Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Biking in Snowdonia - Monday

We started the day with another very hearty breakfast, then sat in the upstairs lounge to make a few notes about where we had been and what we had done. Then it was back to the bike, and out for another sunny day of touring.

Sir had planned to head south and west towards Pwllheli, but we got a bit distracted when we spotted a sign for 'Caernafon Airworld', and ended up making a detour to Caernafon airport instead. That then led us along the beautiful Llyn Peninsula - and eventually to us following a brown 'scenic route' sign in Nefyn, which in turn led us up over a moor and to a second scary sign that declared 'Danger: Steep and narrow road!'. What could we do but follow it...?

Multiple hairpin bends and switchbacks, stunning views, and a near vertical descent that had the pup gripping its Man's thighs for dear life, ended up depositing us at the amazingly beautiful and remote Nant Gwrtheyrn: an old quarry village that has been renovated as a heritage centre and Welsh language school. Unusually for us, they were having a special 'kiddies day' so the whole place was heaving with toddlers and mothers (and one rather darkly handsome dad...), but they also had a very nice caffi, so we stopped for something cool whilst we drank in the view.




Heading back to the bike, we chatted to one of the ladies from the cafe, who told us of a beautiful Inn across the bay in Porth Dinllaen - so we headed back up the switchback road and over the hills to see if we could get there for lunch. We managed to find Morfa Nefyn, and followed a steep little beach road that looked like it headed in the right direction - but we came to a dead-end by a beautiful little beach. Luckily, a sweet old lady who was our walking her dogs in a mobility scooter put us right - but not before some very friendly chatter about how lovely our bike was, and how she'd swap for her scooter if we liked...! We finally managed to make our way to a Nation Trust Carpark, were the attendant informed us that the Ty Coch Inn was only accessible by a 20 minute walk along the beach - and kindly suggested that it might be a little bit far for us to manage in 80 degree heat wearing full leathers and motox boots...! It's a shame, because the view was beautiful and the reviews amazing. Ah well, next time perhaps...


Undeterred, we headed back over the peninsula to Abersoch (with its beautiful little harbour, stunning views, and incredibly posh luxury developments that reminded me of Sandbanks in Poole), then we doubled back to pass through Pwllehli and on to Criccieth and it's romantic Castle, were, finally wilting in the heat, we stopped at the incredibly charming Blue China Tea Rooms for a much needed pot of tea, a nice bit of banter with the owner - and some very lovely treacle tart and home-baked bara brith.



Feeling a little more rejuvenated - but far too hot for much more travel - we then headed on to Porthmadog and a much shorter route home to the hotel.

We finished the day with a long cooling dip in the pool (and a very proud pup managing several lengths doing a half-arsed back-crawl and a couple of widths attempting a front crawl with a float tucked in my speedos, whilst his Man coached him and cheered him on!) and a nice simple Chinese meal at Fu's on the marina - before returning to the end of the Dock to watch one more perfect sunset - and a wonderful photo by Sir of the pup silhouetted against the fading light...




Sunday, June 25, 2017

Biking in Snowdonia - Sunday

We had had rather a late night, so we slept in until quite late and only just make it down for breakfast in time - then, stuffed with hash browns and poached eggs, we took ourselves out for a morning stroll to gauge the air and the weather for the day: heading through the walled town and over the Pont-y-Aber swing bridge and out along the foreshore Road, before curiously following a buzzing camera drone back along to the Marina, there to find a horde of bare-chested, wet-suited guys being briefed for their day of ThunderCat racing. Oh my!



Our Hotel had a lovely pool, so Sir suggested we slip into our budgie-smugglers and head for a swim. I'm told that I learnt to swim way back as a wee-child at primary school, but I'm really not very confident, and rarely go near a pool unless I'm dragged there - but Sir coaxed me into the water and then turned into the best swimming coach I could ever have hoped for! He soon had me doggy-paddling, then practicing my kicks with a float - and before I knew it I was even managing a length on my back! Exhilarated but exhausted, it was then a long soak in the whirlpool and a slow cook in the sauna (forgetting that my nice padlocked metal dog-collar would get rather hot in the process...!). Feeling rejuvenated, we then pulled on our leathers and headed out for a day of touring.

Sir decided to head north along the Menai Strait, so we made a quick stop to fill up, then headed on to Bangor, and a gentle stroll along the lovely Bangor pier in the perfect sunshine. Sir brought His spy-glass, so we had fun gazing across the straits at the beautiful houses on Anglesey - picking the ones that we would have, were we rich enough. We also spotted a few jelly-fish drifting in the tide below the pier - and were lightly teased by both an old lady out 'people-watching' with her knitting and an ice-cream seller for being somewhat 'overdressed' for the sun in our full leathers... I would happily have taken the chance to cool down with a stop at one of the many tea-rooms we passed, but Sir seemed rather reticent - unknown to me, He already had a plan....



Hopping back onto the bike Sir took us through Bangor and over the beautiful Menai Suspension Bridge (with the pup making appropriate 'OOOh!' noises for Sir), then we doubled back to follow the Beach Road underneath the bridge and past all the picnickers - then made our way along through the cool tree-tunnelled Beaumaris Road, trying to find the same lovely houses and hotels that we'd spotted from the pier.

We trundled through Beaumaris itself - avoiding the tourist coaches around the castle - ostensibly looking for somewhere to stop for tea, but Sir said He hadn't really seen anywhere 'nice' so we headed on further - until He 'unexpectedly' spotted a roadside sign and turned off down a bumpy old road, past some of the most amazing beaches with views across the strait to the mountains beyond, and finally pulled up by a ruined Priory and a strange little man taking tolls; the road only got worse - with the pup whimpering, as he knows how his Man normally hates to ride on gravel - only for the track to open out at Penmon Point with a lovely view of the Menai lighthouse and Puffin Island. It was only then that Sir 'confessed' to having planned to stop here all along - and treated His pup to a huge and very satisfying cream tea at the Pilot House Cafe, with the sun glittering on the sea whilst the Lighthouse bell tolled every few minutes - and an overly friendly pigeon tried to land on one of the other diner's hat!


Sated and cooled, we headed back through Beaumaris to make a short stop to marvel at the gothic majesty of Chateau Rhianfa - then we headed back over the Bridge and onto the A55 coast road (snaking through tunnels like the best Amalfi coast roads) to Conwy and the Victorian splendor of Llandudno.

We pootled around through the town, admiring the Victorian iron work, then climbed the hill towards the Great Orme. We had half hoped to be able to catch one of the trams but we got there just too late to make the last one - so Sir dropped into 2nd gear and we headed on up on our own - passing both the last tram and several cable-cars on our way. The view from the top was spectacular: west to Anglesey and east to Liverpool and the Formby coast (I swear I could almost see my parent's house!), so we stopped for a long cool pint of lemon-and-lime to take in the view.





We fancied taking the scenic route back, so decided to take the hairpin horror of St. Tudno's Road past the old church - finally joining with Marine Drive to take a lazy ride around the whole Orme - and spotting both the amazing Lighthouse B&B, and a stunning towered house for sale (sadly, both beyond our price range I think...). Back in the town it was one last bumble to look at hotels (and a narrowly missed collision with a land-train) before finally making our way back home to Caernafon.


We stripped and changed, then headed into town to look for a bite to eat - which proved rather difficult as everywhere seemed to close on Sundays and Mondays; lucky that we weren't actually too hungry! We finally wandered into Copa as they were closing their restaurant, were a very nice barman persuaded his cook to rustle us up a nice 4 cheese pizza and some ginger beer before the ovens cooled down too far - which we took over to the Castle walls, so we could sup and eat and watch the most perfect of sunsets over the straits.






Sir had an unexpected surprise when we had finished - and was hailed by an ex-NHSDirect colleague, who recognised His voice as we were tidying away our rubbish and called us over to chat; her husband was an ex-police biker too, so we had quite a good chat about the pleasures of riding a Honda Pan European...

We ended the day by wandering over to the Victoria Dock, and one last gaze at the sunset over the flats.

Such a perfect day!


Friday, June 23, 2017

Biking in Snowdonia - Saturday

It has been a long while since Sir and I had a long bike-trip together, so the pup was feeling very excited to finally be heading off for our long planned tour of Snowdonia and North Wales...!

The dog had worked hard to arrange some nice weather (I might, in fact, have slightly overdone it, as it turned out to be the hottest week of the year so far...!), so we packed light and started off early to give us a nice long, slow ride up through the country...

Sir took us up through Ledbury and Leominster first, then made a very welcome stop at the Westonbury Mill Water Gardens for tea and cake. It was then on to Rhayader and LLanidoes, were we joined the B4518 to run up through mid Wales - and a breathless stop beside the absolutely stunning Llyn Clwedog reservoir - although we sadly just missing closing time for the caffi, and had to make do with a mint from the pup's pocket instead...!


A short ride took us onto the A470 - and Sir's second favourite road in Wales, as it gently winds its way up into the Snowdonia National Park. It was a perfect road for biking: long sweeping roads that gently rise over moorlands and up into the mountains, with every corner opening up a whole new breathaking vista before us... It was a beautiful ride as we zoomed past the Llyn Trawsfynydd and on to Blaenau Ffestiniog - with Sir pointing out the mountain quarry were He had recently joined a few of the guys from the Gay Bikers for a day at the spectacular Zip World (which is not a YKK emporium, as you might think, but a breathtaking zip-wire experience...!).

Down from the mountains, it was then into the cooler, tree-lined roads through the Gwydir Forrest, and time for a much needed ice-cream stop amongst all the bikers in Betws-y-Coed to cool ourselves down.

From there, Sir took us onto the A4086, to fly past Glyder Fawr, up over the Pen-Y-Pass and into Snowdon's shadow - then slowly amble past Llanberis and the 'Electric mountain' at Gorsaf Gynhrchu Dinowig before finally making our way to Caernafon and our lovely hotel for the weekend.



We've stayed at The Celtic Royal before, on our way back from Dublin, so we knew that we were going to be treated well - and we were: with a nice big room at the back, overlooking the rock at Afon Cadnant. Feeling a little saddle sore after our long day we checked in, dropped our bags and changed into jeans, then strolled down into the town to stretch our legs. We were surprised to find lots of army vans and a huge Royal Engineers crane beside the castle walls, and two Naval cutters in the Marina together with numerous tents and rib-boats; we later discovered that there was both a special Army Services Day and the ThunderCat Racing festival that weekend.

Hungry by now, we decided to look for food - Sir's first choice was fully booked, but we found a nice table at the Stones Bistro, were Sir had a very nice Pan-fried Haddock, and the pup got adventurous with some absolutely gorgeous Canederli dumplings - and both of us stuffed ourselves cross-eyed with a scrumptious meringue roulade.


We ended what had been an absolutely perfect day by taking a long, cooling stroll around the Castle walls, watching a beautiful sunset. Then it was back to the hotel for shower and bed - although the pup and it's naughty-tongue still managed to keep Sir hot and bothered until way after midnight...


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Give em hell, Sly Hands

Like many in the crazy extended family that is our Fetish community, I am shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Si Hands
Sly was a unique and utterly inspiring character: funny, smart and sexy as fuck, founder of the Manchester Rubbermen, a full time rubber wearer and an active perverter - I mean converter - of many to the joys of rubber, a stunningly gifted photographer, and a committed and highly visible advocate for a fully diverse and inclusive scene.
I only really chatted with him on line (mostly fan-boy out-pourings over his photographic work), and was lucky enough to meet him (and his husband, Alex) in person just a few times - but even that very small connection was enough to brighten my life, and inspire me to have genuine pride in just being who I am.

The whole community is grieving - but my deepest and most personal thoughts and heartfelt condolences remain with Alex and Ollie, and with all of Si's family.

Sly we love you, and we're really going to miss you - but at least we will always have your photos to remind us of just what a star you were - and will always be.
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