Thursday, 21 June 2012

Llandudno, 5 min walk to a seafront hotel ... and a Welsh prequel !!

With such a back log of photographic images, it was a bit difficult to know which town or city to recommence seriously this blog with. Despite having more conventional material up my sleeve from this particular town back in October 2011, I was a slightly reluctant to start with this teasing set. There are a couple of reasons for showing these images now, one of which highlights the very latest journey from the 9th - 13th June thus continuing with my biographical theme.

Before my Mother took ill around Christmas time, she had a coach holiday booked for the North Wales seaside resort of Llandudno with her friend. In an effort to get things stable and for me to fulfil holiday plans earlier in the year, the idea of 5 days away for her was initially out of the question and the issue was sidelined until her friend gave me a cancellation / final payment deadline date for the end of April. With the way that my holidays have to be requested at work, it was by an amazing chance that I had this particular week off work. A conversation with the Social worker and the Pharmacist cemented my idea that I should also join them in some capacity as the medication dispenser. Unfortunately as time was slipping by, so too was the appropriate room in the hotel for my needs although I was guaranteed  access to the hotel for the required health issues. On one hand that meant essentially that there were no places on the coach as I wasn't going to be staying at the chosen hotel but it gave me the freedom to take my car in case anything went wrong. I was fortunate enough to find accommodation in a nearby street.

2nd last passenger pick up point ... familiarising myself with the coach !!
I have done all sorts of weird and wonderful travel holidays and excursions in my time but chasing a coach for hours on end is right up there with the weirdest and I hasten to say ... a first for me !! Although I was very familiar with the route, I was less familiar with the location of the final motorway service station on the outward journey and the bus only routes at both these and the passenger pick up points.
Chris Cooper Travel is a coach company local to my Mother who provide great value holidays to destinations throughout the UK.

After the third and last motorway stop, I overtook the coach on the final leg to find a car parking space and meet the coach on arrival which worked perfectly.

Alvastrada Guest House, Llandudno
My first experience of Llandudno and indeed Wales was when I stayed in a holiday flat with my parents next door to Alvastrada. We travelled by train and with the railway station being around two corners, the location was ideal. My love affair with North Wales and Snowdonia continued as I followed it up with solo North and Mid Wales rail rover tickets and later in my car to visit other remote places and Snowdonia mountain walks. It was only natural that I should sample the accommodation next door in Alvastrada as the first option in 1989. I found the host and the accommodation to be of a reasonably good quality with a bargain price that I repeated my visit during the next three consecutive years. Prior to another long overdue visit to Llandudno with a social group in October 2011, I looked at the possibility of staying somewhere for an extra two nights to gain my first digital photographic experience of the town. It was with delight that Alvastrada had recommenced trading with the owner being the son of the previous host. Steve and his wife had earlier been perfecting their skills in the hotel trade and have now opted to keep the family business by running it from the family home.

I made this walk to the seafront hotel twice a day from the front door of Alvastrada...

The covered shop fronts of Llandudno can be quite grand and ornate but this was the first one I met all those years ago and indeed on my trip to the seafront hotel.

Holy Trinity Church Llandudno
Half down the next block The Holy Trinity church appears through the trees on the left just before Mostyn Street (the main street).

Holy Trinity Church Llandudno
When Llandudno was developing as a Victorian tourist resort in 1860, it was decided to build a church to cater for the English speaking visitors as Welsh was predominately spoken in similar style churches. Following the design and acquisition of the land, the building was completed in 1872. The Tower was built in 1892 with the church bells being installed the following year.

The short walk eastwards along Mostyn street demonstrates the late 19th century architecture and development of the main street. Some more appealing from the outside than the inside ...

Pebbles Fish and Chips, Llandudno
... although Pebble, according to the signs outside, is an award winning Fish and Chip restaurant with a takeaway service available including ice cream. To escape the routine pub food on the first few evenings, I decided to sample the fish pie. Despite being delicious, I was disappointed with the poor portion size, then again, I have to think what I paid for it and it constituted good value for money.

(Broadway Hotel Llandudno)
Broadway Hotel at the end of Mostyn Street was built in 1865 for the Victorian tourist boom with the main advantage of being near the railway station, shops and sea front. The size of the Hotel at 28 bedrooms would seem manageable during the difficult British seaside trading times of the late 20th century and has consequently had a revamp in recent times. As an additional point of interest, they state on their website that "we charge £5 a day for small well behaved dogs" !!

Empty Seat Street (Mostyn Street Llandudno)

Summer and Lamp street (Imperial Hotel Llandudno)

The remnants of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations are evident on the final section of my walk.

Arrival at seafront hotels

Entrance with a view (Tynedale Hotel Llandudno)

Mother (Tynedale Hotel Llandudno)
I usually managed to spend some quality time with my Mother between 4pm and 5:30pm each day...

Little Orme Llandudno from Tynedale Hotel

...  where we could sit and enjoy the wonderful views looking out to sea and along the promenade ...

...  enjoy a quality cup of tea from the bar ...

...and a decent amount of Photography :-)    (Tynedale Hotel, Llandudno)

Imperial Hotel Llandudno
However on one particular morning it was time to return back down "Summer street" and take in (... and out !! ... haha) a bit of colour !

The Habit, Mostyn Street, Llandudno
Passing by The Habit (for nostalgia purposes, the very first place I ever ate in Wales) which is still going strong I'm pleased to see, but I had an appointment with a breakfast table !!

Trinity Trove Antiques, Llandudno
The Guard dog in the antique shop in the same block as Just Jents was looking resplendent in his security uniform. He would probably enjoy more freedom and wishing he was a bit smaller by paying the extra £5 at The Broadway Hotel !!

Lastly after a delicious breakfast, it was time to return and see where the coach driver was going to drive to next...

Find out in the next instalment ...   !!!!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Taking a break 3 ...

Alternatively titled ... "I'm back, red's a start as I warm up to blogging again.

I'm about to open the door on a new chapter in blog land as I try to overcome the difficulties that I have faced in recent times with my photographic naivety on the internet and juggling 4 or 5 issues in reality that seem to have conflicting interests. I step back on board with a new photo library, a new hard drive on the computer with a few experimental ideas. A comment from someone who doesn't follow me said "If I can do it, any one can". I would like to repeat that everyone seems to have a system that works for them and "it's only easy if you know how"! I tried the 30 day photoshop elements program trial but the watermark didn't work for me as cropped images produced ridiculous outsize results and the whole program didn't work well as it produced a "corrupted file" that didn't correspond with anything that I was being told on the forum pages.
Surprisingly on a different note, with little blog activity since I last posted on 14th February (3 and 1/2 months), I can't quite believe the average of 2400 page views a month in previous blog posts.

In this post, apart from two different kinds of experimentation that has given me an occasional idea, I want to give you a brief insight into what I've been up to in recent months. I will in due course publish a post on about 75% of the photographic content.
Without giving too much away, there is great meaning behind the dull images and the small amount of colour depicted here.

The opening image was the main focus of a countryside winter road walk to the Feathers in Northumberland. This was the second of two walks that I did with one of the associate walking groups of the Scarborough sand castle manager !! The food was unbelievably good cooked from local food sources.

My Scarborough Sandcastle manager is a man with fingers in many "figurative pies" and he has been attempting to start up a social group that meets once a month in a trendy cafe style venue with meals and other social activities to be added as the group becomes larger. I was asked to take some photos of the ... err ... red hot venue !! for some future advertising.

The sports season ticket that I possess is for the Newcastle Eagles basketball team who play at home on most friday nights from September to April. Although British Basketball is not comparable in standard to teams in the USA or some parts of Europe, my team has done rather well last season. One can't ask any more from a team to play for Four trophies and win them all, a feat that has only been achieved twice before in British Basketball history, once by the then Chester Jets and another occasion for the Newcastle Eagles. As many of you know I'm not a portrait or people photographer, but I was allowed on court afterwards alongside members of the press to capture the moment.... maybe I looked like one of them :-) The image above is a post match BBL trophy win press interview with the inspirational player / coach Fab Flourney on the left and high scoring Charles Smith on the right.

In February I had the opportunity to travel to Lisbon with seven friends from Yorkshire to see some amazing sights. As you can see not everyone was enthralled by the scenery but I have to say that Lisbon requires the most comfortable shoes as it can be a weary experience walking constantly on small, beautiful but tiring street tiles !!

A trip that I had planned for some time was a charity trip to South Africa at Easter time. This was an amazing experience with Willing Hands to see first hand how money was being spent on HIV and Orphanage projects. I found it was warm enough not to require the services of a hat !!

I've spent a lot of time playing in the church band of late and this particular occasion I had the view from my seat at a wedding during February. This image reminds me that I should be updating my equipment.

Since the Lisbon trip, I have been spending a lot more time on the A1 and M1 motorway visiting Sheffield, albeit at most awkward times of the day and night a lot more frequently in recent months.
I have been familiarising myself with some of the surrounding countryside. The classic postcard view of Bakewell from the opposite side of the bridge is no longer possible thanks the the overgrown tree in the centre, so I thought I'd draw attention to how the size of a tree should be at such an important viewpoint !!

The health of my Mother is stable with progress of two steps forward and then when I am least expecting ... two steps back. In the rotation of saturday life, we go for a drive in the car to a local town for a day of interesting shopping, eating and general sightseeing. One such place is the Northumberland town of Morpeth. It is unfortunate that my favourite shop (Appleby's bookshop) is closing down because of the loss of business due to the unending roadworks a little too close to home for them. I cannot begin to tell you how many budget travel books I have bought from this shop in the past. Most of them at the moment are for reference only but some of them in my collection are still sitting there waiting to be .... "read" !!

Lastly an image from a Bakers shop window in a suburb of Sheffield. As it is Jubilee weekend with Queen Elizabeth (Long live the Queen !) being on the throne for 60 years that warrants an exception to the rule of this post and allowing a second colour here ;-) ... small steps. Hope those of you who are celebrating the event enjoy the weekend. I'm off to Sheffield on monday night for a garden party where 40 people are attending. Here's hoping that the only thing that is not british about the event is the weather !!

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