Sunday, 27 November 2011

A Trip to the Seaside (Part 1)

The sweep of the bay at Llandudno, with the Great Orme in the background.

I've always lived in the Midlands of England, where the sea is around ninety miles distant so the sea became a source of fascination to me and visits to the sea were always prized. One of my favourite destinations then, and now, was Llandudno on the North Wales coast. In 'Steam around Morecambe' I explained that my visit to that Lancashire resort came about because my mother was responsible for a party of about 200 pensioners from the West Midlands on a week's holiday organised by a voluntary organisation. One of my early visits to Llandudno was similarly because my mother was looking after another large party of pensioners at the Welsh resort.

Llandudno has always seemed 'proper' seaside to me. There's a large, attractive bay framed between the Little Orme to the east and the Great Orme to the west. There's a wide promenade overlooked by a swathe of elegant Victorian hotels. There is still a splendid pier (when I was young, large pleasure steamers like the 'St. Tudno' docked at the seaward end). The town is still a good place to shop and many of the shops still sport verandahs over the pavement, lending a certain style. The cable-hauled Great Orme Tram still takes passengers to the summit of the Great Orme (in the season). Alas, the trams which ran through the town itself and out to Llandudno's second beach (the West Shore) are long gone. I'm old enough to remember the trams - after behaving quite properly in the town itself, the trams would suddenly dive off across fields and grind their way around the Little Orme to Rhos-on-Sea at the western end of Colwyn Bay. Llandudno still has its terminal railway station, although it's now a pale shadow of the station I remember from childhood, when steam-hauled excursion trains arrived from all over the place.

Over the years I've been back many times and on 26th November 2011, I decided to make another brief visit, before winter had us more firmly in its grasp.

My journey by rail was quite good and Arriva Trains Wales delivered me to Llandudno on time, just after eleven. I walked to the promenade, to enjoy the view shown in the heading photograph. The sea was quite placid although I could see waves breaking against the sea wall near the entrance to the pier. I walked along the promenade and then turned off into the town. Many of the hotels and boarding houses were closed for the winter and sported 'No Vacancies' signs.

Llandudno's attractive Town Hall.

The Town Hall was hosting an Antiques Fair, from which I emerged with a large Willow Pattern meat plate to add to my collection. The second hand bookshop I normally visit was closed but I found a shop with a splendid selection of discounted new books which proved irresistible.

The Imperial Hotel, Llandudno.

I then made my way back to the promenade and the Imperial Hotel where I decided to take lunch in the restaurant at the front of the hotel since it provides good views of the sea. A rainbow had appeared, its arc rising out of the sea to the east, climbing high into the sky and then diving behind the Great Orme. More prosaically, a noisy yellow-painted 'Sea King' helicopter from Air-Sea Rescue overflew the hotel. The battered haddock I ordered was excellent and I followed that with Fortes ice cream.

By the time I left the hotel after my leisurely meal, the sky was quite overcast and the wind had strengthened so that I made progress only with some difficulty. Accordingly, I decided to head back to the station and make my way home after a very enjoyable interlude.

More pictures of Llandudno.