North Wales and Halloween

We’ve made some miles since I last wrote, heading up to North Wales to see Uncle Ceri, Auntie Angela, Kate and Rachel.  They live in a very pretty part of the Wales, just on the outskirts of Snowdonia National Park.


We had a beautiful day so went for a hike with the kids up to Llyn Idwal.  Here’s Uncle Ceri with Kate and Dada with Morgy.


Here’s Auntie Angela with Aled and Morgan on the way down:


On Sunday we had a fantastic meal in the famous Pen-y-Gwryd pub right in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.  Miss Kate was at a birthday party so she missed out on the table right next to the open roaring fire.


Hilary and Tenzing stayed there when they were training for their Everest Expeditions, hence this picture hanging on one of the walls of the pub.  It’s one of my favourite historical pictures actually and as he’s a New Zealander I’ll put it in here:


Afterwards, we took a scenic drive to admire the lakes and valleys of the national park.


As you can see, Morgan was totally captivated by the beautiful vistas…


… and fell to sleep shortly thereafter.

On Monday morning we visited the National Slate Museum:


And went for a train ride along Llanberis Lake which was nice except for the random Halloween kitsch that ruined this picture:


Aled had the whole next week off work so I took the train from Bangor all the way down to Cardiff and worked four whole days in the office (which was quite a treat — so sad!!).

At large in Wales, the boys carried on their adventures. They couldn’t resist the Ffestiniog Railway, which is purportedly one of the ten best railway journeys in the world.  One leg of it goes from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porth Madog.


Here’s Morgy in the port town of Porth Madog.  (Random side note – for those of you who went to high school with me you may recognise that yellow back pack, which trustily carried my books to Ramapo High School in the 90s.  I tell you they don’t make things like they used to!!)


…  After the train ride, they carried on south to Barmouth, one of Aled’s favourite childhood memory type places (apparently the sun shone in this town when he was little but every time I’ve been there it’s been torrential downpour I’m afraid!!).


Aled had secretly hoped to climb up Cader Idris, one of his favourite Welsh mountains, but the cloud was a little bit low so this photo down by the lake sufficed:


So onwards to Pembrokeshire it was, to spend some time with Nana and Taidi.  Looks like a beautiful day down at Cwm yr Eglwys.  I think we may need to invest in some of our own kayaks at some stage.


And then it was time for some pumpkin carving in time for Halloween!  Uncle Hefin, Auntie Emma and Elis from Norwich were due to visit but poor Elis got sick so it didn’t happen… which also meant we had an excessive number of pumpkins to carve ourselves.  So we went a little bit crazy on google and found this awesome idea.


I can see that the Brits aren’t as excited about Halloween as the Americans but I don’t really care.  I love the look of a carved pumpkin — there’s something really ancient and spooky about them and it seems fitting to be putting them out here in Wales as it’s widely believed that Halloween has its roots in Celtic harvest festivals. (So there British nay-sayers!)

We had quite a few trick-or-treaters between the hours of 6-7pm who wiped us out of our candy supplies so I turned the light off about 7:15pm and put our little skeleton to bed.


So that was October gone.  The following weekend we met Estelle at the Bristol aquarium, which I’d highly recommend if you’re in the area.


It’s got a lot of beautifully-constructed tanks and it was a nice place to catch up with a friend from far away.


Only a few days later we lived through the second political disaster of the year.  I think after Brexit I was mentally prepared for the mess.  It felt so similar… the polls were close… too close… one side was saying things that made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever… and then the votes came in, barely in favour of the crazy choice… and then the shock and disbelief of the losing camps… the apparent disbelief/confusion of the winners, both with really bad hair styles… and then the 180’s by the winners in the days that followed… “oh we never said we’d give the NHS 350 million”… “oh maybe there are some good parts of Obamacare”…

I’m trying not to get too depressed about the whole situation.  A good friend from NZ reminded me today that the younger generations voted for the left, liberal choices… so perhaps in 5-10 years, some of the oldies will kick the bucket and let us get on with taking the planet forward, not backwards.  It’s awesome that he can maintain that perspective and keep the faith but I’m far too impatient and I fear things are heading down a ruinous path.  I don’t have much confidence in either the US or UK governments to manage the current situations and I find Trump’s stance on women, immigrants and the environment completely unacceptable.

Aled, Morgy and I went to see our local MP here in Penylan last Saturday.  She’s a Labour MP named Jo Stevens and Aled wanted to talk to her about Brexit.  It was the first time I’d met a political representative in person and I have to say I really enjoyed speaking with her.  She shared our frustration with the EU referendum and the apparent lack of a plan for the exit, and confirmed some of our conclusions about Theresa May.  Although I didn’t feel terribly heartened following the chat, I felt more connected to the things that are happening in Parliament so I’d really encourage those of you who are passionate about what’s happening in your own countries to seek out your local representatives and talk to them about your concerns.  That’s what democracy’s supposed to be about, so if you aren’t happy with what’s going on, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

And as if Brexit and Trump weren’t enough, poor old New Zealand has been hit by a bunch of big earthquakes, with Kaikoura and Wellington badly affected.  Thankfully the death toll was very low but the impact the quakes and aftershocks have on everyone’s daily life and mental health is tremendous.  I feel for everyone in seismically-active areas everywhere.  Stay safe everyone!  XOXO