So, after all the culture, I went to the All Blacks versus Namibia rugby game! Was interesting and of course most people cheered for Namibia – the Brits always support the underdogs. I wasn’t very impressed with the Olympic Stadium. Poor signage, soul-less inside and not that easy to get to and from walking, especially as security staff stop you going the way you wanted to/had learned – I speak from experience 🙁
Anyway I then went by train to Llandudno via Chester, by train. That was a good experience; lots of interesting scenery to watch and the trains were comfortable. This year was the first time I had used trains and buses to get around the UK, and I would definitely do it again. Cheap, efficient, comfortable – but I might carry less luggage next time!
Llandudno has a seafront, gracefully framed by two headlands, that is a British seaside classic. It has a wide promenade, a pier, Punch and Judy and donkey rides. There is an Alice in Wonderland (AiW) connection, with an AiW city trail! And there is another beach (West Shore) for those who prefer more solitude and an undeveloped beach front.
The hotel I stayed at in Llandudno had been recommended by friends. Te food there was a wonderful experience. Silver service, six courses plus coffee/tea – delicious and all definitely calorie free! I was just glad I was doing a lot of walking to make room for the next meal.
The weather was amazingly warm and sunny, and so I decided to walk round the Great Orme. It is at the end of the promenade, dwarfing even Wales’s longest pier. The Great Orme headland is a massive chunk of limestone rising 207m/679ft straight out of the sea. It is possible to get to the top by cable car or tramway, driving or walking.
Great Orme has fascinating geology, archaeology, wildlife and history, and this is reflected in its designation as a Country Park, Special Area of Conservation, Site of Special Scientific Interest and Heritage Coast.
Its different habitats, ranging from rich heath lands to sheer sea cliffs, limestone grassland to woodland, support a wide variety of plants and wildlife, the most famous being the wild Kashmir goats with their shaggy white coats and fearsome horns.
The walk round is about 10 kilometres (6 miles) and is a nice steady ascent followed by a nice steady descent. It took me just over two and a half hours to do, with a stop at the top for a cuppa (in a very welcome cafe!) The views were spectacular – Anglesey, Puffin Island, Snowdonia and the Isle of Man. The afternoon was spent sitting on the promenade watching the world go by – a perfect Sunday.
I then went on the Ffestiniog steam train from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog (Portmadoc.) The scenery was okay, quite pretty, except near Blaenau where the hills are scarred by slate mines, but I was a bit disappointed. I was particularly disappointed that there was no commentary, and we were not told when we did the spiral 🙁
I finished off my stay in Llandudno with a stroll along the pier, reliving my younger days when more seaside resorts had such simple pleasures as donkey rides, palm readers, buckets and spades and candyfloss……….ahhh, the good old days!
Anyway, all too soon my 7 weeks away passed and all that was left to do was to catch a train to London and fly back to New Zealand. All occurred without incident and so I am now back home a lot poorer in the pocket but richer in the memory bank.