As promised, there’s (finally) an update here to read. Well, there will be once I write it. Which I’m doing now, so that’s okay….
First off a picture of our heroine. I assure you that she wasn’t drunk at the time. It was a very fine day at Beaumaris on the final day of the holidays. Luckily, for a change, we had the nice weather.
The holiday started a week before, picking up where my parents left off with their caravan at the Conwy touring park. That meant that everything (including a huge awning and annex) were all set up and we didn’t have to shift the thing into North Wales – a real boon given it took 3½ hours to get there on a trip that should have taken less than two. It took one hour alone to get 200 yards along the end of the M56 to get off onto back roads. I still have no idea what was causing the stationary traffic, but it annoys me that none of the overhead matrix signs on the M56 gave any warning; instead they were being wasted to peddle useless messages about drink driving (like they would ever make a difference).
Given that we were staying outside Conwy, we took the opportunity on a couple of days to walk on into town and see the castle and the city walls. It isn’t the biggest of places, but it certainly is a very nice place. It doesn’t feel over commercialised and reminded me a lot of places in Cornwall.
That’s the railway bridge from the castle ramparts. It was nice to see that in 1848 they made the effort not to destroy the charector of the place when the railway came through. The building of the A55 expressway, however, seemed to be the usual 1980s architechtural concrete carcrash. Why do modern architects have no class?
We also did Caernarfon and its castle too. Zoë loves all things old, so we did the Japanese tourist thing out there. Whilst Conwy town had an impressive feel that Caernarfon town somehow lacked, the castle at Caernarfon occupied us for over three hours, such was the quality of the place and – more importantly – the restoration work that took place at the turn of the nineteenth century. All too often these days English and Welsh heritage seem to obsess about preserving castles as ruins when they should be restoring them to their former glory. Caernarfon castle is a prime example of what can be done with many of its towers featuring restored roofs and floors that made such a difference to the toothless ruins that seem to be left to rot/linger elsewhere.
The place is really atmospheric, and there was plenty to see including a museum about the Welsh fusiliers. Some of the secret passageways hidden away within the walls provided some very atmospheric natural lighting effects and some of the pictures that Zoë took are likely to get used for graphic design projects including an all-new cover for the fully revised and edited edition of ‘Orb of Arawaan’.
She also found time for a few atmospheric shots of our heroine too!
The Welsh Highland railway terminus is also there, just by the castle. Physically the line exists all the way back to Porthmadog after many years of restoration, however scheduled trains only run as far as the restored Pont Croesor a few miles outside of the eventual terminus. We were going to ride the tracks, but £56 for a round trip for the two of us was a little more than we were prepared to spend so we instead decided to make the most of the town and castle which we did not regret.
Later on in the week we spent several days at Llandudno. It reminds me a lot of Southport as it retains many of its Victorian features such as wrought iron and glass covered walkways outside shops spanning the pavements. It certainly is a seaside town, but it never felt overly touristy – a cry from Caernarfon that felt like a tourist trap. It also had a pretty good swimming baths that we visited on two different days after finding the sea a little too cold for Zoë’s tastes!
On a further day we made the trek up Orme’s head. It’s a weird place, and a very steep drive. There is a tramway up there (which makes something like a 1:3.8 climb at one point) but we made it via car.
The view was impressive, if a little windswept. It is a strange place seeming so rural and isolated compared to the very dense built up area that is Llandudno that occupies the flat area of the peninsula that Orme’s head is the headland of.
All in all it was a fine holiday, and we’re looking forward to a further trip away with friends to Harlech (where we went last year) in August.