steam power Wales

Family Fun on the Snowdon Mountain Railway

While enjoying a family holiday on Anglesey we decided it would be a great day out if we all went on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, something that none of us had ever done before. The idea was that we would all go up to the summit of Snowdon on the railway and our children with their spouses would walk back down. Jude and I with Arabella would make the descent by train.

We had a brilliant family day out! We began at the train station at the bottom of the mountain railway track, booked our tickets and waited for the off. It was a busy little station painted brightly in yellow and green, decorated with carved wooden detailing. It loked so cheerful on this sunny day. We had time for refreshment in the station buffet as we waited for the arrival of our train. Excitement rose as it pulled in to the station. Our engine was called Padarn. The huge smile on Arabella’s face reflected our excitement.

There is something so special about riding a steam train but the thought of this little engine pulling us up a mountain added extra frisson.


The slow ascent accompanied by the sounds and smells of the steam engine, took us through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. We all felt so lucky. Everyone smiled for the whole journey and excitedly commentated to their friends or family. Passengers who began the ascent as strangers were soon talking and chatting like old friends – the power of steam nostalgia.


At the summit we had a short time to appreciate the engine and the view, enjoy a coffee and watch Jamie, Sam, Jo and Rob set off walking down the mountain, the tallest mountain in England and Wales.


We have waited ages to get around to making the journey of the steam railway to the summit of Mount Snowdon and back, but it was most certainly worth the wait. I don’t think it will be long before we return to do it all over again.





garden design gardening gardens recycling

An Ugly Duckling

Remember the story of “The Ugly Duckling” one of the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales, also a children’s song sung by Danny Kaye? We used to listen to that song on the radio when we were kids growing up in the 50’s on a programme called “Children’s Favourites”. Well, this post reminds me of it!

The least favourite part of our garden which we inherited when we first moved into our Plealey home ten years ago, is the central concrete pathway in the back garden. It consisted of a row of 3 feet by 2 feet concrete slabs with a concrete border each side about 9 inches wide. It looked so ugly, dull and grey!

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We decided to take up every other slab and replace them with purple slate. This was hard work as the slabs were 2 inches thick concrete and were very close together making leverage more difficult than we had anticipated. Where there were any spaces between them these had been filled with mortar. So it took a while to lever up each slab with a spade. We then “walked ” them onto a porters trolley to take them away.

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We put weed suppressing membrane down and topped it up with a good deep layer of slate.

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We have always wanted to get rid of it or at least change its look. We have at last got round to doing it. It was hard work but it gave us something creative to do on a cold  day when the ground was too wet to work on.

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One of the added bonuses of using any form of slate in the garden is the fact that it  features different colours depending on whether it is wet or dry. The slate was wet when we put it down so in the above photos the slate is purple-black in colour and deeply glossy, but when dry it goes much paler almost white with just a hint of grey and is matt in texture.

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So, there we have it the ugly duckling of a concrete path – turned into the beautiful swan – the new path of alternating slate and slab. We were pleased that we had managed to do this using recycled or re-used materials. The slabs were obviously our own and the slate came from the waste heaps of the old Welsh slate mines. These come from the waste heaps which until recently had no use whatsoever and they were a blot on the landscape of Snowdonia.

A good days work! An attractive new garden feature, reusing our old slabs and bringing in just one new material and that was a quarrying industry by-product.