Friday, July 14, 2006

A Tale of Two Islands

Recently we had a week's holiday on the Mediterranean island of Menorca. It was our third holiday there but the first since we came to live on the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales. This led to some comparisons between the two islands. They are of a similar area but Menorca is long and narrow whereas Anglesey is more square. The population of Menorca is probably greater than that of Anglesey.

Back in history Menorca was ruled by the British. This is why you see dry stone walls dividing the fields of Friesian cattle. The land looks quite different because of the hot summer sun. Everything looks well baked but there is considerable effort going into arable farming as well as dairy farming. The farm buildings are in the Spanish style with beautiful round archways and the gate at the end of the farm lane is often constructed in the same way.

There are two features of Menorca with which Anglesey cannot compete. The large natural harbours at Mahon, Ciutadella and Fornells are impressive. The picture in this blog shows the harbour in Cuitadella. Along the left of the harbour are many places to sit and eat whilst enjoying the view. The quality of their seafood is excellent. The Isle of Anglesey boasts only two natural harbours which are very tiny. Mind you, the harbour at Cemaes Bay is picturesque and the harbour at Amlwch has a very interesting history.

One feature in Menorca which is worth visiting is the convent at the top of Monte Toro. The church itself is simple but possess a very ornate golden altar which is worth seeing. Outside there is a huge plinth on top of which is a statue of Jesus with outstretched arms. The only problem here is that it competes with countless communication aerials.

The roads on Menorca are very well constructed and smooth. Perhaps the only criticism is that there are no coast roads. Each village or resort on the coast is separately accessed by a road. This is good for the fuel trade! In Anglesey we have the A5025 running round the island from Menai Bridge and along the north coast then down the west coast to Valley. There is another road which follows the south coast. Menorca is accessed by sea and air whereas Anglesey, being separated from the mainland by the Menai Strait, is accessed via road and rail. We are soon to have access by air when RAF Valley hosts commercial flights.

In Anglesey much attention is paid to hedges by the side of the roads. These are regularly cut back and ensure safety is not forgotten as far as the motorist is concerned. It also gives the island a clean, well kept look which is important. Another difference in Anglesey is that all road signs are in Welsh and English. Over 60% of the population are Welsh speaking so all signs, by law, must be in dual language.

The people of both islands are very friendly and welcoming. In the past the people of Anglesey were considered speak English and only revert to Welsh if a non Welsh speaker came close. This is nonsense. It is quite likely that Welsh speakers were heard using English words that had no equivalent in Welsh. It should be noted that there are no swear words in Welsh!

Both islands are very beautiful and it is a privilege to experience this. I count myself fortunate to live in Anglesey. It is so clean and fresh compared to the cities and towns of North West England from which we came. Communications with the rest of the UK can be difficult as there are many mountains to encounter when travelling in Wales. There are no motorways, just the North Wales Expressway to take you over to Chester and Manchester via the M56.

Having said all this, we are looking forward to a month on the Greek Island of Anghistri this year and there lies a real difference. It is so small that if they built an airport there would be little island left to visit. Anghistri has little in the way of good beaches and few roads, but we love it. It is like returning home when the locals welcome us each time we stay there. Posted by Picasa


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