Sunday, 10 August 2014

Croeso, Cymru

Since leaving Scotland and driving south we have been mostly in Wales. Three countries and no passports required. Love it. 

On our way south we stopped off at the teeny tiny o-l-d village of Kemberton in Shropshire where a branch of the family had lived in the 1800's. No evidence of them in the churchyard though, even though some still lived there as little as 100 years ago.

We spent 4 nights at a little cottage "Stargazer's Loft" near Hay-on-Wye, Actually pretty much on the border, so we slept in England and shopped and ate in Wales. Also, there were only two windows at either end of the loft so not really much stargazing either.

I'm a bit over driving, but we had a good look around. Hay is famous for books and their annual book festival. There are bookshops everywhere and lots of choice for food as well plus two castles. Trouble with books is that they are heavy...but it cant be helped. A couple just begged to come with us. 

One day we drove to Dolgellau in north west Wales, in the Snowdonia National Park, but near the coast to visit a friend of Lauren's. She was staying in her grandmother's cottage high up on a hill, accessible by a very steep, single track road. Luckily the only car we met on the way up, was her Mum at the farm gate, and on the way down another at the intersection of the main road. Whew. 

Another day we went to Ludlow and then on to Llanymynech. Ludlow is very quaint full of all that Old English charm, black and white timbered houses and buildings, a market (with more books begging to join those others we'd taken in at Hay) and a castle ruin dating back to 1086. Llanymynech is associated with family as the James and Thomas families (try tracing those names in this part of the world) came from border towns which were sometimes Wales, sometimes Hereford or Shropshire depending on where the border was at the time. Today the border goes right through Llanymynech.

And then it was time to leave and relocate to Cardiff. However, we came to Cardiff via Taunton ! Seems stupid I know, to spend so much time in the car on motorways when I'm so over driving. But, Lauren's boots were there and we thought we should go and get them while we still had the use of a rental car.

It was good to be able to visit and catch up with some of the Somerset folk who we had stayed with earlier in our trip. We caught a glimpse of some of the balloons at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta as we headed back toward Wales in the evening. Trying to take photos at speed though proved a bit tricky (not me mind, Lauren was the photographer).

So now we are in Cardiff, which seems like a great place, lovely architecture, a good balance of old and new, and a busy town centre with great shopping and food. 

The real reason for visiting Cardiff was so that I could attend my "Try Out" for the Pack (volunteers) for the Rugby World Cup 2015. So I have done that this morning. 20,000 applied, 10,000 were invited to attend a "Try Out" and 6,000 will be lucky enough to be involved at the actual event. It was a great experience: id photos, some informal mixing, icebreaker activities (rugby passes etc), a short video about what the roles could entail, a 20 minute interview and then uniform fittings. Now the waiting begins as they don't expect to be informing the successful 6,000 until Jan/Feb 2015.

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