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12th July 2007

Holiday @ 11:05

Current Grassiness: pensive pensive

There's 16 days until my annual two week holiday begins. This year, as with other years, I am keen to go to Wales. Mrs Gnomepants is keen to spend as little as possible. I'm still going to push for Wales though, maybe with a stop off in Liverpool for a couple of nights so that we can catch up with those people we don't normally have time to meet up with.



Whilst thinking about the holiday I've realised that the next three years could see a change from the norm due to the approaching financial low spot. This may result in spending less time on holiday and going places where there is little or no cost. While camping is cheap and fun it can still be the costly side of cheap. If that makes sense. Next year every penny will count.

Anyway, while I've been musing and fantasising about going to Wales, I got thinking about the way my Dad used to take us to Porthmadog in the 70's and 80's. Instead of taking the A55 along the north coast through Conwy and then down the A470 through to Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog we would scuttle down the A494 via Mold and through Denbighshire to Ruthin and Bala before gimbling down the A4212 which goes round the beautiful Llyn Celyn.

During this time my Dad drove a yellow MkI Ford Escort. It had vinyl seat coverings. Alighting from the car on a hot day would always result in cries of pain as you left the upper epidermal layer of your thighs on the black seat coverings. Regardless of this inconvenience, it seemed like we would always stop at Llyn Celyn and have our lunch while my mum told us about the village that was flooded to make the Llyn.

Lunch on such occasions nearly always consisted of cold bacon sandwiches on white bread with a thickish layer of butter or margarine. The sandwiches would be wrapped in silver or aluminium foil and they would be accompanied by a melted KitKat and a cup of warm milky coffee served from a tartan thermos flask. We would eat our lunch at the road side picnic tables and watch the rest of the holiday making public go past to their destinations. This seemed to be a traditional repast in the Gnomepants household as whenever my Auntie Joyce took us on picnics, the same fayre would be served (though more often than not accompanied by sweets and cake).

Our hearty lunch devoured, we would then continue on our route, down some twisty bendy B Road across the Snowdonian moors bypassing Blaenau and then down the A487, along the causeway (paying our 5p toll...heh) before pulling into Porthmadog itself to do the grocery shopping that would see us through the week of staying in Uncle Nat's caravan.


In case you don't know From Left to Right:- Me mam, our Carl (avec trainee scouser moustache), me (the little one at the front in the Paddington Bear tshirt), me dad (balding one) and our Chris (looking thin there, now he's a bit chunky).



The caravan was near the fabled Black Rock Sands in a caravan site called Greenacres. Now it has its own swimming pools, luxury static caravans, security watch towers and special 4x4 Chelsea Tractor parking facilities, Cocaine snorting area and swinging club. Back then, in the 1970's/80's it was a basic caravan site with a small amusement arcade containing table top Asteroids and Space Invaders. If you wanted a swim you would nip down to the beach and paddle in the sewage outflow safe in the knowledge that nasty diseases and child snatchers hadn't been invented. (Now you need to take a prepreswimmingpoolshowershower, a preswimmingpoolshower and a swimming poolshower before you are even allowed to look at the swimming pool, then you are required to have a postswimmingpoolshower, a postswimmingpoolshowershower and then remain in quarantine for a week incase you pass something on to one of the precious little darlings that people insist on taking on holiday). The sea was unimaginably cold. Well. I suppose you lot that live out near the flipping North Pole (robynz,zelest and think4yrself for example) would probably scoff at me saying that. But Cardigan Bay was bloody cold.

Of course, at this time nasty skin cancer causing ultraviolet rays and holes in the ozone layer hadn't been invented and if it wasn't for my fair complexion requiring me to wear a tshirt when I went swimming which although protected my torso, didn't do much for the arms and legs. Added to that, I wasn't the strongest of swimmers because I had ear problems as a child and wasn't allowed to go in water incase I did damage to the surgery. Not that it did like. All that meant was I couldn't swim very well until I was about 10. But I digress. Greenacres also had acres and acres of sand dunes to explore and views of the Carn Fadrun, the Snowdonian mountains and Harlech Castle.

Further along the beach cars were permitted to drive. Two things stick in my mind about this privilege, the first being my first ever "drive" of a car. When the beach was quieter my dad would take the Escort onto the beach and I would sit on his knee and turn the wheel while he operated the pedals. The second thing being that often people would park their cars on the beach then bumble off to the pub or somewhere further along the beach to enjoy themselves. This would frequently result in people forgetting to check the tidal times and hilarity would ensue when cocky holiday makers would return to find their car somewhere in the middle of Cardigan Bay. Of course you wouldn't get that today. Pretentious wankers in their smart pristeine cars would probably have some sort of tidal early warning system hot wired into their brain. Also the "risk" of having a car on the beach would probably be too great and the council have probably stopped the practice of cars on the beach in case someone mistakes a Porche for a tube of Smarties and chokes. Or in case it incenses someone's religious beliefs or some other PC crap.

Happy times. Irreplaceable times. These days Porthmadog is spoilt by the frightful hordes of frightful families in 4x4s and other fat arsed cars. Screaming overly spoilt and cotton wool wrapped kids, disenchanted husbands and hyper-fussy mothers who either don't give a shit about their kids or give too much of a shit about their kids. Cafe Bars, expensive boutiques, surf shops, stinky burger bars and snooty retired pensioners trying to recapture their lost childhood in their autumn years. But I doubt kids today have as much fun as I did dicing with death and mistaking cars for tubes of smarties when I was their age. This year I would love to travel to Wales along that route described. Eat cold bacon sandwiches and drink warm milky coffee from a tartan thermos flask. I long to stand on the platform of the Ffestiniog Light Railway, inhale the steam from the trains and admire the view across Cardigan Bay. Relive part of the magic but not all. Before such practices are banned because someone might get offended or some boffin discovers that there is too much salt in cold bacon sandwiches or that holidaying in Wales is bad for the environment. Happy fond times.

Thankyou for reading. There's more here if you want it
 
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From:das_clive
Date:12th July 2007 10:20 (UTC)
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Hear bloody hear!

I loved reading that... it reminded me of many family holidays spent in Newport or at Cardigan bay... every year, straight after the last day of summer term, we'd wend our way down through Wales (through Mold too! Hee hee... sounds like "mould"!!) with a car packed - and I mean packed with all the stuff we'd need for a week in a beach-side holiday home. This mostly included loads of toys and loads of food. I used to love the journey down - remember all those splashing little streams you'd see tumbling down the steep, flinty hillsides that flanked the road? And the funny place names? (Like Cardigan for a start!?). Dead good.

I miss holidays like that. They're the kind I'm going to have when I have kids. Tartan thermos and everything. (Had one of them too!). Actually I'm gonna have to get me one of those. I wonder if you can still get them....
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 10:35 (UTC)
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I believe I saw a tartan thermos for sale in Boots though how recent this was I cannot remember.

We took my mum and dad for a weekend in Aberdaron a couple of years ago and my mum exclaimed with delight "Look its the rock that's always wet" as we trundled down the A470 after Blaenau. I responded with "Thats because its a waterfall" in my "oh dear she's getting old and senile at 65. Quick put her in a home" tone of voice.

I have a great fondness for that part of the world. In a snobbish kind of way I get all uppity when I hear it mentioned in trendy holiday guides and in the "You can only holiday here if you are frightful" sections of the weekend broadsheets. Selfishly I don't want people to go on holiday there in case, like in the 1996 Alex Garland novel, The Beach, frightful types move in and destroy the place with their holiday homes and frightful families. It has, in someway and some places, already occured with villages becoming seasonally empty and house prices comparitive to those in the poshest parts of Surrey. But the one thing they can't take away is the happy memories, the picturesque scenery or the joy of sipping lukewarm milky coffee from a battered tartan thermos flask.
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From:zoefruitcake
Date:12th July 2007 10:44 (UTC)
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if you go to a car boot sale you'll have many tartan flasks to choose from
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From:billzy
Date:12th July 2007 10:30 (UTC)
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Arrrrr memories...

Great entry... Reminds me of holidays with my mum when i was little :)
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 10:36 (UTC)
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Where did you go on family holidays as a kid?
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From:billzy
Date:12th July 2007 10:39 (UTC)
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Llandudno and Weston-Super-Mare stick out in my mind :)
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 10:46 (UTC)
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Ah! Llandudno. The Great Orme. The beautiful ornate Victorian architecture. Eating doughnuts and candyfloss on the pier and relief at passing Rhyl without stopping. I have fond memories of Llandudno too, though I've never actually holiday'd there we did often take day trips to the Orme to visit my holidaying grandparents.

It has changed so much since I last went there and I believe the cable car to the top of the Orme suffered a fatality last year as some suicidal woman decided to drop out of the car onto the ground below. A result of which I imagine would probably be the closure of the cable cars. Not that I'd ever go up on the rusty looking things again like.

I've never been to Weston-super-Mare. Been past it in the car and seen it from across the Severn Estuary from Cardiff but I've never actually stopped there. I imagine it to be a South West coast version of Blackpool or Scarborough.
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From:billzy
Date:12th July 2007 10:52 (UTC)
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Llandudno is amazing :) If i dont get the chance to emigrate to Australia then i can see myself retiring there... I love the pier and the prom. Ive been there for breaks sooo many times since with GF's and such. On the way to Ireland i will probably stop there for a few hours :)

Your right about the cable car, done it once, i prefer the tram :) Some woman did commit suicide from one... What a way to go....

I havnt been to WSM for YEARS - my mum went and said its all been done up...
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From:tvor
Date:12th July 2007 11:08 (UTC)
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That's a shame about the cable car. we went on that last year in May i think it was. Oh wait, no. It was the tram we were on, not the cable car.
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 12:21 (UTC)
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The cable car is ancient. I think Cro-Magnon man had it installed it's that old. Llandudno is spectacular though :-)
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From:zoefruitcake
Date:12th July 2007 10:43 (UTC)
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wasn't allowed to go in water incase I did damage to the surgery

yet another case of you being me, except being posh we always holidayed abroad so it was always the med I couldn't attempt to swim in and avoid the burning

I know what you mean about camping always ending up pricer than you'd think it would be
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 10:52 (UTC)
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Oooh get you! posh and in the Med eh? ;-)

I've worked out if we do 5 nights in Aberdaron at £7 a pitch (basic shower facilities and tins of beans every night) and a further 7 nights in Anglesey at £10 a pop we shouldnt eat too much into our budget. You might think that £7 is a bargain but I can tell you the price increased by £2 over 5 years. Shocking behaviour if you ask me.
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From:peaceful_fox
Date:12th July 2007 11:01 (UTC)
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Wow. This was an excellent post!!!!
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 12:19 (UTC)
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Thankyou :-)

From:jimrock
Date:12th July 2007 11:09 (UTC)
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were new york bound 2 weeks today. Are you up for Zodiac Mindwarp in wakey park next w`kend?
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 12:18 (UTC)
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I heard about your New Yorking. I'm sure you'll have a massive time. Please bring me back a can of root beer.

As for ZMW&LR in "Wakefield Bowl", I am aware of the event and, while not entirely my cup of tea, coffee or horlicks I'll probably be there too.
From:jimrock
Date:12th July 2007 13:14 (UTC)
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 12:16 (UTC)
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Holidays today just don't compare. Caravans with all mod cons, tents the size of temples and air conditioned cars.

Nothing can rival the feeling of actually melting because there is NO AIR whatso ever in a hot car with black vinyl seats despite having all the windows open. Nor can anything compare to having to live in a corrugated tin shed on wheels that rattles when the wind blows for a week with nought to do when it rains but a half completed bumper book of puzzles.

Really, kids today know nothing of hardship. Time for a resession I think.
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From:fj_warren
Date:12th July 2007 12:25 (UTC)
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I loved reading this post too, but I feel left out - sniff - :-( Growing up on a farm I didn't have holidays! Just the odd occasion when you shot off to the beach and rushed back home to see to the animals! All the tourists say: "But you're so lucky, you can go to these places any time you want!" Yeah, right! As if you spend your life visiting tourist traps just because you live 2 miles away from them.

I can remember Sunday evenings in St Ives when the locals lived there and before it got 'done up' to suit the tastes of the 'emmets'. It was quiet and the only sound you heard was the singing of choirs from the chapels and the occasional screech from a seagull. It was, at that time, one of the most religious communities in Cornwall. Needless to say those days are gone and will never return, but the peace of a summer's evening with the sound of "Rock of Ages" filling the harbour, the warmth of the setting sun on your face, the lack of the all pervading stench of sun tan lotion mixed with beer, and that lovely local dialect - St Ives people sing when they speak, they really do! - are distant memories now. Like your memories they never fade, they just live on in your head, to be pulled out and smiled over on an 'if only' day! Like you said Mr Stegs, Happy fond times! :-)
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 12:58 (UTC)
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I visited St Ives in the 80's.

We stayed in the bottom floor of a three storey terrace on Lower Teetotal Street. How we laughed because mum and dad enjoyed the odd tipple. All I can remember of the flat was the nasty rust stain in the bath.

Anyway, my stay in St Ives was a pleasant one. Incomparable to the holidays in Wales as it was just me and my parents. But none the less a quiet picturesque sleepy little seaside village.

Years later (seven years ago to be precise) I saw St Ives on TV. MY GOD WHAT HAVE THEY DONE!!?!

Its like people told their friends what a lovely place it was, their friends told their friends and before St Ives knew it the place was hijacked by frightful people and it seemed that it would be forever spoilt. Likewise this realisation hit me with the Llyn Peninsula (of which I shall post about tomorrow) frightful people were going to these sacred and beautiful places instead of sodding off to Corfu or Greece.

In effect they had been forced out of their holiday sanctuaries by the unwashed, who travelled there by cheap package deals instead of holidaying in Rhyl or some awful Blackpool B&B. So to overcome this, the frightfuls stay in the UK in the "unspoilt" areas. Great tactics, but the unwashed look at the frightfuls and think "I wanna bit of that" and they too seek cheap thrills and kiss me kwik hats in what were once sacred and peaceful places spreading their awful destruction and disruption on the way.

I'm a terrible snob when it comes to picturesque places. To me holidaying responsibly means only telling those that wont try to capitalise on prostituting such beautyspots to their friends or the public. Alas I'm a minority and beautiful places such as St Ives and Aberdaron are rapidly turning into Chav-on-Sea.
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From:lotusmoppet
Date:12th July 2007 17:05 (UTC)
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Yes! Yes! Wales!

Only reading that now I have the intense craving (and current inability) to go there, myself. :-/

Love the photos, too - you're sucking your thumb...
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From:stegzy
Date:12th July 2007 18:05 (UTC)
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nah...I think I'm looking at the photographer through a little toy magnifying glass.

But indeed! Wales!! Get saving up and come over again! ;-)
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From:aladdin_sane
Date:13th July 2007 11:43 (UTC)

inhale the steam from the trains

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From:stegzy
Date:13th July 2007 11:44 (UTC)

Re: inhale the steam from the trains

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Trains. Not drains.
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From:aladdin_sane
Date:13th July 2007 12:05 (UTC)

Re: inhale the steam from the trains

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is that like "coal not dole"?
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From:technophobe1975
Date:29th May 2010 09:43 (UTC)
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Oh God yes, the unbearable pain of spending all day in a car with vinyl seats (ours was a Morris Marina) wearing shorts and then leaving half your skin behind when you finally escape into the fresh air.
And I had exactly the same t-shirt as you!

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