Anglesey, it’s an island of two halves

When we were on holiday we went to Anglesey for the afternoon.

We went because I have never been before, and I always like to collect new places.  Anglesey also, I was led to believe, had a plethora of interesting local biscuits, not available anywhere else in the British Isles.

I’d go a long way for an interesting biscuit.

And Anglesey was quite a long way.  And then, when you get there, it’s just a small expanse of greenness sitting in the sea.

Firstly we drove from one end of Anglesey to the other.  That in itself didn’t take very long, and it was quite cool as an end in itself.  I like getting to the end of bits of land.  It’s geographically very satisfying.  And I like seeing how many times I can use the word ‘end’ in one paragraph.

At the end of Anglesey is Holyhead.

What can I say about Holyhead?

I had kind of imagined it as being rather pretty, and a bit holy. I think I was possibly mixing it up with somewhere like Lindisfarne, maybe.

It is not at all like that.

We drove around Holyhead in a perplexed manner.  We were looking for somewhere nice to stop and have a cup of tea and a bun.

It did not exist.

As we were driving around I turned to the children in the back seat.  I said: ‘Do you remember all the times I have tried to describe to you what it was like growing up in the Nineteen Seventies?’

They nodded.  I said: ‘This. This is what the Nineteen Seventies were like.’

We all wept.

On the way out of Holyhead we stopped. Jason and the children wanted a restorative milkshake from McDonalds.  I wanted to go to Asda next door because we needed bread and milk.  Well, I didn’t want to, because I’m not keen on Asda in general, but I needed bread and milk and it was handy.

I have never been in such a dismal Asda in my life. Truly.  It smelled of death and stale buns.

And despair.

And I was stuck in the queue behind a woman buying three whole boxes of cartons of UHT milk, which in itself was enough to plunge one into depression, even if they weren’t your cartons.

And there were no special Anglesey biscuits to be seen.


So I sulked, and pulled out my feathers a bit.

To add insult to injury, I was sticking the stuff in the boot when a car horn sounded behind me. I instinctively turned around to look, and shut the edge of the car boot lid on the side of my head.

Thank you Holyhead.

We left suspecting that the old version of the name might actually have been Holey Head.

It certainly was for me.

It was one of those injuries that was so sharp it felt hot, and then it made me cry, and I felt rather sick, and everyone was a bit concerned in case I suddenly dropped down dead.

I didn’t.

But I did swear quite a lot.

I needed Anglesey to redeem itself, and fast.  We were all beginning to wonder quite why we had wasted an afternoon.

On the way back we passed a sign for a National Trust property called Plas Newydd, so we decided to visit, and prayed that it was still open.  National Trust visiting is a fairly seasonal event, and lots of properties either close, or have very Nineteen Seventies opening hours (Wednesdays 3.00 p.m. until 4.30 p.m. etc) after the summer is over.

We pulled into the car park to find that it was still open.

Not only was it still open, but it was beautiful.

The property was gorgeous. The grounds were gorgeous.  The staff were super welcoming, really knowledgeable and great with the children, and the tea room was, in the children’s parlance; ‘epic’.

Anglesey finally redeemed itself.

Although I didn’t see a single special biscuit the whole time I was there.

I am wondering if they knew I was coming and they had deliberately hidden the key to the biscuit cupboard.

After all, I am an invading foreigner.

12 responses to “Anglesey, it’s an island of two halves

  1. I know to which Anglesey biscuit you are referring for I, too, saw that episode of the Great British Bake Off where they did one of those informational inserts about it. And I have to tell you that The Lovely Husband, having been born and bred in Wales, expressed astonishment while watching said programme at the time and stated that they were having everyone on as there was no such thing, in his experience, as an Anglesey biscuit. So there. But I do have to warn you that, even though he was born in the valleys within the sound of a hundred male voice choirs, he despises all things Welsh and ran away as soon as he could so the fact that he had not heretofore come across said Anglesey biscuits does not mean that if you hadn’t gone to the next settlement along you wouldn’t have been accosted by mountains of the things (holy torturous sentence, Batman). But, yeah, I don’t think they exist!

  2. You’ve cheered me up no end with this. Thank you.

  3. Ahh, Anglesey. Memories of wet boat trips around Puffin island, and never seeing any puffins…

    I went many times as a child- memorably staying in a falling down caravan that stank of calor gas, where it took us a week to find the crockery. We used to stay in Rhosneigr, where Kate and Wills now reside, I believe.
    Anglesey doesn’t appear to have road signs- this may have changed in the last 30 years though. Beaumaris Castle was quite good.

    But by far the best thing we ever did was go to a family run circus- all the ‘acts’ were terrible. The woman who sold us the tickets (in her dressing gown and curlers) was also the trapeze artist, and sold peanuts at half time. There was a very sad looking Shetland pony, that they let about 5 people at a time ride. It was all so unbelievably bad, that we went back a second time to check we hadn’t just seen them on a bad day. We hadn’t. It was very funny.:-)

  4. I saw that episode of GBBO too, and sat there saying ‘but we went to Anglesey on holiday when we were kids and I don’t remember those biscuits’. Would you really start arsing about with a seashell when you just needed to make a batch of biscuits? It smacks of teasing a BBC researcher, if you ask me.

    Hollyhead as an evocation of growing up in the 70s is just perfect!

  5. Sarah,
    Exactly. No I wouldn’t.

  6. Reading your adventures always send me to wikipedia and google maps to follow along. I am traveling vicariously through you!

  7. Rosie
    I am hardly a seasoned world traveller, but I do get to some interesting places despite myself!

  8. i make little notations to myself of where to go and where to avoid just from following your adventures.

  9. I hope you’ve put a big cross through Holyhead.

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