As we were back in the UK we took the opportunity to visit some yachty friends while Ian’s dad was in hospital. Due to covid no one was allowed to visit to begin with and then it was limited to one person for one hour at a set time each day.
Karen and Ronnie, our Mahe Mates, were now landlubbers living in North Wales. They live in a pretty part of the world near to Conwy. The town is overlooked by the impressive Conwy Castle which was built between 1283 and 1287 by Edward I.
We have been through a few straits over the last few years but this one we went across on the suspension bridge. The Strait separates the Island of Anglesey from the Welsh mainland. Anglesey is connected to the mainland by two bridges. The area between these bridges is known as the ‘Swellies” which has strong reversing tidal flows, rapid currents and whirlpools.
Ynys Gorad Goch is a small island in the “Swellies” of the Menai Strait. Access is obviously only by boat and has a main house and a converted smoke house. The size of the island varies between 0.5 acres and 3.7 acres depending on the range of the tide.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, and no I cannot pronounce it, is on the Island of Anglesey. The name was supposedly contrived in 1869 as a publicity stunt so that the railway station had the longest name in Britain. It is known locally as Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG. The name translates in English as “St Marys Church in the hollow of the White Hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilio of the Red Cave”.
We had a lovely couple of days with Ronnie and Karen before heading off to Southport to see Lin and Rob, who we’d not seen since Cartagena in 2018. We stopped off on the way at Crosby Beach which is home to The Iron Men, an installation in the sea by Antony Gormley. There are 100 cast iron figures spread across 3km of sandy beach, each weighing 650 kilos. The men are made up from 17 body casts of Antony Gormley. Some are placed further out into the water so all you can see at high tide is their head and then gradually more of the statue becomes visible with the recess of the tide. It is a strange sight.
One of Southport’s legends was Red Rum who was exercised on Southport Beach. To commemorate this a mural of the three-time Grand National winner was commissioned as part of Sefton’s Borough of Culture celebrations for 2020. We had a walk along Southport Pier too which is the second longest pleasure pier after Southend-on-Sea, near to our home town. It was lovely to catch up with Lin and Rob but we had to head home trying to avoid the traffic on the motorways.
Ian, not one to be kept away from sailing for long, was invited to crew on a trimaran for the Multihull National Championships being held during Burnham Week and won the title. This was one mean machine of a boat which reached speeds in excess of 25knots which made Ian realise that he maybe getting too old for this sort of racing.
Ian’s Dad, John, after six weeks in hospital was finally discharged. Sadly, he passed away on 19th September 2021. Fortunately, covid restrictions had been lifted and so we were able to give him a good send off. We held the wake, at the only place we could and that was at the Island Yacht Club, of which he was a Trustee and had played a big part in his life.
One of the annual events at the Yacht Club is the Laying Up Supper. There was quite a crowd of us that went along and we had pre and after dinner drinks at the Riches Household. Apologies to the neighbours for the row we made but we did have a fantastic night. A final farewell before we headed back to the boat.