Posts Tagged ‘Wales’

Walking Up High in Wales

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

I have said this before, but I love the fact that I can get in a car, drive west-ish for about an hour and find myself in Wales. I can cross a border and be in another country where the people speak a different language, have funny accents and are generally more relaxed than the English. I take any opportunity to pop over the Welsh border and so when Sir Pubert Gladstone’s birthday arrived I decided to organise a Magical Mystery Birthday Tour of Secrets and Surprises. This involved Sir Pubert, his car, my excellent GPS navigation skills and Thomas Telford’s magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (if you can pronounce that, you win ten points and a thumbs up from me.). The day before the mystery tour, I frantically searched Google maps for an interesting ‘thing’ for us to visit. It had to be worth driving to, preferably free, and within a short drive of a good pub with a ploughman’s lunch. As soon as I discovered Tom’s water bridge, read that it is the highest aqueduct in Britain and that people who are scared of heights (aka Sir Pubert) may not enjoy it, I decided I had found a winner. Everyone needs a challenge on their birthday.

Thankfully the weather was on our side with sunshine, blue skies and a few big fluffy clouds. I don’t think walking across a raised water source in the rain and wind would have been very pleasant. The aqueduct was very impressive – a long raised canal crossing over a river valley. Built between 1785 and 1805, it is remarkable that it continues to function today. I do wonder why it seemed like a good idea to suspend a canal 126 feet in the air, but it has made for a very impressive structure.

It's a canal. In the air. Amazing.

It’s a canal. In the air. Amazing.

Amazing views from the aqueduct

Amazing views from the aqueduct

A fantastic structure.

A fantastic structure.

After we had crossed the aqueduct we headed to Llangollen, a beautiful little town that is clearly a popular spot for visitors on a Saturday afternoon. After spending 30 minutes trying to find parking, we made it to The Corn Mill – a lovely river side pub where we managed to score an outdoor table in the sunshine.

Riverside views at The Corn Mill

Riverside views at The Corn Mill

Sir Pubert had been wanting a ploughman’s platter for sometime so my pub search had involved scouring menus in search of a plate with cheese and bread. Sadly it wasn’t the greatest ploughman’s as it could have done with five times more cheese so we are now on the hunt for the WORLD’S GREATEST PLOUGHMAN’S. If you know where it is, please let me know. 

Ploughman's platter

Ploughman’s platter

A wander back through the town, supposedly Welsh ice-cream and then into the car and home again in time for me to catch a train to Sheffield. I went from Manchester to Wales to Manchester to Sheffield in 8 hours. I saw plenty of green rolling hills and sheep that day and it was the best Magical Mystery Birthday Tour of Secrets and Surprises that I have ever been on. Ever.

 

A Visit to Cheshire

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Last Friday I caught a train to a small town in Cheshire to visit some more of my numerous extended cousins. Jan and Bill live in a beautiful cottage home on a tiny lane in a cute little town in the middle of nowhere. While I love cities, I always enjoy escaping them and enjoy the quiet and solitude of country life. We sat in their garden relaxing and enjoying cups of coffee while watching the birds and insects dashing around. Glorious. I now have big plans to move to a small town in country England work in the local pub. Now there’s a book.

On Saturday we visited the ruins of Beeston Castle – built in the 1200s, it sits high on a sandstone hill allowing you to see eight counties (on a clear day.) We had great weather and the walk up the hill was surprisingly warm. I particularly enjoyed the fact that you can see Wales from the top. It isn’t every day that you climb a hill and see another country. We had a picnic lunch with views over Cheshire during which I was in a state of constant amazement that we were eating outside in mid-summer and not being bothered by flies. The British have got some things right.

Approaching Beeston Castle

Approaching Beeston Castle

Hello, Wales.

Hello, Wales.

Wales for the Day

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

As part of my extensive social calendar thanks to my cousin Lesley, I was invited to go to Wales for the day to visit one of Les’s friends. I hadn’t quite realised how close I was to the Welsh border but after only 30 minutes in the car I couldn’t understand any of the street signs. Welsh is amazing! Any language that can string that many consonants together should be strongly encouraged.

Looking for chocolate in the Pethau melys aisle

Looking for chocolate in the Pethau melys aisle

Thanks to Les’s friend, I was taken on the scenic route through the Snowdonia mountains where there was indeed snow. The countryside was spectacular – snow covered mountains and forests and then rocky outcrops of grey and green and purple slate. I didn’t even know you could get purple slate, but now I do! My excitement for the word “sea” meant we went home via a coastal road and I was allowed out of the car to inhale salty air. Oh how my lungs sang with joy! And lambs. Did I mention the lambs? For this Paris-ified city-girl it was a massive country hit and I spent most of the journey staring out the window saying, “WOW! LOOK AT THAT!” I now really want to buy a car and just drive. Or live in a tiny town in Wales, learn to speak Welsh, work at the local pub and marry a local farmer boy. Yep. Good plan.

A llyn.

A llyn.

Mountains! Snow!

Mountains! Snow!

The Irish Sea

The Irish Sea