Thursday, September 03, 2015

Peaceful Surroundings

In the morning, after our 5 hour journey to the hotel room, we got up, had a lovely breakfast in the hotel diningroom and set out for North Wales.  We had two choices - we could go the coastal route or we could cut through the middle and drive through the mountains.  We chose the mountains.  I figured that if we got lost or had trouble, it would be better to do it on our way down than to have an issue when we were trying to get back to Manchester to catch a plane.

I've always approached Llanbedr from the southeast, driving up from London.  This was my first time seeing the northern part or driving through Bala (a semi-resort area about halfway between Manchester and Llanbedr).  I must say, it is even more beautiful than the southern route. 

Now that I actually have the hang of driving in England/Wales, I can enjoy the drive!  We took our time and stopped when the mood struck us, and rolled into Barmouth (south of Llanbedr) and drove around in there for a bit.  I showed the guys where the summer fair was and the train station and the grocery store I shopped at the last time I was here.  I took them along the beach road and we got out to stretch our legs a little before climbing back into the car for the last leg of our journey.

We stopped briefly in Dyffryn and bought some eggs, milk, bread, butter, cheese and ham before continuing on...

I knew the way from Barmouth and truly enjoyed the drive without worrying about maps.  Corky and Z were minorly concerned, but soon relaxed as they realized I knew what I was doing.  I talked about the various landmarks between and told them we'd be very close once we crossed the bridge over the Nantcol and turned at the Victoria Hotel.  When those two landmarks turned out to be real, they started getting excited!  We started heading uphill, made a sharp right and crossed another bridge, and when it seemed the road was ending, I turned up a steep drive and headed into the woods.  The single lane road was quite roller-coaster-y and I tooted my horn a couple of times coming up a totally blind hill or around a blind corner.  We passed through a stone wall and back out into the open fields and continued up a dirt drive, passing the Thomas' farm before finally arriving on family property.  I told both Corky and Z that if they opened a gate, they had to close the gate.  Nothing irks people faster than having their livestock roaming free.  Cattle grates can only do so much.  Z hopped out and opened three gates (and closed them) between the property line and the dooryard.  In the first field, we saw lots of sheep - ewes and lambs who came running, thinking that we might have food....  The guys were charmed before we even got out of the car.

Cousin Ben had not arrived yet, but Aunt Pip left the key in the door to Y Bwythn (literally The Cottage) where we would be staying.  We unloaded the car and headed upstairs.  Z set up in the bedroom with the twin beds and Corky and I headed for the king in the other room.  Once we were settled, we went for a walk.

I took them down behind the piggery.  A big storm had blown through a while before and there were huge trees knocked down all over.

One appeared to be resting on the roof of the piggery, but clean up from that storm seemed to be progressing slowly.  After inspecting the little stream and the downed trees, we walked back up to the field behind the main house.

There are varying stories of how old this house actually is.  When I was a kid, I was told it was 800 years old.  Recent geneology rememberances put it at around 400.  It's built of the fieldstone around the property (you can see a bit in the grass lower right in the picture above) and when I was here in 1980, they were about to build on a new kitchen (bottom right of the house), so Dad and I joined with Uncle John in his quest for rocks to build it with.  It was fun and interesting and involved a dynamite guy called Daffyd the Bang to blast rocks out of the ground.  At one point, we were in the woods and Grandma was there with us - Daffyd set the charge while we hid behind trees.  After the explosion, Grandma stepped out to see, just as bits of rock started raining down.  Uncle John yelled "Get back behind the tree - it's not the bang that kills you!"

We walked up the lane (the driveway into the dooryard) and back through the field we'd driven through and headed down towards the woods.  It looks so cool, dark and inviting just beyond the wall...

And we walked in a bit before turning off the road and onto a path.

It led us a bit deeper in until we started downhill and came upon a small reservoir formed by a dam.

The water supply for the farms on the mountain and down in the village.  I asked Grandma once where the tap water came from and she said it was God's own water off of God's own mountain.  There was no problem drinking water from the tap back then, but these days there's occasionally ecoli in the water supply, so if you're not a native, bottled water is suggested for drinking.  Ben keeps large jugs of bottled water in the Cottage for guests as well as a Brita water pitcher which we ran tap water through before boiling for tea.

After exploring the reservoir and woods for a bit, we headed back up the road towards the farm.  Z was captivated by the view - it was like nothing he'd ever seen before.
Corky was also busy falling in love with the place.  The rock walls spider everywhere all over the mountains and valleys, marking properties and containing sheep and other livestock.

As the sun began its slow descent (the sun doesn't set until nearly 10pm at that time of year), we headed back to Y Bwythn for a simple dinner of eggs, ham, toast and tea before watching a little telly and finally climbing the stairs to bed.



joanygee said...

No wonder you keep returning to such an idyllic place.

Sandy said...

#1 - I had forgotten how much I love your blog header. Too much time on facebook, I suppose.
#2 - Peaceful, easy feeling by the Eagles was playing on Pandora as I read your blog...the synergy of the universe.
#3 - How absolutely lovely.

Sandy said...

#1 - I had forgotten how much I love your blog header. Too much time on facebook, I suppose.
#2 - Peaceful, easy feeling by the Eagles was playing on Pandora as I read your blog...the synergy of the universe.
#3 - How absolutely lovely.

woodworkingbuddy said...

Nice post i like your post. thanks for the post.

Molly said...

It sounds like you are having a wonderful time in Wales. My husband and I were fortunate to visit the country in 2011...such a friendly place. I am happy to find that you still blog and Sayre is still smiling.

Megly Mc said... amazing. We've just, this week, gotten the weather below 100F, and I'm craving an actual autumn and winter...