Tag Archives: Rhayader

A Few More Kites

Just a few more photographs of the Kites – I finally found the energy to crop a few into respectability.

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Red Kites at Gigrin Farm

We may call them Red, and from a distance they may look brown like a Buzzard, but in fact they are a stunning combination of grey, black and red-brown, with some looking quite different to others when you see them side by side.

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Red Kite with wing tags

It looks like this one has a wing tag on, which will be colour-coded and numbered. The “proper” photographer in the hide managed to read the number off the tag, but he had much more impressive equipment than I do. I can barely see the tag.

Light blue on the right wing indicates a bird from the Irish Republic.

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Red Kite in Wales

Sorry they aren’t better shots,. I’ve taken steps to rectify the problems with my photographic situation, but I’ve been disappointed by the Lottery before so I’m not going to hold my breath.

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.

They promised me Ravens

We went to Wales today. Derby first, then Burton, Lichfield, Cannock, Telford, Shrewsbury…

Didn’t actually see any of them as the roads now just take you past instead of through them. If they didn’t, we’d still be travelling. The road follows a lot of the Watling Street route. This was originally a grass trackway used by the Britons. The Romans paved it and subsequent generations of academics have argued over its route.

It may have gone to Preston, it may have gone to Holyhead. Who cares? They are both nice places and have roads that go to them. For now, let’s say that if you are on the A2 in Kent or the A5 in the Midlands, you are part of a travel tradition going back thousands of years.

In AD 60 or 61 Queen Boudicca, or Boadicea, if you prefer the old-fashioned way, faced the Romans somewhere along the road. Nobody is quite sure where (there are several possibilities) but after burning London, St Albans and Colchester, and killing an estimated 70 – 80,000 Romans, she was finally defeated.

We then struck out into Wales, where we visited Rhayader before travelling up through Snowdonia to Bangor. We’re currently sitting in the Bangor Travel Lodge drinking Aspall’s Suffolk Cider from plastic glasses after a meal from Burger King. Tomorrow I am intending to send a stinging rebuke to the Travel Lodge head office.

The details clearly state: “Guests can enjoy a variety of food and drink choices within easy walking distance from this hotel. ”

Translation: “There is a Little Chef (which closes at 8pm), Burger King and shop at the filling station.”

It’s not quite what I was expecting.

Anyway, the bird watchers among you will have stopped at Rhayader. It’s the home of Gigrin Farm, where they feed 300 to 600 Red Kites every day.

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I’ll post a few photos to give you a flavour of the day, but most need some cropping as I has to hold back on the zoom to give myself room to keep the birds in the frame. If you crop it too tight the bird flies out of shot. I have photos of grass, photos of sky and photos of tail feathers.

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I’ll tell you what I don’t have – photos of Ravens.

They promised me Ravens and I had to make do with 300 Red Kites.

Sometimes you have days like that.

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