Fun and Food by the seaside! – Criccieth Food Slam 2017 – by Helen

Last year we had a such fantastic time wandering around the Criccieth Food Slam – sampling just about every brilliant food and drink stall there was, and  taking in the great entertainment for a highly enjoyable few hours. So this year we decided we wanted to be a part of it all!

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Gorgeous views of Criccieth Castle from the Festival location
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Becci looking ready to greet the public on our lovely little stand – featuring helper Alex deeply immersed in our latest issue!

This year we took our We Love Llŷn ‘Roadshow’ with us to the Food Slam and became part of the atmosphere promoting the magazine and mobile app out of our 1982 vintage VW campervan which is of course painted in the We Love Llŷn colours – that along with our colourful stand drew lots of attention! We received loads of wonderful compliments about the magazine, the app and the website and there were some amazing vibes from both established readers as well as new together with great feedback from advertisers who have been receiving lots of response from their advertising with us.

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Our ‘We Love Llŷn rock’ went down very well!

We were giving away We Love Llŷn magazines together with We Love Llŷn pens and sticks of rock (all in our signature turquoise and white colours!) and it was lovely to chat to so many people, both local and lots visiting Pen Llŷn.

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We were serenaded by brilliant live entertainment throughout the day

We Love Llyn has also got together with the Wales Air Ambulance to run a summer Treasure Hunt around Pen Llŷn giving visitors and residents the opportunity to explore the Peninsula  right round to Aberdaron with an intriguing set of clues to follow!  The prize is £50 and can be completed any time over the summer until the end of September! We sold lots of entries at the Food Slam and if you would also like to take part, it starts in Abersoch and you can enter by contacting us at the We Love Llyn office or calling at Present Thoughts in Abersoch! Entry forms are £5 each with all proceeds going to Wales Air Ambulance.

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Richard from Pant Ddu said that they were pleased to be in such a great place on the sea front to sell their cider, and Matt from Merywen Gin said their first visit to the Food Slam had been very busy and were delighted by the quality and quantity of traders that were there, with a crowd drawn from all over Wales and beyond, and would definitely be there again next year! Gemma from Dylans summed it up saying ‘What a lovely family friendly event again this year.  Great music, stalls and lots of happy faces’ and we can only agree, it was a tremendous success and huge thanks to the organisers for a well managed and superb event!

Look out for the We Love Llyn Roadshow at other events over the coming months and come and say ‘Hi’!

Thanks for reading!

-Helen, (Big Boss Lady at We Love Llyn)

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A Day out in Criccieth – by Jo Toft

Last spring Jo Toft spent a day in the lovely local town of Criccieth and wrote all about it for our Spring 2016 edition of We Love Llŷn magazine. Read on to find out what she thought of her day out!


 

Criccieth is located on the south side of the Llŷn peninsula, close to Porthmadog and Llanystumdwy, and is very much a destination in its own right. Known for its landmark ruined castle and its connection with former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Criccieth is a small town which became a popular Victorian seaside resort thanks to its station on the Cambrian Coast railway line.

We took a short drive to spend the day in Criccieth and found ourselves with plenty to do!

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10am – Cadwaladers

Our first stop is the famous ice cream café and coffee shop, Cadwaladers, located on Ffordd y Castell/Castle Street. Opened in 1927 by the Cadwaladers family, and originally a general grocery store, this is where the Cadwaladers story began when Hannah Cadwalader started making batches of vanilla ice cream in the window of the family shop. Her original recipe was a closely guarded secret, reputedly including ‘6lbs of shan’t tell you’ and ‘a great deal of love and care’. Eventually the ice cream became the family’s main focus and by the 1960s the shop had become an ice cream parlour. To this day Cadwalader’s vanilla ice cream is still made using Hannah’s secret recipe.

At 10am on a grey February morning, in the midst of Storm Gertrude, it’s not an ice cream we’re after but a strong coffee! We sit in the window at the back of the café and watch the huge waves crashing into the breakwater, a lone surfer attempting, and failing, to catch a wave. It’s a nice spot and in the summer would be the perfect place to enjoy an ice cream sundae and take in the view.

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11am – Criccieth Castle

The ruined castle really dominates the small town of Criccieth, standing high above the rows of houses on a rocky hill. Despite the howling gale we decide to venture up to the castle. As its low season the visitor centre, a small cottage which has been converted into a shop/ticket office/exhibition isn’t open, however, there is a gate at the side of the building which is left open, allowing free access to the castle ruins.

Although the castle appears to sit high above the rest of the town the path up to the ruins is actually quite short, it is however steep and there is only a simple handrail so it might not be suitable for everyone and certainly not for unruly young children!

Originally built as a Welsh castle, Criccieth was used as a royal residence and prison. Llywelyn ap Iorwerth began work on the inner ward around 1230, the outer walls being added in the 1260s by his grandson Llywleyn ap Gruffudd. By 1283 however the castle was in the hands of the English; Edward I did much to fortify it, heightening the walls and towers and strengthening the North Tower in order to mount a siege engine. Just as well he did as by 1294 the castle was under siege during a Welsh revolt. On that occasion it held, however it was sacked and burnt in 1404 during the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr. It was never rebuilt and consequently is now in a poor state compared to some of our other local castles – See our castles feature on page 52

There are some information boards mounted on the castle walls, along with a map of the original castle outline, so you can just about picture what it would once have looked like. Standing on the sloping ground in front of the ruined gatehouse towers you can image that with men stationed atop the tower, flags flying and the sturdy portcullis down this would have been an imposing and impressive sight.

Perhaps most impressive today are the amazing views which can be seen from the ruins; beyond Criccieth itself you can see along the coast in both directions with Harlech easily visible on a clear day. Due to the incredibly strong winds we stay within the castle walls, such as they are, but on a less blustery day we could’ve ventured outside the walls and enjoyed the view from one of the various benches that are dotted around.

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1pm – Dylan’s

After nearly blowing away whilst exploring the castle we are cold and hungry and more than ready for lunch. We arrive at Dylan’s and despite it being a miserable Monday in February there are quite a few other people already seated.

We thoroughly enjoy our lunch here – see our ‘review and recommend’ feature opposite.

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2.30pm – Beach Walk

Following lunch we have a brief walk along the esplanade which runs parallel to the beach. Thanks to Storm Gertrude there’s sand and stones all over the road and some quite impressive waves to watch. In the summer this is a popular beach, it’s an easy walking distance from the town and there is a large car park just yards away. This summer Dylan’s will be serving coffees and ice creams on the beachfront from their newly restored retro van. Perfect.

If you want to extend this walk continue along the esplanade (which becomes Lon Felin) past the lifeboat station on your right, and up the hill towards the castle. Once you pass the castle rising up on your left you’ll begin to descend towards Marine Terrace, an imposing row of Victorian houses, now mostly B&Bs and guest houses, presumably originally built to cater for Criccieth’s Victorian holidaymakers. Here you can choose to walk along the road or the beach, which once again runs parallel on your left. Follow the road to your right, over the railway line and you’ll find yourself back on the main road which runs through the centre of the town, here you’re in the perfect place to wander along Criccieth’s main street and enjoy its many shops.

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3.30pm – Antiques Shops

We browse the antiques shops, of which there are several. Criccieth Gallery Antiques/Yr Oriel Criccieth is my favourite, it’s a real treasure trove of jewellery, pottery, silverware and small pieces of furniture and is well worth a look if you want to add some unique touches to your home, or if you’re looking for a quirky little gift. There are several other antiques and gifts shops along the high street so take your time and enjoy a good browse.

It’s also worth taking a look at Rousell’s Auction House if you can catch it when it’s open – auctions have been held here regularly on the last Saturday of the month, however the Auction House is currently in the process of being transformed into a shop which will sell a ‘range of home wares, gift ware, antiques and curios’.

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4.15pm – On the trail of David Lloyd George

David Lloyd George, Prime Minister between 1916 and 1922 grew up just a few miles down the road from Criccieth in the village of Llanystumdwy (where you can visit his childhood home). In later years he lived in Criccieth and before we head home we have a quick drive around in search of his family home, Morfin. We find this not far from Cadwalader’s, on a small side street called Tanygrisaiu Terrace. It’s an unassuming building, one of a short row of three storey Victorian terraced houses, and was Lloyd George’s home for around 10 years and also the location of his very first solicitor’s office. If this sort of historical trail interests you then take a look at Criccieth Memorial Hall, set back from the main road the Memorial Hall is a large public building, the foundation stone of which was laid by Lloyd George in 1922.

5pm – Time for another coffee!

Here at We Love Llŷn we need at least two strong cups of coffee to see us through the day – before we leave Criccieth we grab a takeaway coffee from No. 46, a lovely coffee shop right on the main street. Along with Cadwaladers and No. 46 there’s also the Blue China Tea Rooms, located close to the Lifeboat Station and Caffi Cwrt, a quaint little traditional cottage tea room set below the grassed area just off the main road, both of which are worth a visit if you’re spending the day in Criccieth.

-Jo Toft


 

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Kill for a Seat – Comedy at Dylan’s Criccieth

I bet you’ve never seen a stand up comedy show with a castle and a sunset in the background before… Dylan’s got the recipe right when it comes to views, windows – and a fantastic events schedule.

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We were greeted by a beautiful sky on a calm but chilly friday evening

In my 25 years of living in Pen Llŷn, I’ve been to several comedy shows. I’ve had to travel to places like London and Manchester for it, but I’ve seen quite a few! I’ve even been to comedy clubs in Amsterdam and California too, so you can call me a fan for sure. But I’d never think this wonderful art form on stage would come so close to my home.

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When I saw on Dylan’s schedule of events that there was a comedy night coming up, I booked a slot for myself and my friends as soon as possible. There were no details at the time of what it was or who was performing, but I adore comedy, especially stand up, so I thought I’d give it a go. I naiively thought that it was just some sort of local act trying out their skills on a familiar and friendly audience, I had no idea that Dylan’s had gone all out in securing some brilliant comedians from all over the country. For £9 a ticket, we got so much for our money!

 

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We arrived at 8:30 for the 9pm start having just caught a quick dinner at Mei’s Fusion (see my previous blog post – I wasn’t lying when I said I’d be back!) We were greeted by the most beautiful sunset sky over the castle – Dylan’s views of Criccieth never fail to impress. As it happens the posters on the door into Dylans were the first time I had seen the title of the show – ‘Kill for a Seat’ – which turns out to be a fantastic travelling comedy club setup etstablished in 1994 and organized by the one and only Silky, also the words ‘SOLD OUT’ – made us feel especially excited.

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The eldeflower ‘mocktail’ is brilliant with a cheeky shot of gin added in…

We grabbed some cocktails from the bar and found our seats. The room was packed with a jovial atmosphere, I got the impression a lot of people had just had a lovely meal next door in the dining area of Dylans and were happy, full, and possibly a couple of drinks in- the comedians couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere and audience. I was delighted to discover that there were four acts in store for us, and the show began with the beautiful sky outside still glowing pink providing an amazing backdrop. Tiernan Douieb, our first act and compere, commented on the view observing that it was very rare that he was upstaged by a sunset. Tiernan brought the energy from the very start, chatting to and bouncing off members of the crowd and cosying up the room by getting us all acquainted. Tiernan was getting some wonderful energy from the crowd (although some more than others!) from the outset so when it came to introduce the next act, the crowd gave them a warm (and loud!) welcome. Jonathan Williams is as close to home grown talent as I think we may ever experience. Hailing from Felinheli (near Bangor) this ‘local’ boy was very familiar with the area and this worked to his advantage as he entertained us with some observations and quips about the local area and it’s people.

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Tiernan opening the show

We had a short interval in which table service was provided by the lovely waiting on staff, and a large wooden slab full of slices of Dylan’s well known and delicious pizzas was handed around to the crowd. Even though I was full from my meal earlier I still managed to enjoy a slice!

Our next act was Kevin Caswell-Jones. Kevin hails from Wrexham though you wouldn’t have known it from his slightly soft-spoken but distinctly posh accent. We soon learned that Kevin is a nurse by day and a comedian by night, (or perhaps the other way round knowing how NHS shift patterns vary!) Kevin had an air of experience about him, like he was completely comfortable on stage (how true that is from Kevin’s perspective I have no idea) and kept the crowd laughing throughout his routine.

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Table service meant we could order a naughty dessert… This one’s the ‘trio of desserts’: Pannacotta, Messy Mon, and Tiramasu… there’s always room for dessert!

One more interval to keep us well hydrated and it was time for our headline act. Silky kept up the momentum with skill moving fluidly back and forth from the sophisticated to the silly, at one point had the whole crowd in stitches acting out the many uses of a £30 guitar stand. (You have to see it to understand the hilarity – but trust me- it worked!) Between bantering with the now very tipsy crowd and joking about his own life he had us laughing from start to finish. Silky rounded off the evening in style by singing (and might I add – playing his beautiful guitar extremely skillfully) a couple of his funny songs. The first was a soulful but catchy lament dedicated to police community support officers, and the last was an upbeat song that described life from the point of view of a dog with playful accuracy, ending with a hilariously abrupt punch line that brought the rolling energy of the show to a raucous pinnacle.

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Silky entertaining the crowd

The whole room was enjoying themselves from start to finish, I know myself and my three friends enjoyed the show thoroughly, we’re looking forward to the next!

Dylan’s do have more comedy nights planned, I will be watching their facebook page like a hawk, from the wonderful success of this night I’m sure tickets will sell fast the next time round.

If you’d like email updates when ‘Kill for a Seat’ might be returning to the area, you can sign up for the mailing list here!

You can also find Dylan’s schedule of events here.

6 of the Best Easter Egg Hunts on Pen Llŷn

Easter Egg Hunts – a classic Easter activity and a real favourite with most children (and quite a few parents too). Hop along and join in the fun!

 

1. Porth y Swnt Easter Egg Hunt

Friday 25th– Sunday 28th March

The Henfaes Centre: Porth y Swnt, Gwynedd.
Porth y Swnt, Aberdaron

Join the National Trust for an Easter adventure in Aberdaron – explore the visitor centre and the village to find clues and claim your Cadbury Easter Egg – £2 per trail. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/porth-y-swnt

 

2. Llanberis Lake Railway Easter Egg Hunt

Friday 25th – Monday 29th March

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Llanberis Lake Railway

Hunt for the Easter Eggs cunningly hidden around the railway and stations and look out for the White Rabbit! Prizes for the kids.

www.lake-railway.co.uk/index.php/en/events

3. Criccieth Castle Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday 26th March, 11am – 3pm

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Criccieth Castle

Take on the trails at the mighty fortress and see what you can find – the first 50 children who take part will be rewarded with an Easter prize so make sure you get there early to avoid disappointment. Egg-citing stuff!

http://cadw.gov.wales/events/allevents/easter-egg-hunt-criccieth-castle-march-2016/?lang=en

4. Dylan’s Beach Front Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday 26th March – 11.30 am

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Dylans on the beach-front in Criccieth

Join the gang at Dylan’s Criccieth for their fantastic beach front egg hunt. Top prizes for the kids – pop down and enjoy the sea, sun, surf & chocolates (or at least three of those!) www.dylansrestaurant.co.uk/events/beach-front-easter-egg-hunt/

5. Plas yn Rhiw Easter Egg Hunt

26th & 27th March

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Plas yn Rhiw

Join in the fun at Plas yn Rhiw, follow the trail through the stunning garden to claim your Cadbury chocolate egg – £2 per trail.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/plas-yn-rhiw

 

6. Easter Bonnet Decorating at Fron Goch Garden Centre

26th March, 10am-11am

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Fron Goch Garden Centre, Near Caernarfon

Not an easter egg hunt but just as fun!

The delightful Fron Goch Garden Centre just outside Caernarfon holds regular activity sessions for children as part of their Little Diggers club which aims to creatively introduce children to gardening and nature. Join them on 26th March for an Easter bonnet making session£4.95 per child, per session including a free regular tea or filter coffee for accompanying adult.
Booking in advance is recommended as spaces are limited – for details call 01286 672212 or visit  www.frongoch-gardencentre.co.uk

 

 

Now there’s no excuse to get out and about this easter!  Don’t forget to tag  your pictures online #welovellyn or #carullyn so we can see what you get up to!

 

Blog by Jo Toft