Sven & Kari Rosvall
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Holiday to Wales and Cornwall

We have planned to visit the Eden Project in Cornwall for a very long time and now it would happen. We threw in a few more goals such as the Welsh Highland Railway and the Clifton Suspension bridge in Bristol and visits to friends.

Sunday 30 May

Leaving home in good time to get some fuel for the car and arrive at the ferry. Still we were among the last to board. No problem as the ferry is about half full. Arrive on time and make our way to Rhoscolyn to meet Susan and Fenton. Also meet their children Joe and Alaw and Susan’s mother Sheila. Great to see all again. Having a good time with a coast walk and lots of talking in their lovely garden and over dinner.

Monday 31 May

Breaking up from breakfast and goodbyes at half-ten. On the motorway towards Bangor someone honks at us. Fenton is showing his laughing face and Sven’s camera. Stopping at lay-by and blushing, laughing at our lack of memory. Thanks a lot for chasing us Fenton.

Kari and Gellerth Made a detour over Menai suspension bridge instead of the usual Britannia bridge. Then on to Waunfair to board the Welsh Highland Railway through the beautiful countryside through to Beddgellerth. We have a one our break and take a walk to the town. It is busy as they have a duck race in the river. Lots of happy people out. We continue through a parkland where the dog Gellerth is buried. This dog saved the life of a rich man’s son and gave the town its name. Back in Waunfair we get back on the road, tiny roads this time. Stopping at Harlech Castle which is closed. Getting dinner at an Indian restaurant. Looking for B&B’s and find a guest house just south of Harlech.

Tuesday 1 June

Sven wanted to show Kari some nice roads outside Dolgellau that he rode on a Lon Gefn event (a motorbike rally on back roads). We crossed a wooden bridge (toll was 60p) outside Dolgellau as a shortcut to the start. The narrow road meandered through a beautiful forest going up and down the mountains. Kari was afraid that the car wouldn’t stay on the road. But she enjoyed the view and got some exercise as she had to open a few gates.

We came to Corris where the map says there is a railway museum. A lady came out of the door to tell us that it was closed on weekdays, but we would be welcome to have a look around while she was preparing a few things. She then explained the story of the railway line that went through the village and told us that a mile of the original line had been restored and they now had passenger service on it, but only on Sundays. She then invited us to see the engine shed at the other end of the line. She took us on a tour around their stock and then invited us for tea with the volunteers who were there today. Lots of stories and laughter.

Lunch in Machynlleth. Kari bought a stamp for a postcard but got stuck behind a man who wanted to deliver goods for his internet business in this understaffed post office.

On to Aberystwyth to catch the train through the Vale of Rheidol. But the last train of the day just left as we were running towards the ticket booth. So we drove towards the Devils Bridge at the end of the line. This turned out to be a good choice as the train runs at the bottom of the valley and the road goes at the top of the hills. We stopped a few times to take in the view and watch the train at the bottom of the valley. Arrived at Devils Bridge with good margin to see the train arrive. Walked around the Devils Bridge itself. There was a path leading downwards where you would get a good view of the bridge and the waterfall, but Kari would not be able to get up the stairs again.

We decided to take the inland route towards the south-west of Wales. Nice road over rolling hills. But we got a fright and almost crashed when a jet fighter jet roared just above our heads.

Found a farmhouse B&B south of Tregaron and had dinner in Tregaron. Funny, the recommended place is the Talbot hotel where Sven stayed during the Lon Gefn rallies.

Wednesday 2 June

Plotted a route towards Newport. Saw signs for a steam railway and stopped. We were too early and would have had to wait for more than one hour for the first train for the day. We saw the locomotive that was being fired up. Then we decided we didn’t have enough time to wait.

First real stop was at a woollen mill museum in ???. Good display with some machines in operation. The museum shows the old tradition to take care of the wool and so they show how the industrial revolution started here as well as in Manchester. We went to the shop and I bought wool for making socks. The museum had a lot of old pattern for blankets and table cloth for sale, all in pure wool. A man showed us how to make a good finish on blankets with an old Singer sewing machine. The machine was quite old but worked very well.

Next stop was at a farm that keeps Shire horses. Yes, the famous big ones. There was one new foal and one mare was expecting very soon. We also did a nature walk in the sunshine.

On the way we saw a sign for an Iron Age fort. We agreed quickly to turn off here. We just made it to a guided tour. Roger, our guide, was a good story teller with lots of new facts. They had rebuilt some of the original houses based on remains of the original house poles and research into how similar houses around the world are built. One interesting finding was that the commonly used chimney hole in the thatched roof is a bad idea. This hole makes the house very draughty and increases the risk of fire as small glowing pieces of wood may rise up with the smoke and when it passes through the chimney hole it gets fresh air and lights up again. If this piece falls on the thatch it may cause a fire.

Arrived at the Llyngwair Manor Hotel at 5pm. Had a chat with the owner Roger and Marilyn before checking in and calling Jerry. We got some food before Sven’s biking friends Ken and Jerry arrived. We had a good evening.

Thursday 3 June

Got breakfast with lots of chats with Marilyn and Roger and also a happy travelling salesman who was also a guest. Thanks Roger for the story about the Manor and the interesting book.

Went over to see Jerry and Valerie. Had a lot of talk about plants. Sven got to see Jerry’s gem, the Sunbeam and Jerry shared the story of this bike.

Then off towards Cornwall. Started with a detour through Fishguard that Kari wanted to show and Sven wanted to see. We didn’t have enough time to get stuck or lost in all the narrow lanes. So we just drove through. Stopped in Newport to see the transporter bridge, which unfortunately was closed for repairs. But Kari was impressed by the size.

Finished the day in Bodmin. Found a good Indian restaurant. There was one other couple there who were chatting with the owner. We started to talk about what we were doing in Cornwall and got lots of good tips.

Friday 4 June

Straight to the Eden Project after breakfast. The GPS brings us on some small hilly roads with good views over the sea. We spend 4 hours there before we have had enough and Kari got diarrhoea from the heat. We enjoyed it despite high expectations. We like their message about our living from the nature and what we do to it when we should be more thankful.

Kari’s stomach got better and we dared to try one of the tips from yesterday’s dinner, the lost gardens of Heligan. But on the way we followed signs to “Model Railway”. This took us down to Mevagissey, a small fishing village with tiny roads. We had to park outside and walk to the model railway. It’s a busy 00 layout with lots of things happening. They also have a good shop.

Then, back on track to the lost garden. Unfortunately they closed the ticket office just before we arrived. But the shop is open and we learn that this is a very large garden that lay derelict for a long time and has recently been restored.

Back to Bodmin and a quick take-away pizza. We could not find any other restaurants than the Indian restaurant we visited yesterday and pubs.

It was a sunny day again and clear blue sky.

Saturday 5 June

Time to move on north-wards. Stopping at the Japanese gardens in St Mawgan. Great relaxing garden that encourages you to stroll a bit and sit down a bit. A very relaxing experience.  The shop has a lot of bonsais for sale. They look fantastic. Bought a Buddha figure in a pose that Kari has been looking for a long time and a wind chime that is perfectly tuned into a chord in Japanese tuning.

We continued our travel along the north Cornwall coastline. Had lunch in a nice hotel in Padstow with great view over the bay. Next stop was Tintagel with the castle ruin where King Arthur is supposed to have stayed. The whole place is crowded and over-exploited so we move on.

Finishing the day in Lynton. This village sits on the cliff edge and is very steep. To help there is a cliff railway that takes passengers up and down the cliff. This is very environment friendly as it is driven by filling tanks with water that pull down one of the two connected carriages. Dinner in an Indian restaurant with good food but terrible service.

Sunday 6 June

Moving east towards our next goals in Cheddar. The A39 would lead us the whole way but true to our usual habits we started a detour early through a scenic valley. Later we did another detour to follow a sign about a falconry farm. They didn’t have any falcons there anymore but had a large number of owls and a few hawks. They had a demonstration of owls flying in a barn. Very interesting to see these animals in action.

The West Somerset Railway runs along the A39 so we had to stop at one of the stations close to the road to have a look. They have a pretty long line from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard which takes their trains more than an hour. They run 6-8 trains a day. While Sven was reading the timetable an ancient railcar approached.

We stopped for lunch in Williton. A fellow tourist told us that the A39 was blocked further up the road. We decided to avoid this by making a detour that would bring us down to Bishops Lydeard. Nice to allow for another look at the railway. We saw the same railcar approach while Kari got her tea.

Finally arrived in the Cheddar Gorge. We were hoping to see more of the famous Cheddar cheese but the products that we cound find were all vacuum packed. Also we arrived too late for visiting the caverns here. But driving through the gorge itself was an experience.

Continued to Wells were we found a B&B. We had a walk to see the famous cathedral.

Monday 7 June

Got on the road early and arrived at Wokey Hole well before opening time. We were hoping to see the cave and the paper mill. The whole area had been turned into an amusement park for the young. We were dismayed and taken aback by the high admission fee and decided to move on.

We came to Bristol and Sven visited Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the first steam ship capable of crossing the Atlantic. Kari wasn’t interested and took a tour around the revamped harbour area. The SS Great Britain was restored to show how it would have looked during its different phases when it was rebuilt to suit different purposes.

While in Bristol we had to see Brunel’s Clifton suspension bridge. First we drove under it and saw its grandness over the gorge. Then we managed got get across it. Kari took the opportunity to walk across the bridge. Luckily there were parking spaces on the other side so that Sven could get a view from the bridge too. There was also a visitor centre to show the story of the bridge.

Then on to Ironbridge. Got there after all museums had closed. Well, the bridge was there and we spent a good while admiring it. The museums in the area didn’t seem to add anything we haven’t seen before so we decided to search for a B&B and move on to Holyhead tomorrow.

Tuesday 8 June

The B&B landlady convinced Kari that one of the museums in Ironbridge is worth a visit. This is the home of the Darcy family who created the iron works in Ironbridge. It told the story of the family and how they lived. Sven spent the time in the Museum of Iron which told the story of how the Darcy family improved the iron making processes over several generations.

The Pontcysyllte aqueduct near Llangollen was close to our path back to Rhoscolyn over the mountains. This aqueduct was built by Telford in 1805 and is still in operation. The view from the aqueduct is stunning. Kari was a bit worried as the footpath beside the water only has one fence. The canal is not very deep but still not something you want to fall into.

Continued the beautiful road across the mountains through Betws-y-Coed. Sven has ridden this road many times by motorbike and wanted to show it to Kari. She did like the views, but not the hairy bends and the busy traffic. We did arrive safely to Rhoscolyn.

There was no one at home when we arrived. Instead we took it easy in the garden. Sven fell asleep in the swinging sofa. Susan and Fenton and Joe arrived shortly afterwards. We had a great evening again.

Wednesday 9 June

Got up early to have breakfast with the family before they went off to their duties. We left soon after to catch the ferry. Got home and had a nap attack as soon as we came through the door. We needed this nap after this great adventure.

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