Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday in Conwy

There comes a time when you switch from forging ahead and packing it in, to winding down and thinking about the return. I think this day marks that transition for us. It's as if we had done all that we were so keen on doing and now are happy just to do a little less and move at a wee bit slower pace.

As always, Sparrow is the first to wake up. Come visit Gogs, little one!


Snowdrop is more predictable: she is up when her clock tells her it's time. At 8:15 each morning, she makes it to my room as well. There's a mommy hiding under the quilt as well! See her?


How's the weather today? Let's check it the old fashioned way -- by stepping outside...


Not bad! Snowdrop, want to come along for the morning breakfast walk?


Well, maybe not. Indoor play beckons!


I'm off along my usual route, through the church yard...


... out onto the street.


This is the block that contains Conwy's principle bakery.


Oh! Open later on Sunday! Well, okay, let me detour toward the water's edge...


... and stop by the coffee shop for my daily cappuccino from there. This time I do a timed release by a painting that sort of brings home the joys of travel as a senior!


When the bakery finally does open, a line forms. People want their morning pick me up.


We've sampled all of these: scones, welsh cakes, doughnuts, eccles cakes. I still feel they're all a tad too sweet, but when you're on vacation, you can relax your nutritional guard somewhat.


Walking back through the church yard cemetery, I notice planters full of herbs and edibles. The signs say Pick Me, Eat Me, but they appear untouched. Is it because it seems somehow wrong to eat stuff grown among ancient tombstones?




And then one child naps and the other play with grandma while the parents visit the church which stands so close to our little house. And this brings us right up to the lunch hour. The vote is in: we go back to Johnny Dough for pizza. The kids love it too much to pass by. So, one more set of photos from the pizza place!




Our post lunch ambition is to walk the old walls of Conwy. I pick up some info on this at the Visitor's Center and Snowdrop talks me into getting her a "calming stone." Rumor has it that wearing it puts you into a peaceful state. I tell her that she's a pretty peace loving calm child already, but she convinces me that this extra help is a good idea.


Sparrow gets a Cymru t-shirt. That's Welsh for Wales.


And now my daughter, the two kids and I set out for the walls. The views are lovely of course. You'd expect as much. Oh! A storm is brewing somewhere!


The castle once again...


The intrepid travelers!


The turffy gulls!


And a wee bird whose feathers I do not recognize.


Back on the streets of Conway, tourists dominate. It's Sunday and I believe the next week starts the holidays for younger kids here. The shops cater to them of course. I hear many parents saying "no, we're not getting that!" And some saying just the opposite.


We say "yes" to a small lollipop. Snowdrop is a girl who has completely abdicated pink and gone blue in her color choices. Ah, kids!


In the late afternoon we pack. We have to be on the 8:18 train out of here. The AirBnB must be neatened up, the suitcases standing, ready to go.

And in the evening, we go out to one last dinner in Wales. We eat at Watson's Bistro, a very tasty place that is barely a two minute walk from our Conwy home.



How the kids have grown in the last two weeks! Things that put them off, things that seemed uncomfortable and strange are now well within their comfort zone. New discoveries, letting go of steadfast rules -- all that happened, to both of them.

If travel does that to kids, it surely accomplishes similar miracles in adults. You're never the same person coming back as you were heading out.

(Back home, packing up scraps of souvenirs: a puffin bird picked up in support of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds at the "Whole Foods" store in Galsgow, sea shells and stones gathered on the beaches of the Irish Sea, and a ribbon from a box of chocolates I purchased for a wee gift...)


One last evening look outside my window...


Tomorrow we return to Dublin.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

to Llandudno!

The castle dominates Conwy. No surprise there -- it was built to be majestic and threatening.

Looking out my window this morning, I see the castle, and the clouds. We're to get rain today. Storms perhaps. I think Europe will be relieved that this heat wave is about to end. I read that France recorded its highest temperature ever (115f, near Montpellier). No one wants that kind of weather, even as here, in Wales, we've benefited from the warm sunshine!


On my morning walk, where I pick up breakfast foods, the castle towers are never far from view.


(A the bakery I pick up a new favorite: the English Eccles Cakes -- flaky pastry with a fistful of currants inside. They come from Eccles of course -- a town not too far from here.)


(At the waterfront -- boats, birds, and the castle...)


(The castle, as seen from the churchyard, which we cross on most our walks, leading Snowdrop to ask us about our own plans for our remains after we die. She persisted and so we filled her in on the details.)


Finally, breakfast: Eccles cakes, Welsh cakes and plain toast for little Snowdrop, who does not understand why currants warrant so much fuss.


Sparrow, bathed and ready to go!


Our plan for the day is to go to Llandudno. You may think that's easy to pronounce. It's not. The Welsh make a sound out of two L's like no one else: put your tongue at the roof of your mouth and blow. Got it? No? Practice!

I commented to a shop keeper that at least in Scotland, they also give you English names (in addition to the Gaelic ones, for example on the islands), whereas here, it's all Welsh, leading the rest of us to mispronounce everything. She said it's political. Conwy used to be anglicized ("Conway") until Wales decided to throw it back to its native language.

So, off` to Llandudno. By bus, because I had thrown that out as an option and Snowdrop became very excited: "I'd never been on a city bus before!" We live automobile driven lives back home.



Llandudno is a seaside resort, regarded for a long time as the "Queen of the Welsh Watering Places." (Before the word "resort" crept into our vocabulary, these seaside communities were known as watering holes.) It's got plenty of shops, flowers and promenades.



For both kids, this is the first encounter with the sea. Sparrow mostly takes to the blanket. The day is a little cooler and in any case, the Irish Sea here isn't necessarily great for toddler splash and play. He is content to watch from the sidelines.


Snowdrop, on the other hand, cannot resist the salty water. It's not the greatest beach for running to the water -- so many rocks! And the water's cold! But she hardly cares. She wants to splash in the wee waves.


(Sparrow's first taste of the sea...)


(A kind soul took this one, just before I totally soaked my skirts...)


(Finding a smoother jetty slab to dance and prance on...)


...while the boy watches on.


"Mom, come in the water with me!"


Eventually, sand castles.


Lunch: the young parents want to try Johnny Dough's, which has a sister store here, with a placard which probably would not last a long while back home.


(Here they let the kids make their own pizza...)


"Let's see what my sister made for us..."


And after lunch, we take the bus back home to Conwy.


We have a quieter afternoon of reading and playing. The expected rains never really materialize, but still, I think we all like a little catch up time.

Dinner is at Bryn Williams Bistro -- an eatery by the water, two towns east of us (at Porth Eirias). Here's Sparrow, showing his satisfaction at having been fed bits of everyone's fish and bread.


And Snowdrop? She is thrilled that finally, finally, there is pistachio ice cream to be had. She has been dying to try it for ages!


Afterwards, though it's so very late -- way past the kids' bedtime -- we walk along the water's edge.


You could not have a happier girl for it.


(The mommy looks pretty content as well...)


And the views? Just grand!


It's tough to call it quits. Never mind, bits of seashell are tucked away to take back home.


And at Conwy, the castle stands tall and mighty, always visible, always grand...


Goodnight golden towers and golden sands and golden days of summer by the Irish Sea!