2020 was an opportunity for me to creatively use my camera to document everyday events – the good and the bad, the crying and the laughter. I quickly realized how lucky we are to live in this area, and we started as a family to make the most of our surrounds.
The days were long and the sun was shining, so we started walking to our local, organic fruit and vegetable shop. Once a week, every Thursday after harvest, we walked along the back lanes for almost an hour to visit Tyddyn Teg farm. Situated between Bethel and Llanrug, take the sharp turn down a narrow lane and you’ll catch a glimpse of a number of poly-tunnels, hidden behind the trees. All farming and harvesting work is carried out by volunteers, and all products are available to purchase at an 'honesty shop' on site. The process of weighing and calculating the value is just as much fun as the picking itself!
Once rules were relaxed slightly, local cafes were able to offer a take-away service. In Felinheli we’re very fortunate to have a high quality café in the middle of the village. The location of The Swellies is enough of an attraction in itself – on a sunny summer's day, while enjoying the stunning views, you can easily convince yourself you’re in the South of France. The outdoor tables overlooking the marina are an ideal location to enjoy your take-out meal while observing the boats (and ducks) coming and going. On top of its location, the cuisine on offer is the icing on the cake. Swellies' secret is using Welsh, local produce, and using them well! Fresh bread from Becws Alun, eggs from the Llŷn Peninsula, meat from local butcher Tom Hughes, cakes by Amy's Kitchen from Bangor, beer from Bragdy Lleu – even the loose tea leaves are from Wales! Ed, the owner, must be sick of the sight of us by now as the café is slowly becoming our second home!
A trip to nearby Llanberis, one of our favourite villages, became a highlight once restrictions on travelling changed. We regularly walked over Clegir from Llanrug to Llanberis; a route which, in my opinion, offers some of the best views of Snowdonia in Wales. Walking here feels like we’re in a different time period, with postcard-perfect scenery facing us when looking down at the lake at the bottom of the huge slate tip of Dinorwic Quarry. Like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, Mafon deli is a reward well worth having after the long walk down and into Llanberis itself, with the coffee being the ultimate prize! ‘Heartland' coffee, roasted in Wales, is always perfectly prepared by Leah, the owner, or one of her staff. Leah is passionate about delicious, vegan food, and her café is in the best location possible to enjoy a meal or coffee, within a stone's throw of Llyn Padarn.
We used the Lôn Las cycle route from Felinheli to Caernarfon regularly over the summer, which is part of the Wales Coast Path. With plenty of time on our hands, we chose to take a relaxing cycle to town to shop or see family, as opposed to our normal routine of jumping in the car. Without fail, we took a pit-stop at Bonta Deli, located within the castle walls in Caernarfon. This deli is an Aladdin's cave full of lovely treats. The products sold is a mixture of the best Italy and Wales has to offer – the perfect partnership in my opinion! The coffee is remarkable, and of course we had a responsibility to support local businesses by purchasing a cake or a sweet pastry on every occasion..! The cannoli, pasta de nata, cheesecake, meringue, chocolate cake and cookies are just some of my favourites. Bonta also offers a 'Foodie Friday' lunchbox as a takeaway, which is the ideal way to start the weekend.
One of the places we ventured when restrictions allowed was the village of Nantlle, situated in the dramatic Dyffryn Nantlle valley in Snowdonia. Poblado, a well-known coffee brand in Wales, is roasted in the village, and started offering yoga sessions and a five-kilometre running club to locals, when the rules permitted – and of course, the coffee and chat at the end of the sessions was an added incentive. When it’s safe to do so, it’s worth all coffee-lovers arranging a visit to witness the process undertaken to create the different blends, and purchasing a bag of beans or a freshly prepared coffee. Following your visit, coffee in hand, turn left out of Poblado Coffee and head up to Nantlle quarry, and all your senses will come alive when enjoying the striking views in front of you! Buying coffee from the source where it’s roasted is special. The staff are on hand to tell you all about the ethically-sourced organic beans from Rwanda, Uganda, Sumatra, China, Guatemala and Colombia.
We had planned to visit Edinburgh in 2020, but had to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic. But looking back at the different experiences I’ve had over the last few months, I’ve realised that I don't need to go far to enjoy some of life’s little pleasures. The walks, trails, adventures and businesses, as well as the spectacular landscape available on our doorstep are enough to offer unforgettable experiences. Lockdown has changed many people’s mind-set on the importance of staying and supporting local, and this is made especially easy when supporting local looks and tastes so good!
As we enter 2021 restrictions are still in place, with the health crisis continuing to have a significant impact on our lives. But when it is possible to do so, when businesses and attractions can reopen, I would encourage you to get to know and appreciate what’s on your doorstep over the spring and summer this year.