I have been having so much fun recapping our time in Wales and going through all the photographs that were taken from our trip. It has made me realize all the things, big and small, that I have loved about being in Wales.
People have asked me why we decided on renewing our vows in Wales and if the place held any personal significance for us. To be honest upon planning our trip, my husband and kids had never been to Wales before. We had a list of dream locations to renew our vows that included: Italy where I had grown up as girl; on a mountain top in Austria, a place that held a lot memories with my dad; and in France, where we had friends that lived. When it came down to finally choosing a place we knew we needed to stay within the UK, but wanted to choose a place we had never been to before. Ryan had heard about renting cabins in Wales and we had started looking at places last Christmas with my mum. It looked doable for us as well as providing a fantastic new location to explore. That is how it all began.
We did not have a schedule written in stone before drove up to Wales. Partly because one of our friends coming was 8 months pregnant and Ryan and I like to be more spontaneous. We had a list of ideas and went ahead knowing we would just have to return to do the things we did not get ticked off our list. While I can foresee going to Wales many more times during our time in England, there were so many that became my favourite things to do in Wales.
My Favourite Things
T O D O I N W A L E S
√ Drive Around the Countryside. When choosing which way to get to Dolgellau from Bath, England we knew it had to be the scenic route with rolling green hills of sheep, quaint little villages to drive through, and passing by a castle or two would not hurt either. Aside from a few cases of getting car sick, driving through Wales was definitely one of the highlights.
√ Seeing the Castles. I love seeing castles in the UK and they are a favourite destination for my family. We had attempted to renew our vows at a castle nearby. We parked and got ready to go in when we realised the walk from the car to the entrance was not going to be feasible in my gown and for my friend who was expecting. So while we did not go to a castle this trip, seeing them at least was still a perk!
√ Being Outside in all Types of Weather. When we told friends and acquaintances in England that we chose Wales for our 10th Wedding Anniversary we were imminently met with a response about the weather. Wales is known for having a lot of rain. While we had a heat wave this summer, it ended the week we went to Wales. Go Figure. However it did not stop us from being outside. We had lovely sunny days, perfectly overcast days for photos, and even enjoyed walks and a train ride in the rain showers.
√ Reading the Road Signs. Or should I say trying to pronounce the road signs. Or anything that had the Welsh language on it. Almost every signage found would have the words written in both English and Welsh. Since we do not speak Welsh, trying to figure out how to say things was really fun. The town we stayed in, Dolgellau, has a double L sound which is pronounced by putting your tongue as if you are going to say L and then blowing. Dolgellau being pronounced like dol-gell-eye. Course I also heard it pronounced like dol-gethl-eye by locals, so I just tried my best to smile in my attempts.
√ Seeing the Sheep. To be fair I love doing this in England too. Although what I have noticed about the sheep in England is that they tend to stay together in groups. In Wales they are just all over the place and usually in groups no larger than three or four. It was a common sight to see a mountain side literally dotted across it in white dots that were sheep grazing. Some seemed pretty brave on a steep mountain side, along side the road, or on top of mountain peaks.
√ Riding on the Train. On a rainy day we decided it would be a good idea to take a train ride. I had not realised there would be so many to choose from when we were looking over all the pamphlets we had taken from the local grocery store. While the one we went on did not have all that in the way of amazing views, it was more of the experience that caught my fancy. I loved passing the other steam engines, hearing the whistle blow, and reading the signs along the way. We even enjoyed tea and snacks which was great, until I spilled tea all down my new white dress. So maybe next time I will aim to dress practically and not in white every day because its my 10th Wedding Anniversary.
√ The Hiking. I asked my husband what his favourite thing to do was and he answered with this one, to which I have to agree. We got to go on a country walk hiking through the forest area near our B&B and went on an all day hike in the mountains of Cadair Idris. It is something we love to do weekly in England and became something special for us in Wales. I grew up going on country walks in England and hiking with my dad in Germany, both while we lived there and when we lived in Italy. He continued to go on regular hikes where he lived in Tucson, Arizona before he died. So while we were on the mountain hiking with our sons, it was like having my father there with us. Ryan even mentioned how much my dad would have loved doing this with us. Thats all I could have asked for…a connection with my dad during a special time in our life.
√ Trying the local Ales. My husband and I love to try the local drinks when we travel or are out and about in England. So in Wales we continued this tradition with ordering the local ales and ciders. I really enjoyed the Purple Moose Ale and will have to have it again when we are back in Wales. We ended up going out for drinks with my sister for my husband’s ‘stag night’ and enjoyed meeting new people (and their dogs) at the local pub.
√ Make Friends with the Wild Life. I love animals. They all seemed so friendly in Wales. I made friends with horses, sheep, geese, and even a lone jelly fish while at the beach. Luckily for me the later quickly disappeared and did not want to be super close friends.
√ Take My Kids to an Attraction. For this trip we opted for a fun day out for both our families at the King Arthur’s Labyrinth, based on the lore of King Arthur and Welsh history. They had a cave we got to explore, a play area, a cafe, and nine separate craft studios. It was just enough to entertain the adults while keeping the five children all happy for a few hours. If you are interested in going it is located in the town of Corris.
√ Exploring the Towns and Villages. If you are a photographer like me than you love to notice the details and photograph your surroundings. Being able to walk around and explore the towns by foot is just a perfect way to spend some time. From the public houses to the beautiful and manicured gardens there is a story for you with each footstep you take. We also took to the coastal village destination of Portmeirion for our actual vow renewal ceremony, which gave us a Mediterranean storybook feel in Wales.
√ Exploring Ruins. Just near the town of Dolgellau, in the village of Llanelltyd, are the ruins of a Cistercian abbey that was founded in 1158. The Cymer Abbey is just beautiful and it became a perfect backdrop for family photographs for us while we were in Wales.
√ Enjoy Every Moment. I am a free spirit and I really just enjoy living in the moment and experiencing it with my family and friends. I knew that no matter what we did in Wales, keeping true to that would make it an amazing week. It truly was and a place to where we will have to return.
*Photo composite made by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | http://www.bonnie-rose.co.uk