We bought an apartment! A beautiful, quirky three-bedroom apartment on the ground-floor of The Malthouse, nestled snugly in the much-coveted locale of Summer Hill, a medium density community that is close to school, transport, markets, parks, and cycleways.
It’s day four of our holiday out of the city, and we’re sitting in the Hawk and Buckle Inn reading historical fiction, sketching architecture and writing weblog posts. It’s been incredibly relaxing.
The town we are staying in, Llannefydd, is too small for even a general store. Apart from a handful of houses, there is the Hawk And Buckle Inn (where we are staying), a church and a primary school — such a cute wee school it is too! Strangely enough, the Inn gets busy of an evening! I think everyone in town drops in at some point during the night, although the combination of enormous amounts of good food, a bar that has Australian wine (especially after we spoke to Stuart, the owner’s son and wine-buff) and the peace and quiet means we’ve been toddling off to bed any time from 9pm … and never later than 10:30!
Our room is nice: cosy, comfortable, tastefully decorated and with a large double-jacuzzi. The owners are lovely, quirky and friendly, and the chef seems gruff but creates delicious meals: sausages, potato and leek soup, chicken with Welsh cheese and bacon, lamb burgers with just a hint of mint. Good, honest food — and today we might have a Sunday roast! Breakfast has been similarly delicious-and-epic. On our first morning here we opted for the Full Welsh breakfast which included sausages, eggs, tomato, mushrooms … I even suspended any analytical-thought long enough to try black-pudding (it’s yummy, just don’t think about what goes into it — kind of like haggis in that way then!).
The GPS has had inestimable value, although we suspect it has a dark sense of humour with some of the roads it’s taken us down — tiny winding lanes which look more like someone’s drive-way than a main thoroughfare but go on for miles at a time. With “navi”‘s help we visited the castle at Conwy (Conway) on the bay, explored the local streets and sat on the shore for a spell. It’s incredible just how much effort went into building an enormous stone citadel that once housed lords and ladies, only for it to become a giant birdhouse for pidgeons and gulls…
After Conwy we drove to Caernarfon (seems to be pronounced “Carnarvon” — like the Aussie one!). Caernarfon would be beautiful — the centre of town is entirely within the castle walls — but inexplicably it is more “bogan” than touristy, complete with dodgy little shops filled with the cheapest of plastic tat, pubs that a sailor would be wary of entering and pregnant teens arguing loudly and in Welsh in the street. I’m exaggerating a little there, but it’s still hard to understand why such a place is not filled with tiny cottage cafes and tearooms, hand-stitched red dragons, tea-towels, tiny wrapped soaps and the friendly bustle of tourists, loud Americans, timid English-folk.
On the following day we saw Llannerwst, a beautiful little town with an brilliant tea-house accessible over an ancient stone bridge and all covered in green vines. We ate (and ate and ate) lunch there: a ploughman’s lunch of ham and turkey and salad, and Welsh rarebit (toasted cheese and mustard), washed down with strong, rich tea. (The water tastes better out here, even when we filter the London water.) Then more: scones with jam and cream and too many slices of bara brith — a fruitcake with butter that I’m sure Nanna has made before! We waddled out of the cottage and prayed that the stone bridge would hold us, then walked at least some of it off around the town.
Today we’re staying “home” — Dee gets a rest from driving, I can upload the photos (see the Cymru set on Flickr) and we can both read, write, draw, play chess, argue, plan, laugh, doze. I think we’re both recharging nicely, so are feeling much more positive about the rest of the year and living (and working) in London for just a little while longer. Chris (Dee’s brother) is visiting shortly, so we’ll be off to Istanbul and who-knows-where (last-minute travel plans are great!), and in the meantime we can hopefully find some fun things on weekends and public holidays. Before too long we’ll be winging our way (er, railing our way?) back home to see you all!