Tag: Wales

How To Raise A Glass To North Wales’ Real Ale Trail

I joined a real-ale-themed tour of North Wales recently for Guardian Travel.

It was a trip around the hidden-gem rural pubs and microbreweries [pictured above] often overlooked by the stampede down the A55 towards Anglesey.

Based around Caernarfon, it highlighted the rise of community pubs at a time when our traditional village hostelries are struggling to survive.

There has been an explosion of local microbreweries and craft-ale pubs in recent years with The Albion Ale House in Conwy one of my favourites.

Here’s a preview of the article.

As the afternoon gave way to dusk, I was nursing a pint of Clogwyn Gold from the Conwy Brewery at The George in Carneddi, near Bangor, currently the Gwynedd a Mon branch of CAMRA’s Community Pub of the Year.

It was a tiny, no-frills bar with cheese rolls on the bar, beers stains on the carpet and a queue of people for the pool table but, an early Saturday evening in spring, it was bustling with a mix of regulars and ale-trail day trippers.

Landlord Dewi Sion says: “I still believe that serving a proper pint of local ale in a proper pub can create a place where a community comes together.”

Read the full story coming soon in The Guardian.

 

My story for Guardian travel will make you save the bees

May half term, then.

Here’s an idea for a family day out based around my story for Guardian Travel.

The story is based around a visit to the National Beekeeping Centre Wales, near Conwy, combined with a preview of the new trail at Bodnant Gardens.

It was also a family day out for half term with Maya and Olivia [pictured above].

Here’s a preview:

This friendly visitor centre acts as a champion for Welsh honeybees, which are increasingly under threat from climate change and loss of wildflower meadows.

The visit raises awareness of environmental issues and highlights the art of apiarist over 4,000 years of honey-making history from the ancient Egyptians via the Romans.

Combine a visit with a trip to Bodnant Garden, taking the new Lost Words Trail, based on the book by Robert MacFarlane, for May half term (normal entrance fees apply).

The trail follows clues around the gardens to discover words from nature.

Read the whole story, Connect the kids with ecology – because the bees need us.

 

Oslo, Norway, and Portmeirion, Wales, travel writing for LoveExploring

 

Two more published articles — to add to a busy autumn for commissions.

Both articles were for the online travel site, LoveExploring.com.

The first looked at Portmeirion, North Wales, which marked the 50th anniversary of the cult TV series, The Prisoner, in September.

Here’s a sample:

The programme epitomised the counter-culture vibe of the late 1960s and Portmeirion village provided the perfect canvas for the psychedelic storyline. One memorable scene, involving a giant chess game with human pieces, is now regularly recreated in the central piazza.

Now read Six Reasons to Love Portmeirion, North Wales

Secondly, an article about Oslo [pictured] — my new favourite European city — offered suggestions for a perfect weekend and explored Oslo’s hipster district. No, really.

It also features the Noble Peace Prize Centre [pictured above] in time for the speech at Oslo City Hall by the 2016 winner, the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos.

Try a taster here:

Grünerløkka, east of the city centre, is Oslo’s hipster central. The former industrial district has all the coolest vintage clothes shops and galleries. Check out the fashion-conscious locals over a microbrewed beer at the Grünerløkka Brygghus, or at the coffee-guru café run by Tim Wendelboe.

Now read A Perfect Weekend: what to do in Olso, Norway

Please do share your comments or tips for places I’ve missed.

Half term travel articles around Cheshire and Wales

Another half-term holiday then.

This year, swamped by a sudden upsurge in freelance work, we stayed close to home with commissions for articles around Cheshire and Wales.

First up was a trip to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Cheshire [pictured], for a story in The Guardian.

Read the whole story, Take the Kids to … Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.

Second was an overnight stay in Aberystwyth and a ride on the Vale of Rheidol steam railway for Best Loved Hotels’ customer magazine.

The final version is out in the new year but here’s a sneak preview:

The craggy, stone-cut tunnel appeared to close in around us as we approached the final stop at Devil’s Bridge, a foreboding darkness briefly engulfing the carriage.

This is Hinterland country, the backdrop to the S4C Welsh-noir detective series, and home to generation-spanning folk legends.

I’m now back on the hunt for new family-travel ideas. Got a story? Please get in touch.