Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Having decided the night before to go south to the big waterfall if the weather was nice, being surprised by sunshine this morning, having a good early breakfast, and being ready to go by 8am, we of course piddled around and didn’t leave the house until after lunch. Big grin. Taryn played the piano; Bob played Twister with the children; they went up the hill and visited the sheep. I even shaved my legs. Elijah fell asleep on my lap just before 10, and slept all through lunch (until about 11:30).
Since the time was half gone we decided to stay local. First we went just into the village to the Trefriw Woolen Mills and museum. It was interesting, but the people weren’t very … outgoing. The main entrance is to the big store, and there is nothing there about the museum part – we found it just by poking around. But when we got there it was interesting. We followed the wool from the sheep to the bedspreads. In some places the machines were working and we watched awhile; in other places it was still and quiet, but we were able to read the signs.
There was a small shop out back, where a woman was spinning on a wheel, and her friend was using a hand spindle. The actual employee never said a word to us, but the woman who was just there because she likes to spin and visit her friend told the children a little about it. There was a sign on the door about trying your hand at the loom, but when Riah asked the talkative woman about trying her spindle she said no (very kindly), and no offer was made on the loom or anything else. Shortly after that they realized that they were late for their lunch break and needed to close the shop for a while. So that was quite frustrating, but the rest of it was nice.
Elijah was very fussy, so Bob took him and the others outside (they spotted a playground across the street) while I shopped in the big store. I thought they were having fun, so took my time, but it turns out the park was closed, so they were sitting in the bus. Anyway, I bought some genuine sheepskin gloves, a natural wool tie for Bob, a set of woven woolen coasters, and a lambswool duster. And maybe a couple of soft cuddly sheepdogs for the children, who have been wanting one since Yorkshire, but these were the cheapest and softest I’ve seen.
After that we headed just past Betws-y-Coed to Swallow Falls, which we’d passed at least twice before but were unable to stop at because the sign is past the parking lot. Knowing where it was this time, we pulled in and went for a walk. The area is fenced off, and there’s an old man in a booth at the gate collecting entrance fees. 1.50 per adult and .50 for children. He laughed as we walked up and Bob started counting, but gave us a deal by only charging for 4 children. There were way too many steps down and up to see the waterfall, which was very pretty and worth the fee. However, in a couple of key places the trees were growing up and blocking the view.
When we were done with the waterfall we headed toward Llandudno, as Bob had borrowed a Yellow Pages and found that this town had both a Jessops (camera store) and a McDonald’s (free internet). We passed the McDonald’s on the way into town, but Jessops was right downtown. There was an empty parking space just around the corner, so we parked and got out. Jessops was an important stop because Bob’s shoulder strap was falling apart and he was afraid of dropping his camera. We all trooped into the store only to discover they were out of straps. Well, we were in town, so went on down the street a bit. I saw a Boots (pharmacy/photo developer/drugstore) and thought it was worth a look. By the time we worked our way through the mall to Boots, the toilets, and back, we were done with being in town. Llandudno is a bustling seaside resort town. There are many Victorian style buildings, lots of shops and cafes, and many people walking up and down. It could be a lot of fun to wander around in, but we wanted a camera strap. Plus the children were quite excitable.
We had a recommendation for Cambrian Photo in Colwyn Bay, so I called and they were open until 5:30. It was 4:45 and the towns are about 10 miles apart. Piece of cake. Except that there were also lots of people trying to drive around the area, and traffic was moving very slowly. But we did make it to Colwyn Bay, and eventually (after another phone call and a couple of U-turns) found the store. They DID have camera straps – nice, if a little short – and Bob even bought one for me, since I had the old, stiff, kit strap.
Then we went back to Llandundo to eat at the McDonald’s. It was crowded inside so we snagged a table outside in the sun. Yes, sun! Today was the first day of our vacation that it hasn’t rained on us once all day. This was the best internet connection we’d had yet, and Bob even uploaded one picture to Flickr. We checked email and bank account, and I saw that in my parent’s home town the high today was 101*F. And my fingers were cold, sitting in the sun.
Back home, we all climbed the hill again and saw the sheep and the view (looked right down on our roof), and then came in to find that Taryn’s Bubble Tape had found its way into the washing machine. We double checked the clothes and didn’t see any gum residue, so hopefully that will work out.
Tonight Bob is going to try sleeping on the floor, as the bed is so bad.
I almost forgot! Once as we were driving past a lay-by (oh, you don’t know what a lay-by is? Well, periodically along almost all roads in the country there is a wide spot marked for parking, and no matter how lonely and deserted you think the road is, there is usually at least one car parked there. This parking area is called a lay-by) there was a little grey-haired lady standing at the rear of her car (on the pavement, fully visible from the road), just coming up from a squat, pulling her underwear up under her dress. Oh, yeah! As Bob says, men at least usually go on the grass side of their car, so you don’t see too much as you drive by.