There was definitely a possibility of brightening this morning…yes, it was grey and yes, it was cloudy, but we were optimistic about the potential for brightening. Carol, our friendly and very cheerful weather presenter always makes us feel like we’re in for a good day. Even when she says “the showers will be wintery in nature”, she says it in such a positive and beaming way, that you just feel like you could have a day at the beach no matter what!
We settled ourselves back into the van and hit the road. First stop wasn’t far away, as we cruised into Conwy for a look at this medieval, walled town. It was a lovely place and is quite unique amongst the medieval towns, with high fortress walls surrounding the town, streets passing under narrow arches and the imposing castle walls overlooking the town and bay.
There are twenty-one towers and three gate ways and the walls are pretty much intact and unbroken, as they wrap themselves like a shield around little Conwy. We started by walking some of the wall, which was a bit like walking the walls of York. Conwy Castle and its walled fortress are quite unique, because it’s all so well preserved and is one of the castles that Edward I built after he invaded Wales. In 1272, Edward I took the English throne and then set about invading places here and there and generally throwing his military weight around. He took over Wales, which until then, had self-ruled under Llewelyn the Great, Wales’ most successful medieval leader. After his death, his grandson, Llewelyn the Last, was proclaimed Prince of Wales by Henry III. Llewelyn the Last was killed in a skirmish in 1283 and Edward I declared himself ruler of Wales, introducing English law and making his own son Prince of Wales. During his rule, he built new castles all over Wales and extended some others that were already there. Caernarfon, where we’d just come from and Conwy Castles are two of the finest and best preserved.
We strolled down to the water and Steve said he was starting to feel the cold.
“I have an “ice-cream headache” it’s so cold!” he said.
I said I didn’t think it was all that cold and at least the wind wasn’t blowing.
“I have more head exposed to the cold though!” he explained.
Fair enough. I gave him my beanie to keep his head toastie and to cover some of the bare space that was feeling the chill!
Down near the water, we saw a cute little claim to fame for Conwy. The smallest house in Britain. Now wouldn’t Steve just be falling over himself to live there!
I’ve mentioned that the Welsh language is widely spoken in these parts and people are obviously very proud of their native tongue. I smiled when I saw the Give Way sign, that had been covered over with a hastily plastered sticker, with the Welsh words for that particular instruction to traffic. The English words on the original sign could not stand! Welsh it should be!
It may have been a bit cold, but there were blue patches peeking through the clouds.
“Sun!” I shouted, “It’s BRIGHTENING!” I was so excited that I failed to notice the woman walking behind us. She must have thought I was a meteorological loony, making announcements about the state of the sky, for all and sundry to hear! I like to think I’ve just been infected by Carol’s cheerful approach to the surprises that winter can bring!
A pleasant roam came to an end and we hopped back into our tin can and zoomed off again. Time for a trip to the seaside. Llandudno was a popular holiday destination during Victorian times and it still attracts big numbers during summer. Today, the numbers reflected the wintery weather, but that just meant it was a nice peaceful place to stroll around. But…the sun did come out! It actually shone! Winter sunshine is the best sunshine of all! The town had a wide promenade beside the “beach” and was lined with Victorian houses, mostly used as hotels and guest houses these days.
Llandudno has a few claims to fame. It has the longest pier in Wales at more than 700 metres long. It has the longest toboggan run in Europe and has an association with Lewis Carroll. Llandudno was the summer home of the Liddell family and their friend, Charles Dodgson, would visit and entertain their young daughter Alice, with stories such as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. Charles Dodgson, under the pen name Lewis Carroll, eventually wrote his timeless stories of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. We saw the Mad Hatter on the promenade.
We took a turn along the promenade and I could easily imagine how it might have looked a century or more ago, with ladies in their skirts and parasols and gentleman with their hats and canes, taking an elegant and leisurely stroll along the promenade in the summer sunshine, enjoying a holiday by the sea.
The road was calling, so we hit it once again and made our way onto the highway. As we zipped along, we turned on our playlist again, which today was a classic mix of retro and dead-set, unashamed kitsch! After warming up his vocal range a couple of days ago, Steve hit the notes again today to join in with some Bon Jovi…
and then, wait for it, wait for it…some good ol’…ABBA!
We hurtled along the road, belting out our road tunes, with accompanying head bobbing, shoulder raising and hand waving moves. What a sight! Before long, we said goodbye to Wales. Bye Wales, thanks for everything, we had a wonderful visit. Hello England! We’re back! The Welsh words disappeared and we were back to single language signs, as we made our way towards Liverpool.
Our stop for the day ended up being Hoylake, on the wider outskirts of Liverpool, where we’ll park for a couple of days to explore around these parts. Steve is a big Beatles fan, so we’ll be looking to walk in the footsteps of the Fab Four, as we roam and explore the sights and streets of Liverpool. Maybe I’ll finally discover why John Lennon was a walrus and an egg man! Why, I wonder!? In the meantime, I’m glad I liberated a small, complimentary sewing kit from one of our hotels, because I needed the extra cotton. Those sequins are a pain to sew, but I’ll use what limited stitching skills I have, to sew those sequins onto that white spandex body suit, just so Steve can look and feel the part for his next act on the travelling road show of “The Van Has Talent”. Mama Mia, here I go again, my my, how can I resist ya? …Oh, I think he’s just started practising, must go and get that sparkle sewn onto his collar!