Monday, 29 October 2012

Snowdonia Marathon

Run, Run, Run!
Last weekend was a pretty tiring one for us here at the Oakeley Arms. It was the 30th Snowdonia Marathon on Saturday (27th October), and just watching those runners run by was enough to make us gasp for breath and reach for the bar.
2012 was a record year for the event, which was first held in 1982. Over 2,200 runners turned up to compete in this year's race, which is known as one of the toughest and most demanding marathons in the country thanks to it's challenging route around Snowdonia.
The Snowdonia Marathon starts at Llanberis before climbing up to the top of Pen-y-Pass. It then drops to Pen-y-Gwryd and snakes it's way through Nant Gwynant to Beddgelert. The final section climbs steadily out of the village towards Rhyd Ddu, on to Waunfawr before a final uphill push to Bwlch y Groes and the finish line in Llanberis.
Some of the stunning scenery that the marathon course passes through
Image by Mike Peel on wiki.commons
Rob Samuel was this year's winner in the men's category (in an amazing finish time of two hours and 35 minutes), and Emil Gelder was the winner of the women's race. There was a reflective side to some parts of the race though as many competitors wore pink race numbers and t-shirts, in honour of the missing Machynlleth girl April Jones.
The Snowdonia Marathon was last year voted as the best marathon in Britain, and over the years has ensured thousands of pounds of donations for local charitable causes. If this year's race has inspired you to give it a go next year, then you best get running! You've got a year to train for the 2013 event; on your marks, get set; GO! And what better excuse than to enjoy a fabulous Oakeley fry up before you start (full of real Welsh energy) and a well-worthy session at the bar when you're done!
Find out more information about the race and updates at
Time to dig out your trainers?
Image by lusi on

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble......
It's that time of year again. Time to dig out the scary mask from the box in the attic (it's a shame trick-or-treaters don't call first thing in the morning, there may be less call for a goulish mask then....), don a spooky cape and terrify the neighbourhood; well, at least make them laugh!
Of course, it's fast approaching Halloween, or All Hallow's Evening to give it it's proper name. The historical origins of Halloween are debated - some scholars think it comes from the Christian tradition of celebrating All Saints Day on the 1st November. This was a day to honour and remember saints and for praying for those souls that had recently passed away. There began a tradition of collecting cakes for these souls the evening before All Saints Day, as well as dressing up as gouls and ghosts to represent the souls floating around in purgatory.
Be careful what you witch for.....
Image by BeverlyLR on
Other historians believe that the celebrations of Halloween are much more influenced by the Celtic and Pagan festival of Samhain - the feast and celebrations that the Celts undertook at the end of summer. Pagans believed that Samhain was when the door to the spirit world was opened just enough for ghosts, fairies and spirits to sneak into our world and cause a bit of havoc. Feasts were held in their honour, and places were set at tables for dead relatives and friends, but in order to scare away the beastly ghosts, goulish costumes were worn.

But what about the scary pumpkins? Traditionally in Ireland and Scotland, turnips were used to create creepy faces to frighten the demons, but early immigrants to America in the late eighteenth century began using pumpkins because the were larger and easier to carve. Of course pumpkins are also traditionally associated with the October harvest, and are usually plentiful at this time of year.

Don't forget your pumpkin.....
Image by kgreggain on

So, grab your pumpkin and your witches hat and let's celebrate Halloween in style. For a truly terrifying day out, why not hop on the local Ffestiniog Railway spooky Halloween Express? The trains run from Porthmadog Harbour station up to Tan-y-Bwlch on 27th, 28th and 29th October. There's more information here. Advance booking is essential as these trains are usually very popular!

Monday, 22 October 2012

See Ya Ceefax

Celebrate Ceefax

Who among the regular Oakeley Arms blog readers is old enough to remember when British television was ruled by a squeaky gofer in a broom cupboard, Les Dawson chortling through the blanks and Frank Spencer screeching about "Betteeeyyyyy" every thirty eight seconds?
If you can remember all that, then chances are you'll remember the time when a good Saturday night involved a chuppa chup lolly and a flick through the pages of the legendary BBC service Ceefax.
And if that memory's within your grasp (like one or two of us here at the Oakeley Arms), then this week will be a sad one for you. For it's time to finally wave goodbye to good old Ceefax. The final sweep of analogue television signals across the UK will be complete this week when Northern Ireland go digital and their analogue television signal is turned off for good.
Ceefax was first transmitted by the BBC in 1974, and offered a whole host of useful, and useless, information from news headlines to lottery numbers to chess highlights. In 1993 ITV and Channel 4 released their rival service Teletext service, but this was closed in 2009.
These days, the big Red Button has replaced the idea of Ceefax on all digital BBC channels, but somehow it's just not the same!!
You can reminisce about the good old days of Ceefax with the BBC's brilliant journey back through time - click here
Bye bye Ceefax, didn't we have a ball....

Friday, 19 October 2012

Happy Birthday Jimmy!

Dr No
You don't look a day over, well 50...... is that really what we'd say if we happened to bump into Bond, James Bond, over the weekend? Ummmm no, probably not! Although the chances of him wandering into the Oakeley Arms on Saturday night are pretty slim. Not impossible tho; you never know!
October 2012 is the 50th anniversary of Bond, James Bond (sorry, I'll stop that now, I just can't resist) as we know him. In October 1962, the film version of Dr No stormed onto cinema screens. Of course, Ian Fleming wrote the books almost a decade earlier, but it is the on-screen Bond that most of us know and love.
Dr No was the first in a long string of Bond films; in fact, they are still being made, and it is one of the longest continually running film series' of all time. Skyfall is the most recent Bond film,  due to be released next week. Daniel Craig plays the ubiquitous Bond, a role he's held onto since 2006. Skyfall is the 23rd Bond film, and there are plans afoot for another to be released in 2014.
So far, there have been 6 different Bonds. Can you name them all? Look away now if you want to keep guessing....... Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and of course Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig is the latest James Bond. Who's your favourite?
Image by wonderferret on flickr/wikicommons

And what about directors? There have been 10 different ones since Dr No. Absolute top marks if you can list all of these without looking.... Terence Young, Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert, Peter R. Hunt, John Glen, Martin Campbell, Roger Spottiswoode, Michael Apted, Lee Tamahori, Marc Foster and Sam Mendes. Phew.  
Eon Films is the production company behind most of Bond's on-screen antics; they've produced 22 of them, and the series so far has netted them a gross of US$5 billion.....
So, we'll raise a glass of Oakeley beer to Jimmy over the weekend. Here's to many more happy returns.....
Did you know.....
  • Casino Royale was the first Bond book that Fleming wrote. It was published in 1953.
  • Ian Fleming's middle name is Lancaster.
  • The Bond books have sold over 100 million copies across the world.
  • Ian Fleming has an airport named after him in Jamaica.
Skyfall is rumoured to be the biggest Bond production ever! Whether  or not it's the best is up to you to decide! It premiers on the 23rd October and will be at UK cinemas on 26th October. You can find more info and the trailer here

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Black Rock Beach

Totally Beachy
Here at the Oakeley Arms, we think we're pretty privileged to live in the stunning Snowdonia National Park. And while the rugged mountain ranges of the park are very famous, these jagged peaks sweep down to meet miles and miles of unspoilt and beautiful coastline.

The Oakeley Arms is just a stone's throw from several different beautiful beaches - at Harlech, Barmouth, Tywyn and Criccieth to name just a few.

One of our absolute favourites though is Black Rock Beach (Graig Ddu). It's so named because of the dark cliffs that line its western end. The sand dunes behind the beach form part of the Morfa Bychan Nature Reserve and are important dune habitats for wildlife and fauna.

The wide sandy bay is almost two miles long. All this space makes it popular with kite-flyers, blo-karters, dogs, kids and rounders' teams! But it's also a great location for water-sports and is frequently used by jet-skis, windsurfers and power boats.  Watch out for cars here though as they are permitted on the beach.

It's also a popular film location – it featured in a music video by British band Supergrass and in a film version of Macbeth. It was also the backdrop for the Manic Street Preachers album cover “This is my truth tell me yours”.

Stormy winter skies over Black Rock Beach

It might not be the weather to get out the deck-chair and beach towel, but a bracing walk along the beach is a great way to blow away the winter cob-webs!

Black Rock Beach is less than 10 miles from the Oakeley Arms Hotel. Head for Porthmadog and then turn left by the Post Office and follow the signs for Morfa Bychan.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


King of the Jungle....

Did you know, that this month is the 100th anniversary of the first publication of the iconic story Tarzan of the Apes? This all-time favourite character was first created by American author Edgar Rice Burrows, and Tarzan's capers were first serialised in a magazine in October 2012.
The series proved so popular that it was published in book format a couple of years later, and its creator went on to write over 20 sequels! All of which were published well into the 1940's.
Original Tarzan book cover, designed by Fred Arting
Tarzan of the Apes tells the story of a boy, John, who was born to English parents marooned in the deepest, darkest African jungle. He is raised by apes after his parents are killed and after many struggles and battles, is crowned the King of the Apes because of his fighting prowess and hunting skills.
So to celebrate Tarzan's  100th birthday here at the Oakeley Arms, we thought we'd have a jungle style day out and pop over to the beautiful Coed-y-Brenin, just a short hop away. There, in the midst of the forest is the fabulous Go Ape Adventure!
Go Ape is the forest day out that has taken the country by storm. Here, you can play Tarzan-style to your hearts content - climbing trees, swinging on ropes, shooting down zip-wires, it's all part of the fun (and safe!) day out! It's great for adventurous kids and thrill seeking adults will love it too.
And you never know, you might even find your Jane, hiding in the tree-tops!
For more information, prices, booking details and course high-lights on the Go Ape website.
Make like an Ape!
image by Frank Wouters, Belgium (Flickr) on Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 8 October 2012

Apple Crazy

Bramley Apple Pie Week 2012
You all know that here at the Oakeley Arms, we LOVE a good pudding. But, what's our favourite???? Hmmmm, that's a tough one to answer, but we are fans of a delicious homemade apple pie..... Warm and sweet, straight from the oven; golden brown with dribbles of crunchy sugar, topped off with a good glug of cream or custard... yum!
Handy really, because this week is Bramley Apple Pie Week (8th - 14th October).  There are loads of variations on the classic apple pie. Do you have a pastry base as well as a pastry top? Puff or short? Caramel or not? Family sized or mini? Decisions, decisions!
The traditional apple pie is made from shortcrust pastry (top and bottom) and is filled with big chunks of bramley apples, sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. What's your favourite apple pie recipe? If you're coming to the Oakeley's Clwb Pwdin this week, then why not bring along your own perfect pie? The Clwb Pwdin takes place on the 2nd Thursday of every month.
Have your pie and eat it....
Image by mama on
You can find out more about Bramley Apple Pie week, and the delicious Bramley apple variety on the website here.

Happy baking (or just eating in our case!!)


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Get Cracking!

British Egg Week 2012
Are you ready for a blog post filled with egg-uendos and egg-straordinarily (sorry) bad egg puns? We hope so, because this one's all about the fabulous egg. This week is British Egg Week (1st - 7th October) so what better time to celebrate the humble egg?
Here at the Oakeley Arms, we LOVE eggs! Of course, they are part of our lovely Welsh breakfast for our hotel guests; you can have them any way you like - scrambled, fried, poached or boiled.
Here's a few more reasons why we think eggs are egg-stra brilliant....
  • They are super nutritious - a medium egg contains just 80 calories, but they are also rich in vitamins B2, B12, A, folate, choline and selenium. And egg yolks are one of the few food-stuffs that contain vitamin D
  • They are one of the cheapest sources of protein. A box of 6 free-range eggs can cost as little as £1 if you buy direct from the farm, or £1.50 from a supermarket.
  • They are pretty versatile - boil, poach, fry, scramble... have your eggs exactly how you like them! And they are important for cakes and puddings too mmmmmm!
  • Apparently, your egg preferences can predict your character and lifestyle!! A new study has found that poached egg eaters are likely to be outgoing; fried egg eaters have a high sex drive; boiled egg lovers tend to be disorganised; omelette fans are controlled and those keen on scrambled eggs are likely to keep their guard up. If you like eggs all ways, then it would seem you're multi-faceted!!
  • The egg carton was invented in 1911 - what a clever idea!
  • We've been eating chicken eggs for a LONG time.. probably since about 7,500 BC
  • To tell a raw egg from a hard-boiled one, just spin it on a flat surface. If it wobbles then it's raw, but if it spins easily then it's cooked!
  • And to tell a stale egg from a fresh one, just pop it in a bowl of water. A fresh egg sinks but a stale one floats.....
  • China produces a whopping 160 billion eggs per year... that's a lot of Oakeley breakfasts.

So come on! Get eggy-with it today and enjoy some yummy eggs for your breakfast, lunch or tea (or all three)!

You can find out more egg-tastic information about British Egg Week and the Lion Egg standard on their website here

How do you like yours?
Image by g-point on


Monday, 1 October 2012

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month....

October 1st!
Gosh, 2012 is flying by isn't it? October already, we hear you cry! There's only 85 days left 'till Christmas, and 92 until the beginning of 2013... scary stuff!
But, that's enough about Christmas! As today is the 1st of October, we thought we'd celebrate all things October-ey. From the weird to the wonderful, there's a lot going on...
  • October is the month of.... school holidays (not long to go), Halloween, Thanksgiving, Oktoberfest, Blog Action Day and the Hong Kong International Lighting Fair....
  • In Roman calendars, October was the 8th month of the year, which is where its name comes from - octo means eight.
  • October was traditionally the month for Mop Fairs... This ancient tradition was when farm labourers or servants would look for more work for the coming year. They'd stand in the centre of town, dressed in best clothes and with some indication of their profession -  a gardener might have a rake and a maid might have a mop. There is still a Mop Fair held in Warwickshire to this day!
  • The 18th of October is St Luke's Day; a day especially for young women. If they slathered their faces in a cream of honey, spices and vinegar and chanted a poem before bed, then their destined true love would appear that night in their dreams.
  • According to ancient rhymes and folk lore.... rain in October means wind in December. and "When berries are many in October, beware a hard winter"....or "if the October moon comes without frost, expect no frost till the moon of November".
  • October is the month to celebrate the anniversary of the first Model T Ford car (1908), the opening of the first McDonald's in the UK (1974), the discovery of New Zealand by James Cook (1769) and the joining of East and West Germany (1990).
  • October is also the start of Autumn, which is a great month to get out and explore forests, woodland and trees and witness mother nature's autumn spectacle.
Autumn Leaves
image by boogy man on