Award for longest blog post title ever? RIGHT HERE. Also potentially blog post title with the most Ls in ever, but you can thank Wales for that.
On our first full day in Wales we awoke early (a common theme in these holiday journals I’m sure you will have come to realise) and headed out. We were going to the Slate mines but it was still far from opening hours so we went for a drive to look for somewhere that Sandy and Roslyn could explore.
We drove through the countryside and it wasn’t long at all before we happened upon a castle so we hopped out and went to find a way up to it. It turns out – despite being seemingly alone in the landscape at first – it is manned buy a family who live in a farm house below the castle and a woman came out to greet us in her jammies. Very quaint and lovely. So we purchased our access to the castle and went up to explore.
The castle was in a strategic position among the hills and the strongest fortress in the area (so said the sign). That’s all I can tell you though as the kids were too exited to climb.
You can just about see us at the door. Stuart went up with Sandy first and admitted shortly after that he became rather scared and now refers to the picture of him up there as “the time I almost pooed myself in Wales”.
Speaking of poo – and we often do – Sandy was rather taken with the castle being in a field full of “sheep and cow poo” which he joyfully pointed out to us every time he saw some. Which was often.
On the way back down we saw the “PLEASE KEEP TO THE PATH” sign and realised we had indeed gone off piste. Upon heading down the real path we found a lovely waterfall which Sandy adored.
Stuart fiddled with the shutter speeds as he does so well.
After the castle we headed over to Llechwedd Slate Caverns and donned our hard hats for a trip down the Victorian mine.
We were lucky as it rained heavily while we were there, but it made little difference as we were underground. The mine was great and Sandy was very brave. Roslyn sat in the sling and fed/cried because she wasn’t being fed which was the best we could have hoped for really.
They keep cheese under there to mature because the temperature is so stable. Mmmmmmmine cheese!
When we came back above ground Sandy and Rozzie settled in to do some slate crafts, making their own decorated coasters.
Then we all dodged the rain and headed to the car to go on to our next location of the day, and the main reason I wanted to go to Wales…
Portmeirion is a tiny town near Porthmadog made by Sir Clough Williams Ellis in the style of an Italian village.
I first visited about 15 years ago with my parents and brother and have never forgotten how beautiful and magical it was. When we went back I was not disappointed. We went for lunch and then out to explore. Roslyn promptly fell asleep in the sling and stayed that way for three hours while Sandy, Stuart and I wandered.
There are many fountains…
…tropical and traditional landscaping…
…and much to Sandy’s delight a tractor ride through the woodlands.
When the tractor stopped at the high point and we all got out to enjoy the view I decided to stay in the hills with Roslyn (still sparko) while the boys bumped back down on the tractor.
Poor Sandy made the wrong decision to get back on the tractor as he missed the play park just along the road. But I can’t blame him because he loves tractors so not continuing the journey would be like blasphemy to him.
The woodland walk is a myriad of growthy areas with secluded paths, hidden ponds and secret constructions. Gazebos and arches appear in the distance and a simple off shoot to the road brings you to a chinese lake.
Walking through the trees took me right back to my youth, exploring with my brother, only this time I had my own child sleeping heavily on my chest.
It was such a calm and peaceful time in a holiday which – unexpectedly with young children – was pretty much non-stop action.
When Roslyn and I reappeared in the village we found Sandy and Stuart (can you spot them?)
After a break for tea and ice cream the kids decided to splash.
Sandy was desperate to paddle so we did. Luckily he had his nice underwear on 😉
He found pennies thrown in the fountain and threw them further.
Before we had to head back for dinner we went down to the coast again and found a boat built into the wall which Sandy was so taken by he cried for it all the way back to the car.
Portmeirion was wonderful and truly one of the high points of the holiday for me. Little did I know though that the low point was right around the corner.
We went for dinner and to bed and in the night I woke to norovirus. It was not the best night and I woke thinking I might be able to rest while Stuart took the kids and recover for the last two days of the holiday. We asked the staff at the hotel about swapping our night in carlisle that evening for another in porthmadog and they seemed hopeful so Stuart took Sandy and Roslyn to the beach and I tried to rally. Suffice to say I didn’t and the hotel then informed me we couldn’t swap. Stuart text me to say that Roslyn too had started to be sick and the idea of all four of us sick in a hotel for two nights seemed like hell so we packed and drove.
Luckily Stuart held off being ill as we journeyed the five hours home. It wasn’t the most pleasant of times but we coped. Sandy was an angel and seemed to know we needed him to be good, so he dozed and then played on the ipad, not once complaining as we counted the hours and minutes before arriving back in Scotland. Never have I been happier to get back to my humble abode!
In the end Stuart’s illness was shorter lived than mine or Roslyn’s and Sandy avoided it entirely. It wasn’t the best end to the holiday but it didn’t take the shine off of what came before. We had a fabulous time down south and can’t wait to do it again.