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December, 2017

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In early December, we traveled to visit our friends in North Wales during a snow storm. The snow settled on the mountains of Snowdonia and the inland areas, but it soon melted once the rain started failing by the coast and in the towns. On the Saturday, we spent the day and evening in the picturesque walled town of Conwy. It is a World Heritage Site on the Conwy Estuary with narrow cobbled streets and historic buildings. The most impressive of these is the 13th century castle built by Edward 1st. We went up on the walls of the castle but the weather was not ideal for circumnavigating the whole town!

We browsed the small shops full of arts and crafts, where all the goods were labelled in Welsh and English. We spent some time in Hinton’s book shop on the High Street looking for inspiration. Another delight was the Royal Cambrian Academy in Crown Lane. It was there that I saw a bronze sculpture of my old art teacher Mavis Blackburn R.C.A.M.A. who was a member of the Academy. We popped into the church hall next to the Tourist Information Centre to pick up some small handmade gifts and decorations before stopping for a pint in the Erskine Arms. It was warm and cosy inside and not surprisingly fully booked up for evening meals.

The street entertainment commenced at 4pm with a jester, a troupe of Morris dancers, sword fighting and roast chestnuts on Lancaster Square. Then later appeared the spectacular Medieval Parade led by the red dragon with knights and ladies bearing flaming torches. It was great fun but without a tripod was difficult to photograph the moving people!

After that we had a great meal at the Castle Hotel on the High Street. It is an old coaching inn which has an extensive collection of Victorian artwork. The hotel has had some famous guests of honour in the past, Robert and his father George Stephenson of railway fame and also the Duchess of Kent with her daughter Princess Victoria. Although the surroundings were very impressive the evening meal was actually reasonably priced.

We retired later to the Albion Ale House in Uppergate Street. It is a fine example of 1920’s architecture with a unique baronial fireplace and the home of ales from four Welsh breweries. Don’t let anyone tell you that English visitors are not welcome in a Welsh pub – it’s simply not true! While we were there a group of young men (who looked like Rugby players) started to sing in Welsh and the rest of the people joined in. They had marvellous voices and it was an absolute treat. A rollicking end to a festive day!


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