Megs at Blaenau Ffestiniog
Family Life

2023 – Year In Review

Well it’s now February and I’ve yet to post my 2023 Year In Review. Work is busy (although not as busy as normal) and there’s no rush as this post is purely a diary for my own records really.


January is always a bit of a crap month. Work is busy, weather is iffy, no trains… however in our house we have not one, not two but three birthdays! My eldest had her birthday party at Zipworld Llechwedd before a meal at Caffi Llyn in Tanygrisiau. I had a birthday meal at Spooners in between final tax returns. The other birthday was our Beagle-bum Gemma turning 13! Didn’t think she’d see end of the year though (see May!)


With tax season finished we managed to get out of the house. There was a few walks around the area including Aber Falls and the waterfall in Llanberis (I forget it’s name). During half term I took the girls down to visit Dolgoch Falls… which just happened to be right next to the Talyllyn Railway.

Also we met up with my Dad and family to go to Ropeworks Active in Llanberis. On this day I also met a friendly little kid on the path around the Padarn Country Park. (By kid I mean a baby goat).


March was a month of thrills! Very early in the month I went to the Neighbours Celebration Tour. I had booked tickets back in 2022 when they announced the Farewell Tour. In the meantime Amazon picked up the rights and Neighbours was announced it was returning to our screens! So the Farewell Tour became a Celebration Tour and it was wonderful. There were 6 cast members present – April Rose Pengilly (Chloe Brennan), Ryan Maloney (Toadie), Alan Fletcher (Karl Kennedy), Jacqui Woodburn (Susan Kennedy), Annie Jones (Jane Harris) and Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson). I found it to be really quite emotional – I think it’s because of the link back to Nain.

I finally managed to use my ZipWorld vouchers and took Dad to both ZipWorld Bethesda (on the quarry karts and Velocity) and to Zipworld Llechwedd (on Titan). The Llechwedd visit was great because Dad used to work there so I had a mini historical tour with him. We both got absolutely drenched as it was torrential! Bad even by Blaenau standards – and that’s saying something!


Rebecca selfie in front of a Ruston engine at Threlkeld Mining Museum

April started off with a trip to the Lake District. We went to visit Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum. The weather turned out lovely the day after so we took a trip on Windermere Cruises. The views were spectacular. On the way home we stopped off at Brockholes in Preston. Lovely place for a walk and would be a great place for birdwatching (if you didn’t have screaming kids in tow).

Rebecca pointing to free bikes in the boot of the car

I decided to take up cycling and managed to get myself a free bike from Facebook Marketplace. After having Halfords check it over I went for a spin and realised I was so unfit! Not deterred I took myself on a jaunt on Lon Eifion and cycled from Bryncir to just outside Penygroes.

Rebecca selfie at Brecon Mountain Railway

However the absolute highlight of the month was a trip to South Wales with the girls and my Dad and his family. It was lovely! Girls had a great time with their Uncle (not much of an age gap between them). We visited Brecon Mountain Railway, Big Pit, Rhondda Heritage Centre and Zipworld Tower. I don’t know enough about South Wales and would love to visit again.


Palace Street during Gwyl Fwyd Caernarfon

May brought with is some days out. We went to Sioe Nefyn as it was sunny (unheard of for May bank holiday Monday!) and it was a good day out. The crowds descended on Caernarfon for the Gwyl Fwyd Caernarfon Food Festival. Lots of food and entertainment. We managed to catch a poetry slam at The Old Courthouse and a session of Hywel Pitts singing his comedy songs.

Morfa Bychan

The weather was warm enough for a few visits to the beach – including a first visit to Morfa Bychan for the girls. The usual go to of Dinas Dinlle beach was also visited. It wasn’t quite the Summer of 2022 weather so wetsuits were required. Always fun! On one visit I spotted a birds nest in the rocks and there was a little bird trying to protect her precious eggs. Whilst I was there I kept a lookout but I somewhat doubt the eggs survived thanks to the hungry seagulls – I love them but nature is cruel.

There was more good weather so we did a few walks including from Tanygrisiau to Oakeley Arms (blog post / video) and to Aberogwen (video). There was another trip to the Ropeworks Active where I very ungraciously did the jump from the high ropes!


Our biggest pup – Gemma the Beagle – was unwell. She had decided to not eat, always peeing and hiding in the garden. She had a substantial mammary mass and a mass on her hind leg. We booked her in for the operation on the mammary mass and during the pre-op routine blood checks it was found that she was in fact diabetic! The not eating and the excessive water intake (and subsequent peeing) made complete sense! So the vet put her on a diet and started her on twice daily insulin shots and she was soon feeling better. I won’t admit how much it all cost…. thank you insurance is all I say!


Sunset at Dinas Dinlle

June was a pretty quiet really. Some more beach days. We had fledgling crows in the garden again. I had to rescue one from the dogs and whilst it wasn’t hurt, it didn’t survive and died shortly after. Shame because it was a cute little thing.

There were plenty of things going on over on the Ffestiniog Railway (see this post).


Leander at Valley

No heatwave this year meant that steam was out on the North Wales Coast again! Leander made an appearance and we had a day of chasing it from Puffin Cafe (Penmaenmawr) all the way to Holyhead. You ought to watch the video….

There was another birthday in the house with my youngest turning 8. She had a Super Mario themed party at home. A group of kiddos hyped up on McDonalds and sweets playing Mario Kart! She enjoyed so that’s all that matters.

Megs at Blaenau Ffestiniog

Gemma had another operation. This time it was to remove the mammary mass which she should’ve had removed back in May. As she was in recovery for a bit, I took the other pup to meet my friend and her pup in Porthmadog. We had a walk along the Cob and around town. Afterwards I took Megs up to Blaenau Ffestiniog and took her for a walk along the slate tips.

Getting wet at Portmeirion

I also went to Portmeirion to see the Oakeley Band perform. Typically it was chucking it down (always is when I visit Portmeirion!) and I ended up sitting on one of the benches sitting in a black bin bag just to keep my legs dry!


Two photos - one of Rebecca holding the Banoffee waffle and one of the waffle itself

Ah Summer…. one of the main events of Summer was the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol at Boduan. I haven’t been to an Eisteddfod since I was a teenager (Bala 1997) but seeing as it was local I decided to attend. Also I was volunteering with the Railway so sort of had to. Anyway, it was great! Really enjoyed it.

We did a few quarry walks including to Gorseddau quarry (more in September) and to Dinorwig. Dinowrig Quarry looked quite different to our visit in August 2022 (as can be seen in this video)

Black 5 at Llandudno Junction

Although the weather wasn’t as good this year we did still manage some beach days. And more county shows (this time Sioe Mon and Sioe Meirion with work).

There was of course a steam train come in to Blaenau Ffestiniog. So I had a day out of chasing one of the Black 5s along the Conwy Valley Line. Naturally there’s a video!


Paddling at Dolrhedyn

Some nice weather occurred and we had a lovely day out in Blaenau. Not nice enough for a swim at Dolrhedyn but nice enough for a paddle. After that we met up with my Dad and co at Spooners for a really lovely evening out. There was a couple of evenings where we are able to visit the beach again though.

Lon Clegir View

On one evening we went to Llanberis for a walk and a little paddle but on the way back along Ffordd Clegir I managed to get not one but TWO punctures! Got stranded on that back road for a couple of hours. In the end I had to abandon the car and sort it out the following day.

View from the Queen of the Sea

The Eryri Tales and Trails event happened and I got to go on a guided walk to Gorseddau Quarry with Dr Dafydd Gwyn. The very same weekend we went for a trip on Queen of the Sea and visited the open house at Bath Tower in Caernarfon’s castle walls. The Bath Tower had recently been refurbished by Landmark Trust.

There was a trip to Statfold Barn with the railway and a visit to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway with the kiddos.


James Spooner arrives at Blaenau Ffestiniog Station

Over at the railway Bygones Weekend happened as well as various other events (James Spooner official naming!) but in other news… the girls and I had a jaunt over to Denbigh to see my little brother perform with the band at Denbigh & District Male Voice Choir’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Dinorwig Quarry

On a random Sunday sans children I went for a walk along the old Padarn Railway track to see some landmarks at Bethel and Llanrug. There was also another walk to Dinorwig Quarry. The place is massive!


Disneyland Paris - Sleeping Beauty's Castle

The obvious highlight of November was of course the Disneyland Paris trip. It was a last minute decision to go – husband was turning 40 and we decided to go to Disneyland Paris for the weekend! We kept it as a surprise from the girls and only told them the night before we were leaving. It was such a good weekend. Weather wasn’t too great (thank you storm whatever for the 2 hour train delay in Lille) but it didn’t dampen our spirits. Food was fab, fireworks were a spectacle, the rides were great – our favourite being Big Thunder Mountain! There’s so much to say about Disneyland Paris so I’ve got a post specifically about that. In the meantime I suggest you take a look at my videos over on YouTube.


Llanfair Slate Caverns

For some Christmas fun we went to the National Slate Museum to see Sion Corn. It was a lovely morning out – saw Sion and Sian Corn arrive by train, had a session of making pomanders, storytime with Sian Corn and then a visit to the big man himself. As always, simply wonderful. We also visited Llanfair Slate Caverns to see Sion Corn there as well.

Snow in Blaenau

Snow appeared on the mountaintops and I took the girls to Blaenau to see it (and a visit to Caffi Llyn thrown in for good measure). Not the only visit as I also went up to see my brother play in the band for the Goleuo Stiniog night. He’s not the only performer though – the girls performed their Christmas play and it was so good!

Elf the Musical

And that wasn’t the only play we saw. We had tickets to go see Elf the Musical at the AO Arena. It was the first time I’ve ever been to one of the suites so that as a fun experience. Girls loved it of course as it meant free sweets! Unfortunately I’ve now spoilt it for them going to any future shows as they will expect VIP treatment.

Christmas was the same old chaos – girls were happy with their haul, lunch was lovely (diolch Mam) but I came down with a horrible cold. There was a lot of it about. Post Christmas I was off work but managed to have a few trips out including to Blaenau (and of course there was a train involved – see Moving Pictures 87!

So that’s it! That was the year that was!

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