Upon arriving in Holyhead after catching the ferry across from Dublin we had the choice to go either left towards the North of England or right towards Wales. Nothing was planned you see. This was to be an entirely “where the wind blows” kind of trip. The weather, sadly, after all that sunshine in Ireland was not looking great in either direction so ultimately we decided to just head down through Wales.
My biggest regret is that we did not allow more time in Wales because almost as soon as we began driving through there I could see that it was the most magnificently scenic place. The gorgeous multihued hills and valleys of Snowdonia , even in the rain, were so incredibly beautiful…..and….there were no hedges! Halleluliah !
The Welsh people must have decided all those years ago – “Lets create the most complicated, difficult language all of our own and stick as many consonants and double letters that we can possibly think of into our words, just for kicks.” They must have extremely flexible mouths and tongues. You nearly have a car accident driving past signs craning your neck at them trying to pronounce the town names.
I had seen a photo on google prior to our trip when I was researching scenic places in Wales. I had forgotten to note down where it was, when all of a sudden….there is was! I was very pleased to get this pic of a quaint little tea room next to this stone bridge.
Unfortunately though that day as we drove through the winding mountainous hillsides of Snowdonia, a plague of fun runners descended upon us. The emerged like thousands of ants out of nowhere, madness in the rain….and unfortunately blocked the roads in many parts preventing us from stopping so I could get out and take photo’s.
I did manage a few though and the autumnal colours were especially beautiful!
This quaint little town was a place we stayed at on our return journey before our departure back to Dublin. (worth a walk around as it is sooo pretty!) Never could quite work out how to say the name though. What’s with the Y in the middle?
They say it rains a LOT on Wales, so if I could do it again, I would definitely have allowed more time in Wales to “try” and get a dry day for photography purposes – and besides, I’m sure the more you poke around, and the more scenic walks you take, the more magic there is to be found.
My husband was eager to find a “big arse castle” to explore. He complained about the “small puny castles” in Ireland. I was quite happy with them (they weren’t all small anyway!) and besides, as I told him, I didn’t think ALL castles were meant to be monstrosities.
So he was happy when we visited Caernarfon Castle. This is where Prince Charles was apparently dubbed as- The prince of Wales as a teenager.
Of course my husband had to explore every inch of it, and walk up every darn turret…..and I tell you what, walking up those spiral stone stairs is quite precarious, slippery and wet in some places, and it gets narrower the further you go up! Hell on your legs and gee…..you wouldn’t want to be too large!
I much preferred photographing the outside of the castles – that’s what I was there for, to get beautiful castle images to put in my photo manipulations.
At one point I refused to go up any more turrets with my hubby and simply sat in the grounds and soaked it all in. I felt very lucky to be able to be there absorbing the surrounds and almost pinching myself thinking “Well wow, here I am, in this far away land, sitting inside the walls of a magnificent castle!”
Let me say this now, it IS worth buying the English Heritage castle pass. The upfront fee is well worth it as almost every Castle, Abbey and ruin costs to get in and it adds up very quickly! Not to mention that everywhere you go you have to pay to park!
We had the most dreadful meal we have ever had on our first night in Wales. It was a Chinese buffet place and I tell you what, we should have listened to the reviews on Trip Advisor. For a start the waitress was wearing studded ugg boots. I don’t think I have ever seen studded – like spikes, ugg boots before. Talk about bondage in your slippers. The entrée buffet was all a one colour palette . If deep fried could have a colour, this was it. Just looking at it clogged my arteries. The main meals consisted, it appeared, of boiled meats coated with sauce out of a jar….and the dessert buffet….well, I have never seen lollies and marshmallows served as dessert. Blegh!
We stayed in a B&B just out of Wales as an overnighter before heading towards the Cotswalds, which we had read and been told was a really pretty area to visit. This was the only B&B the entire trip that I didn’t like. The guy running it was not that friendly and the room, although perfectly clean to look at, smelled funny. I kept complaining to my husband about the funny smell but he couldn’t smell anything. He told me that apparently it was a pet friendly room. “Maybe someone slept in here with their sheep then.” I said, because it smelled like I imagine the odour of freshly squashed between your fingers, sheep poop would smell. Not that I have ever squished sheep droppings. I slept with the window open and my little bottle of roll on perfume with the lid off next to me.
The Cotswalds, well they were a bit of a disappointment to us because once again we were in the land of hedges travelling there and as it was a long weekend there were SO MANY people out and about enjoying the rain free weather. The little towns (where all the rich people retire apparently) are quaint enough, but some areas are absolute tourist traps with stupidly expensive shops lining the streets, nowhere to park, and just hoards of people clogging up the streets. Stow on the Wold particularly we didn’t like but Upper and lower Slaughter were much less touristy and less crowded. But really, it held little interest for me from a photographic perspective. I would have loved a shot of a quaint little town with no cars parked on the narrow streets and no people. – that just didn’t happen- anywhere in the UK.
Speaking of rich people….Oh how the other half live hey.
I snapped this image of a rich persons mansion through a tunnel of tree’s then as we got closer took a few pics of the property. Imagine the life…
Picture perfect with the row of geese…
Our next major stop was in Dartmoore. Now I have to say this was our most favourite area to visit and explore. We loved it mostly because…..there were NO HEDGES on the Moors!
Let me explain how the hedges in England and Ireland made me feel. – Angry. I was there, principally to photograph beautiful landscapes so to have all these hedges blocking my view was truly maddening! It honestly felt like we were holidaying in a maze. I almost felt claustrophobic. Ok so periodically there would be a gate in the hedge for farmers to access the fields but the roads were so narrow and twisty that it was just not safe in most places to pull up in your vehicle so you could jump out and take a photo of whatever took your interest out there in a paddock. The locals sometimes drive very fast and the speed limits to us seemed really unwise.
I went through the five stages of grief with the hedges and in the end just wanted to set fire to them all!
If we could have done it all again we’d have spent far less time trying to navigate these back roads in the country and would have driven directly to the next place via the motorways and THEN googled, or looked at the map book the English Heritage castle pass comes with to see if it was worth all the hedge drives to get to specific places around our point of accommodation. Honestly, we wasted a LOT of time driving in the mazes not seeing anything.
So Dartmoore…. Lovely area. Seemed to be quite a hub for Pagan sorts of things.
The lady at the B&B we stayed at – an old converted school house, gave us directions to get to a particularly special Pagan site where lots of rituals take place.
It’s called Wistmans Woods.
It was a fair walk out there, and very muddy, but I was so pleased we went as it did truly feel a bit magical. Unfortunately the light was NOT magical, but none the less I did take a few photo’s of the symbols etched into the mossy rocks and tree’s.
Would you trust a signpost like this? We did, even though I was a bit nervous about walking out there so late in the day…
There were these magnificent looking cattle in the moors area too. So photogenic and they seemed quite docile, even though I am still a little bit wary of anything big with pointy horns.
They say not to feed or approach the wild ponies on the moors – all I wanted was a photo but ended up with one almost climbing into the front seat with me!
As you can see from this series of pics, I am wary of large animals even if they don’t have pointy horns. I ended up sitting half on my husband’s lap and half on the gear stick while the pony had this look on its face like “What IS her problem?”
Our next stop was the Isle of Wight because we were staying with a cousin of mine who I had never met. So glad we did because she and her husband were lovely and we really enjoyed the visit.
It’s pricey to get across to the island by ferry, and probably not high on the list of most tourists, but I found the Island to be quite lovely and scenic. Similar to the mainland I suppose in a lot of ways but perhaps a bit quieter. They still have hedges, unfortunately.
We visited a historic house where Queen Victoria lived – Orborne House, and died in the very bedroom and bed that is still on display. Unfortunately no photography of any sort was allowed inside the premises. I got told this at least three times, sternly, and I tell you what, if I’d have as much of raised the camera from my chest where it hung I reckon I would have been stampeded and tackled to the ground in seconds. Worth a visit if you are into the Royal History, but not much good for photographers wanting nice inside shots to create eerie photo manipulations out of.
Some shots I took on a day out having a look around the island…
We walked up this hill huge so I could get a shot of this ruin.
Lovely open landscape as the sun began to go down….
Oh look….a real fence!
From there we drove straight to the outskirts of London where we were to stay for two nights so we’d have a full day in the city. I was exhausted and didn’t want to walk my feet off around a city and almost stayed to have a rest day in the hotel but my husband convinced me to go with him in the end.
Eating out in London city itself was cheaper than we expected. We thought it would be way more expensive….but, we were still eating at fairly cheap places, pubs and things so really, I guess if you went to a fancy restaurant in London you’d be paying a fair bit more. Transport on the trains was also way more expensive than in Australia. We did go and see a show “Lord of the Dance” which was pretty cool. No shortage of shows to see that’s for sure.
What can I say about London? It’s crowded….all the shops are expensive. The river Thames is nothing spectacular, especially in comparison to Sydney Harbour. We went on a ferry up the Thames but it was not that scenic. In fact I was so exhausted that I fell asleep.
But….hey, in Green park, near Buckingham palace we saw Squirrels!
As I am still suffering from the effects of jet lag I think I’ll stop now and do a third part of where we travelled up to the North of England and even popped into Scotland one day for lunch.
Thanks for having a read. Hope it is of interest to those of you with the travel bug. J