Kiri and


Where’s the holiday?

June 21st, 2018 (by Steve)

“Where’s the holiday?”. Was the question that we had for a few hours from a toddler. After a long drive to Llandudno, stopping off with some friends to partake of some Finnish mini eggs (we didn’t actually drive via Finland…), and going up hill, up hill some more, and up hill a final little bit to stop on a near-vertical slope, we could finally say “here”. A grubby, slightly run down Airbnb half way up the Great Orme. The state of the place didn’t really matter though by the time the little one had been excited about bunk beds, we’d re-laid the stair carpet (literally!), and we’d had tea. We had an amazing view, that you’d normally have to work hard at to earn, beautiful light, the water coming out of the taps was sweet and the only noise we could here was sheep outside. Oh, and the place had Netflix. So we chilled. We were on holiday.

Now this was to be the first holiday since the birth of the wee one where we’d gone just the three of us, without grandparental reinforcements, so we were in new territory. And the first morning set the tone – “I’m incited to get up early”. Our cursing of whoever had been doing the inciting didn’t last long as we realised we could stay in bed, and watch the rabbits, goats and sheep from where we were. We could also see the trams from our window, and from just outside the door, the cable cars. A perfect spot.

As our first day was a Sunday, we packed a picnic then headed into town where we ended up at Gloddaeth church. We exchanged glances when the service was described as “contemporary”, then the first song was a rather cheesy one that was as old as we are, however it only got better from there and I was reminded that I need more Rend Collective in my life. The picnic that followed wasn’t the best planned, as we opted for a spot between the beach and a playground which both were rather enticing as we tried to focus on ensuring everyone ate their lunch. But hey, that’s what mid-afternoon icecreams are for. But before the icecream we had things to do:

  • Build a gargantuan sandcastle with perfect sand (left unfinished – we were over-ambitious with what can be achieved with a toddler)
  • Paddle in the sea (planning fail – the little one was more equipped to go deeper than we were. Result – wet socks for me)
  • Collect shells and stones (note to future selves – teach children to be discerning about which stones we may wish to collect)

We deserved that icecream, although somehow the adults didn’t end up with a flake! And we deserved the cuppa when we went back to the cottage too to get dry socks. Before tea, we decided to drive around the headland in the stunning evening light, which brought back wonderful memories of driving along the Verdon Gorge, around the Italian Riviera, and in Meteora. Only in our motorhome we had a higher vantage point… and weren’t trying to keep a little one awake. Bath time included the attempt to make a water castle (as opposed to a sandcastle) as my attempts to explain fluid dynamics fell on deaf ears. The extra sugar consumed earlier that day made bedtime a little tricky, but we eventually managed to settle down for an evening of cribbage.

With so much to do in this part of North Wales, we were keen to make the most of it and didn’t really mind another early start. As we walked up to the top of the Great Orme to catch the cable car down (we were told on no uncertain terms, that we had to go in an orange one) we reflected on what a privilege it was to be in such beautiful surroundings. The price of tickets (£21 return for all 3 of us) seemed a little steep, but it was totally worth it with amazing views of a sea wind farm, moorland, our cottage, a toboggan run, the pier, and a sweeping bay. Even if we ended up in a green one rather than an orange one.

After a coffee at the end of the pier, we meandered back into town then onto the other beach for another picnic, where we inadvertently ended up having the little one repeating “no – go away” to the pesky gulls. Who let us be parents? After a few skimmed stones and a minor paddle, it was back to the cable car, where we overheard another parent aghast at the price, giving an ultimatum of “OK, you can either have dinner, or go on the cable car”. With another evening ahead of us, we made the most of the log burner and settled down to do something we very rarely do these days, reading the bible together (that evening the book of Ruth).

Given that the holiday was in Wales, it was inevitable that rain would come at some point, so we all had a lie-in until 7 then after a bit of playing went back to bed for the rest of the morning! A wet drive took us along the coast to Colwyn Bay where we had a quick sandwich in a shopping centre under an inappropriate sign reading “our staff are thick, but our toast is thicker”, then headed to the local swimming pool. Yes, it would have been cheaper to get wet in the rain, but not as fun. We took a minor detour via Kingdom Krafts on the way back with a lovely spiced apple drink and flapjack, then had a low-key evening – fish fingers for tea, followed by lighting the fire again.

The following day was dry again, so we headed to the local farm park, which opened at 10. Only it didn’t. Eventually at 10:20 someone turned up and let the queue in. We all had great fun driving on the little tractors, then went to find the animals. I know we really shouldn’t compare it to Adam Henson’s farm that we went to last summer… but… well… ummm… the playground was fun and there were lots of excitable farm dogs around. We then had a look at the owls (it’s also an owl sanctuary) – one of whom had a sign saying “please do not disturb or tease this owl” – does that mean the other owls are fair game? Tea, coffee and gluten free cake were the answer (but to a different question), then we headed back to the cottage for some lunch.

The afternoon was rather more exciting as we donned hard hats and went down into the copper mines. The tunnels were narrow; fascinating that they were so old as we saw history, archaeology and geology collide. “Where is the mine?” was the accompanying question as we wandered through the ancient rabbit burrow. How does one describe the concept of a negative to a toddler? I mean, someone I know wrote a whole dissertation on the question “is a hole?”. “Here” apparently wasn’t a sufficient answer. I can’t remember the answer I gave in the end, but allowing the little one to choose some little coloured “stones” (probably just coloured glass) to take home was enough of a distraction. I popped to Asda to pick up some supplies (Orme beer, salt, vinegar, gluten-free snacks (where I saw the chocolate cake that we’d had at the farm park!) and chocolate) before we settled down to watch “La la land” – the first film we’d watched together in ages. Great film. Incorrect ending. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

“I’m awake. My eyes are open. I had enough sleep”, is not the first thing I normally say when I wake up in the morning, but apparently when you’re a toddler that’s normal! Today was the day of the tram. To all intents and purposes, I would call it a funicular because it’s cable-driven, goes up the side of a hill on rails and the cars on the rails counterbalance each other. However I would be wrong; because it’s on a road in parts, it’s a tram – a cable tram to be more precise. As we waved to everyone that we passed, Kiri and I ruminated on why, just because we were in an unfamiliar vehicle, it is suddenly acceptable to wave at strangers. As a young adult, my friends and I once waved to a car full of elderly people as we passed them on the motorway. They looked horrified and I saw them mouthing to each other “they’re waving at us”. I never did that again. Yet in a tram it’s fine. Hey ho.

It was also bitterly cold in the open tram, so after kying a flite on the beach, we warmed up in a coffee shop before walking a long way to Chish n Fips. With warmth emanating from the wrapped paper, we bravely sat by the beach, determined to enjoy our haddock, cod and chips in the bracing wind. Having exhausted all free options for shelter, we headed back to a tram, where crime awaited us as a couple were thrown off the tram for skipping the queue. Once again we were frozen by the time we were at the top of the Great Orme and craving sugar and warmth, so we nursed a hot chocolate before venturing back to the cottage.

You get to this stage in a holiday (and a blog post) where you don’t really want it to fizzle out, but you’re tired. On the last day, it was wet outside and we were all lacking motivation. In the end, after a fish-finger sandwich lunch, we drove to Betws-y-Coed for the Conwy Valley railway museum and model railway. We’d just bought our tickets and were heading into the model railway, when “uh-oh” – the first accident of holiday. If anyone tells me there are closer toilets than the ones along the platform, over the railway track, through the station and across the car park, I might not be impressed! However, on our return we had a lovely 8 minute journey on the miniature railway, bringing back happy memories for me of a childhood visit to Pecorama. We popped into the model railway, but what really grabs the attention of a toddler? Electric bumper cars with no straps in an area surrounded by breeze blocks. What’s the worst that could happen eh?

Our final treat of the holiday was a coffee at the Alpine Cafe in the main station with quite possibly the best ever gluten free chocolate brownie and a huge pot of tea for one which did 4 cups! What followed on the journey back to the cottage cannot be explained logically. I’m not quite sure where, in my mission to keep the little one awake, a tupperware took on a personality and became “catty”, but even now it’s a firm favourite and as loved as any cuddly toy. A holiday souvenir.

So we did it. Proper adulting – taking a child on holiday without grandparental support. And we enjoyed it. I don’t think we’ll do it again though. Not just the three of us…

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