Week one of our holiday has been dominated by the word Roundabouts. There are about 25,000 roundabouts in the UK. I estimate around 24,000 of them are in Wales. Okay, so maybe an exaggeration. But perception is reality and, when I talk about roundabouts, I don’t mean innocent traffic islands around which a single lane of traffic flows in an orderly fashion. I mean three lane, seven exit, monstrosities designed to direct, baffle and potentially maim poor tourists.
Prior to picking up our hire car in Swansea, I made Andrew a magnanimous offer.
‘I will do all the driving in Wales,’ I said, ‘so that you can enjoy the sights.’
Andrew accepted without demure (he didn’t know about the roundabouts). But driving around Wales, he came to regret this decision. As I listened to the computer generated iPhone map and tried to remember that the windscreen wiper was not the indicator he moaned, clutched the dashboard and closed his eyes, the flash-by scenes of his life competing with the breathtaking scenery of Wales.
Despite, the ever present roundabout-terror, we have enjoyed the first week of our holiday. Below are the highlights of our first week.
A four night stay with my cousin, Joyce, in Rhos, Pontardawe.
While staying in South Wales, we got lost on the way to Castell Coch (ending up on a remote stretch of the Brecon Beacons). Tried to visit Cardiff but, due to the above mentioned roundabout problems, didn’t manage to find a parking spot. We had an interesting ‘flat white’ coffee in Llandyffryn (have ordered cappuccinos since), visited the Mumbles, had faggots and mushy peas in a road-side cafe, heard interesting local family history/gossip from my cousin Gwyn in Cwmafan, and met Sam, my Canada cousin’s young adult daughter, for the first time.
A drive through mid-Wales and a visit to Stiwdio Maelor
On leaving Rhos, we drove over the Brecon Beacons, lunched in Llanbedr Pont Steffan, took in a stunning, historic quilt exhibition, had afternoon tea at the Treehouse in Aberystwyth and spent the night with our friend’s Veronica and Mary in Dolgellau. After a late breakfast in Machynlleth, we visited Corris, where Veronica has set up Stwdio Maelor, a North Wales retreat for writers and artists. While there, she mentioned that she is looking for residents. Hmm… I may take her up on that offer at some point.
A three night stay with Aussie friends in the mill town of Trefriw, North Wales
When planning our UK holiday we were thrilled to learn that our travel plans coincided with those of our Aussie friends Mike and Sue. As not-so-recent British migrants, they were taking a week out of their family visits to spend a week in Trefriw, North Wales. When they asked us to join them, the word ‘no’ didn’t enter into the equation. We spent a glorious couple of days hiking, castle viewing and tea drinking. With Mike in the driver’s seat, Andrew was at last able to open his eyes and enjoy the scenery. You will be relieved to know he pronounced Wales beautiful. This means our marriage has a future and our anniversary holiday will not be terminated. He may even contemplate a return visit at some point.