This week’s letter is ‘W‘ for
~ Wales ~
It has actually been quite a while that I visited Wales, it was in April/May 2003. Which coincidentally was about the time that I met David. But Wales came first. I went there with my Mom for a week of horseback riding and living on a farm in the country. Meaning this time we were stationary. The previous times that we visited Wales, we would travel around from one B&B to the next. Which, by the way, is an absolutely fabulous way of traveling and staying anywhere in the UK.
While there are other and closer airports we flew into London, were greeted by rain, rented a car and drove northwest to Wales. In case you are wondering, driving on the right side of the car and on the left side of the road did not pose a problem for me after three years in Australia. My Mom, however, that is a different story. Every time we stopped somewhere and walked back to the car, inevitably she would go to the passenger side, which now was the driver’s side. Every time I made a turn or came around a curve, she would go ‘oh no, you’re on the wrong side…’, which was kind of funny for me – until she got used to it.
Finding your B&B isn’t always the easiest thing to do. While there are usually some signs for them, these B&Bs are usually not the particular ones you are looking for. There were a few instances when it took us quite a while, taking a lot of scenic detours to find our hosts. But eventually we found them all. It is important to have their phone number so you can let them know if you’ll be late, reservations usually ended at 6 pm. However, it is not uncommon to meet your hosts in the local pub around the corner for a pint of beer instead of in their home. Pubs are a very important institution for every B&B traveler. 1) They are used frequently (!) as references to give (or receive) directions to a place e.g. ‘… follow the road for 500 metres then turn right, you will pass the Laughing Owl pub and continue till you see the White Horse (pub). There you’ll turn left…’ etc. etc. Quite amusing really.
Now when you are in Wales these kind of directions will get the added flavor of the Welsh accent. So listen carefully, because it may be difficult to get used to. Since Wales is bilingual it is no problem to get by with English and in South Wales the majority seemed to be speaking English anyways. However, the further west and north you come, you are bound to see and hear a lot more Welsh. I always was fascinated by it and while staying there picked up a few things. But, as with every foreign language, when you don’t use it, you’ll loose it. Hm, I still remember one B&B lady giving me a Welsh-English dictionary that I read while staying with them.
So, you are asking yourself, why would you go and visit Wales? I guess initially it was my fascination with anything Celtic in general. And, of course, it helped being a fan of The Alarm and Mike Peters, an alternative/punk/wave rock band from North Wales that started in the 80s. But really it is the nature that I love. The rugged western coast and Snowdonia and the green, rolling hills and all the old Celtic history, which you can feel and see everywhere. I used to call our visits to Wales: ‘Castle hopping’. I planned our trip by looking up what I wanted to see, which was usually old castles and old monasteries or cathedrals and ruins, and then organizing the B&Bs and our driving route around that. And once there we would hop from one castle to the next one. Wonderful!
Only during our last trip to Wales we stayed in one place in the north close to Bangor. Because I wanted to go horseback riding. After learning that in Australia, I picked it up again while living in Switzerland and thought it might be fun going on little trail rides in northern Wales. The weather, however, was very ‘British’ a.k.a. wet and, being end of April, also pretty cold. Still I did go and we had a very good time and spent lots of time outside. At the shore and we also took a trip to Bodnant Garden, in which a few flowers were just starting to bloom. Very pretty. And a very pretty country Wales is. Go and visit it!
‘Disclaimer’ – these photos were my entry into the digital era by means of a point and shoot, my film camera stayed at home. But they still give you a good idea of Wales. Please for give e.g. blown out skies. Thank you!
p.s. while writing this post I got massively sidetracked by watching this video of Mike Peters, which gives you a little of what drives him, his music, his battle against cancer and the Welsh countryside. If you have the time and are curious, watch it. But I am sure you’ll find other ‘countryside-only’ videos on YouTube. Or maybe an all Alarm video like this one from 1985! 🙂 Sorry – I couldn’t help myself, still love them…
Why not get every new post by me into your inbox without delay? You can by subscribing (click) here. Or you can follow me on , and if you prefer.