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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

UK & Canary Islands Travelogue | Afternoon Tea in a Castle

It was exciting to wake up in the morning, stumble into the breakfast room and be greeted by the excited little barks of a the tiniest puppy ever. Growing up, I've only ever had hamsters and cats as pets (and now a bunny), I have never lived with a dog before and it was pretty exciting to be able to play with one even if it was only for a few minutes. She was such a naughty little bugger, jumping at our ankles and biting our clothes but she was indeed adorable and we all forgave her for it.

Our first stop for the day was to head to Criccieth Castle. There is an entrance fee of £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for OAP and students.

Perched on a headland with the sea as its constant bedfellow. Its twin-towered gatehouse intimidates prospective attackers. So badly did the native Welsh princes and English monarchs want it, that it changed hands more often than a relay baton. 

Built originally by Llywelyn the Great, this very Welsh of princes included a very English style of gatehouse. Edward I's forces took the castle some 50 years later, undertook their own improvements and remodelled a tower for stone-throwing engines. 

Owain Glyn Dwr sealed Criccieth's fate when his troops captured and burnt the castle in the early years of the 15th century. This was to be the last major Welsh rebellion against the English.

Criccieth Castle may also have been given the name to the town rather than the other way around. Its suggested origins are 'crug caeth' - 'crug' (hill in Welsh), 'caith' (captives - the name given to the jail on the hill, a function once held by the castle. (Credit: x)

We drove to the town of Dolgellau and had lunch at this little tea house and spent a bit of time wandering around. One thing I noticed about towns in the UK is that they are really small, with only a handful of shops that are catered more for local needs than for tourists and there really isn't anything much to do. 

I'm a city girl at heart and while I do appreciate the random venture into smaller towns where nothing much is going on, I do prefer being in cities where there are loads to do and loads of things going on.

We drove towards Minffordd and stopped at Blaenau-Ffestiniog to take photos of sheep. Really random I know but these little animals are the cutest. Also, there's something about sheep that really speaks to me not in the literal sense but the Biblical sense.

Minffordd is a village within the Welsh county of Gwynedd. The village has two adjacent railway stations which are served by Cambrian Linemainline train services and the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway. The stations are approximately quarter of a mile from the start of the mile-long drive to  the Italianate hotel-village of Portmeirion.

Nearby are the minor remains of a medieval castle (known variously as Castell Deudraeth, Castell Gwain Goch and Castell Aber lau). The castle was first recorded by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales) in 1188. (Credit: x)

What fascinated me the most was the train station and the fact that you could walk on the train tracks. I've never been to Taiwan before and friends of mine who has been there has always taken photos of themselves walking on the train tracks. I really wanted to do it so I was glad that I managed to do so here in Wales!

We were feeling slightly peckish (and also we didn't know where else to go) so we ended up having tea at Castell Deudraeth. Castell Deudraeth is a Victorian building that looks exactly like a mini castle complete with a tower and castle walls so it was really a thrill to pretend to have tea in a castle.

At £13 per person, I have to say that the price of the afternoon tea there was really reasonable. We ordered the afternoon tea for 2 people, and an additional drink and 3 of us ate till we were absolutely stuffed.

Since we had a bit more time left to kill, we decided to head to the Dolgoch Falls. The track to the falls isn't a long and hard one but the trail can be pretty muddy and slippery so be sure to wear proper footwear if you're attempting the track. 

The drive back was very scenic and it took us into the valley and near various lakes. I would love to have been able to take a kayak out into the lake and spend the day in the water. 

For dinner, we did a fish and chips takeaway and it was my first time ever having fish and chips in the UK. I have to say that the fish was pretty fresh and the chips were okay but honestly, they were nothing very special which was slightly disappointing. I was expecting more since the UK is supposed to be really good for their fish and chips.

Thank you so much for reading! x

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