THIS part of the world has long been handily central for getting to other, enticing and contrasting realms in a surprisingly short amount of time, whether it be the Lakes, Southern Scotland, Yorkshire Dales, the Potteries or North Wales.
The last of these in particular boasts plenty of attractive locations to explore, none more so than Ynys Mon: known better to those on this side of the border as Anglesey.
And with a certain world-famous regal couple taking up residency there of late, the island’s profile nationally has rarely been higher.
But while it might be amusing to imagine that Wills is aboard that rescue helicopter combing the beach overhead or that you might bump into Kate doing her weekly shop at Menai Bridge Waitrose, there are plenty of proper reasons to make this island a holiday destination.
The Graham family searched vainly for royals but still left Anglesey after a brief stay with many happy memories and a yearning to return to more.
The focal point for operations was a wonderful bed and breakfast-cum-caravan park-cum-campsite called Blackthorn Farm.
Run and built up from virtual scratch in the space of four years by former building industry high-flyer Richard Tuke and a close-knit team including several other family members, the site has just about everything you could wish for in this line of holidaymaking.
As B&B residents we were delighted with the service, the rooms (all spotlessly clean and fitted out to a high spec with a new-minted feel), and the meals.
There are seven rooms in all, five of which have en-suite bathrooms, and each enhanced by those little extras which make all the difference such as complimentary refreshments, robes and slippers, DVDs to borrow and a nice slice of home-made bara brith.
There is ample space on the surrounding land for tents and caravans complete with excellent communal facilities including the showers, toilets, washing-up and laundry rooms. A small shop serves all those staying, and campers and caravan users are also welcome to have their breakfasts made for them at the farmhouse along with the B&B guests.
Richard and co serve up regular barbecues and a a Friday night supper menu while the local Chinese and Indian takeaways also deliver to the farm.
And all this in the most idyllic of settings. Blackthorn Farm is situated just outside Treaddur Bay, south of Holyhead on the western coast of the island.
While there is surprisingly little to write home about Holyhead itself, virtually everything else round abouts can prompt many a column inch.
The views for a start are absolutely stunning. The Welsh mountains provide the most noble of backdrops and that stretch of shoreline comprises a wealth of perfectly-formed coves (the nearest and our haunt was Porth Dafarch) complete with dramatic cliffs, rock pools, crystal clear waters and soft clean sand.
I am sure some holidaymakers can spend their entire stay profitably on walks around the coast and inland countryside (or hire a pedal bicycle from Blackthorn Farm to speed things up a bit).
And for the more adventurous and aquatic the sea nearby is a gift for divers, kayakers, climbers and anglers.
For those wanting a more relaxing times there area boasts a number of good restaurants within a short drive, a particularly good and reasonably-priced meal being found at the White Eagle.
And one shouldn’t forget that on Anglesey you are never much more than 30 or 40 minutes’ drive from anywhere on the island.
It has a goodly selection of family-friendly attractions including Foel Farm Park, the Sea Zoo and Plas Newydd, the ancestral home of the Marquess of Anglesey. There’s the island’s model village and gardens, the RSPB’s South Stack visitor centre, that place – which for the sake of brevity we shall call Llanfair PG – which has the longest name in Britain, and the lovely coastal resort of Beaumaris complete with its castle and gaol (well worth a visit).
While Blackthorn Farm makes for an ideal holiday location, it is equally attractive to those en route to Ireland, being fewer than 10 minutes’ drive from the ferry terminal.
The campsite and caravan park are open from March to October while the bed and breakfast, but for a few days around Christmas, is open the year round.
For further information ring 01407 765262 or visit email@example.com