LLandudno, LLandeusant, Brecon Beacons National Park and Cardiff have been all the places we have laid our heads this last week on our yearly, epic road trip. Roughly a thousand miles has been traveled in the aging Scenic and we are all a little surprised that at 16 years old, she actually made it home again in one piece.
But here I am, sat back in my usual spot under the kitchen window. The car made it home and didnt self destruct, I ddidn’t drive off any cliffs (a real concern on the mountain roads) and no one got murdered along the way (also a real concern after five hours stuck in a tin can with a five and eight year old!)
Llandudno was our first port of call. Bear treated us to a night in the Travelodge in Rhyl and from there we explored Llandudno town and sea front.
Bear took the bears onto the front to teach them how to catch crabs whilst I did a little retail therapy, it was bliss and so thoughtful of him. I struggle to walk on sand and shingle or any other uneven ground and so Bear let me go off and do my own thing for a few hours.
We rounded off the day with a walk down the pier to the amusements and dinner at a lovely little sandwich place called the Loaf, that gave Bear food poisoning!
Needless to say Bear wont be eating prawn mayo sandwiches again for a long while as by eight that evening he was hauled up in the hotel room, hugging the loo and praying for death to come quickly; he was so poorly. The river of vomit soon became a river of s$&t too and I really feel for the person who had to clean that room after he was finished being ill.
Eight hours of violent projections later and the whole place needed a hazmat team to come in and sort it out. Everyone was exhausted (not easy to sleep with someone praying to the porcelain god a few feet away from you) but very glad to be in the car and on the road again, headed south.
Llandeusant was the next stop on our travels and a solid three and a half hours drive through the entire of the center of wales; what a beautiful country. It reminded me very much of the time I spent in New Zealand, the countryside is very similar in a lot of ways and this last week the weather was amazing to boot.
We did our usual and chose to stay in the YHAs Wales has on offer and Llandeusant specifically because of the activity center on offer there; Arc.
We originally were all booked in to take part in a caving activity as well as rock climbing but after a discussion with the centre manager it was decided that although a five year old is technically allowed to take part in the sport, BB4 is a tiny wee thing and it was decided it would be too dangerous to take her into the cave system as she could fall into a crevice and be lost; no-one would be small enough to go in after her.
She was hugely disappointed but in the end a separate activity was put on specifically to cater to her and a local artist took her and myself off to her own home to create willow woven dream catchers with us both. BB4 loved this and the drama of losing out on the activity was short lived. I was a little gutted I got left behind too but glad in a way as it gave BB3 and Bear a chance to bond a little, without me in the way.
We all took part in the climbing activity although, where BB3 shone in the caves, BB4 shone on the cliff face. The climb took place out on a real rock face, roughly a house height tall. Each of us was tasked to climb to the top, touch a clamp and them come back down; no easy feet on a real rock face when you have never climbed before.
I bossed the first climb but failed the more advanced, second climb. My upper body strength failing me and the pain from my back and legs by this point becoming a challenge to say the least but I made it to the top at least once and I was so proud of myself and utterly terrified the whole way up.
Bear was like Spider-man up the wall; he looked so comfortable and at ease with it. In stark contrast BB3 was terrified once he had both feet off the floor, he never made it past ten feet in the end before having to be helped back down. He was so scared he wet himself, bless his heart.
BB4, the littlest, tiniest thing the center had ever taken on a climb, attacked that wall like it was an army to be conquered. She panicked at first when she realised she was off the ground by some way but once she realised she was attached she refused to give in no matter how scared she got. In her head, the only way was up!
I couldn’t have been any prouder of myself or of the Bears, we all did fantastically well, all things considered; certainly something I would consider taking part in again some time, especially the caving once BB4 is big enough. We all slept like logs that night, for sure.
We wild camped the night after Llandeusant in the Beacons National Park, before heading the remainder of the way to Cardiff and our last stop over on the trip.
I discovered I don’t like Cardiff too much, its too built up and busy. It does however make a great base to explore the local area and we found Caerphilly castle just down the road.
The bears and I loved exploring the castle so much that we came back again on our second day and did the castle again and took in the Caerphilley Big Cheese festival too; which was amazing, before heading off on an epic five hour drive home. One mostly characterised by en endless drone of ‘Are we there yet?’
All in all we have had a fantastic holiday, even with the illness early on. The only question now is…
Where do we go next year?