Friday, June 11:  Castles and Houses of North Wales

A full Welsh breakfast substituted pork and leek patties for sausage, which was an improvement. Sampled the black pudding also -- barley, herbs and pig’s blood, about on a par with haggis.

Met Jake, the elderly Border Collie with bad hips. Reminded me a lot of Abby. He was good with the boys (and they with him), even though the owners were not quite too sure how they’d all get on. Set out to find a phone, and found a phone box, only it had no phone in it. Back the other direction to the town square, where I found a phone and learned about how to drop off the rental car at the ferry dock tomorrow morning. The procedure is simple enough, but the drop-off charge has grown from “approximately 10” to “a pound a mile, and its forty-five miles.” Looks like I’ll have to straighten that one out later.

First stop today, the dramatic Colwyn castle just a few hundred yards away on a massive rock alongside the river. (Photo 211) It had decayed some, and there were few exhibits, but we could walk up a few of the towers and get great views of the harbor and town. Visited the commercial armory, Knights Gone By, across the street afterwards. Passed on the 2,000 wearable suit of armor.

Then it was down along the harbor to Britain’s Smallest House, a two-story, two-room house about four feet wide right opposite the quay. The woman couldn’t change a 10 note, so we only had enough change for the boys to go in. Small-time operation, I guess. David took a movie for me on his camera. (Photo 212)

From here we walked up High Street, hoping to locate contact lens solutions at the chemist or optometrist. No luck. So into Plyn Mawr, the oldest home in Britain, dating from 1580 and the first home to a Welsh family in the town. It has been recently restored at a cost over 2 million. It was a great example of an Elizabethan home and contained interesting descriptions of life during that time. (Photo 213)

We decided to take lunch at a tea-room just up High Street, but discovered later that the specials board advertising sandwiches, scones and tea lured us into a “pantry” just before the tea-room itself. No matter, the prices were good, the sandwiches were good and the scone with clotted cream was delightful.

Before heading back to the room, we checked out the town Internet cafe -- asked at the bakery counter across the street and they took us downstairs to the kitchen to use AOL on a single machine. No disasters, just a need to get Robert’s autograph to Gig Harbor ASAP for an upcoming soccer tournament.

Back to the room and we regrouped for a quick trip out to the castle at Caernarfon, another of Henry I’s castles designed to contain Wales, and a day’s journey away in ancient times. Today it took about 25 minutes to get there. Parked too far away, for fear of getting caught inside another walled city, and a gentle rain fell intermittently. The original Prince of Wales was born here in the 1300’s and the current Prince Charles was invested here as the current Prince of Wales back in 1971. I warned the boys that they might see a similar event again in their lifetimes. (Photo 214)

For dinner, we returned to Alfredo’s, where they received us like old friends. Had fun with the hostess, when she asked if we were OK and I told her the boys were bickering. She offered to take them for the week and let them wash the dishes. On the way out, Robert took a tumble across the street on the town square, and the police stopped to investigate. I offered that we’d be taking him up for a walk around the city on the town wall in a few minutes to see how he’d do.

Photo 210  Conwy Harbor
Photo 211  Conwy Castle
Photo 212  Smallest House
Photo 213  Plyn Mawr

Photo 214  Carenarfon Castle
Photo 215  Rover 75, Loaded
Photo 216  VW Passat, Ireland