Is Wales ‘abroad’?

We decided a micro adventure was needed to celebrate our 27th Wedding Anniversary. ‘Abroad’ still feels far too complicated so Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ was our destination. Please bear with us, Wales will feature at some point and, because we passed a sign saying ‘Welcome to England’ we feel we have been abroad.

Anyway, the Gormley statues have been on our list for a while and 2021 became the year to make it happen. We started early, stopping for a romantic breakfast at Keele Services before arriving in Crosby.

Neither of us were sure what to expect when we clambered over the sand dunes to find the statues. 100 life sized cast iron versions of Anthony Gormley spanning across 3km of beach and stretching 1km out to sea was not it. It’s difficult to convey the impact of all the statues, looking out to sea, in a single photo. You really need to visit to appreciate the emotional impact they have, it’s really very impressive.

Crosby is also home to the grand Plaza Cinema which first opened its doors on 2 September 1939 and was immediately closed again that same day, due to regulations introduced by the outbreak of war! Luckily it was saved from redevelopment and is now run as a successful independent cinema.

By midday, we’d walked the length of the beach and back through the town to the car. It was too early to head to the hotel so ‘what next’ we asked ourselves. John had always wanted to visit Rhos on Sea and it was only an hour away, so we headed under the River Mersey using the old tunnel and out along the North Wales coast.

Whilst eating lunch, John suddenly announced we could visit the aqueduct at Llandudno, we were only a few miles away and the aqueduct is famous although Kim had never heard of it. Luckily Google maps told us it was the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct near Llangollen, not Llandudno, and only a short detour on our route to the hotel.

The aqueduct was stunning, especially if you like views with sheer drops either side! Thomas Telford designed and completed in 1805, it carries the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee and is the highest canal aqueduct in the world and the longest aqueduct in the UK. It consists of a cast iron trough supported 126 ft above the river on iron arched ribs resting on eighteen masonry piers. The bridge is 310m long but only 3.5m wide. Much respect has to go to some very skilled and brave bricklayers, pattern makers and foundry workers.

We finally reached our hotel, the rather grand Netley Hall, just south of Shrewsbury as it got dark.

The following day, our first stop was Ralph Court Gardens near Bromsgrove. Now this was an experience to put a smile on your face.

Each of the garden areas depicted different countries and most were quirky and entertaining. We don’t want to give too much away, you may not want to visit for the planting schemes, but if this place doesn’t make you smile, there may be no hope for you.

Next stop Old Court Nurseries and the Picton Garden. The nursery holds a national collection of Asters and has a lovely garden to showcase them, together with some more unusual specimens. Well worth a visit and only £4 each to wander round.

That was followed by a visit to Mahlakas Plants in the Vale of Evesham. A hobby turned into a career by a former music teacher. He grows and sells succulents from his back garden with the assistance of two dogs and a opinonated cat.

Our final stop was back in Worcester, the view of the cathedral from the river was lovely. 600 miles in 36 hours, we need a holiday to recover.

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