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 ...
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)
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?! J
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!