Wow! for Wales

Trip Start May 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Monday, June 28, 2010

Wow! Wales!

I don't know if many of you have ever given Wales much thought, but I am now gaga over Wales! Wow!  We planned a quick trip from Holyhead in the northwest down to the southeast (border with England), not knowing about anything more than Mt. Snowdon and King Arthur.   The mountains in Wales are amazingly beautiful, and the buildings in Snowdonia (region around Snowdon) are made of a dark brown stone that I don’t know.  Oonagh probably can identify the stone; the buildings took my breath away!

And thanks to Oonagh for identifying the sea potato (an urchin) from a previous blog!

We had a very busy weekend:  We sailed from Dublin on the Ulysses, which Andy said was like a city on the sea.  It was so calm that I didn’t even get the least bit seasick!  We stayed near a couch, windows, a fixed table, and several upholstered club chairs right outside the kids’ play space.  It was a long ride, but much more comfortable than I expected.  However, we’ll take the fast ferry back to Ireland as it makes the journey in half the time.

Back to Wales—we arrived at noon, got the rental car, drove to Llanberis—thanks to Jim for the pronunciation tips for Welsh—unlike any other language!  Andy was impressed that he found town names with no vowels—not even a Y.  He wants to make sure Cami Bair tells the kids in her class next year that while English words always must contain a vowel, Welsh does not follow that rule.  Another interesting fact—the Welsh call themselves Cymru, and the name "Welsh" came from the Angles and Saxons when they invaded—it meant “foreigner,” an interesting term for the natives! And “Cymru” means friends and companions!

We rode the rack and pinion train to near the top of Snowdon, the highest peak in England or Wales but no comparison to any of the Munros in Scotland.  We dashed through clouds to the rocks on the very top for a view through the wind-pushed clouds, then, after riding down, drove through Betws-y-Coed to Dogellau, where we spent the night.

We took a detour the next day that Andy proposed to a Welsh town called Hundred Houses.  I needed a map reader and navigator, so Andy got the job.  He also lost the job for a short while on Sunday, but that story comes later.  Anyway, he spotted a town called Hundred Houses off the road we were on, so we took a detour just because we were curious.  It turns out that a “hundred houses” is a division of a shire, the term for land division in England.  A “hundred houses” is the land that would support one hundred families and their dependents, presuming each family farmed 120 acres.

So, Andy lost the job as navigator late Sunday after we clambered around Carreg Cennen Castle in central Wales.  We were heading north toward our bed and breakfast in Brecon, but he sent us south to a pass through the Black Mountains—and he and Liam ran to the top of one while I puzzled over the map.  A deliberate mis-direction!  We had driven a teeny, tiny, unmarked road from the castle toward a nearby town but missed a turn.  I was stopped at an unmarked crossroads when a man on a four-wheeler approached from the opposite direction, so I had to wait as there was not room for both his four-wheeler and our tiny Ford Fiesta to pass on the road.  I asked him if we continued straight ahead for Llangadog, and he said, “Yes, continue on the main road (the one too small for us to pass!), turn left at the chapel and right at the bottom of the hill.”  I had to laugh that we were on the “main road.”  However, his directions were spot-on!

Monday we made the long, fast trip to Oxford—and got very lost and frustrated trying to drive in the city to return the car!  We finally made it, rode a taxi to Lincoln College, moved into our “summer home” which is MUCH nicer than we expected, and even joined the Oxford Public Library and checked out our first books.  We have great neighbors on the two floors below us, and one family has a daughter who will watch the boys until their summer camp begins in two weeks.

We’ll get pictures of our flat and Oxford in the next blog posting—we haven’t even taken a single picture here because we’ve been so very busy on this first day!
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Jenny on

What a grand adventure! Thanks for sharing!

Deanna Deck on

The mountains are so breathtaking and I just marvel at all of the green not like our green or lack thereof... Cool! Thanks for sharing!

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