Exploring Wales

After the excitement of the last couple of days, we decided to take it easy, catch up on the blog and some laundry and enjoy the quiet, country life. After our laundry was hung up to dry and the blog was complete, we headed out for a walk around the farm. The cottage that we are staying in is dated around 1700 while the main house next door is dated around 1400. How cool is that?!?!? We wandered around the yard and the hills, petted some of the baby sheep, and basked in the sunshine and the amazing beauty of the area.

We needed to go to town to get some groceries so thought that while we were out and about with the car, we would do some exploring. We didn’t have to drive far to arrive at Lake Vyrnwy. This reservoir in the county of Powys, Wales, was built in the 1880s for Liverpool Corporation Waterworks to supply Liverpool with fresh water. It flooded the head of the Vyrnwy valley and submerged the village of Llanwddyn. (much like the Shellmouth Dam and Lake of the Prairies). There is a little convenience store and gas station that is still called Llanwddyn but I’m not sure if this would be on the original site. The dam itself is quite impressive. It was the first large stone-built dam in the United Kingdom, and is built partly out of great blocks of Welsh slate. It is 355 metres (1,165 ft) long and has a road bridge running along the top. It is decorated with over 25 arches and two small towers (each with four corner turrets). We drove across the dam, parked the car and walked along the lake, back across the dam and down into the sculpture park in the valley below the dam. The park is quite beautiful and there are several totems carved into standing trees and re-erected fallen trunks. At the little restaurant near the car park, we had a cream tea (finally!!) and a cider. As we headed out we stopped the car at the straining tower which looks like a miniature castle.  Its purpose is to filter out material in the water with a fine metal mesh, before the water flows along the aqueduct to Liverpool. This whole area is absolutely beautiful and so very peaceful. It is a bird watchers paradise and we enjoyed our walk, listening to the different bird calls and the gentle waterfalls coming through the dam. The peace was only disturbed by six fighter jets zooming through the valley on what I can only assume (and hope) was a training exercise. A pretty awesome first day in Wales!

Tomorrow we are off to meet relatives on my Gran’s side and hopefully track down her childhood home. Can’t wait!!

Our Airbnb…


We even have a wood stove…img_5385img_5342



Lake Vyrnwy.


The Straining Tower


Wood carvings out of trees…


This one is called the Pecking Order…img_5349

Tried some traditional Welsh Cider…


Here is some Welsh for you to learn – all the signs here are in both languages


Farewell to Family, Hello Wales

We packed up our bags in Cheltenham, said goodbye to our BNB hosts and headed back up to Tamworth. We arrived at Ron and Glenys’ at about 10:30 and we headed out to explore the town. For us history buffs, Tamworth is a wealth of interesting facts. It has roots back to the Middle Ages and was made into an important place by King Offa of Mercia (a Saxon kingdom that roughly corresponded to the Midlands of England). Offa reigned from 755 to 796. He built a palace at Tamworth and it could be said that Tamworth was the capital of Mercia. However it was burned by the Danes in 874. Tamworth was rebuilt in 913 by the Ethelflaeda,  King Alfred’s sister. She was called the Lady of the Mercians. Anyone who has watched “The Last Kingdom” will know these names well. Tamworth was destroyed again but a fortified castle was built by the Normans and this castle is still standing today. We wandered through the rooms and up the staircases of the castle and were able to get a very good glimpse of how life was during the ages. The town was destroyed by fire in 1345, visited by the plague in the 16th and 17th centuries and was home to Sir Robert Peel, who was the Prime Minister during Queen Victoria’s reign. Because of Peel’s Manifesto which laid down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party is based, there has been some talk of moving Parliament to Tamworth and declaring it the capital city.  Based on the restoration project that is taking place on the Parliament buildings in London, my opinion would be that it will not be happening anytime soon.

We stopped for a Sunday carvery lunch at the local pub – roast pork and roast turkey with yorkshire pudding and all the fixings before heading off to meet Glenys’ sister Elayne in Polesworth. On the way we stopped at the house where Glenys and her sister grew up and where their father lived until his death. Another 10 minute drive brought us to Elayne’s. We had a wonderful visit and the five of us chatted like old friends. Before we knew it, it was time to leave. We had a two hour drive to our BNB in Wales and thought that we should get on the road. We said our final goodbyes and I believe that we will definitely see each other again – either back here or maybe even in Canada. So wonderful connecting with family!!

Though most of the drive to Wales was uneventful, we did run into a little bit of a problem navigating some of the narrow, winding roads that Wales is famous for.  However, we arrived at our BNB about a half hour west of Welshpool at about 8 PM. We are staying on a working farm with cattle and sheep. It is so peaceful and so very beautiful. The weather promises to be very nice for the next few days so we are very excited about wandering through the Welsh countryside. I hope that the pictures will do it justice.

The Enigma..

In Tamworth you will find a monument to the Enigma Code and to Colin Grazier who was from Tamworth.  Colin helped capture enigma code books from a German U-boat.  Before drowning he and his companion from Scotland were able to hand the code books to a young seaman who was able to deliver them to naval intelligence.

The day before we took this picture we were at the cemetery where Colleen’s great great grandfather is buried and Gleny had noticed a headstone with another connection to the enigma code.  How interesting that two people who lived so close played such a vital role in the cracking this code.  If anyone is interested there is a great movie that came out in 2014 called The Imitation Game which chronicles the group lead by Alan Turing and how they broke the code.


Tamworth Castle..


Col sitting in a seat carved out of rock – The Wishing Stone. What do you suppose she wished for?img_5308

Queen Ethelflaeda..img_5323img_5294img_5295

Col meeting her cousin Elayne for the first time.


From left to right.  Richard, Glenys, Col, Elayne and Ron….