Thursday, 29 May 2014

Ynys Mon on Ascension Day

We got up early this morning to breakfast in time to be out of the house by nine, and on our way to Bangor to attend the 10.30am Eucharist for Ascension Day. The Cathedral website said there was a service and I emailed a request to confirm this, as the home page was still advertising Easter services, evidently not having been updated since then, so there was no knowing whether the usual weekday routine service continued or was supplanted on this special occasion. The response to my request arrived, telling us about a 5.30pm service, but only after we'd decided to take it on trust that there would be a 10.30am service, 

We arrived in good time, but the officiating priest didn't show up. The Sacristan rang around and found a substitute before coming out to apologise to the nine of us who were waiting. We all sat quietly and patiently for a quarter of an hour until he came. The anticipation was most enjoyable, as was the bi-lingual service, offered in a gentle and relaxed prayerful manner. It was a happy occasion, despite embarrassing mishaps. There's no doubt about it, the church is under pressure to live up to its own aspiration to offer the best it can to those who seek its ministrations. Patience is not just a virtue but a necessity.

We had coffee in a High Street bakery shop before leaving town and heading for the Menai Bridge, to cross over into Anglesey, Ynys Mon - Mam Cymru, to visit Plas Newydd, a huge chateau-like National Trust property with extensive gardens and an arboretum, bordering on the Menai Straights. It was in the national news recently for completing a £600,000 project to install a marine source heat pump to drive its central heating, oil powered until then. The house was shut, but the gardens were open. It was dry but overcast with a chill wind, so it needed a certain resolve to keep going. We found the spot where the heat pump's water source was located just above the shore, freshly lansdscaped, the grass not yet grown back. 

After lunch in the site cafe and a second walk around the gardens, we drove further along the A4080 road, and discovered a CADW signposted turning up a side road to Bryn Celli Ddu, a neolithic burial mound in a field at the end of a new and well constructed half mile path through fields. The site is thought to have begun as a henge, a twenty metre diameter stone circle, a rarity in Wales. Later occupants of the territory plundered the stones to construct a communal burial chamber at the centre of an earth mound. The site was excavated and reconstruction was based on this theory. Anglesey has many such neolithic sites. So much to see! 

We drove on past Brynsiencyn down to the road to the shore leading to the Sea Zoo, and to a dead end at water's edge, where there's an old ferryman's house and a small harbour. It's dead opposite Caernarvon on the mainland. Whether there's still a regular ferry service, I doubt, although there were several boats beached by low tide in this vicinity, which could be used to transport goods across and avoid traffic jams on the bridges. Another similar ferryman's house stands in the village of Porthaethwy in the lee of Menai Bridge, but that's well above the shore. The need for a ferry so close to Telford's bridge has long gone, but Cambrian House as it's called, is one of the oldest there.

On our way back from the shore to the A4080 for the home run, quite by chance we happened upon a small roadside cottage serving home made cream teas, under the banner 'Giddy Aunt's Tea Room', run by a couple from Yorkshire, with a delightful story to tell of how they'd purchased a small plot of land with rights for a caravan dwelling, and a ruined agricultural building in one corner. Over several years they obtained planning permission and re-built the ruin as a smallish cottage, and eventually to use its facilities to run their delightfully situated little tea room. The wife was a great raconteur, who'd successfully appeared on the "Who wants to be a miilionaire?" TV game show, and paid off their mortgage on building work with the proceeds of her win. An unexpected bonus to our first visit to 'Mam Cymru', as Ynys Mon is also known.

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