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A Day Trip to Wales

Yes, you read that right. a day trip to Wales.

It involved leaving the house by 0445 to drive to Scunthorpe, 5 hours of trains cross England and Wales, then a spin on the Ffestiniog, and the trip in reverse. We pulled into our driveway at 2359.

This trip was spurred by trying to decide where to go on day trips on Tim’s time off and one of us saying “too bad we can’t go to Wales”. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! If we couldn’t go to the Alps (or North/East Germany) for a day trip, we’d do the next best things and go to Snowdonia.

Bleary-eyed, we got in the car and drove to Scunthorpe. I was freezing, and began to regret my choice of clothing – jeans and a long sleeved tunic. It didn’t help that that particular Trans-Pennine Express train seemed to not have functioning heat and it was like an ice box. I planned on sleeping on the first leg, but it was too cold to sleep.

We made our first connection with a rush to a platform change at the last minute…but at Chester we nearly missed our connection as our train was running late and we had to leg it down the platform….fortunately, the Arriva staff held the train for us or our entire day would have been scrapped!

At Blaenau, we only had about fifteen minutes to get our tickets for the Fez and hop on behind the good old Earl of Merioneth (the Square) as she’s being retired in April and actually, getting to ride behind the Square was one of the reasons we did the trip!

Riding the Ffestiniog is one of our favourite things, so we sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the ride to Porthmadog.

Our plan once we got to Port was a leisurely lunch in Spooners and some wandering around the town before boarding to go on the long journey home. And by this time, we were ridiculously tired.

I was still really cold, so I bought a blanket in Edinburg Wool Mill and wrapped myself in it on the platform and the trains. Tim called me granny, but I was warm!

Our trip home had considerably less changes and with the exception of the loo on the Trans-Pennine express overflowing and smelling horrible, the trip home was fairly painless, and I’m pretty sure I slept through most of it.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have access to rail privs like we do, this trip would set you back by about £300. But for us, it cost less than £20 (for the Fez on a priv discount).

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Screenshots from the National Rail Enquiries app for Android, and the Ffestiniog website.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission.

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No Plastic Bags in Wales!

If you’re going on holiday to Wales, don’t forget to pack some reusable bags for your shopping, including souvenir shopping! If you want a plastic bag, you will have to pay 5p for each bag. Everywhere. From Tesco to the corner shop, farmer’s market stands to tourism sites. There is no escaping the plastic bag “ban”, though there are some exceptions. Using very small plastic bags with no handles or small paper bags is still free.

There are also certain items that you can put in a plastic bag and not be charged, such as fruits and vegetables….however, those have to be the only items in that bag when you walk away from the till. From their informative website:

“You could have loose apples, potatoes and pears in one bag and not have to charge. If you then placed a box of tea bags in there too, you would need to apply the charge.

This is to prevent a loop hole in the law. A person can not put an apple in one bag with lots of other shopping, a potato in another bag with lots of other shopping, a lettuce in another etc. and get all their single use carrier bags for free.”

Which is quite clever, because I could see someone attempting to do that!

The plastic ban also brings up a different kind of disposeable bag…what about fast food? Here’s what the website has to say:

“If you went to a fast food restaurant and purchased a packet of fries and a burger then the fries can be placed in a free bag as they are only part wrapped and you would not be expected to place these in a reusable bag as there could be some food safety risks. If the burger is also placed in the bag, then the bag would be charged for. This is because it is safe to place wrapped food into a reusable bag and the purpose of these Regulations is to change customer behaviour every time they shop and in every situation.”

Wow. Tim and I didn’t eat any fast food while we were away, so I hadn’t thought about the impact of ordering fast food at all. Imagine being charged an extra 5p each time you ate at McDonalds!

I’m also curious as to where the 5p you pay for a bag goes…and the answer is that the shops can do whatever they like with the 5p, though the Welsh Assembly expects “that the proceeds should be passed on to charities or good causes in Wales, and in particular to environmental projects.”. So…any time you need a plastic bag in Wales and pay 5p for it, you could just be lining the pockets of the shop. Or, you could be donating 5p to a worthy cause…hang on a minute, if I pay 5p for a bag I’m helping out charity? That actually doesn’t sound too bad….is this really going to prevent people from asking for plastic bags and bringing reusable bags?

I didn’t know about the charge before we went to Wales, but fortunately, Tim and I always carried folding reusable bags in our rucksacks, and our house at home is loaded with canvas, burlap, and plastic shopping bags — Tim would probably say I collect them, and he might be right. I like to pick up bags when we are on holiday because it brings a smile to my face when I pull that one out to use. For example, when we were in Austria, the local grocery store was called “Billa”. We purchased one of their extra-large shopping bags we affectionately call “BillaBag” and I can take that bag into town for a shopping trip and not need any other bags. I also have a bag I purchased in Walt Disney World on our honeymoon, a bag I bought on my first visit to Stonehenge, and the familiar blue IKEA tarp bags, which always remind me of my time working there. I purchased a bag from the Vale of Rheidol Railway on this trip!

I’m also glad I stuffed a bunch of carrier bags into the caravan for rubbish, or we would have had to purchase rubbish bags!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Wet, Wonderful, Wales

Wow, what a holiday! Tim and I have been in Wales for the past three weeks with his parents caravan (thankfully!) and what an amazing time!!

I meant to write up blog posts on Tim’s laptop while we were there, but of course, I never seemed to find time, so here’s what you will get glimpses of in the coming weeks…

~Multiple visits to the Talyllyn Railway and Llechfan Garden Railway….including Have-A-Go where I drove a steam train!

~Massive walks…Dolgoch Falls. Nant Gwenol and Dolgellau to Barmouth

~Vale of Rheidol (still too wet to do Devil’s Bridge!)

~The Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railway….NINE HOURS of travel by steam!!

~Welsh place names with no vowels

~Machynlleth Market, Aberystwyth, Portmeirion, Harlech Castle

~LLangolen Railway, Bala Lake Railway, Llanberis Lake Railway, Fairbourne Railway

~Snowdon Mountain Railway

and much, much more!!

I personally have over 2500 photos to go through, who knows how many videos, and whatever Tim has that he wants me to publish…

This could take a while!!!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Aberystwyth

Yesterday brightened up so we went to the beach! Lovely day for it! Even splurged on a scoop of rum raisin ice cream as I told Tim I was only going to have ice cream once on this trip, and then only good ice cream at the seaside!!

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dolgoch falls

Just a photo from yesterday taken on my blackberry of dolgoch falls.

We spent the day at the Tallylyn railway riding the train and getting off to do some hiking. We hiked to the top of the falls and then hiked up the river at Nant Gwernol to some more waterfalls and abandoned track and we even saw the winding house at the top of Alltwyllt incline.

Much more when we get home. I just wanted to post a quick update!!

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Wales Photographic Preview

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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A Trio of Vlogs

Well, this was going to be a video post. I spent three hours on Tuesday morning editing video from the Wales trip to upload to YouTube, and then spent about the same amount of time dealing with a slow internet connection while the files were uploaded to YouTube.

Twice now YouTube has “failed to upload” my first video. When I go to the video page, all it says is “upload aborted”, which it wasn’t. YouTube gives no further information, other than telling you to make sure the file us smaller than 100MB (the file it keeps rejecting is 97MB) and to run it through video editing software to convert it from raw video (which I had. I was trying to upload wmv files).

YouTube gave me the same error for my second video which was 95MB. My third video of 90MB also failed. I finally managed to compress the first video down to 45MB, and got that one uploaded, but the quality is so bad I don’t want to share it.

I don’t know if this is a YouTube problem or if there is a problem with my files. I suppose the only thing to do is to try to upload again, but it took so long on Tuesday trying to upload things multiple times that I don’t know if I have the patience to try again.

Google Video no longer allows uploads, so as far as I know, I’m out of options. I tried sharing the video on facebook, but the upload just hangs.

*edit* On a whim, I tried YouTube again. And it posted the first video, finally.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ucUJ5yMEfY

The other two still aren’t uploading, but at least I got one up!

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Last Day in Wales: Ffestiniog Railway

The last train we visited in Wales was the Ffestiniog Railway in Porthmadog.

The Ffestiniog Railway runs for 13 and a half miles from Porthmadog to Blaenau Festiniog, where it meets the standard gauge lines of the national rail network. The Ffestiniog is gorgeous; the train winds around spirals, horseshoes, and tunnels,and climbs over 700 feet along the way.

The Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest railway in the world and was created by an Act of Parliament in 1832, however it has not been in continuous service the entire time. Traffic on the line ceased in 1946, and it wasn’t revived until 1954. In 1990 the railway became involved in reviving another local railway – The Welsh Highland Railway. Plans were to connect the two railways in 2010, and while we saw the completed connection on our visit, they were unable to run trains at that time. They have since opened the connection, and this past weekend was it’s first weekend in service!

We still managed to experience a first, though. I was taking photos of the shiny, black engine bringing in the passenger cars and I was curious as to why it did not have a name plate, so I texted my husband. He was quick on the response and wrote back “I’m jealous, that’s their new engine”. The engine would come to be known as Lyd, but we were watching the engine’s FIRST EVER APPEARANCE on the Ffestiniog. It was being run in and tested, but would not be pulling out train. Instead, we rode behind Blanche, whose sister engine shares my mom’s name.

The ride was fantastic. Despite the chill in the air and the drizzle, I rode in the open car so I could stick my head out and take photos. Boy, was it cold! I was glad I had brought along gloves and a scarf. I wish I had remembered the tunnels before I picked the open car, though – inhaling the smoke wasn’t very pleasant!

We decided to explore Blaenau Festiniog, but it was a very small town and there wasn’t much to do. Once again, we managed to find a small hole in the wall tea house to have some Lunch before heading back to the station….where to my great joy, we got to go behind one of the double fairlies!

I love the double fairlies. They are incredible machines with TWO boilers that meet in the middle with two separate smokeboxes – one facing forward and one facing backwards. At first glance, you might even think that there are two locomotives back-to-back instead of it being just one. I spent most of the return trip with the camera out the window trying to catch the engine.

Unfortunately, it started to pour once we got back to Porthmadog. Helen and Mark wanted to explore the shops of the town, but since I was carrying Tim’s rather expensive camera I chose to spend my time reading in a cafe. We returned to our camp site later that evening and began packing for our trip back to Lincoln the following morning.

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A Day on the Welshpool and Llanfair

…And we’re back to the Wales posts. Followed by the Austria Posts. And a bunch of other posts I need to make….

Wednesday was a fantastic day for all of us. A friend of ours from the 16mm crowd, Dave, volunteers as an engine driver on the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, so we decided to time our visit with when he was volunteering so we could get to ride behind a train he was driving. An extra added bonus was Dave offering to take all three of us on a tour of the “behind the scenes” (behind the steam?) areas after his last train for the day – disposing the engine, a walk down the track, and a glimpse in the workshop and engine shed! Dave even took us each up into the cab to show us what it looked like and gave Mark a short cab ride.

For me, it was the second time being in the cab of a narrow gauge engine while it was actually steaming (and not in a museum setting!), but it was still exciting. I know Helen and Mark enjoyed their turns as well.

We arrived at Llanfair station quite early. Dave was driving the second train of the day, and we timed our arrival for right after the first train had departed, so the station was relatively deserted. While Helen and Mark enjoyed a cup of tea, I took a wander down the platform taking photos. My favourite photo of the day will appear below, of the three fire buckets. While I was taking photos of the fire buckets, the signaller popped his head out of the signal box and asked me if I wanted to have a look around since it wasn’t busy. Did I? Of course I did! After all, Tim is a signaller. I managed to get photos of the frame and the diagram (drawn by the signaller I was talking to) before I needed to leave the box in preparation for the engine coming through.

To our surprise, Dave wasn’t bringing the engine in! There was much confusion, until we actually saw Dave and he explained that they have different people run in the engines from who will be the ones to put it to bed in the evening. Whew.

We had a pleasant ride down to Welshpool and waited while Dave and his partner for the day, Dan, did their midway maintenance work before running the engine back round to the front of the train to take it back. Dave showed Mark what he needed to do every step of the way – I hope he was taking notes! Since Dave was driving the second and fourth trains of the day, we decided to walk into Welshpool proper (about a mile or so) to get some Lunch and then head back to the station to take Dave’s second (and his last for the day) train back to Llanfair.

Welshpool isn’t much to talk about. Other than the railway (and let’s be fair, a lot of towns in Wales have narrow gauge railways!), it’s a typical town in Wales. Lots of shops, both unique and chain, dotted the main street along with restaurants and pubs. We travelled off onto a side street and found a small eatery called the Lunch Box that had reasonable prices.

Since we still had time, we did a bit of browsing and shopping before heading back to the station, and we managed to get to the Welshpool station as Dave was bringing the train in, so once again, Mark went to watch Dave do all his routine maintenance and Helen and I got on and found seats. Mark came rushing up to us to tell us that Dave was going to give him a cab ride up to the front of the train, so I ran down the platform to get some photos of Mark in the cab, then ran back up to try to get photos as he went past.

After the return to Welshpool, we browsed in their gift shop and headed back to the car to drop off our shopping while the rest of the passengers departed. We went back in and Dave called Helen and I over and asked us if we’d like to join him while he gave Mark a tour. Of course, we agreed!

We had to wait while Dave and Dan serviced the engine for the evening, and Dave was kind enough to explain everything he was doing step-by-step. I’m sure it took Dave and Dan twice as long as it usually did, but we surely appreciated it!

Our tour started with a walk through the sheds, where Dave showed us some of the other engines they regularly use. We also got to walk through the workshop, where we saw several engines that were being worked on, engines in pieces, and what the volunteers did to amuse themselves! Farther down the line, there was another shed, and this one contained some engines awaiting servicing, and several passenger cars.

It was fantastic getting to walk down the tracks, and getting to see things most visitors don’t. We’re all really grateful to Dave for taking some time out of his free time to show us around!

I can’t wait to go back and ride it again – Every time I ride a railway again, I see new things that I hadn’t seen before.

If any of the photos don’t resize properly for you, please let me know so I can fix them!

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Anglesey in the Rain

Tuesday brought us rain. Not wanting to walk around castles in the rain, we headed over to the Isle of Anglesey. Anglesey is the largest Welsh island and the largest island in the Irish Sea, as well as the fifth largest island surrounding Britain. It covers over 700 square kilometres of land (over 250 square miles) and includes the port of Holyhead. You might remember that my mom and I took the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead (and back) as part of our visit to the UK in September 2009.

Our first destination was the Pili Palas, a butterfly hut that included a reptile room, bird room, farm animals, and other insects (There was a row of spiders which I avoided looking at!). The butterfly section was kept at a balmy 80 degrees Fahrenheit for the tropical butterflies…which were allowed to roam all over the room. Unfortunately, the extreme change in temperature (from the chilly outside to the warm inside) caused the digital SLR to steam up. Fortunately, I also had my small camera with me, and I was still able to take photos of the butterflies. Also unfortunate was Mark’s displeasure for the heat. He did not spend much time with Helen and I as we admired the butterflies, and we moved quickly through the rest of the palas.

Our second stop was Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. No, I’m not kidding. It is, in fact, the longest town name in the United Kingdom, and is tied for the third longest word in the world as far as I can tell*. The town name means “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio near the red cave” in Welsh. Most people refer to it simply as “Llanfair PG”, but I kept calling it “Llanfair gogogoch”. I remember when I was at Penn State and I lived on the International Language floor, all our rooms were named after international cities and one of the rooms got the name “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”…though we all thought the town was in Scotland, and were told it was the home of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Whoops.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is pretty much only known for it’s long name. There’s a railway station and a shop/cafe. After Lunch, we shopped for a bit, then wandered over to the station to take some photos.

It was still early in the day, so we headed over to Beaumaris. We did not go into the castle grounds since none of us were in the mood for climbing lots of steps, but we took some photos and explored the town and waterfront area.

On our way back to the mainland, Helen spotted a spot to stop where we could get photos of both the Menai Bridge and the Brittania Bridge, the two bridges that connect Anglesey to the mainland.

*Through research, it appears to be the third longest word in the world at 58 English characters, but in Welsh, double letters count as one letter, so it then becomes tied for third. The longest word in the world, by the way, according to the Guinness Book of World’s Records is the Swedish town of Nordöstersjökustartilleriflygspaningssimulatoranläggningsmaterielunderhållsuppföljningssystemdiskussionsinläggsförberedelsearbeten, which apparently means “Coast artillery flight searching simulator area material maintaining follow-up system discussion post preparation tasks of the Northern Baltic Sea”.

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Llanberis Lake Railway & Caernarfon

Monday took us to Llanberis Lake Railway and the adjoining National Slate Museum. We arrived early enough in the morning to watch the two engines get steamed up, and got to ride on the first train of the day.

I was lucky enough to be able to show my Network Rail Spouse ID card and received a 75% discount on my ticket. A regular return ticket costs £7.20 for this five mile journey. The return trip takes an hour, and it is well worth it. The scenery is beautiful, and if you’re lucky, you can even catch Snowdon as it peeks out from the clouds!

The Llanberis Lake Railway is a narrow gauge railway. Mark was told the official size is 1 foot 11 5/8 inches, and our friend Dave told us on Wednesday that this is close enough to be considered two-foot gauge. We all enjoy narrow gauge railways very much, as that’s what Helen and Mark, Tim and I, and Dave and his family all have running through our gardens in a much smaller scale (we use 16mm to the foot, so our tracks are 32mm). One of the engines at Llanberis is blue and named “Little Thomas”, but they will claim it has nothing to do with a certain children’s story….

There’s not much else to say about Llanberis, as everything is better said in photos.

After our trip on the train, we took a quick look around the slate museum before heading off to Caernarfon, where we had lunch at the Floating Restaurant and then had a look around Caernarfon Castle.

The Floating Restaurant was fantastic. If you are trying to find it, you will need to walk the entire way around the outside of the castle and you will find the Floating Restaurant tied up close to the swing bridge. While we were eating we got to watch the bridge open several times. The food was reasonably priced and very good…and you got quite a lot for your money! During low tide, the restaurant doesn’t float, but once the tide comes in you can feel the boat sway slightly.

Admission to the castle is £4.95 for an adult, but if you have an English Heritage membership, you can get in for free. The earliest date with a reference to the castle is 1289, and it’s quite impressive how much of i is still standing. While visiting you can climb up the steps of all of the towers to see impressive views over the sea and town, walk around the castle walls, or look at the small exhibits scattered around the castle. In 1969 the castle grounds were used for the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales and you can still see the dais where it took place in the centre of the courtyard.

The castle lawn is immaculate, largely due to the many “keep of the grass” signs, no doubt. It struck me as a little odd that people could not use the castle lawn area for picnics, games, or lounging when I am used to seeing people scattered about on the castle grounds at Lincoln, but I’m sure there is a reason behind it.

From Queens Gate (which is the gate Queen Elizabeth II entered from during Prince Charles’ investiture), you can look out over Caernarfon and see the Welsh Highland Railway. I visited the Welsh Highland Railway in September 2009 with my mom and Tim, but sadly, I never blogged about it. Something about getting engaged while visiting the UK in September and then planning a November 2009 wedding got in the way of blogging that trip.

Admission is money well spent, provided you have enough time to explore the entire grounds!

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Llandudno and the Great Orme

Our first full day in Wales was spend visiting the seaside town of Llandudno, the largest seaside resort in Wales. Llandudno is located on a peninsula between the Great Orme and the Little Orme. There are four ways to get up the Great Orme – drive, walk/hike, take the Great Orme Tramway, or take the cable cars. We chose to take the cable car, since Helen and Mark had ridden the Tramway in previous years and I knew I’d ride it with Tim in the future (Tim doesn’t like heights, so I knew he wouldn’t go on the cable car). Before we headed up the Great Orme, we split up to explore Llandudno.

I chose to visit the World War II Home Front Museum, as one of my specific interests is life during World War II in the UK of everyday people. Things like the child evacuation and the Ministry of Food initiatives fascinate me. The museum is hard to locate. It’s off on a side street, behind a church. I felt as though I was entering a residential area, but most of the homes that line the street are bed and breakfasts. I finally found the museum and paid my £3.25 admission. I was handled a WWII era torch to use in case I wanted to take a closer look at anything.

I was disappointed. It’s a very small museum, and for someone who is interested in this era and has been to lots of museums/exhibits on the subject, there wasn’t anything “new”. The museum contains a collection of war-time toys, gas masks, food products, and mock-ups of a grocery store, kitchen, and police station. If I hadn’t stopped to read everything, I would have been done in about 20 minutes. I stayed for about 45 minutes.

I still had nearly an hour before I was to meet back up with Helen and Mark, so I rang Tim for a few minutes, and then did some charity shop browsing (always fun to do in a new town!). As I was walking back up the high street, I noticed a parade going on, so I stopped and watched the majorettes for a bit before meeting up with Helen and Mark for lunch at a Wetherspoons. It was so busy, we had to wait 45 minutes for our food to arrive, but we were pretty impressed with the portion sizes once it did arrive!

After Lunch, we headed on over to the cable cars and had a long wait to get on one! The cable car is £6.50 for a single (one way) or £7 for a return (round trip), so we paid for returns. The cable car is the longest cable car ride in the UK and is over a mile long! The views going up were spectacular! Absolutely breathtaking and well worth the £7. We got to the top and had about an hour before the last return trip down, so we set off to explore the surrounding area and to do some shopping in the summit center. We also walked over to the tramway to get some photos of it. I also had what I have to call the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Whether it was because I don’t eat a lot of ice cream any more, or because I was eating it at the summit of the Great Orme I don’t know, but it was delicious!

We then headed into the queue for the return trip. There was a long queue! A man came by to make sure we had return tickets and assured us we would get a ride back down. After about 45 minutes, we finally boarded a cable car to begin the descent, and once again, the views were spectacular. We saw Llandudno from above, and I loved the way the houses all curved away from the shore.

Back at the bottom of the cable car ride, we wound our way down a footpath through the bottom of the mountain and headed back to the car to return to our caravan.

Later that night on the evening news, we heard about a crash that had happened a year ago on the Great Orme Tramway and the results of the investigation. Made us glad we had opted for the cable cars after all!

A selection of photos:

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Caravan Camping vs. Tent Camping

This past week in Wales, I stayed in a static caravan in Nebo with my friend Helen and her son, Mark. Our caravan was really nice – a lot nicer than I had expected! We had a large living room/dining room area with seating for at least 8-10 (though a small table that would struggle with more than 4!), and adequate walk-through kitchenette, a bathroom complete with a shower stall that was at least twice as big as the shower we have at home, and three bedrooms – a “master bedroom” that had a double bed, and two “kid’s rooms”. The kid’s rooms had single beds. One had two, and the other had two plus the capability of having a pull-down bunk bed up top. Each room had at least one small wardrobe and several drawers – the most being in the master bedroom, of course.

I slept in one of the kid’s rooms, and since I was alone was able to leave my suitcase and other belongings on the bed I wasn’t using, since there wasn’t really space to store my suitcase anywhere else. I even managed to unpack into the wardrobe and drawers, and had some of my toiletries lined up on the small shelf under the mirror. My room had one electric outlet, so I had to take turns charging the camera, phone, and ipod. The room was small – about as long as a single bed and then about a foot longer and really narrow. There was barely any room between the two single beds, but it was designed for kids, not adults.

The room next to mine was Mark’s, and his looked mostly the same except that at the foot of each bed overhanging it was a small wardrobe cabinet. I still think he and I should have changed rooms though, because he kept whacking his foot into the cabinet in his sleep and it woke everyone up!

Helen had the master bedroom. From what I could tell, it had plenty of storage and a small vanity, too.

Our living/dining area was nice and roomy. Three corners of the room were taken up by various sofas, and in one corner there was a dining table. The fourth corner held the entertainment section – a television, freebox, antennae, and DVD player. All running off of two outlets, so you had to constantly switch which item was plugged into the TV and outlet, but we managed. The people we rented from even leave a few DVDs in the caravan for perusal, though we had brought some of our own. The living room also had a gas operated fireplace, which was quite welcome on the chilly nights!

The kitchen was in the narrow hallway between the bedrooms and the outer wall, but adequate for a week. It had a small fridge/freezer, stove, microwave, kettle, and toaster. The owners stock the cabinets with dishes and cooking equipment as well as some dish soap and a dishtowel.

And boy, were those walls thin! Any noise in one of the rooms would carry into the others if it was loud enough. a few times I heard Mark’s CD player going at night. We had a bit of a fright on our second night there, though. We heard this loud knocking. I thought it was Helen knocking on my bedroom door, so I said “Yeah?” and then when no one opened the door, I got up with my torch (flashlight) and went to see what was going on. Helen was doing the same….and we had no idea where the noise was coming from!

The wind and the rain was pretty bad, too. The wind would shake the little caravan so much I really feared it tipping over and the rain was so noisy on the roof.

Were we camping? Technically, yes. Though, I don’t know many people who go camping with DVD players! In a few weeks, Tim and I will be tent camping (ie – REAL camping) in Austria and Germany. Since I’ve slept in the tent a few times, I know what to be prepared for…I just wish the tent had a kitchen! LOL

Here are some photos of the caravan:

And here’s a google earth shot of the 2 static cabins, the cottage the family lives in, and the surrounding area:

There were lots of public footpaths nearby, and we did go on a walk the first night (a post later with some pics). I’m hoping Tim and I can go back on our own and do some more walking!

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Return from Wales

I’m back from a week in Wales with my friend Helen and her son, Mark. Tim was unable to come with us due to his work schedule – he had the overnights this week – so I went without him. Our trip had it’s ups and downs…a major down being the camera (I took Tim’s big fancy Cannon EOS 300D) lens getting fogged up at the Pili Palace and me worrying that I had broken Tim’s camera (I hadn’t), and the rain. It rained one night so badly it was shaking our little static caravan! We had mostly good weather during the day, but then it all let loose on Friday afternoon and made it pretty miserable and wet in Porthmadog. But, a good time was still had by all and I will have several updates, hopefully before I head off to Austria with Tim 🙂

a few photos (highlights, really) are up on Facebook. I still have to pull the pictures off my regular camera (an Olympus SP 320)

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