Wales

Posted: August 27, 2009 in Ramblings

Today (August 14) was an all-Wales day, except for the tiny part of road between our Telford hotel and the Welsh border.  First we drove past a little glass workshop called the Glassblobbery; the name of it was so funny we had to stop.  The artists who work there make beautiful glass torchwork sculptures, then tint and stain them afterwards, which is a process I’ve never heard of.  (Yes, that sentence ends with a preposition; I stand by my usage!)  Of course, with fused glass (my medium), the glass is purchased already colored, so there is no need to add color afterwards.  I purchased a small glass dragon which shades from amber to blue to a little bit of green.  Thought she’d look good next to Detro.  Her name is Daphne.  (Nothing to do with Jack Lemmon!  It’s because she’s diaphanous.)

After leaving the Glassblobbery, we stopped to admire the scenery at this lake.  Naturally, I can no longer remember the name.  Bald Lake?  Bear Lake?  Something with a B, four letters.  Aha, Bala Lake.  Yes, now I remember it reminded me of “balalaika.”

welsh lake

Between this lake and our first stop at Blaenau Festiniog, we drove through some awe-inspiring patches of countryside.  There were long stretches of road where the only manmade things we could see were the ‘giants’ (big metal things holding up the electrical power lines) and our car/the road we were on.  No houses, no other cars, no sheep (which is amazing because Wales is sprinkled with sheep everywhere you look).  Nothing but big rocky mountains and trees.  Gorgeous.  It was hard to capture this with my puny camera, but the picture of the lake above (although you can see some buildings and a bridge in it) is fairly representative of this feeling.

At Blaenau Festiniog we stopped to watch the steam train get under way.  For some reason which I now no longer remember, we were unable to ride the train.  It was drizzling this whole time, so we also stopped in a cafe to get some coffee and dry out.

train under steam

We moved on to Caernarvon Castle.  This castle originated in 1283!  I have been unable to determine, after viewing ruins and old buildings over the years, why the roofs and floors always seem to be gone.  I guess the roof caves in, and then when the floor is exposed to the elements it rots away.  Here are some pictures I took.  If you look carefully you can see Chris, Alex and Ant up there.

chris on walls

boys on walls

chris closeup  Yes, he’s quite far away.

The Royal Welch Fusiliers have their museum in the castle.  We took a look through there and saw lots of interesting things and historical explanations.  We saw a taxidermied goat!  The goat is the mascot of the RWF.  The one that had been stuffed was the original one that Queen Victoria had gifted to the regiment.  His name was Billy.  I kid you not.  (Oh, dear, I hadn’t even realized that pun until I was proofreading my entry…)

bam Who wants to be a fusilier?  I do!

Well, this very full day was going to get fuller yet.  We walked around the town and discovered a small fair in progress, so Alex got to go on the giant slide (they call it a Helter Skelter over there, but I never heard that term applied to a carnival ride before) and the swings.

alex slide

 carnival at caernarvonI liked the juxtaposition of carnival and castle in this one.

We walked around town a little bit more before heading to our hotel.  I stumbled across a little yarn shop.  This was very exciting to me, until I went inside and saw that all their stock was Sirdar, Rowan and Plymouth!  However, I asked the lady if they had any local yarns and they did; I got 10 skeins, seven of a rough grey (undyed) wool and 3 of the natural undyed.  Not sure what I’ll do with it, since it’s so scratchy, but it would be good for felting, I think.  It was fairly inexpensive.

A walk along the old city walls was pleasant, and we saw a regatta taking place in the Menai Strait.  None of us had realized it was a regatta until we were all startled by a cannon report from shore!  After peeking around we saw the officials on top of a tower, signaling the boaters.

When we got to Beaumaris (the town where our hotel was) we dumped the stuff in the rooms and went for a walk along the seafront.  I tried to make a stitched picture of the opposite shore, but my program is failing to stitch them.  None of them are interesting enough as a standalone.  They are very distant and hazy.

alex and cowsAlex with Welsh cows.

Here is a picture of Beaumaris Castle.  I loved that it was just plunked down here; it doesn’t rear up like Caernarvon, and there were no big plaques pointing visitors to it – it just sits there unobtrusively.  Very nice.

beaumaris castle

That day was our tenth wedding anniversary, so Ant took the babysitting duties in the evening while Chris and I went for a nice dinner.  Unfortunately, the hotel restaurant wouldn’t let Chris in while he was wearing shorts, and he had no long pants to change into!  Rather than try to find a pants shop at this hour (ha ha), we went in search of a different restaurant.  We had almost decided to settle for Chinese takeout (with a promise of a nice anniversary dinner at Coho when we got back), when we stumbled across a beautiful little restaurant in a hidden courtyard.  It was quite elegant, the fare was delicious (Chris had lamb something and a beer, and I had a salad and Strongbow) and we wandered around town for a while before heading back to the hotel room.  I feel very lucky to have been married to Chris for 10 years and can only hope we have many more hilarious years together.  Never a dull moment!

And to my great delight, I found that Amazon Fresh delivers Strongbow, so there is a six-pack chilling in the fridge at this very moment!

Tomorrow, a little bit of York with a long and lousy story!

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