Friday, 19 July 2013


Well it's been an interesting month or so. I turned 30 at the end of May and spent a busy week with family. My uncle has a birthday a few days before mine and we had a lovely day with Bee, my mum, auntie and uncle at my grandparents house, enjoying a joint celebration with lots of presents and munching on two lots of cake! 

For my birthday I'd chosen to spend the day in one of my favourite places: Wales. I'd wanted to visit Llanberis for a long time and even though it's a long drive my birthday was the best opportunity.

Sadly the morning of my birthday was overcast and rainy but we packed the car up anyway, making sure we had lots of warm jumpers and coats. It's about a 2-hour drive to Llanberis so we set of early, grabbing a McDonalds breakfast on the way. Yummy!

LLanberis is beautiful. It's a small village at the foot of Mount Snowdon, within the incredible Snowdonia National Park. It's the site of the famous Welsh slate mines, both the abandoned and still working. Slate quarrying is very wasteful, only approximately 10% of the slate is used and the rest is discarded.
So much of the landscape is shaped by the huge rock faces of the quarries and mountainous piles of waste slate.

An interesting historical note (I'm fond of those) is that the two lakes running along side the quarries were once significantly bigger but were infilled by thousands of tons of slate and the newly-created land built on. 

  One of the reasons I'd chose Llanberis, aside from my love of that part of Wales, was because there's a lovely steam train that runs along one of the lakes and a ruined castle to explore: perfect for Bee.

She got very excited once she saw the train arriving and couldn't wait to board. We had lots of fun playing with the old-fashioned window before setting off!

The journey took us along the two-mile stretch of Llyn (lake) Padarn then back along the same route once the engine had turned. We watched the steam from the funnel fly past our window, listened to the chugging sounds, counted the boats and the lake and took lots and lots of pictures. Even Bee wanted to help!

After the train journey we took a walk into Llanberis village for some dinner, we were all getting hungry. We'd promised Bee something nice and she kept repeating "nye eat ow" - nice eat out. She can get a little impatient and doesn't always understand that when you say something is happening it doesn't mean it's happening immediately!

We ate at a local hotel and during the wait for our food Bee had a mad 10-minutes. She just charged round the space (thankfully there were no other diners) jumping and hiding, screeching and playing with the toys we'd brought. Of course, her hypotonia brings her back down eventually and her little body can't keep up with her enthusiasm. Of course once food arrived (sausage and chips in Bee's case) she was up and back at the table in a flash. With ice cream to follow it was a big winner!

The rest of our visit we spent exploring Dolbadarn Castle, beautifully located on a rise between the two lakes, giving fantastic views. thankfully by this point the low-hanging mist and grey skies had disappeared and all we had was sun!

Part of the path up to Dolbadarn Castle involved crossing a stream with a sheep gate. Bee was very proud that she navigated it all by herself! She continued this all the way to the summit of the rise, without once asking to be carried. Every steep, uneven and rock-strewn section of the path she managed with aplomb, needing only the smallest amount of hand-holding to get through it. I think it was the ice cream that fortified her!

There isn't much left of Dolbadarn Castle, just an empty circular tower with steps spiraling up around the outer wall and the crumbling remains of walls that once formed part of the whole castle. It left plenty of open space for Bee to play chase and catch with her Peppa Pig ball although she wasn't impressed by all the sheep!

By the time we'd explored around the castle it was getting late and Bee getting tired. I knew with a 2-hour+ drive ahead of us it was time to leave. We'd drove the A55 expressway for speed on the morning but on the way home I wanted to drive the longer route through the Snowdonia National Park. I couldn't be that close to that beautiful place without seeing some of it. And it was totally worth the extra 30 minutes or so on our drive home!

I really enjoyed my 30th birthday, it had been everything I wanted: spending time with my beautiful little family in the most beautiful place on earth.

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