Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Jubilee Garden Party

Party fit for a Queen!

Gosh, we are being spoilt next week. Not only have we got a fabulous four-day-weekend, thanks to the extra-long bank holiday weekend, but we've got the brilliant Oakeley Arms Jubilee Garden Party to look forward to.

This fabulous event will take place on the bank holiday Monday 4th June, and will be a fun-filled celebration of the Queen's Jubilee anniversary.

We'll have live music and a hog roast and loads of fun stuff like a rodeo bull, magician and a bouncy castle.

There's no entry charge for this event, but there will be a fee for the hog roast and drinks.

Some come along and join us for a brilliant Jubilee extravaganza, and keep your fingers crossed for sunshine!

See you there!

From 1:00pm Monday 4th June at the Oakeley Arms

image by Kate Krav on sxc.hu

Monday, 21 May 2012

Mabinogion of Maentwrog

Historic Wales

Well, we already know that the Oakeley Arms is situated in one of the most stunning areas of Snowdonia (and who can blame us for being a teeny bit biased.....), but we're finding it completely fascinating that we continue to find out brilliant snippets of history and legends about our lovely little spot ,that we never knew about before!

This week it's the turn of the famous Welsh stories, The Mabinogion. Of course, we had heard about the tales themselves, but did you know that our little village of Maentwrog is written about in the legends?

Legend has it that a long, long time ago, Pryderi, the Mabinogi King of Dyfed, was killed in a bloody battle against the magician Gwydion. Pryderi can't stand up to the power and magic of Gwydion and loses the battle. He lay dying in the Afon Glaslyn before being taken to the hamlet of Maentwrog for his burial.

Not exactly a chirpy tale is it, but then the Mabinogi aren't known for their uplifting stories in their exploration of themes like royalty, armies, gods and religion, fall and redemption, marriage, love, infidelity, family ties and gruesome battles.

They are the most famous of all the Welsh legends, and possibly in the world. The tales have been hugely influential, and have said to inspire such mythical figures as Arthur and Merlin, and were really the first "fantasy and adventure" stories that are still popular today.

So, just where did they come from? They jumped into popular culture in the mid 1800s when Lady Charlotte Guest was the first person to translate the tales from ancient Welsh into English. But before then, they were a collection of tales and myths that appear in literary works of the 14th century, although some scholars believe they were written down as early as the 12th century.

The Mabinogion features stories that are set in all across our beautiful country, so you're never far away from an ancient legend. Visit nearby Harlech to see the sculpture of The Two Kings - a sad story about Branwen.

The Two Kings at Harlech

If you'd like to find out more, there's loads of information on the Mabinogion website

Friday, 18 May 2012

Rachel Hall Musician

Musical Sundays

We're very lucky here at the Oakeley Arms to have many talented people living close by, and we love it when they pop in to entertain us and our customers.

Regulars to the famous Oakeley Arms Sunday carvery will know that we love to have some musical accompaniment while we dine, and we'd very much like to welcome our latest musical addition - Rachel Hall. This super talented young musician will be at the Oakeley Arms every other Sunday, and we promise that she is not to be missed!

We caught up with Rachel to find out more.....

At the young age of just 21, Rachel has played with orchestras across the UK, including the Liverpool Sinfonia, the Leeds Sinfonia, Opera Venture Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales and she's toured Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Britain with a number of different ensembles over the last six years.

This gifted musician was born in Wrexham and began to learn to play the clarinet at just 9 years old, and taught herself to play the flute soon after. It wasn't long before she also taught herself the bassoon and the saxophone, and was asked to play in a local quartet, and the school's quartet, which later became known as 'Saxafaction'. The group was very successful in competitions, winning their category in the Chester Music Festival and winning the overall prize in the Wrexham Music Festival.

After graduating from the Leeds College of Music last year, Rachel now lives in Snowdonia and performs saxophone professionally at weddings and other private functions.

Last summer Rachel was invited by Russell Grant to perform in the premiere of his new musical 'Bliss!' doubling on bassoon, clarinet, flute, alto tenor and baritone saxophones. Wow, we don't think there's an end to this young lady's remarkable talents!

You can find out more about Rachel and listen to a special demo track at her website www.rachel-hall.co.uk
Rachel plays at the Oakeley Arms fortnightly at Sunday lunchtimes; her next performance is this Sunday (20th May). You won't want to miss this superb musical treat!

Rachel at the Oakeley Arms

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

100 Years of the Wildlife Trust

The History of Nature Reserves

Calling all nature lovers! The Wildlife Trust nature charity are celebrating 100 years of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts in May.

Nature Reserves are such an important part of our local landscape, and these days athey re so accessible to many people, that it's easy to forget that there was once a time when they didn't exist. Thanks to the tireless work and dedication of charities like the Wildlife Trust, these special havens of nature, wildlife and bird-life are preserved and protected for future generations to come.

To celebrate this important milestone, there's a very special event taking place on Saturday 19th May at the old powder works in Penrhyndeudraeth. This location is especially poignant - it was once home to the largest explosives factory in Europe but these days, thanks to regeneration and a lot of hard work, it is one of the most celebrated Nature Reserves in Gwynedd.

Head over and join in the wild fun - there'll be loads of things to see and do from nestbox making, pond-dipping, bug spotting and bird watching. There'll also be arts, crafts and music, and some guided historical and nature-themed walks.

Date  -  Saturday 19th May (10am - 4pm)
Cost  - Free
Location - Gwaith Powdwr, Penrhyndeudraeth, Porthmadog, LL48 6LY

Little Birdy
Image by Fabibel on scx.hu

Friday, 11 May 2012

Walkers Save Rare Flower

Trample for Survival!

In the news last week is the story that the trampling boots of walkers, the muddy paws of dogs and the squelch of bike tyres have all helped to save a rare flower from extinction on Anglesey.

The flower - the three-lobed-water-crowfoot is a not only a bit of a mouthful, but is also part of the Buttercup family. It was once almost extinct in Wales, but since 1999, the numbers have trebled.

The delicate little flowers love to grow in shallow pools of water and mud - like footprints or tracks. The fact that walkers and cyclists are disturbing the mud and earth means that there are more little grooves for this plant to thrive in. It scatters seeds into the mud during the spring before it all dries out by the summer. So, the race is on to get trampling and help spread this pretty flower across more of North Wales.

See, walking is not only good for you, but it's also good for nature. Trample and tread (carefully....) and come and enjoy a walk in our beautiful Welsh countryside. You can find some walks near the Oakeley Arms on our previous blog posts here and here

The common water crowfoot
Image by Rictor Norton and David Allen on WikiCommons

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Vale of Ffestiniog Way

Wales Coast Path to Mountains Link!

Well, the fabulous Wales Coast Path opened last weekend to much celebration and excitment. And, in honour of this brilliant footpath, a brand new walking route has been created.

The Vale of Ffestiniog Way is a stunning 18 mile circular route that goes from our lovely village of Maentwrog. It leads all the way up one side of the Ffestiniog valley to Llan Ffestiniog, then crosses the highlands of the valley behind the Manod mountain before dropping into Blaenau Ffestiniog and down the other side of the valley to drop back down to Maentwrog.

Maentwrog already sits on the route of the new Wales Coast Path, so the new Vale of Ffestiniog Way is a brilliant route that links the coast and mountains.

There's loads to explore, discover and see - from the legend of St Twrog to the Cynfal gorge and sad stories of loss, to ancient stones to wildlife.

We can't wait to explore it, and of course have a well deserved drink back here in the Oakeley afterwards!!

You can find out more details and the route description here http://voffway.blogspot.co.uk/

See you on the route!

Many thanks to Huw Jenkins for the link to his blog and route description.

Friday, 4 May 2012

30 years of the Ffestiniog Railway

A Rail Celebration

Well, doesn't time fly?! A whopping 30 years of the Ffestiniog Railway! You read right - it was in May 1982 that the newly renovated Ffestiniog Railway proudly opened it's carriages again and the whole route between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog Harbour resumed as it once had done a hundred years previously.

The restoration project was no mean feat - it had been ongoing since the 1950's, but the last push was made in the spring of 1982 and the celebrations and ceremonies are still remembered by  those who attended then!

Ffestiniog Railway Porthmadog Station

And to celebrate, the Ffestiniog Railway have a special calendar of fabulous events planned for the weekend of May 5th-7th.

Not only will the weekend's events be a celebration of the Ffestiniog Railway, but also of the brilliant town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, which, thanks to huge efforts from community groups and local support, has undergone massive regeneration and regrowth in the last few years.

So, this is not a weekend to be missed! There are loads of different events going on - from special trains, photography exhibitions, guided walks from brilliant local walk leader Catrin Roberts, gravity train services, trips to see the progress of the new biking trails and a wacky contraption called the "Velorail" - all will be revealed at the weekend!

You can find more details, including times, prices and ticket info here or check the Ffestiniog Railway website for more general info.

The Oakeley Arms is just a 5 minute walk from the Ffestiniog Railway Tan-y-Bwlch Station, so come down and join us for a celebratory ale!!