I’ve been watching Michael Portillo’s train journeys around Britain on the BBC over the last few weeks and was especially pleased to see two programmes devoted to train journeys in North Wales. One along the North Wales Coast from Chester to Llandudno and the other from Llandudno to Porthmadog and then Bangor to Holyhead. He’s using George Bradshaw’s Victorian Railway Guide to take him around the UK and it looks a great book. Probably not in print so will have to make an excursion up to Hay on Wye to find a copy.
The Welsh Highland Railway
In November 2010 the Welsh Highland Railway rolled into Porthmadog for the first time, which was great news and we now look forward to the official opening of the final section on April 20th 2011. It actually means that you could almost circumnavigate Snowdonia by train. The section between Bangor and Caernarfon will unfortunately never re-open ( but at least there’s a decent bus service between the two locations.)
It also makes rail holidays around Wales a serious option because the midwales main line also completed an upgrade in October 2010. From Chester you could weave through Wales stopping at (BIG BREATH) Conwy, Caernarfon, Porthmadog, Machynlleth, Welshpool, Shrewsbury (not strictly Wales but used to play in the Welsh Cup!), Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells, Llandovery, Llandeilo, Llanelli and then either east or west along the South Wales coast, and onwards to London or Ireland.
Well, we waited long enough and it was over too soon even though we stretched it out to four fantastic days (+practice days). I’m not a great golfer but I did get caught up in the excitement here in Newport. I’m not sure how many of the spectators really got to see Newport, I suspect not a lot, but I’m positive the Usk Valley will get many repeat visitors. At least we have a new train station in Newport as a souvenir of one of the world’s best sporting events. I also met some great people and walked miles and miles which can’t be bad but I was very tired after it all.
So it was nice to spend last week with a group of Opera buffs from Switzerland, on tour with us, who knew nothing of golf but one heck of a lot about Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss and were in Cardiff to enjoy the Welsh National Opera Autumn Season. We had a few little surprises for them such as a private performance by the Morriston Orpheus male voice choir singing a wide range of music from their repertoire. A solo harp performance by Glenda Clwyd in the castle in St Fagan on Saturday afternoon was a real highlight. All crowned by a fantastic performance of “Ariadne auf Naxos ” in the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday night. In between all these events the weather was great and they saw South Wales at its Autumnal best.
Can’t help thinking after a busy couple of weeks that Wales really is a destination that can seriously punch above its weight. World class sports and cultural events back to back – not a bad place to live and work.
Dyma ni unwaith eto a Dinas Bangor yn cymeryd eu lle haeddiannol yn Ewrop. Llongyfarchiadau i’r hogia ar gêm gyfartal yn y Ffindir heno
Roedd dad yn chwarae’n gol i Fangor cyn rhyfel. Un da oedd o hefyd yn ol bob son. Yn y Lancashire Combination oddan nhw pryd hynny dwi’n meddwl. Ges i rhyw sbel bach efo Bangor reserves fy hun yn y saithdegau. Felly mae tim pel droed Bangor yn y gwaed a mae’r disgwyliadau’n uchel pan maent yn chwarae yn Ewrop.
Dwi’n dal i gofio’r gêm yn erbyn Napoli yn 1962. A wedyn i’r Eidal ac yn ol i Highbury am y play off. Dyna beth oedd camp i hogyn naw oed. Roedd y chwaraewyr yma i gyd yn arwyr i mi. Len, Iorys, Eddie Birch …ac yn y blaen. Dyna chi dîm.
Programme from the first leg at Farrar Rd.
Programme from the replay at Highbury
Mae pethau wedi newid dipyn erbyn hyn wrth gwrs (heblaw am cyflwr cae Farrar Road) ond mae’n gret gweld yr hogia yn cymeryd eu lle yn Ewrop. Gobeithio fod Neville Powell yn atgoffa nhw o’r traddodiad hir cyn yr ail gymal yn Wrecsam yr wythnos nesaf er mwyn i ni fwynhau gemau fel Napoli ac Atletico Madrid unwaith eto.
For a few important reasons, both professional and personal, Portmeirion has loomed large in my thoughts for this past few months. For an inbound tour operator for Wales such as ourselves Portmeirion is a very important location as so many groups and individuals want to stop their tour there for a few hours. Some will stay overnight in either one of the two hotels, Portmeirion Hotel or Castell Deudraeth, or in one of the rooms in the village itself. Personally I like the village rooms so I can throw myself back into the original series of The Prisoner. I am of course “number six” but not the only one if the number of suspicious looking characters casting a watchful eye over their shoulders for The Chief Administrator as they walk round the village is anything to go by.
If you need to get away from the Chief Administrator ( and the rest of the family!) then there are many quiet little areas throughout the gardens to soak up the atmosphere of this unique location. I could quite easily be a prisoner here – no fence needed.
As for the important personal reason that Portmeirion’s on my mind – my eldest daughter’s getting married there next month.
I did not watch the world cup last night. Well, not all of it as I fell asleep sometime during the first half just after DeJong’s flying kung Fu kick. Luckily for me I carried on watching the world cup but the teams were different. It was actually Brazil playing Wales. John Charles was up front with Bellamy and Cliff Jones out on the wings. Garry Sprake was between the posts and Giggs was running the show from midfield. Pele made an appearance for Brazil as did Garrincha and Kaka. It was a great match but I have no idea who won. Luckily I woke up just in time to see Spain’s goal against the Dutch kick boxers’ XI .
However it got me thinking of how important winning the World Cup could be to a small country such as Wales. The footballers could achieve more in an hour and a half than the politicians and tourism chiefs have done in an era and a half. While it’s inconceivable to me that anybody would not know where Wales was on a map – I’m told millions don’t. An appearance in the World Cup final would surely rectify that. Roll on 2014 and another four years of agony and ecstasy with the Welsh football team!
I’ve got my delivery man cap on today as I’ve been nominated by my wife to pick up their school Dragon for delivery to the Dragon’s den in Newport. In case you’re wondering this is part of a project that’s going on in Newport to encourage people, both local and visitors to get out and about and discover the city and the Dragons will form a trail that people can follow. There will be 60 SuperDragons in total and the trail will not only highlight our heritage and architecture here in Newport but it will also show the regeneration that is ongoing. Let’s hope that at least a few of the people that visit for the Ryder Cup competition will also take some time to discover Newport with the SuperDragons .
Dyma ni eto a misoedd wedi mynd heibio ers y post diwethaf. Ond mae gen i esgus – wedi bod yn brysur yn cwblhau www.WalesYouWay.com
Mae’r cyfnod arbrofi yn dod i ben yr wythnos yma a rydw i’n hapus iawn a’r canlyniad. Mae tipyn go lew o waith eto i lwytho’r cynnyrch ond yn disgwyl cael safle lle gall rhywun adeiladu taith o gwmpas Cymru a’i archebu o fewn y mis. Falch o gael unrhyw adborth am WalesYourWay.