The end is in sight

Normally, the words “the end is in sight” are met with huge relief, but this time they refer to the end of the school holidays and small daughter is not relieved at all.  We’ve done our best to make these last two weeks fun, though (apart from school shoe shopping yesterday which is never fun at the best of times!).

Last week, we headed into Wales again for a few days, this time taking the dog with us.  We went to Betws y Coed, a place that we’ve driven through but have never actually stopped at (despite saying every time we passed through that we really should), and we decided it was time to rectify that.  It’s not a huge place, although it’s popular with visitors and there’s an abundance of outdoor stores to encourage people to get out and about.  We like the houses built of local slate …

the angular lines of the chapel building (there’s a church as well, as is often the case in Welsh villages) …

and the River Llygwy as it tumbles through the rocks and under the Pont-y-Pair bridge.  We weren’t alone in this – this is obviously a very popular spot for visitors who enjoy scrambling over the rocks to dip their toes in the water as it hurtles by.  The river was quite low as there hadn’t been any serious rain for some time and the water was fast enough as it was – I can imagine that you’d need to stay well away from the rocks when the rains had been heavier.  Our dog, daft dog that he is, was desperate to dip his toes – his whole body, actually – in the water but we kept him safely on his lead.  He has no sense of danger, our dog!

Betws y Coed is the “gateway to Snowdonia”, a very beautiful part of the world, and there’s lots to do for a family with a big dog that likes to get out and about.  In the area are cycle tracks, rock climbing, river scrambling and horse riding, but we chose to spend our time walking (the dog isn’t good at horse riding) and there are more than a few walks for all abilities to choose from.

We went for a walk along the river towards Miner’s Bridge.  It starts off by crossing the river and then walking along a boardwalk through the trees before heading through meadows towards the bridge and more waterfalls.

Big daughter found herself surprisingly happy to have her walking boots back on again, and small daughter was wearing her new boots for the first time.

She’s resisted proper walking boots for a long time, preferring instead to wear wellies or trainers, but she was glad of her boots this time and put them through a proper trial on rocks …

and trees …

Even the dog was happy as we found a few places along the way where he could go into the water on his lead (this was a dogs-on-leads area because of sheep) and we didn’t get our feet too wet.

Small daughter put her new boots through their paces again when we reached Miners Bridge, originally a steep ladder where the miners crossed the river on their way to work but now much more easily accessed by a newer bridge.  It’s still very steep though, and in wet weather I bet it’s really slippy so we were glad of the sunshine.

We walked on past Miners Bridge to where we found a waterfall and the remains of another bridge to eat our picnic.  There’s something really lovely about just finding a spot to sit and watch the water, and sandwiches always taste so much better outside.

I could show you far too many pictures of the River Llygwy and the water as it swirled around, bubbling and chattering as it passed us on it’s busy way to the sea, but instead I’m going to tell you about the Alpine Coffee Shop and Hangin Pizzeria which are both just off the main road in Betws y Coed by the railway station, and are good places to visit if you’ve got a dog.  In fact, we were impressed by just how dog-friendly Betws y Coed is, and there are lots of shops, hotels (we stayed at the Waterloo Hotel and would definitely go back again) and restaurants where you can take your dog without any problems.

What we particularly liked about the coffee shop and the pizzeria is that a percentage of the profits are given to charity; specifically ape and Orangutan charities as they are the passion of the owners. They even have a specially brewed local beer which contributes to the charities, and the pizza is particularly good.

We sat outside as it was a balmy evening at tables with huge log sections for seats, covered with comfy cushions that you picked up from a large basket by the door.  The pizzeria even provided insect repellent sprays for you to use as it was the time of night when little buzzy things wanted to share your dinner – or more likely, consider you to be their dinner – and it made it all much more pleasant.  We had a really lovely time sitting in the growing twilight eating and chatting; the girls get on very well together and it makes for interesting, humorous conversations, and I’m hoping that even when big daughter goes to university they will still continue to get on as well as they do.

We could have stayed much longer in Betws y Coed; we were having such a nice time and there are so many places to explore, but this has been a summer of short breaks and after our three days there it was time to go home.  Big daughter has started an intern placement which will occupy her now until she starts university in a couple of weeks, and small daughter has suddenly “remembered” that she had some homework to do over the summer for her new teacher so there has been a flurry of craft activity as she races to get that done.

She has also been helping me get ready for Yarndale which is just a few weeks away now.  After seeing all the beautifully set-up stalls at previous Yarndale festivals and more recently at Woolfest, I wanted to make a bit more of an effort with the display for my own space this year and we have been busy with hacksaws …

drills … (no, don’t worry, that isn’t a real foot J)

and paint.

It’s not finished yet, but small daughter assures me that she can fit my display in around her homework so I’ve made an appointment for us to do a bit more later on today.  These busy creatives, eh?! 🙂

Since we came back from Wales, I’ve also been busy doing a bit more tidying up in the garden (after feeling buoyed by our recent de-cluttering efforts in the house and a few more trips to the charity shop) as I figured that you can always work inside when it rains and who knows how much longer this dry weather will hold out?

I’ve bought myself an incinerator so that I can burn all of the hedge cuttings that didn’t go through the shredder when I cut the hedge a few months ago and are now too dry and hard to be shredded at all.  I don’t need much of an excuse to light a fire and I’ve had a lovely time clearing more space in the garden and getting my open-fire-fix without turning the house into an oven as it’s been far to warm to light the fire in the house!

There’s not been much more progress on my Yarndale sheep from the last picture that I showed you, although I have sewed the body up now and the poor headless creature is lying on my desk waiting for me to cast on again and make the head.  I would do … and I will do so that my sheep is ready to take up to Yarndale … but I’ve been distracted by socks.

Nestled in the top of my very lovely new project bag, a generous gift from Christine at Woolrichcrafts, is some brand new sock yarn that I’ve been given to try out.  So new, in fact, that it isn’t even out on sale yet, so I’m very excited that I’ve been one of the first people to be able to try it.

Do you want to see some more of it?  OK then, here it is … but it’s so new that I can only tell you that it’s a new sock yarn from Stylecraft and it will be on sale from Monday 5 September.  And it’s very nice to knit with J.

Small daughter is back at school on Monday so we’ve only got a couple of days now before the early mornings and the school runs start again.  We’re just about ready in terms of what we need, such as shoes, uniform, new bag and so on, but I know it will still take us a week or so to get our heads back in the full swing of being back at school, and I think that’s the part I’m looking forward to least.  I have made plenty of plans to keep myself occupied!  I hope that if the end is in sight of your summer holidays, you’re all ready too!

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28 Responses

  1. Terri Mc says:

    What a lovely trip to Wales you had. As I read, I try to pronounce those Welsh names…if only you could hear how this American Midwestern tongue spits out those names…too funny. I enjoy your writing and think you have a lovely family life. Thanks for sharing so much about knitting socks. I haven't attempted socks yet, but some day soon I will!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I learnt Welsh for a short while and I still get the pronunciations wrong so you're in good company! Thank you for your lovely words, I'll look forward to seeing your socks when you get round to them! xx

  2. Angela says:

    Hi there. We drove through snowdonia on our way to a day on Barmouth beach last week. Beautiful area. I am also feeling much the same as you regarding the end of the holidays. I dread it! We are all ready in terms of having everything we need but also still have homework to do. Hey ho. It'll soon be half term! Enjoy your last few days xxx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Are we wishing our children's lives away here, living from one holiday to the next? 😉 Glad you're all ready, I hope the return goes smoothly! xx

  3. Anonymous says:

    I really like your sheep bag! – Ruth

  4. Christina says:

    Your short break looks like great fun. You may need another break shortly with all the busyness in your life! Love the sock yarn, great colours. I hope it is not acrylic because it is really really nice. Have a lovely weekend. Also, wishing big daughter a good start with her internship, and University. x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Hope you have a lovely weekend too! No, the yarn's not acrylic, it's a wool/nylon mix so ideal for socks 🙂 xx

  5. AnnieOBTextiles says:

    Betws y Coed still looks as lovely now as when we used to go in family holidays there many years ago. Sounds like you had a great break there. The new sock yarn looks very tempting!

  6. Elle M. says:

    Love your blog! What beautiful photos of your travels!

  7. Lilly's Mom says:

    Looks like you had a wonderful holiday. The scenery looks so lovely. I loved reading about the upcoming school year and all the fun things you've been doing. It used to be my favorite time of year. Your new socks look great! Take care dear friend, Pat xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It really is a very lovely place, Pat – definitely one to put on your list if you are ever over here in the UK! xx

  8. Rachelradiostar says:

    What a brilliant pits Angela, I've looked at staying there a few times and now have the urge to dig out my long neglected walking boots! Gorgeous sock yarn and am looking forwards to seeing your yarn dale post! X

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'd definitely recommend going, there are lots of walks around Betws y Coed itself and it's a good base for going further afield. Now that we know small daughter is happy in her boots, there's no excuse for us not exploring some more! xx

  9. Pam says:

    I am looking forward to seeing the new sock yarn too. I have not been to Betws y Coed for several years but it does not seem to have changed much. Now that I live in mid Wales I tend to head for the Beacons or the Black Mountain for exploring.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Wales is a great place to explore, we've hardly scratched the surface but I'm sure we'll be changing that over the next few years! 🙂 xx

  10. Unknown says:

    ooo stylecraft sock yarn brilliant, your wee break looked fab I too love sitting outside with a sandwich during a walk and taking it all in – I need to get out more

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I say that we need to get out more every time we do, but it's not always easy is it? Still, something for us all to aspire to! 🙂 xx

  11. cornishgomer says:

    Hi Christine
    I have so enjoyed reading your blog at last, I have been trying to read it for days but had grand children to look after.

    What lovely photos of your trip to Wales and details about the days out.

    The best bit of my holiday was meeting you at the Black Sheep!

    I must do my blog soon, it will not be half as good as yours is.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Your blog will be fab, you just need to sit and write it! It was lovely to see you too, and I'm glad you had a lovely holiday 🙂 xx

  12. Gillian Roe says:

    Your break in Wales looks so tempting, especially the family walk. I am looking forward to some longer family walks this autumn. In the summer I tend to get my outdoors fix just by pottering in the garden but come autumn and winter, when I've been in the office Monday to Friday, I do like a good walk at the weekend. Good luck with the return to school, I hope it isn't too painful! x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Returning to school hasn't been too bad at all – quite painless for me, in fact! 🙂 Hope it's all gone well in your house too! xx

  13. Angel Jem says:

    Betwys y Coed is beautiful, and you look like you had a fab time. And the sock yarn looks lush; can't wait to see it finished!
    And most of all I can't wait to come and see you at Yarndale! Do you know where you'll be yet? I can come and find you straight away!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'm going to be in the Knit n Natter lounge with Lucy again, so you'll find me there on both days. It'll be lovely to see you too! xx

  14. Summer says:

    A trip to Wales sound so nice ♥ I hope your daughter feels better about school soon ♥

    • Winwick Mum says:

      We're nearly at the end of the first week and she's survived the early mornings (just!) and the school run hasn't been too busy, although I expect that will change next week. Still, it's been good to have a quieter week to get back into the swing of things! xx

  15. Lilbitbrit says:

    Betwys y Coed, is the place of my childhood, camping holidays of complete weeks of rain and wellies and macks but happy, happy days as you obviously had. Wish I was in UK to visit Yarndale, but maybe one year.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'm sure Betwys y Coed hasn't changed that much since you used to visit (apart from rather a lot of outdoor stores!). You'll love Yarndale if you ever do get chance to visit! xx

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