Tuesday 21 July – North Wales and Equipment Fatality

Today is our first day on what is the third island of the Trip.  Singapore is an island.  Ireland is an island.  Britain is an island.  Oh, fourth if you count Australia – after all we live on an island ourselves, albeit one that is quite a bit larger than the other three!!

When we arrived in Wales yesterday the weather was fabulous, much warmer and sunny.  Yay!  Well, of course that couldn’t be lasting now could it.  Nooooo, we wake to – wait for it ‘coz you will be surprised – Rain!!  Oh well, as Billy Connolly said (paraphrasing here ‘coz I can’t remember exactly) on one of his DVDs that my friend Rosie lent me as research before I left on this jaunt – there is no such thing as bad weather only wrong clothes.  So the rain jacket comes out once again, don’t leave home without it.

First off we ventured only a couple of miles down the road to the little village of…um, yeah, bringing the North Wales map with me to the wi fi availability would have been a plan now wouldn’t it, only I didn’t so, anyway, just a couple of miles out from where we were staying is a charming little village with a name starting with “D”…that has a waterfall right there in the centre of the village.  It is very pretty and a walk up the hill and behind the falls takes you to a path where either you can walk back to Prestatyn or complete a short circuit back to the other side of the shop in front of the waterfall.

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Luckily by the time we got to the waterfall it wasn’t raining so Bear took in the scenery sitting on the backpack to keep from getting muddy.  This part of the walk was what could be almost seen from the road.  Around the corner was more…

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So Bear thought it a good idea for some more contemplation.

Today’s plan was to take in as many as fitted into the day of the waterfall, a slate mining centre, a village call Portmeirion and a National Trust garden.  This was a bit of a circular trip with one leading to the other and no need to double back.  It was all going according to plan so far.  Little did I know that wasn’t going to last!

As we drove through a small town on the way to the slate centre Dad spied a shop called “Patchwork Cat”.  Well, of course what did I think that was.  So after figuring out the Welsh parking system we trotted up to the high street only to find that the shop was in fact a childrens’ clothing store.  How disappointing.  We walked up and down the high street for a bit of a squiz anyway (all the towns are old so they generally have some interesting buildings if nothing else) and we’d paid for 1/2 hour of car parking – actually overpaid as the machine didn’t give change.  It actually stated that change wouldn’t be given and overpayments would be accepted!  How kind of the Council to accept donations!!

While we were there I dropped my camera in the back of the car just as the tailgate came down.  Ouch!  Rescued it though.

So off we set – in the wrong direction!  OK, car way too big to just spin around like Blue Fiesta (actually this car way too big for driving conditions on this island except the motorways really).  So find somewhere to turn which of course means going even further in the wrong direction and then back to where we started and find the right road.

The scenery is lovely as we are in the Snowdonia mountains area of North Wales and it really is a beautiful part of the world – wild and rugged with waterfalls falling out the mountains all over the place, not to mention lots and lots of Sheep.  Then we come to the village with no exit. Well, that is what it seemed like.  The streets are of course narrow and winding with cars parked all over the shop and nowhere to stop to check maps and it’s not pretty really.  Finally after FOREVER we are back in the centre of the darn village and after a further FOREVER find somewhere to park so I can go into a pub and ask directions.  We had missed a turn a bit back and shouldn’t have even come into this village.  By this time we’ve lost about 1 hour between the patchwork shop that wasn’t and the village with no exit.

Ploughing on through to the slate centre.  Once we have negotiated the mud to get to the visitor’s centre (not that hard really it’s just been very very rainy) we check out what is on offer.  It sounded really interesting in the tourist information.  It’s a slate mine and you can take tours.  There are two to choose from – a tram one which involves hardly any walking and a deep mine tour which involves quite a bit and up and down bits.  Each tour takes about an hour so we decide to just do one – the deep mine.  So I stand in the queue to buy the tickets and the ticket seller lets me know that there is an hour’s queuing once the tickets are bought just to get onto a tour!  OK, so what about the tram tour – not fussy, will take the easier option if there is one.  Well, that is the same!!!  Given the amount of day lost already and the fact that it is now almost 2pm and we haven’t even had lunch we decide that it’s better to give that one a miss after all as it would mean that we could do nothing else all day except stand in a queue and do a 1 hour tour.

Back to the car and on the way we pass a waterfall (hadn’t noticed it on the way down, too busy avoiding the mud) which isn’t actually a natural feature but a 100 foot drop created by the miners to take water from the mine and thus prevent it flooding.  No-one knew it was there as it was hidden behind a curtain of plants and all that could be heard was the sound of the water falling.  It is called the Secret Waterfall for that reason.  I go to take a picture and …

DISASTER!!  My camera didn’t survive the fall.  The screen is shattered.  It doesn’t have a view finder of course so who knows that pictures that it may or may not take.  It did take something but what?  …

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Not my best effort.  Needless to say I’m not a happy camper.  My one month old A$600 camera fatally injured and three weeks of The Big Trip Over The Water to go. I can’t go three weeks without a camera. Dad has the same camera and said I could just get copies of his pics but they are not the same – we don’t take the same type of photos.  I’m going to have to go shopping – very sad face.

So on to Portmeirion with no camera.  I bought the guide book to compensate as it is an amazing place.  This village was created over a span of 50 years by an architect by the name of Clough Williams-Ellis and was used as the location for a British TV series in the 60’s called The Prisoner.  Apparently this is something of a cult series and fans flock to the village because of it.  It’s very hard to describe – built in such a way as to work with rather than against the environment in which it is located.  It is an Italianate village of the most amazing buildings that clings to the coast edge.  Google it, without photos it’s just too hard to describe.  It is a living village where people actually live and work, with shops, cafes and a hotel.  It is surrounded by woods and coast and there are lovely walks along the coast and through the woods as well.  It is not free to go into the village but there is no need to spend money whilst you are there unless you choose to as to walk around and admire the buildings and natural environment can take as many hours as you have available.

By the time we left Portmeirion it was too late to go the Garden on the way back so we missed that one. Oh well, gotta leave some things for another time.

Until next time…

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Posted on July 26, 2009, in Trip, Wales. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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