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Didn't expect to see that...

Updated: May 27, 2019

Merthyr Mawr is a tiny village of 267 people in South Wales. Behind its church, in an open covered area, is an extraordinary collection of early medieval stones, dating from the 5th century AD onwards. Veritably a hidden treasure.

An outdoor laundrette. Behind a service station, standing rather forlornly next to a field. There's a beach about 200 yards away, the other side of a major road. Seems like an odd place to go and wash one's clothes. Indeed there was no one around.

Trwyn Du lighthouse, at the eastern end of Anglesey. I was there on a moderately sunny and delightfully still day, but nevertheless there was a solemn bell tolling every 30 seconds. Apparently this is the fog signal. It was impossible not to wonder for whom the bell was tolling...

Llanbadrig (St Patrick) Church, Cemaes, Anglesey. Founded 440 AD, when Bishop Patrick was wrecked en route to convert Ireland to Christianity. (Bishop Patrick eventually made it to Ireland and was to become the country's patron saint.) In the 19th century, the church was renovated, with the support of Lord Stanley of Alderly. He had fallen in love with a Spanish woman who was a Moslem. He converted. So when he funded the renovations at Llanbadrig, he insisted that Islamic designs be incorporated. So it contains blue Islamic-design tiles and stained glass windows. A wonderful mix!

This is the beginning of a murmuration of starlings. As Richard and I walked into Aberystwyth we were greeted by a glorious murmuration over the pier. Here’s a link to a beautiful Youtube video of a murmuration: you can see why its been viewed 2.6 million times!

This is a memorial to a sailor from the "Royal Charter" which was wrecked off Anglesey's coast in 1859, with the loss of 450 lives. If you're ever having a bad day, think about these passengers. They were returning from Australia, many of them gold prospectors bringing back their gold nuggets. They were almost home, within a few miles of Liverpool, when a storm blew up. The master was advised to shelter in Holyhead, but he decided to press on to Liverpool. Eventually they anchored offshore to ride out the storm, but the anchor cables broke and the ship was forced onto the rocks, as the steam engines were not strong enough to push back against the waves. The ship broke up on the rocks, just 20-30 yards offshore. Nearly everyone aboard died, as they were dashed against the rocks; some were reputedly weighed down by the gold strapped around their bodies. Only 39 people were rescued, because this sailor managed to swim ashore with a line. After this disaster - the largest loss of life on the Welsh coast - the weather service instituted a gale warning service.

On my last day in Anglesey I jumped up with excitement upon seeing a red squirrel. The squirrel wasn't impressed, and scarpered pronto. As I missed the squirrel I took a picture of the sign. Red squirrels have been wiped out of southern England by grey squirrels and in the 1990s there were only 40 left on Anglesey, but a determined effort by local residents means that this number has increased again now, and they can be spotted in several areas of the island. Another good reason to visit this wonderful part of Wales!

The Mad Hatter, Llandudno. The real Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell, holidayed as a child with her family for many years in Llandudno; hence the statues all around the town.

A spectacular one-armed lifting bridge near Rhyl.

Never seen a maximum speed sign for 29 mph before...

Hmmm, not sure about catching that train...

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