Tag Archives: community

Southwold Pier (Part 1)

In which our heroic duo actually manage to visit a pier, see a very rude woman, eat a cream tea and have a jolly good time. Despite a sunburned head.

Built in 1900, Southwold Pier was originally 270 yards long. During the years of its existence it has, due to several storms and a drifting sea mine, varied from 20 yards to its current 208 yards. Compared to some other piers this is considered a relatively trouble-free history.

It is, to be honest, 208 yards of excellence. It starts well, and is good right to the end. When you get to the end it is also good when you view it in the reverse direction.

One striking aspect of the pier, apart from the signs to tell you where you are, is the bright, clean appearance of the place. The plaques are also a very noticeable feature – they commemorate all sorts of things, and the prices start at £195. It’s not cheap, but it would make a very unusual present. I mentioned this to Julia, but she seems unimpressed by the idea.

This is a selection of plaques – I’ve deliberately chosen some that are related to piers and the pier construction. There are others, including, those to public figures from the town, school pupils, teachers, the town crier and many happy holidaymakers. It adds up to the idea of the pier as a community facility, and makes it a happy place to be.

I’m sorry about all this unseemly positivity, but it’s that sort of place.

The first stop was in the cafe for a cream tea. It wasn’t planned, but we fancied a cup of tea and the rest of it just happened. It was clean and bright with excellent scones but appalling company.

There were three generations behind me, a baby, a mother and a grandmother. It started off slowly with a discussion on breastfeeding and weaning. The baby, to be fair, didn’t contribute much to the discussion.

The mother didn’t get much chance to contribute either.

However, the grandmother made up for this. The woman could talk. She didn’t however, always talk sense, and she kept stressing that she would be willing to donate some of her “organic cooking apples” for the child’s food. I think that’s what we mere mortals call “cooking apples”. We don’t use chemicals so our fruit is organic, we just don’t refer to it as “organic”. I can’t help feeling you should have it certified by the Soil Association before you start calling your fruit “organic”.

That just makes her irritating. What made her appalling was the hand gesture.

A young waiter approached them and asked if he could take their order. The grandmother dismissed him brusquely, telling him they had ordered outside but moved inside out of the wind.  That was bad enough, but as she did it, I saw Julia stiffen.

She told me afterwards that the grandmother had made a dismissive flicking hand gesture to send the young man on his way.

I suppose it’s appropriate that a fine old pier in a traditional old resort should be the last bastion of epic rudeness and disdain for the lower classes.

I hope she gets earwigs in her organic cooking apples.

 

The Welsh Toilet Championships

It’s not an exhaustive list of toilets, and we didn’t have clipboards with us but it gives you some idea of the challenges the traveller faces.

Those of you under 40 will probably wonder why this sort of thing is important. I won’t explain it now, just give it a few years and all will become clear.

We used the facilities in two McDonald’s, at Llandudno and Mold. They were both bright and clean, though we did feel we had to buy drinks to justify using them, which was sort of counter-productive.

In Rhayader we used toilets in a car park by the town centre. They were very welcome after a long drive, though architecturally there was more than a suggestion of military bunker about them. However, they were clean and tidy, and that’s more important than being aesthetically pleasing.

The toilets at Gigrin Farm, were predictably excellent, as was the whole farm and Red Kite feeding experience.

In Trawsfynydd, just off the road as we travelled to Bangor in the evening, we were glad to find toilets as things were getting a bit urgent (see my comments on Dolgellau). As with Rhayader, the building is stark, but clean and tidy. There was a touch of serendipity about the visit, but that’s a story for a later post.

I think I may have mentioned the lack of decent food outlets at the Bangor Services. We had breakfast at Little Chef and, as you may have predicted, visited the facilities afterwards. I seem to be turning into a Victorian there, as “used the toilets” seemed suddenly unacceptable. They are nicely tiled, but badly maintained and not very clean. Judging by the dirt and graffiti the cleaner only inspects the cubicles with the doors open. That’s basic cleaning, close the door, turn round and look at things from the customer’s’ point of view. Literally. Then wipe the part of the wall that is covered by the open door and wash the graffiti off the back of the door.

RSPB South Stack, was excellent in many ways, which will be detailed in a later post. However, the gloomy, cramped and smelly toilets (sorry about that, but there was no nice way to put it) were a low point in the visit.

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Tourist sign in Llandudno

So that’s it. Clearly South Stack and Bangor Services aren’t in the running.

McDonald’s and Gigrin are all commercial operations, so you expect a higher standard . This standard was met, as they were all excellent, but it seems unfair to compare them with council toilets.

That leaves Rhayader and Trawsfynydd. If I was standing on stage opening an envelope the award would go to Rhayader, as I don’t have a clue how to pronounce Trawsfynydd. To be fair I don’t have a clue how to spell it either, I’m relying on cut-and-paste.

Whilst I think of the final result I’ll mention the toilets at Dolgellau.

I can’t tell you how good they were because at just after six in the evening they were locked. And barred. Maybe they have gold fittings. Or maybe they just don’t like visitors. It’s not unusual to find toilets locked in the evening, but it is frustrating.

There’s a website listing the public toilets of Gwynedd, and if you follow a link on that site the are details of community toilets made available for public use by the owners.  If you are travelling in the area it might be useful.

And the winner is…

… Rhayader.

It’s just a little brighter than Trawsfynydd, which will be getting a mention in a later post.

So, give them a try and see the kites – it’s a good day out.

Community Apple Pressing and a Tale of Accidental Cider

It was the first Community Apple Pressing Day of the season today (a day important enough to justify capital letters even if I wasn’t a Member of the Society for Unnecessary Capitalisation).

The rain came, though it was meant to stay away and the Community stayed away although it was meant to come. (When I say the Community, I mean the people with apples to press).

Sometimes life is like that. However I did give away some free samples, sold a bottle straight from the press, arranged a community visit and was offered free apples. I’ve also arranged for people to come to the next day (26th September if you’re around).

We were all tooled up to produce a hundred gallons but with the apples we had available we only managed five. Looking on the bright side, if we’d pressed 100 gallons I’d be pasteurising through the night.

Not feeling terribly wordy just now, and my shoulders are aching from the press (another reason I’m glad I didn’t do the 100 gallons!).so I’ll leave the photos to do the talking.

Meanwhile the unpasteurised juice we bottled on Wednesday has already started to ferment and has a nice crisp cider taste to it. Knowing my luck the accidental cider from that batch will probably be the best I manage…

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