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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Another face painting jam, then a ride to Dolgellau, Wales. What a great day.


After a day recovering from the dreaded Man Flu, which kept me on the couch for a full day and a bit, we were on the road again. A big thank you to Carla and Barbara for looking after us so well.

We were lucky enough to be invited to a face painting jam in Helsby by our friend Paul. He was then going to spend a few days in a house in Saint David's on the south west corner of Wales and kindly invited us along. This fitted in perfectly with our plans as we were very keen to visit Wales and also to catch up with my dodgy Welsh mates I met at the Isle of Man who live near Cardiff. It looked like we had a 10 hour ride in front of us, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do.

A reasonable start had us leaving Hitchin at about 9.30, a bit later than planned followed by a very wet and gusty ride up the Motorway to Helsby. We stopped for a half hour lunch break and Suzanne put her waterproof and thermal linings in her jacket and put on her winter gloves because she was very cold. I suffer from the cold so I did the same, but fifteen minutes later I wished I hadn't. I was cooking. When you are on the bike so much you need good gear and we're very happy with our Rev'it jackets. I think they'll be good in the cold of Norway in November, but at anything above about ten degrees I don't need any linings in my jacket.

We were in the car park at Helsby Community Centre by about 1pm. The face paint jam was in full swing and well attended by lots of painters. We slipped in unnoticed and had a look around. It was quite funny when someone put two and two together. An Australian face painter, with the name Suzanne. The inevidable question followed: "Are you the Suzanne from Australia who did the Face Painted Fairy books?" It was pretty cool to see Queen Suzanne with a group of eager face painters hovering around her again.

Fee, Keri, Suzanne, (sorry, I don't know who) and the fun loving Jo.

One fairly new face painter had contacted Suzanne via Facebook and asked if Suzanne would show her how to do one of the faces in her books. Suzanne was happy to oblige so we found Keri and the lesson began. When they were finished Keri was pretty happy and thought it was all over. Oh no. I fronted Keri and told her she had to practice - she had to paint me. Ha! She thought I was joking:

Suzanne during the class...

...Keri's first try at this design
(She's having no fun at all)......

...and the end result.

Here are a few more random pics from the day.

Paul recording the event for posterity.

Crazy Jo drawing the raffle.

Bad photo, but a good crowd.

Super cool Wolfe pack T Shirt.

Jo has had these T Shirts made up as a fundraiser for a wonderful guy from the US in the painty world who has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As you probably know medical care in the US is outrageously expensive and his family could do with some help. These shirts are a bargain at only 15 Quid each. If you would like one let me know and I'll get Jo's details to you.

Jo has also organised a jam to raise some funds as well. This jam is going to be one of the biggest ever judging by the number of people who have said they are going. For more info you can go here:

Thanks for this Jo, and god luck with the jam. We wish we could have been there.

It was a great afternoon and we met some new face painters for the first time as well as catching up with some old friends. On face book the next day Suzanne received some lovely compliments. Here are a few comments on one photo from the jam:

"Lovely person, fab painter. I didn't want to wash this off".

"I second that...a refreshing lack of ego".

"I agree totally, first time I've met her and it was a pleasant surprise to see how down to earth she was, defo welcome back any time : 0)".

"I felt very honoured to be shown how to do this, then to actually paint it onto Simon. That definitely made my day". (So true Keri, you were very luck to paint me.)

You should be very proud Suzanne.

The jam was full of super friendly people and we had many offers of accommodation while we are in the area, some from people we had only met a few hours earlier. Thank you so much for making us feel so welcome ladies. It was a pleasure meeting you all.

Another major plus was that we finally caught up with Jo whose birthday we missed a few weeks ago. She asked when we will arrive back in the UK after our cruise. When I told her she said "So you can make it to the UK convention". Our original plan was to tride to Rome to catch the cruise, but it was all just a bit too rushed so we decided to leave the bike in the UK and fly to Rome. Obviously we had to fly back to the UK to get the bike again, and I thought we arrived on the 5th. Yay, we're going to the UK face and Body Painting convention in Dudley. 

When we fired up the computer the next morning I checked our flight details and we weren't due back in the UK until late on the 7th, the last day of the convention. Suzanne was pretty excited about being able to go so I had to do something. Half an hour on the computer, and a bit of credit card work (airlines are robbing bastards when you want to change flights) and we are now landing in Bristol about 4pm on the Friday of the convention. We should be able to get there by about 10pm that night. I'm sure a few stayers will be up to have a drink with us when we arrive. Yes Jo, I mean you.

The bottom line is, painty people, we'll be at the UK Convention late Friday night, and we're looking forward to it.

After a lot of goodbyes we pointed the bike south toward Saint David. After a couple of  hours on some of the nicest roads we've ridden it was starting to get very overcast, dark, cold, and a little bit wet. A few minutes later we found ourselves in Dolgellau. Suzanne was very cold, and it was looking like rain so we decided to stay the night. We just happened to pull up right outside a hotel, so Suzanne went in to see if we could get a room for the night. We were in luck, but we didn't know how much luck we had until the next morning. Wow!

Dolgellau is beautiful. All the buildings are made of stone, the roads are one car wide, and it is just perfect. Both Suzanne and I felt there was something very familiar about the town. Then I realised that if you changed the shop signage, and the window dressings, you could be in a live Harry Potter village. It really was just like the sets we had seen a few weeks earlier. Here are a few photos of the village...

Anyway, back to the hotel. The hotel's name is Y Meirionnydd and it's owned by Nick and Marc who do an exceptional job of running the place. It only has five rooms so you have to book early. We were very lucky that they had had a cancellation and we got the room. We had a few drinks at The Unicorn pub next door but when we asked to order a meal, the kitchen was closed. We headed back to the restaurant in the hotel and just snuck in. Now we were in for a treat. The menu was limited, but that suits me fine as I'm not good at choosing from too many options. The food was bloody brilliant, and accompanied by a very nice bottle of wine. I'm not a big desert person, but the Welsh whiskey and honey ice cream had me. It was deeeeeeelicious. And it was a very good value for money meal. Five koalas on the Mykolajenko rating system guys. Thank you.  

Great hotel with one of the better guests in the doorway.

So off to bed we went. The beds were so comfortable it was like sleeping on a cloud, and check out wasn't until 11 am the next morning so we made the most of it. Bliss. But the boys weren't finished yet. We still had breakfast to go.

Our bike watching us have breakfast.

Breakfast consisted of quite a few choices, all made with local produce. It was another delicious meal. The sausages and bacon were something else and I even ate (and enjoyed) my tomato. I normally hate tomatoes.

We rode around the village and up into the hills for about an hour before we headed south again. Dolgellau is in Gwynedd and is located within the Snowdonia National Park in the north of Wales. It definitely a place we would like to go back to and spend time in. 

If you go there, please tell Nick and Marc we said hi.

Where's Rex's Buff?

Tina is a sweetie. She organised the jam, she can paint, and she rides a motorcycle. Thanks Tina.

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