A Welsh Escape part three

And so to our last full day in Wales which was a trip on the Ffestiniog railway. You can buy a ticket which allows you to get on and off this very cute railway which is run by volunteers

Originally it was used to transport the slate down to Portmadog and due to the unrelenting Welsh landscape it had to be small as the turain is so windy. At some points we were litterally going past peoples front doors. It was incredible though as it was so bumpy wasn't good for taking too many phots.
We travelled down to Portmadog then came back and got off to stretch our legs at Tan-y-Bwlch where you could go for a walk through an amazing wood then down to a small lake then back up through more forest to the station.  

Though I must admit I was a little perplexed when I saw this sign near the lake though luckily we survived!

How fantastic are these signs. It felt as if we were going back in time.
The views of the engines were great even if the smoke was incredibly smelly!

And so that was our short break in North Wales. The journey back was long and slow because of the torrential rain. Equivalent of a month's rain in a day. But on the way back we were able to make a short detour so I could make pilgrimage to the wonderful Ruthin Craft Centre. If you are ever in North Wales it is your duty to visit this amazing gallery. I used to be the book buyer for the Crafts Council and worked quite closely with Ruthin but had never had the opportunity to visit before (and we're talking about 15 years people!). So I persuaded OH to drop in. I'd timed it quite poorly as they were in the middle of change over but what a fantastic venue! And I saw someone I used to work with. Ironically never see him in South London where we both live but saw him in North Wales. It is an amazing, amazing venue as well as a small world..... 

A Welsh Escape part two

So one of the reasons why I chose North Wales was I've always wanted to visit Portmeirion. A quirky collection of faux houses created by Clough Williams-Ellis and was made famous by the Prisoner (though I don't think I've ever seen the whole of it).

Now I'd been studying the BBC weather forecast so that we could visit on a day without rain. Now the forecast assured me that it would be cloudy with sunny intervals throughout the day, with the sun coming out at about 1pm. Oh how wrong! The only day where it did rain. Still meant I did take slightly fewer pictures than normal!

But we soldiered on and what a barmy, fantastic place it is!
We stopped off to have coffee and the obligatory holiday cream scone (well I had one, OH just had the coffee) and we were watching this little robin outside. OH then said that he was at the door of the cafe and I joked 'is he coming in for a coffee' and he did actually come in! It was great.... I think he was escaping from the rain as well....

The village goes down to the sea and back up the hill (certainly kept us fit!)
And there is also a woodland area which is very magical, even in the wet! We came across several tree stumps which had coins pushed into the wood. They were amazing! Does anyone know why?

So that was Portmeirion and was certainly worth the wait, even in the rain. Too insult to injury it stopped raining literally as we drove through the gates! Typical...

As a postscript I must tell you about one of my favourite stories which happened in Portmadog where we went after Portmeirion to stock up on supplies. We had to buy food for our evening meal so I popped into the green grocers to buy a leek and a courgette to stir fry to go with the pork I'd just bought from the butchers next door. The greengrocer looked at me and in a voice akin to Rob Brydon said 'a leek and a courgette..... why not'. Simple as that but makes me smile whenever I think about it. And was the best meal we had whilst we were there (accompanied by sauteed potatoes).

A Welsh Escape part one

Blimey, I can't believe it's been so long since I last wrote a post. Apologies! Life seems to have been more busy than usual. However OH and I had our annual get away. Now we're not the most adventures of types and I love holidaying in the UK. There is so much to see why go abroad. Oh but then we've had the worst summer for weather EVER this year haven't we. So when we were travelling down the motorway in torrential rain we decided that next year we may possibly go abroad...

Anyway that's next year. This year it was my turn to choose where to go and I suggested North Wales, Snowdonia to be more precise. But as with last year we went via Cardiff to stay with friend's of OH and their wonderful 2 boys who just really make me smile! And this year one had just had their sixth birthday so there were sweets and balloons and pressie etc etc etc. So our first day in Wales and there was even sunshine! So we went to St Fagins which is an amazing place. It's full of saved architecture from through out Wales and I also discovered where some of Dr Who is filmed (as I kept recognising buildings....

This is a fence made of slate. We have a similar thing in Cumbria but we use big slabs. These were thin and graceful.

And this was an old pig stye (yep still in the B&W phase I'm afraid - brace yourselves!). It was great to just wander through a huge site covered in trees and sloping hills. Unfortunately the boys have been before so quite quickly became bored but I was so glad that we went.

We then drove up through Wales to North Wales. We were staying in Blaneau Ffestiniog which felt like the longest village in the world nestled next to the mounds and mounds of slate which is still quarried in the area. We had a small cottage which was upside down with bedroom downstairs and everything else upstairs.

On our first day we were aiming to go to Harlech Castle but in our usual way got lost and stumbled across Criccerth Castle which was amazing.

And here is the view - and look - no rain! We were so lucky.....

And then back in the car to go to Harlech Castle (now that we'd found the right road) and what a great castle. A lot of it was still standing and you could go up and down the towers and along the walls. I think OH's inner kid was peeking out....

We then pootled down the coast to Barmouth which I must admit was a little disappointing. As you can see it was cloudy, and I'm not sure if you can see the railway bridge which crosses the Estuary.

But this really made me smile. There was a fun fair but it really did feel like the end of the season - who knew it was early July!

I now realised that even for me I've waffled on and on so should really break up the adventure into a couple of posts so more to follow!