Recall, that we visited North Wales for a 4-day weekend in April 2011 (link). It's worth a refresher ro go back to that posting to catch up on the history of the area.
Our home for 3 nights was the Castlebank Hotel, a Grade II listed Victorian Home just outside the city walls with convenient parking and still within stumbling distance to the restaurants in town.
Saturday -- exploring Conwy
The weather prediction for the weekend was not great but it didn't turn out too bad. It rained on the way down (and back) and Saturday was a little misty at times but by and large we stayed dry. We started off by walking some of the town walls to the harbor . . . all decked out in our waterproofs to be safe (no temporary ponchos this time).
Conwy Castle, one of the 8 castles built by King Edward I. It was built (rather rapidly) from 1283 to 1289. Looking good for the years.
Another shot, this time also capturing the bridge into town.
wiki link, it doesn't appear that he is the regular host).
another castle shot as we get closer . . . you can see the tents being set up for the festival du jour along the quay
and here we are. The house is 10 x 6' and was lived in until 1900. At that time it was it was deemed to be unfit for habitation and was set to be razed (like the houses adjacent to it). However, it was spared when the owners (?) went around Great Britain and determined that it was indeed the smallest house (so small I couldn't get a decent photo inside). It was tight. The 4 of us really couldn't be in there together.
If it's a festival day near a castle, there must be birds of prey. Nicole's favorite barn owls here.
and a hawk too (Harris or Red-Tail I presume)
and a great, big eagle owl
I tend to like these government purpose built jobs for some reason. Seems better than just the fat-cat Lords building something to protect their land. (but then again, I guess Edward I was the biggest fat-cat trying to project against the Welsh he just overtook).
Suspension Bridge leading to the castle
Alex enjoying the view
Edward I built the castles for defense and then the walled cities to protect the English cronies that he enticed to stay. Had to keep the angry Welsh out, you see.
here's a view from the castle back along the quay (and the special tents setup for the day)
interior shot with the Wales flags flowing briskly in the wind
required sheep shot outside the walls on the opposite side
family shot on top of the castle
link) along the quay. They limit the season to a few months starting in September. It was interesting to learn that they plop them in a ultraviolet tank for a few days to kill all the bacteria living in them (yummmmm). Had to snap the two mussel lovers next to the monument.
link). We couldn't tell if it was open (or how to get in!) so we just walked around the perimeter. The church dates back to the 12th Century as the abbey church of the Cistercian Abbey of Aberconwy (the Abbey itself moved after the castle was built).
Next up was the Aberconwy house, Conwy's only surviving 14th-century merchant's house, one of the first buildings built inside the walls of Conwy (National Trust link).
They had a nice little video inside the house and the rooms were nicely done. This one was staged to appear like the it was in the 17th century when the wealthy merchant owner lived here (and was living through the civil war).
This room was set later (19th century?) when the house was used as a "temperance" hotel.
Castle Hotel (not to be confused with our Castlebank Hotel). Interesting building (though a little pricier and more difficult to park!).
Plas Mawr. The house was built between 1576 and 1585 and is the (self proclaimed) "finest townhouse of its era in Britain". We agree that it is very well done. I couldn't get a photo from the front, so the back with have to do.
Alex like the authentic broom
the herbal and vegetable spread in the kitchen
the game hanging in there
here's looking at you (these were real, stuffed animals btw)
not sure what's growing out of his beard
we liked the deer/moose -- it's in Nicole's drawing style and everything
a colorful room with more of the singularly exposed woman
So, we saw a Castle, two restored homes, a mussel museum and the smallest house in GB. Cost? £3 (for the smallest house). The Castle and homes were free with our English Heritage and National Trust memberships. Sweet.
View from our hotel later in the evening.
Sunday -- Beaumaris and Llandudno
Ready to enter. Notice the honest-to-God real, filled-with-water (albeit green) moat.
on the bridge
Nicole the Giant towers over the other (4 year old) recruits
a half-hearted thrust (at least she's smiling now)
one final charge for the crowd (the baby next to us was not happy as it scared him to tears)
more barn owls (don't let the sign fool you)
a view of the bridge and moat from a tower
the inner courtyard -- you can see it turned out to be a nice day
another, this time with the hills in the background
the best event of the day, though, was the ferret racing!
pre-race pat/pet/stroke down
here's something different -- they actually took bets before the race (50p to win £1). Not good odds. :-)
#2 did the same thing. Tough getting all 4 paws out.
Alex's choice was finally coaxed out -- we have a winner! Fun times.
Great Orme, a limestone headland. This statue is by the visitor's center at the top of the Great Orme.
The views were fantastic.
more great views (and more sheep)
Jay, I found your sheep.
more sheep & nice views
here's a view back towards Llandudno
Alex needed a little encouragement to get up the last hill during our walk
one more scenic shot with the cable cars (too bad we missed that)
last shot looking in the opposite direction of town out towards the sea
a view of the Great Orme from the pier
The other side of the bay opposite the pier. I believe this is the Little Orme.
Here's the end of the pier with Joe Fisherman manning his phone and a half dozen rods.
We enjoyed the quick visit and walk around Llandudno but Conwy was more to out liking. Here's a seagull on the wall to great our return.
I'd done my research and found this little gem for dinner. As I've learned to do, I made a reservation ("booking") for Saturday night. This has to rate as one of the best overall dining experiences (food, service, cost, ambiance) that we've had during our time in the UK.
Watsons was so good, we weren't getting excited about anything in Llandudno so I made a quick call and we got the last table on Sunday night as well! I can't let my foodie fans down:
crab cake tart starter for Kuk
goat cheese tart for me
scrumptious lamp chops, ground lamb & mint ball with mashed potatoes for me
sea bass for Kuk
yum -- you must try Watsons Bistro if you are in the area!
Monday -- the drive home
I hadn't planned on any sites on the way home. We don't tend to try to do much on the last day of the holidays since we still have the weekly chores to do. However, I noticed that we passed within spitting distance to Crewe and thought we might have an opportunity.
In the early days, both Rolls-Royce cars and airplane engines were built in Derby. However, with the onset of WWII, the Derby site focused on airplane (and later jet) engines. The manufacturing of Rolls-Royce cars was established in Crewe, a railway center (info link) in 1946.
The last Rolls-Royce made in Crewe was in 2002. It currently makes Bentleys (it's quite complicated with all the BMW and Volkswagen Bentley/Rolls-Royce Motors dealings). I thought there might be a museum or vistor's centre to link the Rolls-Royce heritage. I guess not. It did make for a nice 5-minute stop though.
here we are -- fortunately the rain stopped long enough for a quick photo
This Bentley through the glass will have to do. Oh well, it only took us 5 minutes out of the way. Good idea (and I actually knew before setting off that there wasn't anything RR there).
Phew -- quite a summer. Back to school and the regular (new) schedule soon. I think we are all looking forward to taking next weekend off!
Have a good week and thanks for reading.