A couple of weeks ago, I moved to North Wales. At the moment it doesn’t feel real. The air is salty and fresh, and the sun is shining, and the misty mountains of Snowdonia loom on the horizon. It doesn’t feel like a permanent move; it feels like a holiday.
I don’t think it’s meant to be this hot. Christmas is only three months away, and the chilly depth of winter is fast approaching. I suspect that soon I’ll be hit with “properly Welsh weather” . . . in other words, I’m preparing for wind and rain and snow. The kind of weather everyone warned me about when I told them about the move.
So while the sun is playing its card tricks in the sky, I decided to do a bit of exploring. There’s so much to see around here that it’s almost intimidating. There are trampolines in huge underground caverns, castles, caves, empty beaches, and all sorts of delicious-looking places to eat.
But there was only one place to visit first. I’d seen it from a distance while driving, and heard about it on history documentaries. Conwy. Its castle is the stuff of legend. Built by Richard I at the end of the 13th century, it’s withstood seiges and played host to kings and princes.
I expected it to be quite a big town, but when I boarded the train I was told by the inspector that you have to let the driver know you want to stop. I didn’t quite catch his reasoning, but when he led me through two carriages and out through the side door, I realised it was because the station is absolutely minute. You could only get off from one carriage, and if I wanted to get back, I’d have to wave down the train!
The town’s charms are immediate as soon as you step out of the station:
The castle was visible right away, too. I climbed the steps onto the wall, and was amazed once more by the Welsh countryside. From up there, I could see the trees covering the hills and the distant coast glistening in the sun.
Conwy itself has got that charming Olde Worlde feel, with traditional shopfronts, bakeries, sweet shops and all sorts of goodness to explore. My particular favourites were the bookshop/cafe hybrid, and the ice cream parlour.
After walking up and down hills, it was back to the tiny station, where I successfully managed to wave down the train. As the coast whizzed along beside me and the seagulls screeched outside my window, I thought about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful area.
It really is a writer’s paradise . . . I can’t wait to see what stories spring from this place!