Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Dublin

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 | Travel

I was recently offered a PhD by Trinity College Dublin so last month we quit our jobs, put our stuff into storage and moved to Ireland. It did not go well. Dublin is expierancing a massive housing crisis and there is nowhere to live. I will blog about that later, for now, here are some of the highlights.

The crossing over to Ireland was relatively pain-free. I have heard horror stories about trying to get into France but thanks to the Common Travel Area, things are still pretty chill in the Irish sea. Importing goods may be another matter. It was even easier on the way back: we just drove off the ferry and into Wales.

A lot of the coastline around the Dublin Bay is very picturesque. Especially Sandy Cove in Dún Laoghaire. We stopped by James Joyce’s tower (the location of the opening scene in Ulysses) where the museum curator was shocked to discovered I had actually read Joyce’s novels.

We had to be conscious of budget so there wasn’t much fine dining. But we did check out both Abra Kababra and Supermac’s, both of which were surprisingly good.

Transport around Dublin is a mixed bag. There is a lot of traffic and pedestrians have to wait for ages at pelican crossings. There are commuter trains, but the real public transport to be had is by living on the DART (an electrified light rail that runs along the coast) or one of the two Luas lines (the tram system).

Stonehenge

Monday, September 13th, 2021 | Travel

In Yorkshire, the rocks are much bigger and you can climb on them. Also, it doesn’t cost you £47 to look at them.

I have visited Stonehenge before but never with Elina so worked it into our travels. I can confirm it looks pretty similar to how it did 12 years ago. Venla thought the gift shop was pretty good.

At least I got to play the Spinal Tap song on the way there.

Lake District: A review

Sunday, October 11th, 2020 | Travel

Last month, I completed EpicMan Windermere triathlon and as COVID had cancelled all of our holiday plans, we decided to make a long weekend of it and spend some time in the Lake District.

It was my first time spending any time there because I live in Yorkshire and so why would I need to go to other places?

The roads are not great for driving or cycling. One of the nice things about Yorkshire is that the roads tend to be pretty wide and once you get off the main roads, quiet. Perfect for cycling. Driving around the Lake District was unpleasant because the roads are super-narrow and there is little visibility. Add cars everywhere to that and it doesn’t feel like a great place for cycling (even if you really love hills).

That said, we were around the south end of Windermere, so maybe that is just a traffic hotspot. But the triathlon bike course took us away from Windermere and the traffic did not get any quieter for at least the first half.

It’s a pretty hilly, which makes it great for walking up and down hills, but less good if you like the flat.

We went to Bowness and that was unpleasant. It was like a run-down seaside arcade with nobody wearing masks indoors. We stopped at an outside cafe and had fish and chips. Which is awful. I’m not even sure they had a fryer it was so bad, but I’m not sure how you could get fish so dry and stale in a microwave. And it was cash only. Even in a rundown seaside town in Yorkshire, you would get good fish and chips. This was almost inedible.

Kendall was lovely. Everyone was wearing masks in Asda.

The scenery around Windermere was very pretty.

Conclusion

The Lake District is a beautiful area of the country and has some good walks. But it is not a patch on Yorkshire.

Weymouth

Sunday, September 29th, 2019 | Friends, Travel

It has been a few years since our last group trip. Venla did come to Anglesey, but only in utero. As such, we were long overdue for a getaway. I fancied doing IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth, so it seemed like an excellent opportunity to combine the two.

Our accommodation was a The Bakehouse, ideally situated near the pavilion with the beach one hundred metres away on one side and the quay even closer on the other.

The weather was sunny for the first few days, and we hit the beach several times. We walked up to Nothe Fort and explored the museum.

Saturday included Weymouth parkrun, and a BBQ and Sunday was taken up by IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth. The second half of the week was rather wetter. It rained throughout the race.
As a result, on Sunday, we headed to the Sealife Centre. This seemed like a nice, dry, inside activity. But not in Weymouth. Most of their exhibits were outside, including the penguins, seals and Venla’s personal favourite: the scary duck. We were rather glad to get home and dry.

Most of all, though, we just hung out. It was a great opportunity to spend a week with friends.

Finland trip 2018

Sunday, July 29th, 2018 | Travel

Not content with simply having a picnic, we also jetted off to the country itself earlier this month to attend the wedding of Elina’s brother, Henry.

It was Venla’s first time on a plane, and her first trip to Finland. She was mostly fine on the flight (a toddler is going to get bored anywhere after three hours) and very much enjoyed spending the week with Elina’s mum.

We did the usual stuff: swimming in the lakes, swimming in the sea, pottering around both of the shops in Laitila and, of course, eating plenty of ice cream. Nothing beats tar flavour. Apparently. I stuck with suklaa.

The wedding was nice. A brief ceremony in the village chapel and a party at a lakeside summer house, including copious quantities of big being served.

It also gave Venla a chance to meet her cousins.

I did, as usual, get eaten alive by biting insects, though. I think they lie dormant waiting for me to make my semi-annual pilgrimage.

Feversham Arms

Monday, March 12th, 2018 | Reviews, Travel

Here is our review of the Feversham Arms hotel in Hemsley.

I’m describing it as “pretty good”. The staff were friendly. The room was nice: we were given an upgrade to what I think was a junior suite as we had a separate lounge and bedroom. The shower was big enough to fit both of us in. The room was draughty, though, thanks mostly to the door to the balcony. We had to keep the curtains drawn across it to keep the room at a reasonable temperature.

The spa was okay. There were a bunch of different sauna and steam rooms. One sauna is pretty much the same as the rest to me, but Elina suggests it might be more fun if you are a hen party who enjoys going from room to room and saying things like “oh yes, this is soooo relaxing”. The hot tub wasn’t working and the heated pool couldn’t stay warm enough given the snow, but we did manage 10 minutes in there.

We didn’t bother going back to the spa in the morning as it wasn’t that exciting. The night’s sleep was a good one: nice and quiet. Breakfast was good-quality hotel standard. We also received a goodie bag to take away, containing a brochure of their other hotels and two bottles of water.

Swn y Don review

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 | Reviews, Travel

swn-y-don

During our recent trip to Anglesey we stayed in a villa named Swn y Don in Cemaes Bay. It was a big place with a living room, dining area, large conservatory, two kitchens and five bedrooms.

conservatory

The coastal path runs right next to the garden so you get people walking right past. Not that they were interested in us, but it did mean we had to observe the rules about wearing swimwear while in the hot tub.

It made for a very nice view though.

view-from-garden

Beyond that there was a rocky cliff down to the water, so no access to the beach. You could walk down into the village if you wanted one.

Hot tub

The hot tub was really good. It was ready when we arrived and continued to work throughout our stay. The water was a little grimy by the end of the week, but we found the chlorination tablets to clean it up.

There was also a BBQ on the patio which was large and allowed us to cook for everyone. Both of these were advantages over Ullapool where we had to take our own BBQ and hot tub!

Connectivity

This was probably the biggest annoyance about the place. They had broadband, but we had to restart the router and modem several times a day to get it working. This would not have been so bad if I could get any photo data, but there was no signal anywhere on the property.

Kitchen

The kitchen was narrow and made for a bottleneck when someone was in there. However, there were two fridges, a freezer and a wine cooler, meaning we had plenty of space for food and drink. The cooker was amazing! Five gas burners, including an extra large one, plus a separate grill and two ovens that became hot really quickly.

cooker

Cooking was sometimes a challenge because the kitchen was missing a lot of the tools I have at home. It had an electric whisk, but no soup pot or cake tin, and all the knives were pretty blunt. All the doors had keys in them, which was really useful as we could all take different ones when we split up.

Summary

It is a beautiful house and a lovely location. I would definitely stay here again, especially if North Anglesey ever get some proper broadband and phone signal.

Ship Inn, Anglesey

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 | Travel

ship-inn

While in Anglesey, we had lunch at the Ship Inn. It is located in Red Wharf Bay, and we had lunch right on the waterfront.

red-wharf-bay

The food was pretty good. It was not anything to shout about, but good for a pub. Elina’s dish was served with steamed vegetables rather than salad, which was lucky as lettuce would have blown away! The gulls were soon in there after we had gone.

gulls

It is a beautiful location and worth a visit if you are in the area.

Anglesey Sea Zoo

Sunday, August 14th, 2016 | Travel

IMG_1967

Anglesey Sea Zoo (not to be confused with Anglesey Sea Life Centre) is located on the south-west coast of the island. It has a lot of fun looking creatures, including some of the the cutest cuttle fish you are ever likely to see. It is not a huge place, but it is an interesting place. For around £7 each, that makes for good value.

IMG_1965 IMG_1968 IMG_1971 IMG_1972

Anglesey

Saturday, August 13th, 2016 | Friends, Travel

anglesey-panorama

For this year’s group trip, we headed to the north coast of Anglesey where we had a villa booked in Cemaes Bay. As you can see from the photo above it is a beautiful location and the villa was situated right on the coastal path. A short walk down from there and you could find the nuclear power plant.

power-plant

Unfortunately, they did not have a visitor’s cafe. Local attractions were not that important though: we were mostly interested in the hot tub. The weather was good for us and after an entire day of drinking in said hot tub, pretty much everyone except Elina and I were horribly sunburnt.

beer-bottles

Not a bad effort for the first 24 hours we were there. The rest of the week consisted of barbecuing, more hot tub time, and occasionally going to the pub.

bbq-lunch

We also had a look round Beaumaris Castle.

Beaumaris-Castle

As ever, it was a super chance to catch up with friends that we see too infrequently. Roll on 2017…

group-photo