Friday, March 15, 2013

The Bucket ‘does’ Snowdonia

Thursday 14th

The British may often deride Americans (Texans in particular) for having ‘big’ things, so as if to rub it in, the North Wales town of Conwy boasts the smallest house in Britain. The red-painted (are they trying to make it look like a phone-box?) house is less than 8 feet wide and the doorway is less than 6 feet high.

Conwy, famous for its Edwardian Castle (do that JFGI thing here for history and professional photos) was a walled town. My host took me on a very interesting walk along the top of the walls. In the following photo, a Catholic Church (St Mary’s) sits adjacent to the wall, upon which you can some of the ‘Stations’.

In the UK, when someone wishes to withdraw cash from an ATM, they’ll often say they need to go to ‘the hole in the wall’. This hole in Conwy’s wall contains no cash, but you can see another section of the wall (with its own hole) through it.

Thinking I was some species of Andean goat, Allan told me we were then going to walk to the top of Conwy Mountain. ‘What do you mean “we”, paleface?’ I said!

I surprised myself, by agreeing to ‘give it a try’ and indeed, was able to get ¾ way up the thing before calling it quits. I was pleased that I had attempted it else I would not have seen some of the magnificent views from its heights, including this one, to the south-east,  of Conwy Castle on the Conwy Estuary.

A little to the west, this view over the estuary looks north-east toward the town of Deganwy which is on the south side of the Great Orme – site of the Bronze Age copper mines – you remember that from a prior posting, right?

Once again, but this time far enough away to escape the gasps of ‘the national paranoia’, I took a photo of an activity that must surely have been taught to most Welsh kids when they were being suckled – mountain climbing: These kids were maybe 9 or 10 years old, so they’d likely be fully-fledged Sherpas or mountain goats by now!. You might say this is ‘a different flock on a different rock’!

As we left the area, I noticed a sign that should be posted at the entrances to all public parklands in the UK. In the US, we have our 2nd Amendment, in the UK, they have another form of lethal pest – and this one is fully automatic and loaded:

After a quick lunch back in Rowen, we headed off, southwards down the beautiful Vale of Conwy through Betws-y-Coed, a quaint little town with several stores loaded with camping and hiking equipment for those so inclined. 

I prefer to take a more casual approach to the sites – by car! My wife and I had been here in 2002 and I recall us having tea, scones, clotted cream and other pastry delights in this old mill house – now converted to a mundane clothing store!

We drove on through Capel Curig and past the remnants of a Roman Fort, but there is little to be seen - except in one’s mind’s-eye of a centurion freezing his arse off in his short tunic more suited to a Mediterranean climate than the cold, drizzly air in this spot. Large pipelines convey water from Llyn Llydaw, a lake a mile or two to the west, to what was once an industrial site – now used for hydro-electric power generation.  

The road goes SW to Beddgelert; you should do the JFGI thing to learn of that sad tale, but we turned and headed back north toward Rowen as the rain clouds started to drift in.

Do you remember Tal-y-Bont?  If you read an earlier blogpost, you would, I’m sure. Well, a mile or so south of there is a small village called Dolgarrog. Lakes and reservoirs are commonplace on North Wales – pause here for ‘Nationalists’ to hiss at the fact that some of their ‘Welsh water’ goes to bathe and hydrate the blydi Saes (English) beyond the borders of Cymru. All seriousness aside, this village has something in its history that it will never forget. My friend and I climbed several hundred feet up the very steep valley which brought despair to the village almost 88 years ago.

We returned, somber after that short stop, to Rowen for another disastrous (for me) snooker match, but not until after I finally was able to capture this little bouncing black bugger (I love alliterations) in my camera. I don’t think it would be able to produce more than a few ounces, much less ‘three bags full’!

 Undaunted by the sight of that cute little lamb, and because there was no haddock (my first choice, of course) on the menu at the Ty Gwyn, I opted for the lamb shank. That’ll teach ‘em!

The meal was more than filling – as were the 3 pints of Guinness, then came the inevitable kerfuffle as the landlord’s daughter – who had been pleasant previously, threw a hissy-fit and morphed into a witch when she proved herself incapable of answering a simple question regarding the bill – which she recited from, but had not shown me.

Her father, whose personality had been a good imitation of a wet cabbage each time I had seen him previously, added ‘pratt’ and ‘plonker’ to his repertoire as he emerged – just, I assume, to appear ‘lordly’. ‘Good riddance’ and ’Bad cess’, I thought as Miss Muffet could be heard in the background decrying ‘all things American’. I was beginning to tire of some British attitudes and behavior, too.

To be continued - Her Majesties subjects, willing.  LOL


  1. SJ, I recommend a book by Paul Theroux called "The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey around the Coast of Great Britain." It is a journal of Theroux's walking travels around the UK clockwise beginning a the top. The thing I like about it is his detailed account of good and bad. He doesn't describe his journey through rose-coloured, "touristy" glasses. He records remarkable congeniality and absurd rudeness.

  2. I believe I have followed in his literary (if not in his physical) footsteps.

    I have recorded 'good and bad' - and laid out accounts of 'remarkable congeniality and absurd rudeness'.