Monday, 30 July 2012

Ffestiniog Railway Jazz Trains

Groove Rail

There's something in the air this week at the Oakeley - a bit of a groovy feeling perhaps?? That's because we're gearing up for the fabulous annual Ffestiniog Railway Jazz trains. These summer extravaganzas are back by popular demand, and passengers on the Jazz party trains are guaranteed an evening to remember, thanks to the fabulous Dr Jazz!

The service leaves from Porthmadog and heads up to Tan-y-Bwlch Station, where the jazz stage hots up throughout the evening. There will be plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a lively dance floor and sizzling BBQ.

And a Jazz Train party wouldn't be complete without the grand finale of favourite jazz classics, which are bound to get the dance floor bouncing!

Image by Michal Zacharzewski on

Trains depart on the 9th, 16th and the 23rd August from Harbour Station, Porthmadog at 19:15.

The Ffestiniog Railway Jazz Trains are always extremely popular, so it's best to book in advance. See or call 01766 516 024 for the booking office.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Sun has got it's hat on!

Sunshine at last!!

Wow, how giddy are we here at the Oakeley Arms? We are SO happy that the sun has decided to join us this summer at last. Better late than never!

Sadly, we don't have a lot of spare time to spend lazing around in the sunshine, but this lovely weather got us thinking about all the fabulous things to do in Snowdonia when the sun is out. Here's our favourites:

  •  Climb Snowdon! There's nothing better than climbing the King of Snowdonia mountains on a clear, sunny day. The view from the top is to die for. Pack a picnic and don't forget plenty of water and sunscreen. And we'll see you in the Oakeley Bar for a well deserved beer afterwards!
View from Snowdon

  • Go to the beach! The beautiful peaks of Snowdonia sweep dramatically down to the sea to form over 200 miles of stunning coastline along the coast of the Snowdonia National Park. Our favourite beaches nearby are at Borth-y-Gest and Harlech, both of which are close to the Oakeley Arms.

Harlech Beach

  • Visit and outdoor attraction! There are lots of fabulous Snowdonia attractions on the Oakeley's doorstep that are brilliant fun in the sunny weather. You could explore the beautiful gardens and beaches at nearby Portmeirion Village, or how about a visit to the gorgeous animals and fairies at Gypsy Wood Park? If you're a history nut, then you could go back in time and explore the haunting ruins of Harlech, Criccieth and Caernarfon Castles.

Gypsy Wood Park

  • Go for a walk! If tackling Wales' highest mountain isn't your bag, then don't worry! There are loads of low-level walks you could do, with some beautiful areas to explore. There are even some fabulous walks that leave straight from the Oakeley Arms. See the previous blog posts here and here for more details.

Vale of Ffestiniog

  • Sit back and relax! Ok, so it's great to get out and about in the sunny weather, but it's also great to sit back and top up the vitamin D levels. The Oakeley Arms has a lovely sunny beer garden where you can relax and enjoy one of our fab refreshing cold lagers or ciders. See you there!!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Precious Bala Photographs Found!

Saving memories!

It was revealed last week that an album of precious photographs of welsh town Bala and nearby Llanuwchllyn that were found in an attic in Shropshire, have been purchased by Gwynedd Council, in a bid to save some of the rare pictures.

The images depict a way of life long since lost in the small town, and date as far back as the 1860's! The pictures are of extreme historical and cultural importance and give a unique insight into the town, and it's people. Their age makes them extremely rare. The pictures are currently being placed in the county archives.

For more information contact Gwynedd Archives

Bala Day Trip
Bala is just a 20 minute drive from the Oakeley Arms Hotel, so it makes for a great day out. As well as the pretty town centre, there is also the stunning lake to explore, as well as a narrow gauge railway and a white-water rafting experience. Ask us for more "must see" recommendations in Bala!

Vintage postcard of Bala Lake
Image by "Snapshots of the Past" on wikicommons

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Alternative Olympics

Mad Hatter Olympic Games

As you know by now, here at the Oakeley Arms, we're not ones to miss out on a sporting event (especially if it can be enjoyed from the comfort of the bar, ahem!)....

So this week, as London 2012 draws ever closer, we thought we'd investigate some alternative games; just in case rowing, 100m or the javelin isn't for you.

Read on for some of the country's most barmy, bonkers and bizarre sporting events. Click on the highlighted links for more info (opens in a new window).

Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking, Leicestershire
A truly bizarre event that is thought to date back many centuries. The 'bottle kicking' itself is fairly self-explanatory (but please note the rules - no eye gouging, strangling or weapons....). The aim of the game is to kick the bottle as far as you can over a series of obstacles. The Hare Pie Scramble, is, as the name suggests, a scramble to get a piece of a giant hare pie after it's blessed and thrown to the crowd by the vicar. Yum.

Man versus Horse Marathon, Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales
A relatively new event in the bonkers-event calendar (the first race was in 1980) but completely bonkers nonetheless! This is definitely a race of champions - runners compete on a 22 mile circuit against riders on horseback. A human didn't win the race until 2004, when runner Huw Lobb beat the fastest horse by over 2 minutes! The prize is a staggering 1,000 guineas. Anyone for a jog?

Bog Snorkelling Championships, Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales
There must be something about this town and it's crazy contests, but as well as the Man vs Horse marathon, this little town is also home to the annual Bog Snorkelling Championships. If this rain keeps up we'll be able to practice in the Oakeley garden.....

Get boggy!
Image by rud-gr on wikicommons

Cheese Rolling, Gloucestershire
One of the better known crazy sporting events in Britain; this year the event in June drew crowds of over 2,000 people! The unusual tradition is thought to be an ancient celebration of the beginning of Spring. And what better way to welcome Spring than to hurl yourself down a very steep hill after a large round of Double Gloucestershire cheese? We do like a bit of cheese, but that's just crackers! (sorry...)

Cheesy mayhem!
Image by Dave Farrance on wikicommons
Cotswold Olimpick Games, Chipping Camden
Organisers claim these games were the origins of the modern Olympic events as we know them, and this year was an extra special 400th anniversary of the extraordinary event. Games include sword fights, dog performances, shin kicking and tug'o'war.
Certainly not one for the faint hearted, or indeed the faint tongued! Apparently competitors come from all over the world to be the nettle champion - participants are given an hour to chomp and chew their way through as many stinging nettles as they can. YUM!

Ever been asked how strong your big toe is? Well you'll need to know if you want to enter this bizarre contest. Apparently devised by George Burgess in the 1970s to give England something to win at, this international competition is toe joke (sorry!). If your toe's had its weetabix, why not give it a go?

"Be a skimmer and you're a winner" is the advice of this unusual event on a small Scottish island. But be warned skimmers - to count as a "skim", the stone must bounce on the water at least three times.

Now we all know those Lancashire folk love a black pudding or two, but why oh why are they chucking them all over the place? The idea is to hurl a black pud at a tower of yorkshire puds in a bid to finally settle the age old Lancashire-Yorkshire feud.... The winner is the thrower who can topple the most yorkies. Anyone for a pudding??

Wobble those yorkies!
image by Paul Anderson on wiki commons

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Wettest June on record

Wet Wales

The Met Office has confirmed that last month was the wettest June since records began, and to be honest, it's not looking much brighter here at the Oakeley. Any more cloudy days and we'll have forgotten what the beautiful Snowdon scenery looks like!

But, never ones to let a rain-drop or two (more like two million.....) get us down we got to thinking about rainy day things to do. So here are some of our favourite Oakeley Rainy Day activities:
  • Hop over to the Oakeley Arms bar for a delicious pint and some comfort food (had to be top of the list!).
  • Write the Oakeley blog. We love keeping everyone updated with all the goings-on here, and locally. If you're inspired, why not try writing your own blog?
  • Bake a cake! We need to get practising for the Oakeley Clwb Pwdin, and there's usually no shortage of volunteers to test the creations!
  • Snuggle up with a good book and a glass of wine; a rare treat these days, but a lovely indulgence.
  • Brave the rain! Who was it who said there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing? We could dig out the wellies and the waterproofs and head out for a walk, but on the other hand, we could just stay on the sofa....
  • Hide and seek! Who's up for a game? Don't forget to count to 100, and try a variation on the classic where the "hider" has to try and move from room to room without getting spotted! Just don't leave us locked in the cellar...
  • Be a tourist! There are loads of fabulous places to visit locally that we often take for granted and never get around to visit. We could take a trip on the Ffestiniog Railway, visit the slate mines at Llechwedd Blaenau Ffestiniog or get all cultured at the magnificent Penrhyn Castle.
  • Just doing nothing! "dolce far niente" is how the Italians put it, literally meaning "the sweetness of doing nothing", and who are we to disagree?? Now if you don't mind, we're off to practise just that!

image by Shirleymar on

Tell us your favourite rainy day things to do! Leave a comment below :)

Monday, 9 July 2012

Welsh Olympic Football

Go Cymru!

Now don't get too giddy! We don't mean that Wales have conjured up their very own Olympic football team, but we were delighted to hear that quite a few fellow Welsh souls make up a good portion of the hopeful Team GB Football squad at the much anticipated London 2012 Olympic Games.

Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey, Craig Bellamy, Joe Allen and Neil Taylor have all been named this week by coach Stuart Pearce to be included in the 18-man Team GB squad.

Although reportedly, the Football Association of Wales have voiced concerns over the inclusion of the Welsh players, believing that a Team GB may threaten the independence of Welsh Football.

But, the boys will join a whole host of Welsh athletes competing at the 30th Olympic Games in London this summer. Other hopefuls include Andrew Selby and Fred Evans (Boxing), Geraint Thomas and Nicole Cooke (Cycling), Elena Allen (Shooting), Dai Green (Athletics) Hannah Mills (Sailing) and David Davies, Georgina Davis,  Ieuan Lloyd, Jemma Lloyd and Marco Loughran (Swimming).

We'll be wishing our fabulous athletes all the best in the games - we're proud of them all!

London 2012 Countdown Clock
Image by Chitrapa on Wikicommons

Monday, 2 July 2012

Snowdon Grid References

Lost and Found

A new initiative was unveiled last month by the Snowdonia National Park, in order to help lost walkers and climbers on Snowdon find their way to safety.

The Snowdon Mountain Rescue Team devised the scheme, in which small grid reference notices have been placed on fence posts, gates and stiles so that disorientated walkers can get back on the right track. It's also hoped that the grid references will improve mountain safety and will also be crucial for rescue teams to more pinpoint accurately missing or troubled walkers.

The reference points are parts of a wider safety initiative run by the Mountainsafe Partnership to improve safety on mountains.

Here at the Oakeley Arms, we love escaping to the hills for a good day of walking, and we certainly are spoilt for choice! But we do agree that safety is paramount when on the hills.

You can find more safety information and hints and tips from the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team on their website here

Stay safe out there!!

Image by Stemontis on wikicommons