Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Araf siampŵ Bara Brith

Wales, United Kingdom

So far, Wales is much like England except every single sign is in English and Welsh. Welsh words are weird. I now know that 'slow' in Welsh is 'araf', as it was written on many of the roads.

We were driving to Cardiff but found a sign that boasted a 'forest drive', so followed it. After driving a while, we thought we should go more towards the west coast so keyed in Swansea to the GPS.

We could not find the camp ground we aimed for and by then it was getting late, so we ended up finding a B&B. It was lovely, though I could not stop giggling at the little shampoo bottle in Welsh - siampŵ.

Breakfast was Crunchy Nut cereal, toast, orange juice, a pear and tea - a veritable feast. They offered us a full Welsh breakfast but I can't eat that kind of food so early in the morning.

We spent all day exploring the Gower Peninsula near Swansea. Oxwich castle was fascinating - the outer walls remained, showing all the windows and even fireplaces, but all the floors had collapsed, leaving a shell of a castle.

Welsh roads were a bit nightmarish, being single lane in some areas, and twisty and with cars parked anywhere along the side, and with stone walls right by it. Kind of like driving in Kelburn back roads but for 40km.

We took a walk along a cliffy outcrop. The walk was fraught with raggedy sheep, their wool sticking out in funny places. One sheep was so raggedy that it looked like it had a tutu on (not pictured). 

Thistles were a common sight in the UK. Not so bad as gorse, but still prickly. 
After Gower we headed north and settled in near a town called Cellan at a little campsite. Despite having the street address and GPS, we originally couldn't find it and gave up after driving back and forth down the same extremely narrow country lane, but then accidentally stumbled across it as we drove away. Terrible directions on the website, which unfortunately was quite a common occurrence.

In the morning, we drove to Snowdonia National Park and checked out a few towns there. Had tea and scones!

One town was called Blaenau Ffestiniog. Yes, read it again. That's a great Welsh name for you. It was a slate mining town, slate being used mainly for roofing. When mining slate, only a percentage of it can actually be utilised; the 'offcuts' of the slate were thrown into huge piles that now look like hills. Though slate is no longer mined here, these slate hills are a reminder of the past. There's even a National Slate Museum. 

Within Snowdonia was Harlech castle which was of immense size. Many castles and other historical sites have strict areas that you can walk in, but Harlech was quite open. 

Look how tall and impressive! We walked right to the top of that tower on the right.

Rope trailed down the stairwells like railings.

The castle was in remarkably good shape. This was the view from the top of the tower.

In the north we saw Conwy castle. Parking near the castle itself (seen in the distance below), we ascended a flight of stairs that got us onto the walls, which contain part of the town of Conwy.
We walked along them all the way round to our starting point. We debated going into the castle, but decided to go to a cafe instead - we had seen many castles in a short amount of time, and could Conwy be better than Harlech? Harlech is the castle that dreams are made of!
Spotting something odd on the menu, I ordered Bara Brith Cake. It translates to "speckled bread", and contains spiced fruit and tea. Tea! In cake! Two of my favourite things combined.

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