07 November 2022

Day 1 with my sister

Around late October and early November, we have reading week. That means we have no contact hours with the students for an entire week. If you want to plan any time off, that is a good time for it! And in my case, I had a visit from my sister Petra (the eldest, who lives in the Netherlands) on the books. She had wanted to visit, and even though in early November the weather might be a bit unpleasant, she thought it would be nice to swing by. So she did!

I had made sure the house was ready for her, including it being heated. I did not want to force my Victorian lifestyle onto her. It did involve some frantic reconnecting the boiler with the thermostat…

She arrived in the early evening.  I basically took her home and fed her dinner! And then there was time for tea and catching up but then it was pretty much bedtime. The next day would be a bit more involved!

For that first day, she wanted to see the sea. I was thinking about the Anglesey Coastal Path. And then she said she had read on my blog about the amazing geology around here, and whether maybe we could combine that, so I thought: Llanddwyn! And that sounded good. We were not in a hurry and took our time with breakfast.

We drove up through quite some rain. It was supposed to stop! And when we parked up, it was indeed as good as dry. And the interesting thing was that when we turned into the parking lot, I recognised a face. It was Tom, the boyfriend of our former PhD student Meg! And Meg was there too. It was lovely to see them.

We then set off ourselves, over the beach. It was dry, but in the distance it was raining; the skies were spectacular. And it didn't take long before my sister spotted a live cockle. She immediately recognised it as a potential snack! I had never actually foraged cockles. Or any shellfish, really. But why not? I was sure we could google how you check them for freshness. And a recipe. So we gathered a fair few! And I know that at home, I had laverbread, so that would be a perfect combination.

Dramatic skies

Cobbles on the beach; flushed out of glacial till?

Sister selfie

When we were done foraging we walked on. Not much later, we came to the first clump of altered pillow lava. If I wouldn't have pointed out what it was, she would have walked straight past! As pretty much all non-geologists do, I suppose. And she didn't seem to be put off by my nerdy ramblings. 

We got onto the actual peninsula. And she said she had been there before! I must have recommended it to her the first time she was here, and not joined. But it is beautiful there, so she didn’t mind. We had apple pie by the cross. And then we went to the far end, where the mélange is. And then we went back.

When we were back on the beach we followed it further South east, towards Abermenai Point. And we walked back through the dunes. We still had the menacing skies in the background, but we did stay dry. And we had lunch in a dune pan. 

Couldn't resist the bleached wood as a photo prop

I had suggested that on the way back, we have a look at the old bridge. She was not going to see it closed for motorised traffic again, in all likelihood! And we could combine it with buying some supplies. We parked up at Waitrose, bought some things we needed for our cockle meal, and then walked over the bridge. It was raining by then, but it was still too good an opportunity to miss.

When we got home, we first had some wine and snacks! I have been looking forward to stuff like that. And we lit a fire. And after the wine we made our cockle dinner. Susan had her own thoughts about this; she works with shellfish in his very well aware of their dangerous. But there was no sewage alert near where we had found them, and I figured that we could check them for freshness. So we proceeded with it. It looked like we hadn't been entirely successful convincing them to spit out any sand they might have had in their shells, but a bit of sand couldn't spoil the fun. I was quite chuffed with our very Welsh and foraged meal!

Our loot

After dinner we managed to make a plan for the day after, in spite of the cat who always thinks that a map is a toy, and not something to let the humans have a calm look at. Petra wanted a route that wouldn't go excessively high, and wouldn't be particularly swampy. She had only brought one pair of shoes, and wasn't keen on spending the rest of a trip in soggy shoes. I thought of a loop SW of Llanberis, with Moel Eilio in it. She liked the idea! 

Disruptive presence

After some buckets of tea it was time to go to bed. First day done, and second day planned! This was going well. Bring on day two!

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