Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shrewsbury UK to Dolgellau Wales

Thursday September 1, 2011

We awoke to the light of English sunbeams shining through the Victorian windows of our 16th century B&B, overlooking the cobblestoned streets of Shrewsbury. Yet another full English breakfast with fried vine-ripened tomatoes, beans, bacon and sausages awaited us and moments later we were off to explore the city.  Among other things and after a couple of "Filters" (Drip coffee) at Starbucks, we walked the red sandstone walls of the local castle and abbey before driving west over the border into Wales.  A hundred dizzying traffic circles, er “roundabouts” later, some with up to 3 lanes coming and going through a half dozen off ramps, we found our way to Powis Castle near Welshpool.

Us with Sue and Alice at Powis Castle. Thankyou!

This reminds me of me from the back....
And this one reminds me of Tyler from the front... laughs

This was a contrast from Stokesay Castle yesterday which was barren and abandoned, though definitely an authentic fortification if ever there was one.  No no, this one was fully furnished on a royal scale and it seemed as if royalty had just stepped out of each room before us as we walked, mouth agape, through each regal bedroom and grand hall.  There wasn’t a wall in the castle not adorned with paintings of long-dead kings and queens and princes and princesses.  Intricate woodwork, polished brass and tapestries hung everywhere, secret doorways in bookcases, collections of birds previously unimaginable and a weapons room that we will never forget.  There, and we went round and round this collection, were right at our fingertips; medieval broad swords, leg-hold traps for men, bows and arrows, knives and daggers, jousting weapons, spears and matchlock guns ready for a battle.   A special treat was a mum and daughter named Sue and Alice who paid special attention to us and invited us for coffee (Sue's treat!) and a really nice visit with them in the court yard. Before we left, Tyler and I enjoyed a lamb stew with baby potatoes and bottles of dandelion & burdock beer.  Unforgettable all of it!

The only way we knew we had crossed into Wales was the change to Gallic roadsigns as we drove on through the afternoon, this time with Tyler at the wheel as we drove a roller coaster ride of narrow windy roads with impatient drivers tailing us through flocks of sheep in the Welsh countryside.  By late day we had arrived at a Dolgellau, an ancient city made of stone buildings with long narrow streets and tiny boutiques throughout.  We secured a really nice little room in a B&B called the Royal Ship and played pool at a local pub between pints of Guinness.

For dinner, we walked over to the Unicorn Pub and enjoyed a shank of lamb in mint sauce and fresh steamed peas under low hand-hewn timbered ceilings.  Over a pint or two of Guinness, and just as darkness descended on this quiet town, we were suddenly struck with the idea of finding the abandoned ruins of Cymer Abbey just a couple miles of town.  So, with my trusty flashlight in hand, we drove to the parking lot and walked the few hundred yards into a sheep field to find it, feeling our way in the darkness among the scattered sheep. Another great find in another glorious day in the U.K!