Holiday (Honeymoon)

28th July to 3rd August 2001
Touring North Wales to South Wales
(Gogledd Cymru i De Gymru)

Castles, swimming and the University of Wales
Castellau, yn nofio a'r Prifysgol Cymru

We left the house at 12:05 on 28th July first taking Adrian's mother to Clowne where she stayed with his sister and family. It was a heavily laden car that went the hour and a quarter to Derbyshire along mainly motorways.
At the point of leaving his sister, the holiday began with an error that was to feature throughout - Adrian went the wrong way at the top of the lane from Ruth's house. Ruth had advised one direction to avoid traffic queues at Staveley, except he forgot immediately, realised the error and went all away around Clowne's large village to go the way he wanted. And there was a further directional error in Chesterfield too having bought petrol.
Still the journey went on in the futher direction intended, to climb and climb into the Peak District, to stop first at the reservoirs of the Pennines and perhaps remind Elena of home, where a reservoir sits in the middle of Voronezh. Except no one was swimming in the reservoir seen.
We went on with the intention of connecting with the Manchester motorway system and beyond (having first risen up to and come down the Snake Pass), although in Glossop Elena said that at this speed we would not be in North Wales until midnight. She once said this about going to London.
However, once we reached the motorway that connected us to Manchester's orbital motorway, it was dual carriageway roads and mainly 70 mph running all the way into Gogledd Cymru, with one main stop of course, which was the first time Adrian had experienced the fast road into the heart of Welsh speaking Wales. The signs are bilingual from the moment the border is crossed, though the percentage of speaking the language varies. Approaching one in five speaks Welsh as a first language, and the school system and television supports Welsh as a second language throughout. Adrian himself learnt Welsh to nearly O level standard when 16 years old because of his first (Welsh speaking) girlfriend at the time.
The first stop was Adrian's old holiday destination of Llanrwst in the Conwy valley. It was where Adrian's girlfriend was brought up and lived; we even passed the house where she and the family we used to visit lived. This was an original start to what was a honeymoon! Adrian noticed that the railway station had been moved into the body of the town. Elena checked out the house prices and decided that we are the same as Barton (the town near to cheaper New Holland), and said she would live in this town. It was bright and sunny for a walk around, and Adrian took her past the Inigo Jones ancient bridge over the river where people were paddling and playing in the water.
Having so paused it was time to move on to the bed and breakfast accommodation. This was on the edge of Penmachno. It was in a converted Ebenezer chapel. One attached cottage was once the chapel and the next cottage the manse. Now the chapel was the home of the proprieter, and the two cottages were let out as holiday cottages. The bed and breakfast room with ensuite shower and toilet was one of the chapel bedrooms - downstairs. This is where we stayed that first night, and to start the second day we went upstairs to have full Welsh breakfast (fruit juice, grapefruit pieces, cereals, and then cooked food with vegetarian alternative for Adrian) served by the man who owned the place. He had converted the chapel so that there was a downstairs and upstairs, and there was a room in the roof too. In the upper living area he enjoyed an added on conservatory too giving an intimacy with the surrounding lush vegetation. He was a very friendly man with his Liverpool accent, who, though he had lived in Penmachno for 16 years, had not been able to learn the Welsh that everyone else spoke despite trying.
It was a very fascinating and friendly place to stay, but there was one difficulty. The bed was hard and the springs lumpy, and though the food, the building and the friendliness instantly took away the complaint, it was a difficult night for comfort.
Penmachno accommodation
We went back to where we had gone in the slow gloom of the evening, and looked at the Afon Machno, a narrow river rushing towards the Afon Conwy. Our first stop of the day was just down the road, after the Machno had joined the Conwy, to see the Conwy Falls. For £1 each we went through the Foot and Mouth prevention disinfectant and descended to the viewing area of the falls, looking to the side and across at two falls of water coming down from well above our height to well below, with pools and waterfalls continuing on. Walking down to this viewing area meant walking back up, of course, which was a little effort.
Elena decided that as a result of this she did not want to see the Swallow Falls beyond Betws-y-Coed, and so we just touched the edge of Betws again on our way back to the Inigo Jones bridge, where Adrian for the first time drove over it himself to take the road up the other side of the Conwy valley towards Conwy the town. We were fortunate to park the car with relatively little difficulty and Elena decided we should go into the castle.
This was very good. We both enjoyed the views all around from one of its towers on this bright sunny day. We enjoyed walking around its various parts. We took in the history that this castle was built in the thirteenth century to suppress the Welsh - the original Britons with their Celtic language who had fled into Wales with the coming on the Anglo-Saxons into Britain and then the Norman-French who established the modern monarchy and aristocracy. Many photographs were taken, mostly of the photogenic one, always with an eye on sending some to Russia physically as well as electronically.
Conwy also included a walk along its harbour front, including a photograph of the smallest house in Britain, which had outside two women who wore what is called Welsh national costume. Adrian told Elena that this is rubbish as it was a Victorian (and English) tourist invention. Elena dropped her camera outside the smallest house but fortunately it carried on working despite some damage.
Then Adrian took a car ride through Deganwy and the Victorian resort of Llandudno, before returning back to the A55 for the dual carriageway road to Bangor, where he once spent 7 weeks in his first failed bid to go to university. Elena did not like the slope on the road that Adrian suspected was the hated Glan yr Afon, but did not recognise because of the (visited) Safeway supermarket and car park at its top. This narrow road was a killer, but by the end of his 7 weeks Adrian had acquired his legs all those years ago. We went down it and up again to the old church like university building, the Arts block, which has a terrace that is on the top of the hill with views.
Next stop was Caernarfon, where the castle to suppress the Welsh is much smaller than appearances because most of what is seen are its walls. We did not go in, as there seemed to be nothing there for the price, but stayed at the water's edge walking around and photographing various views.
It was a busy and full day because then we took the road to the mountains of Eryri (Snowdonia) going through Llanberis and up past Snowdon, returning via Llyn Gwynant to roads that did take us to the Lleyn Peninsula, and the inn pinpointed from its postcode exactly by the CD ROM. We travelled with directions and printed out maps with pinpoint accuracy from the accommodation, though this did not stop Adrian's several wrong turnings.
Bryncelyn Inn
This inn was Bryncelyn at a point near Morfa Nefyn and Nefyn. We paid the money and the continental breakfast was already sealed and waiting in the room, with a fridge, one chair and a top on the fridge to eat from. The provision of fruit was added to our daytime provisions. We had a drink in the inn where one glass of wine for Elena was £3.20 and the pint of beer for Adrian £1.80, a staggering £5 for two drinks. It took the gloss off the cheaper price for staying there.
Day 3 was another bright hot day. Adrian signed out with "Dr and Dr Worsfold! Elena wanted to go to the beach, whichever beach she could swim from. We started by going to Nefyn, where the car parking was expensive and so we had the briefest of looks at the sea from there. We went south instead, as intended anyway, but found that Pwllheli was a big traffic jam. There was a harbour there but no beach, but we could see one. So we went on, to Abererch near Pwllheli in fact and used the private car park there to get on to the public beach. Elena was able to change on the sand dunes for her bikini, to toast herself under the sun, and then go into the sea. It felt so good for her to be swimming at last.
After quite some time there we went on the road towards Aberystwyth (eventually) taking us across the Cob, a man made land link across wateer with a fee of only 5p (5c in Welsh!) and only decided after this at the last passing minute to go to Portmeirion - turning around to go back to the entrance! When Elena saw the entry fee of £5 she said we should not bother, but Adrian felt that it had taken long enough to park and may as well go in. He had not seen it before, mainly on the basis of its artificiality stuck inside North Wales. Adrian had always rather gone on the Rheilffordd Ffestiniog but this time did not.
Portmeirion, designed by Clough-Ellis on an Italian model, has a photo opportunity at every angle with its highly stylised buildings and various colour-washed walls. The buildings rise up around a central rectangle of grass and plants that take advantage of the mild wet climate. So a lot of photographs were taken. However, Adrian agreed with Elena's view that it was "not natural" for the landscape. He also wondered what stops people entering into the village from the sea and beach. Adrian and Elena walked down there but not actually on to the beach. Inevitably Portmeirion is false and maybe suitable as a filmset for The Prisoner but not really anything else.
Time had so passed and there was such a distance to cover that the journey to Aberystwyth was pretty much direct from then on. Hopes to pass through Blaenau Ffestioniog with its slate slag heaps and even Bala were dropped. Instead passing Llyn Trawsfynnydd and its nuclear power station was all that was possible, and there was the briefest of stops in Machynlleth (pronounced "Ma-chun-chleth").
These Welsh words sound in Russian like "bad language" but Adrian cautioned Elena from using this response in public. Welsh, he said, is a lyrical language and the closest to the original of Britain.
In Aberystwyth we had a meal of fish and chips in a cafe that said it was award winning but we agreed that the fish and chips in New Holland are better. We did not see the front, which was a regret for Adrian, but the town itself looked uninteresting at this viewing.
The accommodation had to be reached, and we knew from the CD ROM map that it was far off. We did not realise, however, just how remote it was. It was up and up via long roads and eventually single tracks up into the hills and woods. We found it however, a farmhouse where the floor in our room sloped down slightly. The bathroom and toilet was not ensuite but it was private. The people were friendly but kept a proper professional distance and we were served a full Welsh breakfast in the morning. We were able to go a little into their land to see the mountains of Gogledd Cymru in the distance, Adrian looking in the evening before retiring and Elena with Adrian the next morning. It was back to a full Welsh breakfast that next morning as well.
accommodation near Aberystwyth
This was another day of some distance. However, an earlier thought about not going into Aberystwyth was changed, and so we went in in order to buy socks and film (!) and indeed for Adrian to continue his university tour. Whilst Elena sat on the sea front, Adrian walked on to go to stand by the sea front Prifysgol Cymru Aberystwyth building. Some shopping continued.
The university tour continued because the next stop was Llandbedr Pont Steffan, with the Anglicised name of Lampeter. This is a university town in little more than a village. Now if Portmeirion was supposed to be surreal, this place was. The maps positioned everywhere did not match reality, especially when it came to the visit of the Theology department, where Adrian left a request for research papers. Nor was there any sense in finding a way to public toilets, where no entries made another missed turning impossible to return to, and where queues of traffic seemed unwilling to move and Adrian just drove around and through them. They decided to go to the separately positioned disabled toilet elsewhere in the town, only to find that they were quite standard. Leaving this isolated place was in the end a relief, though uncertain quite which way to go, on the road to Aberteifi (Cardigan).
Elena wanted to buy a cardigan in Cardigan, but there were none. The only view there was a river esturary. There were some limited shopping possibilities, and Adrian bought a copy of the Mabinogion (tales that include the Welsh version of the King Arthur myth) and a cleaned up version of Bede writing on religious life after the Roman Empire including about the clash of Celtic and Roman Christianity that had its resolution at the Synod of Whitby. We also ate a tuna filled baked potato each.
We then headed for the accommodation that night. This took us into the "Little England" area of Cymru south of Hwllffordd (Haverfordwest). It was a very friendly potatoes and sheep farm at Rectory Farm, Walwyn's Castle, comprising 40 acres immediately but 200 in total area farmed. Farms of course do need to diversify as income from sheep is so low this year, although Elena was impressed with the house and thought British farmers must be wealthy. It was not ensuite, and also there were children there which nearly was a problem once hopping from bedroom to bathroom. Chosen by recommendation by a nearby bed and breakfast that was full, the friendliness was almost as if this was the first time they had had visitors. It was a sort of bed and breakfast where you are offered tea and coffee in the evening and can watch the television. The sun, which had been been hiding for much of the day, shone brightly in the evening. Outside, while Elena rested, and after his walk into the lane beyond, Adrian had a long conversation with the wife of the house about many things. He heard how the children were not being brought up to speak Welsh as the husband did not speak it even though the wife did, plus living where Wales is historically Anglicised it is not spoken much in the area. As well as being friendly the bed was more comfortable, and a full Welsh breakfast followed again the next morning.
accommodation near Walwyn's Castle
We stayed there in order to see Broad Haven where a photograph in the A View of Wales Holiday Magazine 2001 (a brochure) had been attractive to Elena. After a little diversion in and out of Little Haven, Elena noted that a little bit of trickery with the camera focus had been used to produce the attractive Broad Haven picture in the brochure. Unlike Little Haven it was easy to park using a nearby residential street.
Broad Haven is still attractive, but not the enclosed impression given by the photograph (which is also far too green). It is, as it says, broad, and for us the tide was out so we sat in an area near what can be just about be called a cave. Elena changed into her swimming bikini and tried the water but did not stay in it long. Adrian stayed on the beach, writing.
From here we went on the road to Hwllffordd again and then on towards Pembrokeshire, stopping to see from below the high level toll bridge that links Pembroke to the west. That toll had been 75p/c which was again a poor reflection on the high toll of the Humber Bridge back at home (£2.40).
Adrian stopped in Pemboke only because there was a free hour's on street parking, and this was quite enough to go into the very interesting Pembroke Castle. We climbed to the top of its highest tower, to see views all around, and Elena being braver than Adrian climbed up the outer peak of the tower whilst Adrian stayed on the walkaround. As well as walking around its other parts, we had beveredges on the castle terrace. We were back to the car just in time to move on.
Finding out the steep parking charges in the centre of Saundersfoot, once we found the way there, Adrian parked in a high residential street and both of us walked down to the very busy beach. There Elena found the water much warmer than Broad Haven. She could see why it was popular, enclosed as it is by the Tenby to Saundersfoot bay. The water stayed shallow for quite a distance, without sudden changes in depth, and so seemed safe, but Elena still went out quite far. She did plenty of sunbathing too, which Adrian did involunarily and so his face went a further shade of red.
With this done Adrian walked back to the car and drove it to pick up a waiting Elena. It was time again for mysterious roads out and wrong turnings, because we did not want the Tenby Road. We ended up coming back into Saundersfoot. So we went out the way we came in, and got stuck behind one of those deliberate slow drivers on a 60 mph road. Once overtaken Adrian made progress, and got to the motorway until a suitable junction to leave, and then managed to not only to get lost in Abertawe (Swansea), but end up high on a housing estate instead of at sea level alongside the coast.
We went down and down, and finally found the accommodation five minutes before the time expired of when we expected to arrive (but a little over an hour from the absolute last time to turn up).
accommodation at Swansea
The Lyndale Hotel, properly a guest house, is one of those places where many rooms hold people for short periods of time along a road of competing hotels and guest houses. Matters like parking were explained. We decided to have an evening meal at the local pub. This meant vegetarian lasagne for Adrian and lasagne for Elena, though when it eventually came both main meals in pots were liquified. The server was switched around who go what but we were unsure which was vegetarian and which was not, and they were probably the wrong way around when we ate them.
We finished with a stroll on the beach. Elena went to the water, thus putting her feet into the sea at the third location for the day. Then it was back to the guest house which, I noticed only later, had a notice against bringing sand in. You get the feeling there is there a world of experience and tried and known methods for handling guests! You start breakfast from between 8 am and 8.15, and if you don't you lose it. Next morning we had a knock on the door to say it was about to finish, but we were just about ready and so were able to get it. It was a full Welsh breakfast as provided.
This was our last full day: August 2nd. We woke to rain, heavy rain, through which we walked taking the advice that it was easier to walk into the centre of Abertawe (Swansea) than go by car with its expensive parking. But we walked and only saw the inside of the Tesco supermarket, before walking back through the heavy rain. As a result in the car we were dropping moisture on to the insides of the windows, and had to take corrective measures for this problem as well as running the windscreen wipers as we went down Oystermouth Road, past the university there (thus we saw and passed every part of the Univesity of Wales except Caerdydd/ Cardiff) and we went into Mumbles (the headland from Abertawe). We seemed to go on all kinds of narrow raods and through housing estates, occasioning on small coves of sand now and again, once at our level and sometimes looking from above. Elena might have wanted to swim again, but it was never dry enough or warm enough as we ventured deeper into the Gower. Beaches seemed either inaccessible or very expensive to park near, and we never got close to the Three Cliffs beach she wanted to visit on a narrow road from her middle near-namesake of Nicholaston.
In the end we took the road back. We were due to visit Elena's friend who lived in Voronezh but has married. Ordinarily we should have rejoined Oystermouth Road to run directly to the M4 to get to the Rhondda (pron. Rhontha) valley. But somehow Adrian ended up driving through the middle of Swansea and getting to the motorway over a road with speed bumps built on it, though it was a busy road.
We left the motorway at a services, and having gone wrong again got on to a road that went over one hill to get to a series of newer roads going towards Treorci. We could follow the directions so far but then got lost knowing that we were well north of where we were supposed to be. Fortunately Adrian asked in a bicycle shop where the owner knew exactly where the destination address was, as his grandmother was born there. And the husband of Elena's friend knew who she was and who he was, as indeed many people in those parts know so many others.
So we had a meal, met the baby and saw Russian television brought in by satellite, and her husband arrived home from his retailing family business job. Elena and friend spoke Russian, quite often, and we men spoke in English and all of us spoke in English.
After some four hours there we left to carry on up the valley. This became a road that snaked itself up the high slope hill and down again, before we went through the Brecon Beacons, suddenly in Mid-Wales rather than South Wales. We passed plenty of sheep, all doomed probably with the Foot and Mouth disease restrictions closing many lay-bys for cars for quite a stretch. Footpaths were closed for a far greater distance.
We arrived at the final accommodation, and inn where this time there was a full Welsh breakfast the next day. This was the Tai'r Bull Inn which was quite good but expensive, with an ensuite bathroom. At breakfast we listened to two Americans psychologise about their friend back home. It led Adrian to reflect that Americans psychologise in the unattainable pursuit of happiness, Russians are forever looking for the scientific truth of something (when it isn't scientific) and the British just don't know.
accommodation at Libanus near Brecon
The final visit was a swift ride to Rhayader and a look around Elan Valley, which Adrian did as a child before venturing for the first time to North Wales. We went on what can be a mountain road route to Aberystwyth. We went back to Rhayader and began an endurance of a ride home. A breakdown caused a long delay on the mid-Wales route out of the country towards England, and so Adrian took another route for a better speed. He got into a services break at the Shrewsbury bypass which was positively dangerous to leave, reminding Elena of Voronezh traffic standards. There was a fast bit but a route via north Birmingham A5 was nothing but bumper to bumper slow traffic before getting to the dual carriageway north. The M1 was joined, with traffic going south being stationary or moving slightly in a save like fashion. Adrian and Elena picked up Adrian's mother at Clowne, where she had been staying all these days, and made a good journey home, probably intercepted by an unmarked and dangerous police car checking for speeding on the last road to Barrow and New Holland, this car with the number 1HU passed at the roadside, soon overtaking me doing 67 mph at massive speed, stopping ahead and then, being passed, doing a three point turn to return back to where it had been probably. Anyone turning left into this road seeing that oncoming car in their lane would have had a large fright. The realisation of what had happened for Adrian soured the end of the ride home.
Nevertheless the holiday was good, a honeymoon where for all but one day there was a set time to get up and every day there was a set time to leave the premises. It was a touring holiday of places seen and places missed, a survey of where Elena might prefer to spend more time another time, and for Adrian a visit to old haunts and new places in a country of some emotional attachment.


Our details

Llwyn Derw (Capel Ebenezer)

Mrs Maureen Pritchard
Llwyn Derw
Penmachno Road
LL24 0PW

Turn off A5 at B4406 Conwy Falls/ Penmachno sign
Go half a mile
Cottage on left just before the closed woollen mill.

29th July

Inn, Bryn Cynan, between Nefyn and Morfa Nefyn
LL53 6AA
01758 720493


30th July

Llethyr Melyn farm SY23 4HU
near Trawscoed
8 miles south of Aberystwyth

01974 261400


Coast road A487
Left for Devil's Bridge/Pontarfynach A4120
Quick right turn to Trawscoed (Crosswood) B4340
Travel 5 to 6 miles through Trawscoed
Turn right Llaniliar and immediate left
Along this lane one mile
Farm to right with silos
Bear left 3/4 mile through the woods

31st July

Rectory Farm, Walwyn's Castle

01437 781342


From Haverfordwest/ Hwllffordd
B4327 to Dale
6 miles down Walwyn's Castle
250 yards left again, B&B signs but don't follow those
Instead follow road as bears right for 1/4 mile
As road rises, it's there

1st August

The Lyndale Swansea
324 Oystermouth Road, Swansea
Swansea SA1 3UJ
Phone 01792 653882

£12 per person loss on non-arrival
Arrive between 5 pm and 7 pm

2nd August

Tai'r Bull Inn Brecon
Libanus, Brecon
Powys LD3 8EL
Phone 01874 625849

£42 with £10 paid