Quintessentially English

What can be more English than a cricket match by the canal?

I have been thinking about doing a blog closer to home, but never got round to it, until we decided to take a good walk along a local canal, nothing unusual, and found a section nearby we had missed before, and couldn’t stop taking photos.

We often take the dogs along the network of local canals and have been to Fradley Junction many times, and normally turn towards Rugeley, but decided to head the opposite direction this day. As we had already had a good walk that morning, we left Tez dog at home, as her old legs cannot take 2 walks a day now.

We parked up near a bridge over the Coventry Canal and walked the short distance to the Junction where it meets the Trent and Mersey Canal. There is a wonderful signpost just for us there, but we forgot to take a new shot of the the sign, so here is one I took about 10 years ago.




We were greeted by the beautiful Cherry blossom cascading over the tow path. We crossed over the canal and turned right towards Alrewas.

The sun came out for us, and we started enjoying the views of fields and countryside.


After a couple of miles we reached Alrewas, and were enchanted. This village sits mainly alongside the A38 road, and so we only see that side which isn’t the prettiest, but it was saving its best for canal visitors.


First a wonderful graffiti to welcome us as we passed under the road.IMG_2069

Ian spotted the reflections on the roof.


Reggie says hurry up!


There are several pretty locks along this stretch


and what can be more English than a cricket match by the canal?


We then discovered the pretty thatched cottages and gorgeous gardens



I love this old shed in an overgrown garden


The village church was visible over the hedgerows and old oaks tree


We carried on walking past the village to where the River Trent flows across the canal – you don’t see signs like this very often on a canal (photobombed by Reggie)



This bridge is the canal tow-path crossing the riverIMG_2079IMG_1793


Mummy duck posing for a family photo shootIMG_1792

As we had been walking for well over an hour, it was time to retrace our steps, but we still found new views to share


Reggie wasn’t too happy going onto this bridge, but got there with some encouragement


Couldn’t resist this groundsel clinging between the bricks of a bridgeIMG_1785


And finally we returned to Fradley Junction for a well deserved and delicious ice cream.

We will remember to walk this section again!

Stairs, Stiles and Steps

A trip closer to home, but still over the sea

A trip closer to home this time, but still over the sea –  a few days with the dogs in Anglesey. We started with a winding route across the A55 along the north of Wales.

First stop was Talacre – the lighthouse on the end of the Dee Estuary, set in a large sandy beach. As this was April, not many visitors were around.


Reggie loved dashing around the sand, and Tez managed to find the muddly puddles by the lighthouse.

As this was only a pit-stop, and most of Talacre was shut (including the loos) we grabbed a quick drink and carried on our way.

Next stop was Llandudno – Kirsty and Jason had stopped there a few days earlier and suggested we call in. First we parked in a Multi-storey car-park and had to travel down 3 flight of stairs with Metal treads – Reggie did not enjoy this, and had to run down them all, dragging me behind.

We wandered down the prom, and tried to get the beasts to sit and have their photo taken, with limited success.

Next we drove through Conwy, and found out why they use Open topped buses :


I’m not sure a normal bus would fit.

Eventually we crossed the Menai Straits and reached Anglesey, and as time was getting on, we went direct to our cottage.

We were staying in a renovated Gamekeepers cottage amidst the woods on the 500 acre Carreglwyd estate.

We unloaded the car and went to investigate the cottage. It was an upside down cottage, with a steep open flight of stairs up to the lounge, and we soon found that neither Tez or Reggie were willing to climb them.

As our plan for the week was to walk to beaches and pubs, we set off up a footpath towards Church Bay, but our plan failed, after passing through a field of very new born lambs (I daren’t try to use my camera), we came to a stile made of large rocks imbedded in a stone wall, and for the third time that day found that the dogs were on vertical strike, and so were we when we saw the huge puddle the other side, so we retraced our track and started out the main drive towards a pub, but once we reached the village, and had a decent phone signal, we checked opening time, and found it was shut until Thursday, so back to the cottage for salad.

I did get a lovely shot of the view from the drive on our return, looking across to Holy island and Holyhead.


The next day, after being woken by the local pheasants, we started with a drive down to Church Bay, which was deserted, so Reggie had a good run around while Tez pootled about


We walked a short way along the coast path before finding our way blocked by several young cows, who wanted to check out the dogs, but not before, we found these wonderful kissing gates, and this private staircase down to the beach.

The breeze was cool, so we got back to the car and drove north up the Island, looking for a warm drink, as again, the beach café was shut.

A sign to a Jam Factory offering Cream teas caught our eye, and a wonderful quirky place we found. Following storms that removed most of their slate roofs, they had only just started production and opened their café, which appeared to be the farmhouse lounge, but the owners collections, and a lovely cream tea in front of the fire did the trick.

We also bought some jam to take home.

Next stop was Cemaes, which turned out to be a lovely coastal village, with quaint shops and a lovely harbour.

Do you think that chain is big enough to hold the boat?

IMG_1724 cropped

It was getting a bit gloomy, but I couldn’t resist the pastel cottages.

We had lunch and travelled on to Moelfre, with a stream falling thought the middle of the village


Another walk on a beach and my sea-glass collection was improving


We walked round to the RNLI station and looked around the lifeboat


This is for you, Kelsey and Andy – it’s called Kiwi

Last town of the day was Beaumaris, a delightful town with castle and posh shops


And back to the cottage, with this lovely view over a walled garden


and the gate through the wall


As part of every sea-side holiday is fish and chips, Ian kindly drove back to Cemaes to buy dinner – yum.

Day 3, we started with a beach just south of the cottage, again, all to ourselves.


and then crossed over to Holy Island, and visited the South Stack lighthouse, but as the steps were steep, and the dogs on strike, we left them in the car.



and this tower is the RSPB observatory, rather grand.

Our last trek for the day was a longer walk around the south coast of Holy Island to Silver Sands Bay. The car park was accessed via a zig zag narrow road, with several right angle bends – a bit scarey, but luckily nothing came the other way.

Starting in the bay, we walked the Coastal path over the headlands.

The full path does a figure of eight around the car-park, but Tez declared she had done enough walking after the first section, and she’s an old lady, we agreed


After another busy day, we ventured to the local pub as it was now Thursday and open, and it proved well worth the wait. The Black Bull was very friendly, allowing dogs in, and the food was delicious.

We started our last day back down on Church Bay, but the tide was further in, so less room to run, but we still got Reggie out of breathe. Ian then started skimming stones, and Tez decided she’s try to catch them resulting in a wet dog in the car going home!


Again, on Kirsty’s suggestion, we travelled back via Betwy-y-Coed, and then on to Llangollen, which we realised, despite having travelled past many times, we had never stopped in. We found a park next to the river to enjoy our sandwiches, and sadly left Wales behind for now.


Mountain, coast and wildlife

I’ll pick up our travels, and fill in the gaps to Kelseys last post as we continue on our trip through New Zealand North Island.

You left us as we arrived in New Plymouth. We stayed in an apartment with a view of the sea to one side, and Mount Taranaki the other. We took a gentle stroll into town along the coast walkway.


A selfie in one of the sculptures.


New Plymouth likes reflections, seen here in the Len Lye Centre/Govett-Brewster Art Gallery


The contrast between old and new architecture was striking, but charming.


I loved the low sunlight through the clock tower


If you ever in New Plymouth, and want to eat try PaNKaWaLLa for an incredible Indian meal. We shared the buffet and couldn’t finish it, despite our best efforts

We decided to take the Surf Route the next day, with lovely clear views of the mountain we were driving around.


No mistaking Taranaki for the active volcano it is.

The road doesn’t actually follow the coast, but has lots of side roads to surf beaches. We ventured down a couple, trying to find Cape Egmont Lighthouse, but chose the wrong road and found the new lighthouse instead, still beautiful against the blue sky.


The wild coast from Opunake View point.p1070229

Carrying on down the coast, we just had to visit Bulls, after Kelsey had blogged about it.

I’ll resist the puns, but we loved this shop


Eventually we reached Wellington and met up with Andy and Kelsey again, and met my other grand-doggy Higgs.

The following day Andy and Kelsey went to work for the morning, so we walked round to Zealandia, a fully fenced urban ecosanctuary. We had already met some of the birds flying around the area, but got a chance for more up close sightings here, despite the wet weather.




Later that day we ventured off to Martinborough, and enjoyed great food and wine and company for Christmas.

This window was above our bed.


p1070277Higgs enjoyed his presents, while we enjoyed the spread at Poppies Vineyard


Kelsey’s blog has covered the visit to the Pinnacles and Cape Palliser – we were getting our step count in every day.

We returned to Wellington after a super break, and decided to visit Wellington Zoo for a morning.

A lovely zoo set on the hills over Wellington, we got to see most of the animals relaxingimg_1548

As the holiday neared its end we still found time for some walks around upper Wellington, with the awesome panoramas.



And I shall leave you with views of this land, and our transport home, but New Zealand gave us a true goodbye – the earth moved for us as we felt a 5.5 earthquake while in  Wellington Airport. And true to Kiwi form, no-one batted an eyelid.



Goodbye New Zealand, Kia Ora, we will be back.

Coromandel, Lakes and Forgotten World Highway

The Highway hugs the contours of the native forests like a roller coaster

If you’ve missed the adventure in New Zealand so far, visit https://flyallover.net/, thanks to Kelsey.

After we parted company with Andy and Kelsey, we picked up our rental car for the next adventures. Andy had suggested we visit the Coromandel Peninsula, so we made our way down and around the Firth of Thames, and then up the wonderful coastal road up the Coromandel, stopping here and there to enjoy the views.

Our stop for the night was a cabin at Long Bay Motor Camp, at the end of the road to the Long Bay Reserve.

Our cabin at first appeared to be a garage, but once inside, all we could say was WOW.

This is the view from the bed, bliss.img_1425


We were treated to the view of the sun sinking into the sea, and some sea-glass collecting on the beach.

Of course, we had to have wine..


The next morning, after a visit to town, we drove over the peninsula and down the East Coast road, again with superb views.


Next stop was Rotirua, for a second fix at the Luge. We arrived too late for the planned 5 runs, so made do with 3, and once again had huge fun.

Do I need to tell you the views were incredible?img_1438We spent the night at Taupo. Who can fail to be impressed by the snow-topped volcano Tongariro behind a lake with black swans.


Next adventure was the Forgotten World Highway, a twisty road through native forests, a real feel of the wild. A sign at the start of the highways tells you there is no fuel for 155km.

First stop was Nevins Lookout, up a steep hill (close the gate), but with 360 degree views forever.


While waiting for me to catch up, Ian spotted this wasp making her nest on an old fence post.img_0368

From here, the road leaves grassy hills behind and hugs the contours of the native forests like a roller coaster. We stopped at Josh Morgan’s Grave, the surveyor who created this road.


We ended the Highway at Stratford, names after Stratford-on-Avon, with its glockenspiel clock tower.


and on to New Plymouth for the night, were my next blog will pick up the story