Porth Wen Brickworks – Industrial Heritage on Anglesey

Although we’ve lived in North Wales for about 3 and a half years now, there’s still so much we haven’t seen, even just on Anglesey. As with most things, we have fallen into routines and habits that see us returning to the same locations weekend after weekend and not venturing off to see new things. For Pete’s birthday back in February we decided to buck that trend and set off to visit the Old Porth Wen Brickworks on the north coast of Anglesey between Cemaes Bay and Amlwch. 

It isn’t the easiest place to get to and I had to do some Google Map based research before I was confident we’d be able to find it. There’s no real parking, so going on a less than glorious day in mid-February worked in our favour as we could park next to the gateway to the footpath where there’s pretty much only space for one car (or two if you’re happy to be cheeky and completely block the gateway). From the ‘parking’ there is a marked footpath which leads towards the coast, as the footpath meets the Anglesey Coastal Path there is a fairly well worn but unofficial path that diverges off down towards the Brickworks. The route is quite steep and narrow and winds between rocks and dense gorse cover, you need to watch your step and I imagine at busy times of year there might be some awkward squeezing past strangers situations to deal with.

The Brickwork buildings were constructed around the turn of the 20th Century but the site had ceased operations by the beginning of the First World War. Many of the buildings are in ruins, but two large chimneys, the domed kilns and lots of old industrial parts remain. The kilns are striking and a big part of the site’s appeal – it appears that people make use of them for wild camping, although sadly many seem to lack any respect for the site and there are large volumes of litter and camping detritus in certain areas.

Our first view of the site and the bay beyond

One of the kilns
I thought this looked like a steampunk space capsule that had crashlanded

It was such a peaceful and still place (other than the wind) when we were there and I think it would be very different and less enjoyable to visit at a busier time of year and have to share it with other people. That might just be the misanthrope/introvert in me though. I don’t expect you’ve ever played the old computer games Myst or Riven but this place reminded me so much of them, like there was some hidden mystery to be discovered and solved. It was quite surreal really and hard to imagine what it must have been like when it was a hive of industry.

We had a bit of a snack picnic in a little cove in the cliff wall and Alf enjoyed exploring and finding all the little nooks and cranies. Pete couldn’t resist the opportunity to skim a few stones either.

I can definitly see the appeal of camping here, but it saddens me that some poeple are so thoughtless that they think it’s ok to enjoy a place but spoil it for others (and the wildlife) by leaving their rubbish behind – I’d maybe even like to go back with some big bin bags and do a clear up to try and discourage others from making such a mess in future.

I love the Anglesey coast and feel very lucky to live here and be able to enjoy it all year round, often being completely alone in such beautiful and interesting places.

Embracing 2017 – ?

I’ve had a bit of a stalling start to 2017 one way and another. I’m just coming off the back of my second nasty cold of the year and feeling like all I’ve done for the first 51 days of this year is be ill and too tired to do anything or been working hard to catch up with myself with a bit of food preparation and sleep thrown in along the way. Basically, I don’t feel I have done anything personally productive or worthwhile, which is disheartening as I had big plans for 2017 being a year of real personal achievement.

I spent a lot of December carefully crafting a list of things I wanted to try/do/achieve in the new year. I keep writing these lists, mostly because I wish I’d done a ‘Things to do before I’m 30’ list, but didn’t and now my 30th is nearly 2 years behind me. I also find it useful to set goals and record my achievements as part of my constant efforts to bolster my mental well-being – all well and good until I feel like I’m failing at life and then it is all just counterproductive.

Anyway….I’ve been meaning to write a bit about my list of ambitions in order to make them more concrete and hold myself more accountable to them than if they’re just scribbled in the back of a notebook that no-one ever sees and even I might never look at again.


  • Read 10 Books

I love reading and am a terrible book hoarder – I buy books at a much faster pace than I can read. I’ve possible got worse since I got a tablet last year and started reading Kindle books, although at least they don’t take up physical space in the house.

So far this year I finished reading The Unbroken Line of the Moon by Johanne Hildebrandt, which I really enjoyed and finished within a couple of weeks, and have moved on to Dark Eden by Chris Beckett, which is interesting but hasn’t gripped me like The Unbroken Line of the Moon and is taking me longer to get through. As a result of Kindle offers and sales I already have another 13 books waiting to be read – so I really shold get a move on with them!

  • Lose 7 Pounds

The ubiquitous weight loss goal! My success on the weight loss/management front has been really mixed over the past couple of years. I lost 8 pounds in the last 5 months of 2015, only to put it all back on over the Christmas period and subsequent months in which I was very ill. It took a while for me to find my stride again with watching what I ate and exercising but by the summer of last year I had got into a good habit of using the exercise bike between 3 and 6 times a week and lost around 6 pounds. The descent into autumn/winter and the festive season took it’s toll again and now I’m pretty much back at square one.

If I put my mind to it then 7 pounds really isn’t very much, but it’s the motivation and willpower that I lack. I have recently started doing Pilates as part of an initiative at work and am really enjoying that. Unfortunately it’s only a 6 week introduction though and I’m struggling to find a class locally that I can join once this is over.

  • Get another Tattoo & Get another Piercing

Both of these have been on my mental wish list for a while. I’ve had tattoo ideas in my mind and several occassions on which I intended to get inked – finishing my PhD and turning 30 in particular – but lack of funds, confidence and also knowing a good studio to go to have all contributed to me not actually doing anything about either.

I now have funds and think I have found a good studio, so it’s just the confidence to go in and talk to them about it that I need to work up! I know it’s silly, but my social anxiety usually does get the better of me still.

  • Climb Snowdon

We moved to North Wales 3 and a half year ago and now live around 25 miles from Snowdon. Despite this, and the fact that both Pete and our dog have made the ascent on more than a few occassions, I have still not made the trek myself.

Apart from the fact that it seems like something you should do if you live up here, it ties in with my general fitness and personal challenge aspirations so really want to tick this one off as soon as I can, hopefully in the spring once the weather is a little better but before the busy summer tourist season.

  • Have a birthday party

I’m less keen on this one than I was when I wrote this list. Since moving to Wales I haven’t had a party to celebrate my birthday, not even for my 30th, which was/is something that kind of upset me. As a result of Pete being away every summer for his research (my birthday in in July) and most of the people I know being 250 miles or more away, it’s just always seemed like more hassel/stess/upset/disappointment than it’s worth.

Pete turned 30 just over a week ago and had a party to celebrate last weekend, which kind of spurred me to want to do something for myself this year, but even organising his was a turbulent experience for me and being let down by people who I thought should care more is still a real kick in the gut for me that I’m not sure is really worth it.

  • Go to Iceland

This one is as good as ticked off already. As my birthday present to Pete for his 30th I am taking him to Iceland at the end of March. Flights and hotels are all booked, now we just need to work out how much of what we want to do can be fit into 8 days!

  • Clear out more junk

This should probably be broadened to ‘Clear out more stuff’ – I’m not a hoarder exactly, but I do own a lot of stuff and have trouble getting rid of things, either for sentimental reasons or because, well, you never know when that might be useful! I know it’s been something that has annoyed Pete for a long time, but now even I am getting frustrated with the amount of stuff I have everywhere and would like to have some clearer spaces in the house. I really need to get better at getting rid of things that I really don’t need – I’ve already sold a few things on eBay and have a box to go to the charity shop, but need to get more serious about it if I’m ever going to make a real dent on my accumulations.

  • Write a short story

I always wanted to be a writer and as a teenager I would write stories regularly, although never anything I would dare share with anyone! I can’t guarantee it’ll be any different if I try again, but I at least want to try and see if I still can, so short stories seem like a good place to start. 

  • Renovate the Bathroom

A bit of a boring practical one. We’ve been quite slow on working on the house due to time and finances, but this year I really want to get the bathroom sorted. What we have is functional but very old – it still has a pink enamelled cast iron bath that is ugly and the surface is a bit pitted and marked. The tiling is old and the grout is patchy, the window needs replacing and there was an electric shower fitted by the last owner but without additional tiling so there is wallpaper that gets drenched and is peeling away from the wall.

I’m a bit intimidated by how much work it might be and I hate coordinating different tradespeople (plumber, window fitter, plasterer…..), especially up here where they can be a bit ‘relaxed’, i.e. hard to get hold of, but I really want to get it sorted now.

  • Learn how to be less afraid

This is both a big ambition and quite an abstract one. As part of my longterm depressive issues I suffer from varying degrees of social anxiety that are often quite debilitating and definitely stops me from doing things. I hate it. Sometimes it feel like I’m just afraid of life and I can get so frustrated with myself especially when I’m stuck in a spiral of being too afraid to do something that part of me wants to do, or at least wants to be able to do.

I don’t have much of an idea how to go about fixing it though.
As an additional one, as always, I’d like to blog more. I’m already doing better than last year, which is somethings. Hopefully I’ll manage to keep it up and keep you updated on what I’m getting up to.

Thanks for stopping by.




2016-2017; Another year

Another year is over and we’re all trying to find our feet in 2017. As much as I sometimes see the fuss around ‘New Year’ as a bit pointless, I do like the impression of beginning a new chapter that comes with the change of date – generally speaking, as people we have always found new beginnings and clean slates appealing and a motivation for change  (who starts a new fitness programme on a Thursday?).

I have spent the past week or so drafting a list of my own personal ambitions for 2017. Unfortunately I am currently fighting off a rather persistent illness which has left me quite unable to act on most of them so far,  so I thought I would take the opportunity to look back on 2016 in the meantime instead.

From a global media perspective, 2016 seemed a little cursed. Looking a little closer you home however, I am looking back on 2016 rather fondly. I did lots of fun things, caught up with some old friends, took a couple of holidays, got a new job, made progress on the house and made progress on myself too. As I didn’t really get my act together on the blogging front, I wanted to share some of the highlights with you now.

February – Long Weekend in York

In February I arranged to take Pete to York for his birthday to coincide with both the Jorvik Viking Festival and going to see Týr, a band he is a big fan of but never managed to catch live. I was in the early stages of what would go on to be an epic chest infection and pleurisy but still had a lovely time getting away with Pete and seeing York and all the Viking attractions. Unfortunately the Jorvik Viking Centre itself was closed after being badly flooded at the end of 2015, but the rest of the Viking Festival was really interesting and enjoyable – Pete entered the ‘Best Beard’ Competition and was very pleased to come in 2nd place.

clockwise from left; Micklegate, Emblem of the City of York, Jorvik Vikings
clockwise from left; Hnefetavl (Viking Chess), Pete as Dick Turpin, Second Place in Jovik Best Beard Competition

March – Chickens!

Since we moved to Wales in 2013 we have toyed with the idea of getting chickens and in March Pete decided to go for it, built a coop with help from a friend and then bought us four hens from a local farm. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but it’s actually been really enjoyable to keep them. It took a few months before they started laying eggs but we haven’t been short of eggs since.

Since we got the first four hens our flock has now grown to 8 with the addition of a cockerel who we hatched from an egg ourselves, two hens that were a gift from a neighbour and one more hen who we rehomed from a colleague of Pete’s who was having to move away and couldn’t take the hen with him.

The Original flock
Chipper – Our very own hatchling. Clockwise from top right; hatching day, one day old and four weeks old
clockwise from top right; me with Chipper at 4 weeks, Mabel & Beauregard, Chipper at 2 and a half months

March-April – A Hen-do & Wedding

At the end of March I went on my first ever hen-do for my good friend Laura. We had a great day and night out in Oxford, starting with a walking tour, then lunch and drinks, followed by cocktail making, a late night tour of the castle then on for more cocktails all followed up with afternoon tea the following day. It was lovely to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in ages and to let my hair down a bit!

Although it was a bit of a trek down from Wales to Oxford I returned the following weekend, this time with Pete, to celebrate the wedding days itself!

Obligatory Hen-do accessories, Cocktail Making, Afternoon Tea

June – Northumberland

In June we went away to Northumberland for a week with my parents and our dogs. We stayed in a lovely cottage near the ‘village’ of Twice Brewed which was within walking distance of part of Hadrian’s Wall. We had (mostly) great weather and spent lots of time out and about and did lots of walking, I clocked more than 100,000 steps on my FitBit and we tired the dogs out thoroughly.

Playing Shield-Maiden at Homesteads Roman Fort, Alfred owning Hadrian’s Wall, The Sycamore Gap in Hadrian’s Wall near our cottage
Ruins of Thirlwall Castle, Molly enjoying the sunshine and a sheep outside the garden wall
Lindisfarn Castle, Cragside, Bamburgh Castle
Walking along Hadrian’s Wall and a very tired dog

July – Croatia

For the past three years Pete’s research has required him to spend around 3 months every summer living in Croatia and for the first time in 2016 we actually managed to find a mutually convenient time, and the money, for me to go out and see him. So, despite being terrified of flying on my own, I headed out for a week at the end of July which also happened to include my birthday!

It was far from a ‘normal’ holiday, but I was expecting that, staying in an old house in the middle of nowhere with no mains anything – water from a tank that needed to be kept topped up, gas from bottles and the only electricity from a car battery in the main living room. I had the best time and it made the summer apart from Pete and Alf so much easier.

Me & Pete, My accommodation, The meadow next to the house
Radio Tracking, Croatian Lunch and a baby Salamander
Plitvice Lakes 
Lakes, Birthday Wine and Epic Food!

September – Wedding Weekend

Just after Pete returned from Croatia in September we had a mission of a weekend attending two weddings nearly 300 miles apart. It was important to us to be able to attend both so we didn’t mind making the effort to get to both. It was a lovely weekend with great weather on both days and two lovely (and very different) ceremonies. It was strange that having had very few friends get married we had 3 this year, that combined with 2 babies in our close friendship group probably suggests we’ve got to ‘that stage’ in life (not planning on following suit ourselves mind!).

Wedding Number 1 – tipis in a field in Yorkshire
Wedding Number 2 – Pete as an Usher at a Church Wedding in Hampshire

Well that’s ended up being quite a lot longer than I expected, but enjoyable for me to look back at all the pictures we’ve taken over the past year. It’s not that nothing good has happened since September, but I thought I’d better reel myself in before this becomes even more of a mammoth post than it is already!

I’ve been saying this for a fair while now, but I really do hope to get back into blogging properly so hopefully this will just be the first of many 2017 posts!

For now I’ll leave you and say Thank You to everyone who made my 2016 so great, and to everyone who might still be reading this.

Happy New Year,

Love Betty


What goes up….

As those of you who follow me on Instageam might have noticed, in the early part of this week I was feeling pretty good about myself. Some good weather, a few new clothes and feeling like I might actually be beginning to shed some excess weight combined to leave me feeling distinctly selfie-worthy.

Unfortunately that good feeling didn’t last long enough to see me through the weekend.

Whilst prolonged periods of feeling really good are still quite rare for me its been quite a while since ive experienced such a stark downturn in my mood.

A combination of lots of small niggles and too much time on my own to think and dwell seem to be to blame.

Top of my list of bring-me-downs are definitely my weight and my (lack of) friends.

After some great success shedding the pounds in the later parts of 2015, the xmas/new year period followed by a succession of illnesses saw me put most of that back on and I’ve struggled to get back on track ever since. I’m not gaining weight, but I really feel like I’m making a big effort both in controlling what I eat and in exercising but without seeing and significant change on either the scales or the tape measure. It’s very disheartening and I really have to fight to stop my disappointment from giving way to serious comfort eating and just giving up altogether. As I sit here writing I can feel the extra rolls round my middle stuck to me and it makes me feel sick and disgusting. It’s actually very distressing, which should be enough to get me off my fat ass to do something about it, but nothing I do seems to make any difference.

I’ve also been feeling quite lonely and uncared for recently (I would like to point out that this isn’t fully universal and I know some people do care, but these moods do tend to make me focus on the worst case). I’ve never been good at making friends,  even when I was a kid. These days I’m too insular and paranoid to easily open up to people and I work on the assumption that people who don’t already know me aren’t going to be able to understand meandering that anything they do find out about me is only going to put them off anyway. I also live around 300 miles away from anyone I would have considered to already be a close friend and time and distance have definitely taken their toll on those relationships – evidenced by the fact that most of them can’t be bothered to even make the effort to meet me half way between us. I want nothing more than to be a good friend, but I clearly fail as I can’t even get one person to respond to a cry for human contact on Facebook – i actually wonder if anyone sees my statusses anymore or if everyone has just blocked me and my moaning from their news feed. It’s a very sad state of affairs that leaves me feeling hopeless, pointless and on the verge of a big tearfilled meltdown.

As you can see I’m in a bit of a bad way right now. Now the big problem is that, even after all the therapy I’ve had, I just never know how to lift myself out of these descents. I’ve tried distracting myself with various activities, but I lack the enthusiasm and motivation to do anything,  which results in a spiral of frustration and guilt. I’m also really bad at the whole cognitive behavioural approach, I can’t write out reasons why the things I’m feeling aren’t true because I wholeheartedly believe that I am fat and unlikely to ever lose weight and that most of the friends I’ve ever had don’t give a damn and I’ll never be able to make good friends again.

Even writing this blog has been difficult with the constant second guessing and self censoring – I’m quite convinced no one will want to read this, but I’m equally convinced that no one does, so in the end I’ve drawn the conclusion that it doesn’t matter.
Here’s to doing better tomorrow



A night at the movies: Suicide Squad

I had been quite excited about the release of Suicide Squad. Although I wasn’t super familiar with most of the characters I am generally a big fan of DC and have really enjoyed a lot of the recent TV adaptations like Gotham and Arrow. Whilst the trailers and hype prior to release seemed promising, I was aware of the bad reviews before I went to see it, so I didn’t exactly have high hopes.

Unfortunately it really wasn’t that good. It wasn’t utterly terrible,  I was still entertained, but it just didn’t quite live up to expectations of its potential.

My first impression was that it was a serious case of style over substance – as a series of stills and short bio the characters look interesting, but the movie never really got chance to develop them beyond that – a consequence of trying to introduce so many ‘new’ characters whilst also trying to have a background story to follow. It was clear that some members of the squad really were just there as place fillers, with only Harley,  Deadshot and, to a lesser extent, El Diablo getting anything like any background. To be honest, I think Will Smith’s Deadshot actually stole the show for me as the best character in terms of performance and development.

Harley is a whole other issue that I don’t think I can fully get into here without it becoming a fully fledged essay on women and comicbooks. I’ll try and keep it brief by saying that there was so much potential to take the character and do great things, and that opportunity was thoroughly wasted and sold down the river in a pair of sequined hotpants. The more I think about it, the more I hate those shorts and everything represent.

I won’t say much about the storyline partly to avoid spoilers and partly because there wasn’t much of a storyline to comment on. The first half was a whirlwind introduction that built up to the ‘big problem’ at break neck speed – a serious case of ‘well, that escalated quickly’. In the second half, a good chunk of the time I genuinely didn’t even know what the purpose of the mission was. 

Oh yeah, and The Joker, whose appearances were about as random and as frequent as that. Shame, I was looking forward to Jared Leto’s interpretation.

On the whole, it was a nice evening out, but I’m very glad we got the tickets on 2 for 1. And I did get ice cream 😁

Hope you’re all doing well. I’m off for an early night to try and help me get through the rest of the week without crying!




Back to Basics

I didn’t start a blog to write about stuff and products. I started a blog to encourage me to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldy – no wait, that’s wrong – to seek out new experiences and to record them to serve as a reminder to myself that, even in my darkest times, things aren’t always completely shit.

Somewhere along the way I forgot that and started becoming too much like so many other bloggers out there – I don’t mean any disrespect by that, there are loads of great bloggers producing great content, a lot of it about stuff and products, and that’s fine if that’s what they want to do – but if I know one thing about myself it’s that I don’t want to just be like everyone else.

I really miss blogging. Especially as I now live so far from so many of my friends and I increasingly loathe Facebook as a means of social interaction. So, let’s give this another go and see where it takes us…..




Does It Bring You Joy? A Personal Philosophy

I have suffered a lot with issues surrounding depression and anxiety. I have regularly caused myself (and, I’m sure, those around me) much distress and upset as a result of various bouts of paranoia, agoraphobia, feelings of obligation, fomo (fear of missing out – note, agoraphobia with fomo is a *great* combo), being overly concerned with what other people think……the list goes on, and none of it (obviously) made me happy. Granted, for a long time I don’t think I even knew what would make me happy, but these things certainly weren’t it.

I’ve tried lots of ways to try and ‘make myself better’ – various medications and therapies, which have had varying effects on my mood, brain chemistry and way of thinking. I am, largely, doing much better with being positive these days than at almost any point in my past, and am learning to retain good things and let the bad stuff go – I’m not perfect, but I’m trying.

Recently I came across the phrase “Does it bring you joy?” and am trying to use it as a bit of a personal philosophy or guiding principle for managing my moods and my behaviour in the hope of getting a more consistent positive outcome.

If you are doing something, anything, or even not doing something, stop and ask yourself “Does it bring me joy?”.

Does it bring you joy

In a very simplistic interpretation – if it isn’t brining you joy, then don’t do it. That’s not exactly a new idea, however it clearly can’t be applied to all situations, there are things we have to do in life that don’t bring us joy and we can’t just avoid them because they don’t in themselves make us happy. So we need to learn to make the best of everything, even the things we don’t want to do – I think in most cases you can find a positive reason to those things that feel more like obligations than choices.

It is for this reason that I see the question in three parts; the process, the outcome and the alternative. Take any situation and now ask yourself – Does the process bring me joy? Does the outcome? Does the alternative(s)? Then weigh up your answers.

(A less fun way of thinking about this is – “Is What I’m Doing Positively Constructive?” – but that’s just not as catchy)

For example – Eating a cake.

The Process of eating a cake does bring me joy, I love cake and could eat nothing but cake. I have a sweet tooth and a huge tendency to comfort eat, so the process of eating the cake releases lots of happy hormones and good feelings.


The Consequence of eating cake, for me and my decidedly average metabolism at least, is getting fat, and that definitely doesn’t bring me joy and I want to avoid this joy-sapping experience.


The Alternative(s) to eating cake could be eating a smaller piece of cake/eating cake less frequently – still getting the joy of the cake but not suffering the lack of joy of gaining weight – or finding an alternative snack that I still enjoy and still brings some joy but without the joyless weight gain again.


Example 2 – Paying a Bill

The Process of paying a bill itself isn’t particularly joyful or joyless, but the outcome of having less money is a bit of a joy killer

The Consequence of paying a bill though is that I get to benefit from whatever it is I’m paying for, say it’s electricity – I get light and TV and internet and all sorts of other things that do bring me joy.

The Alternative(s) to paying the bill is not paying the bill, and that means losing all my joy-bringing facilities, so there’s a definitely loss of joy there.


Example 3 – Being annoyed with someone else

The Process of being annoyed with someone, say another driver or a colleague who did something you disagree with, is highly unlikely to bring you joy and is most likely going to make you feel stressed and irritable with either no effect on the person you’re annoyed with or just making them annoyed as well.

The Consequence of your annoyance is most likely to be that you feel stressed and unhappy, or you both feel stressed and unhappy – no one involved is going to feel joyful.

The Alternative is either addressing the cause of the annoyance and resolving it, leaving you feeling better or just letting the annoyance go and getting on with finding something that does bring you joy.

As an extension of this, you can also consider how your actions/inactions influence the joy of others – if we can each try to act in ways that not only bring us joy but support the joy of others then everyone should have an easier time of things. Generally I feel that there is too much negativity in the world and not enough mutual support – people are too quick to knock each other down and criticise, and I don’t believe anyone derives any real joy from that.


I find the process of breaking down a problem/issue/situation like this holds similarities to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which I have had a lot of experience of, to greater or lesser effect over the years. Largely CBT is concerned with managing anxieties/negative thoughts and feelings by looking for the root cause of a belief or problem and the considering the likelihood of the outcome you fear and then the likelihood of various less fear inducing alternatives, with a view to quelling the knee-jerk anxious reaction or dissipate strongly held negative beliefs.

I know much less about Mindfulness, but what little I do know suggests that this approach also has elements of Mindfulness to it – taking the time to properly think about what you are doing and why, with the aim of increasing the positive personal benefit you gain from it.

Ultimately, I strongly believe that we should all (especially me) try harder to find more happiness in life and to create joy for ourselves whenever possible – even though there are some things that we have to do rather than want to do.

Thanks for stopping by,