Down by the Sea – the North Wales Pilgrimage (7th year)   12 comments

So I’m back from Summer Holidays and just like last year facing a backlog of reports to catch up before I even start telling you about all the great stuff we got up to while in France. So better get cracking…

As you may know a group of us from university days in the 80’s, having never managed to find any better friends since then, regularly get together several times of year. Our numbers have swelled in the last 12 or so years as families have blossomed and there is regular hardcore of over 20 of us adults and kids. Of these gatherings the real highlight is the annual pilgrimage to Towyn Farm campsite on the north coast of the Lleyn Peninsula on the first weekend of the summer school holidays. Last years trip is here if you’re interested

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Setting up camp

Back in 2005 our own little brood were holidaying near Criccieth (itself a rather splendid spot) and I was idly scanning the map for a new beach to visit. I spied a small patch of sand marked at Towyn that was clearly worth a trip and so it proved. A perfect little sandy cove and we spent a happy couple of days there including my first try at body-boarding. I’d noticed a small campsite at the back of the beach and after checking it out decided it would be a great spot for a meet up. The idea was born and the following year we all headed down in a rare heatwave and had a fantastic week. We’ve been going ever since.

We are pretty lucky in being able to holiday in some great places abroad but this place and this weekend always has a special place in my heart and particularly in the kids hearts. For me it’s the whole laid back pace and easy life we quickly slide into. We holiday in Cornwall quite a lot where a day at the beach is an operation of military precision. Get up. Have breakfast. Make packed lunches. Pack Car. Get to beach before car park fills up. Spend all day on beach to maximise investment in extortionate car parking fee. Get back. Have tea. Go to bed. Repeat.

At Towyn, with the beach a 5 minute stroll away the whole pace changes. We can come and go as we please and the beach is always relatively quiet. The campsite is basic with just a simple loo block and a couple of showers but the owners are extremely friendly and welcoming and it’s all very informal, a proper family campsite with huge fields for ball games and the like.

We spend almost the whole time on the beach. All the kids play happily together and the adults either join in the games or just chill out with a book as it suits. It’s how beach holidays ought to be. I just can’t imagine the school holidays starting any other way and we always plan the rest of our summer around this trip. I’m sure the rest of the gang all feel the same and the kids most certainly do.

Apart from the occasional day out to a local castle or a walk in the hills the days are spent in the timeless beach fun that typifies a British summer. Sandcastles, beach games, cricket, tennis, football, Frisbee, tidepooling, swimming.  I imagine we make a fine sight with most of the adults enjoying the activities as much as if not more than the kids. If you read my blog you’ll probably have guessed I’m just a big kid at heart anyway so I’m in hogs heaven on a beach.

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The girls create a play house

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Flying disc alert

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“The Beach Ashes”

This year I wasn’t looking forward to the trip with quite the same enthusiasm. The weather in the previous few weeks had been appalling so a week spent in a tent in the rain wasn’t appealing. We were lucky. The weather changed for the better and whilst we had some overcast weather and it was a little cool, it stayed dry with plenty of sunshine.

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Across Towyn Beach to the West

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Across Towyn Beach to the East

Now, you heard me mention above that MOST of the adults join in the fun. It’s hear that I need to point out the exceptions. ED’s other half and my own dear partner steadfastly refuse to partake, preferring to look permanently cold behind a wind break buried under a fleece with a book while everyone else romps on the sand in shorts or bounces in the waves.

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My own personal Beach Funster

ED has christened these two “The Beach Funsters” and I think it’s time this little name was formally recognised. I’ve rarely seen two people look more out-of-place on a beach although I would stress they never actually look unhappy, just happier if they were somewhere else. Beach Funsters, we salute you.

One of the other abiding pleasures is of making major constructions and waiting for the tide the obliterate it. These photos show quite a monumental project overseen by the big kid that is ED. I was back at work by this time or I would have been a major contributor taking it alll far too seriously 🙂

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The Foreman and his workers

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Will it work?

Never ceases to amaze me how a beach fires a kids imagination like nothing else. All of them will often play for hours without recourse to adults (unless hungry of course)

The main beach is pretty good but just to the east are a couple of smaller pretty much deserted coves and we’ve all taken to these as our favourites. The kids like to call them the secret beaches and if there are any better small coves around within a 5 minute walk of a quiet campsite I’d like to know 🙂

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One of the 3 “secret beaches”

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ED paddles at the “secret beach”

We all have our little specialities. ED is the man for swimming and beach cricket, EWO is your coach for beach tennis. Me, I’m the king of tide-pooling and can usually be found crawling around on the rocks digging out crabs, shrimps and fish for the kids to admire. Normally I end up with badly scratched hands after a week here from digging around in small sharply protected crevices. This year we turned up this rather bizarre looking specimen. No idea what it is so if anyone has an idea I’d like to know.  The tentacle-like things were definitely moving so I guess it was the young of something but it was decidedly odd whatever it was.

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Answers on a postcard

I’ve taught the kids well and they are now starting to overtake me in terms of digging out interesting stuff. The pupils become the masters. Mind you a couple of the pupils always have my heart racing. ED’s two boys are kids without fear and are often to be found scrambling above the sharpest rocks and dizzying precipices causing me much consternation. ED is used to it I guess. Here’s a picture of S in action

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S, Rock Athlete

So we spent a another wonderfully happy week here (well, a long weekend in my case) to add to the collection.

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A, L and S above the “secret beach”

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Sunset over the VW

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A beach car I believe

We also took some time about to visit Beaumaris Castle, a walk on the Rivals and a couple of coastal walks but more posts to follow for those.

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Final sunset

For now enjoy the happy scenes of children and middle-aged adults not acting their age.For alternative view of the week check out ED’s version of events on his own blog here

Not sure how many childhoods I’ve gone through now, possible I never left the first one

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Posted September 2, 2012 by surfnslide in Family Trips, Llyn Peninsula, Wales

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12 responses to “Down by the Sea – the North Wales Pilgrimage (7th year)

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  1. I think it was a beach ship, rather than a car, but it could easily have been one and then the other.
    Too many pictures of me (i.e. more then none), but that caveat aside, a near perfect summary of a near perfect holiday.
    That tentacled thingie looks even weirder in the photos than I remember it. I know someone who might be able to tell us what it is. I’ll let you know.

    “It’s how beach holidays ought to be. I just can’t imagine the school holidays starting any other way and we always plan the rest of our summer around this trip. I’m sure the rest of the gang all feel the same and the kids most certainly do.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

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    beatingthebounds
    • Fond memories to keep me sane through the onset of winter and a whole world of woe at work. Our France holiday was great but hard to think of any part of it that was better than some of the fun we had that week (and every week we spend there). Says alot at how flat we all feel when everyone departs and the fact that D & L just weren’t interested in the beach after you’d gone. Going to beach here is something we all do together and it’s just not the same without everyone there

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  2. The answer on a postcard is…………… Mackflbbet, closely related to barfmonkey and pretty rare in UK waters.

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    backpackingbongos
    • I was thinking I’d have everyone stumped and there you are getting it right straight off 🙂

      It is pretty weird though especially the fact they are all clustered together around that spongy yellow stuff in the middle. Not convinced I’d be too happy if one of these turned up on a seafood platter

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  3. Looked like a superb weekend you all had there. It’s a real shame most of the kids I teach hardly ever get out and about doing proper childhood stuff like that.

    For someone who doesn’t like camping, you seem to get your Jane out in a tent often enough…is lots of chocolate and wine involved on these occasions?!

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    • I’m passionate that my kids are given every opportunity to enjoy and explore the outdoors in all it’s various formsand repeatedly tell them how very, very lucky they are to have these opportunities that not all kids have and to relish them. I hope this will breed the same love and respect for the outdoors that both me and Jane have.

      It’s less “chocolate and wine” and more ceaseless pressure from me. She likes camping – sort of – but just hates being cold and they kind of go hand in hand in the UK. I bought her a rather nice Rab Down Duvet for her birthday to make it more bearable. She actually takes a pair of skiing sallopettes camping to keep warm and always looks cold. And just in case you’ve never seen it, check out my blog post below for a photo of what she wears at night when it’s cold. The embarrassment!

      https://surfnslide.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/nether-wasdale-may-day-weekend-2011/

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  4. OK – I know a man, who knows a man…
    “Your picture is of a barnacle, Lepas fasicularis, Buoy-making barnacle. Very similar to the Goose barnacle.”
    It’s a barnacle and not the spawn of something from a Ridley Scott film.

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    • Aha – never heard of that though, I thought all barnacles clung to the rocks. Still very wierd though

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      • Went to a Marine Conservation Society talk tonight and asked about these barnacles. Apparently they are relatively rare. They form that spongy looking lump in the middle and it helps them to float so that they can feed on the surface. Other goose barnacles attach themselves to bits of flotsam.
        The talk was about life in the Piel Channel between Roa island and Piel island and was fascinating.

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        • I’m quite chuffed we found such a rarity then, really is the most unusual thing I’ve ever seen the UK and would never have thought such a thing existed here, life is full of surprises

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