chief has now been in post a year and he has called on his officers to take a much different view!
One area where politeness or the absence of it tends to be most noticeable is driving along the roads. Other drivers tend to be far more friendly and accommodating then in the well populated areas of England. In Anglesey, with its high number of farm workers, we find ourselves following many tractors and other farm machines along the road. Inevitably these are slow moving vehicles, but the surprise is that they pull over wherever possible to lessen the queues of faster vehicles in their wake. I call this very considerate and commend our local farm staff for their considerateness.
Perhapss this is another good reason to put your house on the market and settle where the pressure is decidedly off!