Great Orme Bronze Mines

One of the hottest days of the year and we decided to have a day out. An impromptu adventure but somewhere we discovered during our visit to Llandudno in winter, but was closed at the time, one for The 100 list. And what a good idea it was too.

The mines had been discovered in 1987 almost by accident. The area was to be landscaped and turned into a car park by the local council. During these works the bronze mines were uncovered.

Engineers, cavers and archaeologists started to clear the mines, slowly uncovering more and more tunnels. Using carbon dating they realised these mines dated back 4000 years, much earlier than first thought.

On entry you watch a short video explaining how the mines where found, and the start of the restoration work and dating process. It’s a self guided tour, which takes around 45 minutes to an hour. Partly in the tunnels underground and partly above ground.

There is a sloping path leading to the entrance and then narrow, low tunnels with steps inside. The floor is damp in places and the tunnels are noticeably cooler than outside, a blessed relief on such a hot day.

Through the tunnels are boards with information explaining the process and what was found, used there.

Many of the tunnels had been mined by children aged 5 and over, these are very small and inaccessible so far they have discovered around 5 miles of tunnels over 7 floors deep but they are uncovering more and more as years go on.

Thankfully hard hats are provided and necessary, for me it wasn’t too much of a problem but Simon is over 6ft and several times I heard a ‘clunk’ behind me as his head bumped the roof.

It was good to see varied groups there, families with young children, groups of teen friends, older people, sensible shoes and an awareness of the steps, narrow passageways are a must, but I’d recommend everyone to visit if they are able. A fascinating place.

Llandudno

We took another trip out to Llandudno, it seems to be one of our happy places, although I’m not sure Simon would agree as every time I suggest it the weather forecast gives severe weather warnings ! Last time it was gale force winds, this time extreme heat.

Expecting it to be busy we set off early and had a quick stop for petrol and breakfast. We arrived to a very sunny but not too busy promenade, parked up and started to walk. Due to the hot weather we decided to take an easier route up The Great Orme this time. On the tram.

We got off at the top and walked around to admire the views, then stopped for a cup of tea (Simon can’t last more than a couple of hours without one) and wandered downhill. First stop was the Bronze mines (post to follow) then continued on round the back road to St Tudno’s church and graveyard.

It was beautiful and peaceful, although I did have a moment when I thought I heard a man humming, when no one was around (it was a jet ski on the water below) after a slow leisurely walk back into Llandudno we stopped for a spot of lunch, drink and cool down in a little cafe.

Walking back towards the promenade we spotted a boat trip about to leave and made a snap decision to jump onboard. It was lovely to sit back, enjoy the breeze and listen to the commentary about the area. It lasted around 30 minutes.

We wandered back towards the pier. The plan was to try and complete some of the items on The 100 list – fish and chips on a pier – due to the extreme heat we decided ice cream on the pier was a much better idea. So I’m counting it as half completed. But my favourite part of the day was going on the Ferris wheel, and yes we completed another from the list. We kissed at the top x

On the Ferris wheel, just before the top !

The midnight library – Matt Haig

Book 8 of the Reading challenge – a ‘new to me’ author

This book was recommended by a friend, although I’ve not used it for that category as he also gave another suggestion (and the book) for that one.

This story follows Nora, bored, lonely, depressed and fed up with life she is attempts suicide and discovers ‘the midnight library’ filled with books of her life. The first book is the book of regrets, what could have been. We all have these thoughts, what if I’d said yes/no, taken that other job, etc and it shows her how life could have been different, but also how her current life would have been affected. It’s not always better and you don’t realise what impact you have had on another persons life. She starts to realise that she is lucky, loved and wanted.

This book is filled with self help and motivational ideas, although uplifting it does tend towards the ‘change your mindset’ and everything will fine, you’ll no longer be depressed and while this works for some people it isn’t always the case and medical help should be found.

In parts the book is a little weak (for me) but I did enjoy the idea behind it and was routing for Nora to get the help she needed and enjoy living. I finished this book with a much more positive mindset and actually being able to drop some of those past regrets.

Matt Haig has been very open about his own mental health struggles, especially with depression and suicide. He has written several books along these lines, as self help, motivational and to encourage people to ask for help, if this book encourages one person to seek help then it’s done its job. It certainly left me with a happier mindset and outlook on life.

The harvesting begins

The allotment has been and is my happy place. The place I go to get away from everything. There I can get lost in my plants and busy with digging and weeding, suddenly the big worries fade and the peace takes over. This year I’ve really managed to get on top of it and have planted up the majority of the plot. With the last section being covered and left unused.

The rhubarb bed was neglected the last 2 years so the harvest was a little lower this year, but we still managed 6 crumbles (with 6 portions per crumble) and I gave plenty away to friends and relatives. Our local supermarket was selling 3 sticks for £1.50 – I could have made a fortune if I’d sold it !

The new strawberry bed is looking good and the old bed is producing well. I have been harvesting strawberries twice a week for almost a month and again passing these on to family, eating plenty fresh and have frozen some. Simon has enjoyed a fair few.

The asparagus was moved to a new weed free bed earlier in the year so I didn’t harvest any this year to allow the crowns time to settle and develop but they’ve all produced well.

The raspberries are taking over everywhere, they are starting to ripen and are lovely and sweet especially the yellow variety. I will have to start digging them out later in the year before they become a nuisance.

The poly tunnel is growing well, the tomatoes took a little time to get going but now are romping away and getting flowers, the cucumber has become a triffid in the corner and the loofah plants are enjoying all the hot weather we’ve been experiencing, no flowers as yet but still time. I’ve also grown pak choi, basil and lettuce around the bottom of the tomatoes to make use of the space and give these tender plants some protection from predators. It’s worked well especially the pak choi which we’ve been enjoying in stir fries at least once a week for several weeks now.

The peas, beans, courgettes, pumpkins, sweetcorn, parsnips, Brussels sprouts and squash are all doing well and will be giving produce later in the year and I’ll update you on those another time.

One of the biggest achievements this year has been my flowers, Phils rose was moved last year and taken well with plenty of large beautiful yellow blooms in amongst the currant bushes. I’ve been cutting the sweet pea flowers for 5 weeks and it is still producing more and more scented flowers, which has been my mums favourite. I’m going to put in a few different colours next year and see how they get on.

All in all it’s been a success, so far and with the hot weather set to continue it looks promising for a bumper harvest (as long is I continue to put the work in watering, feeding and weeding)

The Manchester Weekend part 2

After a lovely sleep and shower we went for breakfast, and plenty of it. A good choice of hot food, cold meats, cheese, pastries, cereals and drinks. Never been let down by a Hilton breakfast. Then we checked out and moved the car into Manchester City centre and the AO arena.

We had most of the day so decided to have a look at the National Football Museum. It was right in the heart of the city. With a football themed play area in front for little ones to play.

The ticket was good value as it’s a year ticket, and they offered discount for NHS workers. It was really interesting, we found information about a local football team we had never heard of, even though they existed from the late 1800’s until 1986 ! We spent over 2 hours in here, lots to see, read and do. Plenty of football challenges, all included in the entrance fee.

After this we had a wander around the shops and went for a late lunch, knowing we wouldn’t be eating again. We headed back towards the arena and joined the queue. It was a little disorganised, the tickets said to arrive for 6.30 but they didn’t open the outer doors until 7pm then we queued again inside for airport style security. No-one objected, but the inner doors didn’t open until 7.30 so it was a lot of standing around in a cramped space. Finally all the doors opened and then we went to find our seats. Disappointed isn’t a strong enough word. Right in front of my seat was a huge camera blocking a quarter of the stage ! Over £100 ticket for this view, I called over a steward who confirmed I was in the correct seat and then went to get a supervisor, who saw straight away the issue and asked me to wait a moment and disappeared. He reappeared 10 minutes later with two tickets, he had moved us to the VIP section ! They realised some tickets had been incorrectly sold. Our new seats were closer to the stage and slightly higher from the floor.

The pre show lasted around 45 minutes, a French singer and band. Then the lights went off and Alicia Keys appeared. The show was amazing, she’s such a good singer and performer. My teen was in heaven, he danced and sang his heart out. She had Johnny Marr (The Smiths) on stage and sang This Charming man – I sang along to this.

After 2 hours of singing, dancing and cheering the lights came on and it was time to leave. Thankfully our car was parked in the arena and very close to the exit so we were on our way home by 11.30. The journey out of Manchester to the motorway was slow and steady, we got home just after 1am on Sunday morning. Very tired, hoarse but happy.