I remember this ditty from when I was little ‘un… I wonder if any of you do too?
The wind, the wind, the wicked wind,
It blows the girl’s skirts high,
But God is just, he blows the dust
Into the wicked wind’s eye.
Kind of sums up our recent foray to the seaside last week, except that us camping girls usually like to wear trousers of some kind for a multitude of practical reasons, not limited entirely to the force of the wind, and the only eyes the dust (actually it was largely sand) got blown into was our own!
Still, we had a jolly time despite the weather. This is the view from our pitch, which was certainly some sort of consolation.
This, however, was the view looking back the other way, so I think you’ll get why I’m also having a bit of a moan.
It’s not that easy getting a good night’s sleep when you’re vacuumed packed onto your air bed like a shrink wrapped supermarket kipper!
The boys had a larger tent to themselves, our trusty old Khyam, which stood the test of the higher end of the Beaufort scale better, but it was still incredibly noisy and cold in there with the wind whipping around and about like a possessed entity. It really was a test of our good humour to keep smiling throughout it all. Especially when Hubby and I had no choice but to pack away all the cooking equipment and take down the awning before it was torn away by natural forces and flung into the sea at 4 am – in the driving rain, of course. (Well maybe I cried once or twice that night).
The skies were amazing over the week though. All sorts of clouds blew over our heads. It does make you feel very alive when you experience the elements in such a direct way.
Sunsets were pretty awesome…
…and the moon over the dunes had it’s own kind of beauty.
The mountains around here are always breathtaking. But then I’ve never seen a mountain that wasn’t.
We did have a few snatches of blue sky here and there. I made the most of the best weather that the week had to offer us by indulging in a little crochet therapy on the beach.
In amongst the time spent at Shell Island we had a couple of day trips to other places where the weather was thankfully a little calmer.
A steam train from Porthmadog to Ffestiniog was among the highlights.
We climbed up through the mountains, craning our necks to make the most of the 360 degree views.
Naturally there was plenty of opportunity for a spot of shawl making during the three hour journey there and back.
I love making these shawls because it’s so, so easy to feel where the stitches go so none of the view was missed at all as the extra rows were added, chain by gloriously simple chain. Busy hands, and eyes on the horizon. Perfect!
We found the sweetest reward at the end of the line in Ffestiniog. Be sure to pop in to the Isallt Coffee Shop if you ever visit the town. The owner, Richard, makes the most amazing chocolate brownies, nutty meringues, carrot cake – to name just a few. Washed down with a hot cup of tea, we felt re-vivified in no time. This guy really needs to get himself auditioning for the Great British Bake Off. These cakes are the stuff of legends!
As the next day dawned we decided on a trip to Barmouth for some classic seaside treats in the form of fish and chips, ice cream and donuts. Thankfully my real donut looked nothing like as scary or as unappetising as the one advertising them.
I’ve no idea why he has a black eye but what with the strategic placement of that pole I expect that’s the least of his worries! And why is the hotdog wearing a hard hat? It’s enough to give you indigestion just to look at them.
Now please don’t let anyone tell you that I don’t know how to have a good time. Living it large Las Vegas style? Oh Yeah!
Well you surely would.- wouldn’t you?! We did actually spend a good half hour in here and bulldozed our way through about £5 in 2 pence pieces trying to win a keyring that you’d probably throw away if it leapt out of a Christmas cracker at you. The sense of achievement when it was finally dislodged off it’s mound of coins and plopped into the steel tray at our knees in a shower of tuppences was, well, just weirdly exciting actually! Want to see it? Of course you do!
In fact maybe I’ll be inspired to recreate my very own purple amigurumi hippo in a mortarboard ready for next years proud graduates to treasure!
At this point I think I should probably express my apologies to the Barmouth tourist board. It is actually a most beautiful place, once you get past the concrete front and on to the beach, a fact paid testament to in the postcard on the right. We have had many happy holidays here when the boys were little. This beach is just the best thing ever when the sun is shining – you know, shining like it always used to in the good old days!
Whatever the weather it’s always nice to get back to base camp after a big day out. Time for a quick shower – hot water has never felt so welcome! – and a quick change into comfy PJs, layers of fleeces, fingerless mitts, a beanie hat and and a coat (erm… I thought this was supposed to be summer?). The car was a real boon for escaping the ever howling winds. It’s really rather cosy to be tucked up there. A sea view, a sunset and a bit more crochet time and I’m feeling a warm glow again. I think that’s largely due to the extra layers of clothing, but a general feeling of contentment helps too.
As the sun sets on our last night, and with no sign of the rain clouds from earlier, we had a last big blow out and attempted to burn the four bags of logs we rather over-optimistically bought from the camp shop on the first night. There’s nothing quite like a crackling fire to warm the cockles of your heart, as well as your hands and feet. It was lovely to sit chatting with hubby and the boys about the highs and lows, the trials, tribulations and joys of our escape to the seaside. Playing a game of dodge the sparks when the wind suddenly changes and the flames give you a glancing singe is certain to liven up the fuggiest and tiredest of minds!
Just be very careful when throwing a new log on the fire…
No need for fancy pyrotechnics around here to keep us entertained!
After packing up the tent on the final morning we headed off to the sand dunes to say our goodbyes to this wild and windy land. A spot of crochet kept me occupied.
The boys employed some of that undiminishable energy that comes so easily to the young and ran like crazy around the dunes. Good preparation for being cooped up in the car for the next 3 hours.
I preferred to take a few last looks at the wildlife. So pleased to note that pixies live up here too, and not just in damp, dark forests. (Everyone knows that pixies turn into toadstools as soon as you try and look at them, right?)
I had to get a snap of this gorgeous sea holly too. There’s so much beauty around if you take the time to see it.
That’s why these little holidays are so valuable, despite the hard work involved and the often less than perfect weather. It’s just so good to break the routine and take the time to smell the roses, or the ozone, or the sea holly or whatever comes your way.
A quick stop at a lichen covered rock to give my half finished shawl the seaside photoshoot treatment. It looks so at home here, with its colours echoing the stormy sea and its fishing net like structure. Note how it’s weighted down by a rock to stop it flying off! Very fitting that the yarn is called Silkystones.
On a philosophical level I reflect that all good things come to an end, and my comfy feather bed is singing a siren’s song to me across the airwaves from the relatively sheltered haven of the landlocked Midlands. I think I’m ready at this point to kiss the sea goodbye and sleep a deep sleep under a nestling duvet surrounded by four solid brick walls. But I’m oh so looking forward to coming back again and challenging the elements the very next time I get the chance!