Apparently if you stick me on the other side of the Menai Straits I mysteriously become hilarious. Let me tell you now this isn’t true… Not in the least. The funniest thing I’ve ever come up with is naming where all the rich people live as ‘Spanglesey,’ which really isn’t that funny when you think about it. (One variation of that includes ‘Stranglesey’ which is where murderers live…) Although it’s not true that i’m funnier on Anglesey, I have found myself in several bizarre and mad situations on that island… This is just a few of them.
My early visits to Anglesey were nothing spectacular. The first was an organised trip in my first freshers week to see Beaumaris Castle and a place called Bryn Celli Ddu. Although it was interesting, it wasn’t interesting or exciting or memorable enough to write down in blog form. There were a lot of class trips to Anglesey over the three years I was there, mostly to places of prehistoric interest.
The worst though was the trip to a farmers field in first year. All the archaeology had since been reburied and there was nothing but a damn field full of cows. Most trips like that involved going to somewhere else as well, but this one didn’t. It was just a field with some farmer pointing out what archaeology was buried where. It was as boring as it sounds. There was even pottery just lying on the ground but did we do any field walking? Did we heck!
But I spent more time on Anglesey than just class trips. In fact, I did my fair share of exploring that Island on my own and with friends during the three years I was there. Most of the time I managed to find myself in the bizarre situations I mentioned above.
The first time I went there on my own was nothing spectacular, except that I walked across the bridge. In normal circumstances this is harrowing enough but this time it was blowing a gale and it was absolutely terrifying. The pavement there is narrow at best and there isn’t much between you and the twenty foot drop into the Menai below. So I was shitting it and took it very slowly. I don’t know how the Ocean Sciences students do it on a regular basis. My purpose for crossing was the Menai Bridge Fair which takes up the main road of the town for a couple of days in October. I don’t recall much of the fair other that it was a good waste of an hour or so and that the burger I ate was nice. I remember the burger.
Now I’m not sure if that was the same day I visited Church Island or not, it might have been later as I do remember wandering around Menai Bridge at a later date… A trip in which nothing spectacular happened. Church Island is what it says, an island with a church on it accessed by a narrow causeway. It’s full of graves and home to the church of Llan Tysylio (which partially gives it’s name to the nearby village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch….) It’s a nice walk with some good views of the Menai Straits… Although I’ve never seen the church open, weirdly.
And then there’s my first and only visit to Holyhead. I don’t think I’ll ever be allowed back there as long as I live… It was a disaster. I’d seen Holyhead on maps from an early age and it looked to my eyes like some magical place perched at the end of Anglesey. So I boarded a train to cross the island, passing thorugh Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch and straight across to Holy Island. I got off the train thinking it looked to be rather a cool place. The station was all brick and there was the entrance to the ferry terminal at the end and a rather cool looking bridge into the main town. My instant thought was that it was like one of them French places with winding streets and old women in headscarfs who just wander the streets all day. Well it is, sort of, only it is actually a lot less cool than that and full of chavs and a bit more run down.
One of the first things I saw was a sign pinpointing the way to a ‘Roman Fort.’ My mind instantly went into overdrive and as I hadn’t yet worked out that the place was basically a crap-hole I instantly thought that Holyhead was one of the coolest places on earth… Until I actually arrived at the fort. It turned out they had built a church in the middle of the fort sometime in the middle ages… and the gate was open… so i went inside to look at the fort and the church. I started walking around, as you do, but slowly I realised something was wrong, especially when I saw all the people dressed in black… It turned out that in my eagerness to explore the Roman Fort I had accidentally gate crashed some poor sod’s funeral… Oops!
I beat a hasty retreat and decided to wander along the coast road to the Maritime Museum, which wasn’t open and had no opening times visible. It was starting to rain and by this point I had found that there isn’t much to do in Holyhead… So I made my way back to the train station where I may have sort of made quite a few people miss their train due to standing at the wrong platform for half an hour. To be fair though, it was where I had got off. But that’s not the actual proper in-use platform. It was a spare and by the time I realised there was another platform it was too late. Hey… It’s the end of the line. You don’t expect more than one platform!
The railway line across Anglesey doesn’t go to many places so half the time I ended up exploring by bus, car and foot. If you ever find yourself nearby Beaumaris Gaol and Courthouse is worth a visit… But again, not really exciting enough to go into detail about. What is more interesting is these car journeys i mentioned… Mostly because i wasn’t alone. (I don’t drive!) This is where I came up with the infamous ‘Spanglesey,’ one day when we were off on a road trip to Red Wharf bay… which is just one massive expanse of sand going for miles and miles and miles… like a desert. Trouble is the tide comes in quickly there and the way back was wet and involved a lot of jumping over streams of the incoming tide… fun.
But the most extreme trip of all was Parys Mountain. It is a huge disused copper mine and now it resembles a deserted Martian base or something similar and the only place in the country where you can find purple soil! Now i don’t recommend you do what I did but if you do then don’t say I didn’t warn you cos I have. I went there a few times and one time there were three of us (Me, One of my housemates and a friend…). We basically decided to break the rules and go off the track completely First off we ended up climbing down some crevice and ending up in a giant cave… and then climbed back up again… and then we went into the main crater where there was a safe path down thank goodness. But the problem with Parys Mountain is that in the old mine workings there is all sorts of shit and chemicals and like idiots we ignored the warning sign and went for a look…
We didn’t go in far enough to get lead poisoning of course, partially because all we had was my sonic screwdriver (Ok that sounds bad… But yes, there is a photo of me on Parys Mountain with the sonic screwdriver in hand.). And then if that wasn’t bad enough we spotted this sort of crack in the wall of the crater, just beneath that wall in the upper picture… So me and my housemate went up there whilst our friend stayed behind to watch, partially because she had a dodgy ankle and partially because somebody had to get the blame for our deaths if we fell. But either way, it wasn’t a vertical climb and there were plenty of footholds. It wasn’t really dangerous until we reached the precipitous ledge at the top and started edging our way around to the crack. In the end it turned out to be minuscule and deceptively smaller than it looked from the ground. so we started heading back.
Now they tell the following story differently… But this is what actually happened… Not the way they tell it. On the way back I briefly lost my footing and slipped a little way down the slope. I was fine… really… but my housemate grabbed my collar to stop me falling, even though I’d already regained my footing and wasn’t going to fall much further. Trust me. I was the one falling and I’ve done it plenty of times before. I’d have been fine, even though they claimed I would have broken my leg. Preposterous.
Those trips were fun… Although I have to say this: Cows really can jump, even though its claimed they can’t, and also remember the following equation: JPC + Tent / Sleepless night x Pentraeth Forest= grumpy git. Of this I will say no more.
Instead I want to finish off by talking about my visit to Newborough during a research trip for the dissertation that never was. Don’t know if you’ve ever been to Newborough but there is significantly less there than Holyhead. There was Llys Rhosyr, which is claimed to be the palace of the Welsh Princes but I find that hard to believe. Whilst I was there they were digging it up, which was a godsend to me. I had photographic evidence of the stratigraphy… STRATIGRAPHY!!!
And then it turned out the next bus wasn’t for two hours so I had some time to kill in the back end of nowhere. First off I visited some tiny model village which was kind of… urm… fun, especially doing the little quiz as i went round. It was kind of… Anglesey in miniature! Ok, on reflection it was a bit shit as all model villages are… But then I went to somewhere that makes visiting a model village seem normal: The Anglesey Transport Museum. Yes… Really. I went and wandered around the Anglesey Transport museum… which has the name of Tacla Taid if you ever want to visit. I’m not a motoring nut but I still walked the half a mile from Newborough to this place… for no reason other than the fact it was there. I took some very shit photos of almost everything with my phone as. for some reason, I had to leave my bag behind at the main desk. But yes… I took random shitty photos like the back end of a bus just because of the number plate:
If you’re thinking that I had gone crazy after being cut off from civilisation for a while then I guess you’re right. I think I was insulted by a couple of chavs at one point and ended my visit to the back of nowhere by talking to some old lady at the bus stop about public transport scheduling. It was a long day and an incredibly weird one.
But of course, this is just a small sample of the time i spent on Anglesey. As you can see, I’m not funnier there. Just mad, bad and dangerous to know!