Monday, August 12, 2013

Family time

Here is Post two, Part two....
After finishing up my Wild Welsh weekend I got back to London late on Sunday night and got back to my hostel (where I would be for the next 4 nights) and got a good- much needed, nights sleep ready for my second leg of  my holidays.
I woke Monday morning and I was in much need of doing my washing. So I grabbed my pack and turned my notes into coins and sat in the launderette next to my hostel in my pajamas while everything in my pack went through the washing machine. I wash my own clothes but I have never used a launderette before so as I was sitting there I did not feel ashamed that I was in the middle of London sitting in my pajama's but quite satisfied with myself for successfully using the launderette ( I think it's a had to be there moment ha!)
Anywho, after I my clothes were squeaky clean I myself got squeaky clean. It is amazing what a decent shower and clean clothes can do. I was now ready again for more adventures. I wandered off into London. I went to Trafalgar Square. I enjoyed the National Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery and I booked a ticket to go see the musical 'Once'.
Once was incredible. I got a cheap ticket and I was expecting pretty crappy seats but I was in the stalls with a clear view of the stage! wonderful! The style of the musical was different to many I had seen. It was small scale. Only about 13 people in the cast and everything was done on stage. The story is about an Irish busker who has lost his way and meets a Czech woman who puts him back on track etc. The performers did such a great job, they made it quite the comedy and they did a great job of the music. I ran into a lovely couple who were sitting next me and I had quite a nice old time chatting to them too.  Such a lovely night.
Tuesday in London started off with catching up again with my lovely friend Astrid. I had seen her last week on the Sunday when I flew into London before my tour started but it was good to see her again. We went to the borough markets near London Bridge and enjoyed eating delicious foods. YUMMM. I then went down to Shakespeare's Globe to see Midsummer Nights Dream with Cathy and even though I had to stand in the sun for 3 hours to watch it I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've never seen a Shakespeare play done before but I would love to see more now after this.
During the evening I headed off to Soho to see what comedians were on and I found an Aussie playing so I went in. He wasn't amazing but still funny and it kept me entertained for the evening. Back at the hostel I ran into to aussie girls who were holidaying and ended up trying to find a pub and walking the city with them later on at night and that was lovely too.
Wednesday morning I woke up ready to start my day visiting my family. I caught the train to a place called Haslemere which is an hour (by train) south of London and was picked up by Cathy and Ciaran and taken back to what is called Shepherd's Hut where my Great Aunt Jane lives. I'd been there once before back in 2010 but it was a quick visit and raining so I didn't see much. This time however I spent the afternoon sitting looking over the South Downs from the back garden enjoying lovely chats with Jane. I was then taken out to the Farmhouse where my Grandfather grew up and the Milland Pottery which Jane built and then finally onto the Tuxlith Church and I got see the graves of my great Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles as well as graves for more of my ancestors.
The whole experience seeing Milland- the countryside, the properties, the church etc. was just incredible. It was very brief and I would love to go back and spend more time there but I just feel so fortunate to see a part of where I came from. My whole life I have heard my Grandfather- My Papa, talk proudly and fondly of this place and it's always been a bit of a mystery to me. Now however, it is something that I understand, now when I hand my British Passport over at immigration I hand my British identity over with it too.
Shepherd's Hut. 
Thursday I got the bus early and headed off to Leeds do some more family tracking. I spent time with Claire (Cathy's sister, My Dad's cousin... my second cousin?... see this is why I say cousins) and her lovely lovely family. Oh, I just had a wonderful time with them. Such a happy joyous family. We had some wonderful chats, watched some great movies, saw some great things- they took me to York and Richmond castle which are gorgeous! and they also took me to see my Grandfathers Cousin ( I have no idea what that makes them to me) Lucy and her husband George. I was told these two are great fun and it is true. They are both such happy chatty people and again I felt so fortunate to meet these people that have been a part of my family's life!

So after my whirlwind two weeks I was off bright and early back to Dublin on Sunday morning. Now it is Monday night and after washing, writing and crafting I am back to life as usual tomorrow morning.

What an incredible two weeks I have had and it has been an incredibly joyous, learning and beautiful two weeks. I had moments where I sat on the train and would look out at gorgeous rolling green hills and just smile to myself. Smile because I made this happen and here I am changing my world and making myself happy. The things I have dreamed about are my reality and now so much more. It's a liberating feeling when you understand truly that you are in control of your life. When you realize it is your drive, your choices and your power that gets you to where your dreams are. Knowing this makes me realize that I will never settle for anything. I will never settle for anything less than what I want because my life is my choice. Whatever the circumstance may be, whether I am broke, rich in love or alone... I know I am enough for myself and as long as I am following my dreams or on the way there, I know I will be ok.

Welsh Adventures.

Oh me, oh my it is already mid August and as usual time and his merry friends have stolen more weeks from me. 
I have just come back from two weeks in the UK and I have loved every moment of it. I'm going to do some separate posts because one post will be just too long. So, with out further a do here is Post One, Part One: Welsh Adventures. 
In Green is a rough guide of the first 5 days of the tour and in Purple is a rough indication of where I went for my adventure weekend on the Pembrokeshire Coast. 
A few months ago I googled Wales tours and up popped the homepage for Haggis tours. I found a great 5 days tour with a 2 day add on that sounded just amazing and very cheap, so I booked away. That is why just two weeks ago at 7 am I found myself in London, sitting on a mini bus with 8 other Aussies, 2 Americans and the 3 Brit's ready to start touring the Welsh lands. We went from North to South Wales and it was just amazing!
Day One: We started off with a quick stop to Stratford upon Avon where we saw Shakespeare's house and grave. We travelled on into wales where we saw some of Thomas Telford's fine engineering an aqua duct that was built for transporting narrow boats. Then we climbed a big hill to see some Ruins called Dinas Bran- these were incredible but just a taster of some of the amazing things we were about to see in the coming days. We headed then onto a little farm where would spend our first night in the hills. 
Dinas Bran ruins.
Day Two: We continued North through Wales and drove through Snowdonia National Park stopping at lakes and waterfalls to get some great shots until we got to the Island of Anglesey where the town with the longest name in world is situated. The weather was looking a bit grim so we decided to postpone our walk up Mt. Snowdon until after lunch in hope that the weather would improve. So off to Conwy we went for lunch. Conwy is a breath taking city. It is a coastal city with the most gorgeous Castle and the drive in is one of my most picturesque entrances to a city I have ever seen. We walked the Castle walls and went into the Castle. It was just amazing. 
On the top on Conwy Castle

The weather did clear up and we headed off to Snowdon where we walked a bit of Mt. Snowdon. We obviously didn't get to the peak but we went to a place where we could see it. Oh how I love this part of the world, the landscape is just incredible!
somewhere on Mt Snowdon.
 Snowdon was our last stop and then drove to a town called Caernafon where we stayed the night. This place is also gorgeous. Right on the sea with a big Castle- the Prince of Wales' Castle, towering over the town. 

The Prince of Wales Castle.
 Day Three: The day we started driving to the south of Wales. We made a few stops. The first stop we made in the town of Aberystwyth. The weather was pretty ordinary but I enjoyed this colorful little coastal town and the second stop was the Devils Bridge where we got to walk the gorge and see a pretty cool Waterfall. Then we drove through the Elan Valley which was again so picturesque! after a long day in the bus we got to Cardiff where we were based for the remainder of the trip.


Day Four: We drove out of Cardiff through the Brecon Beacons to a place called Hay on Wye which is book capital of the world. There are over 200,000 books in this little idyllic town and it was well worth the morning spent there. We went off to the Big Pit mine after Lunch and I really enjoyed it. This was one thing on the itinerary that I wasn't really all that phased by but after going I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I was fascinated to learn about this history of Coal and mines in Wales. Leaving the mines we drove along the 'Top Gear' road and finally after a long hot afternoon boiling in the bus we got to Tintern Abbey  which was just AMAZING. So serene and so gorgeous just nestled in the forest.

Tintern Abbey
Day Five: Spent in Cardiff. In the morning we headed off on a 'Hop on. Hop off' bus which was great way to see the sites. We then Walked past Cardiff Castle and saw all the stone animals on the castle walls. The Prince wanted a zoo but the council wouldn't let him have a zoo in the center of town so he asked someone to make animals on the castle walls and give them glass eyes to make them look real- make them look CREEPY more like it. We wandered the arcades of Cardiff- there are so many pretty shops hehe.
and finally our trip came to an end and I said good bye to the group because that evening I was to make the trip from Cardiff to the Pembrokeshire coast to start my adventure weekend.
I had such a great group. It was nice to be surrounded by Aussie's again and I made some really lovely friends. Haggis do a great tour and I strongly recommend them for anyone looking at doing Scotland/Wales adventures. The guides were fun and made a great tour atmosphere! 

After saying goodbye I made my way to the train station where I got the train to a place called Fishguard which is situated in the Pembrokeshire National park. I had a small debacle at the station because no one was there to collect me but after some messing around finding phones and numbers I got picked up and was ready to start my adventure weekend!
When booking the trip I was just excited by the sound of the action packed weekend that I didn't really think too much about my ability to do the tasks required. So on the Saturday morning as I sat with a group kitted out in my wet suit, buoyancy aid and helmet with my legs shoved uncomfortably in a kayak I was seriously wondering if I had bitten off more then I could chew. However once on the water I was fine. It was the most incredible experience kayaking next to these big cliffs and going in all these little caves. It was a clear day so the water was calm and you could see for miles. It was hard going on my poor arms but I loved every moment of it.
In the afternoon we went Coasteering. For those that don't know what Coasteering is (I didn't when I booked the trip) It is basically swimming in the ocean around coastal walls and climbing and jumping in the water from them. It was such an awesome experience! The water was a bit chilly and choppy but the buoyancy aids kept us a float. We swam, traversed walls, jumped off rocks into deep water, swam in caves and let the swell of the water suck us in and out and learnt about the sea life living in the area. INCREDIBLE.  I was so exhausted after my big day!
I took a coastal walk the following morning before we headed off (back to London) and despite the fact that I got rained on it was truly a breathtaking walk! 
Pembrokeshire Coast

 I have had the most amazing week travelling through Wales. I honestly did not know much about it so I came away with so much knowledge on its mythical and medieval history. I am just enamored by the beautiful landscape and I just love this part of the world.