Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Travel: Snowdonia Day Three

So today after a cooked breakfast, made by my lovely boyfriend whilst I was in the shower (it’s so lovely not to cook sometimes!) we wrote our postcards and headed into Harlech. We had such a lush visit round Harlech Castle- it is such a beautiful fascinating building/ruin. It was constructed in the 14th century by King Edward I, and played an important part in the conquest of Wales. The historical section they have in the middle of the castle had loads of interesting info on it, but I must admit I can’t remember much of it!

Health and safety-wise however, this place is absolutely crazy! I mean, personally I am usually against all these ridiculous guidelines and safety measurements you have these days, risk assessments for nothing, all of that jazz, BUT literally, the stairs you have to use to get to the battlements is thin as hell, there are no safety rails once you get up there, and also loads of the spiral staircases to get down are v v dark. I mean, I guess it’s refreshing to see the castle AS IT SHOULD BE, without loads of modern signs and things, but I felt so scared on the battlements it was mental. Don’t tend to get vertigo, but the feeling that I could fall down really easily was totally freaking me out.

Cute little gift shop as well, I bought a nice classic Welsh cookbook, which I’ll be having a skim through and cooking recipes from some point soon I think. Especially since my home-grown leeks are ready for harvest, and most of these traditional welsh meals are leek orientated. So after Harlech, we decided to have a look round Barmouth, which is this kinda sad traditional sea-side town near to where we were staying.

Theres something kinda sad about Barmouth. I mean, you could tell the town had been hit by hard times, because there were loads of empty shops/ restaurants (Including this café- Arousal Café!!! Ahaha! The C fell off a looong time ago by the look of the place) and lots of knackered pound shop places. It looks almost slightly abandoned I guess, but it was fun having a walk round there, at one point we found one of those old tuppence/10p arcades! OMG I used to spend so much money as a kid in those sorts of places, especially when I went to Ramsgate with my grandmother.

We eventually found, right at the bottom of the town, the NICEST pub!!! It looks so cool in there, it’s called “The Last Inn”, and it served one of the nicest plate of fish and chips that I’ve ever had! The pictures I took are rather dark I guess, so I hope you can see. The first picture is of me sitting on the ledge of what the Inn used to use to keep their beers cool- an open spring that was used as a kind of cellar I think?- and the second is of my lunch!
Hasn’t it been plated funkily? I love the chips in the mini-fryer basket-classic! I wish we’d gone there the night before actually, cause it said they did live music performances (of various genres) on Tuesday nights.

After that meal we decided to walk over Barmouth Bridge, which I wasn’t really aware of, but Nick said apparently it’s kinda famous. I googled it, and basically it is an old railway line as well as a pedestrian walkway, and it was built originally in 1867 (although parts had to be replaced at some point due to wood worms or something). It is a pretty bridge, and a nice little walk, so I would recommend it as an attraction I spose!

We figured after coming back off the bridge and having a quick cup of coffee that we had just enough time for a last attraction, so we thought we would check out a little sign we saw earlier, pointing to “Nantcol Waterfalls”. Must admit we did get a little bit lost looking for them, and by the time we found out where the toll booth was to pay to go and see the waterfalls, it was all dark, so we just walked and took a few nice photos of the fast stream that flowed from the waterfalls, and ended in the town of Llanbedr. Here we found a lush pub called “Tyr Mawr” (yeah….we never figured out how to pronounce it either…lol). If you stay in Wales anywhere near Llanbedr, you HAVE to check out this pub. It lays on a real ale festival the same time every year (unfortunately it started on the weekend 24th-25th September, the day after we left! Doh!), they serve some very nice ales in the pub, and they do some bloody fantastic rustic pub food!

I don’t want to slag the other pub off, but we had heard about this Tyr Mawr pub in the guestbook, but couldn’t find it, so we went to the other pub in town called “The Victoria Inn”, and yeah….it wasn’t very good. I mean the staff were quite friendly, but the atmosphere wasn’t nearly as nice, and the food couldn’t even be compared to the Tyr Mawr pub. I guess direction-wise, the only thing I can say is get into the main village, and if the Victoria Inn is on the right of you, turn left along what looks like just a load of houses, but eventually you will see the sign for Tyr Mawr. It’s a bed and breakfast as well as a pub and restaurant y’see.

Anyway, we had a couple of nice ales, I had an amazing lamb shank (which by the way, I noticed on a fair few menus in Wales, shanks are often called “henrys” instead. Dunno why) with a minted gravy, mixed vegetables and new potatoes, and Nick had a chicken and smoked bacon pie, with gravy, mixed veg and mash. Both of the dishes were stunning, the atmosphere was incredibly comforting and warm, and the local drinkers all seemed really nice. In fact, it was so funny, when we left, I made a point of saying to the man at the bar that this had been a lovely end to our holiday in Wales, and that the meal we just had was FANTASTIC. Just then one of the guys round the bar piped and said in a heavy welsh accent “Glad you liked it, my mum’s the cook”. Haha! Loved it. So traditional and no-frills, Nick and I loved the place.

Well, we then went home, had a bottle of wine, and played another game of Scrabble! I LOVE scrabble, haha! I hate losing though; I am definitely a bad loser. I won the first game by a MILE (mostly helped by “squad” on a triple word- OoooOoh!) but the second game he beat me on the last word! Jammy git! Lol. I like this picture- i managed to get my dog Misty onto the scoreboard....awwwww!Well, we had a lush time in Wales, and someday I will definitely go there again for a little break. I think if we did another cottage holiday though, I reckon we should try The Lake District, a lot of my friends really recommend visiting there. I hope you found this little Northern Welsh guide helpful!

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