Tue 13 Oct: Holyhead to Beaumaris, via Trearddur Bay, Cemaes Bay and Moelfre
Full of the kindly Holyhead crew’s breakfast treat, I set off towards another old haunt. The location of some of the miss-spent but fun parts of my youth. As a schoolboy and later as a (still very young) Airman at nearby RAF Valley, I have many memories of my first stop today, Trearddur Bay. A bit skinnier and paler, but we thought we were Wales’ answer to the Californian surfing scene. Without the regular surf. But we did have every Beach Boys album, a small Fletcher speedboat and some water skis.
It turns out that the Trearddur Bay LOM is Jack Abbott (RAF, Retd) who was on the 1st line crew at Valley at the same time that I was in the hangar on 2nd line service & maintenance. i.e., he used to send in sick or broken aircraft (Gnats) to us to fix & send back out to him. Those were the days. Grazed knuckles, hydraulic fluid and out-of-balance moments. More time for reminiscing over tea & biscuits in Jack’s new(ish) Lifeboat station. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.
Another beautiful setting on another glorious day for cycling. It’s a hard life, this retirement lark. Onwards via Valley. The sight & sound of pairs of fast jet trainers hasn’t changed much, except the Gnats were replaced by Hawks many years ago and there are far fewer aircraft now.
Back on a clockwise coastal route to Cemaes Bay for a quick peep at Dad’s old house and at the Charles Henry Ashley, a beautifully restored 1907 Lifeboat moored in the small harbour. No such thing as a quick peep. I spied a character proudly surveying the Harbour goings-on from the raised veranda of his extended boat house. Couldn’t resist a quick “Ahoy There!” as I passed beneath. It didn’t take long to establish that, not only was this the very chap who had rescued the C. H. Ashley and raised the funds to restore it, but also, long, long ago he happened to be my art (pottery) teacher at Holyhead. Dafydd Williams! A character indeed. Before I knew it, I was hauled on deck, not for a ticking-off for cycling on the pier but summoned to join him for coffee, more reminiscing (how much can one take in one day?) and photo album browsing. What a lovely man. Thank you Dafydd (sorry, I mean Mr Williams, Sir) for your fascinating accounts of all things past and present and all those useful phone numbers & contacts.
Now well over an hour behind schedule, time to get rolling. The hilliest part of Anglesey still to do, the coast road between Cemaes and Moelfre, the next stop, via Bull Bay. Come on legs, let’s have a couple more fig rolls for each of you.
Missed the first turn down to the new Moelfre ALB Station, approached along coast path via the impressive bronze statue of legendary Lifeboat hero, Dic Evans. http://historypoints.org/index.php?page=dick-evans-memorial-moelfre Just an hour earlier, Dafydd had put me on the phone to the late Dic’s grandson, Mike (now 2nd Cox at Moelfre). He tells me the statue is an eerily accurate likeness.
The new boat house is another recent Clive Moore design. Similar in some ways to yesterday’s at Porthdinllaen with some really bold, original features, but more reminiscent of the previous boathouse here (not the very first, small granite one) with white painted solid block-work exterior. It works. I like it. Thanks Dan (relief Cox’n) and Vince (mech) for the welcome.
On to the last destination of the day, Beaumaris. Despite no luck with trying to arrange a rendezvous with any of the crew (ILB Stations are generally an-manned unless an emergency shout goes out, with volunteer crews earning a living and getting on with their lives), I went ahead on the off-chance of bumping into someone with RNLI connections in the locality. No luck today. Quick photo shoot as evidence of attendance. Will have to return for signing of the chart at a later date. Time for a treat. Just a couple more miles. I took Dafydd’s advice and checked in to The Gazelle, positioned on the Menai Straits with great views across to the world famous mussel beds and Bangor pier, with Snowdonia beyond. Made a useful contact with a friendly couple from the North West. Thanks Steve & Jane, look forward to seeing you soon in the Lytham/St Anne’s area.
Nice room, good meal, good night.